Archive for November, 2012

Wow this period has been an influx of many materials online dealing with Presuppositional apologetics!


1.) Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Presuppositional Critique part I–Mike Robinson critiques the Watch Tower.

2.) Van Til vs. Hicks— Ben Holloway critiques the Pluralist John Hicks.

3.) A Review of Clifford McManis’ Biblical Apologetics (2012)— A review of this recent Presuppositional book by another Presuppositionalist.

4.) 788! – Retractions in the scientific literature from fraud & errors in research— Mike Robinson’s observation of an article that reveal over 788 retraction in scientific journals since 2000, concerning worldviews and “science.”  Mike provide a link to this excellent 2010 Journal article that you might consider bookmarking!

5.) What the Rest of the Bible Says About Genesis— Message by Dr. Pipa of Greenville Presbyterian seminary.

6.)A Christian Epistemology of Testimony–Excellent article by Chris Bolt on Presuppositionalism and the self-testimony of the Scriptures.

7.) The Failure of “Aprobogetic” Methodology— On “neutral” non-Presuppositional apologetics.

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Note: This is part of my review of books for my lists of 2012 recommended Christian worldview and apologetics gift books recommendation.

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Excellent book on a Christian worldview when it comes to viewing movies, and probably the best book of its kind. It stresses that Christians must bring the Word of God to bear concerning what they are seeing. The best question that a Christian can ask in evaluating any film is what does it say about the nature of man. Does the movie promote an anthropology that is contrary to that of Scripture or does it confirm it? The author makes the point that even if what it teaches about man is contrary to what our systematic theology tells us about man, yet it still speaks truth–that man would try to supress the truth of God in righteousness. I love how he brings Romans 1 to bear in the topic of evaluating culture, in which film is an artifact of culture. The point he makes about Romans 1 goes beyond just movie watching but an analysis of other aspects and creative outflow of society in general. After an opening chapter on discernment and how to interrogate a movie which lays the ground work for the rest of the book, the author Grant Horner launches into analysis of several kinds of genre of films. If you have ever had an English literature class in which the professor is able to open your eyes and see a book you are reading at a deeper level of things you never noticed previously, you would enjoy experiencing the same epiphanies with this part of the book (it does help that Horner is an English professor at The Master’s College). His chapter on comedy discusses about the Christian view of irony–and how irony is the result of a fallen world in which the world is not the way it ought to be. Prior to this book I never thought about irony in these terms before. Horner does the same kind of analysis with scary movies as well, with a great discussion of how scary movies in light of Romans 1 is our way of managing fear that we can control–and how that helps us cope with our suppression that God is frightening for sinners. Scary movies then is our way out in order to release the valve so to speak. The author also devote a chapter on romance and most interestingly film noir. The author does not take you down a path of smut but was able to point out illustrations of Christian principles as well, and movies with bad ideology that viewers might not readily pick up. His last chapter on man and meaning of life and memory is a fitting end, in which he argues that man is trying to suppress the knowledge of God by also suppressing the memory of that suppression. As I said earlier I believe this is the best book of it’s kind. It’s filled with many observations of movies and also biblical discernment. I thoroughly recommend this book to everyone.

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The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Term Canon, Lesson 1

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: Circulation of the Canonical Writings, Lesson 2

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History : The Early Circulation of the Writings, Lesson 3

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Science of Paleography, Lesson 4

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Collection of the Canoncial NT Writings, Lesson 5

The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Views of the Early Church Fathers Regarding the Bible, Lesson 6, Conclusion

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Two years ago we posted, “Christmas wish list in Presuppositional Christian Apologetics” followed by last year’s “Christmas Gift Book Lists on Christian Worldview and Apologetics Discipleship 2011.”  I still recommend those books as great Christmas gift books for Christians to grow in their discipleship of having a solid worldview and apologetics so what follows here are other books I would add to this list!

Stay tune for the next couple of weeks on this blog as I add book reviews of these books.

1.) Lit!

Hands down the best book I read this year–think of it as a Christian theology of reading–that’s also practical and insightful.  I find that it can be an uphill battle to cultivate Christians to read deeply.  Discipleship of a believer’s in a Christian worldview would be hard to implement if someone’s not reading or do not actively understand how to read, so this book is pretty foundational for everything else that follows.  My review of it can be found here.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

2.) Who Gets to narrate our world?

I like how this book takes “worldview” and understand it as a metanarrative.  I review this book here.

Purchase: Amazon

3.) The Grand Demonstration

Takes the “Ex Lex” approach to the problem of evil, though it does not come out and call it that.  I think this is the Christian solution to the problem of evil in light of the realities of Reformed Theology.  My recommendation and review of it can be found here.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

4.) If there’s a God, Why are There Atheist?

In essence, a biblical theology of unbelief is presented in this work, my review of it can be found here.

Purchase: Amazon

5.) Hollywood Worldview

A good introduction to Christian worldview discernment when it comes to film.  My review found here.

Purchase: Amazon

6.) Meaning at the Movies

This was the best Christian film analysis book I’ve read thus far.  Review can be found here.

