Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas is all about the cross!

Christmas is all about the cross! It is not about Santa, or the buying of gifts, or parties, etc. It is not even for that matter, about the birth of Christ alone! Christmas, or the celebration and commemoration of the birth of Christ, has much greater meaning than all of that!

The fact is that Jesus was born "to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10:45; Mt 20:28) Jesus was "delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." (Ac 2:23). That plan was for Jesus to come in the flesh, to live a sinless life and finally to pay a ransom for many!

The very reason for the coming of Jesus to this earth was to die on that cross almost 2000 years ago! Do not waste your Christmas with trivialities this year, but rather think of the real reason for Christmas!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Purveyors of the "new" gospel shun the old gospel

kevindeyoung Many times when we listen to what is being preached in churches today, one wonders which Bible Lite they are reading. It just seems that they cut out so much from the Bible that they end up preaching very little of the gospel. They, in fact, preach the "new" gospel! They have emasculated the gospel so much simply to make it less offensive to a world that has gone bonkers with being offended! What is the net effect of this? They are filling their churches with pagans that think they are saved/Christians/going to heaven!

Kevin DeYoung wrote an interesting short analysis (The Gospel Old and New) of this "new" gospel. He spells out this new gospel:

  1. It starts with an apology;
  2. God is seen as only love, like a fictional Santa. Oh, yes! Santa is fictional!
  3. An invitation to join God on His earthly mission;
  4. Eternity simply does not seem all that important.

Kevin gives a couple reason why this "new"  half-baked gospel is so hot:

  1. It is partially true;
  2. It deals with straw men, e.g. street preachers, crusades;
  3. It leads people to believe wrong things;
  4. It is manageable;
  5. It is inspirational;
  6. It is inoffensive.

Read Kevin's blog post to see the detail. It is a sad indictment of the modern church.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Laurence Vance's Critique of James White's "Potter's Freedom"

I was recently pointed to "A Critique of The Potter's Freedom by James White," written by Laurence M. Vance. It can be found online in many locations, almost like it has become the "holy grail" for Arminians against Calvinism.

Due to time constraints I will not give a detailed response to Vance's critique of James White's book, which can be found at Amazon, Aomin, ChristianBook, Kalahari or Augustine Bookroom.

Vance starts off in the first paragraph saying that

"because it is so illustrative of the Calvinists’ continual rehash of their errors, it merits further attention because of its prominent place in the current round of what I call the TULIP Wars."

The only problem with this sentence by Vance is that he never gets to give further attention to the "Calvinists’ continual rehash of their errors!" Sure, he mentions a lot of stuff that he believes are errors, but he never gets to give it "further attention." He only attempts once to provide a sprinkling of exegesis from the passage in Romans 9 concerning the potter and the clay. However, the rest of the critique is made up of assertions and innuendo. Hardly an iron-clad case!

Next, Vance goes off on a tangent of a totally inconsequential nature! He tries to prove how Reformed Baptists are simply Reformed Christians that baptize adults by immersion only. Truly a big deal, wouldn't you say? During this tirade Vance makes a huge deal about the fact that Reformed Theology rejects dispensationalism and premillenialism. He highlights this issue twice in two consecutive paragraphs. Is this one of his litmus tests for true Christianity? Is his level of exclusivity based on eschatology? I personally do not believe in the fabled rapture, nor in dispensationalism, but in New Covenant Theology. I personally believe that using eschatology as a barometer for correct theology is theologically shallow and shows a misunderstanding of the essentials of the gospel.

