Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

Gradually, the struggle between the party called Puritan and the repressive Court party became more intense and more bitter during the whole period of the reigns of James I and Charles I. A new element of conflict was introduced in the fact that the despotic Court party naturally abandoned the Calvinism of the founders of the Church, and adopted that Arminianism which has always prevailed among the parasites of arbitrary power and the votaries of a churchly and sacramental religion.

A. A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith, 17

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ruling Elders and their Influence

I am preparing my syllabus and notes for an Adult Sunday School class I will be teaching next year at Communion Presbyterian. I will be teaching through the Confession, with the goal of better familiarizing the congregation with the great doctrines taught therein. One source I am using is A. A. Hodge's The Confession of Faith (Banner of Truth, 1964). In the preface, Hodge retells what was his inspiration for writing his commentary on the Confession:

During the sessions of the General Assembly of 1868 in Albany, the author was honoured with an invitation from the Rev. G. C. Heckman, D.D., pastor of the State Street Church in that city, to visit a large and intelligent class held every Sunday afternoon in the body of the church, and instructed in the Confession of Faith by the admirable elder and fellow-labourer in the gospel, E. P. Durant, Esq. In both design and success this exercise appeared worthy of universal emulation...At that time the design of this "Commentary" on the Confession of Faith was conceived.
(The Confession of Faith, xv).

Edward P. Durant was a Ruling Elder (thanks to R. Andrew Meyers for helping me with that!). His class is what gave A. A. Hodge the idea of writing his great commentary on the Confession. Ruling Elders can have a great influence on their local congregations, but also on the whole church for generations to come! That is a very humbling idea for me to keep in mind as I prepare my notes for next year's Sunday School class on the Confession of Faith!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ref21 on Church Plant(er)s

Stephen Nichols has posted a short article about church plants and the pastors who labor therein over at Reformation21. It is worth reading. I couldn't help but think of all the work my own pastor does at our church plant as I read it. It reminded me to pray for our church planters! Hope on over and have a read: Church Planting, Double Honor (and then some).

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Robert Godfrey on Church Growth

While doing some research today, I stumbled upon a talk Dr. Robert Godfrey gave back in 2004 on the Church Growth Movement. It is excellent. Since it was given back in 2004, I realize I'm way behind the times, but if I hadn't heard it, there's a possibility you haven't heard in either. Give it a listen, you'll be glad you did.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Compare and Contrast

Martin Luther:

“The pope employs most wicked tricks…. Next to Satan there is no greater rascal than the pope. He has plotted evil things against me, but he’ll be the last….He is a Florentine bastard.”

Table Talk, between January 8 and March 23, 1532.

“My epitaph shall remain true: ‘While alive I was your plague, when dead I’ll be your death, O pope.’”

Table Talk, February 1557.

“[Luther] raised himself up and after making the sign of the cross with his hand, he said to us who were standing around him, ‘The Lord fill you with his benediction and with hatred of the pope!’”

Table Talk, February, 1537.

John Calvin:

"We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist...personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist."

"The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers," Vol. 2, pg. 121.

“The hireling dogs of the Pope cease not to bark, in order to prevent the pure Gospel of Christ from being heard: so great is the licentiousness that is here and there breaking forth, and the ungodliness that is spreading abroad, that religion is become a mere mockery.”

Michael Horton:

"Biblical theology--that is, the work of tracing major scriptural themes from promise to fulfillment--is essential for the life and health of the Church. Long before his election as pope, Benedict XVI brought his wide-ranging gifts to bear in this field in a Christ-centered exposition. Even when one disagrees with some of his conclusions, Benedict's insights, as well as his engagement with critical scholarship, offer a wealth of reflection. In this remarkable book, Scott Hahn has drawn out the central themes of Benedict's teaching in a highly readable summary that includes not only the pope's published works but also his less-accessible homilies and addresses. This is an eminently useful guide for introducing the thought of an important theologian of our time."
Michael S. Horton, J. G. Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California endorsing the book Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI by Scott Hahn.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving."

Psalm 69:30

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

When we turn to the relationship between apologetics and evangelism (or "witnessing," as Kuyper termed it), we must again disagree with those who suppose that the unbeliever can intelligibly study and interpret experience while at the same time denying the truth of the Christian worldview. Francis Schaeffer does this by isolating apologetics from evangelism, making apologetics a preliminary or preparatory vestibule for faith—what he calls "pre-evangelism." Schaeffer does not contend that the non-Christian's worldview is philosophically unintelligible, but simply that it is incomplete. It is all right as far as it goes (it has "half the orange"), but it leaves out the supernatural (the "other half of the orange"). In light of this dichotomy between an area of natural understanding (which does not need Christian presuppositions) and an area of supernatural understanding (which calls for the Christian worldview), we can understand how apologetics becomes a first step, with evangelism following as a second. Schaeffer says: "The truth that we let in first is not a dogmatic statement of the truth of Scripture but the truth of the external world and the truth of what man himself is. This is what shows him his need. The Scriptures then show him the nature of his lostness and the answer to it. This, I am convinced, is the true order for our apologetics in the second half of the twentieth century."

