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Archive for the ‘theology proper’ Category

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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grace-of-god-and-common-grace

The Grace of God is a rich topic.  Here’s a seven part miniseries on the grace of God as an attribute of God and its theological implications that was originally part of a larger series.

After each title of the session I gave links to the MP3 audio and PDF of the outline.

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the-doctrine-of-god-by-john-frame

John Frame. The Doctrine of God.  Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, June 1st, 2002. 864 pp.

Rating: 5 out of 5

This book is a great resource on a theology of God.  Those who have read other works by the author John Frame will find him on top of his game here as well.  This is a work that pastors and teachers would turn to as reference even after completing it.  I enjoyed reading this book in two separate instances: once when I was in seminary as something I had to read through rather quickly and the second instance being after seminary at a slower pace as part of my morning routine of devotional-theological readings.  I would recommend the second approach as the best way to read this volume.

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(Note: This is a guest post written by Wally Fry who blogs here.  I am currently away and thank Wally for this guest post.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond.)

All powerful

All Knowing

All present

Grace

Longsuffering

Love

Mercy

Creator

Sustainer

What is all that you ask? Well, those would be just some of the many characteristics, roles, or attributes of God. He is all of those things. He is all of those things, all of the time. He is all of those things in equal measure(that measure being infinite, of course). But that is not all. God is also the following:

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James E Dolezal theology

I’ve enjoyed listening to all the audios from this conference.  I’ve seen multiple people shared it earlier this past fall but I’ve completed it not too long ago and also purchased his book.

Here’s a quick biography of the speaker:

James E. Dolezal, Ph.D., teaches theology, philosophy, and church history at Cairn University in Langhorne, PA. He is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness as well numerous journal articles and reviews. Prior to moving to the east coast he served as a Reformed Baptist pastor in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. James is married to Courtney and they have three children: Judah, Havah, and Eden. James is active in supplying pulpits in the Philadelphia area. 

Below are the audios (note the first one is not by Dr. Dolezal):

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Foundations for theology

This is a four part audio series on the foundations for theology that was given before exploring further the various doctrines of God.  The audios are in MP3 format and I’ve included the PDF of the outlines to follow along as well.

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Sovereignty of God Arthur Pink

Arthur W. Pink. The Sovereignty of God.  Pensacola, FL: Chapel Library, April 1st, 2013. 270 pp.

I was blessed reading through this book which served as a theological devotional while I was working on my church’s series through the Sovereignty of God.  Pink shares many Bible verses to make his case that God is sovereign and in control of all things over several chapters such as “The Sovereignty of God in Creation,” “The Sovereignty of God in Administration,” etc.  In the forward of the book Pink acknowledges that the most controversial part of the book for many would be the chapter on the sovereignty of God n reprobation but I think Pink’s position is biblical however unpopular it may be.  I was really amazed at how well Pink dealt with the subject of God’s sovereignty and the human will.  There were things Pink said that I thought were newer insights of contemporary Calvinists who are more philosophically attuned that Pink said in less philosophical in jargon.  I was impressed and I supposed I learned from this that there is nothing new under the sun.

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Part 2: Can We Know God?

question theology foundation

Here in this third outline we will consider the question: “How has God revealed Himself?”

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Part1: Why Study About God?

question theology foundation

Here in this second outline we will consider the question: “Why Study About God?”

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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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Chance_comps.indd

Earlier this year Crossway published a 368 page book by Dr. Vern Poythress titled Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probabiliy and Random Events.  I appreciate how Dr. Poythress has made many of his books  available to the public for free as a PDF.  This new book is now among them!

You can download the PDF by clicking HERE.

The description of the book on the publisher Crossway’s website is as follows:

What if all events—big and small, good and bad—are governed by more than just blind chance? What if they are governed by God?

In this theologically informed and philosophically nuanced introduction to the study of probability and chance, Vern Poythress argues that all events—including the seemingly random or accidental—fall under God’s watchful gaze as part of his eternal plan. Comprehensive in its scope, this book lays the theistic foundation for our scientific assumptions about the world while addressing personal questions about the meaning and significance of everyday events.

