The Establishment Principle in the American Westminster Standards

The view on the relation between Church and State during the Reformation and the Westminster Assembly was the Establishment Principle, that the State is to uphold all of the 10 Commandments and to profess, protect, promote and civilly establish the True Religion (circa sacra).

It is commonly thought that the American revisions of the Westminster documents removed the Establishment Principle from them.  This is not the case.

As is documented in detail in this article, the American Westminster Standards teach that the civil magistrate is to establish the Christian religion in the land, albeit a general, non-denominational Christianity.

See for yourself what your presbyterian church officers have vowed to teach and uphold.  And more than this, come into a greater acquaintance with what the Word of God teaches about Church-State relations.

The Establishment Principle in the American Westminster Standards and Early American States

Constitutionalism

A Church’s constitution, subordinate to the Word of God, defines its being and public testimony.

Officers’ vows define the officers’ relationship to the Church and obligates them to uphold the Church’s constitution, as opposed to undermining it.  The constitution serves as a legal security to minorities who seek to uphold the acknowledged principles of the Church.  A change in the constitution, apart from the lawful process thereto, effectively breaks the terms of union by which persons are bound to the Church.

Learn more about the principles of Constitutionalism here, with the most mature, balanced and developed resources on the topic from Church history.

Here is much needed health for the Church today.

Constitutionalism

The Marrow Controversy

The Marrow Controversy in early-1700’s Scotland hinged on the the warrant of the Free Offer of the Gospel displaying God’s grace and good-will to gospel-hearers.

Mature your understanding of the Christian faith in looking into this important and intriguing historical controversy.  Here are the most resources on the net about it.

As for us, we are Marrow men.  On this Lord’s Day, take up and read a sermon by one of the original Marrow Men, Thomas Boston, Ralph Erskine or Ebenezer Erskine, and delight your soul in these refreshing Gospel-waters,

The Marrow Controversy 

Scottish Church History

The Scottish Church for centuries held the standard for reformed Christianity.  Her history is the most important, the most exciting and the best to learn from.

For beginners and scholars alike, here is a massive collection of resources on Scottish Church history, organized by the time period. 

Apart from researching a dissertation, it will probably have everything you need to answer just about every question you may have about Scottish Church history.  Here is the treasure of the public domain (and more) on the topic.

Scottish Church History

We hope it is a blessing to you.

Changing Colors

Friends,

We are glad to announce that the website’s colors are being overhauled.  Getting rid of the black background has done wonders for readability.  We hope to iron out some of the smaller things soon.  Stay tuned.

“In everything give thanks.”
1 Thess. 5:18

Theological Writings from Scottish Church History

We make no apology that Scottish Church history is more important than any other strand of Church history.

Consequently, we have collected many of the theological tracts from the Resolutioner-Protester controversy of the 1650’s so that you can read them first-hand.  The webpage contains an introduction to the era and issues, as well as valuable historical materials on it.

The Scottish Resolutioner-Protester Controversy, 1650’s

Likewise, there really has been no collection available of the defenses of covenanting and literature surrounding the indulgence controversy, during 1660-1688, until now.  The most fascinating aspect of this literature, besides that of defending civil resistance from Scripture and natural law, is the debate over Church unity and degrees of separation.

Defenses of Scottish Covenanting and the Indulgence Controversy, 1661-1688

May these resources be a blessing to you, and may God’s name be hallowed.

Rutherford’s Due Right of Presbyteries

What is the definitive work in Church history arguing and delineating classic presbyterianism?

Samuel Rutherford’s The Due Right of Presbyteries.  Rutherford answers every detailed point of ecclesiology (things about the Church) that you ever thought of, and many, many more.

The problem, though, is that this is one of the most dis-organized books there is.  So, we have made an outline, table of contents and subject index to it in contemporary format, with links to corresponding page numbers, so that you can easily find where he treats of interesting subjects.

For those more skilled in historical theology, see if you can find the two dozen points where modern presbyterianism departs from classically defined, historic, presbyterianism from the Church of Scotland during the Westminster era.

Please enjoy:

“Samuel Rutherford’s The Due Right of Presbyteries: Table of Contents and Subject Index”  1644  22 pp.  ed. Travis Fentiman

Gillespie on Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom

Is Christ’s Kingdom as the Mediator the Church only, or does it include all things?

George Gillespie, the Westminster divine and Scottish covenanter has the most in-depth writings on the majority puritan view that Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom is the Church only.

Gillespie’s material, the most in-depth on the topic, has often not been read due to its inaccessibility.  The Reformed Presbyterians, as a family of denominations, officially take the opposite viewpoint.  Often their view is put forward as a self-evidently correct interpretation of the relevant texts.

This collection of Gillespie’s writings in contemporary format, with explanatory notes, will shed a lot more light on the issues and the details of the relevant Scriptural texts.

As a bonus, these writings of Gillespie are also the classic delineation of the Establishment Principle, the Biblical relation between Church and State.

May this document be a rich and helpful resource to you in further searching out the things of God and Biblical doctrine.

George Gillespie – ‘All of Gillespie’s Writings on Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom is the Church Only’  110 pp.  ed. Travis Fentiman

Prophecy

If you have ever been tempted by Charismatic theology, read the Introduction on this page in order to be solidified in Biblical teaching on the subject.

The concise Introduction demonstrates from Scripture the reformed teaching on the topic that Biblical prophecy is always 100% right (contrary to most of what goes for prophecy today) and that many clear passages of Scripture teach that it has ceased with the generation of the apostles.

If you have any doubt in your mind, read the clear, cogent and full Scriptural arguments.  May the Lord bless you in these things.

