Monday, September 30, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Union with Christ Is Trinitarian

Marcus Peter Johnson in One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation [Illinois: Crossway, 2013] explains:

To say that our union with Christ is Trinitarian means that by virtue of being incorporated into the life of Jesus Christ, we participate in the life, love, and fellowship of the Trinity. Because the Son is one with the Father, our being joined to the Son means we are joined to the Father. And because the Spirit exists as the bond of communion between the Father and Son, he brings us into that communion by uniting us to Christ. This staggering biblical revelation forms the personal foundation for all the benefits that constitute our salvation.[15]

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Love of an Impassible God

If we define passions as the transition from one emotive state to another or the increase in intensity of such a particular state, then the doctrine of divine impassibility teaches us that God does not have passions as fluctuating within Himself or as influenced from anything outside Himself.

Far from espousing a cold, static, and uninvolved Deity, this doctrine actually enhances the Christian's hope and comfort in that when Scripture teaches that God is love, it does not say that God becomes more or less loving as contingent upon the creature, but that His love is as eternal as He Himself is. In fact "love" as predicated on God is God Himself! Such security and stability for the objects of His love in Christ!

Speaking on the doctrine of divine simplicity, which is foundational to the doctrine of divine impassibility, Dr. James Dolezal writes:

There is nothing in God that is not God. If there were, that is, if God were not ontologically identical with all that is in him, then something other than God himself would be needed to account for his existence, essence, and attributes. But nothing that is not God can sufficiently account for God. He exists in all his perfection entirely in and through himself. At the heart of the classical DDS [doctrine of divine simplicity] is the concern to uphold God's absolute self-sufficiency as well as his ultimate sufficiency for the existence of the created universe...By appealing to God's simplicity I aim to show that God and the world are related analogically and that the world in no sense explains or accounts for God's existence and essence. If God were yet another being in the world, even if the highest and most excellent, then the world itself would be the framework within which he must be ontologically explained. But as Creator, God is the sufficient reason for the world's existence and thus cannot be evaluated as if he stood together with it in the same order of being. It follows from this that God can neither be measured, nor his simplicity refuted, according to the modalities unique to created beings. (God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God's Absoluteness [PICKWICK Publications, Eugene, Oregon:2011])

The ff. video is a discussion on the doctrine of divine impassibility that is as profound as it is edifying:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Charles Hodge on Conscience

Some CH commentary:

The doctrine of Romans 14

1. The fellowship of the saints is not to be broken for unessential matters; in other words, we have no right to make any thing which is compatible with piety a bar to Christian communion. Paul evidently argues on the principle that if a man is a true Christian, he should be recognized and treated as such. If God has received him, we should receive him, vers. 1-12.

2. The true criterion of a Christian character is found in the governing purpose of the life. He that lives unto the Lord, i.e. he who makes the will of Christ the rule of his conduct, and the glory of Christ his constant object, is a true Christian, although from weakness or ignorance he may sometimes mistake the rule of duty, and consider certain things obligatory which Christ has never commanded, vers. 6-8.

What Does It Mean to "Bless God"?

Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
   who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
   and bless the LORD!
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
   he who made heaven and earth!
— Psalm 134

Commenting on Psalm 134 in his book, Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent (published by Crossway Books), Josh Moody writes about what it means for a human being to bless God:

How can an inferior person, a subject, bless a superior person, a king? How can a created person, a human, bless his or her creator, the God of heaven and earth? Scholars have attempted various solutions to this conundrum, because the idea of our being able to bless God does not merely occur in this psalm but is fairly frequent throughout the Old Testament. Psalm 72: 18 says, 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel'; and Genesis 24: 27 says, 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master.' How can this be? How can it be true not only that 'blessed be Abram by God Most High' (Gen. 14: 19), but also 'blessed be God Most High' (Gen. 14: 20)? Or how can we not only receive blessing from God but actually give blessing to God?

Perhaps we need to ask another question: what does it actually mean to be blessed? In English the word bless means to pronounce that something is good or to confer goodness upon something in a religious sense, and the word may have its origins in the Old English word blood. A benediction, frequently used as a synonym, means 'a good saying,' coming from the Latin root meaning to say that something is good or well. The Hebrew word used here for 'blessed' may have the root of meaning to kneel before something or someone, though not all agree with that derivation.

