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Archive for February, 2010

John Gresham Machen’s famous work, “The Origin of Paul’s Religion” is available online on Google Books!  You can even download a full view of the book on PDF.

Machen was a great man of God, who was in his lifetime a great Presbyterian churchman, professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary of the “Good Old Days”, supporter of missions and founder of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and  Westminster Theological Seminary.

On top of all of that, he was a great Christian apologist.  And if it wasn’t for Machen convincing Cornelius Van Til to join the faculty of Westminster Seminary, Van Til would have been just a rural pastor and not known for his development of Presuppositional apologetics.

To be able to read Machen’s 1921 classic is indeed a treat.

You can view it by clicking here

Enjoy!

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In continuing the stream that began here last night at Veritas Domain concerning free resources on Google Books that is available for full view, we have our first resource mentioned.

The second edition of Kenneth Boa’s and Robert Bowman’s book ‘Faith Has It’s Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith” is available for full viewing on Google Books

To go there right now, click HERE

Full link: http://books.google.com/books?id=ZmeuGcfgZQAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false

It’s a great resource– coming in at 658 pages.  I wish there was some kind of Presuppositional Apologetics resource available online like this.  Imagine that!

In case Google book ends it current project, this work is also available on Kenneth Boa’s website

0 – Introduction – Front Matter
1 – Defining Apologetics
2 – A Brief History of Apologetics
3 – Issues and Methods
4 – Classical – Apologists
5 – Classical – Classical Apologetics
6 – Classical – Rationality of the Christian Worldview
7 – Classical – Limits of Reason
8 – Evidentialists – Apologists
9 – Evidentialist Apologetics
10 – Evidentialist – Presenting Evidence
11 – Evidentialist – Interpretation of Fact
12 – Reformed – Apologists
13 – Reformed – Reformed Apologists
14 – Reformed – Taking Every Thought Captive
15 – Reformed – Authority of Revelation
16 – Fideism – Apologists
17 – Fideism – Fideist Apologists
18 – Fideism – Calling People
19 – Fideism – Subjectivity of Faith
20 – Integrative – Apologists
21 – Integrative – Contending for the Faith
22 – Integrative – Reasons for Hope
23 – Integrative – Speaking the Truth in Love
Afterword

Appendix

Bibliography

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For those of you who are not aware, Google Books is an excellent resource, and with the various books Google has loaded online that are in public domain, this is a great tool for the Christian apologist.

There has been a lot of discussion lately concerning the legality of what Google is doing.  To catch up to speed with what’s going on, PC World writes,

Google Books is a wonderful idea that is having a hard time meeting legal requirements. That’s the upshot of the latest round in the battle between the world’s search leader and the people who actually create the content Google exploits for huge profits.

It should surprise no one that Google ran into legal challenges after it decided to suck all the world’s books and magazines into its search engine.

It will be interesting how the legal development plays out.

Lord willing, for the next week Veritas Domain will feature some of the books that are entirely free for download online! If you know of any other works you found that’s great for the Christian apologist on Google books, do share with us here!

I have just recently appreciated it’s significance for the Christian apologists.  For instance,

  1. Christians can download on PDF some of the books on public domain.  It makes it convenient to have it on your hard drive.
  2. It can be a great place to glimpse through the books that are on limited preview–seeing the table of content, specific chapters, etc– and gives more information thus whether a particular work is worth acquiring for one’s research.
  3. Some good books happen to be out of print books.
  4. It is a great source for hard to find books.
  5. Older Christian classics can be downloaded.
  6. Philosophical classics are available.
  7. Cult materials are available for documentation (think of groups that change beliefs or have false prophecies!).
  8. Great for researching cultural and theological trends found in print over time.
  9. It allows instant access for verification of other people’s references.
  10. It allows instant access of the resource you are providing documentation of, to those whom you are presenting your case to.

What do you think?

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For those who are curious, Dr. John Frame has reviewed Dr. R. Scott Clark’s “Recovering the Reformed Confession” over at his website

It can be accessed here: http://www.frame-poythress.org/frame_articles/2010Clark.htm

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Over at the blog “Pisteuo” also known as “Gospel Living”, the blogger does us a great favor in checking up on a Youtube video against Discovery Institute

You can read the post here

In this day and age of easy dissemination of false information, it behooves of us to check what we hear and see

That blog post is a good reminder.

