Book Briefs: On Education


On Education – Lexham Press

Abraham Kuyper was a leading Dutch figure in education, politics, and theology. He was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church, was appointed to Parliament, and served as prime minister. Kuyper also founded the Free University in Amsterdam. 

Lexham Press has published some of Kuyper’s works in a new series of Collected Works of Theology. Most recently, Lexham has published Kuyper’s volume On Education. If you are able to purchase these volumes from Lexham, you will not regret it! 

The layout of this volume is helpful for the reader. When I have read some older works by theologians, the layout of various volumes can make it harder to read. But this cannot be said about this volume. The print, chapter divisions, and introductions have helped make this a great resource for pastors, teachers, and churches. 

In the introduction of On Education, Kuyper is quoted from one of his speeches at Parliament. He said, “Education is a distinct public interest. Education touches on one of the most complicated and intricate questions, one that involves every issue, including the deepest issues that invite humanity’s search for knowledge – issues of anthropology and psychology, religion and sociology, pedagogy and morality, in short, issues that encroach upon every branch of social life. Now it seems to me that such an element of cultural life has the right in every respect to an absolutely independent organization; always in the sense that education should function in the spirit of what the British call a body corporate” (pg. xxii). 

The editor uses a quote of Kuyper’s from Parlementaire Redevoeringen, “Unity of the nation is not brought into danger by having children attend different kinds of schools but by wounding the right and limiting the freedom so that our citizens are offended not in their material interests but in their deepest life convictions, which is all-determinative fro the best of them. That sows bitterness in the hearts and divides a nation. Instead of asking what the state school will receive and what the free school will receive, as sons of the same fatherland we should commit to raising the development of our entire nation. Then the feeling of unity will grow stronger and more inspired” (pg. xxxviii). 

Education will always be a very important topic for discussion in our communities and churches. This volume will help pastors now and help pastors 100 years from now. Use this resource, think about the importance of education, and invest in your communities for God’s glory and our good. You only get one life and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last!

Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies

Recovering Church Membership

As a body of believers, Christians are called to be together and not neglect the local assembly (Hebrews 10:25, “Not neglecting to meet together” ESV). We are covenanted together by Christ and what we confess. 

The local church displays the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who confesses Christ as the forgiveness of sins should gather with fellow believers every Lord’s Day and be renewed in the good news. The people of God are first and foremost united in the Gospel. When the world looks at the church, and they ask what we have in common. The people of God should unanimously say, “Christ!”. We forgive one another, we teach one another, we hold one another accountable, we comfort one another, and we exhort one another to press on in the faith. Membership matters because the people of God and the Gospel matters. 

John Hammett in Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches lays out some reasons in which Baptist Churches can recover meaningful church membership. (pg. 114-116)

  1. Recovery of meaningful church membership should be the number one priority of Baptist churches today because of the effect it would have on our corporate witness. 
  2. Our corporate health would be strengthened. 
  3. Doing the hard work in recovering meaningful membership is the potential for awakening literally millions of lost church members. 
  4. Recovering meaningful church membership would honor Christ. 

“Christ is honored when churches are composed of people whose church membership means first of all a genuine, vital commitment to Christ, and second, a commitment to the people of that local body. Christ is honored when church membership is meaningful.” – John Hammett, pg. 116, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches

So may our churches once again pursue meaningful church membership! For God’s Glory and our good!

To purchase a copy of Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches, click here. (2nd Edition)

Evan Knies is from West Monroe, LA. He is married to Lauren and father to Maesyn. He serves as Minister of Students at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, KY. He also serves as the Executive Assistant of the Nelson Baptist Association. He is a graduate of Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies

Convictional and Compassionate: Being an All-Around Calvinist

What comes to your mind when you hear the term “Calvinist” or “Calvinism” mentioned? For some people, the term represents a theology and a people who are cold, selfish, eggheads, academics, not practical, and isolated. The caricature of Calvinism oozes forth from many people as if being a Calvinist and being a leper were synonymous with one another. As someone who gladly embraces the term (with qualifiers as a Baptist), along with unashamedly declaring the doctrines of grace from the pulpit, it raises a concern that perhaps our zeal apart from love contributes to the scarecrow straw-man constructed by those who oppose Calvinism. A Calvinist must be a man or woman who is a Calvinist all-around. This is a play on C.H. Spurgeon’s work An All-Around Ministry where the Prince of Preachers guides young pastors into seeing the many elements that must be a part of ministry. I would suggest a few elements that are needed for us to be all-around Calvinists.

