Here We Stand
There are good reasons to rejoice over the publication of this new online magazine. It may or not make a splash, but it will provide an opportunity. This opportunity could be described in many ways, but I think it’s best described as a chance to stop and think – to think theologically, to think in terms of our Protestant confessional tradition, to think about the ways and means of engaging in gospel ministry today.
This kind of stopping and thinking doesn’t seem to happen very frequently, particularly in the realm of internet discourse. You can certainly find plenty of theological controversy online, plenty of name-calling and book-promoting. But it does seem to us – and this is what lies behind our enterprise – that there needs to be a place where confessional concerns can be heard, and where the voices of traditional Protestant theology can be raised – however briefly – over the booksellers and cool controversialists.
There are many small points on which our writers and editorialists will disagree. And even on larger matters of church polity, baptism, and eschatology we will not all walk in lockstep. Yet we are united in our commitment to the theological distinctives of the Reformed Protestant confessional mainstream. These are often unpopular distinctives: they are maligned, sidelined, or, worst of all in our day and age, they are considered outdated and unhelpful for the work of gospel centered ministry.
On the other hand, perhaps we don’t stand alone. Calvin certainly stands alongside us, as he explains the human condition in these words: “we are so vitiated and perverted in every part of our nature that by this great corruption we stand justly condemned and convicted before God, to whom nothing is acceptable but righteousness, innocence, and purity.”1 And we have Hodge at our side, when he writes, “Paul teaches clearly the doctrine of the personal election of men to eternal life, an election founded not on works, but on the good pleasure of God.”2 We agree with Spurgeon, who said, “We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved.”3 Luther is by our side, writing, “When God works in us, the will is changed under the sweet influence of the Spirit of God. Once more it desires and acts, not of compulsion, but of its own desire and spontaneous inclination.”4 And then Spurgeon again, who writes, “We preach no rickety Gospel which will not bear your weight! It is no chariot whose axles will snap, or whose wheels will be taken off. This is no foundation of sand that may sink in the day of the flood! Here is the everlasting God pledging Himself by Covenant and oath that He will write His Law in your heart; that you shall not depart from Him; He will keep you; that you shall not wander into sin, but if for a while you stray, He will restore you again to the paths of righteousness!”5
It is for these doctrines that we stand. We stand too for the inerrancy of the Bible as originally penned: God has spoken, and His Word is truth; we stand for the creation and Fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve; for the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, and the severity of His warnings of eternal judgment. Just as importantly, we stand because we believe that God’s sovereignty is absolute. As professor John Murray put it, when writing on the doctrine of judgment and reprobation: “On this crucial issue, therefore, Calvin, Dordt, and Westminster are at one. The terms of expression may differ…but the doctrine is the same and this undissenting unity of thought on a tenet of faith that is a distinguishing mark of our Reformed heritage and without which the witness of the sovereignty of God and to his revealed counsel suffers eclipse at the point where it must be jealously maintained. For the glory of God is the issue at stake.”6 Indeed it is at stake in these important doctrines, and all that we will write and post will bear that weighty truth in mind.
For us, the main issue is not whether these doctrinal convictions were held by Calvin or Luther, Spurgeon or Hodge (though they were), no, the main question is whether they were taught by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself – our king, the author and finisher of our faith. Since they are, then we must do nothing less than stop and think. And ultimately we must stand.
That is what the authors writing for this online publication will strive to do. Our tone will aim for edification at all times, and our primary task will be a positive one – reinforcing men and women in the church with convictions about the God, the Bible, and the world which have withstood far greater onslaughts and have far richer implications than most today realize. There will surely be moments when confrontation will be required, but our intended spirit is constructive. It is a place for truth, and in a time when truth is downplayed, denigrated, or ignored, that just might make this the most relevant publication around.