What We Believe
i
Gregory Reynolds

From the Editor. There are two poles in the discussion of race which I believe only Christianity can hold together: difference and unity. But just what is race? Is there such a thing? David VanDrunen, in his article “Reflections on Race and Racism,” says no, race is a social construct, which is a dangerous myth, and as such must be understood in order to deal with the real prejudice we call racism. VanDrunen makes an important distinction between the ground of unity in the civil community, which is “relatively shallow, a unity of peaceful co-existence,” and the ground of unity in the Christian community, which flows from the saving grace of our Redeemer. He also reminds us that the OPC has dealt with this issue in 1974 with the “Report of the Committee on the Problems of Race.”

On the same topic Alan Strange, in “Slavery and Covenanters,” reviews Joseph S. Moore, Founding Sins: How a Group of Antislavery Radicals Fought to Put Christ into the Constitution. This book is an illuminating piece of history showing how our Reformed friends the Covenanters were on the vanguard of the abolitionist movement.

Christianity seeks its unity broadly in the imago Dei, narrowly in the mediatorial person and work of Jesus Christ, while respecting God-given cultural uniqueness, provided that uniqueness is not contrary to biblical orthodoxy. Differences need a solid common foundation.

Alan Strange continues his illuminating “Commentary on the Form of Government of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church” with chapter 14 on “The Regional Church and Its Presbytery.” This will prove to be a great resource for church officers when it is completed.

David VanDrunen’s review of Pierre Manent, Natural Law and Human Rights: Toward a Recovery of Practical Reason reminded me of how important it is to read widely outside of our own Reformed circles, so that we may intelligently engage with the larger church and the secular world around us. VanDrunen’s careful, nuanced consideration is a hallmark of Reformed scholarship and ministry since the Reformation.

Richard Gamble reviews David VanDrunen, Politics after Christendom: Political Theology in a Fractured World. This is a perceptive review of an important book. VanDrunen’s program for reforming the way American Christians view their relationship to society and politics brings us a nice addition to this project. By reintroducing the Reformation doctrine of natural law and introducing the importance of the Noahic covenant in our understanding of that law and its place in society, VanDrunen has given Christians a framework to develop and protect a more biblical ecclesiology, calling us to see the church’s mission as one of transforming sinners saved by grace, and not the fallen culture around us.

Charles Wingard reviews a fascinating new book by William J. Edgar, 7 Big Questions Your Life Depends On. This is not the Edgar who teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the retired president of Geneva College. As Wingard tells us, this is a book that one can give to believer or unbeliever. Weighing in at only sixty-eight pages, Edgar presents a theologically rich array of reasons to embrace the gospel.

Recently, I have been asked to teach a workshop to the docents of the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, where I live. Through my long association with the museum (going back to childhood), I have been writing ekphrastic poetry. The workshop was titled “All Eyes and Ears: Appreciating and Creating Ekphrastic Poetry.” Ekphrastic comes for the Greek ἐκφράζειν (ekphrázein) meaning to call or describe (lit. out speak) or name an inanimate object. The poetic form is defined by the Poetry Foundation as “a vivid description of … a work of art.” John Keats, “Ode to a Grecian Urn” is probably the best known poem of this type. The combination of two art forms is itself an exquisite art form—an amalgam of the two senses. I offer an example of a painting by the greatest artist of the Dutch Golden Age, Jacob van Ruisdale, who painted during the rise of the seventeenth century Dutch Republic during a time of the rise of Dutch Reformed theology. Ekphrastic poetry challenges and enhances the power of observation. I hope you will enjoy it.

Blessings in the Lamb,
Gregory Edward Reynolds

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.

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