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Posts Tagged ‘Reformed’

Who’re YOUR best teachers?

I was just in a discussion (online, of course… I rarely get out of the house) in which I asked a brother his major influences in the areas of theology, eschatology, ethics and apologetics. He gave me an excellent response, and then he asked me mine. So, here they are:

Theology: John Calvin – aside from my parents and pastors, Calvin’s been the greatest influence on my views of most things, especially theology proper. Augustine’s De trinitate and Thomas Aquinas have also left deep marks. R.C. Sproul and John Gerstner have also been very influential for me.

Eschatology: Kenneth Gentry’s He Shall Have Dominion rocked my entire world and brought many of the loose ends together. J. Marcellus Kik’s An Eschatology of Victory was a big one (on Mt 24 and Rev 20). Greg Bahnsen’s Victory in Jesus and the preaching of Douglas Wilson helped me out, too. I didn’t know much about eschatology until I went to seminary. My seminary profs were historic premil, my pastor was amil, but I went postmil! Preterism is very important (see Kik’s work for this) to fit the pieces together.

Ethics: The Westminster Standards (esp. the Larger Catechism) were very influential on me, as was the Heidelberg Catechism. The whole Reformed tradition is very heavy into God’s Law, and that’s the heart of ethics; the details are in application. The Reconstructionists (R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, et al) helped me see the enduring validity of God’s Law. Greg Bahnsen’s Theonomy in Christian Ethics cemented that the details of divine law are both important and still applicable.

Apologetics: In college, I flirted with both Classical Apologetics and Evidentialism (think Josh McDowell). In seminary, however, I found that Cornelius Van Til gave me a thoroughly biblical and Christian context into which both the Classical arguments and all the evidences fit. Greg Bahnsen and John Frame have both helped me sharpen my understanding.

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The Baptized BodyThe Baptized Body by Peter J. Leithart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For me, this book, like Leithart’s writings generally, was both a hit and a miss. Let’s take it from the top.

Chapter one, “Starting before the Beginning,” was intended to clear “enough ground to move ahead” to discuss the biblical texts about baptism. This chapter seemed a bit choppy, as Leithart’s hitting on different philosophical, ontological, and theological topics. It was intended to be controversial with section headings such as, “Why Sacraments Are Not Signs,” “Why Sacraments Are Not Means of Grace,” and “Why Sacraments Are Not Symbols.” That said, I found the concept of Sacraments as rituals to be compelling and helpful. Sacraments can, however, be signs, means of grace, symbols, AND rituals. (more…)

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Mr. Jason Stellman

I’ve been pretty busy lately. What’s more, I intend to be pretty busy for the rest of the week. I don’t mean that I’m any busier than anyone else. What I do mean is that my blogging has been slow, and that there will be more time to interact with Mr. Stellman’s claims in time.

Even so, this post from Jason Stellman was brought to my attention. I thought it warranted some attention. To be sure, there will be many more publications to come from Mr. Stellman. He will do his best to undermine sola scriptura et sola fide… let God be true and every man a liar.

One thing that Mr. Stellman wants to make clear is that he was REFORMED before his move to Rome. This is, or course, part of the polemic. Protestant Christian, rest assured that Jason Stellman KNOWS your position better than you do. HE WAS TOTALLY REFORMED. (more…)

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The Historicity of Adam

The belief in the historicity of Adam is certainly not a given, now-a-days. I recall Westminster California touting that they held to Adam’s historicity a couple of years ago, wearing it as a badge of conservatism. The fact that a Reformed seminary can wear a badge like that (and that is actually is such a badge) shows that the early chapters of Genesis have fallen on tough times. There are, however, a few rubes left that hold to the historicity of the first eleven chapters of God’s Word, including the historicity of person of Adam.

I ran across one of these unfortunate rubes today. The words of his sermon went a little something like this: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Now, I don’t place much stock in these pre-modern, pre-critical views, antiquated as they are. I’m well aware that moderns (Modernists?) have it figured out. (more…)

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I woke up early today (6 AM) and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to start the day early. Part of that early start was some devotional reading though 2 Thessalonians. Very interesting letter, to be sure.

Saint Paul of Tarsus

One interesting part is that Paul boldly asserts what many Christians simply do not believe: “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:13-14). Both classical Arminianism and historic Semi-Pelagianism (in different ways) assert that God chooses us because we choose him. Paul (as we shall see, contrasting the believers with the ungodly Gospel deniers of Thessaloniki) artlessly asserts that God chose the Thessalonian Christians. At this point, I pause to wait for all the yeahbuts… (more…)

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I ran across a gorgeous little ditty from John Calvin today. It fits into the discussion about God’s will and the salvation of people. Calvin’s little tract is called “Articles concerning Predestination”; it’s found in a volume translated and edited by J.K.S. Reid entitled Calvin: Theological Treatises. In that the article is short, I will reproduce the whole thing below and then add some comments afterward.

Articles concerning Predestination

Before the first man was created, God in his eternal counsel had determined what he willed to be done with the whole human race.

In the hidden counsel of God it was determined that Adam should fall from the unimpaired condition of his nature, and by his defection should involve all his posterity in sentence of eternal death.

Upon the same decree depends the distinction between elect and reprobate: as he adopted some for himself for salvation, he destined others for eternal ruin. (more…)

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Sacramental Teaching and Practice in the Reformation ChurchesSacramental Teaching and Practice in the Reformation Churches by Geoffrey W. Bromiley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to think when I picked up this little volume. I don’t know too much about Bromiley, but I know he is responsible for translating a whole library of books into English, including works from Karl Barth, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and (if I’m not mistaken) even some Rudolf Bultmann. I therefore had my doubts about Bromiley’s ability to fairly reproduce a summary of the sacramental teaching and practice in the reformation churches. I have found in my studies of the theology of John Calvin that many interpreters who are influenced by so-called Neo-Orthodoxy have a tendency to recast Calvin in their own image. I feared that maybe Bromiley might be cut from that unsavory cloth.

I was happily surprised, then, to find that Bromiley’s handling of the topic was quite faithful to what I have come to understand as Reformation teaching. Now, I’ll own that I didn’t read this book with scrupulous care. (I largely read it at the side of a pool during the kids’ swimming lessons.) Even so, I found the book edifying and informative. It was well-organized and brief, making it an easy entrance into an admittedly difficult subject.

One thing that I thought was odd is that Bromiley essentially did not quote the Reformers. My recollection is that all the footnotes were references to Scripture. In other words, this little work was very much Bromiley’s condensation of Reformation teaching. This book is his summary, and it is a good summary.

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