Perhaps it is simplest to say, by analogy, that this word blessed, often used of us blessing God and of God blessing us, functions similarly to when we say that we speak to God and that God speaks to us. When we speak to God , we are speaking, and we speak human words necessarily. When we bless God, we are blessing and give human blessing necessarily. When God speaks, he speaks God's words, and when he blesses, he gives God's blessings. So the blessing of God by humans is a human declaration that God is good. What the pilgrims here are urging the priests to do ('Come, bless the LORD') and what they themselves will do ('lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!') is to live a life, to utter words and do deeds, in such a way that makes clear that God is good. They are being urged to live a life that honors God, to live a life that focuses upon God, to live for God. They are being urged to say that God is good, that he is blessed. They are not adding to the divine, eternal, complete, sufficient blessedness of God in his own person; they are witnessing to it. They are declaring, in their own experience, through their journey, that they have witnessed that a life lived for God is the happiest kind of life. They are blessing God that he is blessed and worth living for. It is their witness, their declaration.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Nodding off—happens to the best of us. LOL!
(click on pic to enlarge)

WTS 2013 Charge to the Graduates by Dr. K. Scott Oliphint:

When Feeding Off a Dumpster Is a Thing of the Past

I posted this over at FB this morning:

I saw a little boy eating leftover fried chicken from a KFC dumpster on my drive to work this morning. As I fought off tears, I called to mind the truth that God did not exempt even Himself from the indignities of human life by becoming the God-Man, Jesus Christ. In fact, the suffering that marked His life and death was for the express purpose of making certain a new creation wherein little boys would not have to compete with bacteria for leftover chicken. That heart-wrenching sight on my morning drive is not the end of the story.

Regarding the problem of evil, the Christian does not need to justify God's having decreed evil to be a part of created reality (theodicy) as the proper response but acknowledge that God's ways are not our ways and that, though we cannot exhaustively comprehened God's plan, the epicenter of that plan is precisely the solution to the problem—Jesus Christ, God with us (theophany).

I encourage you to feast on the trust-building and worship-eliciting bread served by Dr. K. Scott Oliphint in this article and in this talk:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Union with Christ Launch Pad

For those desiring to learn more about the Reformed doctrine of union with Christ, this post by Justin Taylor will prove helpful: Union with Christ: A Crash Course

The links to Richard Gaffin and Sinclar Ferguson's lectures alone make paying the link a visit worthwhile, not to mention the link to Phil Gons' website which contains a wealth of bibliographical information!

Jared Oliphint opines that Dr. Gaffin's upcoming book, By Faith, Not By Sight, will be released in Kindle format and I am certainly looking forward to that. In the meantime, I got myself Marcus Peter Johnson's One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pearls, Canine Swine, and Apologetics

"Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." (Matthew 7:6)

Debate is inescapable in the defense of the Christian faith. One of the functions of thorough and able instruction in doctrine is so that we may "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) when "anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (1 Peter 3:15,16).

When we engage in apologetics, the end result must be the "shaming" of the unbeliever pursuant to repentance and faith in Christ. But what if we are met with stampeding swine and raging wolves; those whose minds are in such an advanced state of decadence that their hearts burst forth with sheer violent hatred for God, impelling them to oppose all forms of godliness (sure sounds like the New Atheists!)?

Should the apologist pursue debate with persons of this ilk as a consistent modus operandi? The Zeitgeist pretty much assures us that little Hitchens-es and Dawkins-es are now the norm and that no street corner is without them. So if the answer to the prior query is that engaging the luminaries should be avoided, what about street debates given the foregoing consideration? What about Google Hangout scuffles?

John Calvin, commenting on Matthew 7:6, answers:

Give not that which is holy It is unnecessary to repeat oftener, that Matthew gives us here detached sentences, which ought not to be viewed as a continued discourse. The present instruction is not at all connected with what came immediately before, but is entirely separate from it. Christ reminds the Apostles, and, through them, all the teachers of the Gospel, to reserve the treasure of heavenly wisdom for the children of God alone, and not to expose it to unworthy and profane despisers of his word.

