Archive for the ‘ Topical ’ Category

Wellum’s faculty address at SBTS

Apparently, this address didn’t pass muster in SBC politics. Since I’m not SBC, here it is. I think it’s pretty good, myself ;)

“What does the Extent of the Atonement have to do with Baptist Ecclesiology: an Experience of Doing Theology.”

In case anyone was wondering, I got it last week from another blog that posted it. That blogger is SBC, I’m not. So there you go.

Evidence that Evidentialism Fails

All one needs to do to demonstrate the title of this post is true is to examine the Caner Scandal. Ergun Caner’s defenders have consistently refused to examine the evidence of Ergun Caner’s multiplicitous prevarications – and instead have attacked those criticizing Dr. Caner. See, evidentialism is all about presenting “brute facts”, “objectively” from a putatively “neutral” standpoint. There are many problems with this. First, no one is neutral. Second, there are no brute facts. Third, there is no objectivity from any position save that of a worldview based soundly in Christian theology.

Here’s where evidentialism goes off the rails. They assume that man can reason properly, absent God’s regenerative grace. Based on that, they assume that given “facts”, in this universal reasoning ability, you can come to the correct conclusion if the case is reasoned well. Third, they “cut down” the whole of Christian theology, and argue from “bare theism”.

Let’s take the first. Scripture most definitely denies this assertion. Romans 1 tells us that men “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”, they “become futile in their speculations” and thus God gives them over – to lusts, to passions, and to a depraved mind. Proverbs repeatedly tells us that the fear of the Lord is the *beginning* of wisdom. Tell me – if you don’t even have the beginning, how can you have any at all? I could go on, but this is going to be short, so I’ll stop there.

Second, no fact is examined apart from your own already-formed conceptions. Until and unless those conceptions, or presuppositions, are addressed, you will go nowhere. Everything a man examines is filtered through the matrix of their presuppositions. There are no “brute” facts, which merely need to be seen to reach the proper conclusion.

Third, the assumption that there is an “objective” viewpoint for unbelievers to look at facts from is absurd. Did not Christ say “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life?” That means there is, definitionally, no other! Does not Paul say, in Colossians, that ALL treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus? This means that all other purported wisdom, purported knowledge, is foolish – it is only “falsely called wisdom”. (1 Ti 6:20)

So, back to our example. When presented with video, audio, legal documents, examples from his own writings – what is the response of Caner’s defenders? I’ve seen a few types of response.
1) Ignore it
2) Spin it
3) Attack the messenger

Now, does this look to you like all you have to do is present the evidence, and they will see the light? If someone doesn’t *want to believe the evidence* – they won’t – and only an act of God will change that desire. After all – isn’t that we’re always saying? Only those drawn by the Father will come. Only those given ears to hear, will hear.

Tim Rogers is claiming that Caner was “exonerated”. Do people who are exonerated get fired as President of a seminary? Peter Lumpkins is claiming that “Ergun Caner did not make up his life testimony.” Tim Guthrie claims that “He is NOT a liar.” Excuse me? On what possible grounds can any of these statements be made? Oh, that’s right – on presuppositional grounds. Faulty presuppositional grounds. If none of the evidence presented, save that which can be refuted (and has also been refuted by Caner’s *Christian* critics, save for one undiscerning soul), is considered valid *a priori*, or has been examined at all, it’s easy to say that. It’s just as easy to say a red light is green – if you’re colorblind.

So, as I said – this situation points out quite clearly what the issue is. It’s NOT evidence. it’s *presuppositions*.

To close with a couple quotes from Dr. Robert Price, a skeptic Dr. White recently debated:

Dr. Price: “if you had your video camera, you’d have picked it up – but nobody did… I don’t know what on earth could prove that Moses divided the Red Sea, save a trip in a time machine… it’s a question of theology, not a historical judgement” – from that recent debate.
Dr. White: (selected) “this issue this evening is not just the skepticism that says we don’t know… if we are not for God having spoken, we are where Dr. Price is this evening…. so, there could not be any evidence from antiquity that could convince you?”
Dr. Price: “no, I can’t see how, given the nature of documents from antiquity”
Dr. White: “Does it not follow that there cannot be anything short of multiply attested recordings of an event to prove it?”
Dr. Price: “”I’m afraid that’d be so.”

Our intrepid defenders, note – are even MORE skeptical than Dr. Price. Even video cannot prove whether something happened, to these folks. I rest my case.

A Good Question.

For all of the Ergun Caner supporters out there:

When you engage in apologetics, do you go to the evidence for the resurrection? That’s a fairly safe bet for most of you.

If you won’t accept evidence that demonstrates Dr. Caner’s falsehoods – how on earth do you expect unbelievers to accept your evidence for the resurrection?

Interesting example of why Theology matters – in apologetics as well as in any other sphere.

