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Vern Poythress

It’s great to see the teaching of the Christian worldview going worldwide.  Dr. Vern Poythress recently taught in Taiwan on the topic of Why the Beginning is Important.  He has a translator who communicates his teaching into Mandarian.  Enjoy!

top10

 

2013 is about to leave us and 2014 is coming.

Here are the top ten posts with the greatest views written this year:

1.) Kermit Gosnell and the irony of the coat hanger back alley argument

2.) Chuck Smith is now with the Lord: a Calvinist Eulogy

3.) Free on PDF: Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof

4.) The Domain for Truth Interviews Mike Gendron Concerning Roman Catholicism

5.) Interview with a Calvinistic Dispensational Presuppositionalist: Fred Butler

6.) Bart Ehrman’s Case Against Jesus as God in Did Jesus Exist?

7.) Shepherd’s Conference 2013 Schedule

8.) 

9.) Joseph Prince: Tongues, The Key To A Spirit-Led Life? Part 1

10.) Testimony: Lesbian Feminist Professor encounter with Presuppostional and Worldview Apologetics

Wikileaks David Leigh

(Available on Amazon)

In today’s “selfie” age, it’s not enough that the news is news but the process of getting the news has become news itself. But as fast as something has gone viral just as instantly does something fade away in the midst of the next information tid bit. Case in point: Wikileaks. This book is about Julian Assange the founder and spokesman of Wikileaks. The book is written by a journalist from the Guardian an established English newspaper company that cooperated with Wikileaks to publicize some of the US secret cables Wikileaks released. He writes from the third person and it was odd to see instances in the book where David Leigh came up in the third person instead of “I.”
What’s Good:
• Interesting background information behind Wikileaks including the motive and ideology that drove Assange and Private Manning.
• Reveals the back story of the relationship of the mainstream media with Wikileaks
• Honesty of the author’s portrait of Assange, warts and all. One gets the sense that this guy is an egomanic, self-important, undisciplined, unhygienic, paranoid man yet an opportunist, tries to speak out against oppressors, etc.
• Gives us more background to the rape accusation against Assange and also his reluctant confession that it was not a CIA love nest sting.
What’s Bad:
• Sometimes the book overstretch its claim of US military wrong doing in Iraq and Afghanistan uncovered by Wikileaks and at the end of the day, it definitely was not the bombshell that some were expecting it to be.
• Anti-climatic ending of the major news organizations who secretly cooperated with Wikileaks rushing to published stories from the cables. It was so anti-climatic to an interesting topic.
• Redundant feel when the book summarizes something and then quotes the document or online chat using the same words and phrase.
Reflection
I believe our current government has too many secrets and a healthy republic require a more transparent and open government if it’s going to ever be accountable to the people. To that end, I sympathize with Wikileaks even though we are probably coming from a different political spectrum. I’m surprised at how immature both Manning and Assange could get and yet one gets the feeling that one has met such characters before in one’s own life people like Manning and Assange. They are more of a cross section of guys in this generation more than perhaps the author realized. I find Assange as a person to be quite repulsive: the author did a good job filling in the details of one of the accuser against Assange for being sexually wronged by him. Assange is a guy that doesn’t know how to handle women and handle them roughly. I thought the book in telling the story of Assange and Manning could have noted more explicitly the blatant ironies of the two of them. For instance, Assange is strongly for all information to be public—yet ironically, he react strongly against certain information about himself being made public. He says there’s people out there who are ought to smear him from the US government but he goes ahead and smears the women’s reputation and deliberately lies about them and their ideology. Assange runs an organization that has the name “leak” in it but strongly disapproves and threatens editors of the press for acquiring leaks from his own Wikileaks. He even said leaks of the stolen US government cables from Wikileaks is criminal. Oh the irony. It’s very hard to live a consistent worldview that’s reductionistic.

