Long famed for his role in translating the Bible into English in Medieval England, John Wycliffe was also a learned theologian and faithful priest. Faced with an unstable political and social order, a financially and sexually corrupt Church, and the Plague, Wycliffe upheld the ultimate authority of the Word of God and attacked the Church’s many evils. These pastoral treatises, newly translated into modern English, were originally written in the vernacular, a key means of reaching poorly educated priests who had been hastily ordained to replace those killed off by the Plague. Wycliffe argues that the Church and her ministers must return to their first love: the Lord Jesus. In calling pastors in his own day to better tend their flocks by preaching the Scriptures, living simply, and working diligently for the good of their parishioners, Wycliffe speaks just as effectively to our time.
John Jewel (1522-1571), Bishop of Salisbury, stands as one of the leading architects and perhaps the staunchest defender of the Protestant Church of England. Writing in 1562 when the Elizabethan church was yet young and fragile, and menaced by Catholic foes at home and abroad, Jewel proudly proclaimed the independence of the English church from Roman rule, and the deep catholicity of its reformation. Appealing throughout to the testimonies of the Church Fathers, Jewel made a powerful case that the Protestants were not heretics or innovators, but genuine reformers, restoring the church to the purity of apostolic practice and proclaiming anew the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Along the way, he refutes common misunderstandings or caricatures of Protestant teaching, and takes the offensive against what he sees as the tyrannical power of the medieval papacy.
The twentieth century was unkind to classical Reformed theology. While theological conservatives often blame liberals for undermining traditional Protestant doctrines, the staunchest conservatives and neo-Orthodox also revised several key doctrines. Although Cornelius Van Til developed presuppositional apologetics as an attempt to remain faithful to timeless Christian truth as the Reformed tradition expresses it, he sacrificed the catholic and Reformed doctrine of natural revelation in the process. "The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made . . . so that they are without excuse," writes the Apostle Paul. Without Excuse seeks to grapple with this indictment and show how Van Til's presuppositionalism fails as an account of natural revelation in light of Scripture, philosophy, and historical theology. It argues that those three sources speak with one voice: creation reveals itself and its God to the believer and unbeliever alike.
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