Purchase: Amazon

7.) Art and the Bible

A book consisting of two famous essay by Francis Schaeffer on a Christian view of art.

Purchase: Amazon

8.) Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism

A unique book that applies Presuppositional apologetics to the cult of Mormonism.  My review is available here.

Purchase: Amazon

9.) Life Beyond the Sun

The subtitle explains this well: An Introduction to Worldview & Philosophy Through the Lens of Ecclesiastes.  Review might be delayed as I just got myself this book for “Christmas.”

Purchase: Amazon

10.) Inerrancy and Worldview

Takes the defense of inerrancy at a whole new level of worldview analysis.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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The author Brian Godawa is a prolific Christian movie maker, reviewer, screen writer and author. If one would expect someone to have the situational background to write on a Christian worldview analysis of films, then Godawa would be it. Making this even better is the fact that Godawa has good theology driving his worldview. He’s also influenced by Van Til’s Presuppositional apologetics (another major plus!). I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time and was glad that I was finally able to order it and sit down and read it. The book defends the idea that film in of itself is not sinful–and that is just the preface. Conscious of the fact that film consists of visual imagery, the dramatic and a story, the author demonstrates that Scripture uses or record people using imagery, the dramatic and stories properly. The rest of the book is divided into three parts, or more appropriately as Godawa calls it, “act.” In Act 1, Godawa focuses on story telling, which consists of three chapters. The first chapter is about the issue of sex, violence and profanity. This chapter is one that a Christian might want to read carefully and perhaps revisit even after a first reading of the book. It is something to chew on even if not every Christian will find themselves in agreement with the author. Chapter three focuses on movies with redemption which obviously is a big theological Christian motif since God has established the greatest act of redemption. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Act 2 of the book, which focuses on three worldviews that’s the undercurrent of many contemporary movies: existentialism, postmodernism and other worldviews, including Eastern mysticism. Act 3 focuses on movies protrayal of the spiritual with a chapter each on Jesus, Christianity, faith and spiritual warfare. What I like alot about this book is that many movies are brought up as examples of the worldviews subtle message in films. There are many insights, analysis and observations from various movies throughout the book. You will find yourself seeing movies you seen before in new light and also be curious about the story lines of other movies you have not seen before (and of course, some movies which I will not see as a result of this book’s analysis). All in all, these example should stir a Christian to be careful with discerning and watching movies with Godly wisdom–and while watching out for swearing, needless violence and sexual sins are important, we as believers must also watch out for the IDEAS that film impart to us. I highly recommend this book as a great introduction.

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The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Collection of the Canoncial NT Writings, Lesson 5

Lesson 6  I have titled this section, The Views of the Early Church Fathers Regarding the BibleThis section will focus on the early church fathers view of the Bible.  They will provide us with insights of the origin and nature of the Bible. [1]

A.  Clement of Rome (A.D. 30-100) [2]

1)  The Origin of Scripture: The Words of God.

a)  Let us act accordingly to that which is written (for the Holy Spirit saith, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom”) (Jer. 9:23) (First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 13).

b)  For He Himself by the Holy Ghost thus addresses us: “Come, ye children, hearken unto me” (Ps. 34:11) (ibid., 22).

c)  Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit (ibid., 45).

B.  The Nature of Scripture: Infallible [2]

1)  Words From God

a)  But when you hear the utterances of the prophets spoken as it were personally, you must not suppose that they are spoken by the inspired men themselves but by the divine Word who moves them (First Apology 36).

b)  We must not suppose that the language proceeds from the men who are inspired, but from the divine Word which moves them.  Their work is to announce that which the Holy Spirit, descending upon them, purposes, through them, to teach those who wish to learn the true religion (ibid).

c)  To him [Moses] did God communicate that divine and prophetic gift…and then after him the rest of the prophets…These we assert to have been our teachers, who use nothing from their own human conception, but from the gift vouchsafed to them by God alone (Justin’s Hortatory Oration to the Greeks 8).

2)  Conveyed Through Humans

a)  For neither by nature nor by human conception is it possible for men to know the things so great and divine, but the gift which then descended from above upon the holy men who had no need of rhetorical art, nor of uttering anything in a contentious or quarrelsome manner, but to present themselves pure to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the Divine plectrum itself, descending from heaven and using righteous men as an instrument like a harp or a lyre, might reveal to us a knowledge of things divine and heavenly.  Wherefore, as if with one mouth and one tongue, they have in succession and in harmony with one another taught us both concerning God, and the creation of the world, and the formation of man, and concerning the immorality of the human soul, and judgment which is to be after this life, and concerning all things which it is needful for us to know, and thus in divine times and places have afforded us the divine instruction (ibid., 8).

C.  The Nature of Scripture [3]

1)  Inspired in Written Form

          2)  Inspired in Spoken Form

D.  The Origin of Scripture from Irenaeus (Second Century)[4]

1)  The Words of God

a)  The Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God [Christ] and His Spirit (Against Heresies 2.28.2).

2)  Words From God

a)  I shall plainly set forth from these divine Scriptures proofs to [satisfy] all lovers of truth (ibid., 2.35.4).

