• Historical and Theological Foundations Article by Keith Mathison

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2014 | Acts 17

    According to some estimates, there are more than one hundred thousand distinct parachurch organizations in the United States alone. Parachurch organizations are typically defined as Christian organizations that exist alongside (para) the local church without being under the oversight of any specific local church. They are often focused on one particular mission or purpose. There are parachurch organizations devoted to missions (Africa Inland Mission, U.S. Center for World Mission), to Bible distribution (Gideons, Bibles for the World), to discipleship and evangelism (Navigators, Young Life), to publishing (Crossway, Banner of Truth), to various social services (crisis pregnancy centers, homeless shelters … View Resource

  • How the Scots Changed the World Article by Aaron Denlinger

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2014

    The sixteenth-century Scottish divines (pastors and theologians) who labored to build a national church characterized by sound doctrine and biblical worship never realized how far their influence would reach. They aimed, after all, to reform the Kirk, not to change the world. Ultimately, they did both. Their efforts bore fruit not only in a redefined church for the Scots, but in theological commitments, liturgical patterns, social customs, and political persuasions for people around the globe. The extensive impact that the Scottish Reformers had was not due to any real novelty in their beliefs. The men who engineered the reformation of … View Resource

  • Scotland and the Birth of the United States Article by Donald Fortson

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2014

    Scottish Presbyterianism, with its robust theology, disciplined government by elders, and strict piety, would significantly influence America through the waves of Scots-Irish immigrants that became the backbone of the Revolutionary era. Descended from lowland Scots, the Ulster Scots had begun settlement in northern Ireland during the reign of James VI and I, eventually organizing themselves into presbyteries within the established Irish Anglican Church. The Scots-Irish were required to pay taxes to support the established church; only in America would they eventually be free to practice their Presbyterianism within the context of complete religious liberty. The great American Presbyterian pioneer was … View Resource

  • The New Mendicant Orders Article by David Hogg

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2013

    From the earliest days of the medieval period, bishops were expected to preach regularly as they visited congregations throughout their dioceses, and in their absence, there was broad support for ordained presbyters (elders) to fill the vacancy. As in our own day, however, there was unevenness in the quality and commitment to preaching such that the success of training pastors and keeping them accountable to a high standard had mixed results. What was needed in Europe by the thirteenth century was a fresh infusion of vigor to the preaching of the Word both inside and outside of the walls of … View Resource

  • The New Monasticism Article by George Grant

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2013

    By the thirteenth century, the West’s idealistic wars against a fearsome Islamic threat had failed ignobly; its stagnating economy had cast a pall of depression across the once prosperous and thriving land; its national and political leaders reveled in pomp, circumstance, and internecine rivalry while their subjects cowered in poverty, fear, and injustice; and the church’s spiritual authority was marred by the flaming vices of perversity, carnality, and avarice. No wonder, then, that even the most pious men tended to press into brash, adventurous superstition or retreat into timid, monkish isolation. Sound familiar? It should. High medievalism, for … View Resource

  • Bernard of Clairvaux and Mysticism Article by Stephen Nichols

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2012

    One has to appreciate a medieval figure whom Martin Luther and John Calvin looked on with favor and, to a certain degree, approval. The figure in question is Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cistercian monk, abbot, mild mystic, and formidable theologian. It’s an understatement to call him an abbot. His monastery eventually founded a daughter institution, then another, then another. By the time of his death, seventy monasteries had been directly planted or started by him, with those institutions responsible for establishing hundreds more. So revered was Bernard that Dante left his faithful Beatrice behind as his guide and had … View Resource

  • Gospel Footprints Article by Erik Raymond

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2012

    One of the cultural plagues of the twenty-first century is our historical illiteracy. The comedian Jay Leno capitalizes on this when he asks random questions to people. Leno’s “Jaywalking” skits demonstrate that regular Americans are not up to speed with the basics of U.S. and world history. In one memorable scene, Leno asked someone to name one of the Ten Commandments. The reply: “Freedom of speech.” Enough said. I wonder how well church members would do if someone asked them questions about church history. Would they know the key players, dates, and issues? Does it even matter? Church … View Resource

