Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics Free Online!

Great news!  The magnum opus of Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), the Dutch reformed, neo-Calvinist theologian, Reformed Dogmatics, 4 vols. is now fully available, free online to be checked out at Internet Archive.

See Bavinck’s works at our Systematic Theologies page.

His in-depth treatments of each doctrine and interaction with much of Church history, including Reformed Orthodoxy, makes his set one of the most valuable for serious theology in the last few hundred years.  Price, nor being away from your library, is no longer a barrier.  It may be accessed and linked wherever the internet is found!

Head-Covering in Worship?

Is Paul’s injunction for women to cover their heads in worship binding today (1 Cor. 11:2-16)?

Most of the Reformed, the Scottish covenanters and the Westminster divines in the Reformation and puritan era said ‘No,’ that Paul’s ordinance was relative to his culture, which used this custom.

In the most detailed exegetical and theological treatment of this issue since that era, Travis Fentiman (MDiv, webmaster) argues that this view is conclusive from the Word of God, in his new book:

1 Corinthians – Head-Coverings are Not Perpetual & they were Hair-Buns, with or without Cloth Material: Proven  (RBO, 2022)  283 pp.

The book’s Intro and the Overview of the Argument following it will whet your desire to invest the time to look through the rest, from which you will reap many rewards.  To see how Corinthian women covered their heads, see the many pictures in the History section on pp. 188-98.

For a summary of the main points of the whole book, see the Summary Conclusions beginning on p. 258.  Here is the logical structure of the book’s main argument.  Every proposition is thoroughly proven in detail in the book:

1. All positive, instituted worship must be “expressly set down in Scripture” or “by good and necessary consequence… deduced” therefrom (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6).

2. In Scripture head-coverings, or the lack thereof, bore a variety of contrary meanings and acceptability, or not, in worship.  Hence they were clearly cultural.

3. Head-coverings cannot be taught by pure-nature and have no intrinsic value for worshipping God.

4. Paul only uses the language of “dishonor,” “becometh,” “glory” and “custom” about head-coverings, which are all things of social decency, but do not reflect inherent sins.  As with head-coverings, Paul uses imperatives in 1 Cor. 7 about things not intrinsically sinful.

5. Some apostolic ordinances were circumstantially conditioned and mutable.

6. Universal moral reasons given for a practice, such as head-coverings, not eating creeping things (Lev. 11:41, 44), the holy kiss, foot-washing, etc. does not necessarily make it perpetual. A context is assumed and generals can only bind generally.

7. There is nothing in 1 Cor. 11 necessitating head-coverings to have a different meaning or use in worship than in society.

8. There is no necessary warrant Corinthian head-coverings were geographically or temporally universal in the apostolic churches; but if they were, this does not itself make an ordinance to be of positive religion, especially as the Greco-Roman culture (which head-coverings were appropriate to) was vast.

9. Part I’s survey of all the relevant Scriptural head-covering data (consider it for yourself) shows there is no express or good and necessary consequence from these texts that Corinthian head-coverings were a positive, perpetual rite of religion (WCF 21.1) beyond circumstances common to human society, ordered by nature’s light, Christian prudence and the Word’s general principles (WCF 1.6), which things may be culturally relative.

10. These things being the case, Paul’s statement that improper head-covering “dishonoreth her head,” (v. 5) must be, not prescriptive, but descriptive, as the case was in that society (which it was). Hence Paul’s natural and spiritual arguments are contingent on this de facto premise.  A change of the premise in a different culture where not covering is not dishonoring, changes the conclusion.

Recreation on the Lord’s Day

As the whole of the Lord’s Day is to be set apart unto the immediate service of the Lord and spiritual duties, apart from necessities, so Isa. 58:13-14 says that:

“If thou turn away thy foot from…  doing thy pleasure on my holy day…  Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord…”

Hence Westminster Confession, ch. 21, section 8, rightly forbids recreations on the Lord’s Day.  Finally, here is a webpage of puritan resources expounding this topic in detail.

It will also be noticed that many of the Westminster divines themselves, in consistency with their intention in the WCF, allow for necessary refreshments and recreations that energize one for, and are consistent with, holy exercises.  See especially the quotes by the puritan divine, George Walker.