But here a question arises: for he afterwards commanded to preach the Gospel to every creature, (Mark 16:15;) and Paul says, that the preaching of it is a deadly savor to wicked men, (2 Corinthians 2:16;) and nothing is more certain than that it is every day held out to unbelievers, by the command of God, for a testimony, that they may be rendered the more inexcusable. I reply: As the ministers of the Gospel, and those who are called to the office of teaching, cannot distinguish between the children of God and swine, it is their duty to present the doctrine of salvation indiscriminately to all. Though many may appear to them, at first, to be hardened and unyielding, yet charity forbids that such persons should be immediately pronounced to be desperate. It ought to be understood, that dogs and swine are names given not to every kind of debauched men, or to those who are destitute of the fear of God and of true godliness, but to those who, by clear evidences, have manifested a hardened contempt of God, so that their disease appears to be incurable. In another passage, Christ places the dogs in contrast with the elect people of God and the household of faith, It is not proper to take the children's bread, and give it to dogs, (Matthew 15:27.) But by dogs and swine he means here those who are so thoroughly imbued with a wicked contempt of God, that they refuse to accept any remedy.

Hence it is evident, how grievously the words of Christ are tortured by those who think that he limits the doctrine of the Gospel to those only who are teachable and well-prepared. For what will be the consequence, if nobody is invited by pious teachers, until by his obedience he has anticipated the grace of God? On the contrary, we are all by nature unholy, and prone to rebellion. The remedy of salvation must be refused to none, till they have rejected it so basely when offered to them, as to make it evident that they are reprobate and self-condemned, (autokatakritoi,) as Paul says of heretics, (Titus 3:11.)   

There are two reasons, why Christ forbade that the Gospel should be offered to lost despisers. It is an open profanation of the mysteries of God to expose them to the taunts of wicked men. Another reason is, that Christ intended to comfort his disciples, that they might not cease to bestow their labors on the elect of God in teaching the Gospel, though they saw it wantonly rejected by wicked and ungodly men. His meaning is lest this inestimable treasure should be held in little estimation, swine and dogs must not be permitted to approach it. There are two designations which Christ bestows on the doctrine of salvation: he calls it holy, and compares it to pearls. Hence we learn how highly we ought to esteem this doctrine.

Lest these trample them under their feet Christ appears to distinguish between the swine and the dogs: attributing brutal stupidity to the swine, and rage to the dogs And certainly, experience shows, that there are two such classes of despisers of God. Whatever is taught in Scripture, for instance, about the corrupt nature of man, free justification, and eternal election, is turned by many into an encouragement to sloth and to carnal indulgence. Such persons are fitly and justly pronounced to be swine Others, again, tear the pure doctrine, and its ministers, with sacrilegious reproaches, as if they threw away all desire to do well, all fear of God, and all care for their salvation. Although he employs both names to describe the incurable opponents of the Word of God, yet, by a twofold comparison, he points out briefly in what respect the one differs from the other.

Calvin gives a conditional No, arguing for the upholding of the sublimity of the truths of God against grossly wicked despisers and a better use of time in the service of the church.

Google Hangouts...hehehehe.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Can a Christian Be in Habitual Sin?

John Owen, with great pastoral care and sensitivity, answers the question:

Discourse IX (Delivered April 19, 1677)

Question. Whether lust or corruption, habitually prevalent, be consistent with the truth of grace?

Answer. This is a hard question; there are difficulties in it, and, it may be, it is not precisely to be determined. I am sure we should be wonderfully careful what we say upon such a question, which determines the present and eternal condition of the souls of men.

Supposing we retain something of what was spoken in stating a lust or corruption so habitually prevalent, because this is the foundation of our present inquiry, I shall bring what I have to say upon this question to a few heads, that they may be remembered.

I say, then, --

Kabod and the Christian Life

The glory of God denotes weight and substance.

This perfectly comports with God's aseity as being the foundation of man's every conception of God.

Ontologically, God IS. He is not derived from, or an instance of, a generic and abstract "God" being, but is Himself the self-existent Triune God and the source of all created being.

Epistemologically, man's knowledge of anything, if it is to be "of substance," must reckon with the Creator of the fact being apprehended.

Morally, one's lifestyle, and the worldview which informs and influences this, if it is to be "weighty" and truly significant, must have the glory of God as Creator and Redeemer at the forefront of its consideration.

As you can see, the glory of God is God Himself, and the pursuit of His glory is the pursuit of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for "long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs (Hebrews 1:1-4)."