This understanding of our procedure assumes that the unbeliever's philosophy can readily interpret both the external world and himself in an intelligible fashion on the basis of its autonomous presuppositions and rejection of biblical authority—understanding them well enough to see his spiritual "need." After this preparatory work of reason has been done, the evangelist can appeal to the unbeliever to repudiate his autonomy and accept the dogmatic truth of the Scriptures, which "answers" his spiritual need. Thus, Schaeffer's outlook suggests that apologetics and evangelism operate intellectually with different standards, goals, and methods—a twofold approach that is true to the traditional Thomistic method.

Greg Bahnsen in Van Til's Apologetic, 52-53.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A quick note to point out that TE Wes White, defender of orthodoxy in the PCA, has changed the URL of his blog. You can now find him at Make sure to update your bookmarks/newsreaders. The new site looks great, Wes!

New PCA Presbytery Map: 17-16 in Favor of Amendments

Here is the latest map, showing the results of weekend Presbytery voting. The vote count is now 17 Presbyteries approving the amendments, 16 Presbyteries rejecting them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PCA Vote now 15-14 Against Amendments

Two more PCA Presbyteries have voted to approve the BCO amendments, bringing the total to 14 approving and 15 rejecting the amendments. Remember, two-thirds of all Presbyteries must APPROVE the amendments in order for them to pass. The latest map is linked below. You won't notice a change on the map, because the two presbyteries were Korean presbyteries, and in the PCA the Korean presbyteries overlap other presbyteries geographically, making it difficult to map their results (I mean no offense to the Korean brothers!). There are four more Presbyteries meeting Saturday, so the map may change drastically after this weekend. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another 2 PCA Presbyteries Vote...

...bringing the total to 15 against the BCO Amendments and 12 for the BCO Amendments. Latest map can be seen by clicking on the thumbnail below.

ARPTalk Issue 37

A new issue of ARPTalk is out. It contains three articles:

1. Ebenezer and Ralph's Story
2. Why I Really, Really, Really want to Attend Erskine Seminary
3. Things You Wanted to Know but were Afraid to Ask

All three are excellent (as usual), but here are some quick thoughts on each.

Ebenezer and Ralph's Story: If you ever had a high opinion of the ARP, this article will cure you of it. I believe Rev. Wilson puts things into perspective with his apt illustration of the fight over Erskine as two dung beetles fighting over a huge pile of elephant feces. I still hold out hope that Erskine can be transformed into something more than a steamy pile of droppings, but do we in the ARP have the resolve to see those difficult changes through? It is unclear at this time if we do.

Why I Really, Really, Really Want to Attend Erskine Seminary: This article distinguishes between why a potential seminarian wants to attend Erskine, and why a potential seminarian ought to want to attend Erskine.

Things You Wanted to Know but were Afraid to Ask
: I can sum up my response to this article by saying "Thank God for our Canadian ARPers!" Those brothers have their house in order! Would that the rest of the denomination were more like them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Random Verses from the NIV

The Bayly Blog has been doing a series of posts on the latest version of the NIV (NIV 2010), but at Bible study last night, I noticed some horrible translation choices in the current NIV when one of the men there read from it for us. See below:

Acts 4:9 (NKJV)
If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

Acts 4:9 (NIV)
If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed,

Numbers 11:16 (NKJV)
So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you."

Number 11:16 (NIV)
The LORD said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you."

Note that the gender of both the helpless/crippled man in Acts 4, and the gender of the seventy elders of Israel in Numbers 11 is selectively omitted in the NIV. Note also that in Acts 4:9, both in the critical text and in the Textus Receptus the Greek word "anthropos" meaning "man" is present. This is not a textual variant issue; this is a conscientious translation choice to omit the word "man" in Acts 4:9. The same is true for Numbers 11:16 where the Hebrew word "eesh" meaning "man" is present in the text. Again, a conscientious translation choice to omit the word "man" from the text. Please, if you use the NIV as your every day Bible, get yourself a better translation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Two More PCA Presbyteries Vote...

...and the map is updated:

(Southwest Florida voted to approve the Amendments. Philadelphia voted to reject the amendments. Total is now 15 Presbyteries AGAINST, 9 Presbyteries FOR the amendments. See The Aquila Report for the latest on Presbytery voting.)

EDITED TO ADD: Make that THREE Presbyteries vote. Houston Metro voted to approve the amendments, which is now reflected on the map linked above. Total is now 15-10 against the amendments.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

PCA BCO 14 Amendments Map

I have been tracking the progress of the PCA Presbyteries voting on the proposed amendments to their Book of Church Order (BCO). I have put together a map showing which Presbyteries have voted, and how they have voted. Click on the thumbnail below to see the full map. I'll continue to update this map as more Presbyteries vote. If someone could provide me with a list of dates for upcoming Presbytery meetings, I think I could use that to enhance the map further, as well.

And the Winner is...

I've taken much longer than I should have, but it is finally time to announce the winner of "The First Ever Ruling Elder Blog Contest!"

If you remember, the contest entailed watching a video clip and giving a critique. I received several great critiques. Some highlights included:

Lane Keister pointed out the "Enlightenment-driven divorce between fact and experience."

RevK linked to a sermon entitled "What's the Reason for Preaching?" Although not a critique of the video included in the contest, I still encourage you all to give it a listen.

Patrick Pulliam correctly pointed out, "The gospel is words, proclamation, a message based in and communicated by human language. It is propositional truth, which necessarily involves human knowledge (Rom. 10:17)."

