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Archive for the ‘systematic theology’ Category

Next few weeks I’ll be posting an outline series on a Christian theology of sin.

Purpose: In this session we shall see two questions concerning the Fall and Sin so that we lay the foundation to understand our need for Christ and the Gospel.

  • What lead to the Fall?
  • What are the results of the Fall?

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John Frame. The Doctrine of the Word of God.  Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, November 1st 2010. 684 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This is the final volume in John Frame’s “A Theology of Lordship” series.  I recommend all four volumes.  In this volume theologian John Frame focus on a theology of the Bible. Readers who are familiar with his other works would appreciate the same rigor and clarity in the way Frame argues that is both sound and creative.  Frame is truly one of the most sophisticated and philosophical defender of the classical Protestant Conservative view of the Bible.

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God’s Omniscience is the attribute of God being all-knowing.  Sadly there are even some quarters of “Christianity” that attack this attribute of God.

Here’s a four part series on God’s Omniscience.

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biblical-doctrine-macarthur

I’m at the Shepherd’s Conference right now where the most sold book in the conference’s history occurred this year with the new Biblical Doctrines edited by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue.  There’s talk of this book published by Crossway will be translated in many other languages.  I’m looking forward to hear what God can do with this work to equip God’s Church to know God’s truth more accurately in a systematic fashion.

Now I know with every new systematic theology the question some would immediately ask would be “What are its strengths and weaknesses and how will the book present doctrines?”  Systematic theology has also gotten more complex with works discussing or at least accounting for aspect of historical theology, biblical theology, philosophical theology, etc.  While some have criticize systematic theology as “proof texting” I think the game has actually gotten more rigorous and more inter-disciplinary (at least with the various theologies).  For example I think of Crossway’s Foundation Of Evangelical Theology Series and the most recent work I reviewed God the Son Incarnate by Stephen Wellum and how it has dimensions of apologetics, epistemology, biblical theology and historical theology.

So looking at this new work by MacArthur here’s my initial observation.  I’ll be sharing first what I see is a big plus about the book and also one constructive criticism.  I share the constructive criticism humbly, especially when I imagine the incredible amount of hard work that was put into the volume and I am just a lowly reader of theology.

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My first book review for 2017!

god-the-son-incarnate

Stephen J. Wellum. God the Son Incarnate.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway, November 30th 2016.  480 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This book is a part of Crossway’s Foundations of Evangelical Theology series.  I appreciated the series overall and this work on Christology is now among my top favorites in the series.  It is quite a meaty work and reading it was no small undertaking.  Reading this book makes me appreciate just how much Christian scholarship exists and how much that I still need to tap into.  I learned a lot reading this book.  In my opinion I think Stephen Wellum’s work is ideal as a seminary text book and for those who desire to seriously study the doctrines related to Christ more deeply.  In this review I am going to first summarize each parts and chapters of the book and end with some brief constructive criticisms.

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marriage-and-theology-series

I’m taking a break for the remainder of the year from a series that I started in 2016 on how theology shapes marriage and will pick it up again in 2017 with my church’s couple’s meeting.  For now, here’s the outline for the series:

How does the biblical doctrines of demonology help us have a more godly marriage?

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the-difficult-doctrine-of-gods-love

Don A. Carson. The Difficult Doctrine of God’s Love.  Wheaton, IL: Crossway, December 10th, 1999.  93 pp.

5 out of 5

This book is by New Testament scholar Don Carson who wrote this book that is accessible for a popular audience.  Carson tackles on the doctrine of God’s love which he noted that this is not an easy doctrine.  The book has four chapters and I found that I learned a few things and the book also helped organized my thoughts better concerning God’s love.  In my review below I will focus more on the first two chapters.

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homosexuality2

Reading through this book could make one think it was written in the last few years.

Homosexuality: A Biblical View by Greg Bahnsen (1978)

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Why Meditating on Christ Helps Us Fight Sin

Last week I wrote a post titled “How does the biblical doctrines of Christology help us have a more godly marriage?”  Of course studying Christ will impact all areas of the Christian life and not just marriage.  It has never ceased to amaze me how meditating and studying Christ have produced godliness in the lives of believers.  This is the case because the person and works of Christ become powerful motivations for the Christian fighting against sin.