For more information: Choosinghats.com

HT: Dale

Apologetics Class Links

Don’t have all the links, files, etc ready yet, but it will be coming, and available here. I’ll update this post when it is.


Week 1
– Introduction and Definitions
Week 2 – The Sufficiency of Scripture
Week 3 – The Reliability of the New Testament Text
Week 4 – “Theology and Apologetics”
Week 5 – “The Myth of Neutrality”
Week 6 – “Common Ground”
Week 7 – “How to Defend the Faith”
Week 8 – “A Biblical Exposition of Acts 17″
Week 9 – “The Law of Eternal Progression – Mormonism”
Weeks 10-14 10: Intro to Islam; 11: Answering The Watchtower; 12: Atheism; 13: Naturalism; 14: Evolution
Week 15 – The Shack
Week 16 – How to Answer Objections

Update: all the files are up, but weeks 15 and 16 have some audio problems I need to fix. Week 15 cut off early, and week 16 has quite a bit of noise.

Church History Class Links

Church History Classes:

Week 1
Week 2
Weeks 3-5
Week 6
Weeks 7-8
Week 9
Weeks 10-11
Week 12

Convicted.

When I was listening to Phil Johnson’s sermon “Marching Orders” earlier, I found myself convicted of something.

I have to confess – the recent controversy swirling around Dr. White and Dr. Caner has caught me up in something I must repent of. It’s something very simple, but not often thought of by those who engage in contention for the faith.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus [and] with [it] eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. Remind [them] of these things, and solemnly charge [them] in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless [and leads] to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly [and] empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, [men] who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these [things], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love [and] peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:10-26, NASB)

So, to explain my repentance, I figure this is a good time to explain why I should, as it will perhaps be helpful to others. First, let’s address the overview of the chapter. Paul is encouraging and instructing his son in the faith, Timothy, in the office of elder/overseer. In this chapter, he gives practical instruction concerning what an elder must do. Now, for full disclosure purposes, I am not an elder. However, I am a teacher, and as such, am held to a higher standard.

In verse 10, Paul gives his own philosophy of ministry – also explicated in Philippians 2 – of service and suffering for the sake of the elect. He endures, because he will reign with Christ – to deny Him is to have Christ deny us. Even if we are faithless – He still remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself! He charges Timothy to remind his flock of these things, and to remind them not to quarrel over trifling matters. This is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers. On the contrary – be diligent – be a workman who is not ashamed. Rightly handle the Word of Truth. Avoid worldly, empty chatter – it spreads like gangrene! However, note that Paul is not afraid to name names, as he does elsewhere, of people who stray from the truth. The firm foundation, however, is of God – and stands still. God is who prepares the appropriate vessels for the appropriate work.

Flee from youthful lusts – but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace – with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. Notice here – peace is always with those of God. If you have peace with the world, you’re doing something wrong. But on we go!

Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations – they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bondservant, however, is NOT quarrelsome – not given to quarreling, for the sake of quarreling. But, and this is where we get to where my problem lies:

He must be: kind to all – am I kind to all? No, I’m not – and I repent of that, and ask forgiveness.

able to teach – I pray that I at least fulfill this duty faithfully.

patient when wronged – the ESV renders this as “patiently enduring evil”. Now, what is interesting about this is that I definitely am a violator of this. I am not only impatient with evil, but I rebel at enduring it – for the sake of God, the elect, or anyone else. It means “patient of ills and wrongs, forbearing” – I have been failing miserably at forbearance in this regard. It doesn’t matter what the wrong is – or whether it is directed at another. This ties in with the next consideration.

…with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses [and escape] from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

I am fond of quoting Bahnsen, and Schaeffer – their “humble boldness” and “truth in love” are dear to my heart. I must confess, however, that I am often ungentle in my correction. I nuke when I should use a scalpel, and I use a club when I should be using a careful razor’s edge to shave away the layers of falsity.

I have kept this name to remind myself to do just that – but I’ve failed in my task, and I ask your forgiveness for this fault. Especially, I ask the forgiveness of Mr. Lumpkins. While I do not minimize the depth of his error in the libel in which he has lately engaged, I’m very sorry for not patiently enduring it, and correcting gently. It doesn’t matter how deep the wound that is made is – or how loyal I strive to be to a friend and a dear brother. I am still called to – and held to – the standard of Scripture in dealing with error – and I haven’t met it. I also ask the forgiveness of anyone else whom I’ve lately been ungentle with – or have talked about impatiently out of their hearing. It is not the standard to which I’ve been called.

It’s something I need to work on, and once again, I repent of it.

Week 10, here is a video playlist:

Week 11, you can find the audio here.
Week 12, we used Dr. White’s first debate with Dan Barker, which is under copyright. You may purchase it here. Preview below:

Week 13 can be found here.
Week 14 can be found here.

