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Archive for January, 2013

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Here are some late January 2013 links related to Presuppositional apologetics.

1.) FREGE, THE LAWS OF LOGIC AND THEISM

2.) Debunking Bumper Stickers

3.) Prayer and the Apologist

4.) Rationality and Presuppositionalism

5.) THE LAWS OF LOGIC AS A REFLECTION OF GOD’S CHARACTER

6.) Christianity and the Rules of Reason

7.) B.B. Warfield’s Scientifically Constructive Theological Scholarship

8.) Verificationism And Christianity

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This is a fascinating article by LGBT activist Shane Windmeyer who wrote of his new friendship with Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A. Shane is a gay activist and leader of Campus Pride who rallied against the chicken sandwich chain. He recently wrote a piece of praise to the man he previously called bigot, divisive and racist. Read HERE.

Read Ed Welch, “Homosexuality: Speaking the Truth in Love” or read a sample of the booklet HERE.

Cathy and Shane

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Note for January 2013: Download this for a limited time free on Amazon Kindle before this week ends!

abortion sproul

I appreciated Sproul weighing in on this topic. Those who have read other works on pro-life works (see my review of Scott Klusendorf’s work) will not find anything dramatically new here. Yet it’s good to read and review the pro-life’s argument. One thing that stood out as unique in this book was actually George Grant’s preface. Grant summarized the current landscape in our society, political sphere and culture as the result of the abortion debate since Roe vs. Wade. This fascinating essay filled with footnotes by Grant puts into perspective for the Christian the extent of how much the abortion controversy has seeped into so many spheres of our lives today. The book is worth reading for the preface alone. Getting into Sproul’s actual work I do appreciate how the author does deal with various objections given against the prolife position. I was reminded that more women have been known to have been killed by abortion after Roe vs. Wade than before it which makes the back alley abortion argument for legalizing abortion kind of ironic. Concerning the argument that the fetus is part of the woman’s body, Sproul bring modern study of cells to bear, noting that babies have a different genetic fingerprint than the mother. The more interesting part of the book is the appendix that ended up being a rather lengthy testimony of a medical expert on the status of the embryo. Perhaps a little too lengthy. Sproul could have had his arguments tighter and I say this because I’ve seen other works that have made it air tight in their presentation. For those who might want to read an introductory work or to remind and refresh their prolife apologetics I can recommend this work.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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Battle of the MindThe Role of the Mind in Sanctification, Part 3

Erroneous Views of Sanctification

Unfortunately, there are many erroneous views of sanctification.  The Roman Catholic Church blurs the line between justification and sanctification.[1]  Instead of viewing both aspects of salvation biblically, they view justification as a process, but sanctification is a process (progressive sanctification is a process, not positional sanctification) not justification.[2]  They are both distinct from one another.

The other view would be the “let-go-and-let-God” theology, which perceives the Christian as being passive in his sanctification.[3]  That is in contradiction to God’s imperative to be holy.

Another dangerous view is perfectionalism, which believes that a Christian can become perfectly sanctified.[4]

There is also the “two-step approach” to sanctification.[5]  This view believes that one becomes sanctified after justification; and happens at the second act or occurs in what they call the second blessing.[6]  That is unbiblical.  Sanctification happens simultaneously at regeneration.  The moment one is changed, he is sanctified immediately. 

The Role of the Mind in Sanctification

Much background and other important peripheral details have been given concerning the mind and sanctification.  In light of much that has been revealed, we will move into the area concerning the role of mind in sanctification according to Romans 6:1-14. For the sake of this paper, I will not be giving a full-blown exegetical insight into every verse, but will make an attempt to explain the powerful implications of the hinge verse: Romans 6:11.