Concerning my previous mentioned post, I realize sometimes people find some of my posts are too long to read at the moment.  So here’s a a witty ditty for your theology.  Or more precisely, here’s a witty ditty for your memory that hopefully remind you why meditating on Christ helps you fight against sin.  Are you ready for it?  Here it is:

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How does the biblical doctrines of Christology help us have a more godly marriage

Does studying about the person of Christ actually help Christians in Christian marriages?  Yes it should!  How?  Read on!

  1. Purpose: In this series we explore how theology shapes marriage and here in our fourth session we shall consider how does the doctrines of the person of Christ helps us have a more godly marriage.

In the following outline we shall be considering three truths about the person of Christ followed by what are the implications of that towards Christian marriage.

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question theology foundation

This is an announcement for a Saturday Series in which we will address three key questions that is foundational in order to study about God.

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4tP8wWA

I’ve recently returned from my trip overseas teaching an intensive one week course on Systematic Theology that crammed a semester’s worth of material in five days.  In God’s providence it looks like another opportunity might open up in another country next year in which I might be able to do something similar.  There is definitely a real need outside of the west for theological education.

I thought I share my thoughts concerning teaching theology overseas in a Missions context although some of the points in the beginning of this post could be applied in Western contexts also as well.

BEFORE YOU DEVELOP YOUR COURSE MATERIALS…

The first few thoughts are for those who are young and want to one day be involved with teaching in an academic setting.  I would challenge one to think about teaching overseas not only because there are more opportunities but because there are real needs overseas.  There are too many over-caffeinated seminarians daydreaming about teaching at their Alma Mater where the competition is probably fierce among their other peers who are also pursuing advance degrees from prestigious schools.  Meanwhile the need exists overseas.

1.) Be a Pastor.  In an overseas missions context often those seeking theological education and enrolled in a seminary classroom are pastors.  Even if you have some technical degree and some sort of academic specialization and a PhD, it’s still good to have some kind of pastoral experience before heading out overseas to teach theology.  I think it pays dividends.  Do not lose focus that you are training pastors and spiritual leaders and not necessarily an MA student who is heading to Oxford and University of Aberdeen for advance scholarship.  That is not to say we don’t want to prepare those who might have potential to go on for further studies.  A pastoral background is helpful and one should definitely be shepherding the students even as one is instructing the students.  Examples go along way, and some things are taught while other things are caught.  Don’t forget that even as you teach doctrines you are still pastoring your students as a teacher/instructor.  If you are reading this and you are in Seminary, don’t just see part-time pastoral internship as hoops to jump through; minister all-out even as you go all-out in your studies.  Being a Pastor-Scholar would make you more effective to the people you are training.

2.) Grow Beyond Your Seminary Materials.  By that I don’t mean necessarily to change your beliefs and distinctives that your seminary impart to you.  I mean to encourage you to understand that your seminary education was merely the foundation for a life-long pursuit of studies.  Read deeply and read broadly.  Synthesis what you learned after seminary with what you learned during seminary.  It’s important that you don’t just steal your professor’s syllabus but develop your own materials.  Theology can only advance if students move theology forward from what they have been imparted from their professors.

3.) Work Harder Earlier is Smarter.  You have heard the saying “Work Harder, not Smarter.”  I think we can modify that to say “Work Harder earlier is Smarter.”  I think if one is not faithful in the little then one probably will not be faithful in the big things.  I have wanted to teach in a academic setting since my early days of discovering apologetics and theology.  Rather than just wait, even as I taught in our church systematic theology I tried to teach it to the best of my ability for the Glory of God.  Things are footnoted even for Sunday School handouts.  The materials would be the template and foundation for any future course.  If one is not faithful in the little things, how can one be faithful in the larger things?  Working harder earlier is also smarter.  You can be more ready at a moment notice to teach on something and not necessarily start from scratch if asked suddenly to teach overseas.