Gordon Clark Volume

I was disappointed with this commentary. Gordon Clark is best known as a Christian philosopher advocating an epistemology of Scripturalism. While I appreciate his contribution to Christian philosophy (with the caveat that I critically accept him and also reject certain views he hold, see my other reviews of his works), here in the Pastoral Epistles it is not up to the par with what I expected from how his followers talk about his commentaries on the Bible.
THE GOOD
–The commentary rightly stresses the objectivity of the Christian faith and that faith is no mere subjective experiences.
–The commentary also makes the observation that the Pastoral epistles emphasizes the importance of doctrines and teaching.
–I was encouraged with the comment on 2 Timothy 2:1-2 about teaching faithful men who can teach others
–The second appendix gives a good explanation of Presbyterian doctrine of ordination. Clark makes it clear that he is dependent upon the work of George Gillespie.

THE BAD
–Clark does not grasp the Greek aorist tense. For instance on page 17, we see him commenting that an aorist “refers to a single act in past time” which we see him assuming this again on page 48 concerning 1 Timothy 3:16. As is seen in the commentary (and for those familiar with Gordon Clark’s background), Clark is more well verse in Classical Greek than Biblical Greek.
–I wished Clark could have gone over in more details the qualification of what is expected of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 but Clark disappointingly stated, “Most of these qualifications require no exegesis” (39). One should see how other commentaries expound on 1 Timothy 3 exegetically.
–Commenting on 1 Timothy 1:17 Clark goes tangent to say about heaven that “the New Testament indicates that some organs will be missing—our stomachs, for example,” without any verse quoted or reference cited.
–He asserts on page 52, “That a convinced vegetarian can be a good Christian is doubtful. In any case, abstinence from foods must not be based upon allegedly divine dietary laws.” But what he conclude about vegetarians does not follow from 1 Timothy 4:3 since he does not take into account vegetarians who choose so out of preference and is not driven to be one because of divine dietary laws. Think of the guy who is vegetarian for health reason but loves Jesus.
–Clark’s rhetoric is unnecessarily inflammatory; for instance, in commenting on 1 Timothy 4:8, Clark writes about Olympians: “Even aside from the drugs they take to pep them up, and the medication used to desex the women contestants and turn them into masculine freaks, the athletes have chosen the wrong values and lead wasted lives” (55).
–He translate “saying” as “proposition” in 1 Timothy 4:9; I don’t know if there’s an exegetical basis to translate it that way.
–Concerning 1 Timothy 6:16, Clark believes the “light” here refers to truth but if this is the case then it leads one to hold a position that God is unknowable.
–More than once Gordon Clark writes that “there is little need of exegesis and explanation” (122). If you look up the same passage in another commentary you discover there are insights of something there in the passage.
— This carelessness of seeing no need of exegesis is disappointing when it comes to lists of words such as in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 where Clark states “most of the words need no boring, dictionary definition” (123). Clark’s commentary is seriously deficient in lexical insights. It is also disrespectful to the Word of God to say there’s no need for “boring” definition.
–The section on the book of Titus fail to discuss what we know of Titus from other passages from the New Testament, a glaring omission for a commentary.
–Clark translates “vain talkers” in Titus 1:10 as “fallacious reasoners” but he does not give any explanation for his unusual translation. I do believe vain talkers contrary to the faith will reason fallaciously or with wrong premise but I don’t think this truth means one should translate “vain talkers” to mean “fallacious reasoners” here for this passage.
–Commenting on Titus 3:6, Clark notes that the verse cannot be used to support water baptism by immersion but then says “the Lutheran practice of pouring is Scriptural; at least Scripture permits it” (169). Earlier in Titus 3:5 he denies that this passage is teaching baptismal regeneration so obviously 3:5-6 is not talking about water baptism. So if Titus 3:5-6 is not talking about water baptism, what other Scriptural support does he have for water baptism by means of pouring? Clark just asserts it without proving it.

Available on Amazon.

