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Friday
Oct282011

Round the Sphere Again: Apologetics

Answering Objections
A collection of Common Objections to Christianity from Skeptics answered by Steve Hays. Like, for instance,

How can it be just to send people to hell when they have never had the opportunity to believe in Jesus?

No one goes to hell for disbelieving in Jesus. Disbelief is an aggravating factor. But the hellbound are already lost. Refusing the gospel isn’t what renders them damnable.

In Christian theology, nobody can be saved unless he knows and accepts the gospel. This doesn’t mean nobody can be damned unless he knows and rejects the gospel. Rather, to be lost is the default condition of sinners. To be lost is not a result of spurning the gospel. To the contrary, it’s because sinners are lost in the first place that they desperately need to be saved.

From Monergism.com.

Presuppositional Apologetics
Listen to Dustin Segers and Sye Ten Bruggencate engage two atheists using presuppositional apologetics. The whole thing is 3 hours long, but you’ll get the idea if you listen to the first hour or so. 

Thursday
Oct272011

The Cross of Christ: Self-Understanding and Self-Giving

This week’s reading from John Stott’s The Cross of Christ for Reading Classics Together at Challies.com is Chapter 11, Self-Understanding and Sefl-Giving. Instead of summarizing the whole chapter, I’ll just highlight a few points from it.

The self-understanding Stott writes of is not self-absorption, but a means to self-giving. The community of the cross will be “marked by sacrifice, service and suffering’ which works itself out in the home, the church, and the world.

The Christian Home
The Christian home should be marked by the self-giving love of the cross, but, says Stott, it is husbands who are particularly singled out. “[T]hey are to love their wives with the love which Christ has for his bride the church.” If our homes were distinguished by self-giving love Christian homes would be be more fulfilling and more solid.

The Church
Those in the church are to love one another.

We have only to remember that our fellow Christian is a “brother [or sister] for whom Christ died,” and we will never disregard, but always seek to serve, their truest and highest welfare. To sin against them would be to sin against Christ.

The World
Christ sends us out into the world.

Mission arises from the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. His birth, by which he identified himself with our humanity, calls us to a similar costly identification with people. His death reminds us that suffering is the key to church growth, since it is the seed that dies which multiplies. And his resurrection gave him the universal lordship that enabled him both to claim that “all authority” was now his and to send his church to disciple the nations.

Next up is chapter 12, Loving Our Enemies.

Thursday
Oct272011

Thankful Thursday

 

  • I’m thankful for the garden potatoes that I’m baking for supper. I guess I’m thankful that we all like our potatoes baked, too.
  • I’m thankful that my son replaced a couple of light fixtures for me this afternoon, because I’d rather not have to learn how to replace light fixtures for myself. I’m thankful for son’s patience when the old electrical box prooved difficult to attach the new fixture to. I’m thankful that the light fixtures I chose look even better than I thought they would. Sometimes things don’t work out like that for me.
  • Still thankful for Natalie, who is becoming so reponsive and social. What fun she is! 
  • I’m thankful that I have everything I need and more. Because sometimes I forget that.
  • I’m thankful for a busy and productive day.
  • I’m thankful for the historic creeds and confessions and for those who drafted them. 

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others. 

Wednesday
Oct262011

Book Review: 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law

by Thomas R. Schreiner.

This is another book in the excellent 40 Question Series edited by Benjamin Merkle and published by Kregel Academic & Professional. (See my previous review of another book in this series, 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible.) This time round, the subject is biblical law, a tricky subject, if you ask me.

According to Tom Schreiner, it’s also an important one, because the way we put the whole Bible together depends on our understanding of the law. What’s more—and relatedly—those who study the law can better evaluate the theological systems. In addition, the law relates to justification. How we understand the law affects how we understand salvation. And last, those who want to please God need to understand how the law relates to them as believers.

To work through these issues Schreiner answers questions about

  • The Law in the Old Testament
  • The Law in Paul (This section makes up over half the book, because “Paul’s theology of the law is the most crucial in determining one’s view of the law canonically….”) 
  • The Law in the Gospels and Acts
  • The Law in the General Epistles
  • The Law and Contemporary Issues

When it comes to his view of the law, Schreiner is not a typical Covenant Theologian. He argues that while the categories of civil, ceremonial and moral law may be useful in some ways, the scripture doesn’t divide the law this way, and sometimes exact distinctions are difficult to make. He disagrees with the common view that the ceremonial and civil law have been done away with in Christ while the moral law remains binding, teaching instead that the whole Mosaic law is no longer in force since the coming of Christ.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct252011

Theological Term of the Week

Belgic Confession
The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Reformed Churches, written mainly by Guido de Bras, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, in 1561.

  • From the Belgic Confession

    Article XIX. The Union and Distinction of the Two Natures in the Person of Christ

    We believe that by this conception the person of the Son is inseparably united and connected with the human nature; so that there are not two Sons of God, nor two persons, but two natures united in one single person; yet each nature retains its own distinct properties. As, then, the divine nature has always remained uncreated, without beginning of days or end of life, filling heaven and earth, so also has the human nature not lost its properties but remained a creature, having beginning of days, being a finite nature, and retaining all the properties of a real body. And though He has by His resurrection given immortality to the same, nevertheless He has not changed the reality of His human nature; forasmuch as our salvation and resurrection also depend on the reality of His body. But these two natures are so closely united in one person that they were not separated even by His death. Therefore that which He, when dying, commended into the hands of His Father, was a real human spirit, departing from His body. But in the meantime the divine nature always remained united with the human, even when He lay in the grave; and the Godhead did not cease to be in Him, any more than it did when He was an infant, though it did not so clearly manifest itself for a while. Wherefore we confess that He is very God and very man: very God by His power to conquer death; and very man that He might die for us according to the infirmity of His flesh.

  • From The Belgic Confession of Faith and the Canons of Dordt by Joel R. Beeke:
  • The year after it was written, a copy of the Confession was sent to King Philip II together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all things lawful, but that they would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire, well knowing that those who follow Christ must take his cross and deny themselves,” rather than deny the truth expressed in this Confession. Neither the Confession nor the petition, however, bore the desired fruit of toleration for Protestants with the Spanish authorities. In 1567, de Bres became one martyr among thousands who sealed their faith with blood. Nevertheless, his work has endured as a convincing statement of Reformed doctrine. 

Learn more:

  1. Theopedia: Belgic Confession
  2. Joel R. Beeke: The Belgic Confession of Faith and the Canons of Dordt
  3. Kim Riddlebarger: A Commentary on the Belgic Confession
  4. Rev. C. Bouwman: Notes on the Belgic Confession
  5. Immanuel’s Reformed Church: Sermon series on the Belgic Confession
  6. Kevin DeYoung: The Belgic Confession and the Hero No One Remembers
Related terms:
  • Augsburg Confession
  • Heidelberg Catechism
  • Canons of Dordt 
  • Westminster Confession 
  • London Baptist Confession

Filed under Creeds and Confessions.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.