Van cut straight to the point when he wrote that a key take-away point of the video was "The biblical Gospel message is irrelevant."

Grit wrote, "It can be dangerous to philosophically compare our encounter with God in epicurean or hedonisitic fashion." Very true indeed!

Finally, Josh H, in a moment of acute philosophical transcendence, opined: "Dude, this video is wack, yo!"

Despite all these great points, the winner is: LARRY. Larry, please contact me at so I can get your mailing info to mail you your prize!

Oh, and the prize is: The Westminster Standards, An Original Facsimile (Old Paths Publications).

Below is the complete text of Larry's winning critique. Thank you all for participating!

Larry said...

I like what Lane said...but keep in mind he's a Teaching Elder ;)

I learned so much about Krispy-Kreme and so little about Christ.

He actually uses the pulpit as a place to praise and bring glory to Krispy Kreme...a place that is reserved for Christ.

The pulpit is a place for gravity not humor. His jocularity was inappropriate given that he was to proclaim God's holy word in reverence.

He creates a false dichotomy in which information about Jesus is divorced from an experience with Jesus. The bottom line is that you can't have an experience with Jesus without learning the truth about Him. You don't need to know the truth about what's in a donut to experience it, but you do need to know the truth about Jesus to experience Him.

He claimed the Spirit of God told him to take a donut. This shows more irreverence for God and puts Him on the same level as Ronald McDonald as being a spokesperson for a food product.

He paints a picture of a hedonistic Heaven in which our fleshly desires (like for donuts) are gratified. Rather, both in Heaven and on earth we are to be gratified by Christ.

He sets a bad example of breaking the Sabbath in that the Krispy Creme donuts were most likely purchased just prior to that Sunday service.

Calling the donut "king of all donuts" and paralleling it to Christ does great disservice to Christ, and once again shows a complete lack of reverence.

He didn't even thank the Lord for the donut before eating it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Latest Artiles at ARPTalk: Not for the Weak of Stomach

If you want to read something that can potentially make you sick, I point you to the latest articles posted at ARPTalk. The first, reporting on the latest actions of First Presbytery in regard to the issue of whether or not to try Parker Young for suing the church, can be found here. It gives much more detail than the story from The Aquila Report from a few days ago.

The second, which reports on the actions (or lack thereof) of Second Presbytery in regard to bringing charges against Jay Hering, who attempted to sue the ARP, can be read here. I warn you though, this piece could make those a weak constitution a bit quesy. The logic behind the actions of Second Presbytery are quite disgusting. I also note the involvement of Randy Ruble and Neely Gaston in the actions of Second Presbytery. Nothing like your former bosses (who would have been directly affected by a new Board of Erskine, which Hering's non-suit was attempting stop from coming into power) covering for you, right?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quick Thoughts on TE Carpenter

It has now been several weeks since the Siouxlands Presbytery of the PCA handed down their terrible decision to find a strong presumption of guilt against TE Brian Carpenter on the charge of violating the ninth commandment. I have typed several blog posts related to this, but then not posted them (usually, I wait a bit, go back and read what I've written and decide to rewrite completely). I'm going to post this one, and it's going to be short and to the point. TE Carpenter has not broken the ninth commandment in regards to calling out proponents of the Federal Vision within the PCA. If he is telling the truth, he is, by definition NOT violating the ninth commandment (yes, I am aware that "speaking the truth unseasonably" is a violation of the ninth commandment, that is categorically NOT what happened with TE Carpenter). I've read the report of the committee investigating him. It's a joke. Assertions do not a case make. There must be evidence. There is none. Hurting people's feelings does not make a case. Having third parties take what you have said and run with it does not make a case. Yet, this is all there is to the case against TE Carpenter. There is no proof that he himself has violated the ninth commandment.

I will continue to pray for TE Carpenter, that he will be vindicated, and I will continue to pray for the Siouxlands Presbytery, that they will see through these charges for what they really are: unsubstantiated accusations that must be dismissed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just a Reminder

Just a reminder that there are only two days left to leave a comment on The First Ever Ruling Elder Blog Contest!, to be entered to win. Watch the video that is embedded in the post and leave a comment on the post critiquing the "talk". Comments must be posted no later than Wednesday, October 6, 2010. The best critique will win!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The First Ever Ruling Elder Blog Contest!

I have decided to have a contest.

Here's how it works: below, I have posted a video clip of a portion of a "talk" (I won't call it a sermon) that I watched today. To participate in the contest, you must watch the video (the clip is only about 10 minutes long), and leave a comment on this blog post with a critique of the talk. The best critique (as chosen by me, and me alone) will win and I will send the winner a book of some sort (I'm not sure what just yet, but most likely something by a Puritan). My advice to all who enter is to be precise and concise. No need to write a dissertation on this!

Contest will end in 1 week (no comments posted after Wednesday, October 6 will be accepted for consideration), at which time I'll announce a winner. All who wish to participate may do so.

Here is the video. Watch, comment, and may the best critique win!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Office Hours Interview with Pastor Terry Johnson

R. Scott Clark, professor at Westminster Seminary California has posted a wonderful interview with Terry Johnson, pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, Georgia. Pastor Johnson makes some great points in his critique of the modern evangelical approach to worship, and he also has some valid warnings for the Reformed church, as well.

