Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | January 22, 2007

Books for the Kids

In a past article in Modern Reformation I was introduced to the following commentary by Nancy Ganz:

 

Children’s Commentary on Genesis

 

This author has acutually written commentaries on Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers as well.  So far, the commentary on Genesis has been good.  However, just to warn you they don’t spare many details in the story on Sodom and Gomorrah.  So use your parental judgment on that. 

 

Also, RC Sproul has three really good children’s books called the Priest with Dirty Clotes, The Lightlings and The King without Shadow.

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Responses

  1. Thanks — those look great! Who is this Nancy Ganz? The name seems somehow familiar, but I can’t find anything else she has written but this set of commentaries.

  2. I am not sure who she is… when I read the article in Modern Reformation recommending this series I thought I would check it out. So far, it has proven to be good.

  3. I saw Sproul’s “The Priest With New Clothes” and was kind of disturbed that it was medeival priests and bishops, and that there was a picture clearly meant to depict Christ.

    Call me synical, but I am not in favor, even though it does have a good gospel theme to it.

  4. Hey Echo, welcome.

    Are you against all stories that typify Christ? An example that I am thinking of would be the Chronicles of Narnia. This is a story that has witches, talking animals and lion clearly meant to typify Christ.

  5. No, I really like typological allegories. Like I said, the story about the Priest with Dirty Clothes is a good gospel story.

    But along with the gospel story is the assertion of priests and bishops. And the picture of Christ I’m referring to is not the typological picture, but the literal picture in the book. The painting, the drawing. It looks just like those pictures of Christ I used to see hanging on the walls of my old church once upon a time.

    I am not in favor of using images (not typology, but literal pictures) of Jesus.

    DVD wrote an article for the Dec issue of New Horizons about it.

    http://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=438

    RC Sproul is in favor of using images of Christ. The OPC takes the position that this sort of thing is a violation of the second commandment. Jesus is God, so making a picture of Jesus is making a picture (image) of God.

    RC Sproul likes big cathedrals with pictures depicting the acts of the apostles and of Christ.

    You know, it’s interesting how we learned in Ancient Church with Godfrey that no instruments were used in Christian churches for the first 1000 years of Christianity. It’s interesting that he said that the way it came about was that they began building cathedrals (often an expression of the bishop’s competition with the king for power and glory, by the way, because the cathedral would be more glorious than the castle). Well, cathedrals were works of art, so it became natural to incorporate other forms of art into worship. Worship became an expression of art.

    Strictly speaking, worship of God is not self expression. It’s a denial of self; it’s God imitation.

    When I was raised in a Pentecostal church, the rule in worship was simply as long as you’re sincere, God will accept your worship. Well, it isn’t sincerity that makes our worship acceptable, it’s the shed blood of Christ that makes our worship acceptable. We can be as sincere as we want, but we can be sincerely wrong. I mean, it gets to a fundamental question about what sin is. For instance, if you tell a lie, believing it to be true, you tell that lie sincerely. Does your sincerity make your statement other than a lie? No. It’s still a lie.

    In the context of worship, let’s say you really, really believe that God wants you to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. In all sincerity, then, you go to work building this temple, and this is an act of worship for you. And you figure that if you make the building beautiful, and if you are sincere, God will accept your worship. But will God be pleased with you? No, because Jesus did away with the temple, because his sacrifice did away with the temple sacrificial system altogether. So we no longer have to make annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to sacrifice. Our sacrifice took place that day long ago when Jesus was nailed to the cross. That’s our sacrifice. Sincerity won’t get you anywhere here. In the same way, pagans worship many gods in all sincerity, but God doesn’t accept their worship.

    God accepts our worship based on the sacrifice of Christ. That’s what makes our worship acceptable. So then, does it matter at all what we do in worship? Yes, just like it matters that we stop sinning. We can’t stop sinning, but we continually strive to be less sinful. We seek to conform to the law of God out of gratitude for what Christ has done.

    Well, in the same way, we seek to strive to be obedient to the commands God gives us regarding worship. The Westminster Larger Catechism illustrates this nicely regarding the second commandment:

    Q109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
    A109: The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising,[1] counseling,[2] commanding,[3] using,[4] and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself;[5] tolerating a false religion;[6] the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever;[7] all worshiping of it,[8] or God in it or by it;[9] the making of any representation of feigned deities,[10] and all worship of them, or service belonging to them;[11] all superstitious devices,[12] corrupting the worship of God,[13] adding to it, or taking from it,[14] whether invented and taken up of ourselves,[15] or received by tradition from others,[16] though under the title of antiquity,[17] custom,[18] devotion,[19] good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever;[20] simony;[21] sacrilege;[22] all neglect,[23] contempt,[24] hindering,[25] and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.[26]

