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Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology

By admin | June 22, 2012

An important new series.

Reformation Heritage Books has released the first two volumes of an important and interesting new series titled Explorations in Reformed Confessional Theology. Edited by Daniel Hyde and Mark Jones, it ‘intends to clarify . . . confessional issues from four vantage points:’ textual, historical, theological and pastoral. The books are tightly focused and well executed investigations of particular topics.

The first two books in the series, In Defense of the Descent by Daniel R. Hyde and By Good and Necessary Consequence by Ryan M. McGraw have already been released. Both books are less than 90 pages long (including index) and each is a very helpful study of its subject.

Rev. Daniel Hyde, pastor of Oceanside (CA) United Reformed Church seeks to defend the most frequently misunderstood clause in the Apostles’ Creed: ‘He descended into Hell.’ The book is a judicious and irenic examination of the issues involved in the statement. Hyde respectfully disagrees with several recent critics of the clause, and persuasively argues that it should be retained by modern Reformed churches. He includes four very helpful pastoral reasons why Christans are helped and encouraged by the doctrine expressed in the clause. While the matter is perhaps of more urgency for churches that officially subscribe to the Heidelberg Catechism (which includes the Apsotles’ Creed in its text), the book is nevertheless still useful for Reformed Baptists. As a pastor of a church that uses this creed monthly in one of our Lord’s Supper observances, I commend its clear and balanced treatment.

The second volume released, By Good and Necessary Consequence, is much more directly relevant to the belief and practice of Confessional Reformed Baptist churches. The author, Rev. Ryan McGraw, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Conway/Myrtle Beach SC, seeks to examine the famous clause from Chapter 1 paragraph six of the Westminster Confession of Faith which speaks about ‘good and necessary consequences.’ Beginning with a chapter on exegesis, McGraw demonstrates the Scriptural basis for the principle, then examines its history at the Westminster Assembly, describes its importance, replies to objections and draws out practical conclusions. As a Baptist, I especially appreciated his brief but careful statement on the modification made to this clause in the 2nd London Confession 1:6. McGraw states (quite rightly) that the Baptist modification is not a rejection of the principle but rather a further clarification of the language employed by WCF. I was very pleased to read this. The book is extremely valuable, but it is marred by some major errors. For example, on page 19, and in the Bibliography, the author of the book Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed is misidentified as Phillip Dixon. The actual author is Phillip Benedict. Likewise, on page 35 the text speaks of the ‘inter-trinitarian covenant.’ This would imply a covenant between multiple trinities! The proper phrase is ‘intra-trinitarian covenant.’ A closer editing process might have identified and corrected these problems. Despite these editing problems, the book is well-conceived and very valuable.

In every way, this looks to be a promising series. We hope that many more such valuable volumes will be added as the years pass.

Topics: Baptist History, Confessions, Pastoral Ministry, Reformation, Reformed Theology | Comments Off

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