Archive for September, 2013

On Monday, September 9th, 2013 there was an evening debate in Southern California sponsored by the Center for Religious Debate titled “Can the New Testament Be Trusted?”  It was part of a series of debate that week concerning the topic of Islam and Christianity.

Shadid Lewis represented the side of Islam and Bob Siegel the side for Christianity.

The debate can be seen here:

Someone by the name of “Radical Moderate” on Youtube has loaded the video below that made a good point concerning Shadid Lewis’ contradictory assertions.

To tighten the noose, I think it’s important to see Shadid Lewis define his terms because a normal definition of Bible, Scripture, NT and OT would make his claims absurd.



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Has the Church Replaced Israel

To order the book on Amazon, click HERE.

Has the church replaced Israel? This is a controversial question and a fitting title for a book that addresses this question with “no.” I enjoyed this treatment on Supersessionism, also known as Replacement Theology. Some believe the name “replacement theology” for Supersessionism is inappropriate but the author Michael Vlach does a good job at the outset of the book demonstrating how proponents of Supersessionism themselves have used that term interchangeably. Prior to reading the book I have heard that the author’s doctoral work was on Supersessionism and I suspect some of his dissertation must have been carried over into the book. From what I understand, the advisors for his doctoral work weren’t all dispensationalists which probably helped sharpened his argument. I found this book devastating to the position of Supersessionism. I appreciated Vlach being conscious of theological methods in his evaluation of Supersessionism especially with my favorite portion of the book, part three, where he evaluates the hermeneutics of Supersessionism. Vlach notes that it is not enough to show added referents (Gentiles) to Old Testament promises to the Jews since this does not logically demonstrate the church has replaced Israel. Even before Vlach evaluate the passages that Supersessionists offer (part four), his hermeneutics portion of the book has already laid down the principle in refuting Supersessionism’s appeal to certain passages. For those who are into historical theology, they will also enjoy Vlach’s discussion of Supersessionism throughout church history, which he devotes over fifty pages to. I highly recommend this book to all because of Vlach’s ability to nuance the other side and also for the book’s clarity, organization and positive and negative argument for non-Supersessionism.

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These are the links related to Presuppositional apologetics from the internet between September 16th-21st, 2013.  What other links do you think we could have added?

1.) Pearls, Canine Swine, and Apologetics

2.) If a tragedy led you to atheism, then it wasn’t really a tragedy.— A good point made concerning tragedy in an atheist world view.

3.) Self-refuting Statements: Nimble and Clever Defenses by Relativists

4.) Why It Will Not Work to Pit the Old Testament God of Wrath against the New Testament God of Mercy

5.) Acts 17 Applied— MP3 of Dr. Oliphint teaching for the Sunday Service at Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church September 15th, 2013.

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I. Introduction

a. This covenant is important in Old Testament Hermeneutics.

i.      The Mosaic Covenant is important in understanding what God is doing in different period of the Old Testament, according to the people’s obedience or disobedience of the Covenant’s requirement.

ii.      In a sense, the Mosaic Covenant provides the normative in interpreting the situations in Old Testament history.

Note: The historical narrative and prophetic Genre in Scripture operate as the verification of whether or not one’s hermeneutic has properly interpret the Mosaic Covenant by seeing whether the situational genre cohere with the normative genre.

b, The Content of the Covenant

i.      Mosaic Law

ii.      Blessings and Curses

c. This study will focus on two passages that provides the content of the Covenant in terms of blessings and curses: Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 27-28.

II. Elements

a. Setting

i.      Leviticus 26

1. This is revealed after the Hebrews have been delivered miraculously by God from Egypt.

2. Leviticus 25:44= “For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”

 ii.      Deuteronomy 27-28

1. The second presentation of the Law to be remembered before entering the promise land.

2. Deuteronomy 27:1-2= “Then Moses and the elders of Israel charged the people, saying, “Keep all the commandments which I command you today.  So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with lime.”

b. Recipients

i.      Nation of Israel (Leviticus 26:46 and Deuteronomy 27:1)

c. Promise

i.      Blessings (if they keep the commandments)

