One Christian apologist and theologian that I really got to read more this year has been John Frame. His writing has been tremendously helpful and has the rare combination of being intellectually stimulating, biblically faithful and I would even say quite devotional. Beyond the apologetics’ value of John Frame presenting a coherent Christian worldview in which he shows the inter-relationship and inter-dependence of Christian doctrines, I find that Frame’s writing engages my mind, will and emotions to love God and God’s truth more.
If you didn’t know already, every morning on Mondays through Saturdays we post quotes from John Frame on our Facebook page and our Twitter. We plan to do this for the remainder of 2014 and going into 2015.
An example of Frame’s spirituality that seeps into his discussion about apologetics and theology is a passage in The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God that talks about doctrinal controversy and the relationship to spiritual immaturity in which he discusses the importance of Christians to grow in holiness and make progress in sanctification. I appreciated that Frame did talk about this in the context of a book that talks about Christian theory of knowledge! The Christian must not separate academic theological endeavors from one’s progress in being more like Christ!
Here is the quote:
Many doctrinal misunderstandings in the church are doubtless due to this spiritual-ethical immaturity. We need to pay more attention to this fact when we get into theological disputes. Sometimes, we through arguments back and forth, over and over again, desperately trying to convince one another. But often there is in one of the disputers–or both!–the kind of spiritual immaturity that prevents clear perception. We all know how it works in practice. Lacking sufficient love for one another, we seek to interpret the other person’s views in the worst possible sense. (we forget the tremendous importance of love–even as an epistemological concept; cf. 1 Cor. 8:1-3; 1 Tim. 1:5ff; 1 John 2:4f.; 3:18f.; 4:7ff.). Lacking sufficient humility, too, we overestimate the extent of our own knowledge. In such a csae, with one or more immature debaters, it may be best not to seek immediate agreement in our controversy”
(John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 155)
Of course this does not mean that all doctrinal debate is the result of all parties being theologically immature but if we really believe what the Bible says about our sinfulness, we ought to be ready to search our motives, and re-check if any of the above is true.
Knowing this truth has made me more slower in responding to online debate and also see the importance of not just only reading up on theological and apologetics’ controversy but also the importance of resources on sanctification and godliness.
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Posted in Apologetics, apologetics methodology, Book Review, christian apologetics, Christianity, Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Van Til, tagged Covenantal Apologetics on November 18, 2014 |
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Note: I realized that over the years I’ve blogged a lot on Presuppositional apologetics but I have just discovered that somehow I have never posted my review of Greg Bahnsen’s Classic book titled Always Ready! Here’s my review, written several years ago.
Purchase: Westminster | Amazon
It seems as if most of Bahnsen’s books were published after his death than during his own lifetime. Bahnsen’s Always Ready is one of those works, published after his death that was based largely on various essays which he wrote concerning Presuppositional apologetics. Some have commented that this work is rather disorganized or repetitive. If this is so, the fault of the book being disorganized can be attributed to the fact mentioned earlier that the materials originally were not meant as a book. However, in my estimation, the editor Randy Booth did a good job organizing the various chapters in the book in a clear, logical order. It also does not strike me as unnecessarily repetitive either. Rather, Always Ready is a work that is still on top of my list of recommended resources to those who want a good introduction to Van Tillian’s apologetics.
In much of Bahnsen’s other works and lectures, he always begin any discussion about apologetics by refuting religious neutrality. This motif portray the heavy influence Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til has on Bahnsen’s apologetics, and this theme of religious neutrality is valuable in apologetics, which Bahnsen explained in the first section of the book: Neutrality robs the believer and it is a philosophical impossibility (not to mention it’s unethical character!). This point might seem repetitive, but it is a fundamental point in understanding and appreciating the coherence of Presuppositional Apologetics.
Many have observed Bahnsen’s ability to debate, and have seen or heard how he has tackled head-on unbelievers in various venues. This work gives us some of the content of what was going on in the mind of this notable apologist, whom John Frame even believed was the best debater for Presuppositionalism. For the astute and willing student, Bahnsen provides the tools in this book to be equipped in their own apologetics to interact meaningfully and biblically with nonbelievers. As someone who’s life goal was to “take it to the streets” in applying apologetics rather than just discussing theory, Bahnsen’s insight has also been tested in real debate situation. For instance, his chapter on the problem of evil will illuminate readers as to why he took the approach he did concerning the problem of evil in his famous debate with atheist Gordon Stein. His discussion of the problem of miracle and religious language towards the end of the work are also valuable in the apologist’s arsenal, especially for those who take it seriously to be “always ready,” even with the more philosophically sophisticated unbeliever. The book also gives the reader a summary of various logical fallacies to look out for which unbeliever typically make, regardless of their range of intellectual ability. Bahnsen’s strength in many of his debates have been his quickness to identify fallacious reasoning, here in this book one can see what these fallacies are for the readers to be conscious of. In my personal life, working hard in applying the lessons found in this book has resulted in some level of fruitfulness in exposing the folly of unbelief.