In Vance's handling of the potter and clay imagery, he lumps a whole lot of Bible passages together as if they all say the same thing, which could not be further than the truth. He makes the reader believe that all these passages concern Israel as a nation. I can't say it better than John Piper at this point, so I'll quote him in reference to Is 29:16:

"The emphasized portion [the Greek from the Septuagint from the 2nd phrase to the end of the verse] is identical to Rom 9:20b but what the πλασμα says is not the same in Paul and Isaiah. This suggests that Paul is not so much citing a text for authority as he is adapting a common metaphor for his own purpose. But should someone want to press for an Old Testament meaning behind Paul's image, the Is 29:16 offers the most probable source. However, here Isaiah is not speaking of the nation as a corporate whole, but of the 'perverted' wise men (cf. 29:14) in Israel, who in their presuming to hide counsel from God, act as if they were God."1

The point is that the different passages that use the potter and clay imagery do not all speak of the nation of Israel as the clay. The clay is represented by almost as many images as there are passages that mention this subject. The only constant between all these passages is that the Potter is absolutely sovereign over the clay. It would do the reader good to read John Piper's book, especially the section that deals with the potter and the clay.2

Moving on, Vance says the following of Calvinists:

"Additionally, because they are hung up on the Reformation, Calvinists have substituted Reformed Theology for the Bible. The final authority for a Calvinist is not the Bible at all, it is Reformed Theology."

If this were true, then every Calvinist would have agreed on every point of Reformed Theology. Vance is setting up a straw man argument with no logic behind it. Does Vance really think that Reformed Theology fell from the sky and that it has become the 'scriptures' of Calvinists? This is truly such a juvenile argument that really warrants no response in actuality. I can say the same of Vance, of Arminius himself! But, where would that get us? Nowhere! To simply dismiss Calvinism with such a statement does not help in the debate. Dismissive attitudes such as that do not engender mutual respect. Of course, we all know that Vance has no respect for "heretics" such as Calvinists. This is what he wrote in his book, "The Other Side of Calvinism." Calling someone a heretic is to view that person as a non-Christian! Vance claims that White is trying in his book to show that Arminianism is opposed to the gospel, at least by implication. However, in one stroke of a pen, Vance has declared in so many words that Calvinists are heretics, meaning that they are not Christians.

Vance's claim that Calvinists have "substituted reformed Theology for the Bible" becomes quite an empty claim when one has a look at the Scripture index of Calvin's Institutes. Calvin's use of Scripture is of the most comprehensive I have ever seen! Loraine Boettner, in his excellent book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, also shows very comprehensive usage of Scripture! Similarly, Louis Berkhof, in his Systematic Theology has a Scripture index of 22 pages. Last but not least, James White, in his book The Potter's Freedom has a Scripture index of 5 pages. This is hardly proof that Calvinists rely on Reformed Theology and not the Bible. Rather, this points to a solid basis on the Bible for their theology.

Finally, at the end of the second section of Vance's paper, he goes into a diatribe as to why Calvinistic Baptists aren't "real Calvinists" or perhaps only "second-class Calvinists." Why this is so important to him only he will know. The fact is that Calvinistic Baptists and Reformed Christians from Presbyterian and Reformed Church backgrounds are getting along really well! This can be seen in ventures such as Together for the Gospel.

Next Vance goes into "Ten Arguments that Crumble under Scrutiny," ostensibly to disprove James White and his Calvinism.

First, he claims that "White tries to make all Christians either Calvinists or Arminians" and gives the page numbers where White does so. Perhaps Vance missed the point ever so slightly! White is simply talking about the Arminian/Calivinist debate, and he does not classify all Christians in either of these two camps. Remember, White is responding to a very well known Arminian who made many assertions about Calvinism. Hence, he is writing as a Calvinist refuting the claims of an Arminian. For instance, Vance gives page 20 as an example. Yet, on this page White speaks consistently about what Dr. Geisler wrote and how Dr. Geisler is an Arminian. On page 295 White specifically mentions the debate between Arminians and Calvinists. Dr. White set the limits of the discussion as between these two camps. Not once does he even allude to what Vance claims!

The fact that we "continually read of Arminians (p. 147), Arminianism (p. 175), Arminian positions (p. 235), Arminian preachers (p. 231), Arminian exegetes (p. 153), and Arminian views (p. 136)," is quite easily explained. The debate of Dr. White's book covers Martians, Venutians, Calvinists and Arminians! So, since the debate is between Calvinists and Arminians, it makes sense that White will speak of Arminians!

