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Archive for August, 2008

Why Should Christians study Systematic Theology?

http://teamtruth.com/articles/out_systematictheologypart2.htm

The link is to a page with an outline by Deacon Victor Chen

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This morning John McCain made his announcement for his Vice Presidential pick – Governor Sarah Palin. One of the many things that stood out in his running mate is that she is a pro-life Governor of Alaska who just had a down syndrome baby 4 months ago. She lived out her belief of pro-life.

Albert Mohler says it well in his commentary and below is taken from his website.

A little boy with an extra chromosome was born on April 18. His name is Trig Paxson Van Palin and his new home is the Alaska Governor’s Mansion in Juneau. His mom is Governor Sarah Palin, who along with her husband Todd, has welcomed Trig as their second son and fifth child.

Governor Palin has already made a mark on the political scene. A high school basketball star and beauty queen, she was elected Alaska’s governor in 2006. She is often mentioned as a potential running mate for Sen. John McCain. The Palins’ other children include Track, their oldest son, who now serves in the U.S. Army. They also have three daughters, Bristol, Willow, and Piper.

Trig made news long before he was born, as Alaska’s citizens learned that their governor was pregnant. Then, for the Palins, the story got more complicated.

This past December, Sarah Palin was told that her baby was likely to have Down syndrome — just one extra chromosome.

As the Associated Press reports:

The doctor’s announcement in December, when Palin was four months pregnant, presented her with a possible life- and career-changing development.

“I’ve never had problems with my other pregnancies, so I was shocked,” said Palin.

“It took a while to open up the book that the doctor gave me about children with Down syndrome, and a while to log on to the Web site and start reading facts about the situation.”

When he was told, Todd Palin quickly said, “We shouldn’t be asking, ‘Why us?’ We should be saying, ‘Well, why not us?'”

The Palins never considered aborting the baby. That means that Trig Palin is now is a very rare group of very special children, because it is now believed that the vast majority of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth are being aborted.

Modern diagnostic tests are driving a “search and destroy mission” to eliminate babies judged to be inferior, disabled, or deformed. Some experts now believe that up to 90 percent of all pregnancies diagnosed as having a likelihood of Down syndrome end in abortion.

Back in 2005, ethicist George Neumayr commented: “Each year in America fewer and fewer disabled infants are born. The reason is eugenic abortion. Doctors and their patients use prenatal technology to screen unborn children for disabilities, then they use that information to abort a high percentage of them. Without much scrutiny or debate, a eugenics designed to weed out the disabled has become commonplace.”

The Palins would not even consider aborting their baby. “We’ve both been very vocal about being pro-life,” Governor Palin said. “We understand that every innocent life has wonderful potential.”

She loves her baby boy and is proud of him. “I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,” Palin told the Associated Press. “Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?”

Some ethicists now go so far as to argue for a “duty” to abort a baby with a Down diagnosis. This is an assault upon the dignity of every human being. The fact that so few Down syndrome babies now make it to birth is a sign that America is making its own pact with the Culture of Death.

Trig Paxson Van Palin has an extra chromosome, two proud and loving parents, four very happy siblings, and he will bring his own joy to untold numbers of lives.

He will face some unique challenges, but he has a loving family who will face those with him. They will learn together the wonder and beauty of a Down syndrome child and will learn to see the glory of God in his trusting face.

Mothers Day 2008 is certain to be a special day in the Alaska Governor’s Mansion. What an unspeakable tragedy that so many other homes will have aborted that joy.

Welcome to the world, Trig Paxson Van Palin. Your very existence defies the Culture of Death and gives us all hope.

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Logos and Tyndale made this commentary available to all at no cost. It’s another freebie for your Libronix software.

The authors for this commentary.

Matthew – David L. Turner is a graduate of Cedarville University, Grace Theological Seminary, and Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati. He has been professor of New Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary since 1986 and has previously published several articles on the Gospel of Matthew.

Mark – Darrell L. Bock (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.

(HT:PG)

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This quote is creepy quote from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4493970.ece about the conflict right now in Georgia and what Putin said in his speech:

Putin flew directly from Beijing to North Ossetia, on the Russian side of the border. There he made it plain that Moscow’s armed confrontation with Georgia is not simply about South Ossetia but also about its switch of allegiance to America.

“Georgia’s aspiration to join Nato . . . is driven by its attempt to drag other nations and peoples into its bloody adventures,” Putin said during a meeting in Vladikavkaz, the North Ossetian capital.

I would like to find a quote on what the above asserted from Putin himself. About allegiance to America? So this conflict is also because of Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO?

Scary.