The longest chapter happens to be the last chapter, where Bahnsen discusses Acts 17 as it relates to apologetics. His work on Acts 17 was better in clarity and exegesis than his mentor Van Til did in his pamphlet “Paul at Athens.” From my survey of apologetics literature, every school of apologetics has their take on Acts 17, but Bahnsen has given us by far the best apologist’s exegetical treatment of the passage.
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Note: For the next few weeks on Sunday we will feature a review of books outside of theology, philosophy and apologetics. Each review of a non-Christian book will also have a section titled, “What’s in it for the Christian?”
Can it be–that I, SlimJim, read a work of fiction?
I am not normally the kind of guy who reads fiction. It has been over ten years since I have last done so in undergraduate, let alone a comic book (this is my first manga). But I have to say with this was very good. A young man in my church introduced to me and told me that I might find it interesting for the philosophical aspect of it. The first volume gets you hooked right away with the story of a promising young surgeon who struggle with the idea that all life are equal which led him to the fateful decision of operating on a young boy injured in a grisly murder scene instead of a mayor. That resulted in the death of the mayor and led the doctor being ostracized by his own hospital, his collegue, boss and fiancé. The twist is that the young boy disappeared along with his young sister and years later would grow up to be a frightening murderer. Once you start reading the first volume, you can’t put it down!
In total there is 18 volumes in this series. With each volume the plot gets thicker and the suspense increases. I loved how the story takes place over different part of Europe; there is a feel that this is “Jason Borne” in Manga form! I thought it was also neat to see how this was originally in Japanese but the author and the artist gave great attention to detail concerning Europe, it’s “look,” the specific city and location and the subculture. This series does a good job with developing the characters and getting the readers interested as soon as they are introduced.
The part that made me interested in this series are the philosophical themes throughout the book. The antagonist is known as “him,” or the “monster.” We often think of monster as aesthetically ugly but here the villain is someone that is attractive and seem normal. This villain is also one who is able to perpetuate his plans by manipulating other people and taking advantage of what motivates them. In some sense the monster is a demonic figure or an Anti-Christ. It made me ponder a lot about how this illustrate spiritual truth of spiritual warfare that the devil out there is one who knows us and take advantage of our weaknesses and motivation.
What’s in it for the Christian: Often our culture portray Satan and demons as red creatures with pitchforks; I’ve always thought the devil was more sly than that. This book’s villain is one that I think capture the reality of spiritual warfare in that our enemy is also one who is smart and often take advantage of using what we want and what we want to believe as a bait to fulfill the devil’s will. This book’s “Monster” made me think about this a lot and the need for us to engage in biblical and sobering analysis of ourselves and our intentions. We must be aware of our weakness! The “Monster” in the series is one who is good looking and appear wholesome–it made me think about how Satan is no ugly beast but one who can aesthetically deceive others as angels of the light.
To Purchase Volume 1 (there’s 18 volume!): Amazon
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Posted in Apologetic Links, christian apologetics, Christianity, Cornelius Van Til, Fred Butler, Presuppositional Apologetics, presuppositionalism, Reformed, Theology, Van Til, Veritas Domain on November 15, 2014 |
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Christian apologist James White has been a great gift to the church with his scholarly debates on a wide array of issues. Dr. White has recently given a talk over at New Hyde Park Baptist Church in New York and lectured on the topic of the transmission of the New Testament and the transmission of the Qur’an.
The first clip is best watched 5 minutes into the video.
Watch it to be equipped to witness to Muslims!
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I didn’t plan to write this three part series on the question “Were Early Christians Communists?” It was originally in response to someone online and it just kind of happened as I thought about it more I ended up writing more.
I think it would be good to have one posts that links the series. Here are the links to the three posts:
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This is a debate Michael Jaworski and Bojidar Marinov. Bojidar Marinov is a Presuppositionalist who use to work with American Vision.
He recently participated in a debate on the question: Must Morality Have A Basis In God?
Below is the video of the debate:
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