Vance's second point is that "White uses the guilt by association argument (pp. 33, 85, 92, 233)." His point here is that "Calvinists typically associate Arminians with every conceivable heretic or heresy" such as Roman Catholicism "so as to discredit them." Page 33 in Dr. White's book is almost completely taken up by a quote from the Jesuit, Loyola, in his fight against the "heresies" of the Protestant Reformation. There is no mention of Arminianism or any specific Arminian at all on this page! How is this guilt by association?

pottersfreedom On page 85 Dr. White writes:

"The religions of men, Roman Catholicism, and Arminianism, all share one thing in common: the deep desire to maintain the ability of man to control the work of God in salvation and always have the 'final say'"3

This is simply not guilt by association. Dr. White clearly states the reason why he believes Arminianism is wrong.

Dr. White believes that Calvinism/sovereignty of God is the doctrine that came from the Reformation, and one only has to read Martin Luther's "Bondage of the Will" to realize that. Hence, the title of Dr. White's book! The same traits as that of Roman Catholicism, with regards to salvation, also known as synergism (man as co-worker with God in his own salvation) can be seen by Dr. White, as he shows on page 92. As the Reformation was against the Roman church, and Dr. White sees similarities on the issue of salvation between the Roman church and Arminianism, Dr. White sees it fit to want to defend the doctrines so hard fought for during the Reformation. As a result, Dr. White points directly at the issues he has with Arminianism, hence it is not guilt by association.

On page 233 Dr. White has a long paragraph that covers almost the whole page on how Catholicism sees the work of Christ. Then, at the bottom of the page Dr. White starts a section with a 7 line paragraph on historic Arminianism that carries on for 2 more pages in which he doesn't mention Catholicism or even tries to equate Arminianism with Catholicism. There is just no guilt by association here. Again, Dr. White is very direct about his qualms with Arminianism!

Third, Vance makes out as if "White claims that non-Calvinists misrepresent Calvinism." The section on page 21 that Vance points to actually proves the point Vance claims White is making, even if he does no such thing! Vance truly misrepresents White here! Nowhere on page 21 does Dr. White ever make the assertion that non-Calvinists misrepresent Calvinists! What Dr. White claims is that Dr. Norm Geisler misrepresents Calvinists in his book Chosen but Free. To make a blanket statement that White says that non-Calvinists as a group misrepresent Calvinists is categorically false. Vance here does exactly what he claims White is saying. So, in a way Vance proves his own point. He misrepresented Dr. White, a Calvinist! The fact is, however, that many Arminian theologians have gone out of their way to misrepresent Calvinism to their congregations and in their books and on radio.

"Fourth, White exalts God’s sovereignty above His holiness (pp. 41-
44)." Maybe I have a problem with my eyesight, but I could swear that the section is called "The Free and Proper Kingship of God." Now, I don't know about Vance, but when I write and call a section "A," I generally stick to the subject matter pertaining to "A!" The subject matter pertaining to "B" will be dealt with elsewhere! Pages 41-44 of Dr. White's book deal with the subject matter of God's sovereignty, not with God's holiness! This is really an inane complaint by Vance.

Vance also writes that "White relates God’s decrees to Calvinism (p. 45)." I must be blind, but Dr. White does not even mention any derivative of the word "Calvinism" on page 45. The section"The Decrees of the King" starts on this page and all it does is explain the doctrine of the decrees of God.

Grudem explains the decrees of God in short definition form:

"The decrees of God are the eternal plans of God whereby, before the creation of the world, he determined to bring about everything that happens. This doctrine is similar to the doctrine of providence, but here we are thinking of God's decisions before the world was created, rather than his providential acts in time. His providential actions are the outworking of the eternal decrees that he made long ago."[emphasis supplied by the author]4

Vance further writes that "[t]he decrees of God in the Bible do not
relate in any way to salvation." The fact is that salvation is part of God's decrees. King David says that "in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." (Ps 139:16) Is that something God did for David alone, and only in the Old Testament? No! David speaks here of something he knows happens in general. He knows that God has set forth the days of his life and every other person's life and that God is sovereignly in control. Now, if God is in so much control as David says here, that God has written all "the days that were formed for" him in God's book, why would that exclude salvation?

