Virtual Voices

Weekend Reads: Implications of Scripture, economic growth, and Christian marriage

Books

By Good and Necessary Consequence

By Ryan McGraw

Reformation Heritage Books

Jesus did it. The apostles did it, too. But that doesn’t matter; most Christians are extremely skeptical of this exegetical method. Known as “good and necessary consequence,” it is not a general idea but a technical phrase from the discipline of logic. It refers to the laws of inference by which the implications of a proposition may be drawn out. A “good consequence” is any valid inference. A “necessary consequence” is any inference that, given two or more propositions, cannot possibly be avoided. The method, therefore, teaches that not only everything the Bible says, but also everything it necessarily implies or assumes, is the Word of God. In other words, “good and necessary consequence” relies on rational comparison and deduction to draw out truths hidden below the surface of Scripture. For example, Jesus taught that the dead are resurrected based not on clear, obvious Old Testament assertions in Daniel 12 and Isaiah 26, but on God’s claim to be the God of Abraham. This implies that Abraham is alive, and therefore that the physical resurrection of the dead will take place.

Orthodox Presbyterian Church pastor Ryan McGraw’s By Good and Necessary Consequence (Reformation Heritage Books, 2012) explains and powerfully defends this principle. In detail, he shows that it is not merely a possible method of reading Scripture, but, based on the actual use of the Old Testament in the New Testament, the only correct method. Indeed, a refusal to accept it has historically been the major distinguishing feature of heresy. Those who will not accept it must deny the doctrine of the Trinity, which is biblical but can only be found by logically following the implications of all the Bible’s statements about the being of God and the subsistence of the Persons of the Godhead.

Want to exegete like Jesus? Read Ryan McGraw.

Economic Growth

By Edd S. Noell, Stephen L. Smith, and Bruce G. Webb

AEI Press

Three economists solve the world’s problems in less than 120 pages. At least, they describe what an effective solution would look like in Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing (AEI Press, 2013).

At the turn of the first millennium, the average annual income per capita was $690. For the next 800 years of human history, the world experienced an average annual growth rate of one-twentieth of 1 percent. Then the Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain. The world grew so much richer that comparison with how things used to be is hardly even possible.

As a publication of the American Enterprise Institute’s Values and Capitalism project, Economic Growth argues that that economic growth was morally good, and that continued economic growth will be morally good, preeminently because it creates more and more resources that aid human flourishing, particularly among the very poorest people. Yes, economic growth can be perverted into a materialistic quest for more toys and consumer goods. But slower growth will do nothing to change that problem; faster growth, meanwhile, provides resources for needs (not wants) like education, medicine, and clean water. Rightly used, it requires and fosters “commercial virtues” like trust, honesty, reliability, and planning for the future.

How can government encourage growth? By creating a stable regulatory climate in which entrepreneurs can be sure of enjoying the rewards of their labors, and by avoiding inflation and deficit spending.

The authors are all economics professors at Christian colleges. They freely acknowledge their Christian backgrounds but write in a largely neutral vocabulary of “virtue” and “flourishing.” Will their moral claims convince diehard socialists and skeptics? Probably not. Could their case benefit from a more strongly Christian grounding in property rights? Of course. But how many other books solve world hunger in so few pages? 

Christian Marriage

By D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Banner of Truth

How refreshing! A book on Christian marriage that simply goes to Ephesians 5 and explains the apostle’s teaching verse-by-verse, rather than trying to cook up something that the popular taste will appreciate, is a rarity. But in Banner of Truth’s new edition of 11 sermons from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, it is a reality. Christian Marriage: From Basic Principles to Transformed Relationships (2012) proclaims the New Covenant exposition of an Old Covenant reality.

Marriage is a creation ordinance; God gave it to humans in Genesis 2. There, woman was taken from the side of man, and marriage was given so that the two kinds of human (male and female) might come together and make one flesh. Paul quotes that original teaching in Ephesians 5, but he expounds it in light of the cross-work of Jesus Christ. The Church is the body of Christ, bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh, taken from His side to come together with Him and be one flesh with Him as His bride. This is a great mystery—that is, something hidden for ages and generations but now, under the new covenant, made known through the apostolic teaching.

Therefore, urges Lloyd-Jones, the purpose of marriage is to proclaim and enjoy the relationship between Christ and His church. This will not happen correctly unless a great deal of thought and attention is devoted to it. Practically speaking, Christ is cleansing His bride, preparing her for her marriage to Jesus Christ. Husbands, shouldn’t you be doing the same thing? That’s how Paul argues—with good reason. If simply being a believer made further training unnecessary, then there would be no New Testament. But Paul, and Lloyd-Jones after him, want to train thinking Christians, who study the Bible in order to know the truth and then live in light of it. 

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson

Caleb grew up on a ranch in northern Colorado and is currently pursuing ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America. He lives in Greenville, S.C.

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