E.  The Nature of Scripture from Irenaeus (Second Century)[5]

1)  The Foundation of Faith

a)  The Scriptures [are the] ground and pillar of our faith (ibid., 3.1.1).

2)  Infallible

a)  Let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel…The writings of those apostles,…being the disciples of truth, are above all falsehood (ibid., 3.5.1).

b)  [Heretics] adduce an unspeakable number of apocryphal and spurious writings which they themselves have forged, to bewilder minds of foolish men, and of such as are ignorant of the Scriptures of truth (ibid., 1.20.1).

F.  The Nature of Scripture from Tertullian (ca. 160-225)[6]

1)  Authoritative

a)  In granting indulgence, he [Paul] alleges the advice of a prudent man; in enjoining continence, he affirms the advice of the Holy Spirit.  Follow the admonition which has divinity for its patron.  It is true that believers likewise no “have the Spirit of God;” but not all believers are apostles.  When, then, he who had called himself a “believer,” added thereafter that he “had the Spirit of God,” which no one would doubt even in the case of an (ordinary) believer; his reason for saying so was, that he might re-assert for himself apostolic dignity…Apostles have the Holy Spirit properly, who have Him fully, in the operations of prophecy…Thus he attached the Holy Spirit’s authority to that form [of advice] to which he willed us rather to attend; and forthwith it became not an advice of the Holy Spirit, but, in consideration of His majesty, at precept (On Exhortation to Chastity 4, italics his).

2)  Divine

a)  We are united….Divine Scripture has made us concorporate; the very letters are our glue (On Modesty 5).

3)  Harmoniouss

a)  From apostolic word descends the Church, All filled, to wash off filth, and vivify Dead fates.  The Gospel, four in number, one. (Reply to Marcion 2.70).

4)  Timeless

a)  No enunciation of the Holy Spirit ought to be [confined] to the subject immediately in hand merely, and not applied and carried out with a view to every occasion to which its application is useful (On the Apparel of Women 2.2, italics his).

Summary:  Many of the early church fathers and Christians who lived during a time where the Word of God was coming together, understood that the Words of God in Scripture were important and a resource of truth.  This truth brought meaning into one’s life because of the resurrecting power that the Word had.  It was supernatural because it contained the power of salvific knowledge, which leads to salvation.  As a result, may this material that you have learned, continue to motivate you in your walk with God.  May you be encouraged that you are able to have a Bible while many other people in the world do not.  This is a sign of God’s grace. May the knowledge that you have consumed, be preached to the lost and may the precious knowledge you have consumed, be given to those you are discipling.  Grace.

[1] Norman L. Geisler, How History Views the Bible: Decide for Yourself, (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 1982), pp.23-24.
[2] Ibid., 23-24.

[3] Ibid., 24-25.

[4] Ibid., 25.

[5] Ibid., 25.

[6] Ibid., 26.

[7] Ibid., 26-27.