The apostle Paul also makes it clear that salvation is indeed part of the decrees of God:

"(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (5) he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (7) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (8) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (9) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ (10) as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (11) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will," (Eph 1:3-11)

Vance also believes that if God only has foreknowledge of those things He has decreed to take place, it is an attack on God's omniscience. If God has decreed all things to take place, what else is there to "foreknow?" The fact is that God's foreknowledge is not mere awareness of what is going to happen sometime in the future.

God's foreknowledge is not as simple as in Tom Cruise's movie, Minority Report, where the police had a machine that could see into the future if crimes would be committed! In this movie the police could then arrest the perp even before he had committed the crime. This is mere passive foreknowledge. This is palm-reader foreknowledge.

We may have foreknowledge that on 25 December of every year it is Christmas. However, God's foreknowledge is not a mere knowing of what will happen in the future. God's foreknowledge is an active knowledge, more akin to God's predestinating work.

"Fifth, White appeals to men (pp. 125-31, 255)." Vance obviously thinks that he is the sharpest pencil in the box, since he needs no-one else to guide him in what he believes. He obviously came to what he believes all by himself on his island paradise. I am sorry for being so facetious here, but this complaint against Calvinism is truly laughable. The fact is that if someone else has said it better, then why not be humble enough to quote from them? We all know that giants of the faith have gone before us. Why not stand on their shoulders to see better? As if our Arminian brothers never read the books of others to gain more understanding. Have you ever seen an Arminian seminary without books?

"Sixth, White appeals to extra-biblical sources like creeds and confessions (pp. 78, 125)." Vance adds to this that "Calvinists often put the words of men above the Scripture." Those crazy Calvinists! Don't they know that they shouldn't have anything to believe in, just look at the Bible? The fact of the matter is that all human beings have creeds that they live by, whether those creeds are in writing or not! It is called a worldview. All that a creed does is to summarize what we believe in. If I ask you what you believe in, are you going to quote me the Bible verbatim or are you going to give me a summary of your beliefs? That is a verbalization of your creed, written or otherwise. How many churches have a statement of faith? That is a creed. A creed is simply a statement of what we believe! For an answer to Vance's claim that Calvinists prefer the words of men over Scripture, see my answer of a similar claim by Vance here.

"Seventh, White uses the standard proof texts: John 6:37, 44; Rom
8:28; 1 Cor 2:14; Acts 13:48; Eph 1:4; 2 Tim 1:9; and Romans 9 (pp. 96, 109, 154, 159, 186, 195, 208, 211, 213). Calvinists never seem to tire of running around the same circuit of verses." And the point being? Maybe we should use non-standard proof texts like Gen 1:1! Oh yes, that does not speak to the subject at hand at all! If I want to make a case for the doctrine of the Trinity, should I use any texts but the standard proof texts? If there is a text that speaks clearly to the case at hand, then use it! It is like saying that we should use something non-standard like a hammer to fasten a bolt! Simply amazing!

"Eighth, White claims that Jesus Christ taught Calvinism (pp. 153-
69). Chapter 7 in White’s book is called 'Jesus Teaches "Extreme Calvinism."' What a better authority to which to refer? Why not just say that to deny Calvinism is to deny Christ?" If you deny the fundamentals of the gospel, yes, then you deny Christ. However, Calvinists do not claim that the ordo salutis is a litmus test for salvation. A person with a wrong ordo salutis may be considered in error, but not a heretic, which puts that person outside the fold of Christianity.

"Ninth, White overwhelms the reader with theological terms (pp. 91-
92). Calvinists are the masters at this tactic." It is so sad that the church no longer knows its terms of theology. What Vance says here is more an indictment of the church at large than of Calvinism. It is not so long ago that many Christians would have understood theological terms. But, with the dumbing down of the church with pop-theology rather than Biblical theology, we get complaints like that levelled by Vance. I am not saying that Vance does not understand these terms, I am sure he does. But when the church does not understand its own historic terminology, one wonders what is being taught from the pulpit!