Here’s the table of content:

Table of Contents

Introduction: Experiences with Unpredictable Events
Part 1: The Sovereignty of God
1.  The Bible as a Source for Knowledge
2.  God’s Sovereignty
3.  Unpredictable Events
4.  Disasters and Suffering
5.  Human Choice
6.  Small Random Events
7.  Reflecting on Creation and Providence
8.  God’s Sovereignty and Modern Physics
9.  What Is Chance?
Part 2: God as the Foundation for Chance
10. Regularities and Unpredictabilities
11. Trinitarian Foundations for Chance
12. Responding to Chance
13. Chance in Evolutionary Naturalism
14. Chance and Idolatry
Part 3: Probability
15. What is Probability?
16. Predictions and Outcomes
17. Theistic Foundations for Probability
18. Views of Probability
19. Subjectivity and Probability
20. Entanglement of Probabilities
21. Probabilistic Independence
22. Independence and Human Nature
23. Is God Probable?
Part 4: Probability and Mathematics
24. Pictures of Probability
25. Mathematical Postulates for Probability
26. Theistic Foundations for Some Properties of Probability
27. Limitations in Human Thinking about Events and Probabilities
28. Conclusion
Appendices
Appendix A: Why Gambling Systems Fail
Appendix B: The Real Problem with Gambling
Appendix C: A Puzzle in Probability
Appendix D: Interacting with Secular Philosophical Views of Probability
Appendix E: Permutations and Combinations
Appendix F: The Birthday Problem
Appendix G: Diseases and Other Causes
Appendix H: Proofs for Probability
Appendix I: Statistics
Appendix J: The Law of Large Numbers versus Gamblers

Enjoy!

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God is With us Oliphint

There has been a back and forth discussion between the Reformed Phiosopher Paul Helm and Christian apologist Scott Oliphint over the “Covenantalism” of Oliphint’s Theology Proper.  It began with Paul Helm’s review of Oliphint’s book God with Us.

I have to chew on this some more but for now I want to share with you the exchange.

What Motivates Oliphint’s Proposals?

Tolle Lege: A Brief Response to Paul Helm

Scott Oliphint: a reply to his rejoinder

 

 

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Our Triune God Living in the Love of the Three-in-One

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon 

I was using this book as part of a discipleship with a brother at our church in which we were going over the doctrine of the Trinity and implications of the Trinity for the Christian life and worship.  The size of this work is great for a small theological devotional, coming in at 114 page of content.  This book is written by Philip Ryken and Michael Lefebvre, with Ryken being the better known author who is currently the senior minister at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church and also president of WheatonCollege.  This work is theological but also pastoral as well.  The book has four chapters with the first one on the Trinity’s role in salvation.  For those familiar with the Trinity’s role in our salvation there isn’t necessarily anything new in this chapter.  I thought the best chapters of the book were chapters two and three.  Chapter two dealt with the mysterious Trinity and focused on two objections people have concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, what the authors called the logical and theological problem of the Trinity.  The logical problem refer to the objection people have that the Trinity seems to be paradoxical if not contradictory.  The chief point that the authors made in this section is that the issue of the Trinity isn’t really an issue of a logical problem per se but what they call an analogical problem; that is, people’s dilemma with the Trinity is with the fact that the Trinity lacks any analogy to anything else in human experience.  This is a powerful apologetic point since the chapter goes on to argue that when people come to understand something new they initially try to understand it based upon previous knowledge and experiences that is familiar.  With the Trinity there is a lack of any adequate analogies from the realm of human experience but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss it outright since there are other areas of knowledge that we struggle to provide adequate analogy to previous knowledge.  The theological problem focuses more on whether the New Testament introduce a foreign and alien doctrine of the Trinity that is incompatible with the Old Testament’s monotheism.  Here Ryken and Lefebvre gives an excellent survey of Old Testament passages that suggests an inner-plurality with the Godhead along with some of the Jewish historical interpretations that support the thesis that these interpretations are not invented by Christians but has its precedence among the Jews before Jesus.  Very fascinating and enjoyable to see the interaction the authors had with Jewish rabbinic sources!  Chapter three is on the Practical Trinity and goes over the Upper Room Discourse in John 13-17 which the book teaches is a passage that is “one of the most penetrating presentation of Trinitarian theology anywhere in the Scriptures” (60).  I never realized the truth of this before and it was an edifying read though I wished if the book was longer there could have better exposition of the passage.  It isn’t the best book on the Trinity I read but it is still a work I can recommend.  I recommend one also read Bruce Ware’s and Robert Morey’s work on the Trinity.

