• 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

  • The Crusades Article by W. Robert Godfrey

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2011

    The Bible can be a dangerous book if misused and abused. In the history of the church, the misunderstanding of the Bible has led to many serious problems, ranging from false doctrine to legalistic customs and misdirected lives. One of the most blatant examples of this is the Crusades: a series of wars led by Europeans in the name of Christ against Islamic states in the Near East during the Middle Ages. The idea that Christians can use the sword to advance their cause might seem to be justified by passages like the following: “May all kings fall down before … View Resource

  • Separation of Church and State Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2011

    Western Europe was shaken to the heart in the eleventh century by the investiture conflict. It saw kings humbled by popes, popes driven out by kings, wars between armies, dissensions within the church, and, ultimately, a new Europe. A theological dispute pulsed at the center of the conflict. To understand it, we have to step back even further in time to the development of feudalism. The Roman Empire’s disintegration in the West, from the fifth century on, gave birth to a new social landscape, where ownership of land rather than money or political office was all-important. More-powerful figures made grants … View Resource

  • No Place for Heresy Article by C. FitzSimons Allison

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2010

    One of the best examples of reform is that which occurred at Cluny in the tenth century in southern France following the darkest times of the Western church after the fall of Rome (see Nick Needham’s article above for more on the Cluniac revival). It brought a visible seriousness of spiritual discipline that lasted for more than two centuries. The acknowledged founder, Berno of Baume (d. 927), was followed by long-serving, effective leaders. The order reached its height under Hugh (d. 1109) with well over one thousand houses affiliated with the mother monastery of Cluny. View Resource

  • Revival & Repentance: From Cluny to Simeon Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2010

    In the ninth century, Christian civilization had almost been destroyed in western Europe by the Norse invasions. Unlike today’s benign neo-pagans, Vikings were ferocious, skull-cracking warriors who burnt down churches, slaughtered clergy and monks, and raped nuns. The tenth century, however, saw a remarkable turnaround. One by one, the Norse kingdoms embraced Christianity. The process had actually begun toward the end of the ninth century in England, when the Danish Norsemen submitted to Christian baptism as part of a peace treaty with Alfred the Great. In the tenth century, the Norsemen of France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland followed suit. View Resource

  • Setting the Stage: The First Millennium Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2010

    Volumes have been written giving detailed analyses of the extraordinary things that occurred in the first thousand years of church history, events that influenced everything that came after them. In this brief overview, I’m going to look at five dimensions of activity that had monumental impact for the future history of Christianity. 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

  • Patrick: Missionary to Ireland Article by George Grant

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2005

    A small body of Christian believers has faithfully maintained a century-long Gospel legacy in the heart of the teeming city of Jakarta. Planted by Dutch missionaries during the colonial era, the Reformed Chapel has gracefully shown forth the love of Christ to the world’s largest Muslim nation in both word and deed. Though many of the members of the congregation had only recently been oppressed, tyrannized, and sent fleeing from their family homes on the island of Sumatra, they responded quickly to the tsunami disaster that swept many of their former persecutors into a horror of death, destruction, and loss … View Resource

  • Truly God, Truly Man: The Council of Chalcedon Article by Nicholas Needham

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2005

    It’s hard enough to pronounce “Chalcedon.” Getting to grips with its theology can be even more daunting. But the effort will be very richly rewarded. For the past 1,500 years, right up to the present day, virtually all orthodox Christian theologians have defined their “orthodoxy” with reference to the Council of Chalcedon. That certainly includes the Reformed tradition. We may not think that the early ecumenical councils were infallible. But we have generally held that they were gloriously right in what they affirmed, and that Christians who take the church and its history seriously must reckon with these … View Resource

  • Augustine, Doctor of Grace Article by Tom Nettles

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2005

    For combination of doctrine and piety, Augustine (354–430) has few peers in the history of Christianity. His writings inform every area of discussion in Christian philosophy, systematic theology, philosophy of history, polemics, rhetoric, and devotion. Though some views support doctrines of intercessory prayer and sacrifices for the dead, purgatory, and transformational justification, Augustine’s mighty doctrines of grace and Christ’s incarnation and sacrifice are given accurate and substantial development in the confessions of Reformed theology. After the fall of Rome, the thousand-year project of rebuilding western civilization on Christian rather than pagan thought proceeded on Augustinian concepts. The Reformation of the … View Resource

  • The Pelagian Controversy Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2005

    Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire.” This passage from the pen of Saint Augustine of Hippo was the teaching of the great theologian that provoked one of the most important controversies in the history of the church, and one that was roused to fury in the early years of the fifth century. The provocation of this prayer stimulated a British monk by the name of Pelagius to react strenuously against its contents. When Pelagius came to Rome sometime in the first decade of the fifth century, he was appalled by the moral laxity he observed … View Resource

  • Living Authority Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2005

    In the main hallway of the seminary where I studied hangs a copy of Albrecht Dürer’s masterpiece The Four Apostles. It is indeed a magnificent interpretation of the classic work that was painted by one of the seminary’s professors of New Testament, whose biblical faithfulness is manifested in one small detail of the painting. If one studies the painting closely, he can observe one minor difference between Dürer’s painting and the reproduction. Dürer has the apostle Peter holding the golden key to the gate of heaven, whereas the replica shows Peter with no key at all. Such a deliberate omission … View Resource

  • Our Fourth-Century Fathers Article by George Grant

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2004

    Like America’s Founding Fathers, the Patristics are often invoked but seldom actually read. They are often referenced but seldom actually quoted. Though they are at the heart of the traditionalist sloganeering, they have in fact, only rarely actually contributed to the traditions they supposedly have inspired. Today they are the great unknowns, these Church Fathers. Even in those communions that place much emphasis on Apostolic Succession — the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Copt — there is scant knowledge of those who succeeded the apostles. Their words and works are seldom more than anecdotally revered. The irony of this goes beyond … View Resource

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Article by Gene Edward Veith

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2004

    The Edict of Milan in A.D. 313 legalized Christianity. Toleration of this new faith in Rome was not a gradual development. It happened suddenly, right after some of the most brutal persecutions of Christians. Soon, Roman officials were kissing the broken hands of Christian confessors whom they had tortured. Quickly, paganism faded as the official religion of the Roman Empire, only to be replaced by the Christian church. Christianity, once despised and persecuted, emerged from the catacombs in triumph. Whereupon its problems really began. Constantine The emperor Diocletian, who initiated the most violent and systematic persecutions of Christians, ruled … View Resource

  • Not One Iota Article by Rick Gamble

    FROM TABLETALK | August 2004

    While on earth, our Lord confirmed that He and the Father are one (John 10:30). On the other hand, He asked, “Why do you call me good, no one but my Father is good?” (Mark 10:18). Putting those two statements together is not very easy. However, the Bible does not leave only that question to resolve. Jesus could tell the “unknown” inquisitive sinner hiding in a tree that He would have lunch with him while also claiming that no one knows the time or the hour but the Father (Mark 13:32). There is an inherent tension … View Resource