The thing about theological terms is that they contain a wealth of meaning, and if you need to go through that wealth of meaning each time you write or teach, it could considerably lengthen books and teachings. Just imagine every time you use a word, you first had to explain what it means, i.e. chair.

"Tenth, White … implies that if you are not a Calvinist then you deny salvation by grace (p. 91)." White here makes a comment about Geisler's words which Dr. White quotes: "God's grace works synergistically on free will." About this Dr. White says:

"At the most fundamental level it is a belief that is opposed to the Reformation, and I believe opposed to biblical teaching regarding God, man, and grace."5

Dr. White on this page nowhere says "that if you are not a Calvinist then you deny salvation by grace." What he does say is that synergistic grace, which is dependent on man's volition, is not the grace taught in the Bible.

Still under the tenth point, Vance says that White "implies that a
rejection of Calvinism means that justification by faith must be rejected as well." Let's see what Dr. White actually wrote:

"One cannot claim to stand in harmony with Luther, Zwingli, Bucer, or Calvin without believing both in the doctrine of justification by faith as well as the truth of God's absolute freedom and man's bondage in sin."6

Does this look anything like Vance's claim? This is the only place on the page where justification by faith is mentioned.

Lastly, but still under Vance's tenth point, he writes that White "implies that a denial of Limited Atonement means that the substitutionary nature of the Atonement of Christ is being rejected." This is not at all what Dr. White wrote on page 233! He uses three-quarters of the page to show how even Roman Catholicism limits the "atonement in its effect but not in its scope." Then in the last bit of the page he starts:

"Historic Arminians saw that believing in the idea of substitutionary atonement would not fit with their system of theology. Even though Arminians today may use this terminology, it does not strictly 'belong' to them. Arminian scholar J. Kenneth Grider assert that the idea of 'substitutionary atonement' is foreign to Arminian thinking…"7 [Grider's quote follows in Dr. White's book.]

Without spending lots of time on this point, comparing Dr.White's own words with that of Vance's shows that Vance has a disconnect with his own ideas of what White wrote and what Dr. White actually wrote.

Just to conclude, I would like to refer to Vance's third point. In this point, Vance says that Dr.White claims that non-Calvinists misrepresent Calvinists, and I answered the point there. However, it is clear from what I have shown above that Vance has grossly misrepresented Dr. White in his critique of Dr. White's book.

Instead of an approach of iron sharpens iron, Vance comes in with an unwieldy sledge hammer to pummel Dr. White's words into what Vance thinks Dr. White is saying. It is unfortunate, because there is no real way for a conversation between Vance and Dr. White to start. In my opinion, Vance does not want to start such a conversation, it is easier to for him to sling the mud of misrepresentation at Dr. White.



[1] Piper, John, The Justification of God: An Exegetical & Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23, Second Edition, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1993.
[2] Ibid., pp183-204
[3] White, James R., The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free, Calvary Press, Amityvile, NY, 2000, p85.
[4] Ibid., pp183-204.
[5] Ibid., p91.
[6] Ibid., p36.
[7] Ibid., p91.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blaise Pascal on Throwing off the Yoke of God

blaisepascal "Now, what do we gain by hearing it said of a man that he has now thrown off the yoke, that he does not believe there is a God who watches our actions, that he considers himself the sole master of his conduct, and that he thinks he is accountable for it only to himself.? Does he think that he has thus brought us to have henceforth complete confidence in him and to look to him for consolation, advice, and help in every need of life? Do they profess to have delighted us by telling us that they hold our soul to be only a little wind and smoke, especially by telling us this in a haughty and self-satisfied tone of voice? Is this a thing to say gaily? Is it not, on the contrary, a thing to say sadly, as the saddest thing in the world?"
   -- Blaise Pascal, Pensees

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Logos 4 Bible study software released, but a bit pricey

Logos 4 Bible study software has been released. See Dan Phillips' post and Adrian Warnock's post on this.