God forbid.

If the Lord intended that he should, and [he] by his death did, procure pardon of sin and reconciliation with God for all and every one, to be actually enjoyed upon condition that they do believe, then ought this good-will and intention of God, with this purchase in their behalf by Jesus Christ, to be made known to them by the word, that they might believe; “for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. x. 17: for if these things be not made known and revealed to all and every one that is concerned in them, namely, to whom the Lord intends, and for whom he hath procured so great a good, then one of these things will follow; — either, first, That they may be saved without faith in, and the knowledge of, Christ (which they cannot have unless he be revealed to them), which is false, and proved so; or else, secondly, That this good-will of God, and this purchase made by Jesus Christ, is plainly in vain, and frustrate in respect of them, yea, a plain mocking of them, that will neither do them any good to help them out of misery, nor serve the justice of God to leave them inexcusable, for what blame can redound to them for not embracing and well using a benefit which they never heard of in their lives? Doth it become the wisdom of God to send Christ to die for men that they might be saved, and never cause these men to hear of any such thing; and yet to purpose and declare that unless they do hear of it and believe it, they shall never be saved? What wise man would pay a ransom for the delivery of those captives which he is sure shall never come to the knowledge of any such payment made, and so never be the better for it? Is it answerable to the goodness of God, to deal thus with his poor creatures? to hold out towards them all in pretence the most intense love imaginable, beyond all compare and illustration, — as his love in sending his Son is set forth to be, — and yet never let them know of any such thing, but in the end to damn them for not believing it? Is it answerable to the love and kindness of Christ to us, to assign unto him at his death 239such a resolution as this:— “I will now, by the oblation of myself, obtain for all and every one peace and reconciliation with God, redemption and everlasting salvation, eternal glory in the high heavens, even for all those poor, miserable, wretched worms, condemned caitiffs, that every hour ought to expect the sentence of condemnation; and all these shall truly and really be communicated to them if they will believe. But yet, withal, I will so order things that innumerable souls shall never hear one word of all this that I have done for them, never be persuaded to believe, nor have the object of faith that is to be believed proposed to them, whereby they might indeed possibly partake of these things?” Was this the mind and will, this the design and purpose, of our merciful high priest? God forbid. It is all one as if a prince should say and proclaim, that whereas there be a number of captives held in sore bondage in such a place, and he hath a full treasure, he is resolved to redeem them every one, so that every one of them shall come out of prison that will thank him for his good-will, and in the meantime never take care to let these poor captives know his mind and pleasure; and yet be fully assured that unless he effect it himself it will never be done. Would not this be conceived a vain and ostentatious flourish, without any good intent indeed towards the poor captives? Or as if a physician should say that he hath a medicine that will cure all diseases, and he intends to cure the diseases of all, but lets but very few know his mind, or any thing of his medicine; and yet is assured that without his relation and particular information it will be known to very few. And shall he be supposed to desire, intend, or aim at the recovery of all?

The Death of Death in the Death of ChristBook III, Chapter 1John Owen

It is sad to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or at least they wish there were no such thing. While some would not go so far as to openly admit that they consider it a blemish on the Divine character, yet they are far from regarding it with delight, they like not to think about it, and they rarely hear it mentioned without a secret resentment rising up in their hearts against it. Even with those who are more sober in their judgment, not a few seem to imagine that there is a severity about the Divine wrath which is too terrifying to form a theme for profitable contemplation. Others harbor the delusion that God’s wrath is not consistent with His goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts.

Yes, many there are who turn away from a vision of God’s wrath as though they were called to look upon some blotch in the Divine character, or some blot upon the Divine government. But what saith the Scriptures? As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the fact of His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong unto Him. His own challenge is, “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me” (Deut. 32:39-41). A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; And because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner: Psalm 7:11.

Now the wrath of God is as much a Divine perfection as is His faithfulness, power, or mercy. It must be so, for there is no blemish whatever, not the slightest defect in the character of God; yet there would be if “wrath” were absent from Him! Indifference to sin is a moral blemish, and he who hates it not is a moral leper. How could He who is the Sum of all excellency look with equal satisfaction upon virtue and vice, wisdom and folly? How could He who is infinitely holy disregard sin and refuse to manifest His “severity” (Rom. 9:12) toward it? How could He who delights only in that which is pure and lovely, loathe and hate not that which is impure and vile? The very nature of God makes Hell as real a necessity, as imperatively and eternally requisite as Heaven is. Not only is there no imperfection in God, but there is no perfection in Him that is less perfect than another.

The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which He passes upon evil-doers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God’s government shall be made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened wrath which they so little regarded. Not that God’s anger is a malignant and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for injury received. No; while God will vindicate His dominion as the Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive.

That Divine wrath is one of the perfections of God is not only evident from the considerations presented above, but is also clearly established by the express declarations of His own Word. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” (Rom. 1:18).

