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Archive for the ‘Cornelius Van Til’ Category

John Frame Selected Shorter Writings Volume Two

 John M. Frame. Selected Shorter Writings Volume Two.  Phillipsburg, NJ:
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2015. 382 pp.

This book is the second volume of John Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings that contains some of John Frame’s essays that are outside of his Theology of Lordship SeriesI have previously reviewed volume one of Dr. Frame’s Selected Shorter Writings. Although I highly recommend both volumes I actually enjoyed volume two more in comparison with volume one.  As usual with John Frame’s writings, I appreciate what he has to say since he makes me think more deeply about the inter-connectedness of Biblical doctrines, theological foci and various method and divisions of theology and philosophy.  Readers will not be disappointed.  Frame’s characteristic way of writing that stresses the authority of Scripture, his exploration of the inter-dependence and inter-connectedness of perspectives along with his straight forward and clear way of writing is evident throughout the book.

The book is divided into seven parts: There are miscellaneous theological topics, theological education, theological method, apologetics, ethics, the church and a personal section.  All seven parts of the book contained essays which were very stimulating and eye-opening.  I have read thousands of pages of Frame’s work and I found that there were still things I learned from reading this book.  Anyone who thinks a book titled “Selected Shorter Writings” means that this is a stale collection of ad hoc old ideas is badly mistaken.  I was highlighting a lot of materials as I was reading through it.  In what follows I want to share some of what I appreciated from the book.

PART 1: Theological Topics

  • I appreciated the first chapter of the book that was adapted from Frame’s ETS presentation in which he talked about inerrancy and how Evangelicals must not be naïve to think that the question of inerrancy can be resolved with liberals and non-believers by simply talking about facts since methods and presuppositions are important.  Using Alvin Plantinga’s famous essay on the role of Christian philosophers’ project being for the Christian community rather than just appeasing the secular academic world, Frame also calls Christian scholars to embrace inerrancy “as a place to live” in one’s academic career.
  • Concerning the relationship between philosophy and theology I thought chapter five presented the most succinct presentation of the Van Tillian perspective: theology and philosophy need each other, theology and philosophy are similar although it uses different language and terminology to describe the world and the nature of ultimate reality and of course there is a need for philosophy needs to examine itself from a biblical theological perspective, etc.

PART 2: Theological Education

  • The first three chapters in this section comes from the first three chapters of his book titled The Academic Captivity of Theology and Other Essays, published by Whitefield Publishers.  This is one of Frame’s lesser known work but after reading these chapters I admit I want to read the rest of the book to see Frame further articulate his distinct philosophy of theological education.  He has a lot to say that those involve in leadership of Christian institute of higher education needs to hear.  He has a good point concerning the problem of Evangelicals idolatrously seeking doctorate programs in schools that does not honor God’s Word.  I thought it was fascinating that he noted how in the past famous Christian scholars such as Machen and Warfield did not have earned doctorates but were nevertheless highly effective with their masters’ degree.  Frame also talked about seminary desire for academic respectability from the world sets it in conflict with its aim to train men for the ministry at the church.  He argues that in the end it is the church who has the authority to evaluate the means and goals of a seminary and not a secular accreditation agency.  Accreditation agencies often making a seminary do more unnecessary and unhelpful work in order to be accredited.  There is so much more than I can summarize here in this review.
  • His essay on the demise of systematic theology also demonstrated the difference between a liberal philosophy of education and the biblical aim of seminary education.  A doctorate in systematic theology at centers that does not have a high view of Scripture would only teach guys to teach theology that becomes more of a kind of historical theology that only states what other scholars believe; but this kind of method is inadequate in an Evangelical seminary where the skill requires is finding out what the Word of God says about a respective subject.

PART 3: Theological Method

  • The chapter “Arguments and Conclusion in Theology” is partly in response to WSC and those who advocate “Escondido Theology.”  However it’s usefulness extends beyond the debate of Radical Two Kingdom Theology.  Frame rightly point out that some systematic theologians today are weak in logical thinking.  Case in point: Those whom Frame critiques in his book Escondido Theology responded to Frame’s book by denying the conclusion of Frame’s argument.  But the critics have not interacted with Frame’s actual argument that lead to his conclusion.  It is not enough to say one does not like the conclusion but one must also demonstrate why the argument does not lead to the conclusion.

