Wednesday, November 14, 2012

G.I. Williamson: 60 Years of Tending Christ's Sheep

A brief but edifying account of G.I. Willimason's ministry can be found here.

Ministry wisdom from the man himself, undoubtedly utilized by him all these years and ignored to a pastor's detriment, follows:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Underdogism of Geerhardus Vos

The following short bio on Vos once again brings to the fore the fact that the greats were Underdogs.

Geerhardus Vos: Life Between Two Worlds by James T. Dennison, Jr.

There were not many present that Wednesday afternoon; not many present at all. No one was there from his denomination; no one was there from the institution he had served for nearly thirty-nine years. Only one person from his family appears to have been there. A man and a woman from the local Methodist Church were there. They sang a hymn. Ironically, the institution to which he had declined to transfer at its formation in 1929 was there—in the person of her most noted Dutchman; no antithesis here—Dutchman paying tribute to Dutchman. Cornelius Van Til was there with his Dutch friend, Rev. John De Waard; John De Waard, pastor of Memorial Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Rochester, New York. Van Til of Westminster Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; De Waard, graduate of Princeton Seminary and member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Two Dutchmen were there to bury their countryman, conducting his casket from the village Methodist Church to a simple hillside cemetery. Van Til, De Waard and the casket of Geerhardus Vos in the tiny village of Roaring Branch, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, August 17, 1949. And there in that grassy cemetery, they laid his remains next to those of his wife, Catherine; Catherine Vos who had died September 14, 1937. Geerhardus interred in the mountain village not far from the summer house where Catherine and he and their four children passed so many pleasant hours between May and September. Pleasant morning hours of study followed by the mile-long walk to the post office in town. Afternoon reading on the porch with the children followed by another walk to the post office. And evenings in the study once more, surrounded by his books and journals and papers. And on Sunday? the walk to the Methodist Church for worship—the only church in the village. The ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. worships in a Methodist Church; the Professor at the premier Old School Reformed Theological Seminary passes his summer Sabbaths in an Arminian church. And as ironic and incongruous as his church life in Roaring Branch is the surreal photograph of his open casket on that August afternoon in 1949—his open casket flanked by Van Til and De Waard. Geerhardus Vos buried in an obscure mountain village, in an obscure mountain cemetery—all but forgotten by the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., all but forgotten by Princeton Theological Seminary, all but forgotten by the evangelical and Reformed world of post-World War II boomers. At his graveside, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Seminary. But fifty years later, he remains obscure not only in the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) and Princeton Theological Seminary; fifty years later, he remains an enigma to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Seminary.

But not to Cornelius Van Til fifty years ago; not even to the Cornelius Van Til of his own student days at Princeton Seminary 1924-25. "Dr. Vos was the greatest pedagogue I ever sat under." That is what Dr. Van Til told me in 1981 when he visited Westminster in California for his first and only time. And yet, even at Princeton, Vos was an enigma. Never active in Presbytery; not easily understood by the majority of his students (though J. Gresham Machen said, "if I knew half of what Dr. Vos knows"); ever in the background of the seminary culture—his only prominence (besides his profound scholarship) the regular walks with his friend, B. B. Warfield. Yet after the First World War, that profound scholarship virtually disappears from the pages of the journal of the Seminary he served. And his most penetrating work, The Pauline Eschatology—privately published by the author in 1930. Imagine that—no major publisher interested in a book that revolutionized Pauline Theology for all those who penetrated it—indeed for all those who found Vos's exegesis of the mind of Paul a Copernican revolution. Was Vos marginalized because of his thick Dutch accent and his intricate Germanic style? Was Vos isolated even at Princeton after 1918 because of his sympathies for the German Kaiser during World War I? What did he do to be placed on the periphery; what didn't he do to attain a place in even Princeton's tiny spotlight? Was it too hard to follow his lectures? Was it his distinctive approach to the organic character of revelation? certainly unpopular with students demanding Sunday School level instruction at a Theological Seminary. Was it his fragile health? a metabolism racked easily by fatigue, insomnia, nervousness? Was it his retiring personality? a personality which passed up appointment to Abraham Kuyper's Free University in Amsterdam out of deference to his parents; a personality which rejected William Henry Green's initial pleas to leave the backwater of Grand Rapids and join the faculty of his Princeton alma mater in the critical year before the Briggs heresy trial reached its climax; a personality which saw him rarely invited to speak beyond the chapel of Princeton Seminary; a personality which could not move out of Princeton in 1929, nor out of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. in 1936; a personality which led him to board a train in Seattle, Washington in 1926, leaving his wife and children to make their way by car from Seattle to Princeton without him.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eschatology—The Ultimate Things

I'll be teaching this Saturday on the topic of "Man in the Covenant of Works" as treated in Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology. After reading through the chapter, I decided to supplement my knowledge with some free, downloadable lectures from

The first two lectures I got were those delivered by Dr. Carl Trueman. I was only a bit surprised to find that the structure and over-all content of his presentations were almost equivalent to Berkhof's. I then got four more lectures, this time by Dr. Lane Tipton. Both men are from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.

I was very much enriched by both men, but I got something more from Tipton on just the first lecture. What I got was the better, more biblical definition of eschatology, and how it relates to the Covenant of Works and actually to the entirety of God's economy in redemptive history as revealed in Scripture.

The default understanding of most on the meaning of "eschatology" is bound up in the phrase, the last things, which traditionally deals with death, the intermediate state, the millennium, judgment, the second coming, the new heavens and the new earth, etc. Tipton argues, taking off from Vos, that the better definition would be the ultimate things. He then offers this very helpful elaboration:

The eschatological is:

1. Eternal reality of the kingdom paradise promised to Adam in the CoW.
2. Immutable state of perfect life in the presence of God.
3. Heavenly goal of the promised kingdom under the CoW.
4. The final stage of the kingdom of God, the telos point, the omega point.

Summary: The eschatological is the eternal, immutable, heavenly, and final state of the kingdom of God.

Reproduced below are two articles that might prove helpful in the better understanding of the concept.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


If you practically grew up in a broad/mainline evangelical church like I did, it's likely that you've been charged with acting in a less than Christian-like manner—apart from actual Scriptural imperatives. This is because one of the chief commandments of the moralist is niceness.

It seems that for men, at least, less testosterone is more. While I cannot accept the cheesy posturing of a Mark Driscoll, the times, I believe, demand the employment of creational endowments that serve to augment passion in the defense and protection of orthodoxy, testosterone being one of them (the rap sheet of this hormone includes the crime of inducing un-niceness).

I'm not sure if Tim Challies' hormone levels were higher than usual at the time he wrote this post, but he sure wasn't nice to the nice men. To that I exclaim, "Nice!"

Another post on an article by someone not particularly renowed for niceness can be found here. Hehehe.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Day After

Today is post-Reformation Day day, and what better way to segue than to discuss Reformed Scholasticism!

The following is Dr. J.V. Fesko's short introduction to the topic by way of a series of posts over at the WSC blog:

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Introduction

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Scholasticism Defined

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Francis Turretin

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: The Benefits for the Church

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Concluding Thoughts

And this Office Hours episode features Dr. Richard Muller, perhaps the godfather of scholarship on Reformed Scholasticism, discussing the topic with Dr. R. Scott Clark.

While I'm no Barthian, I particularly like Barth when he said this:

"The fear of scholasticism is the mark of a false prophet. The true prophet will be ready to submit his message to this test too." (Church Dogmatics I/1, 279)

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