And we will share in His glory:

"Furthermore, other passages in this last part of Isaiah suggest that the presence of God's glory will render the people of God glorious (see 62:2). What does it mean that the people will be glorious? After their purification by judgment, they can reflect God's glory. Their glory is not inherent to them but is reflected—as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so the people of God reflect the glory of their Lord. Thanks to the work of God, God's people are 'heavy' with significance. God's people will be a 'crown of beauty' and a 'royal diadem' (62:3). They have substance and reputation ('you shall be called by a new name,' 62:2). God's blessing will also bring them substance. Their glory primarily serves a missionary purpose, as the nations will see this glory and be attracted to it." (Tremper Longman III, 'The Glory of God in the Old Testament', The Glory of God [Theology in Community] [Illinois: Crossway, 2010], eds. Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson, p. 69)

Man, as made in the image of God, was not made for fluffy, floaty stuff. It can then be argued that the antithesis may also be described as humanity that is defined either by hollow weightlessness or substantial heaviness.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Who is Cornelius Van Til?

Thomas Sullivan presents:

And O.T. scholar, Tremper Longman III, discusses how CVT shaped his thinking and spiritual life:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Anger and the Imitatio Dei

I think it would be correct to say that the vast majority of our expressions of sinful anger are due to perceived slights on self-constructed notions of our own honor, dignity, and worth. But what if this sense of self-honor is one that is borne out of a valuing of what the Word of God declares to be the sole ground of true honor—the imitation of God (Matt. 5:48)?

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I propose that in order to overcome sinful anger (along with other sinful emotions), one must not consider a bare appeal to a set of abstract virtues as desirable in and of themselves (the first horn of the Euthyphro dilemma), but that the one who has God as the chief object of his desire longs for patience and self-control precisely because God Himself is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6).

In other words, just as my two sons (a 5-yr.-old and a 2-yr.-old) worship the ground that I walk on (in a manner of speaking), children of God should long for the family resemblance to become ingrained in their characters in ever-increasing measure, and thus manifested, because they are indeed sons of God through the benefit of adoption in Christ.

The ff. is from a great commentary on Proverbs—a book of Scripture that has a lot to say about anger(!):

Anger (15:18; 16:14; 19:11, 12, 19; 21:19; 25:23; 27:3– 4; 29:8, 22)

Proverbs overall advocates a temperate expression of emotion. We thus are not surprised that anger is identified as a destructive emotion when it is out of control.

Wrath is cruel, and anger is a flood, and who can stand up in the face of jealousy? (27: 4)

Anger destroys familial and community relationships. It is better to live in a desolate wilderness, for instance, than with an angry woman (21: 19). The wise will not only control this emotion in themselves but will also seek to minimize it in others. In terms of the latter, the king is specifically mentioned because his anger can cause the greatest harm:

The anger of a king is a messenger of death; the wise will appease it. (16: 14)

Appropriate Expression of Emotions (12:16; 14:29, 30; 16:32; 17:27; 19:11; 25:28; 29:11)

The wise person is coolheaded, the fool an impetuous hothead. In the same way that the wise are sparing in speech, so they are sparing in emotional expression. It is not that the wise are emotionless or that they don’t express anger or disappointment, but they do so in a way that is appropriate to the context. They don’t blow up in anger, though they may get angry. Moderate expressions of emotions allow the wise to think and strategize. Emotions don’t cloud their thinking. They are still able to navigate life. Another way to put this is that the wise are patient, whereas fools are impatient.

Patience brings much competence, but impatience promotes stupidity. (14: 29)

A patient person is better than a warrior, and those who control their emotions than those who can capture a city. (16: 32)

Those who hold back their speech know wisdom, and those who are coolheaded are people of understanding. (17: 27)

(Tremper Longman III, Proverbs [Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms], Appendix: Topical Studies)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Glories of the Two Cities

Another way to delineate the antithesis of believer and unbeliever is in the area of glory. The former desires the glory of God, the latter the glory of self.

"Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, 'Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.' In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, 'I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.' And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God 'glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise'—that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride—'they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.' For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, 'and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.' But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, 'that God may be all in all.'" (Augustine, City of God, Book 14, Chap. 28)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Decalogue of Covenantal Apologetics

1. The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— who, as God, condescends to create and to redeem.

2. God's covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what it is, and any covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily stand on and utilize that authority in order to defend Christianity.

3. It is the truth of God's revelation, together with the work of the Holy Spirit, that brings about a covenantal change from one who is in Adam to one who is in Christ.

4. Man (male and female) as image of God is in covenant with the triune God for eternity.

5. All people know the true God, and that knowledge entails covenantal obligations.

6. Those who are and remain in Adam suppress the truth that they know. Those who are in Christ see that truth for what it is.