Go to Part 1

Assurance of Salvation Seriesa. Introduction

i.      Our study of Christian assurance of salvation begins with an exposition of the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints which is foundational and shapes how Christian ought to understand assurance of salvation.

ii.      Outline

1. Definition of Perseverance of the Saints and Eternal Security

2. Why is Perseverance of the Saints important for Christian assurance

3. Foundation: The Sovereignty of God

4. Passages demonstrating God’s elect will never be lost

5. Passages demonstrating God’s elect will persevere in their faith and works

b. Definition of Perseverance of the Saints and Eternal Security

i.      The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints “teaches very specifically that they who have once been regenerated and effectually called by God to a state of grace, can never completely fall from that state and thus fail to attain to eternal salvation, though they may sometimes be overcome by evil and fall in sin.  It is maintained that the life of regeneration and the habits that develop out of it in the way of sanctification can never entirely disappear.”[1]

ii.      “Eternal Security is the teaching that God shall with no uncertainty bring into their eternal inheritance those who are actually justified—delivered from the curse of the law and have the righteousness of Christ reckoned to their account—and who have been begotten by the Spirit of God. And further it is the teaching that God shall do this in a way glorifying to Himself, in harmony with His nature and consistent with the teaching of Scripture concerning the nature of those who are called saints.”[2]

iii.       “The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end  of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.”[3]

c. Why is doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints important for Christian assurance

i.      Assurance must be based on a biblical view of eternal Security.

ii.      “Eternal Security is a doctrine that complements and completes other truths. It is the truth which establishes a Christian in assurance of salvation. The doctrine of election in itself cannot do this. Justification cannot do this. The doctrine of sanctification cannot do this. Not even the doctrine of glorification does so. Yet each of these is incomplete without Eternal Security. Election, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification are all hypothetical—mere possibilities—until Eternal Security complements and completes them by showing how they are applied to specific individuals. And it is also practical because it brings believers to assurance of salvation, which according to many Scripture passages they are to have.”[4]

d. Foundation: Beginning with the Sovereignty of God

i.      Note: The fact that those born again will have eternal security of their salvation rests on the basis of God’s Sovereignty.

ii.      “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)

This verse indicates God has the capacity to fulfill what He pleases.

iii.      “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)

1. Note again, this verse indicates God has the capacity to fulfill what He pleases.

2. Note the second half of the verse emphasis of this truth everywhere: “heaven,” “earth,” “seas” “and in all deeps.

iv.      “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;” (Isaiah 46:10)

1. One other way God expresses His Sovereignty is through omniscience (Isaiah 46:10a)

2. Note the second half of the verse stating His purpose will be accomplished.

v.      Isaiah 14:27—God’s purpose cannot be overthrown.

e. Passages demonstrating God’s elect will never be lost

i.      John 3:16—Contra Arminians, how can eternal life be eternal life if it’s not eternal life?

ii.      Eternal security because of Jesus’ promise: “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)

1. Those who are given eternal life will not perish.

2. Nor will anyone snatch them away.

iii.      Eternal security because of Jesus’ prayer: “Therefore He is able also to save [a]forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

1. Note that the subject is Jesus.

2. Jesus “is able also to save [a]forever

3. Whom can He save forever? “those who draw near to God through Him,

How?  “since He always lives to make intercession for them.

iv.      Eternal security because of God’s Power: “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4-5) 

1. Note verse 4’s language of eternal security: “inheritance,” “imperishable,” “will not fade away,” “reserved in heaven for you

2. Note the basis of this is in verse 5a: “protected by the power of God 

3. How do we access it?  “through faith for a salvation” (verse 5b)

v.      Other passages: Romans 8:38-39, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 1 Corinthians 1:8, Hebrews 13:5,


[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 546.

[2] Arthur W. Pink, “Preface” in Eternal Security.  <Accessed at http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Security/sec_foreword.htm>

[3] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Houses, 1994), 788.

[4] Arthur W. Pink, “Preface” in Eternal Security.  <Accessed at http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Security/sec_foreword.htm>

 

Go to Part 3

Top Ten books read in 2013

books

I have been able to read a lot of books this year at a larger scale than before (nearly a hundred thus far and the year isn’t quite over yet).  Most of the books have been reviewed here on our blog.  The following are what I consider the top 10 books that I have read in 2013.  It wasn’t easy picking out only 10.  These 10 books have greatly encouraged me to worship God more and/or gave me a better understanding of God, the Bible and the Christian worldview.

