Since an early 20th century dogmatics work is not everyone’s cup of tea, I thought I would recommend two resources that are help us to understand some contemporary issues that the church is facing. They both happen to be from similar sources but are from two different angles, if you will.
The first is a paper written by a RPCNA (Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America) committee which was appointed “to provide guidance for congregations on the subject of homosexual orientation, not simply about the scriptural, scientific and moral issues, but also guidance for care and counsel to someone who believes their identity is homosexual” (quotation from here). This is an excellent resource for churches and Christians as it summarizes the main biblical arguments for a proper understanding and application of the seventh commandment in today’s world. We face a generation which is largely confused about issues of gender & ‘orientation’ and thus the church has a responsibility to properly identify & critically evaluate what these categories mean in light of scripture. Most importantly, this paper advises a compassionate approach to these issues, thus encouraging Christians to firmly but fairly and above lovingly, witness to those who are caught up in these sins. Hence the title “Gospel & Sexual Orientation” (emphasis mine). This book can be purchased at Crown & Covenant Publications.
The second resource is also a book but one that is more convicting and challenging than the first. Written by a pastor’s wife (RPCNA), “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” is part biography, part devotional and part hammer to the Christian’s conscience and the church’s record of witness to the fallen world. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield gives the reader a unique look into some communities that many Christian’s would fear to tread (to our detriment). But she does not write to expose the ‘evil’ or ‘awful’ intentions of those who oppose our faith, but rather for us to see those persons who oppose our faith as made in the image of God and, for that reason, worthy of our love and care. Indeed, most of the criticism in the book levied against the Christian community, and rightly so.
And yet this is not a book that is against our faith but a faithful proclamation of it. Formerly entrenched in and “of the world” Mrs. Butterfield’s remarkable conversion story seeks to tell us about God’s grace to sinners who desperately need His compassion. In short, if you want to read about what biblical conversion ‘looks like’, this book is for you. To whet your appetite, she let me quote a few gems:
Making a life commitment to Christ was not merely a philosophical shift. It was not a one-step process. It did not involve rearranging the surface prejudices and fickle loyalties of my life. Conversion didn’t “fit” my life. Conversion overhauled my soul and personality. It was arduous and intense. I experienced with great depth the power and authority of God in my life. In it I learned – and am learning – how to love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. When you die to yourself, you have nothing from your past to use as clay out of which to shape your future.
Later she argues (probably my favorite quote):
I didn’t choose Christ. Nobody chooses Christ. Christ chooses you or you’re dead. After Christ chooses you, you respond because you must. Period. It’s not a pretty story.
As if this alone would not thoroughly captivate your interest, Mrs. Butterfield also shares her reflections on the challenges of home-schooling, being a pastor’s wife, adopting and fostering and even the Regulative Principle of Worship. These parts of the book are also well worth reading.
I have been privileged to read a number of excellent books over the years and I can honestly say this is one of my favorites. In fact, I couldn’t recommend this book more highly. Available from Crown & Covenant Publications (Kindle version here) and Reformation Heritage Books.