I encourage you to listen to the interview, here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Acts 1: Appointing a Replacement for Judas

This past Monday night, the Bible study I lead finished the first chapter of Acts. In that section of Scripture, the disciples choose two potential replacements for Judas, and God picks Matthias. It is interesting to me to read what different commentators have written about that event. Here is a sampling:

Matthew Poole simply asserts:

He was numbered with the eleven. The rest of the apostles, and the whole church, agreeing with that Divine choice which was made.

In other words, the apostles acted correctly and Matthias was in deed chosen by God.

Matthew Henry writes:

Matthias was not ordained by the imposition of hands, as presbyters were, for he was chosen by lot, which was the act of God; and therefore, as he must be baptized, so he must be ordained, by the Holy Ghost, as they all were not many days after. Thus the number of the apostles was made up, as afterwards, when James, another of the twelve, was martyred, Paul was made an apostle.

Henry postulates that just as Matthias was the replacement for Judas, so Paul was the replacement for James.

Charles Hodge had a perspective I didn't find elsewhere:

“And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles.” And that was the end. We never hear of Matthias afterward. It is very doubtful whether this appointment of Matthias had any validity. What is here recorded (Acts i. 15-26), took place before the Apostles had been endued with power from on high (Acts i. 8), and, therefore, before they had any authority to act in the premises. Christ in his own time and way completed the number of his witnesses by calling Paul to be an Apostle.
I post these only for thought and reflection. I, personally, believe Hodge was incorrect in stating that the Apostles did not have the authority to do what they did.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Remember my dear madam, that it was not anger simply which the Prince of Peace himself condemned, but being 'angry with a brother without a cause'. To be angry where there is a cause is inevitable nature. He, therefore, who affects to be above anger, makes me suspect that his virtue is not supernatural, but hypocritical."

R. L. Dabney in Life & Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney, pg 547.
HT: Bret McAtee

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dispelling the Myth of Beneficial Persecution

Last night, I began our mid-week Bible study's study of the Book of Acts. I began with a survey of the book and touched on who the author was (and why we know this), the date of the writing, the theme of the book, the outline and significant events that happen in Acts. Then, I touched on a personal pet peeve of mine: I talked about how persecution is a bad thing for the church. Now, that may not seem like such a revolutionary idea, but I have encountered plenty of folks who seem to think that persecution is a good thing for the Church. I have encounter this in a wide range of people, as well: from the average Christian up to the Seminary professor. I specifically remember attending a Bible study in college, where, when it came time to share prayer requests, one young lady requested that we pray that the Church be persecuted. I was shocked.

The reason I brought this up last night, as we began our study of Acts, is because I believe Acts give us examples of the success of the gospel and the growth of the Church, once persecution ceases. And, negatively, we have examples of times of persecution where we are not told that the Church grew. Let's look at a few of these passages.

First, examples of early church growth are found in Acts 2 (Pentecost sermon by Peter--3000 converted), Acts 5 ("Believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women" because of the the apostles' preaching in Solomon's Portico (5:14)), Acts 5:42-6:1 records the Apostles' tireless preaching "in the Temple, and in every house," and because of this "the number of disciples was multiplying," then in Acts 6 after the seven deacons were appointed to their tasks, we read that more disciples were added, including a great number of the priests (6:7), then, we come to the martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 7. There is no mention of church growth being caused by this persecution. As a matter of fact, the next thing that happens in chapter 8 is the church being scattered due to the persecution of Saul (8:1). However, note, that when Saul's persecution ends (through his conversion), "the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and...they were multiplied" (9:31). It is not persecution that causes the Church to grow, as if persecution is beneficial for the Church, but when the persecution ceases, then the Church grows. Of course, there are examples of the Church growing in the face of persecution, but in these cases, the Church grows in spite of the persecution, not because of it.

If you don't think the case of Saul is sufficient, then read Acts 12 and the case of Herod persecuting the Church. No where does it mention the church growing under this persecution, but, after Herod dies, "The word of Good grew and multiplied." (12:24).

Note also that the Proconsul in Paphos converts after Elymas the sorcerer, who opposed Paul and Barnabas, is blinded and no longer able to oppose them (Acts 13:4-12). The persecution of Elymas was not beneficial to the spread of the Gospel in Paphos. The silencing of the persecutor certainly was, though!

Now, all this is not to say that these persecutions recorded in Acts were somehow outside the will of God: obviously He ordained these things to come to pass for our ultimate benefit and His glory; however, I think it does trump the idea that persecution is a thing to be desired, sought after, and prayed for! What we ought to be praying for is that the Gospel can go forth freely and without resistance.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Robert Dabney the Architect?

My friend, Andrew Myers has posted an interesting piece at Virginia is for Huguenots. In it, he gives us some insights into Robert Dabney's other job title (no, not chaplain for Stonewall Jackson): Church Architect. I have always been an avid fan of church architecture, and love reading Dabney's works, so this piece really made my day. Thanks, Andrew!

Some interesting things to note: Dabney, as many Presbyterians were, was opposed to musical instruments in worship. He designed church buildings to specifically prevent instruments, such as organs, from being brought into the church. Our church buildings will reflect our theology!

Another interesting tidbit was that Dabney did not call the sanctuary the "sanctuary." He associated that term with Episcopalianism, and preferred to call the meeting room of the congregation the "auditorium." I'll have to think long and hard about what I call our meeting room from now on.

