• The Benedictine Rule Article by Andrew Hoffecker

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    Ever since the New Testament epistles were written, Christians have received advice on how to live the Christian life. How much should we pray? What progress can we expect to make in achieving biblical holiness in this life? Is perfection an attainable goal? Is Christianity best lived out in normal circumstances of family, marriage, and vocation, or in hermit-like isolation from others or in communities specially formed for the purpose of cultivating prayer, worship, and work? As persecution of the early church died out and Christians gained freedom of worship in the Roman Empire, the monastic life originated as a … 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 Bernard … View Resource

  • Boethius: The Philosopher Theologian Article by Carl R. Trueman

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2006

    One of the least known but most significant Christian thinkers of antiquity was a sixth-century layman called Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boethius, or simply Boethius for short. The son of an old senatorial family, he lived between 480 and 524, being consul (a largely ceremonial political position) in 510, and then Master of the Offices at the Ostrogothic court in Ravenna in 522. It was while serving in this latter capacity that Boethius was accused of treason, imprisoned, tried, and executed. It remains unclear to this day whether he was actually guilty of treason or, as seems more likely, was … View Resource

  • Church History in Christ Article by George Grant

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2004

    By the end of the eighteenth century, the church of Geneva had become a mere shadow of its former glory. The pulpit of John Calvin no longer thundered with the bold truths of the Protestant Reformation. It no longer broadcast the Good News of the Scriptures. Instead, it whimpered with the uncertain themes of the Enlightenment. Somehow, it had been mesmerized by the tired and monotonous tones of unitarianism and liberalism. Even the famed Genevan Academy, founded by Theodore Beza, had abandoned the teaching of the Scriptures opting instead for the more fashionable philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and Seneca. As … View Resource

  • The Definition of Orthodoxy Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2006

    The Arian controversy in the fourth century was arguably the greatest theological controversy in the history of the church. As Protestants, we might think that the Reformation controversies of the sixteenth century were the most momentous. Without wishing to minimize their importance, however, the Arian controversy was greater, because it went deeper. The Reformers were arguing about how we receive the benefits of Christ; the men of the fourth century were arguing about something even more basic — who Christ is. Unless a right foundation is laid in the person of the Redeemer, little is gained in disputing about His … View Resource

  • Faithful Vigilance Article by W. Robert Godfrey

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2006

    Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus about the critical need for them to be vigilant: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert…” (Acts 20:28–31). This apostolic warning was not just for the … 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

  • 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 history does … 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

  • 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 … View Resource

  • Holding the Line Article by D.G. Hart

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2006

    American Protestantism split in two during the 1920s and has not been the same since. In denominational controversies, especially among Presbyterians and Baptists, and in courtroom debates over teaching evolution in public schools, the once unified front of mainline Protestantism, a constituency that included Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Disciples, with some Lutherans on the fringes, divided into evangelical and liberal halves. Not until the 1940s, with the formation of the National Association of Evangelicals, would the more conservative side achieve the institutional coherence that characterized the mainline through the Federal Council of Churches (which in 1951 became the National … 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

  • The Lone Monk Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2007

    The seventh century is something of a forgotten epoch for most Protestants. But it is well worth knowing. The creative heart of its theology lay in the East — the Byzantine Empire, centered on Constantinople. Here the Christological controversies of the fifth century were still bubbling away. As a result of the councils of Chalcedon (451) and of Second Constantinople (553), the Eastern church and empire were bitterly divided between two great parties. These were the Chalcedonians, loyal to the orthodox creed of Chalcedon, that Christ is one person in two natures; and the Monophysites, numerous in Egypt and Syria, … View Resource

  • Machen’s God-Centered Vision Article by John Piper

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2006

    J. Gresham Machen wielded his powers against modernism as an historian and as a student of the New Testament. He argued on historical grounds that from the beginning the church was a witnessing church (Acts 1:8) and a church devoted to the apostles’ teaching. In other words, her life was built on events without which there would be no Christianity. These events demanded faithful witnesses who tell the objective truth about the events, since they are essential. Moreover, the life of the church was built on the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42), the authoritative interpretation of the events. Thus Machen’s response … 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