Experiential Religion

Some might get the impression (fairly and unfairly) that to be a Calvinist requires an oath to reject any type of feelings and emotions in regards to the Christian faith. If one reads just a few Puritan works, the conclusion will be made that this is not true. As I read The Valley of Vision (which you should too) prayers, my heart stirs within me considering the greatness of our God and His grace manifest in the life and work of Jesus Christ. Calvinism fuels true experiential religion built upon the Word of God. In his work The Practical Implications of Calvinism, Pastor Albert N. Martin makes a striking observation: “I submit that a man has no right to speak of being a Calvinist because he can repeat like a parrot phrases brought to him in the great heritage of Reformed literature. He must ask himself, Has the Holy Spirit brought be me to this profound sense of God that has worked in me at least in some measure the grace of humility.” [1] It is not enough for us to systemize if we do not internalize. The doctrines of grace are the marrow for experiential religion for they are anchored to the text of the Bible, beholding the majesty of God, humbling our prideful spirits, and taking us upward to behold the Lamb of God. Is your Calvinism causing you to be a man or woman of biblical, experiential religion? May God help us if our Calvinism causes us to be cold and indifferent! Such an experience would indict us of not truly knowing the doctrines of grace.

An Informed Worldview

Calvinism extends far beyond TULIP and the latest conferences. Biblical and historic Calvinism provides a guide for how to view all of life. A person’s theology better be more than what takes them to corporate worship for an hour on Sunday. In fact, this is one of the great problems of the day. A ritualistic morality is a poor and cheap substitute for biblical Christianity. The great Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield defined a Calvinist in the following way:

He who believes in God without reserve and is determined that God shall be God to him in all his thinking, feeling and willing – in the entire compass of his life activities, intellectual, moral, and spiritual – throughout all his individual social and religious relations, is, by force of that strictest of all logic which presides over the outworking of principles into thought and life, by the very necessity of the case, a Calvinist. [2]

Warfield expands the playing field when it comes to Calvinism as being more than a theological acrostic. Theology can never be impractical due to the fact that doctrine fuels our lives. Each day decisions are made based upon a worldview, a grid for life. Calvinism will influence how you parent, how you relate to your spouse, the way you view your job, politics, and so forth. If Calvinism only comes into play when TULIP is spoken of, then it is not Calvinism but a sort of pragmatism that reigns in the heart and mind of an individual. J.I. Packer beautifully summarizes this in his introductory essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ:

        “Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world’s Maker and King. Calvinism is the consistent endeavor to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of his will. Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own word. Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible – the God-centered outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace. Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), religion (dependence on God as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in God through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form. And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of his great preordained plan for his creatures and his church. The five points assert no more than God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that he is sovereign everywhere.” [3]

A Gracious Outlook

Confessing a theology known as the doctrines of grace must impact us in being gracious to others. Sometimes I cringe reading Twitter and seeing how men who I am persuaded are true believers, who call themselves Calvinists, and yet speak to each other in ways that lack any type of grace and charity. Keyboard Calvinism is as dangerous as pragmatism. Calvinism is not a badge to wear for admittance into the cool kids’ club nor is it a club to beat people over the head with. When one gets a true sense of the grace that God has shown, how can that not humble us and guide us in our dealings with others?