Recreation on the Lord’s Day

Commentaries on the Heidelberg Catechism

As the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) is the most experiential, savory and devotional of the Reformation doctrinal standards, so are the commentaries and sermons on it.

We have collected over 40 of these works (about 30 of them are fully online), including study guides and devotionals, new and old alike.  If you could benefit from such a volume, or simply desire to look through them, you know where to go.  The most recommended volumes are marked with an asterisk.

Commentaries on the Heidelberg Catechism

Apostles’ Creed & the Communion of Saints

Do you need a commentary on the Apostles’ Creed?  Here is over 35 of them from reformed history:

Commentaries on the Apostles’ Creed

One doctrinal topic that is discussed in such commentaries that is not so commonly treated of elsewhere is the Communion of Saints.  The communion of saints is not primarily conversing over a pot-luck with Christians, but entails our spiritual union and fellowship with the whole of Christ’s one Body, the Church, in heaven and on earth, in all places and all times.

On the Communion of the Saints

Enrich your understanding and enflame affections and desires for fellowship with fellow Christian believers, and be sure to check out the sections that:

The Communion of the Saints is Trans-SpatialTrans-Temporal

 

A Poem of Faith on the Apostles’ Creed

Refresh yourself in the faith with this brief poem on the Apostles’ Creed by an English minister in 1640.

In this battling dialogue Satan shames and condemns the Christian, who rises up in spiritual warfare, taking faith in Christ and his Word at every point.  May your heart well-up with and abide in this living, conquering faith.

Johnson, Thomas – ‘Stand up to your Christian Belief: Combat between Satan Tempting & a Christian Triumphing in the Comfort of the Apostles’ Creed, a Poem’  (1640)  5 pp.

The Light of Nature

The Westminster Confession speaks of “the light of nature” in several places (WCF 1.1; 1.6; 10.4; 20.4; 21.1).  It says that men may frame their lives according to the light of nature, that some things in the worship of God and Church government are to be ordered by it and that some opinions and practices are contrary to the light of nature.  The light of nature also shows that there is a God and manifests his wisdom, goodness and power.

What exactly is the light of nature, and what does it include?

As may be expected, Westminster was drawing upon a whole body of literature before them which answered these questions in some detail.  16 theses delineating the extent and limits of the light of nature, and its relationship to the light of grace, has been newly translated from the early-1600’s, German, reformed divine, Henry Alting.

These propositions will be a fountain of truth and wisdom to you, if you consider them well.

Alting, Henry – ‘A Disputation on the Light of Nature’  trans. T. Fentiman  (1628; RBO, 2022)  2 pp.  16 theses

On the Communication of Properties in Christ

How is it said that God purchased the Church with his blood (Acts 20:28), when God does not have blood?  The answer is that it was Christ who bled, who is both God and man.

The attribution of the properties of one of Christ’s natures to the other (such as in Acts 20:28) is called the doctrine of the communication of properties.  It is often thought that a real communication of properties is solely a Lutheran teaching.  Yet the reformed affirmed this doctrine in a certain respect, that the properties of both natures of Christ are really communicated to his Person.

This new webpage of resources has an Introduction to these issues that will take you into the depths of Christ’s Person in more detail than is commonly available elsewhere.  Be as the bride in the Song of Solomon, and love to gaze upon your Savior, and study and recount his every excellency:

On the Communication of the Properties of Christ’s Human & Divine Natures

Christ’s Mediatorial Operations

The highest dogmatic conclusion of an Early Church, ecumenical council (the 6th, AD 680-681) about the Person of Christ, recognized from Scripture, was that his two natures, involving two wills, divine and human, work by two distinct operations (each contributing what is peculiar to itself) unto the same mediatorial work, even our most-costly and precious redemption.

Many are familiar with Christ being one Person with two natures, from the Council of Chalcedon (451).  Go further in looking into the depths of our salvation and the glories of our ineffable Savior; find an end to them if you can.

There is a further Introduction on the page to help you.

Christ’s Mediatorial Operations, Divine & Human, unto the Same Work

What will it be like to see God?