Enjoy the list and looking back at the reviews!

1.) Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament by John D Currid

Against the Gods John Currid

So much debate today about the Old Testament and it’s relationship with the Ancient Near East backdrop.  This book is an important discussion of the polemical theology of the Old Testament as well as an apologetic for the likes of Peter Enns.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

2.) The Stone And The Glory by Greg Harris

The Stone and the Glory Greg Harris

An excellent work on a little known group of Messianic prophecies that’s part apologetics, deep devotional, biblical theology, and worship of Jesus.  Talk about a Christ-centered exposition that leads to a love of the Savior and doxological apologetics!

Purchase: Amazon

3.) Fearless: The Heroic Story of One Navy SEAL’s Sacrifice by Eric Blehm

Fearless Adam Brown

Gutwrenching.  An incredible book that gives insight of a life a Christian in Navy SEALS team six.  Made me appreciate so much more the guys who sacrificed so much in serving our country in Special Operations Forces.

Purchase: Amazon

4.) One Nation Under Therapy by Christina Hoff Sommers, Sally L. Satel

One Nation Under Therapy How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self Reliance

Very insightful book that’s not a Christian book into the culture of ours and the problem with pop psychology and therapy.  There is so much in this book!

Purchase: Amazon

5.) God with Us by Scott Oliphint

God is With us Oliphint

I like the way Oliphint brought in philosophy, historical theology, Scripture and Van Til into this discussion of Theology Proper.  There’s something about the way we intergrate different field of study to nuance our theology that makes me want to worship God with all our mind!

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

6.) Review: Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry

Is God anti-gay

This small work surprisingly turned out to be one of my favorite work for counseling on this subject.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

7.) Joel and Obadiah by Irvin Busenitz

Joel and Obadiah by Busenitz

I like this book because it’s what I like my commentary to be like–lexical insight, grammatical details that leads to implications and interacting with various interpretative issues and landing on a conclusion on the basis of exegetical reasoning.  Edifying!

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

8.) What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an by James R. White

James White Quran

Excellent scholarly work minus the sensationalism one sometimes find with pseudo-apologist.  Dr. White is definitely the real deal when it comes to Christian apologetics addressing Islam.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

9.) Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror by Mary Habeck

Knowing the Enemy Jihadist

One of the best work I’ve read on the ideology of Jihad.  Nuance and very very informative.

Purchase: Amazon

10.) The Man Christ Jesus by Bruce A. Ware

The Man Jesus Christ Bruce Ware

Excellent treatment on the topic of the humanity of Christ!

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Hiebert on Titus and Philemon commentary

This is a commentary on both the book of Titus and Philemon and is a good example of why you can’t judge a commentary by its size. Although it is small, it is a valuable commentary for devotional reading as well as a wonderful resource for the exegete. I first used this book as part of my research for sermon preparation for a series through Philemon largely because I found the author’s other books insightful in studying the Scripture. It turned out to be a pretty good commentary and was on par with some of the technical exegetical commentaries that were several times bigger than its size. A year after I used this book in studying Philemon, I picked this book up again as an aide for my devotional reading through the book of Titus; once again I enjoyed the author’s insight of Scripture. For instance, Hiebert has a good discussion of what else we know of Titus from other passages from the New Testament—this is helpful and one sees a portrait of a man of God whom Paul trusted for the work of the ministry. I also thought Hiebert did a good summary of five reasons why 2 Timothy 2:13 is referring to Jesus as “great God and Savior” and not God the Father. Like his other commentaries Hiebert dispenses a fair amount of lexical insights that contribute to one’s understanding of the passage. I wished this commentary would still be in print. I had to borrow it from the Library. I recommend this work as well as other works by the author.

You can get this book over at Amazon.

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