• Reformed Piety and Practice Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2017

    When Martin Luther (1483–1546) entered the Augustinian convent at Erfurt in 1505, it was a considered decision and the fulfillment of a vow he had made when he cried, “St. Anne, help me! I will become a monk.” So he did.  Luther entered one of the most rigorous and observant orders; the rule of the Augustinian monks was demanding. It required them to have all food and clothing in common. They were committed to a life of poverty and severe self-denying piety. Required hours of prayer included predawn services and services at 6 a.m., 9 a.m … View Resource

  • Divinely Instituted Sacraments Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2016

    One is sometimes left with the impression from defenders of Roman Catholicism, newscasters, and even docents in British and European cathedrals that the Reformation crept into the church and stole five ancient sacraments when no one was looking. This is quite untrue. It was not until the late thirteenth century that there was a formal recognition of anything like what we know today as the Roman Catholic sacramental system. The cup was capriciously and tyrannically withheld from the laity in 1281 at the Council of Lambeth and again at the Council of Constance (1415). While withholding the cup, Rome conceded … View Resource

  • Always Abusing Semper Reformanda Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2014

    The Reformation churches have some wonderful slogans that are chock full of important truths. Sometimes, however, these slogans can be misconstrued, misreported, and misunderstood. With the possible exception of sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), none of these slogans has been mangled more often toward greater mischief than ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed, always reforming). According to historian Michael Bush, much of what we think we know about this slogan is probably wrong. The phrase is not from the sixteenth century. I have searched hundreds of documents in a variety of languages from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and … View Resource

  • The Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2014 | Matthew 16

    On February 28, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI abdicated the papacy. Six days later, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit priest and archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected by the College of Cardinals and installed as Pope Francis I, bringing to a conclusion a remarkable series of events. The papal resignation and Francis’ accession takes us back to the last pope to abdicate, Gregory XII (1415), and the marvelously messy history of the Avignon Papacy. OF POPES AND ANTIPOPES If we believe the popular myth, we might think that there has been an unbroken succession of popes in Rome since Peter. But … View Resource

  • Drawing the Line: Why Doctrine Matters Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2012

    Imagine Mike. He’s an unusual mechanic. Where other mechanics find natural laws (such as gravity) unavoidable and even useful, he suspects them to be arbitrary, invoked in order to stifle his creativity. We can imagine how the story ends. Cars brought for repair are returned in worse shape than before. Mike goes out of business. Whatever Mike might think, the laws of physics are built into the nature of creation. So it is with doctrine in the Christian faith and life. Throughout Christian history, folks have proposed to do without Christian doctrine, the good and necessary inferences drawn from the … View Resource

  • Divorcing Doctrine from Scripture Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2011

    Dear Pithius, Our dear boy, you quite misunderstand the problem. So long as Christians continue to understand the Book to contain truths, claims about the way things really are, about the enemy, about Him-who-ought-not-be-named, about His Paraclete, about humans as contracting with us, and about the resolution of all things — one shudders — we shall never succeed. It is, therefore, imperative that you convince them to reckon the Book as a guide to personal fulfillment and especially a way to exquisite, euphoric experience. That is our best product. You will, of course, recognize this approach. It worked the first time and … View Resource

  • Pilgrims (and Their Hosts) Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2010

    There are about sixty-million evangelicals in North America. By contrast, the confessional Reformed communions number fewer than one million members. One effect of these disproportionate numbers is that the theology, piety, and practice of American evangelicals shape the expectations of many Christians. View Resource

  • The Canons of Dordt Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | April 2008

    Everyone knows the acronym TULIP, but not everyone knows where this acronym comes from. The Canons of Dordt are among the most famous but unread deliverances of any Reformed Synod. The canons are more than five letters. The canons teach a pastoral doctrine of grace and provide a model for the stewardship of the Gospel. The Canons (rules) of the Synod of Dordt were written after years of controversy within the Reformed churches in Europe and Britain. In the late sixteenth century the Reformed doctrines of sin, grace, faith, justification, atonement, perseverance, and assurance faced a growing resistance. At the same … View Resource

  • The History of Covenant Theology Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2006

    Until recently, it was widely held that covenant theology was created in the middle of the seventeenth century by theologians such as Johannes Cocceius (1609–1669). In fact, covenant theology is nothing more or less than the theology of the Bible. It is also the theology of the Reformed confessions. In the history of theology, the elements of what we know as covenant theology; the covenant of redemption before time between the persons of the Trinity, the covenant of works with Adam, and the covenant of grace after the fall; have existed since the early church. Indeed, Reformed readers who turn … View Resource

  • For God So Loved the World Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2004

    To many, the topics of common grace and atonement would seem to be mutually exclusive, as if we should either hold to common grace or to definite atonement, but not to both. There are, however, good biblical and theological reasons for holding both the Reformed doctrines of common grace and definite atonement. By common grace I do not mean that God has endowed all humans with a universal gift whereby, if they will, they may do what is necessary to obtain salvation. Rather, using the formula adopted by the Christian Reformed Churches in 1924, “common grace” means three things: First … View Resource