The Spring 2013 Men’s Book Study begins on Saturday, February 16, from 9:00am to 10:30am, at Starbucks (Dimond & Old Seward, map). If you would like to be a part, you first need to collet a book at church (visit the back table) and drop $7 into the offering. You can also order it on your own (Monergismbooks carries it).
Then, show up at Starbucks and we’ll discuss what we’ve read. As usual, there is a schedule of our reading assignments posted on the church calendar and via Faith’s Facebook page. We’ll meet for four Saturdays (Feb. 16, Mar. 16, Apr. 13, and May 18) and try to tackle about 50 pages.
Will I understand this book?
Yes. This book is written by an American theology professor in 1925, but most of the book comes from lectures given to Bible college students. I realize that last semester we looked at a Puritan work that was extremely difficult to read. Mea culpa.
J. Gresham Machen [read up] is a wonderfully clear communicator. In fact, parents, would you like a Bible survey for your young readers? You should download A Brief Bible History: A Survey of the Old and New Testaments. This is a remarkable work published in 1922 that has very little competition today. It is a gem. It shows that Machen has a powerful ability to unfold difficult topics for untutored ears.
What is this book about?
This work, in particular, is designed to clearly unfold what is meant by saving faith. Saving faith can de defined as “a saving grace whereby we receive and rest upon Jesus alone for salvation as He is offered to us in the gospel (Westminster Shorter Catechism, 86; see also Phil. 3.9 and Gal. 2.16). Machen believed that many preachers of his day were not preaching the unique gospel of Jesus, which meant that many hearers were not given an opportunity to “receive and rest upon” Him.
Machen believed that various forms of a “polite paganism” had replaced the gospel of Jesus. This “polite paganism,” in whatever form (mysticism, pragmatism, etc.) would never have the power to help people answer the question, “How do I believe and become saved,” a question that he believed was intensely practical.
“The preachers of the present time allude to the importance of becoming a Christian, but they seldom seem to make the matter the subject of express exposition; they leave the people with a vague impression to the effect that being a Christian is a good thing, but this impression is difficult to translate into action because definite directions are absent. These preachers speak about faith, but they do not tell what faith is.”
This book is a very clear, biblical, and intellectually credible attempt to unfold what exactly is Christian faith.