Item description for An Unexpected Journey: Discovering Reformed Christianity by W. Robert Godfrey...
Overview Godrey reveals his personal journey of faith, which brought him to the Reformed tradition. He begins with his high school days, when he first heard of Calvinism and follows his spiritual and academic pilgrimage all the way up to his present pastoral and professorial involvements. Although autobiographical in form, the rich narrative chronicles not only Godrey's discovery of Calvinistic thought, but it also functions as an insightful introduction to some of the central tenets of Reformed Christianity.
Publishers Description A well-known speaker and historian reveals how he came to believe that Reformed Christianity is the fullness of biblical religion in its best form.
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Studio: P & R Publishing
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.48" Width: 5.52" Height: 0.45" Weight: 0.45 lbs.
Release Date Feb 13, 2004
Publisher P & R Publishing
ISBN 0875527191 ISBN13 9780875527192
Availability 0 units.
More About W. Robert Godfrey
W. Robert Godfrey (PhD, Stanford University) serves as the president and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary California. Godfrey is a minister in the United Reformed Churches and the author of numerous articles and books.
W. Robert Godfrey currently resides in the state of California.
Reviews - What do customers think about An Unexpected Journey: Discovering Reformed Christianity?
Reformed Theology in A Nutshell May 5, 2008
From my experience attending few conferences or events where Dr Godfrey was the speaker, it is hard to be bored when one listens to or in this case, reads his lectures and texts. This man can talk, loves to talk, and knows what he talks about, though he claims to be more interested in "books" than "people." Now this book is the first book I read by Dr. Godfrey, which is a unique autobiography unlike other autobiographies you usually read. I was puzzled initially and somewhat worried, when in the Introduction, he wrote that his wife used this book in her woman's Bible study class, thinking how one could use someone's autobiography as Bible study material other than the autobiography of Jesus Christ himself. Only after reading the content did I understand that this book is not about Robert Godfrey primarily, but about God and his inspired, infallible and inerrant Word, whom he worships, particularly the central message of the gospel, that is, the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in saving and sanctifying sinners, formulated most faithfully and explained most clearly in Calvinistic theology. Dr. Godfrey describes his first encounter with Reformed Theology when he was a junior in high-school, and every chapter of his life, as an illustration of the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God (p.18-21). The great emphasis of the Reformation is on the centrality of the Bible, whereby he specifically discusses its core message of justification by faith (p.31-40). But he also added the importance of other related-doctrines central to the Reformed faith; particularly assurance (which he calls "certainty), worship, the role of the Law, sanctification, perseverance, disciplines in Christian life; of mind, actions and time; time for God and time with God (p.43-44). In regard to the regulative principles of worship, he presents a compelling argument about the Psalm-singing-only and defends it passionately, though I don't necessarily agree completely with it, where he says it is not about tradition, but about faithfulness to the Biblical directives,
"One obvious effect of psalm-singing was that Reformed worshippers had the psalms well planted in their minds and hearts. If we should hide God's Word in our hearts that might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11), singing the Word is one of the best ways to do that. Early Reformed leaders did not so much argue that we may sing only psalms as they argued that the psalms are the best songs to sing because they are divinely inspired...Yet the variety of elements that we find the psalms assures us that our songs will have a truly inspired balance. The Psalms balance the communal and the personal, as well as the objective and the subjective. They balance head and heart, intellect and emotion. They are the perfection of praise." (p.146)
He did not stop at explaining Reformed doctrines along with his life stories, but continued on with handling practical life issues. For example, in his doctorate study majoring in history, pursuing ordination, and raising family; a wife and three children, he explains the doctrine of divine calling for every Christian; not only specific calling, which is usually vocation-wise, but also in terms of three basic callings; to work, to raise a family and to worship (p.87-88). Some memorable lines that I find interesting are as follows:
"(quoting Luther who rejected the idea that only the clergymen are called, as well as commenting on a celibate life), All callings are honorable before God, with the possible exceptions of burglary and prostitution. It is God's Word and preaching which make celibacy - such as that of Christ and Paul - better than the estate of marriage. In itself, however, the celibate life is far inferior. The dearest life is to live with a godly, willing, obedient wife in peace and unity" (p. 85-86).
Those who have attended Dr. Godfrey's speaking engagements would see that he is not only someone who loves history; the history of the Reformation in particular, but who also actively and passionately engages in it. By active engagement of history I mean not only passively taking in information as to what happened in the past and relaying that information, but also ensuring the accuracy of the collected accounts and formulating the moral of the story; as to what to learn from it, and in light of it, how we should conduct our lives accordingly, or how we should interpret the current events going on in the world. He describes it as follows on the value of learning history following the study of Psalm 78:7,
"We see three benefits to the study of history here: we learn to trust, to remember, and to obey (I think the right order should be to remember, to trust and to obey).The wisdom we should gain first is to compare ourselves to history and see how much we take after our fathers. Have we learned the dangers and patterns of sin that surround and tempt us? Are we more characterized by faith, remembrance and obedience, or by unbelief, forgetfulness and disobedience?" (p.97).
This book is Reformed Theology in a nutshell explained at a personal level; an extremely valuable resource for both new and mature Christians to continue growing in grace for reason that "True Calvinism is always religion of the heart more than a religion of the head" (p. 142).
A Reformed Theology Primer Sep 15, 2004
I would hazard a guess that most non-Reformed Christians and even non-Christians think that the Reformed tradition is something you have to be born into to understand or believe. It might be thought of as archaic and not in touch with today's evangelical Christian. Granted I was born into a "Reformation" family, but through the life of Dr. Godfrey we can see that somebody can come into Reformation theology from the outside!
Reformed Christians know that the truths of the Reformation are exciting, applicable, vibrant and most importantly come straight from Scripture. Dr. Godfrey does a great job of laying down the framework for Reformed Christianity from innumerable Scripture references and shows his passion and excitement for his faith. It was fun to read the first couple pages of a chapter concerning a portion of his life and then having him lead us into a deeper discussion of what and why the Reformed tradition believes about certain things.
This book can be a quick read, or it can be a starting point for further study. In my title for this review I called it a "Reformed Theology Primer", which I think is quite applicable for somebody wanting to know more about the Reformed faith. But for somebody who has been studying the Reformed faith for a number of years, I still found the book very engaging and quite worth the read.
I like Mike Horton's quote on the back which reads something like, "...this book is really more about God." (I loaned the book out so I can't quote it directly!) I couldn't agree more.