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Theological Book Reviews - Primitive Theology

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Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

No this is not about old theology, but theology that was “from the beginning” otherwise known as “orthodoxy!”

Theological Book Reviews – Primitive Theology
Reviewed by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Primitive Theology
by John Gerstner
Soli Deo Gloria Publications
Morgan, PA: 1996.
483 Pages, Hardback

What is Primitive Theology? Does that mean antiquated? Or does it mean “lowly and base?” No. Primitive Theology is certainly an older term, but it refers to theology which was “of the beginning.” It would be characterized as the “doctrines of the apostles and of Christ;” i.e. primitive in that it is very old but true. In this work, Soli Deo Gloria has arranged in one volume the collected “primers” of Dr. John Gerstner. Gerstner had written a variety of booklets on various subjects and published them through the years. This work is the collection of those primers in one handy volume.

The theology in this book is not necessarily that deep, as with some of Gerstner’s other works like “Repent and Perish.” However, the range of information and the varied angles which Gerstner attacks these doctrinal issue is worth the price of the book. His primers include “A Primer on: Apologetics, Bible Inerrancy, the Deity of Christ, Predestination, Free Will, Justification, Roman Catholicism, the Atonement, Reconciliation, the Problem of Pleasure, and Dispensationalism.”

I personally enjoyed the Primer on the Problem of Pleasure the most. Here Gerstner uses the old “Problem of Evil” term in a reversed manner – it is not that we have a problem of evil, but rather, we have a problem of pleasure. God’s infinite holiness should cause us to see that wicked men deserve the evils and pain and disheartenings of life and of hell. But why are there good things in life for the wicked? There is a problem of pleasure here, not a problem of pain.

(Though I enjoyed that Primer, I think Gerstner has not considered some more important issues which link to it, like 1 Thess 2:16 which tells us that the wicked are always “filling up the measure of their sins.” Though there is an appearance of pleasure, it still works towards God intended purpose of fashioning vessels of wrath.)

Some Quotes:
“1) Inerrancy teaches that the Bible authors could not err. 2) But humans can err (unless the omnipotent God preserves them from error without destroying their humanity.) 3) Therefore inerrancy implicitly teaches that the authors of the Bible were human (but w3e deny merely that their sinful erring tendencies were in operation during the writing of Holy Scripture.)”

“Evil is not the absence of good. It is the presence of good or God, which is the same thing.”

“Liberalism, as I am using the word here, refers to persons who trust in themselves, and who, because they do, feel no need for special salvation.”

“One scholar has shown that for every single statement in Scripture concerning the mercy and grace of God there are three referring to His wrath and judgment.”

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