What will it be like to see God? (Mt. 5:8)  This is the end and fruit of the Christian life, forever.

Taste heaven with these newly collected resources from the best of reformed literature (which are not otherwise easy to come by):

On the Beatific Vision

.

“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I awake,
with thy likeness.”

Ps. 17:15

May We Change the Sacraments in Necessity?

In extra-ordinary circumstances where a sacrament may not be performed in the exact way that Christ prescribed, ought a church to forego the sacrament (or that part of it) or ought principled accommodations be made which keep the essential, spiritual principles of the sacrament?

In the Reformation and puritan era, the Lutherans (the Biblicists of their day) answered the former; those Churches reformed according to the Word of God: the latter.

This new page documents this in detail.  The Intro will walk you through the issues and show you from the light of God’s Word and Nature why the reformed position is right.  Add further knowledge and understanding to your faith, seeking to please Him in walking more closely according to his Will.

On the Administration of the Sacraments in Extra-Ordinary Circumstances

Perichoresis

Perichoresis is a Greek word that refers to the mutual love and indwelling of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Social Trinitarians (rife in evangelicalism today) take this concept to teach that the Father, Son and Spirit have separate wills.  The orthodox, early Church councils, on the other hand, rightly taught that God only has one will.  God having three wills necessarily implies Tritheism.  Hence, perichoresis involves the Father, Son and Spirit as loving each other through the pure, self-reflexive and reciprocal act of their One divine will.

Jesus said that when we spiritually receive Him into our soul through faith, that we enter, in a way, into this communion (Jn. 14:23; 17:21).  Enter into the depths of perichoresis with this new page of resources:

On Perichoresis

On the Logos Assuming Human Flesh

It is sometimes argued that the Incarnation of Christ contradicts the unchangeability of God, for if a divine Person became a man in time, then some change must have occured in the divine Person.

Traditional Christianity, however, has held that God, by definition, is able to act on others without changing.  In the divine Logos taking to Himself a human nature, there is no change in his Person, but the created human nature is brought into a new relation with Himself.  Hence by the Incarnation there is no change in the Divinity, but only a change in the creature.

As in every single point of theology, these things are far deeper than we realize, and in fact, are ultimately unsearchable in their depths.  Learn more about your glorious God:

On the Grace of Union & the Logos Assuming Flesh

On God’s Works Ad Extra

As Christian evangelicalism continues to try and reinvent the wheel of theology from a blank slate, profound and fundamental, old, truths are lost sight of, and contradicted.

The modern heresy of the Eternal Subordination of the Son presumes, wrongly, that each Person of the Trinity has a distinct will.  Rather, according to the orthodox, early Church councils (and reformed orthodoxy), each Person shares the exact same, numeric, divine will.  The love of each Person of the Trinity for the others, is a love, not of a separate will, but of existing in each other and in the self-same, pure act of love.

Whenever God acts towards the creation (ad extra) this willing is done by all three divine Persons and is undivided.  Yet that one will terminates in its effects according to the distinct Persons, such that some effects may be ascribed to one Person and not the others.

Learn more about your inexhaustibly glorious God here:

On God’s Essential Works Inside & Outside of Himself (ad intra & ad extra)

Exegetical & Theological Dictionaries

Want in-depth background on words and themes in the Old and New Testaments?

An exegetical dictionary is a tremendous resource for this.  A collection of all the major, multi-volume, exegetical dictionaries will ensure that you will never beg for bread again.

More and more, even recent, copyrighted ones, are coming fully available online.  This resource is *Amazing* and beats most physical, theological libraries you could walk into.  To buy these works would cost over $10,000.  They are all free to you.

Theological dictionaries and encyclopedias are included, as well as dictionaries of Latin theological terms for those interested in Reformed orthodoxy.

Exegetical & Theological Dictionaries on the Bible

Praise ye the Lord!

A Quiet Revolution: Biblical Theology

A quiet revolution is occuring:  More and more new, copyrighted books in all fields of theology and Bible scholarship are being made available for free on the net.

Internet Archive, a major, online library, continues to legally put up 3,500 books a day, from 18 locations across the world, onto the net for free, through its online checkout program, to anyone who takes half a minute to sign up for a free acount.