Again; that the wrath of God is a Divine perfection is plainly demonstrated by what we read of in Psalm 95:11, “Unto whom I sware in My wrath.” There are two occasions of God “swearing”: in making promises (Gen. 22:16), and in denouncing threatening (Deut. 1:34). In the former, He swares in mercy to His children; in the latter, He swares to terrify the wicked. An oath is for solemn confirmation: Hebrews 6:16. In Genesis 22:16 God said, “By Myself have I sworn.” In Psalm 89:35 He declares, “Once have I sworn by My holiness.” While in Psalm 95:11 He affirmed, “I swear in My wrath.” Thus the great Jehovah Himself appeals to His “wrath” as a perfection equal to His “holiness”: He swares by the one as much as by the other! Again; as in Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9), and as all the Divine perfections are illustriously displayed by Him (John 1:18), therefore do we read of “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16).

The wrath of God is a perfection of the Divine character upon which we need to frequently meditate. First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by God’s detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and ponder God’s abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely are we to realize its heinousness. Second, to beget a true fear in our souls for God: “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28,29). We cannot serve Him “acceptably” unless there is due “reverence” for His awful Majesty and “godly fear” of His righteous anger, and these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that “our God is a consuming fire.” Third, to draw out our souls in fervent praise for having delivered us from “the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

~ A.W. Pink – The Attributes of God16 – The Wrath of God.

My comment: “God is not “driven by” wrath – wrath is an attribute of God’s nature.”

CMP: No, wrath is a response of another attribute, namely righteousness. But that is not really the point of this post.

Jugulum: I actually agree w/him on “wrath”. Wrath isn’t an attr. because God’s wouldn’t be wrathful if he hadn’t created. God was/is/will-be eternally holy/righteous, which includes the trait, “I will be wrathful toward sin”. You might call that a “attr. of wrath”, but I think that was the distinction CMP was making. Similarly, God wasn’t eternally merciful, apart from a sinful creation. Mercy & wrath are expressions of his eternal attributes.

Recall this post: Divine Simplicity and Malformed Arguments.

This is another good example of why we must keep ALL of God’s attributes in mind, when formulating our theology – even on the internet. What does this point of view entail? First, that God changed. That He is not immutable. In this view, God began to be wrathful (or merciful). In this view, God’s wrath is not eternal, toward sin, nor is His mercy towards sinners eternal. Did God enter the temporal realm at a certain point in time, and thereby become successive, changeable, and non-eternal? If not, this view does not, and cannot, hold water. Similarly to when we say, as Athanasius said contra the Arians, that “there was never a time when the Son was not” – we must say that there was a never a time God’s wrath was not. God is not temporal, folks. God is not changeable, and God “is not a man, that He should change His mind”.

Hear me – I understand the distinction being made by CMP and Jugulum. However – the consequences of this view are utterly unacceptable. What God does, He eternally purposed to do. God’s righteousness is eternal, yes – but His wrath, since He is Eternal, is necessarily eternal wrath. Jer 10:10 – “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.” Or take this – Deu 32:40-41 – “Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever, If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me.”

As Charnock says, and as I used in my class for our 1st-6th graders recently – “Though God be least in their thoughts, and is made light of in the world, yet the thoughts of God’s eternity, when he comes to judge the world, shall make the slighters of him tremble. That the Judge and punisher lives forever, is the greatest grievance to a soul in misery, and adds an inconceivable weight to it, above what the infiniteness of God’s executive power could do without that duration. His eternity makes the punishment more dreadful than his power; his power makes it sharp, but his eternity renders it perpetual; ever to endure, is the sting at the end of every lash. And how sad is it to think that God lays his eternity as a security for the punishment of obstinate sinners… a reward proportioned to the greatness of their offences, and the glory of an eternal God!”

As to mercy, think on this – “And {He did so} to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,” – Rom 9:23. We’re all Calvinists here, right? Are not God’s decrees eternal? This is an eternal decree of mercy, folks. Not to mention Rom 9:22 – “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” Now, I’m aware of CMP’s comments in this vein – but I’m not convinced there is anything different in the “timing” of the preparation, there. God’s decrees are eternal. You do notice, I hope, that it undermines Jugulum’s idea that mercy is also a reaction to man’s actions. As Calvinists, we must be careful not to think that God’s eternal decrees are subject to the actions of men – or consequent to them. If God is Sovereign, He is utterly Sovereign.

I’m not really concerned with commenting on CMP’s main article – TurretinFan already did so, much more ably than I could have. I was concerned with the explanation offered by CMP, and then Jugulum for the wrath of God; and Jugulum’s further extrapolation to mercy. If God is eternal, than His attributes are necessarily eternal. To say otherwise brings about serious exegetical and apologetic issues.

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