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I’ve enjoyed this at several different level so I will review this book from different perspective: Chinese history, historiography, lessons for the US current military involvement overseas and spiritually as a Christian.
In terms of Chinese history, this book is on a time period and events that few Americans know about let alone understand. Way before America was attacked on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, Japan has already been waging war and spreading its imperialism for decades. This book is about events of Japan’s invasion of China during the 1930s from the Shanghai area to Nanking, and it explores what mainstream history have not focus much on: the subject of the book being Chinese collaborators with the Japanese. If the saying is true that “history is written by those who win,” then the implication from this must also be true: mainstream’s popular historical narrative will often leave out details it would rather forget. It’s easy to see in pop cultural memory that the population of China “resisted” the Japanese throughout the Japanese occupation of China during World War Two, but that’s not always the case as this book accurately portray. In order to survive in an occupied China one has to acknowledge the political realities of Japanese control. Currently the history of the Japanese invasion of China is overshadowed by the great work, “The Rape of Nanking,” which documents extensively the incredible atrocity of the Japanese Army against Chinese civilians, and it’s easy to have the framework of the victimization of China overshadow the reality of what was happening on the ground during occupation that some was trying to survive by cooperating with the Japanese (that is not to deny the realities of victims and the heinous crimes that occurred). No doubt the book does not deny that reality of the Japanese atrocities and even provide more further details paralleling Iris Chang’s famous work. However, here in this work the author of “Collobration” advance the thesis that there were some elites in China that did cooperated with the Japanese during occupation and that they can’t be demonized into a one dimensional cardboard wicked “traitors.” It can get more complicated than that.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about this book is the consciousness of the author’s historiography. As I began reading the book, I wondered how the author was going about to write as objectively as possible a historical work concerning a subject that would not enjoy a lot of surviving data: Collaborators would have been seen as traitors after the Japanese left, and no doubt it would not help for the accurate preservation of any written record of their experiences not to mention the collaborators’ survival! This work was truly amazing in terms of the author’s fortune of working with primary sources of Japanese Imperial army’s record, the memoirs of Japanese pacification agents and Western observers in Shanghai. The author Timothy Brook does a good job of handling the primary sources with care while also bringing the readers into the conversation of how he weighed the evidences, acknowledging the biases of each source as he weaved the data to produce his narrative. Brook admit the data is far from complete and there are limitations to historical research of collaborators yet it’s amazing how much he can carefully extrapolate. I’ve enjoyed Brook’s discussion of collaboration in the greater context of collaboration studies of the European front in World War Two, noting how historiography of collaboration is so different from that of say occupied France with that of China under Japan, and also situational differences between the European front with that of China.
The consciousness upon the author to use the European occupation and collobration under Nazi control in World War 2 as a foil for the situation in occupied China lead me to think about collaboration and military occupation beyond just France and China. I can’t help it but to think about what lessons this book brings to the greater geo-political affairs of today, specifically with Iraq and Afghanistan. As I read this book I can’t help but to recall memories walking a patrol with a Civil Affairs Marine officer in Iraq in 2003 and hearing this young officer’s heavy burden as he explained that afternoon of the difficulties of geo-political realities, local politics, war craft and “nation-building.” As much as I do not like the term “occupation” to describe our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and though I think the Japanese control over China is qualitatively and morally different than the US efforts in the Middle East, nevertheless I think there are some lessons one can learn here from collaboration concerning contemporary doctrine of counter-insurgency and the “hearts and minds” component of military occupation today. I think this book is worth being put under the Marine Corps Commandant’s reading list. Timothy Brooks notes the difficult realities of how difficult it was for the Japanese to find quality collaborators (which he encouraged the readers not to load that term with negative moral connotation right away in the book, but reserving it to the end of the work). When the nationalists government in Nanking retreated as the Japanese army advance, the elites with the technical and beaucratic know-how of operating governments and infrastructures fled with the Nationalists army as well. There was no incentive for them to be the puppet of a Japanese regime. The Japanese attempt to establish “peace committees” were frustrating, with the difficulties of sorting out people the right people with legitimate political and community capital from those who were just opportunists. As always, distrust on the part of the Japanese military and not empowering the local Chinese government ended up hindering the Japanese instead. There’s a lesson here with the fact that any occupation if it’s going to successfully transfer to new indigenous civilian management won’t be easy and the occupying Army can easily make numerous mistakes with such a fragile mission. It is a worthy study and reflection with lessons applicable to the difficulty in Afghanistan.
The dimension of the book that I most appreciate however is the chapter that focuses on Westerners who were in Nanking that got involved to protect the Chinese as much as possible from the cruelty of the Japanese. These were heroic men and women who had the liberty to leave and not get involved and yet they remained on the scene to make a difference for the lives of the Chinese. As I read this chapter I can’t help but to wonder what it was that drove them to do what they do knowing the risks involved. Many of them were Christian missionaries. As a Christian myself, I appreciated the book’s documentation from missionary’s diaries, letters and records. Though I know it’s not the intention or direction of the book, I can’t help to see the connection that true Christian spirituality means that there is the Lordship of Christ in every sphere of life including the political. These men and women saw the travesty of what the Japanese can do to their fellow man and women, and they responded. From orphanage, women shelter, rice distribution center, writing to the Embassy and the military to see aide is provided and even the audacity and affront to the Japanese of establishing a safe zone that was to be free of Japanese soldiers, these men and women can be forgotten for what they have done. However, if there is a God and the theology of these men and women are true, then it follows that their action are not totally forgotten—they lived and did what they did knowing that there is a God who remember and will call men into account one day. The implication of that is not just the preaching of the Gospel (that Jesus died for sinners and raised on the Third Day as proof) but also doing what they can to help fellow man who is made in the image of God.

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The Canon of the New Testament in Church History: The Science of Paleography, Lesson 4

Lesson 5  I have titled this section, The Collection of the Canoncial NT WritingsThis section includes an analysis of the influences that lead up the collection of the NT writings.  The collection of the NT writings began at very early date.  As a result, we must survey the list of influences that lead to the motivation.[1]

A.  The Existence of the OT Canon and the LXX (Septuagint).

1) That Canon was a result of a long process and gradual process which was completed at the beginning of the Christian era.  The formation of the OT Canon influenced many Christians.  The OT was accepted as God’s word by the early Christians.  Much of the preaching and teaching was done from the OT.  Because the OT was recognized as God’s word, it supplied a model in which Christians could hardly fail to follow.  Because of the new revelations received through Christ and His followers, disciples of Christ understood the importance of supplementing the OT with the new revelations.[2]

2)  Moreover the process was not too difficult because it was rendered easily by the fact that there was the existence and widespread use of the in Greek (LXX), not Hebrew.  The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures.  This has not been adopted by the Jews of the Dispersion, but it was adopted by a large number of Jews within the confines of Palestine.  Since Greek was a widespread language in the Roman Empire and since the language barrier of the OT had already been removed, it was then another motivation to go ahead to include a Greek NT as a complement to the Greek OT that was already in use.[3]

B.  The Strong Influence of the NT Writings.

1)  The contents and character of the New Testament writings had a strong influence that lead to the collection of the New Testament writings.

