Archive for April, 2011


I.                    The Concept of Authority

a.       Definition

i.      Authority itself means that right or power to command action or compliance, or to determine belief or custom, expecting obedience from those under authority, and in turn giving responsible account for the claim to right or power.[1]

                    ii.      If something is properly authoritative, it is sufficient in its ability within its proper realm to:

1.      Give truths

a.      For example, in the human realm an authority on Shakespeare presenting a seminar on Shakespeare

2.      Demand Compliance

a.      For instance, a Court decision on the defendant

3.      Capacity to enforce rules

b.      Everyone believes in some kind of ultimate authority or another

i.      Everyone have a standard of authority as the basis of why they believe something, or the basis in which they rule something as false, dictate how they ought to live, etc.

1.      Examples of statement that reveals what authority is accepted in one’s belief

a.       “I don’t believe it because it’s against what my priest believes.”

i.      In this case, the priest is the authority

b.      “That’s unconstitutional!”

i.      In this case, the Constitution is the authority

c.       “The evolutionary biologist says it is true.”

i.      In this case, the evolutionary biologist is the authority

2.      The issue is not whether one has an ultimate authority, but WHAT is their ultimate authority.

a.       Feelings? Popular opinion? For the Christian, the Bible ought to be one’s Ultimate Authority.

ii.      Objection: “I don’t have any ultimate authority.  I do whatever I want.”

1.      Then the authority in this objector’s life is his autonomous self.

a.       If man is the measuring stick of truth, values and ethics, this leads us to the problem of subjectivisim.[2]

II.                 If the Bible is the Ultimate Authority, then it must be Self-Authorizing

a.       An Ultimate Authority is the final authority

i.      Everything else is judge by this ultimate standard

1.      If everything is govern by this authoritative standard, all things must cohere with this standard including the standard itself

a.       If the ultimate authority does not cohere with the ultimate authority itself, then it is irrational since it is internally incoherent

b.      Objection: “You can’t prove the Bible as the Ultimate Authority from the Bible itself because it is circular!”

i.      But if one proves that the Bible is the Ultimate Authority by appealing to another source of authority, then the Bible ceases to be the ultimate authority since the thing that is appealed to is now the final authority

1.      The problem with this objection applies to any ultimate authority besides the Bible because the criteria in the objection is a self-defeating one and is therefore irrational.

ii.      Ultimate Authority is circular by nature

1.       In order to avoid the self-refuting dilemma mentioned above, Ultimate Authority must be in some sense circular[3]

2.      Coherence is a hallmark of rationality; yet coherence in some sense means ‘circularity’

a.      “‘Circularity’ in one’s philosophical sysem is just another name for ‘consistency’ in outlook throughout one’s system.  That is, one’s starting point and final conclusion cohere with each other.”[4]

3.      Since no other authority could authorize the Ultimate Authority, only the Ultimate Authority can authorize itself

a.       Thus, the Bible as the Ultimate Authority must be self-authorizing

III.               The Self-attestation of the authority of the Bible

a.       Since the Bible[5] is the ultimate authority, the Bible reveals its authority when[6]:

i.      It declares that His Word is eternal

1.       “Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)

a.       The ramification of the Eternal Bible means that is not only authoritative in a certain time and culture, but eternally

ii.      It declares that all His words are true

1.      “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal” (Psalm 119:160)

iii.      It declares that it has the rights to demands eternal compliance to its laws

1.      “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal” (Psalm 119:160)

iv.      It declares that what is written within it must be believed

1.      “Abraham repolied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them’ (Luke 16:29)

a.       From the context of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, this verse gives us the insight that one ought to listen to the content of Scriptural truths to save one from Hell

v.      It declares that the Scripture is more authoritative and powerful than any authority of man’s supernatural experiences

1.      “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31)

Notice that Scripture ought to and does has the power more convincing than someone rising from the dead.

[1] Bernard Ramm, The Pattern of Religious Authority, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 10.

[2] See Session two for a refutation of subjectivism.

[3] This is a loaded term, and I would distinguish it between vicious circularity.  A full discussion would be beyond the scope of this outline.  For a concise summary, I recommend the following and particularly the footnotes on its page:

Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetics: Readings and Analysis (Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed), 518.

[4] Greg Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetics: Readings and Analysis (Phillipsburg, Presbyterian and Reformed), 170, footnote 42.

[5] The term Scripture, Word of God and Bible are interchangeable here.

[6] This portion of the outline is employing characteristics mentioned in the quoted definition of authority.


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“Paul’s strategy for engaging the Jews and pagans could be described as dialogical, but like Jesus, Paul did not dialogue to learn but to create opportunities for his apostolic witness.  We must be clear that the content of Paul’s theology and gospel message was not informed by dialogue with religious others.” (Todd Mile, A God of Many Understandings?, 77).

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In David K. Clark’s work on theological method, his chapter on Theology in cultural context made a comment on how only homosexual behaviors are sins, while the desires are not sin:

Regarding sexual orientation, most evangelicals would not see being a homosexual (by which I mean, having homosexual desires) as sin.  Evangelicals do see acting out one’s homosexuality by embracing the homosexual lifestyle and engaging in homosexual intercourse as sin.  (My point parallel alcoholism: being an alcoholic and experiencing desire for alcohol is not sinful; drunkeness is.) [David K. Clark, To Know and Love God, 123].

I believe no evangelical should condemn homosexual feelings, desires, or temptations.  But the evangelical consensus, based upon the Bible, is that homosexual intercourse, even in a permanent partnership, is morally wrong.[David K. Clark, To Know and Love God, 126].