    1. Num. 15:39
    2. Deut. 13:6-8
    3. Hosea 5:11; Micah 6:16
    4. I Kings 11:33; 12:33
    5. Deut. 12:30-32
    6. Deut. 13:6-12; Zech. 13:2-3; Rev. 2:2, 14-15, 20, Rev. 17:12, 16-17
    7. Deut. 4:15-19; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:21-23, 25
    8. Dan. 3:18; Gal. 4:8
    9. Exod. 32:5
    10. Exod. 32:8
    11. I Kings 18:26, 28; Isa. 65:11
    12. Acts 17:22; Col. 2:21-23
    13. Mal. 1:7-8, 14
    14. Deut. 4:2
    15. Psa. 106:39
    16. Matt. 15:9
    17. I Peter 1:18
    18. Jer. 44:17
    19. Isa. 65:3-5; Gal. 1:13-14
    20. I Sam. 13:11-12; 15:21
    21. Acts 8:18
    22. Rom. 2:22; Mal. 3:8
    23. Exod. 4:24-26
    24. Matt. 22:5; Mal. 1:7, 13
    25. Matt. 23:13
    26. Acts 13:44-45; I Thess. 2:15-16

    Wow! There’s quite a bit there! So that’s why the OPC is against using images of Jesus (pictures, not typological/allegorical stories, but actual visible pictures/paintings/images).

    Interestingly enough, nowhere in the Bible are we provided with a physical description of Jesus, with the possible exception of Isaiah, who says that there’s nothing remarkable about his appearance, that he was not, for example, strikingly handsome. So there’s no way we can capture even what he looked like with any accuracy at all.

    Further, a picture can only depict Jesus’ humanity. But Jesus was not just human, he was human AND God. You can’t depict that in a picture. It’s impossible. So any picture we make of Jesus is necessarily something less than what Jesus really is. It’s a distortion of the God-man.

    Anyway, the picture in the book that I’ve specifically in mind is the picture of a man’s face, with a big smile and long brown hair and a beard. It’s the Prince from the story being depicted, and he’s clearly drawn to look just like all the pictures of Jesus you see all over the place.

    For example:

    or:

  6. Man Echo…I am going to have to take sometime on this one.

    But let me say for now:

    I have a lot (many hours of tapes and a few books) of material from RC Sproul and I have never heard him promote uses of the image of Christ.

    I have also never known or heard RC Sproul to be a defender of Rome.

    I have heard him defend the use of art in worship, though.

    With this previous understanding of RC Sproul I guess I read the story as an allegorical one.

    I’d like to revisit your comment’s though in next few days…I just need to get through Greek III first.

  7. Yeah, he defends art in worship. He’s in favor of utilizing all forms of art. He wrote an article for Tabletalk maybe 6 months ago about images. Anyway, you know he defends the use of images in worship. That would be contrary to the WCF on the second commandment and the regulative principle. It would be against the OPC position on images in worship. But his own church has pictures of Jesus in it. A friend of mine visited. So when he defends images, that’s wrong in and of itself, but he does mean images of Jesus.

    I don’t think I said anything that implied that he defends Rome. His book has priests and bishops in it, two offices which we don’t think exist…and I find that problematic. That’s all. We don’t believe in bishops. We find it to be an error. And we don’t believe in priests either; our priest is Christ. Yet we are all priests of Christ. But we all have access to God through Christ. we need no priest to go to God on our behalf as a mediator (paraclatos) in any way. We have Christ.

    RC Sproul is pretty solid on the gospel, pretty solid on justification, and he does a lot to expose people to reformed truth on a really, really big scale. For that alone I’m grateful for him. But there are a lot of things that we don’t agree with. I mean, the same goes for Piper. I’m glad he’s out there doing what he’s doing, because the church needs people like that that bring in a lot of people to the reformed camp, or at least bring them in that direction. God used Piper to help me in my journey. But, these guys both have some serious issues. It’s a shame, but that’s the truth.

    They are brothers to be sure, but brothers in error. Not the end of the world, and I’m glad you’ve gotten so much out of him, but I think a whole lot of what he’s teaching is going to contradict a lot of what you’ll be learning at seminary over the next few years. But please don’t take my word for it.

    E

  8. Echo,

    I had a chance to read your comment more carefully. I must concede that you are right about the picture. And thanks for sharing the section from the catechism. I can see that this is really something I ought to spend the time to read.

    RC Sproul was instrumental in my coming to the Reformed faith. I still appreciate much of what he has done and has to say. But I have already had to reexamine some of his views that I had adopted (i.e. post-mill).

    If you are at church tomorrow I got to share an e-mail with you, we plan on being their in the morning.

  9. Oh, you didn’t mention an email this morning.

    Yeah, you should definitely be appreciative of RC Sproul. Lots of people are reformed thanks to his work. He’s very similar to Piper, who I lovingly refer to as a gateway drug to the reformed churches for charismatics. Sproul does that for Baptists and others. Lots of good stuff.