PART 4: Apologetics

  • This was by far the longest part of the book!  It is also the section of the book that demonstrate Frame at his best!
  • I appreciated that Frame in his opening chapter to the section looked to the Scripture first concerning why it is hard to believe in God and at the same time why it is easy to believe in God.  A good editorial decision that lays the foundation before the other chapters look at some intense apologetics’ matters.
  • Chapters 19-22 were on Van Til.  Some of these were short summaries of Van Til but then you also have chapter 21 titled “Van Til: The Theologian.”  This chapter was originally published years ago as a pamphlet and also as a chapter in a Festschrift for Van Til that was published by theonomists in the 1970s.  When I read this essay many years ago it totally revolutionize my own theological method and how I looked at theology so it was refreshing to re-read this essay again now that I am older.  “Van Til: The Theologian” was what got me going with teaching systematic theology in such a way as to try to portray how doctrines from Scripture beautifully integrate and mutually support one another.  This essay has ever since moved me to doxological fervor in teaching the inter-connectedness of theology in order to deepen our worship and further a coherent apologetics by showing how a truly Biblical system of theology have doctrines “cohere” with one another while also maturely handle theological paradox.

PART 5: Ethics

  • His chapter on the failure of non-Christian ethics is a very good summary of the problem of trying to ground morals and ethics apart from the Christian God.  Excellent!  It is worth reviewing from time to time.
  • I must say though that the weakest chapter of the book was found here:  Frame sees Joel Osteen as less of a problem than I would like and I wish Frame could have considered the question as to what Osteen believes concerning the role of repentance and the Gospel.
  • “But God Made Me This Way” is a neat chapter and very relevant in light of the advancing agenda of homosexuality and Same Sex Marriage in today’s culture.  Good response.

PART 6: The Church

  • Good discussion about the problems of denomination and also church unity.

PART 7: Personal

  • A light hearted chapter on Frame’s Triperspectivalism applied to the issue of eating and dieting.

Again there is more to the book than my highlights mentioned here.

After finishing the book I’m convinced that this book is useful for Christians across all spectrum of theology and familiarity with the John Frame.  I think the nature of short essays make it helpful as an introduction to those who are new to John Frame’s work.  The book also has a “theological devotional” flavor to it that makes a wonderful read for those who want something to stimulate their minds more deeply in terms of devotional materials.  I believe it would make a wonderful “devotional” for the theologian in which one can read a chapter a day (give or take for the longer ones) where one has something theological that is God-centered at the same time it exercises one’s mind to love God’s truth (that was practically how I did read this book).  For those who consider themselves “John Frame buff” or experts of his theology, this book is still worthwhile to purchase the book as there are still things in this book that I think is new to chew on.  It also serves as a good refresher to Frame’s Theology of Lordship.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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GO TO PART 27

Kenyan-headed-for-South-Korea-accidentally-traveled-to-North-Korea

Point: Ever had someone object that all religion are all the same, that it leads down to the same road?  Or ever have someone say that the details of religion doesn’t matter and that any religious differences between Christianity and other religions are rather superficial?  How do you respond?

Picture: I saw a news story with the following title “Kenyan headed for South Korea accidentally traveled to North Korea:

SEOUL, April 24 (UPI) — An indigenous Kenyan cow herder registered to attend a U.N. biodiversity conference in Pyeongchang, South Korea, said he was detained in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, after booking a wrong flight last September.

Daniel Olomae Ole Sapit, 42, who is from Kenya’s semi-nomadic Maasai tribe, said the similar sounding names had confused him and his travel agent in Kenya, who booked the flight.

“For an African, who can tell the difference?” Sapit told The Wall Street Journal.

According to the Journal and South Korean media, Sapit was eventually allowed to leave North Korea and board the correct flight to South Korea’s Incheon Airport, but only after he signed a North Korean document admitting to violating laws, being detained for several hours, and paying for a new ticket and a fine of $500 for entering North Korea without a visa.

