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2009 Issue 4

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more signifi cant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3–4)

Facebook, MySpace, blogs, online communities, texting–these are things that were virtually unknown a decade ago1. Today our lives, as well as our children’s lives, are dominated by Internet-enabled communities. Th e use of language has changed as well. Th ere is a cyber vocabulary that is unique to the electronic world. Letter groups such as lol, ttyl, and np, form a modern shorthand that allows for an almost instant transmission of moods, thoughts and plans across cities, states and continents. People write on electronic walls to announce when and what they are eating, what the weather is, and how they feel about it. Amazing! Prior to this new age of cyber community, one would not think of phoning, or even emailing, a friend in another state to announce that they had just put the kids to bed and are now watching the 11 o’clock news. But now, thanks to Facebook, dozens, if not hundreds of folks—many of whom you don’t even know—are aware of these kind of details about your life. And, of course, your children are also likely to be citizens of cyberspace, or they soon will be. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask what biblical principles intersect with 21st century electronic information transfer? You have to admit it is a stretch to think of Paul texting Timothy to bring him the parchments so that he can post them on his blog.

here can be no serious doubt that Calvin once mattered. Any honest historian of any point of view and of any religious conviction would agree that Calvin was one of the most important people in the history of western civilization. Not only was he a significant pastor and theologian in the sixteenth century, but the movement of which he was the principal leader led to the building of Reformed and Presbyterian churches with millions of members spread through centuries around the world. Certainly a man whose leadership, theology, and convictions can spark such a movement once mattered.

Historians from a wide range of points of view also acknowledge that Calvin not only mattered in the religious sphere and in the ecclesiastical sphere, but Calvin and Calvinism had an impact on a number of modern phenomena that we take for granted. Calvin is certainly associated with the rise of modern education and the conviction that citizens ought to be educated and that all people ought to be able to read the Bible. Such education was a fruit of the Reformation and Calvin.

Conservative Christians in Canada and the United States have increasingly been active in political affairs. First as a result of the legalization of abortion, and later due to the impact of the spread of homosexual rights, some Christians have felt it their duty to oppose the current direction of society on social matters. More and more of them have been drawn into political activism in response to policy changes that have occurred since the 1970s.

People who support those changes do not, however, look kindly upon the Christians who get involved. They allege that a sacred principle of “separation of church and state” is being violated. If Christians promote public policies that reflect Christian principles, the secular nature of our society is threatened, they argue. Theocracy will be the inevitable result. Christians must therefore stay out of politics or if they do get involved their activism should reflect a secular agenda. In this way, the opponents of Christian activism seek to marginalize Christians and make them appear to be sinister.

The Calvin 500 series has nothing to do with the NASCAR circuit, but everything to do with the 500th birthday of John Calvin, which we celebrate in 2009. We would expect that P&R would join other publishers in this commemoration. Their series presently includes another book, Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, edited by David Hall and Peter Lillback, comprised of essays from 20 Calvin scholars.

David W. Hall is senior pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Powder Springs, GA.

Pastor Hall once again shows his interest and ability in dealing with matters of historical importance.

The theme of the fear of God is much more prominent in the Scripture than it is in modern preaching. Few have distinguished the various types of fear or set forth true godly fear as thoroughly biblically as the Puritans, from whom Dr. Frank has drawn. A quick search of a concordance would show how many times the Fear of God is mentioned and is of central importance. As a result, there are many citations of scripture to reinforce the biblical emphasis on the fear of God.

The book is well seasoned with quotes from several Puritan pastor-theologians. The Puritans spoke of two basic kinds of fear of God, a godly filial fear and an ungodly slavish fear, like the fear of man. In good Puritan fashion, six chapters deal with six kinds of fear of God.