Head over to Virginia is for Huguenots to read the entire article (and while you are there, read a few others. Andrew also posts interesting stuff!).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

King's College Post

It has come to my attention that the Christianity Today article which I referenced in the now-deleted post about King's College, Tim Keller, and Gospel Ecosystems wrongly stated that Marvin Olasky is an elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City. In fact, he is an elder at a Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Texas, which is not affiliated with Redeemer NYC. It is an easy mistake to make on the part of the author of the Christianity Today article.

Note to PCA: Please, introduce some variety into your churches' names.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ARPTalk Update

There are two new pieces posted over at ARPTalk. In the first, Rev. Chuck Wilson asks if Erskine Seminary has adopted the motto of Claremont School of Theology ("an ecumenical and inter-religious institution") due to the no-longer-exclusively-Christian faith of students entering Erskine. Rev. Wilson asks:
Is ETS now an amazing, technicolor, stereophonic, and multifaith theological experience on the wide-screen of theological education?...It is no secret that ETS has been and is matriculating Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim clerics in the DMin program. Why is this being done?
Why, in deed? The an$wer to thi$ que$tion can be found at ARPTalk.

In the second article, Rev. Wilson asks, what does Calvin have to say about 1 Corinthians 6? Rev. Wilson examines Calvin's comments on the passage, looking for some sort of justification for those who are in the ARP and who have sued the ARP to get their way with Erskine. The great theologian of Geneva gives no comfort to these usurpers, as the article points out.

Head on over to ARPTalk to read these two articles.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Presbyterian Guardian, Phil Saint, and Blogs

Many thanks are owed to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Committee of the Historian for uploading the entirety of the archives of The Presbyterian Guardian.

If you are unfamiliar with The Presbyterian Guardian, here is how the OPC web site describes it:
The Presbyterian Guardian was an important voice in the early years of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. From the start, it was characterized by its vigorous opposition to modernism and its proclamation and defense of Reformed orthodoxy. This commitment characterized all 611 issues of the journal, and it found expression in stimulating articles such as John Murray's series, "The Reformed Faith and Modern Substitutes." Established on the eve of the founding of the denomination, the Guardian reported actively on the developments in the OPC, although it remained an independent magazine.
I've browsed through a few of the early issues of the Guardian and was particularly struck by some of the cartoons contained therein, drawn by Phil Saint. Mind you, the first issues of the Guardian predate even the OPC itself. It was started while Machen, et al. were still in the mainline Presbyterian Church (the first issue of the Guardian came out in 1935, and the OPC, originally called the PCA (how's that for confusing!), was not founded until 1936). I've posted a few of these cartoons at the end of this article.

I believe there is a direct correlation between The Presbyterian Guardian, in general, and these cartoons, specifically, and the blogs of today that seek to call out the errors of those in our denominations who promote a false Gospel such as the Federal Vision or who seek to undermine the authority of the Church, such as those involved in the Erskine lawsuit. There are those in the PCA and ARP that would rather see such blogs shut down, and to that end, some have even gone as far as to make accusations against the ministers who own them claiming that they have violated the 9th commandment by slandering the good name of these false teachers. Never mind that the catechism teaches us that "wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause" is forbidden in the ninth commandment or that "concealing the truth," and "undue silence in a just cause" is likewise sinful. I have no doubt that these men, had they lived 75 years ago would have likewise decried Machen, Van Til, Murray, and most certainly, Phil Saint for violating the 9th commandment.

I encourage you men who strive against false teaching: You are in good company!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Modern Reformation's Piece on Non-6 Day Creation Answered

In the May/June 2010 issue of Modern Reformation magazine, there was an article titled "PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth." Answers in Genesis has posted both a summary response as well as a longer response to this piece. I encourage you to read them. I also encourage you to write to the editor of Modern Reformation Magazine expressing your opinion on their article.

How to Retain Visitors

In my experience, the average reformed/presbyterian church does not have a problem attracting visitors. Unless you meet 30 miles outside of town on a dirt road no one ever drives on (and I know those types of churches exist!), then chances are you will occasionally have a visitor in your midst on a Sunday morning. If your church does any sort of advertising or any sort of outreach, those chances increase. But even if you don't, you will get the stray visitor now and again. This post is not meant to give advice on how to attract visitors, but how to make sure that the visitor's first visit is not their last.

Here are some simple steps that I have seen help retain visitors:

1. Pray! Pray that God will send you visitors. Pray that the visitors will feel welcomed. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work in their hearts to apply the preaching of the Word that they will hear at your church. Pray that you and the members of your congregation can effectively minister to the visitors. Pray that they will come back.

2. Get the visitors contact information. Have a guest book and make sure they visitor signs it. Alternatively, have pew cards for visitors to fill out. Do something to get their name, address, phone number and e-mail. The point here is to prepare for follow-up. You will need contact information.

3. Greet your visitors! Some churches make the visitors stand up at the beginning of the service so everyone knows who they are. I think that goes to far, and could potentially embarrass your visitors. But, you must make sure to introduce yourself, shake their hand, ask their name. Elders, this is primarily your responsibility. You must be the ice breakers. If we have visitors on a Sunday morning, and I don't get to talk to them, I feel I have failed in my duty (thankfully, when this happens, I know the other elders will have talked to the visitor). Elders should also be encouraging others in the congregation to improve on this point. For some people, it is very difficult to say hi to someone they don't know. For others it is easy. The more people that greet a visitor, the more welcome they will feel in your church.