The first opening statements from Paul are clear concerning his denunciation and repudiation of a sinful lifestyle.  It is impossible to live a habitual and sinful lifestyle in order to receive more grace (6:1-2).  This is impossible because Paul affirms that we have “died to sin” (v. 2b); and we have been taken out of its tyranny in a manner that is radical; and it allows for a language of death and new life to be used as a paradigm for sanctification.[7]

In vv. 3-4, Paul shows how the transfer from the dominion of tyranny: we “died to sin” in baptism.[8]  Paul uses death to sin in relation to baptism to summarize our conversion to Christ and initiation or entrance into his body.[9]  In regards to the “conversion-initiation,” to join with Christ means to join with Christ’s death; and Paul shows this in vv. 9-10 by pointing out that Christ’s death was in of itself “death to sin.”[10]  The close association with Christ’s death seems to exhibit the reality being buried with Him.[11]  It is important for the believer to note that the concept of burial does two things in this context of Romans 6: sets the seal on death and prepares for what is to come: living a holy life that is patterned after the resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.[12]

In Romans 6:5, it is seems best to connect it with verse 4 since Paul makes the connection that we are in union with Christ’s death and our union with Him in life (4b).[13]

In Romans 6:6-7, Paul resumes and explains more concerning the “death” concept of the believer’s union with Christ (vv. 4a and 5a), while verses 8-10 focuses on the “life” concept of a believer’s union with Christ (vv. 4b and 5b).[14]

When you come across Romans 6:11, it becomes the hinge verse for Romans 6:1-10 because it is a clarion call to believers to “consider” themselves in the manner that Paul described in Romans 6:2-10 concerning the death-life paradox that is inseparable.[15]  By implication, Paul is exhorting them to use their minds (“consider”).  The use of the mind is the heartbeat of sanctification.[16]  Without a Christ-centered mind, there is no sanctification.  When Paul is exhorting the Christians to “consider”—he is not telling them to consider the Gospel one time, but he is telling them to consider the Gospel habitually.  The implications of the Gospel must be on their mind habitually in order to mortify sin effectively.  What is interesting to note is that Paul’s implementation of the forms of “know” and “believe,” is used around four times (vv. 3, 6, 8, 9).[17]  Spiritual exhortation is always built upon knowledge of a doctrine or revelation given.[18]

Those who do not have the mind of Christ or who are unable to consider the blessings of the Gospel is described by Pastor MacArthur in this manner, “By engaging the inner faculties—mind, emotions, desire, memory, and imagination—thought-sins work directly on the soul to bias it toward evil.[19]  Based on Pastor MacArthur’s thoughts, no one falls into sins such as adulteries, lies, etc., but the person who sins has a heart that has been shaped and nourished by lustful thoughts before the deed was conceived.[20]  Another highlight of verse 11 is the use of the word “consider” (λογίζομαι).  He tells them to consider themselves being dead to sin and alive to God (vv. 2-10).  The consideration is made even more clear in  vv. 12-14.

In verse 11, the phrase ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (in Christ Jesus) means the believer’s union in Christ.[21]  The believer’s reality of being dead to sin and alive in Christ is grounded in Christ’s death and resurrection.[22]  A believer’s death to sin does not mean that a Christian is unable to sin, but it means that the mastery and dominion of sin being the master and ruler of one’s life  has ended for those in Christ.[23]  The word ζῶντας (zōntas, alive) does mean that believers are already resurrected (cf. vv. 5, 8), but it means that the power of Christ’s resurrection affects the believer’s life at present (cf. v. 4).[24]

Verses 12-13 resumes the notion by further drawing out the implications of Christ death and resurrection.[25]  In verse 12, Paul gives a prohibition by saying, “…do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.”  Paul is not saying that sin is reigning in their life (cf. 15:14-15).  The word “body” (σῶμα) is limited not only to the physical body, but also refers to whole person, which includes the body and desires such as envy, jealousy, rage, anger, etc.[26]

In verse 13 when Paul says, “body to sin,” he is not saying that the body is sinful or evil, which is an ancient heresy that can be reached back to Gnosticism, but what Paul is saying is that sin’s pleasure operates in the body because without the body, sin can’t corrupt the mind.[27]  Sin uses the body as the vehicle to bring about transgression in one’s life.  That happens when one caves into temptations.

