Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quote of the Day: John Owen

"When the heart is cast indeed into the mold of the doctrine that the mind embraces; when the evidence and necessity of the truth abides in us; when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but the sense of the things abides in our hearts; when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for—then we will be garrisoned, by the grace of God, against all the assaults of men. And without this, all our contending is, as to ourselves, of no value."

 Vindiciae Evangelicae, or, A Vindication of the Gospel, in The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold (Edinburgh: Bannerof Truth, 1991)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Review Of More Than Conquerors

More Than Conquerors (MTC)by William Hendriksen was a great read (for the second time)providing insight on the book of Revelation with a pleasant prose making it enjoyable to read for just about anyone. Originally published in 1939 MTC has been able to demonstrate its worth and legitimacy by withstanding the test of time. Still relevant even today when compared to recent scholarship yet very accessible.

For those who come from my church background-fundamentalist evangelical-MTC is going to read very different from what we are typically used to. Hendriksen’s purpose is to amplify the original message of the book of Revelation which is very applicable to the church today. Hendriksen takes seriously the hermeneutic of Scripture interpreting Scripture as he demonstrates how the message of Revelation would have been understood by its original audience.


MTC is very applicable and arguably one of the most applicable books on Revelation. The common approach to Revelation is to create a prophetic time line of end time scenarios by decoding Revelation through the grid current events or through history. Hendriksen’s approach is much different as he views Revelation as a book that applies to the church in every age. He properly understands Revelation as book that gives us hope in Christ as we persevere through trials and encourages us to draw closer to God.

What was new to me in Hendriksen is his view of the external architecture of Revelation. He explains that Revelation is not linear or chronological but consists of 7 parallel accounts (also known as "Progressive Parallelism" or "Recapitulation" theory of Revelation ) of the church age and the final day of the Lord. In this view each account speaks of the evil in the world using various symbolic stories and ends showing that God will be victorious, judgment will come upon the evil, and the persecuted saints will be protected, vindicated, and saved. This is great encouragement for the persecuted church in every age.

Lastly Hendriksen properly explains the symbols that John uses in Revelation. The common approach to symbolism is to interpret the symbols literally. Hendriksen properly shows how many of the symbols used in Revelation are taken from Old Testament symbolism that point to specific truths for the church age.


Hendriksen comes from historic Protestantism so his approach to Revelation will be different than what many readers are accustomed to. However, this shouldn’t be a reason not to give Hendriksen a fair reading. His book went through more than 25 publications since 1939 because it really is that good. For decades his was one of the few commentaries on the book of Revelation that carried with it a sense of legitimacy because of its candor and its Christ centered message. For this reason alone it ought to have a place on any Bible student’s book shelf. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

John Calvin On 1 Corinthians 6:12

12. All things are lawful for me. Interpreters labor hard to make out the connection of these things, “To connect it with what has been said before.” as they appear to be somewhat foreign to the Apostle’s design. For my own part, without mentioning the different interpretations, I shall state what, in my opinion, is the most satisfactory. It is probable, that the Corinthians even up to that time retained much of their former licentiousness, and had still a savor of the morals of their city. Now when vices stalk abroad with impunity, “Where persons sin with a loose bridle, and where vices are not punished.” custom is regarded as law, and then afterwards vain pretexts are sought for by way of excuse; an instance of which we have in their resorting to the pretext of Christian liberty, so as to make almost everything allowable for themselves to do. They reveled in excess of luxury. With this there was, as usual, much pride mixed up. As it was an outward thing, they did not think that there was any sin involved in it: nay more, it appears from Paul’s words that they abused liberty so much as to extend it even to fornication. Now therefore, most appropriately, after having spoken of their vices, he discusses those base pretexts by which they flattered themselves in outward sins.

It is, indeed, certain, that he treats here of outward things, which God has left to the free choice of believers, but by making use of a term expressive of universality, he either indirectly reproves their unbridled licentiousness, or extols God’s boundless liberality, which is the best directress to us of moderation. For it is a token of excessive licentiousness, when persons do not, of their own accord, restrict themselves, and set bounds to themselves, amidst such manifold abundance. And in the first place, he limits liberty 347347 “La liberte Chrestienne;” — “Christian liberty.” by two exceptions; and secondly, he warns them, that it does not by any means extend to fornication. These words, All things are lawful for me, must be understood as spoken in name of the Corinthians, κατ ᾿ ἀνθυποφορὰν, (by anticipation,) as though he had said, I am aware of the reply which you are accustomed to make, when desirous to avoid reproof for outward vices. You pretend that all things are lawful for you, without any reserve or limitation.

But all things are not expedient Here we have the first exception, by which he restricts the use of liberty — that they must not abandon themselves to licentiousness, because respect must be had to edification. 348348 “L’edification du prochain;” — “The edification of their neighbor.” The meaning is, “It is not enough that this or that is allowed us, to be made use of indiscriminately; for we must consider what is profitable to our brethren, whose edification it becomes us to study. For as he will afterwards point out at greater length, (1 Corinthians 10:23, 24,) and as he has already shown in Romans 14:13, etc., every one has liberty inwardly 349349 “En sa conscience;” — “In his conscience.” in the sight of God on this condition, that all must restrict the use of their liberty with a view to mutual edification. I will not be brought under the power of anything Here we have a second restriction — that we are constituted lords of all things, in such a way, that we ought not to bring ourselves under bondage to anything; as those do who cannot control their appetites. For I understand the word τινος (any) to be in the neuter gender, and I take it as referring, not to persons, but to things, so that the meaning is this: “We are lords of all things; only we must not abuse that lordship in such a way as to drag out a most miserable bondage, being, through intemperance and inordinate lusts, under subjection to outward things, which ought to be under subjection to us.” And certainly, the excessive moroseness of those who grudge to yield up anything for the sake of their brethren, has this effect, that they unadvisedly put halters of necessity around their own necks.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Bible Critic Says Jesus Isn't God

Wittgenstein: Paschal Meditation for Easter

“I believe that one of the things Christianity says is that sound doctrines are all useless. That you have to change your life. (Or the direction of your life.) It says that all wisdom is cold; and that you can no more use it for setting your life to rights that you can forge iron when it is cold. The point is that a sound doctrine need not take hold of you; you can follow it as you would a doctor’s prescription. — But here you need something to move you and turn you in a new direction. — (I.e. this is how I understand it.) Once you have been turned around, you must stay turned around. Wisdom is passionless. But faith by contrast is what Kierkegaard calls a passion.” (Culture and Value. Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Wittgenstein’s fideism (as well as Kierkegaard’s assumingly) has reached its excess in the claim that sound doctrines are all useless.  The relationship between sound doctrine and life are not among the polarized binaries like good and evil.  The danger is to adopt one to the exclusion of the other.  A life without sound doctrine is much like Tom Petty’s rebel without a clue.  The absence of sound doctrine does not leave one with no doctrine rather what one is left with is doctrine that is unsound.   The opposing distinction “sound doctrine” is articulated by Wittgenstein’s claim to passionless wisdom.  This is a turn from the facts of objective reality to the personalized experience of the subjective self.  But this does not necessarily capture the Christian condition.

Within Christianity there is an exchange between the two so that the Christian life is influenced by sound doctrine.  It is because of sound doctrine that the subjective does not drift into "the great wide open".  Conversely it is the subjectivity which gives life to the objective content of sound doctrine.  Why will the subjective hearts of many believers be stirred this morning on Easter Sunday?  Because of something objective that Christ did 2000 years ago by taking their sin upon Himself and giving them His merited righteousness.  This is the relationship between sound doctrine and passion.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Last Supper

Since this is the Holy Week on the Church calander I thought it would be fitting to discuss the New Testament teaching on the Last Supper. My goal is to attempt to clear up any confusion on my part or possibly yours over wether this was the Passover. I will start out by introducing some proof texts for your review and feedback then I will respond to the texts. I am interested in your feedback so please dont be shy.

[1] Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come
to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the
world, he loved them to the end. [2] During supper, when the devil had already put
it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, [3] Jesus, knowing
that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God
and was going back to God, [4] rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments,
and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. [5] Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was
wrapped around him. (John 13:1-5 ESV)

[21] After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” [22] The disciples looked
at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. [23] One of his disciples, whom Jesus
loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, [24] so Simon Peter motioned to him
to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. [25] So that disciple, leaning back against
Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” [26] Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I
will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the
morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. [27] Then after he had
taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going
to do, do quickly.” [28] Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.
[29] Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. (John 13:21-29 ESV)

[28] Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters.
It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters,
so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.
(John 18:28 ESV)

[14] Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth
hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” (John 19:14 ESV)

[31] Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain
on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked
Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. (John 19:31 ESV)

[42] So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at
hand, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:42 ESV)

This should be enough to get us started for now.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Al Mohler: On the Other Side of Complexity

Mohler walks through church history from the Enlightenment to today making a case for confessional Christianity. He moves quickly through the various movements but makes a strong case. Well worth the hour. You can listen here.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Is "No Creed but the Bible" Biblical?

"Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions which are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique; and those who have private creeds and confessions which are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not subject to testing by scripture to see whether they are true or not."

This excerpt taken from Carl Truman's The Credal Imparative captures the dilema in non or anti credal affirmations. Such affirmations are intended to gain legitimacy for its stance in accepting no other view but that of Bible. And it is a very impressive stance at face value. However, I think as Truman points out it is very naive. We all have a creed but is our creed formulated on the basis of the church historical governed by God's soveriegn plan? Or is it more individualistic, closed off from scrutiny, mendable and plyable to our own pesonal needs and desires? As it turns out the era of modernity left the church with a host of unbiblical beliefs many of which were defended by the creed "no creed but Christ."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quote of the Day: Lloyd-Jones on the Lordship Controversy

"This distinction between accepting Christ as Saviour and taking Him as Lord is utterly unscriptural... You cannot divide Him, He is one." -Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Romans - Saving Faith)

Quote of the Day: Schaeffer On The Christian World View

"...If Christianity is really true, then it involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness. Christianity is not just “dogmatically” true or “doctrinally” true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life. ~ Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quote of the Day

"I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the splendor of the three; nor can I discern the three without being straightway carried back to the one." -Gregory of Nazianzus

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quote of the Day: Irenaeus, Against Heresies

4. And therefore does the Scripture say, “These words the Lord spake to all the assembly of the children of Israel in the mount, and He added no more;” for, as I have already observed, He stood in need of nothing from them. And again Moses says: “And now Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?” Now these things did indeed make man glorious, by supplying what was wanting to him, namely, the friendship of God; but they profited God nothing, for God did not at all stand in need of man’s love. For the glory of God was wanting to man, which he could obtain in no other way than by serving God. And therefore Moses says to them again: “Choose life, that thou mayest live, and thy seed, to love the LORD thy God, to hear His voice, to cleave unto Him; for this is thy life, and the length of thy days.” Preparing man for this life, the Lord Himself did speak in His own person to all alike the words of the Decalogue; and therefore, in like manner, do they remain permanently with us, receiving by means of His advent in the flesh, extension and increase, but not abrogation.

—Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.16.4

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Quote of the Day: Irenaeus Against Heresies

1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.” And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

—Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.2.1

Thursday, January 30, 2014

the Trinity:Mathematical Conundrum or Ontological Necessity?

"There is a twofold mode of truth in what we profess about God. Some truths about God exceed all the ability of the human reason. Such is the truth that God is triune." -Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One

Here in lies a common understanding that we hear everyday, in fact I just hear it this week. "The trinity is unknowable" seems to be an axiomatic claim which is why it's so popular and the reason we hear it all the time. While I disagree that it is unknowable, I do understand why people say it. After all how is it possible to rationalize the numerical quantities 3 and 1? May I suggest a different way of thinking about this?

Rather than ponder the mathematical conundrum resulting from joining numerical quantities of 3 and 1. Let us understand God as He is depicted from the Scriptures as the Being in whom we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). Thus from this perspective God is an ontological necessity and the basis upon which we have our being.

As always tell me your thoughts.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Best Method of Preaching

Reformation Heritage Books has released a very important volume in The Best Method of Preaching by Peter Mastricht (1630-1706). Even better they released it for free. You can get it here.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why Millennials Long For Liturgy: We're Still Missing The Point

Interestingly the contemporary call for liturgy among the millennials isn't as emotionally driven as everyone thinks. 15 years ago when I started to think seriously about order of worship I remember being impressed with the beauty and spirituality found in historical liturgics, but I was convinced out of the theological and didactic importance. Simply put it's not just about the experience but the content that influences that experiences.

You can read the article here

photo credit: fusion-of-horizons via photopin cc

Saturday, January 4, 2014

BOOK REVIEW - Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology

I was recently looking through my book shelves for books that can be put away in storage when I came across Technopoly by Neil Postman (1931-2003).  You may or may not be familur with his work.  One of his more popular books was Amusing Ourselves to Death.  Dr.Postman was a professor of media ecology at NYU and very interested in education which was the motivation behind Technopoly.  My  interest was peaked as I wondered how much of what he wrote 20 years ago was still the case today.  As I re-read his book one thought repeatedly entered my mind "this could have been written yesterday."  To his credit much of what he wrote still holds true today.

My first reading of the book was mostly out of questions that I had with technology's influence in modern day culture, to the point at which we seemingly have limited control over its influence in our lives. Before I go any further I realize that many of you reading this post know me and know that I have spent much of my career in a technological field.  However, the issues that Postman presents in Technopoly, namely the monopoly of power that technology has over our society, should be given some consideration by all of us.  We should ask the question do certain technologies benefit us?  To what degree are we benefited?  What are the dangers and to what degree does this technology harm?  These are standard questions that we usually ask of most things.

Below I have written a brief summation of each topic in the book.  My goal was simply to give you a taste of what Postman has to say.  Do I recommend this book?  Absolutely.

Chapter 1 The Judgment of Thamus
I have to admit, starting the book out with a section from Phaedrus by Plato truly warmed my classical heart.  In this story king Thamus rejected the invention of writing by the god Theuth (who was an inventor of many things).  Thamus first explains that the inventor isn't always the best person to determine the benefit or harm of the invention.  Thamus' second point was that writing would discourage memory since those who write will rely on their writings to bring things to remembrance.  Postman critiques Thamus' one sided thinking that writing will only be a burden believing that "every technology is both burden and a blessing; not either-or"(3-5).  New technology is subtle and quickly infiltrates a society without first explaining its benefits or harm and to whom will be benefited or harmed.  The impact of technological change is so significant that Postman refers to it as an ecological change (18) using television and its impact on American ecology as an example.  "New techologies alter the structure of our interests the things we think about.  They alter the character of our symbols: the things we think with.  And the alter the nature of community: the arena in which thoughts develop" (20).

Chapter 2 From Tools to Technocracy
Here Postman makes an observation between tool using technology and what he calls "technocracy".  The Postman explains is something like a tool where technology serves to solve practical problems.  In a "technocracy" technology plays a bigger role in the culture as it seeks to become the culture.  The main distinction between the two is that the latter attempts to attack the dignity or integrity of the existing culture (28).

Chapter 3 From Technocracy to Technopoly
In chapter 3 Postman offers a short industrial history in attempt to answer the question of when this shift to a technocracy came about in American culture.  What is important to understand in his discussion is with every new invention the culture became more and more dependent on manufacturers so that culturally we became a consumer of goods.  We were so identified with our new status that we no longer identified ourselves  as children of God (42).  As technocracy continued to grow "it diminished class, increased individualism, sped up time, collapsed distance, and fed the notion of progress as the new reality" (45).

For Postman Technopoly takes things one step further by "redefining what we mean by religion, by art, by family, by politics, by history, by truth, by privacy, by intelligence, so that our definitions fit its new requirements.  Technopoly, in other words, is totalitarian technocracy (48).  The observation that Postman makes is while Technocracy's influence was limited to its tool usage Technopoly totalized the whole of culture.  Where two world views co-existed under Technocracy and traditional views Technopoloy obliterates the traditional  and redefines what was normative.  "To every Old World belief, habit, or tradition there was and still is a technological alternative.  To prayer, the alternative is penicillin; to family roots, the alternative is mobility; to reading, the alternative is television; to restraint, the alternative is immediate gratification; to sin, the alternative is psychotherapy; to political ideology, the alternative is popular appeal established through scientific polling" (54).

Chapter 4 The Improbable World
 Just as the Middle Ages have been characterized as placing ultimate authority in religion, contemporary culture has placed ultimate authority in science.  Ultimate authority in science and a misappropriated use of progress usher's in a new problem that Postman describes as "information glut".  Information glut is not the absence of information but rather an overwhelming amount so much so that it is impossible to organize, prioritize, and genuinely understand leading to what Postman calls "information chaos."  "We proceed under the assumption that information is our friend, believing that cultures may suffer grievously from a lack of information which, of course, they do.  It is only now beginning to be understood that cultures may also suffer grievously from information glut, information without meaning, information without control mechanisms" (70).

Chapter 5 The Broken Defenses
"The god they (technopoly expersts) serve does not speak of righteousness or goodness or mercy or grace.  Their god speaks of efficiency, precision, objectivity"(90).  The broken defenses that Postman is speaking of are the controls that regulate "information glut".  Once these controls break down Postman describes a cultural condition where psychic tranquility and social purpose break down.  "Without defenses, people have no way of finding meaning in their experiences, lose their capacity to remember, and have difficulty imagining reasonable futures" (72).  

Chapter 6 Medical Technology
According to Postman the influence of technopoly  in medical technology misappropriates its aim as more emphasis is placed on the disease and not the patient.  Is this a better way of going?  Postman sites several key examples where the answer would be a definite "no."  So why do we continue practices that have the potential to do harm?  Postman explains that in a technopoly "there is no time or inclination to speak of technological debits" (108).  What matters most is perceived medial advancements.

Chapter 7 The Ideology of Machines: Computer Technology
This chapter was more conceptual making it more challenging to understand.  As I understand Postman technology is more and more becoming the authority while human points of references are becoming subordinated. Computers according to Postman are the technology of command and control and their expansion represents the loss of human subjectivity replaced by confidence in "technical calculations" (118). Needles to say Postman doesn't think that technology should be given free reign to go unchecked for the sake of technological advancements.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

3 Reasons Why I Studied Philosophy In College

Recently I was asked why I took up the study of Philosophy in college.  It's a legitimate question. After all how many careers out there require a degree in Philosophy? Interestingly that is a pragmatic question and it demonstrates that the person asking it has already to some degree assumed a pragmatic perception of reality. But, how do we know that such a perception is valid? That is a philosophy question because it dares to ask the question are all things true or right just because they are expedient? So philosophy types-those who take up the study of philosophy-aren't typically immediate in their approach to understanding reality.

Even more intriguing are those who ask that question who believe it is somehow in conflict with my belief in Christianity. It is not only Christians but even non-Christians who see some sort of conflict between Christian faith and Philosophy. There are many reasons why this happens; but to put it simply both systems seek to answer questions about reality. Some of the best treatises of this type have come from Christian Philosophers. Conflicts between the two systems are possible but not a necessary condition.

Below I have given 3 reasons why I took up the study of Philosophy. I don't think these are exhaustive but valid none the less.

1. Among other things Philosophy teaches one to think cogently. Philosophers are only truly making their money when they present arguments that are logically coherent. This is what makes Philosophy such a challenging endeavor. It is much easier to stipulate a position then to actually have to demonstrate its validity. Such an exercise teaches one to be a cogent thinker.

2. To better understand Christian thought and its background. As I said above Christian philosophers have have made significant contributions to Christian theology. When we think of the foundational doctrine of the Trinity we find philosophical concepts such as "person", "substance", and "being" all of which have their understanding in philosophy. Moreover, many of the perennial questions raised in day to day life can only be addressed if one first understands what they are, how they have been responded to in the past, and the proper response from a Christian perspective.

3. To better understand those who oppose Christianity. We hear from many who oppose Christianity on a daily basis. They give many reasons out of immediacy that are meaningful to them and should be treated with the utmost sensitivity. But if we want to truly understand the opposition we must understand the best arguments that can be made against Christianity and in many cases those aren't the arguments that are made from immediacy. However, to be effective in our communication about Christianity it is beneficial for us to understand the opposition.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Geerhardus Vos On The Creation Days

13. Can one who rejects the allegorical and mythical interpretations of Gen 1 and 2 also fall into error on the other side?

Yes, some want to give a hyper-scientific exegesis that satisfies the latest perception and newest fashion. All sorts of theories from physics, geology and astronomy have been projected onto the narrative. Some maintain that the theory of evolution in its entirety is contained in these chapters. This is perhaps apologetic zeal, but it is bad exegesis. Every interpretation of Gen 1 and 2 must be justified exegetically. That science has discovered this or that, or thinks to have discovered it, is not enough to cause us to discover it in Genesis. The creation narrative provides pure truth, but in such a general form that it can serve equally for the instruction of God‘s people in centuries past and His children at the present time. (The hyper-scientific interpretation loses sight of that.) That is precisely what makes the creation narrative such a great artistic achievement of the Spirit of God.

14. How is the first verse of Gen 1 to be interpreted?

“In the beginning” means “before all things.” Thus it does not refer back to subsequent deeds of creation but speaks of the absolute beginning of time.

Concerning the creating mentioned here there are two explanations:

a) It is the initial bringing forth of material out of nothing, thus the so-called immediate creating, while in the following verses mediate creation is described.

b) It is a heading prefaced to the creation account. That is, first it is reported to us in general that God created heaven and earth and first in what follows is that further explained to us. We accept the first explanation, because:

1. Otherwise any reference to the first act of creation would be lacking.

2. The Hebrew word בָּרָא appears precisely to indicate the immediate creation in its divine uniqueness (see Num 16:30). In the qal form it is never used of human creating. That the basic idea is “to cut” is certainly true and to such extent refers to material out of which something has been cut. But that only shows that human language is unsuited for expressing with complete accuracy divine actions such as the act of creation. God must reveal Himself to man, must speak human language. Here He has at least chosen a word that comes closest to the reality in view.

3. “Heaven and earth” is equivalent to the universe, for which Hebrew does not have any word.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quote of the Day: Justin Martyr on Plato's Obligation To Moses

"And that you may learn that it was from our teachers—we mean the account given through the prophets— that Plato borrowed his statement that God, having altered matter which was shapeless, made the world, hear the very words spoken through Moses, who, as above shown, was the first prophet, and of greater antiquity than the Greek writers; and through whom the Spirit of prophecy, signifying how and from what materials God at first formed the world, spake thus: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was invisible and unfurnished, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and it was so.” So that both Plato and they who agree with him, and we ourselves, have learned, and you also can be convinced, that by the word of God the whole world was made out of the substance spoken of before by Moses. And that which the poets call Erebus, we know was spoken of formerly by Moses." - Justin Martyr First Apology Chapter LIX

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Bit Of Irony From the Movie The Matrix

This is one of those subtle ironies that you normally miss in movies because in many cases video images like movies don't necessarily spark reflection and thoughtfulness (conversation for another post).

If you're like me you really enjoyed thinking about the philosophical implications in The Matrix. But one piece of irony that I just can't let go of is in this scene in particular. Neo has a buyer of some kind of illegal thing at his door. In order to get to his secret stash Neo pulls a book from the shelves. This is where the irony comes in. The book that he pulls from the shelves is none other than Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation. What is so funny is he opens the book and its empty.

Baudrillard-or sometimes referred to as the "pimp of postmodernism"-explains that sign and symbol has has replaced reality and meaning so much so that reality has been obliterated. Hence the empty book.   

Monday, December 2, 2013

Brian McLaren On Bible as Story, Doctrine, and Methodology

Jennifer Riley reported in an article some time back for the Christian Post entitled Brian McLaren: Postmodern Christianity Understood As Story. The title itself caught my eye because I have always viewed those terms as separate categories. Christianity has its own discourse making it incompatible with Postmodernity, Modernity, Premodernity, and any other totalizing discourse.  That is not to say that there haven't been some who attempted to impose their discourse on to Christianity and that might be what well intending "Postmodern" Christians are attempting to do.  But the problem is Postmodernity and Christianity represent two distinct and incompatible discourses.

The article also seeks to open what Brian McLaren believes to be a new and innovative understanding of Bible as story and down playing doctrine as well as methodology. I realize this article is not the complete case that McLaren is trying to make but I couldn't help but noticing certain misunderstandings. The idea of "Bible as story" has been understood for centuries. It has only been recently that some have referred to the Bible in practice as something like a reference tool. The question over Bible as narrative is whether or not on believes its real or not. In this article McLaren wasn't very clear on this.

Give it a read tell me your thoughts.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hegel the Protestant Aquinas

Howard Kainz recently asked the questions why Hegel wasn’t for Protestantism what Aquinas was for Roman Catholicism. Kainz is right on when explains Hegel’s understanding of the relationship between philosophy and theology places theology as a secondary discourse. Protestantism has always treated philosophy as a secondary discourse looking to theology to provide answers to questions pertaining to reality, knowledge, and ethics. This has caused Protestantism to look primarily to its theologians for insight into speculative matters. This is just to say that it isn’t characteristic of Protestantism to look to a Philosopher (or theologian for that matter) as a teaching “Magisterium” such as in the Roman Catholic tradition. In Protestantism only the Holy Spirit has that authority.

I appreciated Kainz’s article. My only complaint is that he does not reference the quotes from Hegel that he uses. Give it a read and tell me your thoughts.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism C.S. Lewis

Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism
C.S. Lewis

The undermining of the old orthodoxy has been mainly the work of divines engaged in New Testament criticism. The authority of experts in that discipline is the authority in deference to whom we are asked to give up a huge mass of beliefs shared in common by the early Church, the Fathers, the Middle Ages, the Reformers, and even the nineteenth century. I want to explain what it is that makes me skeptical about this authority. Ignorantly skeptical, as you will all too easily see. But the skepticism is the father of the ignorance. It is hard to persevere in a close study when you can work up no prima facie confidence in your teachers.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Peter Leithart Calls For The End Of Protestantism

Ironically we were just talking about the Protestant Reformation in class then in comes a blog post from First Things where Peter Leithart (member of the PCA) is calling for the end of the Protestantism. In its stead Leithart is calling for something that he calls "Reformational Catholicism". I have been following Leithart for several years now and while I don't agree with much of what he has been saying; I would have to say he is a very intelligent and well informed author, pastor, and theologian. I don't want to give the impression here that I could hold my own with Leithart but his intelligence isn't in question here. Rather, i'm wondering about some of the claims he makes in this article that are just overtly and blatantly incorrect at the most fundamental level. I will just high lite a few:

First I will start by saying I am not heavily vested in a brand. It isn't uncommon for some to be very brand conscious when it comes to their particular type of Christianity.  So for Leithart to go after "Protestantism" isn't all too important for me. However, we typically use these "brands" to share with others where we are on the "theological map." Behind many of these brands are teachings that some feel reflect the Bible's teaching and in cases of unresolved disagreement on essential matters, separation is warranted. This was the case of the Protestant Reformation.

However, Leithart makes the Reformation debate out to be a reactionary response to secondary issues when he says things like "Protestantism is a negative theology; a Protestant is a not-Catholic. Whatever Catholics say or do, the Protestant does and says as close to the opposite as he can." I realize Leithart understands the issues and Reformational theology but that's why I can't understand why he would say such a thing. Luther's 95 theses were a response to Catholic indulgences but that hardly makes Reformed theology a "negative theology" (by this I take Leithart to mean a theology that explains what we are not, as opposed to a theology that seeks to articulate what we are). Later in the article he looks to Baptists and Bible churches as proof of this. Hypothetically if that were true it doesn't validate the claim since Reformational theology is not defined by the beliefs of modern day isolated individual churches. 

He further goes on to say, "A Protestant exaggerates his distance from Roman Catholicism on every point of theology and practice, and is skeptical of Roman Catholics who say that they believe in salvation by grace." I haven't met that person who is skeptical of Rome's claim to salvation by grace. What was called in to question was the way Rome was defining grace. Rome taught that grace is infused righteousness which helped the believer work her way to justification. The Reformers on the other hand argued that grace was an imputed righteousness where God sees the believer as bearing Christ's righteousness. As you can probably tell this is a very large issue the outcome resulting in whether or not one believes in a works based system or a grace based system.    

In its whole I found many problems with Leithart's article. There seems to be a lot of fudging for the sole purpose of a thesis calling for the "end of Protestantism." Leithart may want to consider the possibility that if he has to do that much fudging to make his point, it is quite possible that his thesis is wrong. Just a thought. Read  his article and tell me what you think.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chruch Rescue: New TV Show on National Geographic

"Running a church takes more than faith, and even the holiest of institutions can fall victim to harsh realities. Enter the "Church Hoppers" — three business-savvy ministers who travel the country helping faith-based organizations reestablish themselves in the marketplace so they can continue spreading the good word to their followers. They use the wisdom of Scripture and a little Southern ingenuity to pull off inspiring interventions."

I wonder if a renewed interest in preaching Christ and Him crucified is a part of their "Southern ingenuity to pull off inspiring interventions."

NT Wright: Paul and the Faithfulness of God

NT Wright is definitely a smart guy and that can't be denied. Having said that I think i'm over him telling us we don't know how to read Paul. We get it NT, only you understand Paul and the rest of us are missing the boat. I probably will not rush right out and get his new one Paul and the Faithfulness of God.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

1 Corinthians 11:26; The Lord's Supper Is A Gospel Proclimation

"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Horton & Olson conversation with Ed Stetzer on Calvinism

The Church and Pragmatism

"The church is always more than a school…. But the church cannot be less than a school."

— Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 1.

What does it mean to be "less than a school"? Obviously schools are institutions of learning, is the church an institution of learning? Maybe after we qualify what we mean by that term. However learning does take place because the Christian church is Christ's body, therefore Christ is central to the church's being. Since that is the case, the church is a representation of the truth of Christ and where there is truth learning necessarily follows. This then creates a problematic situation for a church that is less than a school.

The reason I quote from Pelikan is we see examples of this very situation where Churches are less than schools. In other words it is not uncommon to find Churches who's priority is the practical, pragmatic, popular, but not necessarily grounded in Christ, thus not grounded in truth. Honestly, it isn't uncommon to find those who claim to be Bible believing church going Christians who are somewhat cynical over claims of truth (I also acknowledge that there are some Christians who have over stated their claims to truth). All of this is to say there is a crises of truth in church today and if this crises is effecting the church you can imagine how it is effecting the culture through anti-intelectualism and non-intelectualism.

Part of the blame for this must be placed in our pragmatic tendency. As Americans we have experienced great success in being practical and pragmatic. The problem is when we apply pragmatism to our Christianity. As Bible students we are to be thoughtful, investing time and consideration to the truth claims of God's word and respond to them accordingly. Pragmatism looks for immediacy not truth. As the philosophical pragmatist William James put it "the test of a truth claim is its cash value in experiential terms." What we end with is a clash of values, a conflict of perspectives that cannot possible coexist in the church because as we are seeing the outcome is devastating for the church.

Therefore the church should always be more than a school, but if it is less than a school, that is to say neglects the truth that it is founded on, the end result is it will inevitably cease to be the church.

Hebrews 9

Series In Hebrews: Jesus Is Truly Better
OT Leviticus 16:1-34   NT Hebrews 9
“the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come”

In this passage the preacher lays out the temple geography ultimately to make the case that Jesus is more superior. Since temple worship was ordered under the covenant of works the preacher is telling his audience that with all the awe inspiring splendor and beauty of the temple so much so that people were not worthy to even enter, yet the new covenant is still far greater (v1). As we have read in prior chapters the the temple was a replica of Jesus (8:1-6) who is currently interceding for us now (7:25). Then the preacher abruptly ends his conversation about the temple (v5) not wanting to continue on the topic of the temple which was the customer of the time. Rather he moves on to a bigger discussion of Jesus which the temple was supposed to be pointing to.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quote Of The Day

Worship is not activity in which we contemplate or observe a being who is over against us - though in a sense God is that also - but it is relational, something that happens between persons.  And the happening between persons is worship in the Son and through the Spirit. -Colin Gunton The Promise of Trinitarian Theology pg.6

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hebrews 8:1-13

Series In Hebrews: Jesus Is Truly Better
OT Jeremiah 31:31-37 14:17-24,  NT 8:1-13
“Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry... He is the mediator of a better covenant”

Hebrews 8 represents a theological fork in the road because it forces its readers to make a decision on how they are going to understand the relationship between covenants.  If the original audience accepts the old covenant with its blessing curse principle they will stand in judgement of a righteous God who expects full compliance both inward and outward.  However, if they accept the new covenant a covenant of grace ratified by Christ Himself they will continue to be persecuted among family and friends, but their sin will be atoned for by the Great High Priest once and for all.  Paul also explains this well in Galatians 3:10-18.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Emerging Divide in Evangelical Theology by Gerald R. McDermott Ph.D.

VirtueOnline - News

Imagine the scene. Ancient Jerusalem is at war. Its army is fighting far away. Behind the city walls, its old men, women and children nervously await word on what happened in battle. Their lives and future are at stake. Suddenly, a cry rings out from the sentries watching from the look-out points on top of the wall. "Your God reigns.." A rider approaching the wall has signaled victory. The whole city explodes in celebration. The word "evangelical" comes from this Hebrew idea of announcing the good news that God now reigns with power and grace.

This essay will argue that while evangelical theology has come into its own in recent decades, it is also deeply divided. One branch contributes to the development of historic orthodoxy, while another follows a trail blazed by Protestant liberals. The future will probably see further distance between these two kinds of theology, with one perhaps becoming "evangelical" in name only. I will begin the essay by outlining recent successes, and the ways in which evangelical theologians since the 1970s have understood their own distinctives. Part II will uncover the divisions in today's evangelical theology, and Part III will highlight the doctrines that evangelical theology is re-examining. I will conclude with projections for the future (Part IV).