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Archive for the ‘Reformed’ Category

b-b-warfield-portrait

The influential Princeton Theologian B.B. Warfield has made a tremendous impact that people still benefit from his writing today.

Over at Monergism they have graciously done a great work by making available online for free seven of his books.

Here are the works from Warfield:

Faith and Life (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Studies in Theology (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Biblical Doctrines (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Calvin and Calvinism (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Augustine & The Pelagian Controversy (eBook)

The Making of the Westminster Confession (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

Sermons and Essays from the Works of B. B. Warfield (eBook) by B. B. Warfield

 

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Pagan Heart of Today's Culture

This work can be purchased for a discounted cost if you click HERE.

This is a fascinating booklet and a new addition to the Christian Answers to Hard Questions series this is the result of the partnership between the faculty of the Westminister Theological Seminary and P&R Publishing.  Early in the booklet Peter Jones argues that the three “isms” of Postmodernism, Gnosticism and Polytheism provides “the lens through which we can understand what is sometimes called the New Spirituality” (7).  The booklet defines Postmodernism, Paganism and Gnosticism and then argues that the transition from Modernity with its atheism and emphasis on logos is now being replaced by the spirit of postmodernity, pantheism and mythos.  Paganism attempts to join opposites (good and evil, male and female, Creator and creature, etc) which Gnosticism also does too.  The irony that Jones note is that modernism’s skepticism and atheistic outlook in attacking Christianity gave rise to polytheism instead in its wake.  This is because man is incurably religious, though they suppress the truth and make idols instead according to Romans 1.  Jones make the argument that atheism and paganism has more in common with each other (“cousins”) because they both shared in the belief that all reality is ultimately one (Jones calls this “Oneism”); at the end of the day there is really two worldviews competing, that of the Christian worldview’s “Two-ism” and that of Monism.  This book is an excellent summary of Jones’ life work in the area of Paganism and our culture.  It is well researched and for a small booklet it has 121 footnotes.  I only wished he employed Van Til’s argument of the one and the many to refute “Oneism.”  I do recommend the book.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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John-Frame

Here’s an extended quote from John Frame on defining culture.  He begins first with two definitions of cultures given by others and work on a more nuance definition.  It is important to make a good definition for culture if one is engage in cultural apologetics, Christian ethics and engage in the thinking of the Christian Worldview.

The Lausanne Committee on World Evangelism defined culture as “an intergrated system of beliefs, values, customs, and institutions which binds a society together and gives it a sense of identity, dignity, security, and continuity.”  Ken Myers writes that culture is “a dynamic pattern, an ever-changing marix of objects, artifacts, sounds, institutions, philosophies, fashions, enthusiasms, myths, all embodied in individual people, in groups and collectives and associations of people (many of whom do not know they are associated), in books, in buildings, in the use of time and space, in wars, in jokes, and in food.”

From definition and descriptions of this sort, you might come away thinking that culture is everything.  But that would be a mistake.  We should make an important distinction between creation and culture.  Creation is what God makes; culture is what we make.  We should make an important distinction between creation and culture.  Creation is what God makes; culture is what we make.  Now of course God is sovereign, so everything we make is also his in one sense.  Or, somewhat better: creation is what God makes by Himself, and culture is what he makes through us.

(John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 854)

 

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revamped-logo1-e1402512175915There is a youth conference in Southern California that has been going on for three years already and this year they tackled on the difficult issue of Sin.
Here are the three videos from the three main session.

Session #1 – I’ve Fallen Down and I Can’t Get Up

Session #2 – Burning the Tares: The Punishment for Sin

Session #3 – Jesus: Savior of Sin

 

 

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Here are some links on Presuppositional apologetics sometime between August 8th-24th, 2014.

1.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [Introduction]

2.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [1]

3.) Introduction to Apologetics Seminary Course

4.) On the Success of Secular Transcendental Arguments (Much Ado About Nothing)

5.) Early August 2014 Presuppositional Apologetics’ links Round Up

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  It is written by our guest Russ M.  He is currently in the Marines.

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The purpose for writing this article is that of the issues of biblical versus unbiblical worldview. In some cases modern evangelicals have lost our identity. There is an identity crisis not realizing that our true identity is found in Christ and God’s word. We died with Christ 2,000 years ago and we also resurrected with Him that we now walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:4). As Paul stated, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

In light of our present world, the church of Jesus Christ has been relying on their own thoughts and ideas revolving around popular culture, that they seldom consider the words of Scripture. By failing to analyze common pop culture opinions without the accordance of Scripture we are vulnerable to the prince and powers of this world (Ephesians 2:2). Even the devil masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14 NASB), producing words of light that affects even Christians, because they do not guard their hearts with Scripture.

Though the war is won at the cross the battle still rages in the fight for souls. It is our responsibility. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

How do we watch with all diligence?

By examining it, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1 NASB).

Shell of God’s truth stuffed with the Devil’s lie.

 

1. “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.”

Is Christianity a religion?