Now, while this may be an amazing piece of software, here in South Africa it is a ridiculously over-priced piece of software. Of course, I wouldn't mind a sponsor or two for the Logos 4 Gold software package, although, the Platinum edition would be much better! Oh, well! A man can dream! Some men dream of cars. This is what I dream about.

However, for the average salaried South African, and even the above average paid South African, Logos is terribly over-priced. Whether I decide to buy Logos locally or online internationally, it can cost me half or more of my salary for the month. Looking at South Africa, taking a rough guess, probably 98% of people in South Africa cannot afford the Logos software.

It is for this reason that I would recommend a much better priced Bible software package. How about a FREE Bible software package? I thought I'd get your attention!

e-Sword is a free Bible software package for Windows, and has a whole range of translations that can be installed with it for free.

# of free English translation modules 24 (i.e. ESV, ASV, KJV, RV, Geneva, etc)
# of Greek NT modules 6 + a Hebrew NT
# of Hebrew OT modules 2 + Greek OT Septuagint

Latin Vulgate
# of other languages translation modules 47 (i.e. Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, German, Italian, etc)
# of Commentary modules 16 (i.e. Matthew Henry, John Gill, Adam Clarke, etc)
# of Bible dictionary modules 14 (i.e. Brown-Driver-Briggs, Easton's, ISBE, Nave's, Strong's, Thayer's, etc)
# of graphics modules 9 (i.e. American Bible Society Maps, NASA, CIA World Factbook, etc
# of devotion modules 5 (i.e. Spurgeon's Morning and Evening, Day-By-Day By Grace, etc)
# of extra modules 16 (i.e. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Works of Josephus, Calvin's Institutes, History of The Christian Church, etc)

As you can see, this is a lot to get for free. This is also what I use. Although it is not completely sufficient when doing original language work (for this I use the original way of books), it really is a good package to use.

So, without throwing your budget out of whack, download e-Sword and you have a lot to work with.

6 Nov 2009 - Mark Penrith has written a short review on e-Sword.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Christians and their holy huddles!

Why is it that Christians love their holy huddles. Some never step outside of their huddles unless they absolutely have to!

This happens even on the internet. First, their was Facebook. Then came the Christian huddle, Faithbook. There was also YouTube, which was followed by GodTube, later renamed to Tangle! Then there was Twitter, which was recently followed by another holy huddle, Christian Chirp. What a corny name!

Jesus said we are "in the world" not "of the world." He did not say that we are not "of the world" and therefore we must make sure to stay away from the world.

I understand that Christians need to interact socially, but when they do it so obviously to cut the world out of that interaction, one would almost wonder if they do not want to spread the gospel at all.

I will probably get flack for this post, but come on, are we really such softies?

Christians have something to say to the world; yet, when we escape to these holy huddles, the world will not hear us!

How to get Christians to pray and read their Bibles again

D.A. Carson gives a short intro into how to get Christians, even pastors, to read their Bibles and pray again.

D. A. Carson on the Gospel and Personal Devotions from CBMW on Vimeo.

D. A. Carson applies the Gospel and the Glory of the transcendent Christ to the Christian life to promote change.

HT: Andrew Smith

Calvinism in Africa

I am subscribed to the email list of Dr. Peter Hammond from Africa Christian Action. A while ago he sent out the following email called CALVINISM in AFRICA.

The history of Calvinism in Africa dates back to the landing of Dutch Governor Jan van Riebeeck in Table Bay (in what became Cape Town) 1652. 

The 16th and 17th centuries were primarily a battle for survival for the Protestants.  During the first century of Protestant history the world powers were Spain and Portugal.  These Roman Catholic empires dominated the seas and the overseas possessions of Europe.  Only after the English defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 did the possibility arise of Protestant missionaries crossing the seas.  As the Dutch and British grew in military and naval strength they were able to challenge the Catholic dominance of the seas and of the new continents.

