August / September 2017
From the Editor. The spiritual nature of diaconal ministry is often overlooked or underestimated. Recent OPC deacons summits have helped emphasize this important biblical theme. Deacon Carl Carlson, who has attended several of those and been a deacon for a number of years, brings his experience to bear on his description of the office, its several tasks, and the details of diaconal ministry. Don’t miss “The Spiritual Nature of the Office of Deacon.”
On the same topic, David Nakhla reviews Cornelis Van Dam’s recent book, The Deacon: Biblical Foundations for Today’s Ministry of Mercy, in order to provide a more comprehensive follow up on our theme of diaconal ministry.
Denominational historian John Muether brings us the seventh in the series of ten Reformed confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism. Culminating in our own Westminster Confession of Faith, this chronological treatment reminds us of the rich confessional tradition out of which Westminster grew, and the consequent richness of the doctrinal standards of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. We have much to be grateful for in this five hundredth anniversary year of Luther’s shot across the papal bow.
T. David Gordon reviews Keith Houston’s The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time. This is an eloquent apologia for the enduring technology of the codex. No batteries, no distractions, a technology that concentrates the mind.
Danny Olinger’s review article, “Mencken in Machen’s World,” on D. G. Hart’s Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken raises the intriguing question: why would anyone write a biography of a very non-religious man in a series titled Library of Religious Biography, “a series of original biographies on important religious figures throughout American and British history”? Olinger provides the answer. You may be surprised at what Machen and Mencken agreed upon.
Then D. G. Hart reviews Crawford Gribben’s John Owen and English Puritanism: Experiences of Defeat. As I consider the sixteen volumes of Owen’s works, averaging nearly five hundred pages each, on my study shelf, I marvel with Hart and Gribben that John Owen achieved so much in such an academically, pastorally, and politically busy life. Gribben justly names him “the genius of English Puritanism.”
Finally, our poem by Richard Crashaw, shows the influence of George Herbert on Crashaw’s sacred poetry. His Steps to the Temple (1646) are a tribute to Herbert’s genius and an exhibition of his own. The son of a Puritan preacher, Crashaw builds on the influence of the great metaphysical poets of his day, climbing to the heights of heaven on the ladder of Elizabethan English.
One of the delights of my editing labors is the reflective time I take each month to choose a poem. One excellent source is The Oxford Book of Christian Verse (Oxford, 1940) chosen and edited by Lord David Cecil. His introduction is very informative and his selections, ranging from 1290 to 1930, are sagacious.
The cover this issue is a picture I took of a poor neighborhood in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands in 2009.
Blessings in the Lamb,
FROM THE ARCHIVES “DEACONS”
Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God-glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders, and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high-quality editorials, articles, and book reviews, we will endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic, confessional Presbyterianism.