One of the great concerns I have is that many Facebook and Twitter Calvinists are pragmatists when it comes to their ecclesiology. If you choose where you attend church and are a member at based on pragmatic values, then it does not matter how well you can articulate the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace. One of the greatest changes in my life when I came to understand the doctrines of grace involved how I viewed the local church. If you want to destroy the caricature of cold Calvinism, band together with like-minded believers. The beauty of Calvinism should be seen in gracious cooperation: serve the community like ministering at a children’s home or a nursing home, show grace to one another knowing all of us are feeble human beings who need Christ and remember that the pilgrimage to Zion is not a road of isolation.

Steadfast Convictions

The false dichotomy that states being gracious and compassionate means the absence of convictions and beliefs must be rejected. Our Lord is all-gracious and compassionate yet He is dogmatic and narrow as He declares that He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. Calvinism must be compassionate and convictional. Our theology does matter. Our beliefs do matter. For someone to say that it is not a big deal what one believes concerning God’s sovereignty, man’s depravity and Christ’s sufficiency moves closer and closer to a false gospel. Further reformation is needed today when it comes to the regulative principle of worship, the perpetuity of the moral law of God, confessionalism, and covenant theology. However, a person can be fervently committed to the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith without being obnoxious about it. In my opinion, no one combined the doctrinal fidelity of Calvinism with experiential religion, powerful evangelism, compassionate ministry, and selfless service like C.H. Spurgeon. Yet, Spurgeon was no ecumenical in the sense of watering down doctrine and theological railing. [4]


In recent months, there seems to be a growing trend that to be aligned with the 2nd London Baptist Confession indicates that one carries it as a badge of cantankerous religion and a fundamentalist zeal. In fact, “1689 Twitter” became a hashtag on social media in regards to the unsavory attitudes displayed by those who claim subscription to the confession. A few bad apples claiming confessionalism should not distort the richness of the 2LBCF. The tradition of this confession is a Christ-centered, church-oriented Calvinism that calls us to be convictional and compassionate. May those who claim confessional Calvinism emulate the Christian piety and warmth of men like John Newton, George Liele, Lemuel Haynes, Andrew Fuller, J.C. Ryle, and C.H. Spurgeon.

[1] Albert N. Martin, The Practical Implications of Calvinism. (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979), 10.

[2] Ibid., 4.

[3] See for the full essay.

[4] See

Jake Stone is a native of Gulfport, MS and has lived on the MS Gulf Coast his entire life. Pastor Jake began to serve full-time at New Testament beginning in August 2011 and this began the relaunch and revitalization process of the church. Jake is a graduate of William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS. Follow Jake on Twitter @ntbcpastor.

New Year Mercies

By Evan Knies

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

– Lamentations 3:22-23

This year has been tough to say the least. My family has had some trials. My wife’s family has had some trials. At the end of this year, my cousin’s passing was like a punch to the Continue reading “New Year Mercies”

Summa Ignormaus: How the Book of Job Confronts Theological Arrogance

whirlwindBy Cade Campbell

I love the Old Testament book of Job. It has a lot to say about a believer’s perseverance and about God’s wise and sovereign rule over all things. And of course it says a good bit about suffering. It also says a lot about not being an insufferable know-it-all masquerading as a theology nerd – or a disembodied (i.e. apart from life in the local church) discernment blogger. In other words, it’s a book of wisdom that seems tailor suited for seminary students. And, if we’re honest, it may be tailor made for students like myself who identify as Calvinists. We don’t, unfortunately, have the best reputation for humility with those we disagree with.

I’m saying all this in love. I’ve sometimes gotten all A’s in being a little brat; ask my wife. I know that all too well. The problem is I oftentimes want to think I know all, all too well, and I’ve found that Job is a book that’s really good at knocking the know-it-all out of me. That’s because Job had the know-it-all knocked out of him, or whirlwinded out of him; God did show up in a tornado after all. God’s work in Job’s life was an act of merciful humbling. Job had (or at least thought he had) all of life (especially his life), including the hidden decrees, ways, and works of God all figured out.

But Job was wrong, he just wasn’t wrong in the way we might expect. He wasn’t wrong like his three moronic friends who had been listening to too many prosperity preachers’ podcasts. He wasn’t wrong in the details of his diatribe. Technically he really was right: He hadn’t sinned. He wasn’t being punished. God was the one behind and overseeing his suffering. All of that was right on the mark. Job just made the mistake of using his theological precision as a pretext for calling him to the carpet, demanding God give an account of himself, to defend himself, to report in for a Job-evaluation (pun intended). In other words, Job’s problem wasn’t theological error; it was orthodox idiocy. He didn’t have a problem with heresy; he had a problem with humility. He was right. He was just right in the worst sense of the word.

You remember the story. Job had everything: He was rich. He was powerful. He had a picture-perfect family. He was a gazillionaire. And he was righteous, really righteous. He was the most pious man on earth. He loved God. He obeyed God. There was literally no one else like him in all the world.

Then he lost everything. All his property: Gone. All his money: Gone. All his kids: Gone. All his health: Gone. In a moment he went from being a godly billionaire of impeccable integrity with a picture perfect family and no worries to being diagnosed with terminal cancer at his kids’ funeral while reading an eviction notice from the bank informing him of his bankruptcy, his complete financial liquidation, and the imminent foreclosure and seizure of his home and properties. Then just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, his wife walked in the room and told him to go kill himself. She was a nasty little nihilist. Seriously, she made Jack Kevorkian look like a candy striper.

Job was having a bit of a bad day.

And then, just when you really thought things couldn’t possibly get any worse, he heard a knock at the door and opened it to find his three golf buddies feigning pity while holding lukewarm casseroles their wives had defrosted and sent over with a sympathy card. Job let them in and they wouldn’t leave. They camped out on his couch for a week, only to then decide that it was time for an intervention. They had been reading up on the latest theories on the intersection of disease, disaster, and doctrine, and they were pretty sure their divinity degrees qualified them to diagnose what was wrong with Job’s life. He needed to have a Bible study, and so for over thirty chapters these three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) unloaded theology lectures on their “friend.”

This was their take: God blesses good people (outwardly and always). God punishes bad people (outwardly and always). Job used to be blessed, therefore Job used to be good (with the emphasis on “used to be”). Job was now being punished, and so therefore according to all the rules of the universe Job must be a rotten, filthy pervert who secretly indulged in sin leaving him open to God’s retributive justice. These cheery grief counselors unpacked a theology of karma with a sadistic saintly-smile.

But Job would have nothing of it. He insisted they were wrong. He insisted they didn’t know what they were talking about. He insisted that he was innocent – wrongly accused. He wouldn’t give an inch. He wouldn’t confess to a transgression. He pleaded not guilty. His conscience was clear.

And he was right. But that’s where he took a wrong turn. The whole experience started to get to him. He came dangerously close to saying God made a horrible mistake. He didn’t know what was going on, but he believed that God was punishing him and he insisted that he was being punished unfairly.

Up until then he had maintained both his innocence as well as his total trust in God. Yet in the fury of the theological debate with his friends, Job overplayed his hand. He made a jump from insisting on his innocence to implying God’s guilt. So he demanded God give him an audience. He crossed his arms and dared God to have the almighty gumption to come and face him like a man. He essentially screamed to the heavens with a raised fist and said, “You get down here! You’ve got some explaining to do!” He aimed to put God on trial, and he intended to be the judge. He wanted to take the ruler of the woods to the woodshed. He thought the Almighty needed an attitude adjustment. If God was going to run the world, then he better check in with Job over at the HR Department to make sure he was doing it right. Job is the ultimately frustrated theology student. He thought of himself as an expert on God, but God wasn’t playing by his rules.

Then Job gets what he’s been asking for.

But instead of getting what he deserved, he got grace.

God showed up in the form of an EF-5 tornado and gave Job an education he never forgot (Job 38-42). Instead of God in the dock, Job finds himself pummeled under a blistering cross-examination. Job is forced to endure an oral examination that puts every doctoral program in the world to shame, and in that exam Job’s life was transformed, not by being able to explain God but by being given the mercy of encountering God. Instead of giving Job an answer to his questions, God graciously gives Job a revelation of his majesty. Instead of answering for himself, God condescended to display his glory, sovereignty, strength, love, and wisdom.

So Job repents. Job replies to God, “I have spoken once…but I will proceed no further” (Job 40:5). Job basically says, “I made the big mistake of opening my big mouth and talking about things I have no business lecturing on. I’m an idiot. I won’t do it again.”  Job learns the lesson that Orual learned at the end of C.S. Lewis’s novel Till We Have Faces, where she whispers, “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” God utters no answers to Job. God just shows him that he is the answer, and in seeing God Job is miraculously and radically redeemed as he moves from a life of theological theorizing to deeply theological worship. In the process he teaches us how to avoid his errors through living in the light of theological humility.

Humility is something we all desperately need. Don’t misunderstand me. Theological humility is not doctrinal cowardice. It is not the antithesis of conviction or confidence. It is not sniveling or shallow. It is not tepid or trembling. It is not acceptance of false-teaching. It is not politically correct ecumenism. Theology must be robust. Doctrine must be biblical. And yet as a new semester begins, and as college and seminary students step back into the classroom, we all need the reminder from Job’s tragedy that true knowledge of God is not necessarily affectionate adoration of God. We need to be reminded that knowing God is not synonymous with knowing about God. Instead of merely having the right answers and reading the right books, theological study and theological precision should always lead us to be wholly/holy captivated by a grand vision of God’s glory.

That’s why Job’s story is so valuable. It teaches us that theological orthodoxy is never an excuse for theological snobbery.

Job confronts theological snobbery by teaching us to resist the temptation to relish in someone else being called to the blackboard, especially if that someone else happens to be God.

Job confronts theological snobbery by grounding our daily lives not just in theological debate but in theological doxology – even when theological disagreement and debate are absolutely necessary.

Job confronts theological snobbery by warning us against using our Bibles as a pretense for self-justification, of arguing ourselves out of an argument.

Job confronts theological snobbery by displaying to us the grandeur and power of the God we know through his self-revelation.

Job confronts theological snobbery by insisting that a calling to proclaim God’s truth is never a calling to coordinate God’s plan.

And finally, Job confronts theological snobbery by turning both our theological astuteness and our God entranced worship away from ourselves and away from our own circumstances and to the mission of being God’s witness to a watching world.

That’s the surprising twist at the book’s end. God isn’t satisfied with just showing up and showing off, and he doesn’t just leave Job in the dust of humility. He pulls him into the ministry of theological education for the purpose of missiological passion. He turns Job’s eyes back to the theological thorns in his flesh…his friends.

And God doesn’t tell Job to pummel them. He doesn’t tell him to gloat over the glorious vision he’s been given. He isn’t to puff out his chest and pridefully proclaim, “I told you so.” He’s called to the ministry of reconciliation, to serve God in seeking and praying for their salvation. God confronts the theological sins of his friends but uses Job as an instrument of their redemption. Job is called to pray for them and God’s mercy is granted in response to Job’s request (Job 42:7-9).

Let’s be like Job. This school year may we all be known not merely for a commitment to theological truth, but may we also be known for our God-entranced lives. And may we also be known as men and women who respond to theological error not just with Facebook comments, blog posts, and deriding comedy. May we, like Job, respond to theological error (whether it be in the form of outright heresy or unintentional or immature ignorance) with passionate pleadings to God to powerfully save those who are his. That is, after all, part of what it means to speak the truth in love.

Cade Campbell (M.Div, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and his wife Amy are natives of Mississippi. He serves as the Associate Pastor for Preaching and Discipleship at First Baptist Church Henryville, Indiana. You can follow him on Twitter at @DCadeCampbell.