Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Advice to Christian Philosophers" by Alvin Plantinga

In the preface to "Reasons for Faith," K. Scott Oliphint approvingly cites this piece by Alvin Plantinga, notwithstanding the differences between Van Til's system (of which the former is a proponent) and the latter's.

I reproduce it here, minus all textual emphases and notation (click here for the source):

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Horton on Bell (UPDATED - 03/31/2011)

I hope you appreciate the appropriateness of the picture. LOL!

Part I
Part VII

New link added on 03/30/2011:

New link added on 03/31/2011:
Part IX

Monday, March 28, 2011

Michael Horton, Rightly Dividing on "Rightly Divided"

Dr. Michael Horton on Lane Chaplin's "Rightly Divided," discussing the import of his three monumental works: "Christless Christianity", "The Gospel-Driven Life" and "The Gospel Commission":

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The True Song

"The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him" (Exodus 15:2).

The song, or singing, is universal to man. It is the vehicle by which our deepest thoughts and emotions are brought to the fore, in a stream of melody and harmony.

If the man who is without God sings from the wellspring of his autonomy, the man of God, as Moses shows us, sings from a place of deep theological reflection and affection. In the battles of life, he knows and feels dependence—a singular clinging to God—and this moves him to song!

The song finds it teleological significance only when it flows from the dependent and worshipping lips of the child of God.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Van Til and the Perichoresis of Apologetics and Evangelism

In response to criticism regarding his supposed failure to delineate between apologetics and evangelism, Cornelius Van Til stated:

"Dear Dr. Howe:

You are certainly right in saying that I did not, in the discussion among Mr. White, Mr. Grey, and Mr. Black, make any sharp distinction between witnessing to and defending the Christian faith. I am not convinced by the evidence from Scripture which you cite that any sharp distinction between them is required or even justified. My defense of the truth of Christianity is, as I think of it, always, at the same time, a witness to Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We do not really witness to Christ adequately unless we set forth the significance of his person and work for all men and for the whole of their culture. But if we witness to him thus then men are bound to respond to him either in belief or disbelief. If they respond in disbelief they will do so by setting forth as truth some 'system of reality' that is based on the presupposition of man as autonomous. I must then plead with them to accept Christ as their Savior from the sin of autonomy, and therewith, at the same time, to discover that they have been given, in Christ, the only foundation for intelligent predication." [1]

Edmund Clowney appreciates this:

"Van Til, then, is not simply a philosopher with a heart for preaching. Indeed, he is not merely a theologian with a heart for preaching. He is a preacher, concerned to begin where a preacher begins, with the authority of God's own revelation, and to do what a preacher does, confront unbelief and nourish faith with 'thus saith the Lord.' In all his apologetic labors he continually stands with the Apostle on Mars Hill, not debating the probability of God's existence, but proclaiming the Creator God who holds all men accountable before the judgment of the risen Christ." [2]

More here.

[1] E. R. Geehan, ed., Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til [Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1977], 452).
[2] Edmund P. Clowney, "Preaching the Word of the Lord: Cornelius Van Til, V.D.M.," Westminster Theological Journal, no. 2 (1984): 242-43.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rob Bell, Hell, and the Party for Everyone (Part II: 10 Questions to Ask Him)

The following are 10 penetrating questions to ask Rob Bell, and those of his ilk, on the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ's own view regarding the ultimate state of man in the consummation:

"1. During one of his frequent confrontations with the Pharisees, Jesus told them, 'I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come' (John 8:21). Why did he damn them in this way if he knew perfectly well that eventually, along with the rest of humanity, they would be with him in heaven?

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Do Martin Luther, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Paul Gilbert of Mr. Big, the Reformation, and Progressive Rock Have in Common?

Neal Morse and his album, Sola Scriptura!

From Wikipedia, "Sola Scriptura (Latin for 'by scripture alone') is a 2007 Christian progressive rock concept album by multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse about the life of the German theologian Martin Luther."

Get it here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rob Bell, Hell, and the Party for Everyone (Part I: A Brief History of Universalism)

By now, to state that Rob Bell is a hell-denying universalist is almost a moot point. How ever he tries to evade the label by a well-crafted blend of ambiguous speech and smirking, it really just sticks.

