Friday, January 24, 2014

Pastors, You Are Not Professionals

This article by Pastor Mark Jones has reminded me once more of the fact that pastors are called to die. Indeed, every Christian is called to imitate Christ in His example of self-denial; dying to self should mark everyone who names the name of Christ. However, the degree to which the pastor is called to this is of a depth that certainly reflects the consequential caution of the third chapter of the book of James, i.e., not many of you should become one. As John Piper would say, "Brothers, we are not professionals."

Read the article. It has John Owen in it. Hehehe.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Trueman on Warfield on Christology

Evangelical Library (London) Lecture, 4 June 2001
An address on "The Glory Of Christ: B. B. Warfield on Jesus of Nazareth" given by Dr. Carl R Trueman

When B.B. Warfield died eighty years ago, in 1921, J Gresham Machen, his Princeton colleague, commented that old Princeton had indeed passed away with him. It is arguable that this was not much of an exaggeration, such was the stature of a man whose scholarship had been recognized in the award of an honorary degree from the University of Utrecht, who had been on personal terms with such luminaries as Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck, and whose writings, at both popular and academic levels, had influenced a generation of Christians in the church and in the academy. Yet, it is true to say that Warfield is little known today outside of the narrow confines of the evangelical world, that his piety is appreciated far more than his scholarship is understood, and that his wide-ranging theological contributions are not appreciated even by those for whom he symbolizes theological orthodoxy. Indeed, when we ask the question, For what is Warfield known today? we are likely to elicit responses which focus on his articulation of biblical inspiration and authority, his arguments for the cessation of the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, or his cautious arguments in favour of theistic evolution. Yet, as even a glance at the ten volume selection of his writings which were published by Oxford University Press in the early part of the twentieth century reveals, his range was much broader than these three narrow foci would suggest. [1]

For example, he also wrote on church history, producing essays on Tertullian, Augustine, and Calvin which still have merit today. He also engaged in extended study and refutation of perfectionism, providing the church with one of the most comprehensive historical and theological analyses of holiness teaching ever produced. In addition, he also found time to write reviews on many of the significant theological books of his time, continental as well as Anglo-American, revealing not only extensive linguistic competence but also a thorough and accurate understanding of the liberal positions which he rejected. Indeed, it is, I suspect, true to say that Warfield read his liberal opponents with more care, courtesy, and all-round theological learning than liberals have, over the years, applied to his own work. To reduce Warfield’s significance to a few doctrinal topics is thus to miss the real greatness of the man whose life was driven far more by a desire to restate the classic Reformed faith in an articulate and intelligent manner than simply to focus on one or two controversial points. [2] Indeed, his greatness is captured neatly in a recent comment from the pen of Mark Noll and David Livingstone:

Even in the long line of outstanding conservative theologians from Old Princeton that stretched from Archibald Alexander…to J Gresham Machen…Warfield stands out. In that distinguished company, he was the most widely read, had the greatest skill in European languages, displayed the most patience in unpacking arguments, and wrote clearly on the widest range of subjects. [3]

Today, therefore, I want to break with the traditional canon of evangelical topics upon which Warfield is consulted and look instead at a handful of writings from his pen devoted to Christology, the person and work of Jesus Christ. In the words of John Murray, ‘There is no subject on which Warfield’s master mind showed its depth and comprehension better than on that of the person and work of Christ.’ [4] And, we might ourselves add, there is no subject which stands more central to Christian orthodoxy than Christology. All great theologians have wrestled with the person and work of Christ, and the greatest theologians are those who have offered the most penetrating insights into precisely this area of doctrine. Thus, if we are to appreciate Warfield’s contribution to the Christian church in all its fulness, we need to develop some comprehension of his work on Christ.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Condecency of Redemption

You may hear people, especially those of the Calvinistic bent, making the following comment in an effort to uphold the sovereignty of God in the administration of the state of affairs: "God would've been perfectly just in condemning every single human being to hell."

While the statement is not theologically aberrant per se, it, however, does not fully encapsulate the telos behind God's "ad extra" acts, namely, His glory. If God did consign every human being to destruction, in a necessary turn of events, the whole earthly created order would've had to be destroyed as well. Why so? Because if there was no human being left in the world, there would be no agent for the redounding of glory unto God through the created objects of the world. A majestic Siberian Tiger does not give God the glory that He desires without an image-bearer, in holiness and righteousness, to ascribe the excellencies of that animal to its Creator.

Hence, John Owen, states [all quotes henceforth from Christologia (Kindle version)]:

"Three things God designed in this communication of his image unto our nature, which were his principal ends in the creation of all things here below; and therefore was divine wisdom more eminently exerted therein than in all the other works of this inferior creation.
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