    I think you’ll find yourself re-examining just about everything at one time or another. It always helps to challenge your views, re-examine them, re-evaluate them, etc, and either modify them or be affirmed in them. Always a good thing. Continual refinement.

    I’ll tell you what. I took the counseling class during January. I had to rethink my view of ME. That class was brutal. I’ve never seen my own sin so clearly. Ever. It’s been kind of overwhelming. But God has shown me something else in the Scriptures recently. It’s like I just noticed it.

    Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
    Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

    This second verse quotes Habakkuk. Read that book. It’s amazing. It’s kind of unremarkable for the OT though. It begins with a lament that the wicked prosper and oppress Israel. How long, O Lord? But then God speaks to Habakkuk, basically encourages him in his faith, and tells him, “The righteous shall live by his faith.” Then there is a bit more encouragement from God, assurance of the promises that he will take vengeance on Israel’s enemies, etc. Then Habakkuk has a vision of the day of the Lord, and he sees God taking vengeance on his enemies. In response to this vision, Habakkuk says this:

    Hab 3:16 I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.
    Hab 3:17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
    Hab 3:18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
    Hab 3:19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

    And I wondered. Aren’t we awfully intimidated by our sin? Doesn’t Habakkuk say here that he will rejoice in the Lord despite the utter judgment of God that has come upon Israel? The picture is a bleak one. There is no prosperity. They are not full of life. But the new testament sees “fruit” in a different way.

    What if Paul, in Rom 1:15,16 is describing an enemy that makes me like a miniature Israel? What if I myself see that I am barren, seemingly oppressed by vicious enemies. What if I were to look on the depth of the wickedness of my own heart and despair?

    Have you ever done that? Have you ever seen your sinfulness and just felt hopeless? What if Paul is addressing that here, just like God spoke to Habakkuk, assuring him that vengeance would come? Then who or what is the enemy that oppresses me (Israel)?

    Rom 7:11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

    Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

    Don’t we sometimes find our own sin to be the worst sort of overlord, who seeks only to destroy us? And don’t we feel hopeless against it, and don’t we cower in fear from it? Sure, we can be brave against the muslims or against satan, but our own sinful hearts terrify us and strike fear into us.

    Our sinfulness is the beast of revelation that boasts great boasts before the Lord and constantly utters blasphemies and seeks to destroy the people of God. And when we see it, we are intimidated. We fall back and give in out of fear.

    But God says, the righteous shall live by faith. What does that mean? Faith in what? What is it that God is encouraging me to have faith IN, exactly?

    Why the gospel what else? For when we cower in fear at our sin, aren’t we suddenly becoming ashamed of the gospel? Indeed, we fear to put our hopes in the righteousness that is by faith. We don’t think it’s real. It’s absurd to us. And besides, look at the depth of my depravity! I take even the simplest, God honoring desires in the world and turn them into idols. It is not God I fear in such moments, but my own sin. I am oppressed by it, weighed down by it. But God comes along and tells us by his Spirit, through the pen of Paul: I am not ashamed of the gospel, for in the gospel, a righteousness that is by faith is revealed…

    Our sin ultimately has no power over us. So says the gospel. We are counted righteous in Christ. Our sin then has no power over us to make us cower in fear. There is nothing to be afraid of. It will not destroy us or kill us. Rather, it is already forgiven.

    But we have more than our justification to have faith in, because God has promised us more than just a forensic righteousness. He has promised us a real righteousness.

    1Co 15:51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
    1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
    1Co 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
    1Co 15:54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
    1Co 15:55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
    1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
    1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    1Co 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

    “the righteous will live by faith”. This is what we have faith in: where O Death is your sting? We have faith that we are counted righteous in Christ, but also that one day we will be raised, and our sin will be gone. We won’t even miss it. We will be raised incorruptible. For THIS reason, our labors are not in vain. We can carry on in our fight, and we don’t have to be intimidated by our sin anymore. We know that God has given us the victory in Christ, through his cross and resurrection. For if he has raised from the dead, so too will we be raised from the dead and be made like him.

    Our sin can no longer scare us. Even if there is no fruit on our branches – at least that we can see – and we think we aren’t really saved, doubting even the promises of God because of the magnitude of our sin:

    yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

    I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the very power of God for salvation. I will not fear that it has been given to me in vain, for the righteous will live by faith. I am counted righteous and I will really be righteous. Both are true by faith in Christ.

    E

  10. Echo,

    Sorry it took so long to get to this (time is so limited), but that was an awesome discourse.

    You know it is so, sad to see many people in the church who do not take the Gospel seriously. Many would rather place more emphasis on pursuit of holiness or seeking justice for the oppressed.

    Mike

  11. Well, I hope you are encouraged. Keep fighting the good fight.

    E


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