The Kenyan national said he did not suspect anything wrong, even after boarding an Air China flight to Pyongyang, North Korea.

When he glanced out the plane window as he descended, however, the view below struck him as odd.

“It seemed to me a very underdeveloped country,” said Sapit, who was expecting to see the urbanized and industrialized cityscape of South Korea.

After landing at North Korea’s Sunan International Airport, where he saw hundreds of soldiers and portraits of North Korea leaders, he knew he had made a mistake.

Pyeongchang, a South Korean city on the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula, is scheduled to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Dick Pound, a Canadian member of the International Olympic Committee since 1978, said in 2002 there was initial confusion about the name, when Pyeongchang first emerged as a bidder for the Winter Olympics.

There was more confusion, the Journal reported, when South Korean provincial governor Choi Moon-soon suggested North Korea could host a few events, such as snowboarding – a statement he was later forced to retract.

In 2014, CNN reported North Korea opened a ski resort and hotel, Masik Pass, located in the northern half of the same province that will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. The ski resort was completed in just under a year, and was an attempt to convince South Korea that Pyongyang could host at least some of the 2018 events.

I think this News story is a helpful apologetics illustration for the objection.  Let me explain by the following scenario below.

POSSIBLE SCENARIO FOR EMPLOYING THIS ILLUSTRATION DURING APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM

OPPONENT: I don’t really see any differences between Christianity and other religion.  They are all the same.

CHRISTIAN: You think they are the same?

OPPONENT: Yes.  There are a lot of similarities between Christianity and other religions.

CHRISTIAN: Such as…?

OPPONENT: Christianity like other religions teaches good morals.  Wouldn’t you agree?

CHRISTIAN: Christianity certainly has high standards of ethics.  Other religions I’m sure teaches some morals and have rules.  But I think there is a difference in terms of the end goal and motivation for why Christians pursue holiness that sets it apart from other religions.

OPPONENT: Oh but the details doesn’t matter.

CHRISTIAN: You really want to say the details doesn’t matter?  And that the differences of the end goal and motivation doesn’t matter?  Have you heard about this one story?

OPPONENT: I’m listening.

<Give illustration >

CHRISTIAN: Do you think it’s important not to confuse the city of “Pyongyang” and “Pyeongchang?”

OPPONENT: Yes.

CHRISTIAN: Even though for an outsider such as the Kenyan Man, it sounds the same?

OPPONENT: Yes.

CHRISTIAN: So I suppose details does matter.  If details matter in our day to day mundane life why is there an exception for religious and spiritual matters?

OPPONENT: Good point.  But I must protest…

CHRISTIAN: Let me finish my point first if I may.

OPPONENT: Sure.

CHRISTIAN: Let’s say you discovered the error the Kenyan man made while you were chatting with him as you two were sitting in the terminal lobby.  You are heading to Pyeongchang and his ticket says Pyongyang.  He’s convinced that the details doesn’t matter.  In fact he sees your scheduled departure at the terminal next to his as a sign that there’s no difference.  Is the Kenyan man reasonable to see the near proximity of your terminal with his as meaning that the end goal of the flight being the same?

OPPONENT: Of course not!  Being next to one another in terms of terminal has no bearing as to where the flight is going!

CHRISTIAN: I submit the same is true with our religious direction if we are wrong with the details and wrong with the destination.  At first it might seem that both flights are taking the same course of direction for most of the journey from Africa to the Korean Peninsula.  But the moment of truth arrives when one finally gets closer to the destination.  Suddenly the path diverges.  In the same, there might be times when outwardly it looks like the various religions teaches someone a life path that somewhat follows the Christian path.  But sooner or later the path diverges as one gets closer to the end goal.  It is the same with Christianity and other religion.  Christianity’s end goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  A Christian salvation means escaping hell through Jesus’ work on the Cross where one is declared righteous not because of one’s own righteousness but that of Christ.  Other religions’ end goal of what salvation means differ.  For the Buddhist it’s about Nirvana.  For the Buddhist, it’s being back to one with God in which one’s Divinity is absorbed back into One.  The means are also different: God in Christianity provides grace for salvation through faith alone in Christ alone.  Other religions teaches works-righteousness as a means to achieve salvation.