1. Rain in their seasons (Leviticus 26:3-4; Deuteronomy 28:12)

2. Land yield fruit (Leviticus 26:3-4; Deuteronomy 28:4, 8)

3. Plentiful food (Leviticus 26:5, 10; Deuteronomy 28:5)

4. Peace in the land (Leviticus 26:6)

5. Eliminate harmful beast from the land (Leviticus 26:6)

6. Defeating of enemies (Leviticus 26:7-8; Deuteronomy 28:7)

7. Fruitful and multiply (Leviticus 26:9; Deuteronomy 28:11)

8. God’s presence (Leviticus 26:11-12)

9. Land gets its rest during the captivity in enemy nation (Leviticus 26:34)

10. God’s covenantal faithfulness is not abandoned even in captivity (Leviticus 26:44-45)

11. Set above all the nations 9Deuteronomy 28:1-3, 10, 13)

12. Increase of one’s animals (Deuteronomy 28:4, 11)

13. Lending to other nations, but never borrowing (Deuteronomy 28:12

ii.  Curses (if they disobey the commandments)

1. Fever and sickness (Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:22, 59-62)

2. Land will not produce crop (Leviticus 26:16, 20; Deuteronomy 28: 38-40, 42)

3. Enemies presence and victory (Leviticus 26:16-17, 25, 32; Deuteronomy 28:25-26, 30-33, 48-52)

4. Seven-fold increase of the Lord’s punishment, if not repentant (Leviticus 26:18, 23-24, 28)

5. Humbled (Leviticus 26:19)

6. Plagues (Leviticus 26:21; Deuteronomy 28:59, 61)

7. Beast overtake the land (Leviticus 26:22)

8. Pestilence (Leviticus 26:25; Deuteronomy 28:21)

9. Food not satisfactory (Leviticus 26:26; Deuteronomy 28:17)

10. Cannibalism (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57)

11. Destruction of idols and altars (Leviticus 26:30, 31)

12.Cities destroyed (Leviticus 26:31, 33; Deuteronomy 28:16)

13. Scattered among the nations (Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 28:36, 41, 48, 63-68)

14. Terror in captivity (Leviticus 26:36-39)

15. Decrease of one’s animals (Deuteronomy 28:18)

16. Confusion sets in (Deuteronomy 28:20)

17. Fiery heat (Deuteronomy 28:22)

18. Mildew (Deuteronomy 28:22)

19. End of rain (Deuteronomy 28:24)

20. Boils, tumors and scabs (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35)

21. Smite with madness (Deuteronomy 28:28, 34)

22. Blinded (Deuteronomy 28:28-29)

23. Robbed (Deuteronomy 28:29)

24. Dishonored among the nations (Deuteronomy 28:37, 43-44)

25. Forced to borrow from Gentiles (Deuteronomy 28:44)

d. Requirement (Commandments and prohibition)

i.      No idols (Leviticus 26:1, Deuteronomy 27:15)

ii.      Sabbath keeping (Leviticus 26:2)

iii.      Write the law on a lime stone at Mount Ebal (Deuteronomy 27:2-4, 8)

iv.      Build an altar for sacrifice to Yahweh in promise land (Deuteronomy 27:5-7)

v.      Prohibited from dishonoring parents (Deuteronomy 27:16)

vi.      Prohibited from moving neighbor’s boundary marker (Deuteronomy 27:17)

vii.      Prohibited from misguiding blind (Deuteronomy 27:18)

viii.      Prohibited from distorting social justice (Deuteronomy 27:19)

ix.      Prohibited from various sexual immorality (Deuteronomy 27:20-23)

x.      Prohibited from striking neighbor secretly (Deuteronomy 27:24)

xi.      Prohibited from accepting bribe to strike an innocent (Deuteronomy 27:25)

e. Signs

Curses themselves: “They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever.  Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things…” (Deuteronomy 28:46-47)


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Scott Oliphint apologist

I think 2013 has been a very productive year for Dr. K. Scott Oliphint, Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary; he has done many interviews, written several articles for a general Christian audience and released a book after publishing another book previously last year.  Dr. Oliphint is definitely on a roll!