4. Be prepared to show hospitality to your new visitors. This one requires some forethought. My wife and I try to plan each week for the scenario of visitors (the key word being "try"--we don't always succeed). We try to plan our Sunday lunch accordingly. We try to leave the house in a state which is appropriate for visitors (kids' toys put away, dishes done, etc.). This can be a difficult thing to do as you are rushing out of the house on a Sunday morning to get to church on time, but it really only requires a bit more effort than usual. I view this preparation as part of my preparing for the Lord's Day: I want to be prepared to show hospitality.

5. Follow-up! This goes back to point 2 (get the visitors' contact information). Now that you have their contact info, send them a card thanking them for visiting your church. Take them a plate of cookies during the week (as a side note, this was done to my family the first time we visited my current church. It pretty much sealed the deal for us and we've been their ever since). Give them a phone call, asking if there is any way you can be of service to them. Whatever you choose to do, make that follow-up contact.

These are only five things that can help you retain visitors, and I'm sure there are many more. Do you have something to add to this list? Leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

He's Back!

TE Brian Carpenter (PCA) is back at the helm of his blog, and in wonderful form. Welcome back, Brian! Your "piss and vinegar" were sorely missed.

If you are unfamiliar with TE Carpenter or don't know what's going on in the PCA in regards to the Federal Vision error being rooted out (very painfully, at times), then I encourage you to head over to The Happy TR and get familiar with the topic.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The Lord never rebuked anyone for searching the scriptures too zealously. He rebukes people for:

* Ignoring or Disobeying the Word
* Obeying the Scriptures they like and ignoring the others
* Adding to or taking away from His word
* Substituting their traditions for His commands."

TE Andrew Webb, Providence PCA, Fayetteville, NC

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Whither Warfield? Into the arms of Darwin!

[Editor's note: I see that this piece by Mathison is from March 2010. I have only just now become aware of it.]

Keith Mathison has posted a piece at Ligonier Ministries discussing the relationship between science and Scripture and advocating a return to the old Princetonian principle of Hodge, Hodge and Warfield; namely, that science and Scripture, when each is properly interpreted, will be in agreement, and therefore the Christian has nothing to fear from science for it can never properly overturn his faith. Thus far, I am in agreement. Dr Mathison writes:

They [the old Princetonians] agreed that when science and Scripture appear to contradict each other, either the scientific interpretation of God’s creation is in error or the Christian interpretation of Scripture is in error, or both are in error.
Yes, this is true; however, I would note three things, one hermeneutical, two historical:

First: the proper method of biblical interpretation is to find other passages of Scripture which speak clearly about the same topic and use those passages to interpret the passage in question. Or, as the Westminster Confession (1.9) states: "The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly."

I see no room for "science" to "help" in our interpretation of Scripture according to the Confession. As a matter of fact, introducing the findings of science (so called) to help us interpret any passage elevates science to the level of Scripture and places it in judgment over God's Word. This is a very dangerous position to take. Applied to the age of the earth, we ought to conclude that if we are uncertain what the days of Genesis 1 are (actual days or long ages or just some sort of literary device to communicate that God created), the proper way of determining the meaning of Genesis 1 is to look to other sections of Scripture that speak to the days of Creation or the age of the earth (Exodus 20:11, for example). It is improper to ask "what does science say about the interpretation of Genesis 1?" because that introduces something from outside Scripture into the interpretation of Scripture.

Second, a historical point: geocentricism is flaunted about by anyone who wants to use science to interpret Scripture. But, the historical nuance of the Galilean affair is lost on many of those who do so (I do not accuse Dr. Mathison of such carelessness, but I have seen geocentricism pop up too many times in discussions on the age of the earth) . Briefly stated, geocentricism was not a theological position based on Scripture, but a philosophical position (Aristotelianism) forced onto the text. Can we say the same about a young age of the earth? Or does Scripture speak clearly to the antiquity of creation? To place those who hold to a young earth in the same category as those who defended geocentricism is bad history and fallacious.

Third: I can only assume that Mathison, being a well-educated Presbyterian minister, is familiar with the fact that Warfield allowed for the possibility of theistic evolution. Warfield, believing that there was no conflict between science and Scripture (he was right) and also believing that science can be used to interpret Scripture (he was wrong) concluded that it was possible for evolution to be reconciled to the creation account of Genesis 1 and 2. His method for doing so was to sacrifice the plain reading of the text in order to allow for the new science of evolution to "interpret" the text for us. Warfield wrote (Lectures on Anthrology, 1888):

I am free to say, for myself, that I do not think that there is any general statement in the Bible or any part of the account of creation, either as given in Genesis 1 and 2 or elsewhere alluded to, that need be opposed to evolution....The upshot of the whole matter is that there is no necessary antagonism of Christianity to evolution, provided that we do not hold to too extreme a form of evolution. To adopt any form that does not permit God freely to work apart from law and which does not allow miraculous intervention (in the giving of the soul, in creating Eve, etc.) will entail a great reconstruction of Christian doctrine, and a very great lowering of the detailed authority of the Bible. But if we condition the theory by allowing the constant oversight of God in the whole process, and his occasional supernatural interference for the production of new beginnings by an actual output of creative force, producing something new i.e., something not included even in posse in the preceding conditions, we may hold to the modified theory of evolution and be Christians in the ordinary orthodox sense.
I must ask: is this what Dr. Mathison wants? I sincerely hope not.