 

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Presuppositional apologetics Round Up

Here are links gathered from April 22nd-30th, 2015.

1.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [15]

2.) Twitter attack on #SoulVultures and the Nepalese Earthquake: Can a Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist and Pragmatic Humanitarians object to Christian evangelistic prayer and relief effort in Nepal in light of their own worldview?

3.) Refuting 4 Irrational Assertions Made by Atheists

4.) Why These 66 Books?

5.) Is Apologetics a form of atheism?

6.) Theology and Philosophy

7.) What is Metaphysical Grounding?

8.) A FRANK ADMISSION OF GUILT

 

Missed the last round up?  Check out the re-blogged post from a friend

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Boxer down

Background: In my post on Sunday “Twitter attack on #SoulVultures and the Nepalese Earthquake,” I noted that there are Hindus and others on Twitter harassing those Christians who expressed evangelistic prayers for Nepal in light of the recent earthquake and Christian evangelistic relief efforts.  In Sunday’s post I gave a compact summary of the Gospel since people kept on misrepresenting it and I also dealt with the objection to Christian evangelistic relief effort and evangelistic prayers.  Specifically I dealt with the objection by noting how the objection faces a self-defeater that is provided from within these guys’ own respective worldview.  As of this moment that I am writing this, those who have commented on the post against us have yet to interact with the arguments that was presented.  But overall at least the comments were civil.  But this is not true on Twitter.  We’ve been called many things and have many nasty things said about Christianity the last 48 hours.  I want to share one of the better exchange that was not filled with profanity.  I want to share this dialogue as a window for others to see the folly of opposing Christians sharing the Gospel when one’s own faulty worldview and religious outlook undermine the rational basis for making that objection.  I want to note that since EvangelZ and I (SlimJim) both used the blog’s Twitter account, it is hard to distinguished my tweet and those by EvangelZ.  Here I limiting the record of this dialogue to the tweets that were my own words.  I also left out other Hindus ganging up against us during the dialogue as these tweets were largely distracting, harassing and not fruitful.  I also focused only on the tweets of our dialogue partner directed towards my own words; and the tweets from our Hindu friend that I am responding to.

Apologetics Illustration:

I want to explain what I see the direction of the dialgue with the following illustration.  Wouldn’t it be strange if a boxer ended up knocking himself out?  Kind of like this guy did to himself:

I think this describes what our Hindu friend did to himself here.  I think it was not so much I was “beating down” on him as it was more that his own beliefs were delivering his own knockout punches.  The point of my dialogue was merely to point out that his own beliefs were refuting his objection against Christians engaging in evangelism to Hindus.

The Dialogue:

Our Hindu friend’s main thesis was, to put it in his words, “The ppl u seek to cnvrt have their own religion,y not accept that his religion is as precious/true for him as urs for u.”

We pick up where he started to describe his beliefs that religious claims are no more than mere preferences:

Hindu: u have the right to say my dad is the best dad in the world,as long as u add two words; “for me”.Sadly ppl dont realize this

The Domain for Truth: so religious claims are just subjective?

Hindu: certainly.  Not all people think alike,hence there are different ways to approach the divine.Depending on ur culture/country.

The Domain for Truth: Ok so if you believe this why are you railing against another cultural way of giving aid? #contradiction

Hindu: u may like baked potatoes,i may like french fries.The potate does not change,how we consume it does.

The Domain for Truth: You say we should not condemn as wrong yet you do so? #Contradiction

The Domain for Truth: If you believe everything is mere preference; then you can’t condemn someone else’s preference including those of Christians

Hindu: because u are demeaning someone else’s religion/faith in the process.Also the whole idea that my god is superior to ur god.

The Domain for Truth: But your belief in religious relativism is an undercutting defeater to your complaint of Christianity; you can’t say its wrong

Hindu: Think of god as an all loving parent.IsHe GoingToSend 1 to hell and another toHeaven JustCos 1 called him DadAndAnother pop?

The Domain for Truth: But that’s just your relative view remember? You assert all religious propositions are mere preferences; r u evangelizing?