But it must be noticed that there are actually two basic kinds of universalism. The first, "in its simplest that everyone goes to heaven immediately after death, regardless of what they have believed or how they have behaved; regardless, even, of whether they were religious or irreligious. R.C. Sproul summarizes this position: 'A prevailing notion is that all we have to do to enter the kingdom of God is to die. God is viewed as being so 'loving' that he really doesn't care too much if we don't keep his law. The law is there to guide us, but if we stumble and fall, our celestial grandfather will merely wink and say, 'Boys will be boys''." [1]

Bell's position is of the second sort:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

You Wouldn't Want to Hitch on Hitchens' Ride

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Ps. 14:1).

I can't help but pity Christopher Hitchens. For all his literary prowess and seemingly capacious mind, on the one thing that ultimately matters, he is the dumbest of the dumb. I say this with all compassion.

Observe how he has degenerated from this breast-thumping, full-of-bravado, icon of bohemianism to a cancer-ravaged, emaciated, seemingly meek, though still eloquent, shell of his former self.

No, suffering and affliction are not the Gospel. For a heart untouched by the Spirit of God, cancer will not "do the trick," so to speak.

We don't know how things will eventually end for Hitchens, but one thing is certain, "God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap" (Gal. 6:7).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Might Infrequency Lead to Lethargy?

In contrast to the mysticism that is the staple in broad evangelicalism, Reformed theology, piety, and practice recognize that growth in sanctification is wrought primarily through participation in the means of grace, i.e., the hearing of the Word of God (Gospel) preached and the partaking of the Sacraments, wherein the Holy Spirit unites the recipient of the water in baptism and the bread and wine in the Supper to the thing signified, the substance, which is Christ, hastening the growth of faith even as small as a mustard seed.

In the weekly Sabbath assembly, the proclamation of the promises of the Covenant of Grace is declared through the ordained mouthpiece of Christ, the pastor, and is ratified in the physical representation of the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper. But what if the Supper is not administered weekly? Could this lack somehow account for some, if not many, of the instances of spiritual torpor among the sheep of Christ's flock? If it be in the capacity of the church to celebrate the Supper weekly, should it not do so for the love of those for whom Christ lived and died, that they may be conformed ever increasingly to His image and likeness?

"Calvin and other reformers argued that the Supper should occupy a central place alongside preaching each week. Yet its strange absence from the regular gathering of many churches today impoverishes the saints, weakens the diet and the sinews that connect us to our living Head and to each other as members of his body, and dampens the gratitude that feeds our missionary zeal. It is the Eucharist, along with preaching and baptism, that not only generates a church in the first place, but keeps its focus on Christ's presence in action as well as his absence in the flesh, generating our longing for his return." (Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009], 203).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Declarative Sentences Should Sound Like One

This guy nailed what I've noticed among many of today's younger preachers (even confessionally Reformed ones), i.e. this kinda-college-girl manner of speaking which, pardon me for this, sounds so gay.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Van Til and Schaeffer Compared

I'm reproducing the text of this valuable piece here, just in case the site from where it's sourced suddenly goes down (I won't be reproducing the reference notes, though).

Two Christian Warriors: Cornelius Van Til and Francis A. Schaeffer Compared (William Edgar, Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. 57, No. 1, Spring 1995, pp. 57-80)

Cornelius Van Til died in 1987, three years after Francis A. Schaeffer. It is still too early to assess the legacies of these two very different figures in twentieth-century apologetics. Van Til spent most of his professional life teaching at Westminster Seminary. Schaeffer was a pastor, then an evangelist in a community setting. Van Til wrote extensively, tackling subjects related mostly to philosophy and theology. Schaeffer was a speaker first, and a writer only secondarily (although his readership was actually wider than Van Til's, owing no doubt to his immense popularity in evangelical circles). Though they both had a Reformed background, Van Til affirmed his commitment to the system taught in the Reformed creeds throughout his polemics. Schaeffer did so only tangentially. What can be learned by comparing these two so different people?
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