7. There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christian theism and any other, opposing position. Thus, Christianity is true and anything opposing it is false.

8. Suppression of the truth, like the depravity of sin, is total but not absolute. Thus, every unbelieving position will necessarily have within it ideas, concepts, notions, and the like that it has taken and wrenched from their true, Christian context.

9. The true, covenantal knowledge of God in man, together with God's universal mercy, allows for persuasion in apologetics.

10. Every fact and experience is what it is by virtue of the covenantal, all-controlling plan and purpose of God.

(K. Scott Oliphint, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith [Illinois: Crossway, 2013])

You can find Dr. Oliphint discussing covenantal apologetics at Reformed Forum here.

More apologetics posts:

Machen on the Perichoresis Between Evangelism and Apologetics

John Calvin's Influence on Reformed Apologetics

Van Til and the Perichoresis of Apologetics and Evangelism

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Voice of the Gospel in Nature and the Organic Unity of God's Revelation

Endemic to the current discussion on 2K theology is the issue of whether special revelation bears equally upon both believer and unbeliever. I have touched upon this in these two brief posts: The Antithesis a New Species Doth Not Make and Bavinck Contra NL2K/R2K

What follows is a masterful exposition of the organic unity of God's revelation as manifested in its two, but perichoretic, forms (natural and special). This should prove helpful in the navigation of a better stream, a Vossian-Van Tillian path, amidst Transformationalist Neo-Calvinism and Radical/Natural Law Two Kingdoms avenues.

[Kerux:NWTS 21/2 (Sep 2006) 13-34]
Natural and Special Revelation: A Reassessment1
William D. Dennison, Ph. D.

Introduction: Raising the Issue

"Then God said, `Let there be light;' and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning the first day" (NKJ Gen. 1:3-5).

As God created the light on the first day of creation, and he separated the light from the darkness, I ask you, should we understand the creation of the light as natural revelation or special revelation? I think we tend to say, natural revelation.

Let us move quickly ahead and glance at the dawn of the new creation! "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him" (NKJ Jn. 1:3-10).

Later in John's gospel, the Light in John's prologue speaks to us—our Savior Jesus Christ affirms: "I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12; cf. Rev. 21:23).

As the new creation dawns by the coming of the Light of life into the world (Jesus Christ), should we understand Christ's redeeming work in the world as natural revelation or special revelation? I think we tend to say that Christ's redeeming work is special revelation.

It seems that we understand the distinction—right? God's creation of light on the first day of the original creation is an expression of natural revelation, whereas God sending the divine Light, Jesus Christ, to usher in the new creation is an expression of special revelation.

The boundaries and the limits of natural revelation and special revelation are set. Natural revelation is a distinct and separate revelation, communicating God's imprint upon the created universe; special revelation is a distinct and separate revelation, communicating God's saving activity to humanity. Although distinct and separate, the two revelations are complimentary and do not contradict each other. Indeed, we have an efficient, tightly defined system that distinguishes both revelations. It has been said, therefore, that natural or general revelation provides the "evidences that a supreme being has created the universe, but we do not see that the being is triune, nor do we see a plan of redemption anywhere in the created order."2 Rather, for humanity to see that the Supreme Being is triune (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and for us to see God's plan of redemption, we need special revelation.3 Hence, special revelation communicates the triune God of the Bible and the plan of redemption focused in Christ.

With this typical distinction between natural and special revelation before you, permit me to ask this question: does the Bible present natural revelation and special revelation within such rigidly defined boundaries? In order to stimulate your thinking, permit me to set before you a few observations from the twentieth century Reformed apologist, Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987). Van Til questions whether nature reveals nothing about God's grace.4 In fact, he writes: "Saving grace is not manifest in nature; yet it is the God of saving grace who manifests himself by means of nature."5 It is not entirely apparent what Van Til means by the first phrase, but as one wrestles with the entire statement in the context of his apologetic, it becomes clear that Van Til holds the position that God displays his saving grace upon the landscape of nature. Perhaps, it can best be said in this manner: saving grace is not nature itself, but saving grace is always displayed by the free and sovereign action of God upon the natural terrain of created history. For this reason, Van Til does not speak of two distinct and separate revelations—natural and special; rather, he understands revelation as a unity that is disclosed in two forms—natural and special. Van Til writes:
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