 2)  Besides the authority of the OT writings, there was another strong authority, and that were the words of Jesus.  His words were handed down in the current oral tradition of the time.  Apostle Paul demonstrates that authority:

Acts 20:35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
1Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we, who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 7:10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband
1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him

3)  These words are significant because they were attributed to Jesus Himself.

4)  The oral reports of the apostles were also authoritative.  Towards the middle of the second century, Papias, the Bishop of Hierapolis is found declaring the authenticity of the apostles’ oral reports.  For example, he found declaring in the Preface to the five books which he devoted to the interpretation of logia kuriaka.  This means that for his knowledge of these he preferred to rely on the oral reports of what Andrew, Peter, or the other disciples of the Lord had said. Papias says, “I did not think that what I could derive from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.”  There is a tantamount of evidence that the apostles were seen as authoritative because they were appointed by Jesus Christ; and they were the official spokesmen after His ascension to heaven–including the day of Pentecost.[4]

5)  When the apostles died, the church saw the necessity to write down their words to ensure the perpetuation of them.  As a result, the permanent records were established.  Christians were now more reliant upon the documents recorded rather than oral reports.[5]

6)  Here are some quotes from early church fathers that saw the words of God and the apostles as the main authority.  Therefore, we must understand that Scripture is the rule of faith.  We let Sola Scriptura rule us.[6]

7) According to Professor Nathan Busenitz, Sola Scriptura,

’By Scripture alone’– teaches that the Bible, as the inspired Word of God, is our final and solely infallible authority for faith and practice. It moreover asserts the perspicuity of Scripture – that the central message of the Bible is clear, and that church tradition is not necessary for determining the right interpretation.”[7]

8) Here are some quotes from some early church fathers concerning Scripture alone:

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – 215) He, who has spurned the ecclesiastical tradition, and darted off to the opinion of heretical men, has ceased to be a man of God and to remain faithful to the Lord. But he who has returned from this deception, on hearing the Scriptures, and turned his life to the truth, is, as it were, from being a man made a god…. He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and voice of the Lord, which by the Lord acts to the benefiting of men, is rightly [regarded] faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things. (The Stromata, 16)
Tertullian (c. 160–235) The Scriptures . . . indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith. (Against Praxeas, 11)
Origen (c. 185 – 254): In proof of all words which we advance in matters of doctrine, we ought to set forth the sense of the Scripture as confirming the meaning which we are proposing. . . . Therefore we should not take our own ideas for the confirmation of doctrine, unless someone shows that they are holy because they are contained in the divine Scriptures (Homily 25 on Matthew).
Cyril of Jerusalem (315–386) Do no then believe me because I tell these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures. (The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril 4.17)
Chrysostom (344 – 407) These then are the reasons; but it is necessary to establish them all from the Scriptures, and to show with exactness that all that has been said on this subject is not an invention of human reasoning, but the very sentence of the Scriptures. (Homilies on the Statues 1.14)
Augustine (354 – 430) Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare be wiser than we ought. (De Bono Viduitatis, 2)
Augustine (again) Let those things be removed from our midst which we quote against each other not from divine canonical books but from elsewhere. . . . I do not want the holy church proved by human documents but by divine oracles. (The Unity of the Church, 3)
Athanasius (295 – 375) For the true and pious faith in the Lord has become manifest to all, being both ‘known and read’ from the Divine Scriptures. (Letter, 60.6)
Tertullian (155 – 240) The Scriptures . . . indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith
Hippolytus (d. 235) There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source
Origen (c. 185 – 254) In the two testaments every word that pertaineth unto God may be sought and discussed, and out of them all knowledge of things may be understood. And if anything remains which Holy Scripture does not determine, no other third scripture ought to be received to authorize any knowledge . . . .
Athanasius (295 – 375) In the Holy Scriptures alone is the instruction of religion announced—to which let no man add, from which let no man detract—which are sufficient in themselves for the enunciation of the truth.
Chrysostom (344 – 407) When there is a question of Divine things, would it not be a folly rashly and blindly to receive the opinions of others, when we have a rule by which we can examine everything? I mean the Divine law. It is for this reason that I conjure you all, without resting in the slightest degree on the judgment of others, to consult the Scriptures.
Augustine (354–430) In those things, which are plainly laid down in Scripture, all things are found, which embrace faith and morals.
Augustine (354 – 430) What more shall I teach you than what we read in the apostle? For Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare be wiser than we ought.
Theodoret of Cyrus (393–457) Bring me not human reasonings and syllogisms, for I rely on the divine Scripture alone.

C.  The Use of Christian Documents in Public Services of the Church.

1) This has had an important influence upon their future history.  For example, the reading of the law has always been part of the Jewish synagogue services.  The central part of the Jewish synagogue was the reading of God’s word.

2) The Old Testament was already read along with the New Testament in Christian worship.  They both were respected and seen as authoritative.  Both were assembled for the purpose of worship.  They both possessed the same canonical status.

3) There are a couple of verses in the New Testament that indicates the importance of public reading: [8]

a) 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.”

4)  There are probably some other reasons why the apostle wanted the Scriptures to be read:

It was read aloud–maybe due to the fact that the reading had not yet been officially established, but that it would be sufficiently explained by the importance of the Apostle himself being attached to its contents because of apostolic authority.