In verse 14, as Paul continues his discussion of sin not being our masters no longer.  Paul then dives into the discussion of the law by saying, “…for you are not under the law but under grace.”  First of all, I do not think that Paul is saying that the moral law is no longer applicable or no longer to be obeyed, because the problem is not with living under the moral law that is a problem, because the commands are good and holy (Rom. 7:12).[28]  Instead, what it means is that we are no longer under its condemnation; nor does it mean that we use the law to work for our salvation, for salvation is by grace alone (Eph. 2:8).  Instead, the moral law is a moral compass for sanctification and for ethics in society, but it could only be kept by the Holy Spirit’s power.[29]  Also the law, which is impossible to be kept perfectly, is designed to show man’s sinfulness, futility, and his helpless state.[30]


[1]Michael A. Vlach, “Theology III” (Unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2012), 220.

[2]Ibid., 220.

[3]Ibid., 221.

[4]Ibid., 221.

[5]Ibid., 221.

[6]Ibid., 221.

[7]Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary of the New Testament, eds. Ned B. Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce, and Gordon Fee (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 354; Anthony A. Hoekema, Five Views on Sanctification, ed. Stanley N. Grundry (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 73.  Romans 6, gives the clearest expression of the conclusive aspect of expression of sanctification that is expressed (ibid., 72).  For example, in Romans 6:2, Paul says, “We died to sin,” which is an expression of an unambiguous language concerning the truth, that the Christian has made a radical and “irreversible breach” in the domain and realm where sin reigns (Ibid., 73).  Hoekema underscores the decisive and irreversible breach from the enslavement to sin by indicating that believers who are in Christ, reveals that their old self has been crucified with God in v. 6 (Ibid., 73).  What is fascinating is Paul’s usage of the aorist tense which suggests the definitive action in tbe sense that sin is no longer lord or master over them because believers are under rule of grace (v. 14) (Ibid., 73).  Not only does Paul underscores the essential truth of Christians dying to sin, which is tied to Jesus’ baptism unto death, but Paul underscores that believers have been decisively raised with Christ which is tied to Jesus resurrection (ibid., 73).

[8]Ibid., 354; C.E.B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1975), 304.  Cranfield points out this concerning baptism into Christ’s death, “Not that it actually relates the person concerned to Christ’s death, since this relationship is already an objective reality before baptism takes place, having been brought into being by God’s gracious decision, which is implied by…in 5:8, but that it points to, and is a pledge of, that death which the person concerned has already died—in God’s sight” (Ibid., 303).

[9]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 354.

[10]Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 354.

[11]Ibid., 354.

[12]Ibid., 354.

[13]Ibid., 354.

[14]Ibid., 354.

[15]Ibid., 354.

[16]Amatuccio, “The Role of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14.”

[17]John F. MacArthur, Romans 1-8, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 332.

[18]Ibid., 332.

[19]MacArthur, The Vanishing Conscience, 183.

[20]Ibid., 183; cf. also in James 1:15, which says, “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

[21]Thomas Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 322.

[22]Ibid., 322.

[23]Ibid., 322.

[24]Ibid., 322.

[25]Ibid., 322,

[26]Ibid., 383.

[27]Morris,  The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, 257.

[28]Amatuccio, “The Role of of the Mind in Christian Sanctification According to Romans 6:1-14,” 128.

[29]Ibid., 132.

[30]Ibid., 132.

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update dispensationalism

 

 

The “Index to Calvinistic Dispensational Presuppositionalism’s Marathon Series” post has been updated since it was posted October 2012.  I plan to add more materials to it in the next few months to come including book reviews, more interviews and a post or two of our own analysis.

I’ve marked it with “New” in red to distinguish it from the previous materials and resources.

To check it out, click here.

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Preaching

MacArthur, John and the Master’s Seminary FacultyPreaching: How to Preach Biblically. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2005.