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God is With us Oliphint

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Anyone who wants to get a taste of strong Robust Reformed Theology Proper ought to read this book.  Scott Oliphint, the professor apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary does an excellent job in this book.  My copy is heavily highlighted with notes and comments.  The following are some of the points that stood out to me:

  • This work has a good discussion of aseity as a foundational doctrine of God: God is God and not dependent upon His creation or creature.  From this point, it follows that God’s “essential attributes” are those that entail His independence (17).  Also gave a good definition of Divine Simplicity (17-18).
  • Oliphint gives a good hermeneutical principle concerning how to prioritize God’s attributes especially concerning passages that are anthropomorphic: “Contrary to what we have just noted, Scripture’s unity must be given priority in our interpretation of the various texts of Scripture.  Muller denominates that priority as ‘ontological.’  He means that any and all texts of Scripture (and here we will confine our concerns to texts that deal with the character of God) that seek to tell us something of God’s character must be prioritized on the basis of the fundamental aseity of God” (27).
  • The book is helpful in resolving the theological problem of how to account for passages in Scripture that describes God like man while also maintaining a strong aseity of Classical theism.  I found it helpful his distinction between God’s essential attributes and Covenantal attributes in which the latter describes God’s condescension in relating to us.  I think the term “covenantal” attributes is helpful even for those who might not subscribe to Covenant Theology.
  • I thought I read the best nuance definition of antinomy and paradox offerred by Oliphint on pages 36-38.
  • Interesting theological extrapolation from Exodus 3:1-14, pointing out Word Revelation and Deed Revelation, and how God’s deed in the Burning Bush tells us something about God: His presence with his people and also Him being self-sustaining.
  • At first I thought it was curious that Oliphint was cautious of using the term “Creator/Creature distinction” though he agrees with the idea as taught by those who are before him such as Cornelius Van Til, etc.  He has good reason: because God is more than a Creator, one does not want to give the idea that the essence of the distinction between God and all of His creation is because of His role as the Creator; rather, it’s because God in of Himself is wholly different.  Oliphint chooses instead to use “Eimi/Eikonic distinction” as a better term, with the term “Eimi” to capture God as the true original.
  • Book gives a good refutation of Middle knowledge including the Neo-Calvinistic version (99-105);  it must be understood in the context of God’s free knowledge and necessary knowledge which was finely discussed before Oliphint’s critique of Middle knowledge.  Here I am recalling Paul Helm’s point in another work of how Middle Knowledge is an unnecessary category in light of God’s free knowledge.
  • Oliphint is helpful to points out two kinds of condescension by God: adoption and adaptation (124-25).
  • I thought Oliphint has something stimulating to say about the issue of the incarnation.  On page 142, he has a good discussion of how the human nature of man is anhypostatic (that is, impersonal) apart from the person of the Son of God while also being enhypostatic (“in person”) through the person of the Son of God.
  • Enjoyed how Oliphint’s work was in conversation with systematic theology, historical theology, a tidbit of exegesis and philosophy.
  • It was beautiful to see Oliphint using the Doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ’s essential Divine nature and voluntary human nature to make us think about God’s relationship with us is much in the same way of His attributes He adds to condescend to us and His essential nature.

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