Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Resurrection and the Life

On this Lord’s Day with its special emphasis on the bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, it seemed good to present without comment what others have said concerning this miracle, foretold by the prophets, witnessed by the apostles, and preached by believers ever since.

Scriptural witnesses

  • For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth (Job 19:25).
  • For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption (Psalm 16:10).
  • Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand (Isaiah 53:10).
  • And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).
  • He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay (Matthew 28:6).
  • “Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).
  • I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).
  • Now when she [Mary Magdalene] had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him Rabboni!” (John 20:14-16).
  • [B]eginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection (Acts 1:22).
  • And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 4:33).
  • Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son or God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3).
  • It [righteousness] shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification (Romans 4:24-25).
  • For is we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:5).
  • He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4).
  • For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:21).
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Creation of ManThe times they are a-changing wrote Bob Dylan over 50 years ago. And if those words were true then, they are at least as apropos today.

If you doubt that, consider this headline: NBC Reports ‘History’: Oregon Judge Grants Right To Be ‘Agender. ‘

Now perhaps like me and you’re an old fuddy-duddy going about your business with the antiquated notion that there are only two genders. How intolerant of you! Quite obviously you’re stuck in a repressive intellectual paradigm and are badly in need of a cultural Marxist re-education.

As NBC breathlessly reports,

History was quietly made in Oregon this month when a judge granted a Portlander’s request to become genderless.

Patch, a 27-year-old video game designer, is likely the first legally agender person in the United States.

The Multnomah County Court granted Patch a “General Judgment of Name and Sex Change” on March 10. In the same judgment, Patch was also allowed to change names, becoming monomymous – meaning only having one name instead of a given name and a surname.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Amy Holmes Hehn commenting on this and a similar ruling of hers last year explained her decision thus,

I made these decisions, like all decisions, because they were supported by facts and law, and out of respect for the dignity of the people who came before me.

The judge did not elaborate on what facts and what laws led to her decision, only that we are to accept that her decision was in accord with her normal practice.

Very clearly the judge did not have in mind the Law of God when she made her decision.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

WIPFSTOCK_TemplateDoug Douma’s recently published biography of Gordon Clark titled The Presbyterian Philosopher has garnered a lot of positive attention.

I’ve just started reading it, so I’m not in a position to write a review. For reviews of the entire book, please see here for David Engelsma’s, here for Sean Gerety’s, and here for Tom Juodaitis’.

But having just read through the Introduction, I was very favorably impressed with Douma’s summary of Scripturalism, the name given to Clark’s philosophical system by John Robbins. Writes Douma,

The philosophy of Gordon Clark has been called Scripturalism because of his reliance on the truth of Scripture as his fundamental axiom or presupposition. Stated simply, his axiom is “The Bible is the Word of God.” Scripturalism teaches that the Bible is a revelation of truth from God, who Himself determines truth and is the source of all truth. In this theory, the prepositions of Scripture are true because they are given by inspiration of God, who cannot lie. For Clark, the Bible, the sixty-six books accepted by most Protestant churches, is a set of true propositions. All knowledge currently available to man are these propositions along with any additional propositions that can be logically deduced from them.”

Among the key terms in this paragraph is “axiom.” An axiom is an unproven first principle. All systems of thought, including Christianity, have unproven first principles. Both Clark and Robbins held that the axiom of Christianity is, “The Bible alone is the Word of God.”

Some Christians may be disturbed at that thought that one cannot prove the Bible is true. Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right to say this. It almost seems tantamount to casting doubt on the Scriptures and denying the entirety of the Christian faith.

I asked John Robbins about this once in an email, which (unfortunately!) I no longer have. But I recall quite well the gist of what he told me.

He explained that all thinking – this includes every philosophical system ever devised, secular or religious – must begin somewhere. That is to say, all systems of thought must have first principles, axioms, and that these axioms, because they are the starting point from which a system of thought is deduced, are by definition unproven and unprovable.

A moment’s reflection reveals why this is so. If one could prove an axiom, a first principle, then it would no longer be a first principle, whatever argument used to prove the original axiom would take over in this role.

Getting back to the axiom of Scripture, if we attempted, as some do, to prove that the Bible is the Word of God, the Bible would not be the foundation of our faith, but our own argument used to prove the inspiration of Scripture.

We would be lending more credence to our own ideas than to God’s revelation. And to do this would be impious, for there is nothing more sure than a word from God, who cannot lie.

In the end, the Christian’s belief in the inspiration 66 books of the Bible does not rest on any argument devised by man. But rather, as the Westminster Confession puts it,

[O]ur full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness, by and with the Word, in our hearts.

In other words, the Christian’s belief in the Bible is the product of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit who causes us to understand and agree with the propositions – a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence – in the Bible.

This is not to say that the inspiration of the Bible cannot be defended. Clark wrote quite extensively in defense of the inspiration of Scripture. See God’s Hammer
for Clark’s devastating critique of various modernist theologians who sought to deny the doctrine of Scripture.

But what it does mean is that as Christians we do not have the burden of proving our first principles to unbelievers. Instead, we assume the truth of the Scriptures and use them to tear down the many high things in our day that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.


Read Full Post »

Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today.