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INTRODUCTION

It is a sad state of affairs when one knows the deep doctrines of God and yet is either unable to see the implication of it for the Christian life or unable to put into practice the necessary implication of the Biblical doctrines of God.  An example of this can be seen in the doctrine of the Trinity.  The famous Catholic Theologian Karl Rahner has once noted that “despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in their practical life, almost mere ‘monotheists.’”[1] This appears to be indicative of the typical Evangelical as well.  This essay will consider what the Bible teaches on the Trinity, specifically concerning the relationship of the members within the Trinity.  The scope of this essay will be limited to examining the relationship of the Son to the Father.  Since Christians are to avoid the practical indifference described by Rahner, the second portion of this essay will discuss the practical implication of this teaching in the contemporary issue of women’s submission to their husbands.  It does turn out to be that the doctrine of the Trinity does have ramification for daily life.

PART I: THE SON’S SUBMISSION TO THE FATHER

Orthodox Christianity teaches that all the members of the Trinity (the Father, the Son who is Jesus Christ, and the Spirit) are equal in nature: All three members in their essence is equally God.  Stated another way, the members of the Trinity are equal in their ontological status.  In considering whether or not the Son submits to the Father, it is important to keep in mind that there are two types of insubordination: “the subordination of essence or nature (called ‘emphatic subordination’) and the subordination of mission or status (called ‘economic subordination’).”[2] The Son can not be ontologically subordinate to the Father in terms of His nature, and to embrace such a view would call to question both the Son’s Divine nature and whether the Son is God.  An emphatic subordination of the Son is not an option for Orthodox believers.  What remains is the question of whether an economic subordination of the Son to the Father exists.

Typically there is not much visible controversy among Christians that the Son is subordinate to the Father during His Incarnation during the first advent.  The Scriptural testimony is clear.  In John 14:28, Jesus stated that “the Father is greater than I.”  For Trinitarians, this cannot mean that the Father is greater than Jesus in terms of the Father’s Divine nature, since Scripture elsewhere states that Jesus is God (cf. John 1:1, Colossians 2:9).  To avoid stating that Jesus is somehow metaphysically subordinate to the Father, a better explanation is that Jesus submits to the Father in terms of His relationship to the Father.  Knowing that Jesus was economically subordinate to the Father during His Incarnation should at least make the skeptic consider the plausibility that the Son was under the Father in eternity past and eternity future.

A Scriptural case can be made for the Son’s subordination to the Father in eternity past (pre-Incarnation).  In John 6:38, Jesus states, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  Certainly during the Son’s lifetime in the First Advent He was obedient to the Father’s will even unto death (Philippians 2:8, Matthew 28:39).  What is amazing about John 6:38 is that the beginnings of Jesus submission to the Father’s will began not in the Incarnation but while the Son was still in Heaven.  The coming down of the Son from Heaven itself was an act of obedience to the Father’s Will.  Acts 2:23 demonstrates that the Son was delivered to the crucifixion by the predetermined plan of God the Father (cf. Ephesians 1:3-4).  It is telling that Jesus willingly submits Himself to the eternal prerogatives of the Father, a truth one would expect if the Son was subordinate to the Father in eternity past.

Furthermore, Scripture indicates that the Son will be subordinate to the Father in eternity future.  1st Corinthians 15:28 testify that it is not a question of “if” but “when” that “all things will be under the subject of the Son.  This same verse informs the reader that when this occurs, “then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”  This beautiful truth reveals that though the Son has all of creation and the creatures in subjection to Him, the Son willingly subjects Himself to God the Father still.

