Despite its mere 74 pages, this little volume deserves to be required reading in every Reformed seminary's homiletics and hermeneutics class. Here's wDespite its mere 74 pages, this little volume deserves to be required reading in every Reformed seminary's homiletics and hermeneutics class. Here's what McGraw accomplishes in a very short span.
Chapter 1, "Biblical Foundations," focuses on the presence of Westminster's hermeneutic in the ministry of Jesus Christ and his apostles. McGraw draws the reader's attention to Jesus' defeat of the Sadducees in Matthew 22 and Paul's use of Deut. 25:4 in 1 Cor. 9. In doing so, he incisively demonstrates Jesus and the apostles interpreted Scripture for their situations precisely by good and necessary consequence. McGraw writes, "We do not have the excuse of claiming that only Christ and his apostles were able to interpret Scripture in this manner, since they expected both their followers and their opponents to be able to do so as well. It is a strong indictment against the church if Christ's enemies accept His methods of biblical interpretation more readily than His followers often do." Ouch.
Chapter 2, "The Westminster Assembly," explains the Westminster Assembly's commitment to "good and necessary consequence" as an attempt to reform the medieval quadriga in the historical context of the Renaissance's commitment to ad fontes. The quadriga was too arbitrary with respect to the text, and the Renaissance emphasis on exegesis was too divorced from the life of the church. "Good and necessary consequence" was a media via designed to bridge a concern for the text to an equally important concern for the church. McGraw highlights the work of two Scottish commissioners, George Gillespie and David Dickson, to illustrate this third way. In other words, McGraw historically demonstrates the Reformed principles for moving from text to theology to sermon. And in doing so, he observes they are very principles advocated by the Lord Jesus Christ. Not bad for a short chapter in a short book.
Chapter 3, "Its Importance," executes a kind of analogia fidei argument for good and necessary consequence by drawing the reader's attention to the Trinity, the Chalcedonian definition of Jesus' person, worship, and the sacraments. McGraw unveils the purity of these doctrines by pointing out their dependence upon good and necessary consequence. Sadly, those who affirm the veracity of the Trinity and Christ's two natures often inconsistently deny the legitimacy of that hermeneutic.
Chapter 4, "Objections," addresses the three most common objections to using good and necessary consequence: it unjustly binds the consciences of believers, it makes faith rationalistic, and it makes preachers into priests by taking the Bible out of the hands of ordinary people. In my opinion, McGraw best answers these objections when he observes how close evangelicals (such as Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and even the Reformed community's Moises Silva) come to heresies such as Arianism, Socinianism, and the variations of anti-trinitarianism when making these objections. For me, other examples such as the development of Darby's Exclusive Brethren and the Jehovah's Witnesses come to mind. In any case (my point, not McGraw's), one of the enduring connections between American evangelicalism and the reemergence of ancient heresies it nurtures seems to be a shared hermeneutic.
Chapter 5, "Practical Conclusios," drives home the value of good and necessary consequence for preaching and theology. This method must be used for applying the word of God to his people and for defining unchangeable truth about God. There is no other method. In fact, anyone who speaks to God's people on his behalf or who posits truths about God is unavoidably using good and necessary consequence.
In addition to the inherent richness of this little work, the bibliography should be mentioned as a particular strength. In particular, the dependence upon Muller is clear throughout the book, making Baker Publishing Group's delay in printing his "Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics" all the more egregious.
Any book review, of course, is obliged to offer something in the way of criticism, and in that respect, mine are minor and few.
In pp. 9-11, McGraw addresses the unstated premise in Jesus' argument from Matthew 22, namely that Jesus' proof for the resurrection of the body makes recourse to the immortality of the soul without explicitly demonstrating the connection between the two. McGraw addresses this by alleging a fundamental distinction between Greek and Jewish views of the body, and then proving the Jewish view of the body from other portions of Scripture. Unfortunately, this distinction between Jewish and Greek views of the world is overly simplistic, as demonstrated by scholars such as James Barr in his "Semantics of Biblical Language." Ironically, the Sadducees themselves were Jewish, and yet they denied the value of the body. So McGraw's distinction here doesn't really explain the Sadduccean disregard for the body. A much better line of argument would begin with what McGraw notes on p.9, fn. 9: the Sadducees likely used the historical priority of the Pentateuch to play the Manichean (anachronistically, of course) in dismissing the rest of the Old Testament and its insistence upon the resurrection. In other words, for the Sadducees, because the Pentateuch does not expressly affirm the immortality of the soul, non-Pentateuchal claims regarding a general resurrection cannot be true (since bodies need souls to live). Therefore, only the Pentateuch is authoritative; the rest of the Old Testament is not. Jesus humiliates this understanding by demonstrating through good and necessary consequence from the Pentateuch that the soul is immortal. If the soul is immortal, a general resurrection is possible. And thereby, Sadducean claims against the rest of the Old Testament are moot.
Another quibble I have with the book is the use of two Scottish non-voting commissioners in Chapter 2. McGraw goes to great lengths to identify the Assembly as an English body, and yet he does so in order to highlight the international character of its "Presbyterian" or Reformed theology. Why then pick two Scots attending the Assembly to illustrate the point? Why not an Englishman and a Scot or an American, especially since the latter two nations took up arms against the crown at one point? Why not an American and a Dutchman (also coming into conflict with England later)? At any rate, the choice of two Scots seemed more a matter of convenience than a decided attempt to demonstrate the international character of Westminster's doctrine. But again, this is minor, for McGraw's point would surely have been sustained even with better examples.
I only paid $5.00 for this book, due to the generosity of the Presbyterian church we attend. But after reading it, I would pay $50.00. Tolle lege! ...more
If you are a dummy with respect to international relations, this book is a fantastic introduction. Mr. Marshall is both geographer and historian, andIf you are a dummy with respect to international relations, this book is a fantastic introduction. Mr. Marshall is both geographer and historian, and he blends both together skillfully with clever British-esque humor. He is a realist, hence his emphasis on geography. But he is not a pessimist, acknowledging the power of people and ideas to overcome geography. His chapter on the Arctic is not only climactic literarily, but especially incisive for his American readers. The only issues I took with the book were his obeisance to the dogma about human origins in Africa and his commitment to global warming. I have never found the African origins thesis convincing, especially given the description of Africa that Marshall gives in the book. The history of civilization--especially its murky but objective archaeological remains--points to Mesopotamian origins. And while global warming may be real, I'm reminded of TV specials from my childhood claiming that California would fall into the Pacific and New York would be returned to swamp land by 2020. We'll, here we are at the doorstep of the 21st century's third decade, and it looks as though both cities will remain as is for the foreseeable future. Perhaps environmental alarmism is just a way to make fear and therefore money, sort of like war, just from the other end of the political spectrum. If anything, the general tone of this book supports this thesis much more naturally. Nevertheless, Marshall is right: the Artic is opening up, and the US needs to get in the game. ...more
This is probably the most comprehensive and factual book on personal wellness that I have ever read. It's recommendations on eating, activity, and theThis is probably the most comprehensive and factual book on personal wellness that I have ever read. It's recommendations on eating, activity, and the need for good sleep are not only well researched, but commended highly by the experience of an author whose life literally depends upon such decisions. Most of all, Rath's recommendations are not complicated nor a thin disguise to get you to buy something. Little simple mini-choices can dramatically improve the way you feel and how well you do your work.
My recommendation: don't buy the book. Get it from the library, and then take your own notes, saving them in Evernote or something. You can just check it out again if you want a refresher. ...more