Wednesday, January 27, 2010

0 New from RHB: Caspar Olevianus on the Apostle's Creed

Reformation Heritage Books and series editor R. Scott Clark have just released the second in the series entitled “Classic Reformed Theology". I am very happy to see this series begun, and hope to see it well received. These neglected classics of the Reformed orthodox writers, if the first two are any indication at all, will prove great blessings to the church.

According to the series introduction, the publisher and editors intend to bring out at least one volume per year from "some of the more important but generally neglected texts of the orthodox period. I'm not sure what's on tap further down the road, but if the first two volumes are any indication, we'll be seeing works from significant early reformers that address important themes and theological perspectives of their times.

The first was an absolutely outstanding volume of expositions of Scriptural texts by William Ames, organized by the Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Days. The book is entitled "A Sketch of the Christian's Catechism", and it is quite simply gold. I have blogged on it here several times in the past year, and found it extremely helpful as something to read alongside one's study of the Heidelberg.

The second, now published, is an important text by Caspar Olevianus, well known as one of the authors of the Heidelberg Catechism, entitled "An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed". I've just received my copy in the mail, and I'm looking forward to diving in. It's a brief volume, but from skimming over the contents, it looks like a very meaty package. The tone is set by the introductory chapter, of which the first paragraph is exemplary:
"The kingdom of Christ is offered to us in the Articles of the Faith and is experienced by believers even here in this life.

It is certain that there are two spiritual kingdoms, even in this world: the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. Every person necessarily belongs to one or the other here in this life, for Christ the King Himself speaks to His chosen vessel as follows: 'For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness of the things which you have seen.' And a short while later: 'To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' (Acts 26[:16,18]). So also in Colossians 1[:12-13]: 'Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.' " (p. 9,10, Caspar Olevianus, An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed)
Later, Olevianus clearly distinguishes the visible from the invisible church - a helpful distinction that has been maintained by the orthodox Reformed since the early days in which he wrote:
"What the kingdom of Christ is, in which the new covenant is administered

Let us then see what the kingdom of Christ is, which begins in the faithful in this world and is also called, with the same meaning, 'the kingdom of God' and 'the kingdom of heaven' (Matt. 3:2, Luke 4:43; 7:28). The kingdom of Christ in this world is the administration of salvation by which Christ the King Himself outwardly, through the gospel and baptism, gathers to Himself and calls to salvation a people or visible church (in which many hypocrites are mixed). To those in this congregation who have always been His elect, He Himself administers and bestows that slavation to which he calls them. He makes the outward call efficacious, granting them repentance and faith by which they respond to the One calling them. Those He calls in this way He also justifies, not imputing their sins to them. And those He justifies He also glorifies, purging them daily more and more of their sins, and training, forming, and perfecting them in all godliness, righteousness, and eternal life so that the glory of Christ the King may shine in them. To that end He uses the public, domestic and private dispensation of His Word and sacraments by suitable minsters, as well as the diligent administration of His discipline, as it relates not only to repentance and ceremonies but also to one's whole life. (p. 10, Caspar Olevianus, An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed)
This is just the beginning. Through the chapters which follow, this faithful German divine and forefather in the Reformed faith exposits all the points of the Creed, and gives helpful comments that show us the fact that the early Reformers were indeed connected vitally to the earliest of Christian credos, the Apostles' Creed.

I believe we are much indebted to Reformation Heritage Books, and Drs Clark and Bierma, who have labored over this volume. Get your copy now - among the outlets selling this volume are Reformation Heritage Books and the bookstores at Westminster Theological Seminary, and Westminster Seminary California.

Covenant Radio News, related:

We've just set up an interview concerning Caspar Olevianus and his theology, and An Exposition of the Apostles' Creed, with Scott Clark, at Covenant Radio, set for February 16! We're looking forward to a very fruitful discussion and hope you'll grab the podcast at the Covenant Radio website when we've done the program. We'll also stream the program in our rotation of rebroadcasts on Sola5 Radio (our Reformed streaming internet radio station) the following week, beginning February 17. You can grab the internet feed here, and we hope that you do!



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