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After reading “Logical and Conceptual Reasoning” in Section 4.5, “Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him,” of Van Til’s Apologetics: A Reading and an Analysis by Greg Bahnsen, I wanted to write down quickly some applications and implications from the passage I read (pages 235-236). I’ll include an excerpt here for those unfamiliar with Man’s Analogous Thinking applied to logic:

“Van Til pictured human knowing as “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” He also maintained that God’s thinking represents perfect coherence. Therefore, in order for men to know things, taught Van Til, they too must think coherently or with logical consistency. “The law of contradiction, therefore, as we know it, is but the expression on a created level of the internal coherence of God’s nature.” So in all of our thinking about Scripture and the world, believers are obligated to think logically, thinking God’s thoughts after Him. “Christians should employ the law of contradiction, whether positive or negatively, as a means by which to systematize the facts of revelation, whether these facts are found in the universe at large or in the Scripture.” Van Til goes on to indicate that in contrast to unbelieving thought, the Christian views logic as a reflection of God’s own thinking, rather than as laws or principles that are “higher” than God or that exist “in independence of God and man.” To explain by application what this means (in part), Van Til held that God’s word must be interpreted logically—that is to say, using God’s thoughts (logical ordering) to interpret God’s thoughts (in Scripture)—but cannot (and may not) in the nature of the case be subject to criticism or rejection on the basis of some supposedly higher logic. Van Til said that there is “no impersonal law of logic” that dictates to God what He can or cannot say; the logical constraints of God’s thinking are the constraints of His own personal nature, which man is to emulate.

After reading, I realized that I too often fail to apply the implications of man thinking analogously after God’s thinking. In a previous post, I attempted to correct the misconception that testing the logic of an interpretation of Scripture is the same as testing the logical veracity of Scripture. However, my previous post stopped short of developing or even stating the basis for the Christian understanding of logic. By failing to do so, readers lose a huge insight to utilize in defense of objections against using Scripture as an ultimate authority or presupposition (see previous post for definition of a presupposition). Hopefully, the excerpt given above allows me to quickly discuss two applications of thinking God’s thoughts after God without a lengthy elaboration or development of my own.

In summary of the passage above I wrote the following implications to God being the originator of logic:

Logic is not:

  1. Neutral, being a standard outside of God and humankind
  2. The laws of logic was not originally created or developed by any person

On the contrary, any person who develops or thinks of the laws of logic are only aligning his or her thoughts to God’s thoughts. Because logic belongs to God and thinking logically aligns oneself to God, a person cannot put God to the test with logic; logic puts the person to the test, indicating whether his or her thoughts correspond to His. This has immediate applications for apologetic issues related to hermeneutics and the canon.

In regards to hermeneutics, using logic to gauge our correct interpretation of the bible is not extrabiblical but is thinking our thoughts after God’s thoughts. God’s mind is completely logical and coherent, therefore any interpretation must reflect analogously God’s mind and way of thinking.

Consequently, even attacks of any biblical doctrine or particular verse in Scripture becomes impotent. Any law of logic the unbeliever or inconsistent Christian appeals to belongs to God. Ultimately then, any objection of logical inconsistency shows that their interpretation, summary, or paraphrasing of Scripture is immediately false. Before the unbeliever or believer alike even begins to point out a logical inconsistency in Scripture the person already is defeated by attacking a straw man (or straw bible, in this case). Not only are logic-based attacks against the Christian a logic bomb inserted into the Bible, the attacks turns out to be a logic bomb already defused by the Christian’s biblical worldview! The attack is not a dangerous threat but a straw man to be blown apart with apologetic vigor.

Moving to the second application, in regards to the canon, when a Christian rejects any document that is not logical he or she is really applying our innate knowledge of God. Because all people know God —regardless if they deny knowing Him, and because Christians know God more fully by studying and believing Scripture, a Christian can quickly reject any idea or thought —moreover, any document— not abiding by the laws of logic (God being the originator of any law of logic). When a Christian believes Scripture, the Christian also is by his or her very faith, admitting, without a word spoken, that he or she recognizes God’s “voice” or “signature” wherever and however God reveals Himself (whether in Scripture or in nature). Moreover, the Christian’s faith reveals an innate knowledge that God’s voice is coherent in His revelation because God by nature is coherent, in His very being.

In conclusion, if you are struggling with defending the Bible as a presupposition when it comes to interpreting the Bible (hermeneutics) or assuming that the Bible is Scripture (the canon) then read up on Chapter 4 of Van Til’s Apologetic: A Reading and An Analysis by Greg L. Bahnsen. Doing so will give deep insights about the place of logic in the Christian worldview and help prepare a apologetic response to questions about the canon or hermeneutics.

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