DEVELOPING YOUR COURSE MATERIALS…

4.) Incorporate Biblical Theology in your Systematic Theology.  Sometimes you hear people slight systematic theology from other disciplines.  However, I think if it is done right it is the queen of the theological disciplines.  I think it’s easy to merely give “proof text” to establish certain doctrines while teaching systematic theology.  To avoid the risks of grabbing verses out of context, I strongly believe the more one incorporate Biblical theology into one’s systematic theology, the less one falls into the pit of mere “proof texting.”  When one teach a doctrine, try to trace it’s doctrinal roots from the Old Testament while heading towards the New Testament.  Take into account Progressive Revelation.  The advantage of doing biblical theology even as we teach systematic theology is that it makes people discover that orthodox doctrines are genuinely Biblical.  It reinforce our theological arguments.  It also makes both the instructor and the students go to the source of Scripture rather than a mere syllabus or theology textbook.  It makes them think about how a verse or passage fit in the flow of redemptive history and Scripture as a whole.

5.) Don’t merely cite verses for what you believe; engage in rigorous doctrinal apologetics in defense of your beliefs from key verses.  I think it’s important to present what we believe not just lightly but rather with rigorous arguments from biblical texts that is logically valid.  What might be taken for granted by you might not be to your students in their ecclesiastical and cultural contexts so it is best to present every doctrinal beliefs with good argumentation as if you are presenting it before someone who disagree with you.  When you do discover your students disagree with you, you are prepared to give the best reason why you believe what you believe.  Even with doctrines that the students might already believe, you want to show them that the same rigorous argumentation is also the same argumentation that lead you to believe in doctrines that are new to them or doctrines that they are not sure of.  Furthermore, rigorous reasoning from the Scripture equips them against the cults.  Some of the local cults might not be something you are aware of so it is always good to present your proofs for the doctrines in your course so as to equip them well to defend the faith.

6.) After demonstrating the veracity of a doctrine, be sure to draw out the implication of a doctrine.  If 2 Timothy 3:16 is true then doctrines from Scripture would have implications that equip the man of God for every good work.  I like to end each session with a time for questions followed by the question to the students of “Knowing what we now know, how does this impact our life and our ministry?”  Doing this every session will eventually teach them that doctrines aren’t just for head knoweledge, but to be treasured and trusted and applied in our lives and the lives of our congregation and used to minister and reach the Lost.  Exploring the practicality of doctrines also balance the course from becoming merely lessons on doctrinal apologetics.  You show how doctrines shape our worship, our ministry and our lives.  You train them to be pastoral.

7.) Plan to use illustrations in your teaching.  Illustrations are wonderful to help reinforce explanation and argumentation.  There is the risk that some illustrations don’t apply because of cultural differences.  We must be sensitive to this but I think it’s still worth the risk.  I find rural illustrations to be the most helpful cross-culturally.  The Bible often used illustrations from nature and the agricultural world.  It seems that those who are rural can quickly identify with them.  Those who are more educated and Urban are also “intellectually” capable of picking up on them.  Even when an illustration turns out not to fit in the audience’s contexts, I think often people’s fascination with things American and the West will help give one a “pass” in that they learn more about you and it still build a bridge while it makes them aware of cultural mores–and how much more we need to go to the Scriptures.

8.) Historical Theology Encourages the Students as they struggle to grasp doctrines.  My original lesson plan had nothing of historical theology although I have read a bit of historical theology and doctrinal development prior to my trip.  I mistakenly thought that my students would not be interested in church history and historical theology.  I found historical theology to be most helpful to my students during the trip when they struggled to find the right terminology for certain theological concepts.  I invoked historical theology to show how they are not the first to try to grasp and find the proper terms for difficult theological truths.  Theology is not merely reading the Bible.  It is understanding it and then communicating it in our cultural contexts.  Seeing the early church wrestle with truths such as the Oneness and Threeness of God, the relationship of Christ as God and Christ as man encouraged the believers that others have gone before and thought hard about the proper terms.