Last week Dr. Oliphint ministered at Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Tampa, Florida.  He was a speaker for the church’s “Conversations that Matter” Series on the topic “If God is Good, Why is there Suffering and Evil?”

The Hour Long message can be seen here:




[HT: Westminster]

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Tim Chester opens up this book with a brief account of two friends who happened to be Muslims.  His two friends who would visit him faithfully each week would come over to have a cup of tea and discuss a passage of Scripture.  Many of their questions were about the Trinity.  They wouldn’t ask, “How can God have a son?  How can there be three Gods and one God?”  Chester went on to explain how he even tempted to move the conversation to a different area because he was embarrassed by the doctrine of the Trinity.  But upon reflecting upon that, he realized that being embarrassed about the doctrine of the Trinity is to be embarrassed about God.  He goes on to say, “The triune God revealed in the Bible is good news and so the Trinity must be good news.  And so I thought on.  How is the doctrine of the Trinity good news?  This book is my answer to that question.”

Chester also admits that he has written a number of books, but this book on the Trinity is the most enjoyable one to write.  In order to show that the doctrine is not irrelevant or embarrassing, Chester stays true to the book’s titles. What made this book delighting was his foundational framework that made the less than 200 page book enjoyable to read.  The framework consisted of three parts.

Part one consisted of biblical foundations that covered the unity of God in the Bible, the plurality of God in the Bible, and the unity and plurality at the cross.  He he goes over some major passages such as Deuteronomy 6:4 and 1 Corinthians 8:6. He does a comparison of the two passages in order to reveal that both the OT and NT point to the same God.

Part two was about the historical developments of the Trinity that consists of three major periods.   The first period covered God’s actions and God’s being (2nd-4th centuries AD). Here,Chester makes note of how the Trinity expresses God’s actions and God’s being.   I am so thankful that Chester mentions God’s being and His actions because people in this world need to understand the details behind God’s being and they need to understand that He is not distant from His creation.  As I contemplated this, it definetely provides a strak contrast from the god of deism and the god of Islam that seems to be distant from humanity.  The first period does not end there, but also journeys into the Arian controversy and Athanasius’ (Bishop of Alexandria) exile.   An exile that was due to his acceptance of homoousios (“same substance”) and his denial of  homoiousios (“similar substance”).  The difference was over one Greek letter; and it was enough to have him exiled for over 16 years.  For Athanasius, he understood that in the incarnation of Christ, the Son was subordinate to the Father, but ontologically, he was equal to the Father in essence and substance, not similar.  In the second period, the book covered the importance of starting with the three, then the one, when explaining the Trinity (5th-16th centuries AD).  The second period also dispenses a lot of material that covered the eastern and western’s views on the Trinity.  Their views that were weighty enough to cause the churches in those geographical areas to split.  Chester mentions, “To the east, western theology contained within it a tendency towards modalism–the equality of the three tending to beocme the sameness of the three.  To the west, eastern theology involved a tendency towards subordination with the essence of God associated with the Father alone (although this tendency is mitigated by the idea of perichoresis.”  There is more to say about the west and the east, but that was the jest of it.  One of the biggest highlights of period two, was the book’s coverage of the Reformation period.  The Reformation was the fork on the road.  For example, guys like Calvin, from the Reformation period, saw the Trinity differently from the east and west.  To Calvin, the Trinity in the Bible must be viewed as three persons that are co-equal in divinity.  To Calvin, all three have distinctive roles, but they do not work separately.  The God-head was involved in creation and redemption together.  As for the third period, it was a period that covered  the Enlightenment (18th-19th) and the twentieth century.  The Enlightenment sought to perceive the Trinity from a more inductive reasoning process rather than deductive process.  In the Enlightenment period, human reason was elevated and was the starting point for rationalists.  Their rationalism and love for one’s reason portrayed their handling of the Trinity as a marginal matter rather than a vital matter.  Also, in the twentieth  century, the book highlights the renewed interest in the Trinity for human personhood and social interaction.