It was read aloud because there was a concern that someone might make a wrong use of the Apostle’s name (2 Thess. 2:2; 3:17).

It was read aloud so that churches may be aware that it addresses them all (Col. 4:16).[9]

D.  The Widespread Use of Various Books Being Held as Canonical like the New Testament.

1) Some of the earliest references to them as Scripture comes not from within but comes outside the orthodox line or church.

2) For example, Basilides of Alexandria, the founder of a Gnostic sect in the beginning of the second century, is credited to being the first to quote the New Testament writers.  For example, he would use such formulas such as, “The Scripture saith” and “As it is written.”  Other heretics later started to follow. [10]

E.  The Canon of Marcion.

1) This is what Bruce M. Metzger, who is a well-known Greek scholor has to say about Marcion,

At the end of July, A.D. 144, a hearing took place before the clergy of the Christian congregations in Rome.  Marcion, a wealthy Christian ship-owner who had come from Sinope, a sea-port of Pontus along the Black Sea, stood before the presbyters to expound his teachings in order to win others to his point of view.  For some years he had been a member of one of the Roman churches, and had proved the sincerity of his faith by making relatively large contributions.  No doubt he was a respected member of the Christian community.

But what he now expounded to the presbyters was so monstrous that they were utterly shocked!  The hearing ended in a harsh rejection of Marcion’s views; he was formally excommunicated and his largesse of money was returned.  From this time forward Marcion went his own way, energetically propagating a strange kind of Christianity that quickly took root throughout large sections of the Roman Empire and by the end of the second century had become a serious threat to the mainstream Christian Church.”[11]

2)  So what were dangerous teachings that Marcion taught?

a)  His main points were the rejection of the Old Testament.  He held on to a distinction between the supreme god of goodness and an inferior god of justice, who was the creator god of the Jews.  He also regarded Jesus Christ as the messenger of the supreme god.  According to Marcion, the Old and New Testaments cannot be reconciled to each other because he said that there were contradictions.[12]

b) Here are his perceived contradictions:

i)  “The code of conduct advocated by Moses was “an eye for an eye,” but Christ set this precept aside.”

ii)  “Elisha had children eaten by bears; Christ said, ‘Let the children come to Me.’”

iii)  In the Old Testament divorce was permitted and so was polygamy, but in the New Testament this was prohibited by God and the apostles.

iv)  God commanded the Israelites not to work on the Sabbath but there were times where the Israelites did work when he told them to walk around Jericho seven times on the Sabbath.

v)  He even said that the God of the Old Testament was not omniscient, because if He was, He would not have asked, “Adam, where are you?” (Gen. 3:9).

c)  Marcion rejected the entire Old Testament.  He even said that the twelve apostles misunderstood the teaching of Christ when they understood Him of being the Messiah of the Jewish God.  He was against this since he was against the Old Testament.  One of his arguments for this is when he explained the corruption of the gospels on the basis of the Epistle of Galatians, when Paul emphasizes that there is only one true gospel (Gal. 1:8-10) and when Paul states that false believers are attempting to turn believers from the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9; 2:11).  As a result of these statements, Marcion was convinced that among the early apostolic leaders, Paul was the most credible because he understood the significance of Jesus as the messenger of the supreme god.  Therefore, he accepted as authoritative the nine Epistles sent by Paul to seven churches as well as the one sent to Philemon.  These ten epistles became the rule of source and the true doctrine for him.[13]

d)  Also he trusted only the Gospel according to Luke.  There is not enough evidence to say why he preferred Luke, but probably because Luke was a disciple of Paul.  Marcion saw things differently.  He removed the passages that had anything to do with the virgin birth in the book of Luke because he believed that if Jesus had only the appearance of being human, he could not have been born of a woman.  He even removed some parts of Paul’s writings.  For example, Gal. 3:16-4:6 was deleted because it had to do with Abraham and his descendants; and he removed 2 Thess. 1:6-8 because he felt that God can not be concern with fire, wrath, and punishment upon humans.[14]

F.  Gnosticism

In the second century, the early church was also plagued by another form of heresy which was called Gnosticism.  Many of gnostic writings took place during this time. Because some in the Christian community were getting pulled into the esoteric teachings of Gnosticism, some believed that the formation of the canon became a calculated effort to oppose the heresy of Gnosticism.[15]

1)  Because of the danger of Gnosticism that plagued the Church in the second to third century, we must understand the teachings. Here is a detailed analysis from Bryan Liftin’s book, Getting to Know the Church Fathers:

[p. 38] – The term “Gnostic” is derived from the Greek word for knowledge, gnosis. Gnosticism was not a coherent or uniform set of beliefs. Rather, it was an array of movements that shared many common tendencies and features. Central to Gnosticism is the belief that the sect’s sacred texts and teachers could provide access to secret “knowledge” about how the universe really operates.  . . . [O]ne aspect of Gnosticism [was] its teaching known as “docetism”. Docetism is the belief (held by virtually all Gnostics) that Jesus did not really come to us in the flesh, but only seemed to come in a physical body. His flesh was actually a ghostly apparition.[p. 85] – What exactly did the Gnostics believe? Their myths seem so ridiculous to us today that we can scarcely believe anyone would ever have embrace them. But we must acknowledge that for many ancient people, Gnosticism offered an attractive alternative to orthodox Christianity. Spiritual seekers were drawn to its seeming intellectualism and mysterious insights into the cosmos. [For example,] the Valentinian Gnostics believed there was a heavenly “Fullness” which consisted of thirty angelic beings called Aeons. The Aeons always came in male-female pairs. . . . These conjugal pairs emitted lower Aeons, and the last of these emissions was Sophia (Wisdom). But Sophia became passionate, and wickedly longed fro the highest Father apart from her own consort. Though she was eventually healed from her grievous action, her evil “Thought,” which had given rise to her sin, was cast out of the Fullness like an aborted fetus. This shapeless Thought took on a personified form named Mother Achamoth. She was in a hopeless state until the “Christ” came to her and enabled achamoth to bring forth substances from within herself. One of the beings she brought forth was the Demiurge. He was the ignorant creator of the entire physical world in which we live. In many Gnostic accounts, the Demiurge was equated with Yahweh, the Jewish God of the Old Testament, who foolishly thought he was the one true God. Only the enlightened Gnostics “knew” he was actually a corrupted being, far inferior to the goddess Sophia. . . .In order to give secret wisdom to the spiritual Gnostics, the Demiurge (Yahweh) is said to have given birth to a son who was filled with the spiritual seed of Mother Achamoth. This son was the “Christ” who passed through Mary without taking a body from her. He was just like water flowing through a tube. The Gnostics often said the “Christ” inhabited the body of the man Jesus of Nazareth, but his body was not made of real flesh. . . . The docetic Christ who possessed the illusion of a body came into the world to teach spiritual precepts that only the enlightened Gnostics would be able to comprehend. Through the purging action of his revealed knowledge, the Gnostics would eventually make their way up into the Fullness as purified spirits.

2) You also have modern day Gnosticism that exist today:

Momonism – Modern-Day Gnosticism?* * * * * *Harold Bloom, The American Religion (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 99, 123: The God of Joseph Smith is a daring revival of the God of some of the Kabbalists and Gnostics, prophetic sages who, like Smith himself, asserted that they had returned to the true religion. . . . Mormonism is a purely American Gnosis, for which Joseph Smith was and is a far more crucial figure than Jesus could be. Smith is not just ‘a’ prophet, another prophet, but he is the essential prophet of these latter days, leading into the end time, whenever it comes.  Lance S. Owens, “Joseph Smith: America’s Hermetic Prophet,” (online article, http://www.gnosis.org/ahp.htm):Harold Bloom’s coupling of Joseph Smith to the Gnostic tradition has aroused animated disagreement among students of Mormonism and Gnosticism alike.  . . . Nonetheless, Smith did apparently espouse themes familiar to Gnosticism–prominent among them being his affirmation of the reality and necessity of continuing, individual revelation as the source of salvific knowledge. Joseph Smith and his religion eschewed theology in favor of the dynamic process of revelation. The result was best summarized in what Bloom remarked to be “one of the truly remarkable sermons ever preached in America”, a discourse delivered by the Prophet on April 7, 1844. Known as the King Follett Discourse, it was Joseph’s last major address to his church, presented just ten weeks before his death at age 38.”There are but very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God,” he began. “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend their own character.” Within humankind there is an immortal spark of intelligence, taught the Prophet, a seed of divine intellect or light which is “as immortal as, and coequal with, God Himself.” God is not, however, to be understood as one and singular. Turning to Hebrew and an oddly Kabbalistic exegesis of the first three words of Genesis (an exegesis probably taken directly from the Zohar), Smith pronounced there are a multitude of Gods emanated from the First God, existing one above the other without end. He who humankind calls God was Himself once a man; and man, by advancing in intelligence, knowledge–consciousness–may be exalted with God, become as God.

3) Besides the issue of Gnosticism, here is a list of other dangerous teachings that the church encountered:

Name Century Primary Error Historical Proponents Nature/ Character Modern Traces
Judaizers 1st Attacked justification; added works to grace as necessary for salvation legalistic former-Jews in the early church legalistic; blended OT Judaism with Christianity 7th-Day Adventists; Roman Catholics
Gnostics 2nd Attacked the humanity of Christ; denied that Jesus really came in the flesh various early heretics; gnostic gospels mystical; blended paganism with Christianity most New-Age religions; Mormonism
Arians 4th Attacked the deity of Christ; denied the doctrine of the Trinity Arius and his followers anti-Trinitarian; denied the full deity of Christ Jehovah’s Witnesses
Pelagians 5th Attacked the primacy and sufficiency of God’s grace in salvation Pelagius, Coelestius, and their followers man-centered; denied depravity; elevated free will above divine sovereignty Charles Finney and his followers
Socinians 16th Attacked both the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of Christ Lelius and Faustus Sozzini rationalistic; a combination of the worst of all heresies Theological Liberals; Open Theists; Unitarians
*Chart is taken from class lecture notes 5, History of Heresy

[1] Dr. Thomas, Class Lecture, pp. 6.