The old Princetonians were not all bad, but on the question of the relationship between science and Scripture, they failed. Once final point: Warfield was only able to come to his erroneous conclusion on evolution because Charles Hodge, who correctly rejected evolution, had compromised with the popular science of his day: geology.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Use and Value of Commentaries

Last night, I led my church's Monday night Bible study. We did what I called an "example of personal Bible study." What I was trying to convey was, when someone comes to you and says, "The Bible says X," how do we go about verifying if what that person says is true? So, we used Matthew 7:1 as an example of a text that gets ripped out of context and horribly misinterpreted and misapplied. We went over the important steps of: context, cross-reference, and concordance. The fourth 'C' that I didn't have time to cover was "commentary." This is what I meant to say about using commentaries to help you determine the interpretation of a given passage:

1. Commentaries are man-made documents. They are prone to error as much as any person.
2. Commentaries come in different flavors: Good, bad, technical, devotional, etc.
3. Find a trustworthy commentary (Matthew Henry, for example).
4. Commentaries are often used as the first tool of Bible study: this is lazy! Use a commentary last, only to see if what you have found from your own Bible study agrees with the commentator.
5. If the results of your study differ from the commentator (and remember that you should be using a trustworthy commentary!) weigh this carefully. You should not automatically defer to the commentator, but you should consider the fact it is possible that you have gotten something wrong.
6. A good commentary is a gift a godly preacher leaves to future generations. They are fallible, but they can also reveal great treasures of Scripture that we may have missed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Reformation in the City: On Ruling Elders in the PCA

Over at Reformation in the City, Ruling Elder Kenneth Kang-Hui has written a great post on Ruling Elders in the PCA. He makes several good points regarding the nature of the office and the responsibilities that come along with it. A few things I really liked in his post were:

- His emphasis on the parity of Teaching and Ruling Elders. Too often people (elders included) view the pastor as the head elder or the "real" authority, and the ruling elders are seen as either yes-men or (conversely) as men whose job is to "keep the pastor in check." Neither of these options are biblical and neither will lead to a healthy church.
- His point that the training of men for the office of elder should neither focus exclusively on theology nor should it be " just a 'baptized' version of the latest business management methodology."
- His suggestion for ongoing training of Ruling Elders. I think this could be a great way to keep REs informed of the latest theological issues and help prepare them to better shepherd the flock.

Head on over to Reformation in the City and read the whole article. And thanks to RE Kang-Hui for posting his thoughts!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Right There on the Surface

Sometimes, you have to study very carefully the writings of someone to determine if what they are saying is biblical or not. But, sometimes, it doesn't take much effort at all. (HT: Tim Phillips)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Puritan Library

Last week, I encouraged you to read the puritans and pointed you to an article by Joel Beeke highlighting many excellent reasons to do just that. Today, I have been shown a resource devoted to helping you do just that. is a site which allows free access to hundreds of Puritan writings from a variety of authors. The site is run by the same fine folks who run (and which is a great source for buying books!).

Two notes about First, everything is available as PDFs. This is a good thing and I'm glad they chose this format as opposed to plain text files or some obscure file format. Second, the texts are not searchable. I wish they were, but even without this function, it is still a great resource.

Now, go and read the Puritans!

EDITED TO ADD: Upon further inspection, I realize not everything is available as a PDF file. Some links are to Google Books, and some are to HTML pages. Despite this, I still think it is a wonderful site!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Presbyterian Paganism in the ARP?

Rev. Chuck Wilson has posted a new article over at ARPTalk asking why the Erskine lawsuit has not yet been dropped? If you remember, a compromise agreement was reached near the conclusion of Synod in June which basically said, the ARP will back away from trying to restructure the Board of Erskine, if the lawsuit against the denomination is dropped. The Synod approved this compromise. It's been a month and a half, and the lawsuit has not been dropped. What is preventing Taylor, Young and Chesnut (the three men who brought the suit) from dropping it right now?

Go read Rev. Wilson's article The Commission Was Right! The Erskine Lawsuit is Still Active! to hear his opinion on the subject.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Read the Puritans!

Joel Beeke has posted an excellent article over at Ligonier Ministries site entitled "Why You Should Read the Puritans." He gives a brief summary of just exactly who the Puritans were, and then lists nine excellent reasons why you should be reading them:

1. Puritan writings help shape life by Scripture
2. Puritan writings show how to integrate biblical doctrine into daily life
3. Puritan writings show how to exalt Christ and see His beauty
4. Puritan writings reveal the Trinitarian character of theology
5. Puritan writings show you how to handle trials
6. Puritan writings explain true spirituality
7. Puritan writings show how to live by wholistic faith
8. Puritan writings teach the importance and primacy of preaching
9. Puritan writings show how to live in two worlds

I could not agree more with what he has to say. The Puritans represent one of the most pure forms of Biblical Christianity ever in the history of the Church. We all could learn so much by reading what these godly saints have to say, and so I exhort you: Read the Puritans!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Matthew Poole on the Days of Creation

On Genesis 1:5:
Others by evening understand the first night or darkness which was upon the face of the earth, ver. 2, which probably continued for the space of about twelve hours, the beginning whereof might fitly be called evening; and by morning the succeeding light or day, which may reasonably be supposed to continue the other twelve hours, or thereabouts. And this seems the truer opinion...