If you mention the word, “religion” in any circumstance with popular culture, almost automatically there are negative connotations associated with that particular word; in the Western civilization the word, “religion” has become a curse word. Words that associated with “religion” are as follows; narrow mindedness, blind faith, dogmatic, fundies, just to name a few.

But in laymen’s terms religion can be defined as, “man’s attempt to reach God”, like the ladder of Babel theology, which God cursed in Genesis 11. It is true that Christianity is not a religion because Christians are not attempting to reach God. Also, Christianity is God not attempting to reach man, but God purposefully saving specific men and women through the God-man Jesus Christ. While it is noted that Christianity is not a religion, is actually biblical.

 

Is Christianity a relationship?

The latter of the statement, “…it’s a relationship” is too generally stated. When our cultural thinks about a relationship they think about earthly relationships with feel-good sensations. Our culture relates a relationship with a father/mother parenting their children, they think about their best earthly friend on the planet, or some might even fantasize in creating an ideal relationship with a god to their likening; quoting words like, “Jesus is my homie.” With this broad terminology of relationship and the combination of not rooting our theology can be disastrous and can lead many astray worshipping a god of their imagination.

Everyone has relationship with the God of the universe. There are two relationships that God has with every individual on this Earth and is define in John 3:36

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (NASB)

The one who believes in Christ Jesus has eternal life, and the one who do not has wrath of God abiding in them. Earlier in the 3rd chapter of John we see the characteristics of eternal life, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit,” in (John 3:5) and is sandwiched with, “unless one is born again” in verse 3 and “You must be born again in verse 7. Being born again is not just saying I have a relationship with Christ, but demonstrating new desires of holiness, desires of witnessing to the lost, and desires of becoming more like the Christ of Scripture. Another question that must be asked is, “What is a Christian’s relationship with sin? Do they love to sin? Do they relish sin? Do they enjoy sin?” If they do say yes then they are still slaves to sin. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness” (NASB). Therefore, you can have a wrathful or eternal relationship; there is no grey area here.

It’s not justification through relationship? It’s Justification through faith in Christ trusting in the holy sacrifice. (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What kind of relationship should we have with the God of the universe?

“Christianity is not a religion; it’s more than a relationship. Christianity is about submitting to the lordship of Christ can conforming to His image daily. (Romans 12:1-2)”

 

2. “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.”

In my youth I recall this phrase being used in a Christian rap artist’s lyrics and in the preaching of the pulpit during an evangelistic crusade endeavoring to win the lost. But where do we get such theology? Do we get it from t-shirts? Do we get our theology from photographic memes? Or do we get our theology from the unadulterated truth found in Scripture?

Yes, God does love sinners (John 3:16). Yes Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost (Luke 19:10) Yes, Jesus is a friend of sinners (Mark 2:13-17). Yes all true, but the statement, “God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin.” is only half-true, and half-truths are nothing more than deadly lies.

But imagine if someone close to you were murdered in cold blood for no reason. Would it bring justice to say, “I love the murderer, but I hate the murder?” Does God really love the nouns, but hate the verbs? Does God love the thief, but hate the thievery? Does love the homosexual, but hate the homosexuality? Does God love the adulterer, but hates the adultery?

Yes, God does hate those actions, but He even hates those who commit does actions. Yes, God hates the sinner and the sin.

“There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 NASB)

When we look at these six things the LORD hates, they are all nouns, showcasing the body parts that connects to the sinner that commits the sins or verbs:  haughty (verb-sin) eyes (noun-sinner), lying (verb-sin) tongue (noun-sinner), hands (noun-sinner) that shed (verb-sin) innocent blood, heart (noun-sinner) that devises (verb-sin) wicked plans, feet (noun-sinner) that run rapidly to evil (verb-sin), and A false witness (noun-sinner) who utters lies (verb-sin)

 

Here are more verses that support God hating the sinners.

 

“The boastfull shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.” (Psalm 5:5)

 

“The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, And the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5)

 

Still in unbelief? Does God punish sin in hell? Or Does God punish sinners in hell? The corresponding NT Greek word associated with hell is Gehenna, occurring 12 times in the NT Scripture, 11 out of the 12 came from Jesus own mouth. No sin is in hell, but only sinners weep and gnash (Luke 13:28), not sin.

 

There is no beating behind a bush around this, this timeless truth is uncomfortable yet when sinners are confronted with the gospel they will either cling more to the cross of Christ or continue to live an unrepented anti-God lifestyle.

 

We are naturally God-haters from the moment of conception, but once a sinner recognizes their exceedingly sinfulness, then they will see how amazing grace really is, because they were formerly wrath abiding citizens, but now are children of light, they will truly see the love of God, and they will abide in Christ through trails, tribulation, persecution, and even death.

 

We must not have an itching ear virus lecturing to our felt needs; bad theology runs rapid with the gross amount of false teachers. Let us go back to the word of God and sift any lumps of coals and be careful to examine the words that you hear in pop culture. Let us not be lax and test everything with the Scripture. “[The word of God is] more desirable than gold, yes than fine Gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:10 NASB)

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post.  It is written by our guest Ben Holloway who is a brother in Christ that is working on a PhD with Dr. Greg Welty .

Ben Holloway

The key to good apologetic strategy is knowing where to begin and where to end a debate. It requires getting at the heart of an objection and knowing what one is going to argue for in response.

The best way to find the heart of an objection is to watch out for key words or phrases. Whereas traditional apologetic methods rely on answering questions directly, presuppositional methods emphasize an indirect method, asking what would have to be the case to make the objection intelligible.

For example, take the question, “why should I believe the Bible is true?” A traditional response would be to give evidence for the trustworthiness of the documents making up the Bible. Presuppositionalists take a different tack. The issue is truth, not whether or not the Bible is true, but what would have to be the case in order for anyone to know any truth or for there to be such a thing as truth.

Knowing the key idea leads to developing a conclusion or a goal to one’s argument.

In the case in question the presuppositionalist should aim for an argument from truth to God. She might respond by arguing, “because if the Bible was not true, there would be no way to know if anything was true.” This is only the conclusion to the argument and would involve several steps to get to it, but it helps to know what one is going to argue for.

This method works as long as one spots the assumption behind the question and is able to show how such an assumption is only possible because Christianity is true.

Take another common and slightly more postmodern objection: “Christianity is a particular community’s interpretation of reality, but it is not necessarily true.” It is tempting to respond by showing that Christianity is true, but the objection is not concerned with truth (at least not in the correspondence sense). The objection focuses on the ability of human beings to interpret experience within particular linguistic communities. Consequently, the presuppositionalist may argue something like: “the interpretation of reality by communities using language is only possible because Christianity is true. Language did not emerge in human confrontation with events, but pre-existed in the intra-trinitarian language game of God. If it did not then there would be no meaning to language.” Again, there are multiple steps required to reach this conclusion, but the key is to be clear in one’s aim.

Another common objection relies on a moral assumption: “Christians have carried out many evil actions in history.” A common presuppositional response to this is: “Actions could only be judged as good or evil if Christianity is true. Human moral judgement relies on an absolute moral judgement determined by the nature of God.” It is crucial to note what that response presupposes. The objection refers to an observable event–an “evil action”–but the response refers to a conceptual framework by which one is able to asses actions. The action of kicking a soccer ball and the action of kicking a person is the same action, but what one needs in order to judge one action to be evil and the other to be good is a moral concept. Presuppositionalists do well when they show how the two are connected, in this case by the ability to judge actions according to moral concepts. Moral concepts would only arise if there is a prior standard by which human beings can discern between good and evil. And such a prior standard requires a moral judgement that is binding from God who is Holy and sets the standard of moral law.

Many objections that unbelievers have are related to what we can know from the Bible. Consequently, when asked what grounds one has for belief it is legitimate to cite one’s source. Consider the question, “what makes you think that Jesus is the only way to heaven?” This objection does not require one to show, philosophically, why it is rational for there to be only one way to heaven or to show empirically that Jesus rose from the dead thus verifying his claim to uniqueness. Rather, it requires an explanation of one’s source or grounds for believing that Jesus is the only way to heaven. In short, because the Bible tells me so. To argue that there is sufficient warrant for a belief provided by scripture is a legitimate line of response. However, one should be prepared to answer the follow up objection–“What makes you think that the Bible is true?”–to which one might respond giving the answer I gave at the top of the post.

Sometimes the word one is looking for is hidden or implied. For example, an unbeliever might suggest, “given the preponderance of evil in our world the likelihood that God exists is small.” The issue at hand is related to empirical evidence. “Likelihood” is a probability statement related to something we can observe. Therefore, one might reply that the human ability to observe, analyse and draw conclusions from empirical evidence is only possible because God exists and Christianity is true. The human ability to observe, analyze and draw conclusions relies on the predictability and intelligibility of the world and the matching human ability to assess probability and “likelihood” of the existence of certain objects. In this case the existence of a sovereign and omniscient God is the necessary condition for such a situation.

Often apologetic debate can be stifled by an objection that contains multiple starting points. In this case it is always best to seek to find out what underlying objection one’s interlocutor is wanting an answer to. Consider the objection, “aren’t all religions the same?” The objection sounds like it requires the refutation, “no, there is one true religion and many false religions.” However, it is unclear as to how one defends this answer. I have found that a conversation with someone committed to religious pluralism is difficult because there are so many lines of objection. Take the standard Hickean thesis: There are many different religions. Most people are equally rational and living in the same world. Therefore, all or most religions are equally warranted. Hick’s argument relies on several assumptions, each requiring a different response. Is the objection about justice? (It is not fair that God chooses some and not others). Is the objection about culture? (religion is a cultural product and no one chooses into which culture one is born). Many pluralist objections are rooted in epistemological skepticism. Their basic objection is that no one really knows what religion is true. Each of these objections starts with a separate (if related) assumption and it is worth exploring what is most important to one’s interlocutor.

Many apologetic debates get derailed by an inattention to what the heart of an objection is and an unclear goal in response. Perhaps you might light to practice your strategy with more common objections to the Christian faith. Try a search for “common objections to Christianity” and try to identify the key idea behind the objection and work out what you want to argue for. Then think through how you would get there.

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