My concern is regarding the omission of homosexual desires as sinful.  Its important to evaluate Clark’s comments biblically.

Biblical ethics for sexuality is confined only within the boundaries of marriage (which by default exclude any sexuality outside of marriage whether by an individual only, an unmarried couple, animals, objects, groups, same gender partners, etc).  It is from this paradigm that even individual lusts that at times can be so private as to be personal to one’s individual’s deepest recess of his or her mind, is also prohibited by Scripture:

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28 ESV)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;  (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 ESV)

Indeed such desires does not come from God and is rather ungodly:

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16 ESV)

Seeing that Scripture even prohibits lust, which is the desire for sexual relations outside of marriage (before it’s proper time, with someone not your spouse, etc) one should be cautious to offer a blanket statement that homosexual desire are not sinful.

Homosexual desires adds more tension to the debate by the fact that it’s very desire is not for an end that God can call good, since it does not desire God’s design of sex within marriage of a husband and a wife.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t write this to condemn those struggling with these desires without being insensitive to the fact that it’s probably hard to combat.

Here we need to be reminded that Christ has saved us from the wrath of God and our slavery to sin.  Easter was just three days ago, and it wasn’t about bunnies and eggs.  It’s about the Savior Jesus Christ who saved us from sins and have the Spirit imparted to believers to work in their lives to transform them.

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Purchase: Amazon

This work is a wonderful conscious observation of modernism and postmodernism beyond pop Christian critique of postmodernism of Postmodernism’s epistemological project. Readers will enjoy the wordsmith of the author Peter Leithart, as he paints an illustr…ative picture of Modernism and Postmodernism, offering food for thought concerning the cultural history of Western civilization itself from the Renaissance period onwards today. Each chapter argues about the fleeting “vapor” like nature of human experience apart from God, what Solomon describes in Ecclesiastes as life “under the sun.” His observation of modernism as man’s attempt to control thing in his or her hand was eye opening for myself. While noting that there are difference with the current climate of postmodernism from modernism, the author also argue that there are some continuity between modernism and postmodernism, claiming that postmodernism is really modernism’s “vapor’s revenge” that exposes modernism’s PR claims about itself are not truly what it is in reality. Throughout the book the author critiques what he calls the trinity of Modernism: control, freedom and progress. View from this perspective, Leithart’s book contributes towards a Christian critique towards the Modernist’s worldview which has not totally left the scene altogether in today’s world. Leithart brings balance to the Christian discussion about Modernism and Postmodernism, seeing how modernism has indeed produce good things (who can imagine technological advance as totally wicked), while also seeing postmodernism as a state of reality today, which offer true critiques of modernism’s failures. Leithart is not uncritical of Postmodernism however, and does argue from Solomon in Ecclesiastes that those who are Postmodernist at times do not find the solution in the Transcendent God. Which brings up the major issue that I have with this book: For a work titled “Solomon and the Postmodern,” I wished the author could have brought Ecclesiastes and Solomone more in the book. References to Ecclesiastes or to Solomon in general probably made up less than five percent of the book. Having presently interacted with the first half of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew and other exegetical materials, one can see that Leithart was familiar with relevant resources on Ecclesiastes and interpretative decisions (which I must say, I agree with concerning his definition of Havel as “vapor” and “shepherding the wind” than “chasing the wind”, etc), one must realize that Leithart could had Ecclesiastes do more of the “speaking” in the work. The author was capable and skillful in bringing in Postmodernist’s materials into the conversation in the book (love seeing his footnotes!), surely he was capable of making Solomon alive and “speaks” to the issue (which I believe Solomon does). Certainly then will the book live up to the title of “Solomon among the Postmoderns.”

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Some links that stood out to me from last week on the internet

1.)Review: Is God a Mathematician?– Over at American Vision website.

2.) How Does One Prepare for a Debate?— Jamin Hubner offer his thoughts, plus a PDF link to his chart if you click on this link.

3.) Darrell Bock’s Review of Erhman’s latest, “Forged”— Links provided in the link given here.

4.) Seven Memes for Keeping Christians in their Place– Doug Wilson briefly discusses common historical objections against Christianity that’s based more on popular myths than facts.

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Sobering anytime anyone dies.

It’s even sobering to think that this occurred on Easter Sunday.

On the news from this link:

Indian spiritual guru Sai Baba dies

(Reuters) – Indian spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba, revered by millions of followers as a living god, died Sunday in a hospital in southern India. He was 86.

Sai Baba, who was admitted to hospital in his hometown of Puttaparti a month ago, died of multiple organ failure, media said.

His followers, estimated to number six million, included top Indian politicians, business tycoons and Bollywoods stars.

Sai Baba, with distinctive frizzy hair and always clad in his trademark saffron robes, ran schools and hospitals through trusts in numerous countries. Questions are likely to arise over the management of his substantial assets.

He was credited with mystical powers including conjuring objects out of thin air.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sai Baba’s death was “an irreparable loss” to all.

Legions of followers, including top judges and bureaucrats, were expected to take part in his last rites, media said.

(Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

I hope I don’t become to insensitive, but because there’s an eternity at stake, I have to say the difference between Sai Bada and Jesus Christ, is that one rose from the dead three days later in a Resurrection that prove what He said about Himself was true.

One was popular among the elites of their society, the other was scorned by the elites of his contemporary.

One receive the accolade from his country’s highest political leader, the other was crucified by his own religious and outside political leaders.

One died in a hospital for his own heart failure, while the other died to save sinners for their sinful heart failure.

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