Strengths

This book did a wonderful job in presenting the concise definition of the term: expository preaching and the detail analysis regarding expository preaching.  While reading the processes of the exegetical method, hermeneutic methods, and guidelines in preaching different genres, I found it helpful when Pastor MacArthur open up the doors into his preparation before preaching on Sunday.  What was also helpful were the explanations on how one moves from exegesis to exposition and how one delivers his exposition.

Moving from exegesis to exposition is important because as preachers, we do not want to be a data dump or sound like a commentary when we are preaching.  We must be like Martin Luther who preached to the common man.  At times, this can be difficult for expositors because there is a big temptation to go too deep because of the power and depth of the biblical languages.

I am glad Pastor MacArthur touched upon the negativity of being a data dump.  If exposition is not present, then the listeners will have trouble understanding.

What was also refreshing are insights on how to develop a good introduction, illustrations, and conclusion.  These three components are essential in delivering a powerful, illustrative, and engaging exposition.

Another component that I think is critical for expositors to know and keep in mind is the chart on page 114 of the book.  The chart lists four levels concerning the “relationships between fields of theological study.”  The first level comprises of biblical introduction, biblical languages, and hermeneutics.  Biblical introduction has to do with understanding the historical background, author, etc.    Biblical languages are key because the Bible was written in the original, not English nor any other language. Having a firm grasp on the biblical languages brings one closer to God’s Word and brings others to God’s Word.  Hermeneutics (art and science of interpretation) on the other hand, is critical too because it provides rules to interpretation.  Without proper hermeneutics, you will not have accurate exegesis.

In level two, you have exegesis.  Exegesis does not rely on the English, but deals with the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic; and relies upon good hermeneutical principles (108).  The job of exegesis is to help bring about the meaning of the text.

The third level comprises of systematic theology, biblical theology, church history, philosophy of religion, apologetics, homiletics, counseling, Christian education, administration, missions, evangelism, contemporary society, ethics, etc. (114).

The last level is Bible exposition.  This is the level where preachers declare the Word of God to the people.  Dr. Richard L. Mayhue defines exposition in this manner,

At its best, expository preaching is ‘the presentation of biblical truth, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, Spirit-guided study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit applies first to the life of the preacher and then through him to his congregation’” (9).

This is a great quote and is convicting in many fronts.  It is a powerful reminder for me that I need to work hard at getting the interpretation right, I need to rely on the Holy Spirit; and that I need to apply God’s truth to myself first before telling others to apply them.

Weaknesses

One weakness in this book is that it does not dive in depth about how to deal with New Testament narratives.  More attention was given to Old Testament narratives.  I think that speaking about the narratives in the New Testament (i.e. Gospels) would help much since many preachers will preach from the New Testament.  Also since context is important, a more detailed analysis in how to analyze a particular context of a passage would help the reader.

Quotes

Below are lists of quotes that were insightful and had an impact on me.  I pray that I go back to these quotes as a reference.

James Rosscup—

“The young preacher has been taught to lay out all his strength on the form, taste, and beauty of his sermon as a mechanical and intellectual product.  We have thereby cultivated a vicious taste among the people and raised the clamor for talent instead of grace, eloquence instead of piety, rhetoric instead of revelation, reputation and brilliancy instead of holiness” (55).

Andrew Blackwood—

“For in his study the prophet can build his altar and on it lay the wood.  There he can lovingly place his sacrifice…sermon…but still he knows that the fire must come down from God.  Come it will, if he prays before he works, and if he works in the spirit of prayer” (59).

Richard Baxter—

“Many a tailer goes in rags, that maketh costly clothes for others; and many a cook scarcely licks his fingers, when he hath dressed for others the most costly dishes…It is a fearful thing to be an unsanctified professor, but much more to be an unsanctified preacher” (68).

John Flavel—

“Brethren, it is easier to declaim against a thousand sins of others, than to mortify one sin in ourselves” (69).

Charles Spurgeon—

“Let the minister take care that his personal character agrees in all respects with his ministry” (69).

John MacArthur—

“Illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit that opens one’s spiritual eyes to comprehend the meaning of the Word of God” (78).

