Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Contending for the Faith

No other book that I have read has been more helpful in my understanding the present condition of the church world today.

Each chapter of the book treats a separate heretic/heresy in church history, from the very early church all the way up to recent times. It is written in a very easy to read style, despite the complexity of some of the heresies discussed (since every heresy tends to be quite complicated in comparison to the simple truth). Reading it was like sitting with a father, being patiently told the long story of the family's history. Colourful stories and characters are painted in each chapter, which helps not with the flow and enjoyment of the reading, but also in understanding how the heretics, and their heresies developed.

Only the chapter on the Marrow men controversy became a little difficult to follow, but with good reason considering the difficulty of the issues involved. When men attempt the impossible in trying to find common ground between the truth and the lie, it always ends up with confusion. Simple overall principles like this, teaching about the character of heresies, and those who propagate them, were smoothly drawn out of the many examples.

Each chapter, a little story in itself, like every good story, contains important lessons to be learnt. Occasionally the lesson was longer than the story - but always very rewarding. The lessons contain enlightening analyses of the heresies, and bring the light of God's word to bear on each issue. Especially helpful was the distinctively Reformed protrayal of the issues involved. The truth was set very clearly in opposition to what was false or distorted, and the real character and root of the error became clear. Because of this, the book shows the reader where the same errors are found today, and how best to correct them and guard against their reccurance.

The wealth of the specific biblical subjects dealt with throughout this book is truly astounding. People in the confused church world today need to absorb the lessons in a book like this, to know the history of the church, and how God has led her and preserved her, and caused her to confess Him more and more clearly and fully throughout the ages. It is a terrible shame when we don't learn the lessons of history, and of incalculable help to us when we do.

I wish all the professing Christians that I know near where I live would read this book and see things as clearly as they are presented in it. It's available from our own Limerick Reformed Bookstore for the Republic of Ireland, and from the CPRC Bookstore for the UK and the rest of Europe, and from the RFPA  for America and the rest of the world.

Sam W.

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