The brief survey of the Biblical data does seem sufficient to demonstrate the subordination of the Son to the Father.  Certainly, there are those who disagree but the objections these critics raise does not amount to a serious challenge.  As one example (given the limitation of this paper), Millard Erickson notes an alleged subordinationists’ proof text found in Matthew 28:19-20: “A further consideration is the sequential order in which the names of the three persons are mentioned in Scripture…Ware has cited the crucial baptismal formula, in which the order is indeed Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.”[3] Erickson then proceeds to object to the sequential ordering of Matthew 28:19-20 as valid evidence.  Erickson stated that Ware invoked the baptismal formula as proof for subordination, but Erickson does not cite his source documenting where Ware has does this.  Verses that appear with a different order of naming the Trinitarian members does appear elsewhere in Scripture, such as in 2nd Corinthians 13:14, 1 Peter 1:2, Jude 20-21.  Erickson is certainly right, the passages above demonstrate that the sequential appearance of these names does not imply the order of the Trinity’s economic subordination.  One can agree with Erickson here and yet it does not seriously undermine the case for the Son’s submission to the Father since the argument does not rest on Matthew 28:19-20.  The biblical evidences are found elsewhere.

This writer believes that the biblical case for subordination is one that is difficult to surmount.  Unfortunately, some who call themselves Evangelical then take the direction of treating Scripture’s own testimony lightly, such as Kevin Giles in the following:  “Quoting biblical texts and giving one’s interpretation of them cannot resolve complex theological disputes.”[4] Giles find the methodology of those who argue from the Bible for the Son’s subordination to be that of Arius’ own methodology, which he describes as accumulating “an impressive number of texts to support his doctrine,”[5] leading Giles to believe that “Arius’s methodology simply showed that given enough time, a clever theologian could find texts and interpretations to prove almost anything.”[6] To escape this dilemma, he appeals to the authority of traditions to resolve the current subordination debate.[7] Giles methodology is dangerous as it presupposes tradition to be clearer than Scripture, and more authoritative on matters of doctrines than God’s Word itself.  But Giles methodology also suffers from internal defects.  First off, it does not occur to Giles that his argument that one could find texts and give an interpretative spin to it in order “to prove anything” could be employed against traditions as well.  He does not provide his readers any reason why Tradition is able to enjoy the immunity of being assumed as clear in its meaning while the Word of God does not enjoy this privilege.  Secondly, he has stated “Tradition should always be taken seriously and should never be ignored, but sometimes it needs to be corrected or rejected,” applauding even the Reformers for returning to “biblical teaching.”[8] Obviously as he himself admits, tradition “needs to be corrected or rejected” by the Bible, yet Giles need to explain how then he suddenly shift in the subordination debate to a methodology where a fallible source can be more primary and more authoritative than an infallible source in informing what ought to be true in regards to a mysterious issue that only God can reveal.

PART II: IMPLICATION FOR THE COMPLENTARIAN POSITION

This essay has alluded earlier to Rahner’s observation of the neglect of the ramification of the doctrines of the Trinity to Christian living.  Rahner found this phenomenon not only unique among the laity, but also found this to be true among those write theological treatise on the Trinity: “To put it crassly, and not without exaggeration, when the treatise is concluded, its subject is never brought up again…We make statements about it, but as a reality it has nothing to do with us at all.”[9]

Nearly thirty years after Karl Rahner penned these words, David S. Cunningham has observed a renaissance of constructive Trinitarian theology in various theological traditions but lamented however, that “contemporary Trinitarian theology should aim to render the doctrine less abstract, more intelligible and more relevant to the Christian life.”[10]

In the Evangelical scene today, currently the doctrine of the Trinity does enjoy the status of being discussed by Evangelicals who have a keen awareness that the Trinity has implication for the Christian life.  In particular, exploring the inner-relationship among the members of the Trinity (Subordination versus what Cunningham has termed as “radical equality”[11]) has proven to be a relevant doctrine in the Complementarian versus Egalitarian debate.  The Complementation versus Egalitarian debate touches on real life: it covers the role of genders in the home and the Church.  Both sides have understood fully the implication the doctrine of the Trinity has to their respective position.  For instance, from an Egalitarian stance Giles in his discussion of methods in approaching the Trinity expressed how “the moment I realized these issues were central in the historic discussion on the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Trinity, I immediately saw a profound and far-reaching connection between this debate and the contemporary discussion on the relationship between men and women in the home and the church.”[12] Millard Erickson has written a recent book on the Trinity in light of his Egalitarian position as well.[13] From the other side of the debate, Complementarian Stephen Kov has written that “if Jesus has been subordinate to the Father from eternity in role, yet equal to the Father in essence and worth, then women can be seen legitimately as taking a different role without loss of equality in their worth or dignity.”[14]