Their mission is to provide “universal access to all knowledge”.  They have the funding to do it, and are working on this full steam ahead.

No longer is ReformedBooksOnline limited to making available public domain works.  We will be taking full advantage of this; as a first-fruits we have updated our pages on Biblical Theology:

Biblical Theology

Old Testament Theology

New Testament Theology

Enjoy and bless God.

“He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land,
even a land that floweth with milk and honey.”

Dt. 26:9

Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics is Now Online!

Great news!  The massive and standard, four volume set of Richard Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (PRRD) is now fully available to be read online!

The set is a comprehensive historical survey of the doctrines of reformed orthodoxy, especially from its Latin works in the 1600’s, on (1) Prolegomena, (2) Scripture, (3) God & his Attributes & (4) the Trinity.  Though the work is historical, because of its detail, it forms an unparalleled systematic theology on these doctrines.

The set has often been in the past prohibitvely expensive and hard to obtain.  Not anymore!  All four volumes are linked at this link:

The Works of Dr. Richard A. Muller:  PRRD

A Lesson in Ethics: on Material Cooperation with Evil

Have you ever bought clothes or shoes originally made in a sweatshop in a third-world country?  Do you ever take Tylenol or Aspirin, which has used research from the fetal cells of aborted babies in its continued development?

It is nearly impossible to avoid all forms and degrees of material cooperation in the immoral actions of others in modern society, and Jesus and Paul have yet told us not to go out of the world.  The topic of what may be lawful and what not, in which circumstances, is one of the hardest in ethics, and yet it is massively relevant to our daily lives.  The issues become most personal and pertinent when immorality is being pushed upon us, as is increasingly happening in our culture.

Yet there are solid principles that have been hammered out through Church history on this topic that will give you a sure foundation and be a safe guide in finding clear answers in seeking to please the Lord in these difficult matters.  Read the Extended Introduction on this new page of resources (a one of its kind) and grow in the Christian life, that we might be like Zacharias and Elisabeth who “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” (Lk. 1:5-6)

On the Ethics of Material Cooperation with, & Associations with Evil

Praying & Worshipping Together, Apart

The Orthodox Presbyterian Chuch in America has called for today, Saturday, August 21, 2021, to be a day of prayer and fasting that “we might lament our distress and unworthiness before the Lord, confess our sin, and commit ourselves anew to the faithful service of the Lord our God…”  This could not be more appropriate and necessary for the times.

Though churches and famillies are separated by great distance and circumstances, yet the OPC has called for this “that the whole church may pray as one people, and call upon the Lord with one voice..”

This principle, that Christians who are separated by great distance and are not meeting together in one assembly, or possibly in any assembly, yet pray together, and offer to God one public worship (as opposed to each offering simply their own separate, individual worship, unconjoined to the rest), is thoroughly Scriptural and historically reformed.  When the early Church was spread throughout Jerusalem, divided by geography and walls, not being able to see each other, and Peter was in prison (the news being spread by mouth), “prayer [singular] was made without ceasing of the Church [singular] unto God for him.” (Acts 12:5)

Needless to say, the same principle is very relevant for churches still meeting online (of necessity) to publicly worship under COVID restrictions.  Grow in your knowledge of Scriptural and historic, reformed principles of worship and the mystical communion of the saints through our one Mediator in Heaven with the resources on this page:

On Holding Public Worship & Church Courts by Distance Through Technology, & on Using Satellite Churches, under Necessity & for Edification

Reference Lists of Commentaries on the Books of the Bible

If you are looking for recommended commentaries on the books of the Bible, we have a page of Recommendations for Bible Commentaries.

However, if you desire to take it to the next level, and look into the important commentaries on a book of the Bible from all of Church history, we have created just a webpage for you:

Bibliographies of Commentaries on the Books of the Bible

At one time such lists of commentaries would have been of little value to most people, as those commentaries would be very hard to come by.  However, since most of them are now online, the Lord has made thine cup to run over (Ps. 23:5).

Search the Scriptures to your heart’s content (Jn. 17:17; Acts 17:11) and bless the Lord!