  • Peter Abelard and the Development of Scholasticism Article by Gregg Allison

    Peter Abelard (AD 1079–1142) served as professor of philosophy and theology at the University of Paris and was a notable scholastic theologian. Scholasticism is the discipline and method of bringing together philosophy and theology to make God and His ways understandable. In the medieval context, in which theology was “the queen of the sciences” and philosophy was employed as “the handmaid of theology,” scholasticism addressed vexing questions such as “Are revelation and reason compatible or contradictory?” and “Can reason demonstrate what theology affirms about God?” Abelard contributed significantly to the scholastic endeavor. In terms of its method, his most famous … View Resource

  • Peter Lombard, Master of the Sentences Article by Andrew Hoffecker

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2012

    The roots of Christian doctrine extend back to God’s revelation in the Old and New Testaments. In the early centuries of the church, apologists defended Christian beliefs. Ecumenical councils affirmed the Trinity and theologians fleshed out these beliefs. True systematic theology owes its origin in large part to Peter Lombard (AD 1100–60). Educated at Rheims and Paris, Lombard rose through the ranks to become professor at the cathedral school of Notre Dame. He came into contact with Hugh of St. Victor and Peter Abelard, leading theologians of that era. Lombard wrote commentaries for classroom instruction that earned him respect … View Resource

  • The Twelfth Century Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2012

    The twelfth century was one of the most colorful of the medieval era. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that it was the age of some of the most famous and influential Christians of all time. We need only think of Peter Abelard and Peter Lombard in the arena of theology, Bernard of Clairvaux in matters of spirituality, and Peter Waldo as the first great “forerunner of the Reformation.” The end of the century also witnessed the ascension to power of Pope Innocent III, in whom the papacy reached its dizzying height of political power across Western Europe … View Resource

  • Fallacious History Article by Carl R. Trueman

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2012

    One of the most pressing but invisible threats to Christian thinking at the present time is that of fallacious history. Like carbon monoxide, it can kill; you just do not notice it is happening until it is too late. Fallacious history comes in numerous forms. The most obvious and influential are those pushed by popular culture. Movies are the primary culprits here. So powerful are the aesthetics of modern cinema that the stories the movies tell can be compelling for no other reason than that they seem so real. Thus, if there is a movie in which Americans crack the … View Resource

  • Theology and Doxology Article by Michael Haykin

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2012

    In December 1967, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave an address to what was then known as the Puritan Conference, speaking on what some might have considered an esoteric topic: the teachings of a small eighteenth-century movement known as Sandemanianism. Ever a believer in the value of church history for guidance in the present, Lloyd-Jones argued that the errors of this movement had much to teach his hearers, for he felt that there were far too many in contemporary evangelical circles who were replicating the central Sandemanian error, namely, that true faith can be held without deeply felt affections. Robert Sandeman, the … View Resource

  • Schism and the Local Church Article by Michael G. Brown

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2011

    Although the Great Schism occurred in the eleventh century, dealing with schismatic people in the local church has been a problem since the days of the apostles. Writing to the church at Corinth around AD 55, Paul said, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported … that there is quarreling among you, my brothers” (1 Cor. 1:10–11). The word the apostle used for … View Resource

  • To Be Deep in History Article by Keith Mathison

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2010

    The nineteenth century witnessed the conversions of two prominent Anglican clergymen to Roman Catholicism. Both men would ultimately become cardinals in the Roman Church, and both men would profoundly influence Roman Catholic theology. The first was John Henry Newman (1801–1890). The second was Henry Edward Manning (1808–1892). Newman is probably most well known for his involvement in the high church Oxford Movement and for his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845). Manning is best known for his advocacy of social justice and for his strong support of the doctrine of papal infallibility following his conversion to Rome. He … View Resource

  • High Crimes and Misdemeanors Article by Carl R. Trueman

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2010

    Some years ago I caused no little consternation when I was invited to speak at a church on the nature of ministry and started my lecture by declaring that it really did not matter if the pastor was an adulterer or not. As you may imagine, this was not something the congregation had heard before, and my guess is that more than a handful of those present probably thought the speaker had either gone mad or was simply ignorant of the most basic aspects of biblical teaching on the nature of church leadership. View Resource