The practical conclusion that Kov has drawn is indeed correct.  It is disappointing that some would reject this conclusion by tampering with the premises concerning God Himself.  But by meditating deep into the Scriptures and seeing the Son’s submission to the Father this should lead believers to question the current cultural value that submission is intrinsically evil, and that those who are in submission are somehow victims.  Often a major presupposition that is often assumed by those struggling with the Biblical teaching of wives to submit to their husbands is that any differences in role means the existence of ethical inequality.  If God is All-Good and yet among the Godhead the Son submits to the Father during eternity past, the incarnation and eternity future, certainly submission is a virtue within God.  Therefore, as the insight of the Trinity demonstrates, the act itself of submitting to another does not entail that one is a victim or that their metaphysical natures are different.   It is astounding and comforting to think that a member of the Triune God knows what submission is like because He Himself experience submission!  The basis for women’s submission to their husbands can be grounded in the character and relationship within the Triune God.

Critics can object that since there is a Creator and creature distinction the practical implications discussed here does not logically follow since God is totally different than man and women.  Certainly one ought to be cautious in speculating that because God is X or does Y, humans too can be X and do Y.  However, when it comes to the practical implication of this particular doctrine, the Bible itself draws these implications to the areas of women’s submission.  Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 11:3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”  Note that this verse makes three comparisons: (1) Christ is the head of man, (2) man is the head of a woman and (3) God (the Father) is the head of Christ.  The statement that a man is the head of a woman is sandwiched in between two truths that both Complementarians and Egalitarians cannot deny.  Concerning statement three, even if one assumes that 1st Corinthians 11:3 is only talking about the Father as the head of the Son during the Incarnation, yet the Apostle Paul cited the Son’s submission to the headship of the Father as the basis for the headship of the man over the women.  Concerning statement one, Christians would not object to the claim that Christ is the head of man, and yet this true claim is suggested by Paul to be analogous to the woman’s submission to her man.  What is significant about statement one is that even if Egailitarians tamper with the roles within the Trinity, they have to tamper with the fundamental essence of Christianity itself in the doctrine of the Lordship of Christ over man in order to break free from the truth that a man is the head of a woman.  It is futile for Christian to tamper with the practical implication of the relationship of the Trinity to avoid what the Bible teaches about Complementarianism.   The logical implications of 1st Corinthians 11:3 are unavoidable.


[1] Karl Rahner, The Trinity, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970), 10.

[2] Stephen D. Kovach, “Egalitarians Revamp Doctrine of the Trinity: Bilezikian, Grenz and the Kroegers Deny Eternal Subordination of the Son,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 2, no. 1 (Winter, 1996), http://www.cbmw.org/Journal/Vol-2-No-1/Egalitarians-Revamp-Doctrine-of-the-Trinity (accessed January 19, 2010).

[3] Millard Erickson, Who’s Tampering With The Trinity? (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2009),116.

[4] Kevin Giles, The Trinity and Subordinationism, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2002), 3.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 5-6.

[8] Ibid, 6.

[9] Karl Rahner, The Trinity, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970), 14.

[10] David S. Cunningham, These Three Are One: The Practice of Trinitarian Theology, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998), 20.

[11] Ibid, 111.

[12] Kevin Giles, The Trinity and Subordinationism, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2002), 2.

[13] Millard Erickson, Who’s Tampering With The Trinity? (Grand Rapids:  Kregel Publications, 2009)

[14] Stephen D. Kovach, “Egalitarians Revamp Doctrine of the Trinity: Bilezikian, Grenz and the Kroegers Deny Eternal Subordination of the Son,” Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 2, no. 1 (Winter, 1996), http://www.cbmw.org/Journal/Vol-2-No-1/Egalitarians-Revamp-Doctrine-of-the-Trinity (accessed January 19, 2010).

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