f The Wittenberg Door: February 2013

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is God a Christian?

Attacking historic Christianity sells a lot of books. Just ask Sam Harris, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell. No stranger to attacking Christianity is Southern-Baptist-turned-pluralist R. Kirby Godsey. This book should be noted because, although the author repudiates about every Christian doctrine, he is still a major player in moderate Baptistdom. For this reason I recommend Albert Mohler’s review of Mr. Godsey’s new book, Is God a Christian?, at AlbertMohler.com. Here’s how the review begins:

“Most Christians assume that Christianity is the one and only religion that is God-inspired and that carries the imprimatur of God’s blessing,” laments R. Kirby Godsey. In his new book, Is God a Christian?, Godsey sets out to oppose that assumption and to argue that “the stakes for mankind have grown too high for any of us to engage our faith as if our understanding of God represents the only way God’s presence may be known in the world.”

The great question of the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is necessarily bound up with the most central teachings of the Christian faith, which is why an argument like this must be considered so carefully. A closer look reveals that Godsey is not merely calling upon Christians to reconsider how we define and defend the Gospel — he is calling for a total reconstruction of everything that Christianity represents.

You can read the rest of the review here.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Notable Quotes: John Calvin and Albert Wolters

On redeeming culture . . .

The liberal arts and sciences have descended to us from the heathen. We are, indeed, compelled to acknowledge that we have received astronomy, and the other parts of philosophy, medicine, and the order of the civil government, from them. Nor is it to be doubted that God has thus liberally enriched them with excellent favors that their impiety might have the less excuse. But, while we admire the riches of his favor which he has bestowed on them, let us still value far more highly that grace of regeneration with which he peculiarly sanctifies his elect unto himself.

John Calvin

The new humanity, God’s people, is called to promote renewal in every department of creation. If Christ is the reconciler of all things, and if we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation on his behalf, then we have a redemptive task wherever our vocation places us in his world. . . . In the name of Christ, [the] distortion [of sin] must be opposed everywhere—in the kitchen and bedroom, in city councils and corporate boardrooms, on the stage, [on the silver screen], and on the air, in the classroom, and in the workshop. Everywhere humanity’s sinfulness disrupts and deforms. Everywhere Christ’s victory is pregnant with the defeat of sin and the recovery of creation.

Albert Wolters

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God

An important part of worshiping God with our mind (Luke 10:27) is knowing how to think well, how to organize our thoughts. Another reason we need to learn to think well is so that we are prepared to defend the faith (1 Pet. 3:15). Knowing the different types of arguments will help in this endeavor. Jamin Hubner provides a helpful summary of the four main types of arguments at the Alpha and Omega Ministries blog. As part of the discussion Mr. Hubner points out that the strongest argument is the transcendental:

The fourth and final kind of argument is the transcendental argument, which is a unique argument that argues from the impossibility of the contrary. In a transcendental argument for God's existence, God is the precondition for all intelligible experience and, indeed, for all things that exist. (This is because of the nature of the Creator and the nature of creation; this is where good theology comes in). In other words, without God, there cannot be anything that is; there must be a transcendental foundation for the things that we experience - a foundation that stands above and beyond creation itself. For example, we might attempt to summarize it by putting it like this:

  1. The existence of creation presupposes that God (the Creator) exists.
  2. Creation exists.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

Or, to put it differently, God exists because it would be impossible for Him not to exist.

This is highly simplified, and Cornelius Van Til gave several simple ways of understanding the transcendental argument for God's existence (or "TAG"):

“We cannot prove the existence of beams underneath a floor if by proof we mean that they must be ascertainable in the way that we can see the chairs and tables of the room. But the very idea of a floor as the support of tables and chairs requires the idea of beams that are underneath. But there would be no floor if no beams were underneath. Thus there is absolutely certain proof for the existence of God and the truth of Christian theism. Even non-Christians presuppose its truth while they verbally reject it. They need to presuppose the truth of Christian theism in order to account for their own accomplishments.” (Defense of the Faith, 126)

“The only “proof” of the Christian position is that unless its truth is presupposed there is no possibility of proving anything at all.” (Jerusalem and Athens, 21)

John Frame also said:

“That is, [apologetics] should present the biblical God, not merely as the conclusion to the argument, but as the one who makes arguments possible.” (Frame, Five Views on Apologetics, 220).

You can read the entire post here.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Notable Quote: B.B. Warefield

B.B. Warfield (1851 – 1921) on the Calvinist’s dependence upon God’s grace:

The Calvinist is the [person] who sees God behind all phenomena, and in all that occurs recognizes the hand of God…’who makes the attitude of the soul to God in prayer the permanent attitude…’ and who casts himself on the grace of God alone, excluding every trace of dependence on self from the whole work of salvation.

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Today in Church History: General Assembly (5th: 1939), Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Name

Meeting in Philadelphia on February 9, 1939, the fifth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America changed the name of the denomination to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Threatened by a lawsuit by the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., the young church determined that it lacked the financial resources necessary to sustain the legal challenge to its name. Commissioners to that Assembly chose the new name after a vigorous, twelve-hour debate. Other names considered were the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian and Reformed Church of America, the North American Presbyterian Church, the American Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church of Christ, the Protestant Presbyterian Church of America, the Seceding Presbyterian Church (of America), the Free Presbyterian Church of America, the American Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and the True Presbyterian Church of the World.

Historian Mark Noll interpreted the debate in this way: "In the end sentiment was divided nearly equally between the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, with only lesser support for names retaining the word 'America.' By one vote 'Orthodox' prevailed over 'Evangelical,' and so it has remained to this day. Most significantly, the new name indicated a new perspective. No longer would the denomination aspire to be the Presbyterian Church of America."

-John Muether


Saturday, February 02, 2013

Notable Quote: J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) on Biblical love . . .

Biblical love will show in a Christian’s actions, making him ready to do good to everyone, without looking for any reward. It will show itself in willingness to bear evil. It will make him patient when provoked, forgiving, meek, and humble. He will often deny himself for the sake of peace and will be more interested in promoting peace than in securing his own rights. Biblical love will show in a Christian’s general attitude. We will be kind, unselfish, good-tempered and considerate, gentle and courteous, thoughtful of others’ comfort, concerned for others’ feelings and more willing to give than to receive. True love never envies, and never rejoices in people’s troubles.

Walking with God