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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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Reviews: ‘Baptists and War,’ ‘Spurgeon’s Sorrows,’ ‘Luther on the Christian Life,’ ‘Thomas Aquinas’

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Baptists and War: Essays on Baptist and Military Conflict, 1640s-1990s, Gordon L. Heath and Michael

 

A.G. Haykin

 

Review by S. Craig Sanders

 

“War is hell.” While Baptists have traditionally agreed with this statement, a new collection of essays examines the history of Baptists and military  conflict with views ranging from pacifism to participation. Baptists and War, edited by Southern Seminary professor Michael A.G. Haykin and McMaster Divinity College professor Gordon L. Heath, is comprised of lectures delivered at the fifth annual Andrew Fuller Conference in 2011.

 

“In our day, it is imperative that serious thought be given to the way Baptist followers of the Prince of Peace should live in a world increasingly filled with violence and war and rumors of war,” Haykin and Heath write in the introduction.

 

Paul Brewster, who wrote a 2010 biography of Andrew Fuller, contributed an essay on Fuller’s views on war during Britain’s long conflict with Napoleon (1792-1815). Fuller advocated that Christians seek the good of their country, a “qualified patriotism” that permitted military participation so long as it did not violate a believer’s conscience or trample on the rights of others. The first loyalty of the Christian, Fuller insisted, is to God.

 

“As members of civil society, Christian people must sometimes bear arms and otherwise assist their county in the horrible scourge of war,” Brewster writes, summarizing Fuller’s position. “True patriotism did not consist of unthinking allegiance or blindness to the faults of one’s native land, but in fervent prayer for an outpouring of God’s mercy on a guilty people.

 

Most interesting of the remaining essays — including Baptist responses to the War of 1812, World Wars I and II, and the Cold War — is Nathan Finn’s essay on the Vietnam War, in which he compares Baptists’ views on the wars to the parties in the SBC’s conservative resurgence.

 

Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression, Zack Eswine

 

Review by Andrew Preston

 

In Spurgeon’s Sorrows, Zack Eswine examines the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon and his struggle with depression. Eswine reflects on the hope that Spurgeon found in his darkness, and how this can bring light for Christians in the midst of sorrow and suffering.

 

Spurgeon’s recognition that a diagnosis is not an end in itself provides the reader with a vocabulary for how to speak about their sorrows, while also embracing a Savior who bore their sorrow and grief in his own suffering. The book concludes with a synthesis of Spurgeon and how Christian suffering has sanctifying benefits in light of the gospel.

 

Eswine’s command of Spurgeon’s sermons and literature allows the reader to hear both the heartache and hope from the “Prince of Preachers” himself.  Spurgeon’s Sorrows will equip the church to learn what it looks and feels like to bear one another’s burdens.

 

Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom, Carl R. Trueman

 

Review by Andrew J.W. Smith

 

In Luther on the Christian Life, Carl R. Trueman looks at how the great Protestant theologian and champion of justification viewed day-to-day Christian faithfulness.

 

Trueman is an Orthodox Presbyterian, but he concurs with Luther’s broad theological categories. Their agreements allow Trueman to praise Luther at appropriate times, while their differences — particularly on baptism and the Lord’s Supper — offer Trueman evaluative distance from his subject.

 

Trueman acknowledges the themes that made Luther such a significant figure in Christian history, such as the theology of glory versus theology of the cross, the law and the gospel, and justification by faith. He also focuses on the aspects of Luther that don’t receive as much attention: the significance of intense spiritual trials in sanctification, his contribution to thinking about marriage and family, and the liturgical character of the Christian life.

 

Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason, and Following Christ, Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

 

Review by Jeremiah Greever

 

In Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason, and Following Christ, Frederick Bauerschmidt portrays Aquinas as both a brilliant theologian and earnest philosopher.

 

Using the ideologies of faith and reason, Bauerschmidt demonstrates how Aquinas furthered his theology through philosophical reasoning. Drawing primarily from what is arguably Aquinas’ greatest work, Summa Theologica, Bauerschmidt depicts how Aquinas’ existential theology developed through scientific and philosophical evaluations.

 

Bauerschmidt claims that Aquinas’ true passion was the faithful preaching of Scripture. Even while writing his many important treatises, Aquinas preached on a regular basis. History has proven that Aquinas’ love and devotion for the preaching of God’s Word has been beneficial throughout the centuries, making Aquinas worth emulating.

 

 

 

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