“Revelation refers to the act by which God makes known what is otherwise unknowable.  Theologians sometimes call it ‘special revelation”(79).

Charles Spurgeon—

“A house must not have thick walls without openings, neither must a discourse be all made up of solid slabs of doctrine without a window of comparison or a lattice of poetry; if so, our hearers will gradually forsake us, and prefer to stay at home and read their favourite authors whose lively tropes and vivid images afford more pleasure to their minds” (240).

John MacArthur—

“Faithful expository preaching demands great effort.  Since nothing is as important as the Word, no energy expended by anyone in any other field should even equal the effort of an expositor seeking to ‘rightly divide the Word’” (171).

Richard L. Mayhue—

“The element of ethos, that is, the preacher’s perceived credibility in the mind of his audience, can be markedly influenced by the kind and quality of his introduction.  This is especially true in cases where listeners have no previous acquaintance with their preacher.  As the adage goes, ‘First impressions are lasting impressions” (201).

John MacArthur—

“Preaching is expository in purpose.  It explains the text.  Preaching is logical in flow.  It persuades the mind.  Preaching is doctrinal in content.  It obligates the will.  Preaching is pastoral in concern.  It feeds the soul.  Preaching is imaginative in pattern.  It excites the emotion.  Preaching is relevant in application.  It touches the life” (236-237).

John MacArthur—

“Proper communication in preaching involves taking people through a logical, systematic, and compelling process” (237).

In regards to how long a sermon should be, he states, “As long as it takes to cover the passage adequately!  I do not think the length of the sermon is as important as its content.  At times I have preached fifty minutes and it has been ten minutes too long.  Other times, I have preached an hour and twenty-five minutes and it has been just right.  The important thing is to cover the main point so that people are convinced of its truth and comprehend its requirements.  If you have nothing worthwhile to say, even twenty minutes will seem like an eternity to your people.  If you are interesting, they will stay with you.  Do not mistake persuasion for long-windedness, however.  If you preach longer than you should, you will sacrifice persuasiveness” (277).

 

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10 Books Every Conservative

 Available on Amazon

Originally I was a little reluctant to read it, afraid it was parroting Republican party one-liners but it turns out to be better than expected and the author had a broader focus and was trying to get at something deeper with a “conservative worldview” (though my Van Tillian framework would say he needs to go further in the development of a worldview to be thoroughly Christian and Reformed). Thus, the lists of books he covered are not necessarily political books as some may think of it, but more broader and basic such as literary fictions (Lord of the Rings, Sense and Sensibilities) economic works and theological classics (Chesterton, C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man and the Bible!). The author, a Catholic professor at Marquette is known for his previous book, “10 Books That Screwed Up the World.” is driven to see books with the question of what does it say about human nature which I would agree with is a good test question in terms of discernment of what a book means and it’s significance. It seems that he tried real hard to be broadly Christian without having much of Roman Catholicism that is contrary to Protestantism showing. His chapter on Lewis’ work, The Abolition of Man, and Orthodoxy by Chesterton has motifs in their critique of the materialistic and atheistic worldview that the Presuppositional apologist would appreciate (though they are not fully Presuppositional in the Van Tillian sense of the word). The book covers more than 10 books as the subtitle goes on to say: there’s four other works “not to miss,” and one imposter, with the imposter being Ayn Rand’s work. I think the author makes a strong conclusive case that Ayn Rand’s work ought not to be considered conservative, with the premise that conservatism is not about narcissism. I’ve read a previous work that went over Rand’s biography and her cultic narcissistic ideology is not pretty. Objectivism is in essence an atheist cult built upon the persona that Rand paints of her characters in her books. This book is definitely illuminating and makes me want to read for myself the books he suggested. In terms of disagreements I have with this work, I would dispute Aristotle’s work as being one of the canons of Conservative works though certainly there’s insight he had that will help it along the way. Throughout the book he talks about free will, and I sense he means libertarian free will, but it’s not the main point of his work. In the end, I would say this book is worth reading.

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