Posts by James Rich

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How many times have you heard a missions conference speaker exhort everyone to fulfill the Great Commission by going overseas? I’ve heard that numerous times because I grew up in a Christian tradition that put a heavy emphasis on evangelism and “soul winning.” In fact, it was touted that the Summum...
The Elizabethan polymath, Francis Bacon, counseled, “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” Undoubtedly sound advice. But of the more than 300,000 books published annually in US, how is one to sort through such a smorgasbord of literary...
As the West experiences a proliferation of worldviews and cultural influences, there is growing consternation about the health and longevity of the Church. While this may seem like a cause for dismay, the history of the Church – especially in the pivotal Second Century – gives us encouragement...
It would be difficult to underestimate the impact John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion have had on the Church. Yet while Calvin’s most significant theological work has been highly valued as a theological exposition of the Christian faith, his magnum opus was not conceived from the...
Luther’s recovery of a Bible-centered Christianity led him to revise the worship liturgy to reflect this new theological orientation. His reordering of worship services gives us a glimpse of his theology of music, and from his own words, we see that he had a high view of it, not only for worship,...
There is an episode from Luther’s life in which he played a prominent role. It is not a story with a happy ending, but we should be familiar with the Marburg Colloquy because it holds important lessons for the Reformed community today.
The Minister has been in the forefront of Protestant church leadership since the Reformers recovered the primacy of preaching as the means of creating and deepening faith, having dethroned the priest, who was seen by Rome as the central actor in sacrificing Christ anew. But the Reformation...
When Martin Luther took his stand at the Diet of Worms, proclaiming, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason…, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God,” he affirmed that divine revelation is the only absolute,...
Ask someone if they know about Calvinism and most likely they’ll bring up TULIP, a helpful acrostic that stands for the doctrines of Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints. However, some Christians chafe at the doctrines that...
Years ago I attended a seminar promoting a new study Bible with notes aimed at fostering deeper relationships. At a break, I asked the author of the notes why basic theological points were so conspicuously absent. “Oh,” he replied, “that’s because doctrine divides, and we don’t want to divide...
The name Samuel Miller may be unfamiliar to most in the Reformed camp and even to many Presbyterians, but he is a man with whom we all should be well acquainted. Born in 1769, Miller is perhaps best known as the intellectual architect of what would become Princeton Seminary. In 1813 he was...
For over three centuries Christians have delighted in Pilgrim’s Progress, the spiritual allegory of the journey of Christian from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. This literary work has become a classic in the truest sense, treasured both for its literary qualities and its spiritual...
We have all encountered self-styled "Four Pointers," people who say they embrace the teachings of Reformed theology which are summarized in the TULIP acrostic. The one difference is that they reject the "L" which stands for "limited atonement." Four-point Calvinists struggle with the biblical...
As one of the solas of the Reformation, the centrality of grace in the Christian life is hard to overstate, but it seems Christians struggle somewhat to understand exactly what it is and how it operates. To demonstrate this misunderstanding, here's a quick quiz: "True or false; we are saved by...