9.) When you refer to the Original Languages, it is okay to show how you got your interpretation.  Often in a missions theological education context, the students might not have the tools and skill of the original languages of Scriptures.  But they are curious and asks questions about the original languages.  I found it still helpful to show them the original languages and why I interpret things the way I do.  There is a limitation on merely citing a lexicon and saying the lexicon says so.  Context always demand how verbal aspects and lexical meanings are understood so I found it helpful to even show how certain terms are used in other contexts and also in the immediate contexts.  It would make them hunger more deeply for God’s Word.  More importantly, I felt it was important to show how I got things with the original languages to de-mystify the original language scholar and also to avoid looking like Joseph Prince who always talk about the Hebrew but one isn’t sure where he’s getting it but can only rely on his own authority.

These are my thoughts.  I have more but I think this will do for now for this post.

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Steve Lawson

Steve Lawson a few months ago has spoken over at London on the Attributes of God for the Summer Institute over at Grace Life London.

Here are the videos to the 9 Part Videos:

 

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John_Frame

Those of you who follow our facebook page and Twitter will know that we post John Frame quotes every morning Monday through Saturdays for your edification and Lord willing we plan to do this up until the end of 2015.

I thought today I post an extended quote that would be too long to post through Social Media.

One of the thing that I enjoy about reading John Frame is that it is not dry systematic theology but his exploration of the relationship of doctrines and the inter-connectivity of God’s truth makes me stand at awe of God when I see the coherence of Biblical truths.  I would say it portray the beauty of God!  It is not only wonderful as an apologetic (the coherence of the Christian worldview) but it moves me to worship God–we can call it “doxological apologetics” to borrow that phrase from another apologist!

Here John Frame makes the point with the example of the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility:

And so it often comes as an exciting discovery that doctrines that at first glance to be opposed are actually complementary, if not actually dependent one on another.  For Calvinists, for example, divine sovereignty and human freedom are examples of that sort of dependence and complementarity.  Although at first glance those doctrines appear to be opposed to one another, a closer look shows that without divine sovereignty there would be no meaning in human life and therefore no meaningful form of freedom.  And if our concern for freedom is essentially a concern to maintain human ethical responsibility, we should observe that divine sovereignty is the source of human responsibility.  Because the sovereign Lord is the cause of and authority over human responsibility we can say that God’s sovereignty–His absolute lordship–establishes human responsibility.  Thus Scripture often places the two doctrines side by side, with no embarassment or sense of impropriety whatsoever (cf. Acts 2:23; 4:27f; Phil. 2:12f.).  Human responsibility exists not ‘in spite of’ but ‘because of’ God’s sovereignty.  Not only are the two compatible; they require each other” (John Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 268).

In the past I have written on our blog on the importance on how .  I’m grateful to see John Frame point out something similar with human freedom and human responsibility necessitate the Sovereignty of God.

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Dogmatic Theology Vol. 1 by W. G. T Shedd

Boy there’s a lot of great books now available online for free–even systematic theology books!  In the past I have blogged on Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology.  Now we have William Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology, courtesty of Monergism!

Monergism has announced this week the availability of this classic.  Part of the Preface is as follows:

The immediate preparation of this treatise began in 1870, when the author was called to give instruction for a year in the department of Systematic Theology, in Union Theological Seminary. The work was resumed in 1874, when he was elected to this professorship, and was prosecuted down to 1888. But some general preparation had been made for it, by previous studies and publications. The writer had composed a History of Christian Doctrine in the years 1854-1862, which was published in 1863; and also a volume of Theological Essays containing discussions on original sin and vicarious atonement, and a volume of Sermons to the Natural Man predominantly theological in their contents. The doctrinal system here presented will be found to be closely connected with these preceding investigations; and this will explain the somewhat frequent references to them as parts of one whole. The Dogmatic History is the natural introduction to the Dogmatic Theology.

The general type of doctrine is the Augustino-Calvinistic. Upon a few points, the elder Calvinism has been followed in preference to the later. This, probably, is the principal difference between this treatise and contemporary ones of the Calvinistic class.

To download it as a EPUB, to download it as a MOBI for Kindle.

If you want to download it as PDF of this book as a scan, the file is rather large but its available if you click HERE.

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