The last foundational framework, which is part three, covered the practical implications of the Trinity upon revelation, salvation, humanity, and mission.  This was a very fascinating and heart-warming area.  As a footnote, this past Sunday, I taught a group of young people on the topic of the Trinity.  I was glad I read the book prior to teaching this topic because it caused me to stress the importance of not only assimilating correct knowledge of the Trinity, but the importance of seeing the implications that the Trinity has upon our relationships with one another and our worship to God.

An this juncture, I must also point out that there were some areas that I wished the author would of tackled in more detail. For example, he briefly wrote about the death of the God-man.  I wished he would of interacted with that area a little more.  Covering the implications of the death of Christ upon the the human and divine nature of Christ would be helpful for some who are reading and those who still have questions about it.   An area of disagreement I had was the loose quotation of N.T. Wright.  I know  that N.T. Wright has contributed some good works such as topics on the Trinity, but Wright’s view on justification is so dangerous and unorthodox that I would be careful when quoting him in a favorable manner. I think there are other great scholars that could of been quoted.  And quoting him in this book only gives him more publicity.  The author also spoke much about the separation of the Father from the Son at the cross.  But diving briefly into some exegesis would be helpful, because as I see it in Scripture, chronologically, the persons of the Trinity can never be separated from one another, but logically, yes the separation can happen.  What I mean by logical is that the separation only transpired in Jesus mind. But at the end of the day, God cannot be separated.  Perhaps, it is best to say Jesus experienced a different relationship at the cross.  He received a relationship of wrath from the Father because He bore our sins.  But this topic of Jesus separation from the Father is a topic for another day.  Other than that, I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it would be of great benefit for those who would like to have a renewed passion and delight for their worship of the Trinity.  This book will fuel you.

Also I must also end with this one favorable area that I appreciated about this book.  And it lands on chapter 11 concerning the Trinity and missions.  Here, Chester mentions that the Trinity is good news and it is news that must be shared because from the Trinity, we see the missionary activity of the Trinity upon this world.  As a result, the Trinity is not an embarrassing news, but a great news that must be shared with Muslim, postmodernists, other isms, etc.

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If The World Lost Oxygen For 5 Seconds presuppositional apologetics

Point: As we mentioned earlier, it’s not easy conveying the two crucial idea of Presuppositional apologetics that (1) a non-Christian worldview end up being self-refuting and (2) the non-Christian actually presupposes something entirely different than what the nonbelievers professes to be their worldview.  How do we illustrate the fact that a non-believer can only theoretically argue against God’s existance when in actuality he’s dependent upon God as the precondition for human experience and rationality?

Picture:  Unlike the rest of the apologetics’ illustrations in this series, this one is not entirely original; rather it’s an attempt to improve on a popular analogy.  Greg Bahnsen, in his great debate with atheist Gordon Stein said

Imagine a person who comes in here tonight and argues ‘no air exists’ but continues to breathe air while he argues. Now intellectually, atheists continue to breathe – they continue to use reason and draw scientific conclusions [which assumes an orderly universe], to make moral judgments [which assumes absolute values] – but the atheistic view of things would in theory make such ‘breathing’ impossible. They are breathing God’s air all the time they are arguing against him.”

Using that same line of reasoning, we make our illustration more specific to Oxygen.  We are dependent upon Oxygen, even if we deny its existence; matter of fact, oxygen must exists to sustain someone’s life and breath to even utter their denial of Oxygen’s existence.

So what would the world be like if there is no oxygen?  What would it be like if the world loses its oxygen for say, five seconds?

Here’s an entertaining and educational video by Buzz Feed:

Note the benefit of Oxygen.  At the end of the day, one ought to feel thankful for Oxygen.

This picture is rather ironic and yet fitting for our analogy:

Thank you Oxygen


<After employing Presuppositional apologetics in a conversation >

CHRISTIAN: Don’t you see my argument?

OPPONENT: I’m having a hard time following.

CHRISTIAN: I’m trying to show that what you claim in theory doesn’t match with reality: you can’t even deny the existence of God and attempt to make your case without presupposing things that require God’s existence.  I suppose it’s like arguing with someone who denies Oxygen exists but continues to breathe in oxygen while he argues.

<Insert illustration>



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