– Pink Floyd

An email came to my inbox recently claiming that people who hold to the Scriptures think “money is the root of all evil.” The notion that the Bible teaches money is evil is quite common. Pink Floyd referenced this idea in their hit “Money,” and people often repeat this idea in everyday conversation.

goldBut as is the case with other popular ideas ascribed to the Bible – for example, most Americans mistakenly think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse; and how many times have you heard someone take Jesus’ words “Judge not” as a general prohibition against making necessary ethical distinctions? – this one is also wide of the mark. And it is wide of the mark in at least two ways. First, the quote itself is not accurate. And second, when the quote is presented accurately, the true meaning of this verse is seen to be quite different from what is in the popular mind.

The actual quote is found in 1 Timothy 6:18 and reads, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (New King James). The language of the Authorized Version is “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” When comparing either of these two translations with the popular version of the quote, it becomes readily apparent that the big difference is that the Bible identifies, not money itself, but the love of money as the root of all sorts of evil.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

shepherds_illuminationFor the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

“I have no idea why justification is by faith alone,” said the hapless minister in story related to my class by Dr. Robert Reymond. The minister, it would seem, was a well intentioned but rather confused fellow.

“Good grief!,” Dr. Reymond continued, “the Bible tells right in Romans chapter 4 the reason why we’re justified by faith alone. ‘Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed…’ ”

The saints of God of justified – that is, they are declared righteous by God – not on the basis of their works, but on the basis of faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, so that their salvation may be on the basis of God’s grace – that is, his unmerited favor – alone.

The redeemed have nothing to boast in except their great Savior. As the old hymn puts it, “Noting in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling.”

Grace is God’s giving his people, not what they deserve, but the blessings he has purposed for them out of the mere good pleasure of his will.

And nowhere is God’s grace more evident than in the birth of Christ Jesus, who, as Paul tells us, was “born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

In Christ, God has made a way to save his people. The law was given through Moses. And the law condemns us, for we all are guilty of violating it. In it, we have no hope. But Christ fulfilled the law perfectly. And those who believe in him are credited with his righteousness, that they may live for God.

And while it’s important to understand the graciousness of God’s grace, it is also important to remember that his grace is never apart from the truth.

Unlike what some modern day theologians would tell you, God does not speak to us through myth or falsehood. Those who say such things impugn the character of God by their words and bring condemnation upon themselves.

God speaks to us through his Word, and his Word is truth. Always.

Jesus declared that he himself was truth, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

How is it that Christ could say “I am the truth”? Doesn’t that seem to be a rather strange way to speak? We might say that so-and-so spoke the truth. But we don’t say of him “he is the truth.” Yet Jesus described himself, not as speaking the truth, but as truth itself.

The answer, I believe, lies in what Gordon Clark taught about truth and persons. Truth, as Clark insisted, is a characteristic of propositions only. A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence.

For example, “The ball is red,” is a propositional statement, because it states that a certain property, in this case “red”, attaches to a certain subject, “the ball”. Now if we perceive that the ball is in fact red, we would say the proposition “The ball is red” is true. If, on the other hand, the ball appears green to us, we would say the statement is false.

But what do propositions have to do with the person of Christ? It has to do with how one defines a person. A person, in Clark’s definition, is a complex of propositions. Or to put it a little less philosophically, a person is the thoughts he thinks.

Christ could say of himself “I am the truth” because all his thoughts were true. And since a person is defined by his thoughts, it is proper for Jesus to speak of himself as “the truth.”

When Christ was born in Bethlehem all those years ago, it was the birth, not of one who merely spoke the truth, but of truth itself.


Read Full Post »

moses

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

The first chapter of John is a gold mine of theological insight. To paraphrase the apostle himself, if all that could be written on the chapter actually were written, one supposes that the whole earth could not contain the books.

And while it is not the intention of this writer to attempt anything like a comprehensive review of all that John has to tell us, it seems that a look at one small portion of the chapter is not too daunting a task.

In verse 17, John draws an important distinction for us, namely the distinction between Moses and Jesus Christ. The law, John tells us, was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

This brief statement is loaded with implications, a few of which, Lord willing, I will endeavor to point out over the next two weeks.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

 

daniel-and-neb

Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

One of the key points of Gordon Clark’s Scripturalism is that we are just as dependent on God for knowledge as we are for salvation.

 

Those in the Reformed community, at least those who are actually Christians, will readily admit that salvation is by grace alone, through belief alone, in Christ alone.

But oddly, many of the same people are sound on the doctrine of salvation at the same time hold to a theory of knowledge (epistemology) that is at odds with their view of salvation.

It is not uncommon to hear some Christians talk as though there are two sources of knowledge, revelation in the 66 books of the Bible and sense experience (empiricism).

This admixture of revelation and sense experience in Christian thought can be traced back to Thomas Aquinas. John Robbins explains,

Thomas Aquinas, the great thirteenth-century Roman Catholic theologian, tried to combine two axioms in his system: the secular axiom of sense experience, which he obtained from Aristotle, and the Christian axiom of revelation, which he obtained from the Bible. His synthesis was unsuccessful. The subsequent career of western philosophy is the story of the collapse of Thomas’ unstable Aristotelian-Christian condominium (An Introduction to Gordon H. Clark)

One of the problems with Protestantism over the centuries is that it never produced a philosopher who challenged Aquinas’ theory of knowledge. As a result, Aquinas’ erroneous synthesis of “the secular axiom of sense experience…and the Christian axiom of revelation” was accepted by large segments of the Christian church.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: