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!

Textual Indices on the Bible

One of the greatest resources and blessings is an index that gives resources on every chapter and verse of the Bible.

While the Sermon & Textual Index at RBO is the largest, reformed index with links online, yet there are a number of other indices available, both in print and online, with many more references to quality resources.  For your benefit, we decided to collect them all together!

Textual Indices on the Bible

Have a passage or verse of the Bible you desire to look into further?  Through this collection of textual indices you will be able to find a great number of quality resources on it.  Blessings in the Lord.

.

“He giveth meat in abundance.”

Job 36:31

Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust…
Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver.”

Job 22:24-25

The Civil Government’s Authority about the Church

The Reformation and puritan era’s teaching on the Church-State relationship, derived from the Word of God in accord with the light of Nature, has been all but lost today.  The term for it was circa sacra; it means that the magistrate has authority, not in, but ‘around the sacred aspects’ of religion and the Church.

While the civil government does not have formal authority over the Church, as Christ is her only Head, yet the magistrate does have civil authority over the material Church in legitimate civil matters that pertain equally in principle to civil society.

As all people are to seek first the Kingdom of God with the natural power they have (Mt. 6:33), so likewise the civil government ought to use its natural, God-given, civil power for the good of Christ’s Kingdom, the Church (Isa. 49:23; 60:10,12,16), including in civilly professing, protecting and promoting the True Religion, and civilly establishing it in the land.

We need to reform ourselves and our nations to the Word of God.  This newly written Extended Introduction to circa sacra outlines in detail the older view of the original Westminster Confession (1646) and reformed orthodoxy, and is a gateway into puritan literature on the subject.  The paper also explains the differences between the Reformation view of circa sacra and the later ‘Establishment Principle’ of the 1800’s Free Church of Scotland.

Appended to the work is a section from the London presbyterian ministers’ Divine Right of Church Government (1646) on circa sacra: the most readable, systematic and brief setting forth of the older view of circa sacra (with most of its numerous necessary distinctions) from the Scriptures in English that the webmaster is aware of.

Take the time to build your life on solid doctrine.

Fentiman, Travis & London Presbyterians – The Civil Government’s Authority about Religion & the Church, Circa Sacra:  An Extended Introduction & a Section from the English Presbyterians’ Divine Right  (1646; ReformedBooksOnline, 2021)  123 pp.

.

“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings:
be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”

Ps. 2:10-11

On the Affections of God

Does God have emotions?  People often respond to sincere inquirers with a blanket “No”, and end up ignoring or denying as much truth as they affirm.

The reformed orthodox terms were that God has affections and perfections.  The affections that are attributed to God in Scripture, they held, were metaphors, which were not wholly characteristic of God, and yet were in some respect, having an eternal foundation in his nature, or perfections.  The perfections of God, those proper properties of his nature, are infinite and never change.

Git rekt by the reformed scholastics on this often neglected, though very important topic:

On the Affections of God

A few years ago Dr. Scott Oliphint put forward the thesis that God, upon creation, assumed certain ‘covenantal properties’.  We believe both he, and his controverters on the other side, did not describe the issues as accurately and in as much of an orthodox manner as the reformed orthodox did in the now-lost distinction between God’s Absolute & Relative Attributes.

Further, what does God ‘desiring’ the conversion of his sinful creatures in the Gospel call mean?  All sides, we believe, will be satisfied by the dominant reformed scholastic answer of Rollock, Rutherford and Pictet, On God’s Expressions of Desire.  There is a new translated excerpt from Rutherford’s Treatise on Providence.

And lastly, see why it is that many through Church history have taught That Wrath & Hatred are Not Properly in God.  May God bless you with a greater sight of Himself.

Latin Dictionaries

85% of reformed theology, and the best of it, is still in Latin.  Most of it will never be translated.  If you desire the gold, you have to learn how to read Latin.

To help everyone to that end, we have compiled a collection of Latin dictionaries online.  Digital meta-dictionaries are exponentially more efficient, powerful and valuable than anything in print, all upon a few clicks of the mouse.

This collection of dictionaries and parsing guides will be of great help to the beginner, and a resource second-to-none for the scholar.

Latin theological and philosophical dictionaries are included too, which will be invaluable to the student of reformed orthodoxy.

Latin Dictionaries

 

Calvin & Beza on Providence: Translated by Knox

Two brief but valuable pieces on Providence by Calvin and Beza were translated from French and Latin by John Knox.  However as they have laid in the midst of Knox’s massive volume on Predestination in very old and difficult English (even in the latest reprint of Knox’s Works), few people it seems are aware of them.

Few people are also aware of Calvin’s writings against the ‘hyper-Calvinists’ of his day: the Libertines.  The Libertines held to what is known in philosophy as a form of Occasionalism, that all events that occur are directly and immediately worked by God.  True secondary causation is eliminated.  One main problem with this is that it makes God the Author of Sin, something that the Libertines expressly affirmed.  Calvin here not only repudiates this blasphemy, but he also lays out three ways (and only three ways) in which God brings all things to pass through his providence, herein establishing true secondary causation.

Beza provides 29 propositions on providence from his work against Sebastian Castellio, touching upon similar themes as Calvin.  Both Calvin and Beza’s pieces, while making some basic distinctions, expound the Lord’s providence in a way that is easy to grasp with illustrations from Scripture and human life.  May we grow in our love and trust of our great and good God, who directs all things to the eternal good of those who trust in Christ our Savior.

Calvin, John & Theodore Beza – ‘Calvin & Beza on Providence: Translations by Knox’  trans. John Knox  (1545, 1558, 1560; 2021)

On the 5 Spurious Sacraments of Rome

Romanism has five more sacraments than protestants do:

Confirmation
Penance
Marriage
Ordination
Extereme Unction (or a Last Anointing)

As Romanists can cite verses in the New Testament for each of these things (Acts 9:17Lk. 3:8Mt. 19:5-6Acts 13:2-3James 5:14), why are they not sacraments?

We have collected some standard reformed treatments on these subjects clearly answering this question and proving the Biblical view in detail.  In case you think that this subject is rather elementary, a bit below your interest level, we collected these resources, in fact, precisely for the profound issues delineated in these discussions, which correct the modern reformed Church in multiple ways.  For instance:

See standard, reformed divines argue (1) that marriage is entered into through the mutual consent of a man and a woman unto the institution, (2) that the laying on of hands was a natural, cultural sign which is not necessary, religiously significant or normative in ordination, (3) that elders anointing sick persons with oil was likewise a natural practice for refreshment and is not a means of grace, and (4) see the divines argue under Confirmation and Extreme Unction for Cessationsim (which teaching and arguments are not otherwise easy to locate in their writings).

On the 7 Sacraments of Romanism

Blessings and fare ye well.