[2] Milligan, pg. 206.

[3] Milligan, pp. 206-207.

[4] Milligan, pp. 209; Dr. Thomas, pp. 6.

[5] Dr. Thomas, pp. 6.

[6] Nathan Busenitz, Class Lecture 7, Faith of Our Fathers.

[7] Nathan Busenitz, Class  Lecture 7, Faith of Our Fathers.

[8] Milligan, pp. 210-214; Dr. Thomas, pp. 7.

[9] Milligan, pp. 210-214; Dr. Thomas, pp. 7.

[10] Milligan, pp. 214-215; Dr. Thomas, pp. 7.

[11] Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament, pp.90-91.

[12] Bruce M. Metzger, pp. 92.

[13] Bruce M. Metzger, pp. 92.

[14] Bruce M. Metzger, pp. 92.

[15] Harry Y. Gamble, The New Testament Canon, pp.62-63.

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This verse comes into mind concerning the duties of thanksgiving:

21 For even though they knew God, they did not [n]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and[o]crawling creatures.

No doubt this verse shows a relationship between thanksgiving, idolatrous religion, and apologetics.

Here are two quick links to two short articles that I thought should lead the apologist to have a more deeper thanksgiving this time of the year.

1.) An Atheist Explanation of Thanksgiving by Chris Bolt.

2.) All Dressed Up and No One to Thank by John MacArthur.

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Happy Thanksgiving Ladies and Gentleman.

Be sure to remember to thank God for all His grace, mercy and kindness.

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Note: I imagine that since Carl Trueman is from Westminster, he would be approaching this debate as a Presuppositionalists.  We Christians ought to remember to pray, and not forget that prayer is an important aspect of Christian apologetics as well.

From HERE:

“A Lively Conversation About the Things that Matter Most.”

Rev. Dr. Carl Trueman, Paul Woolley Chair of Church History, will be speaking at the Saints and Skeptics event in Phoenixville, PA on Thursday, December 13th at 7:00pm. The event is a moderated debate, and Dr. Trueman will be representing the historic Christian faith as espoused by Aurelius Augustine while Chad Trainer, Chairman of the Board of the Bertrand Russell Society, will represent the agnostic/atheistic worldview as espoused by Bertrand Russell.


Tickets are 12 bucks.

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Purchase: Amazon

As we approach the end of 2012, in light of the 200 year anniversary of Princeton Theological Seminary I thought it would be appropriate to review this book. There is no doubt that the legacy of Princeton Theological Seminary has been important and it’s impact acknowledged by those across different theological spectrum, though what that legacy is debated. In light of the debate of whether the contribution of “Princetonian Theology” has been positive or not, this book is part of that greater conversation, though it addresses the very specific concern of historical theology. Some have advocated that it was through Princeton and specifically B.B. Warfield that the concept of Biblical infallibility and the incipient form of inerrancy was formed. However, if this thesis were to be true, the author of this book, Ronald Satta, points out that this must mean we would not see those before Warfield to have the same bibliology, or even his contemporary from other different theological camps and ecclesiastical convictions. This monograph documents how the theological and intellectual elites of Protestant Christians around the time of Warfield and before Warfield did hold to the same view of Princeton when it comes to infallibility. It does a fine job of the historical leg work documenting sources that question how some see the doctrine of biblical infallibility as nothing more than an invention of Princeton Seminary. This book is an adaptation of the author’s doctoral dissertation.

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Often it’s heard that Cornelius Van Til, Covenantal apologetics or Presuppositionalism do not believe in giving evidences for the truth of Christianity when in actuality the issue is that they are concern about one’s philosophy of evidence that interprets or misinterprets “evidences.”

A recent Westminster Theological Journal article might be of interests to the readers, which is made available by the writer, is concern with Cornelius Van Til, evidences and John Locke’s evidentialism.   I have provided links to two different articles on PDF related to Van Til, evidences and philosophy of evidence:

1.) Christianity and Evidentialism: Van Til and Locke on Facts and Evidence.

2.) A Proposal on the Occasion and the Method of Presenting Evidence within a Van Tillian Framework.

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Note: You should add us on facebook if you haven’t done so already!

Some links related to Presuppositional apologetics around the web!

1.) Self-Deception and Karl Rove’s Near Meltdown— Thoughts from Mike Robinson.

2.) The Eternal, Inextricable Link–Scott Oliphint on the antithesis.

3.) It’s Circular Because It’s Circular— Chris Bolt on what he believes is the most ridiculous objection against Presuppositionalism.

4.) Van Til’s Apologetics— Over at Wesminster Theological Seminary’s website.

5.) War against Cultural Warrior— Steve Hays go full throttle in a response and there’s something you can learn from this exchange.

6.) Van Til’s Presuppositionalism & Frame’s Perspectivalism— Joseph Torres discussion about Frame’s Perspectivalism and Van Tillian apologetics.

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I don’t know when this offer will end but Jerry Bridges’  “Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts” is available online for Kindle for a limited time!  Down load it now!  You can download it by clicking here.

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