Hindu: i am just saying u dont have the right to say that baked potatoes are the only way,other ways of consuming it is wrong.

The Domain for Truth: Who made you one who gives right when its all up to individual preference? Do you see the irony?

Hindu: We dont because we respect all faiths.We accept that any effort made to reach god in any form is acceptable to god.

The Domain for Truth: Will you accept the Christian faith? Hm…

Hindu: How is it evangelizing,didnt ask anyone to leave their faith.

The Domain for Truth: Evangelism is sharing one’s faith

Hindu: no.

The Domain for Truth: Let me explain: If you say religious claims are preferences its just their choice. But then you say “u dont have the right”

Hindu: nope.Accept that the religion in which u are born is the best for u.Its called swadharma(ones own dharma) in hinduism.

Hindu: ur mom might be best for u,not for me.for me my mother is the best.Always remember that and there will be no quarrels.

The Domain for Truth: Thank you for that term Swadharma

The Domain for Truth: But then you quarrel with someone’s else view? Do you see the irony of your claims and what you are doing?

Hindu: did not ask u to leave ur faith.U asked me a question and I responded.

The Domain for Truth: But you attacked our faith and our God

Hindu: Saying Whites are better than blacks is blatant racism.Same holds true for religions,shoudlnt it.religious racism.

The Domain for Truth: But is this objectively true? Remember you assert claims that are religious in nature is just subjective preferences

Hindu: nope.Discussing is different from abusing/calling names.didnt ask u the convert or speak ill abt Christianity,now did I??

The Domain for Truth: You didn’t ask us to convert; true; but you did argue against it how is that accepting?

Hindu: haha when did i attack,using the victim card now are we??

The Domain for Truth: Look at the thread and see what you have to say about Christianity

Hindu: Saying my version is the only version certainly is silly.

The Domain for Truth: No it’s a logical observation that two contarry claims can’t be right

The Domain for Truth: But is the Christian version silly in light of your mockery against it in this thread? #Contradiction

Hindu: my atman was already created divine.Only I have not realized it yet.no concept of sin with atman.

The Domain for Truth: “my atman was already created divine.Only I have not realized it”<–You know this but you didn’t realize it? #Contradiction

Hindu: no saying my way/religion is the “only” religion certainly is.

The Domain for Truth: If you really are tolerant can you tolerate a religion that says it’s the only way?

 

Be sure to check out .

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Here are some animated Youtube video by “Apologetics Dood” that is pretty much a skit of what Presuppositional apologetics (Van Tillian) dialogues look like in action.  They have been loaded up recently.

I like the back and forth exchange that raises objections one commonly see when one engage an unbeliever with Presuppositional apologetics.

As more is being loaded online I hope to add more to them here.

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Cool_Tank_Crushes_Car

Here are Presuppositional apologetics’ links gathered from the Internet between April 16th-21st, 2015.

Lots of links this time!

1.) Why Environmentalism and Animal Rights Are Dependent on a Christian Worldview – While not a Presuppositionalist, there is a Presuppositionalist flavor to the article.

2.) Inerrancy from the Peanut Gallery

3.) Refuting Atheism: The Sure Existence of Moral Absolutes

4.) 

5.) My Sheep Hear My Voice: Canon as Self-Authenticating

6.) Atheism at Its Core

7.) “We are all born atheists”

9.) 7 Reasons Psalm 110 Deserves Attention

9.) Veritas Domain’s latest Presuppositional apologetics’ meme

10.) Michael Kruger Faith to Life Lecture on the Self-Authenticating Scripture

 

Missed the last round up?  Check out the re-blogged post from a friend

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dictionary apologetics

I am in the middle of John Frame’s latest book Selected Shorter Writings Volume Two.  I have benefited immensly from Dr. Frame’s insight especially in the area of apologetics and theology.  I think he’s able to apply Cornelius Van Til’s insight more broader than Van Til was able during his lifetime.  Lord willing I would be able to finish the book sometime next week and have a review up on here.  In the chapter on the problem of evil Frame said something that I found helpful.  Speaking of God, John Frame said

(more…)

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