Under King Philip II of Spain more than 18,000 Protestants were executed in the Netherlands.  At that time Spain was the most powerful country in the world.  Holland was occupied by Spain.  In 1566 Philip II issued a proclamation demanding that all his subjects in the Netherlands accept the decrees made by the Counsel of Trent.  In 1567, to crush the flourishing Protestant faith in Holland, Philip sent in the Duke of Alva who unleashed a reign of terror upon the Dutch Protestants.  In 1568 the Inquisition condemned all 3 million inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as "heretics."

Under the leadership of William Prince of Orange the Dutch Protestants rose up in resistance against Spain.  William of Orange and the courageous Dutch resistance fighters became the inspiration of Protestants worldwide.  The courage and tenacity of these Dutch Davids resisting the Spanish Goliaths attracted admiration and support, particularly from Protestant England. 

Although they were heavily outnumbered, the Dutch succeeded in outmaneuvering the Spanish, especially at sea.  In 1581, the united seven northern provinces of the Netherlands declared independence from Spain.  The Dutch Protestant fight for freedom continued until 1648 when their independence from Spain was finally recognised.  It was just four years later that the once colony of Spain, Holland, was able to send out Jan van Riebeeck to establish a settlement in Table Bay.  The first act of the Dutch Governor upon landing at the Cape in 1652 was to kneel down and pray that this outpost would be for the glory of God, and for the establishment and dissemination of the Reformed Faith throughout Africa. 

This Dutch settlement was later strengthened with an influx of French Huguenot settlers, fleeing from persecution in France.  The Huguenots enriched the Cape with their culture and fervent Reformed Faith, although they willingly assimilated culturally with the Dutch, joining the Dutch Reformed Churches and adopting the Dutch language.
With the arrival of the English at the Cape in 1795 the Church of England, and later Congregational, Presbyterian and Baptist congregations were established in the Cape Colony.  The Scottish Presbyterian Murray family greatly enriched the Dutch Reformed churches particularly through the dynamic ministry of Andrew Murray.  The Cape was blessed with a tremendous spiritual Revival in 1860.  Next year we will be commemorating the 150th Anniversary of this event.
Andrew Murray is still the most prolific author that South Africa has ever produced.  There are more books available in more copies, in more languages, written by Andrew Murray, than by any other South African.
As the pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in Wellington, Andrew Murray set up the Africa Institute which trained missionaries under the slogan "Afrika vir Christus."  Hundreds of Reformed missionaries were sent throughout Africa from this missionary training college in Wellington.
In 2004, when I was ministering in Nigeria, the Tiv people were celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the arrival of the Reformed Faith amongst their people.  Missionaries from Andrew Murray's Africa Institute in Wellington had come to Eastern Nigeria and by God's grace the entire Tiv tribe had been converted. 
I have come across the graves of Dutch Reformed missionaries from South Africa all over Africa as far afield as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria and Kenya.
After the Second Anglo Boer War (1899 - 1902) there was a revival of missionary vision in the Dutch Reformed Church and many hundreds of DRC missionaries were sent out throughout Africa and even further afield. 
By God's grace there are many millions of Reformed Christians throughout Africa as a result of the dynamic Dutch settlement established at the Cape in 1652 and through the work of Reformed missionaries such as Dr David Livingstone and Mary Slessor.
Dr. Peter Hammond
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Cape Town
Tel: 021-689 4481
On Reformation Day, 31 October, a Preparing for a New Reformation Conference will be held in Cape Town.
For more information and for Reformation resources, please visit:;;
Orders can be made through: Christian Liberty Books: P O Box 358, Howard Place, Pinelands, 7450, Cape Town, South Africa; Tel: (021) 689-7478; Email:; Website:

9Marks Nov/Dec 2009 Journal now available

The 9Marks Nov/Dec 2009 Journal is now available (PDF).

This months journal is all about church discipline. Some of the articles in the journal are:

"Don't do it!!"—Why You Shouldn't Practice Church Discipline
Before You Discipline, Teach This First
Those Toxic Non-Attenders
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