Prophecy: Infallible & Ceased

Extraordinary Offices and Tongues

Do the offices of apostles, prophets and evangelists that are mentioned in Eph. 4:11 continue today, or did they cease with the generation of the apostles?  Most of historic, reformed Christianity has taught that these offices ceased in the first century, though ministers and lay-persons are to continue in evangelism today.  Find out why:

The Offices of Apostles, Prophets & Evangelists

We have also collected a number of resources on speaking in tongues.  Read the short Intro on the page which demonstrates that tongues in Scripture were real human languages which were understood by the speaker, unlike nearly all of what goes for tongue-speaking today.

Speaking in Tongues

We hope that these resources are a blessing to you, and help you understand God’s Word better and in more detail.

Recommended Reading & Bibliographies

We have compiled a large collection of recommended reading lists, bibliographies and other reference materials which will be helpful to both beginner and scholar alike.

For one studying an issue, the first thing to do is to find the best available literature that is already available on the topic. These resources will help you to easily do that, and we will be using them to further build our site.

We have also compiled a large collection of recommendatory lists of Bible commentaries. See what popular figures and solid resources recommend.

Dance, Drama and Visual Imagery in Worship

Should dance, drama, plays, videos and man-made religious imagery be in worship?

As we are only to worship God in the way that He prescribes and as God has specifically regulated visual imagery in worship from the beginning, these things are an affront against the sole prerogative of the visual, dramatic signs that Christ has instituted in worship: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Here is the most Biblically detailed argument available defending the historic, reformed practice against man-made religious imagery in God’s worship.  Please enjoy.

Visual Imagery, Drama & Dance in Worship

The Writings of the English Reformers

Some of the most precious writings in Church history are the works of the reformers of the English Reformation.  Many of these men gave their lives for their testimony.

The Parker Society in the 1800’s published the main writings of the English reformers, which are all in the public domain.  Here is the only full set available on the internet that we know of.

The story of the burning of Thomas Cranmer will make your eyes well-up.  May we have this great of faith.

Please enjoy, bookmark, and come back repeatedly.

Parker Society Publications

Medieval Church History

Here is a wealth of resources on Medieval Church history which will answer just about any question you have about it.  We have harvested the public domain on the topic for you and have found many of the standard sources on the subject, in addition to contemporary scholarship as well.

In particular, in the midst of the liberal, popular opinion that Islam is a peaceful religion, get the truth here. We highly recommend the works of Bat Ye’or, who has thoroughly and impartially shown at length and in detail what it was like to be a ‘dhimmi’ (non-muslim) under Islam historically and through the modern era, with first-rate scholarship.

Medieval Church History & Renaissance

Early Church History

We have collected the harvest of histories on the early Church from the public domain.

The early Church will always be dear to the one to whom the Lord Jesus is dear to, as these early Christians came right off the heels of Christ’s commissioned apostles themselves.  As always though, as some of the most-in-depth sources have been written by liberals and secularists, discernment is needed to separate the wheat from the chaff.

For those who are a bit further along and know some Greek and Latin, but have not yet attempted to jump into the 161 volumes of Greek patristic writings and 221 volumes of Latin patristic writings (which is not easy to do), but desire to make some progress herein, we have some easy directions and tools in our Primary Sources section that will allow you to do just this.  It is the only place on the net that we know of which provides such a key to opening these treasures.

We hope that you find this of great value:

Early Church History

Church History

We have collected the cream of the crop of Church histories that span the whole of the Christian era for you off of the internet.

Have a question about something in Church history?  You will find a larger wealth of information on the topic here than you ever desired.

The beginner will find a number of great recommendations to start with.  The advanced material is amazing, though one must read with discernment.  Please enjoy the best of Church history in the public domain!

Church History

[The subsections on specific periods in Church history, such as the early church, medieval church, etc. are still under construction]

Historical Theology

Historical theology is Scriptural theology organized and viewed through the way it has been recognized and developed through the history of the Church.

Why is historical theology dearly precious?  Because nearly every aspect of Scriptural teaching has been hammered out in more profound earnestness and depth by the godly giants of the past, and their personal stories, than we can comprehend.

Here is a collection of the major historical theologies on the net:

Historical Theology

May you find it a blessing.

We now have rather full collections at ReformedBooksOnline of the three main divisions of theology: Historical, Biblical and Systematic.

Infra & Supralapsarianism

What is Infra and Supralapsarianism, and what does one make of it?

In the predestination of God, does He conceive of the clay of mankind (Rom. 9:21) from which he forms vessels to honor and dishonor as sinful (infra) or pure (supra)?

Both views have been respected in reformed history.  Here is a comprehensible introduction to them.  Unlike many introductions to this subject, this one provides answers.  If you have opinions on the topic, get ready to be challenged and to learn.

Please enjoy the largest collection of resources on the net on this topic, and may we be humbled and give glory to our infinitely great God whose ways are past finding out.

Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism

Psalters Online

Are you able to sing with David that “your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage”? – Ps. 119:54

In order that you may find as rich treasure and grace in singing the Lord’s psalms as David did, we have collected as many psalters online as we could.  Previously we had around 60 through Church history.  Now the rather complete collection consists of over 115+, there being many new additions in the 1700’s-1900’s time-frame.

There are also new subsections on psalters for chanting, histories of composers and more:

Psalters Online

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“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”

Ps. 137:3

How did the First Human Sin Happen?

It is often wondered how the first human sin came into the world.  How did sin come from Adam’s holy soul?  Did he have free-will in the matter, or was he necessitated to do what he did?  Could he have done otherwise?  What were his motives, and did sinful desires precede his eating of the forbidden fruit?

Your questions are about to be answered to your full satisfaction.  See here:

How did the First Human Sin Happen?