Were the first day; did constitute or make up the first day; day being taken largely for the natural day, consisting of twenty-four hours: these were the parts of the first day; and the like is to be understood of the succeeding days. Moreover, God, who could have made all things at once, was pleased to divide his work into six days, partly to give us occasion more distinctly and seriously to consider God's works, and principally to lay the foundation for the weekly sabbath, as is clearly intimated, Gen. 2:2-3; Exodus 20:9-11.
On Genesis 1:14:
He speaks here of natural days, consisting of twenty-four hours.

On Exodus 20:11:
In six days, and neither in more or less time, as he could have done.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Also, I don't believe it is accurate to say that there are a myriad of 'Reformed' views of the Mosaic [covenant]. Reformed is defined, in the main, by our Reformed confessions, not by the differing views held by individual Reformed theologians."
[Emphasis added]

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Variety of Things

A friend recently recommended this blog on his Facebook page. He said, "Check out this blog. Good discussion on a variety of topics!" Now, my friend was very kind to recommend this blog, but he said something that I never intended to be said about this blog: "a variety of topics" is discussed here. When I started this blog, its purpose was to "document and discuss what it means to be a Ruling Elder." If you go back in the archives and scan through old posts, you would be tempted to say that I very quickly departed from that stated goal. My friend's recommendation gave me opportunity to reflect on this.

What I have come to realize is that being a Ruling Elder requires one to be familiar with a variety of topics. It's not all Confessions and Book of Church Order. As a matter of fact, higher levels of church government perhaps take up about 1% of a Ruling Elder's time. Don't get me wrong; it's a very important 1% and too often is neglected altogether. But 99% of the time a Ruling Elder spends doing "ruling elder" things does not involve parlimentary procedure. Instead, you are asked questions by members of the congregation about whatever topic is affecting their lives, whether it be issues of science or law or ethics or Bible study. Very rarely will a member of the church come up and ask you "What do you think of the latest Synod/General Assembly news?" Ruling Elders need to be prepared for Synod/General Assembly (and Presbytery, too), but Ruling Elders also need to be prepared for questions about a thousand other topics as well.

This blog does discuss a variety of topics, but I believe I have stayed faithful to my original intent to "document and discuss what it means to be a Ruling Elder" because being a Ruling Elder means discussing a variety of topics.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Joey Pipa for President! (of Covenant Seminary?)

Over at the Bayly Blog, Pastor David Bayly has posted some final thoughts on the PCA General Assembly. His first is:

Joey Pipa should be made President of Covenant Seminary.

I wholeheartedly agree! I have read a couple of Dr. Pipa's books, heard him preach, and had opportunity to meet him. He is a gracious, learned man who loves the Reformed faith. Any seminary would be better for having him as their president.

Now, I'm not sure how serious Pastor Bayly was, and quite honestly, I doubt Dr. Pipa would ever be offered or take the position of President of Covenant Seminary, but I echo the sentiment. In the meantime, Dr. Pipa is president of another seminary: Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Thank God for men such as Dr. Pipa!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"How to Think About Science" Audio Posted

The audio from the radio show I was on last Friday night/Saturday morning has been posted here.

Host Lindsay Brooks, special guest Dr. Leslie Wickman, and I discussed many things on the show including: What is knowledge and can science give it to us? What is the scientific method and how does that relate to "knowledge"? Are science and Christianity in conflict? And did Christianity help lay the foundation necessary for science?

I had a great time on the show and hope to go back to discuss other science and Christianity related questions, soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Did God Create in 6 Days? Sale

I just received an e-mail from Reformation Bookstore telling me that Did God Create in 6 Days? is on sale for only $5.00 (plus shipping). It usually costs $26.95, so this is a great sale. This is perhaps the single best book on the topic on the issue of Creation I have ever read. I continually refer to it whenever the topic comes up (which, when you are studying for an M.A. in Science and Religion is rather often).

Three quick things I really appreciate about this book:

1. A solid theological and historical argument is made for 6 normal, 24-hour days of creation in Genesis 1.

2. Views opposed to the traditional 6-day view are presented by learned men who hold those views. The chapter on the Literary view is written by Jack Collins (Covenant Seminary), the chapter on the Framework view is written by Mark Ross (Erskine Seminary). In other words, the editors let the opposing views speak for themselves rather than put words in their mouths.

3. Some great research on the views of the Westminster divines is presented by David Hall, showing that any divine that commented on the length of the days of creation or the age of the earth held to a young earth or literal days view. This, to the best of my knowledge, had never been done before and undercuts the argument often used by old-earth/framework Presbyterians that the Westminster divines were being "purposefully vague."

If you don't already own a copy of Did God Create in 6 Days? I can't recommend it highly enough. If you do already own a copy, now is your chance to buy a second copy at a great price to give away. This book needs to be read!

Review of Christian Creeds and Reformed Confessions iPhone/iPad App

Christian Creeds and Reformed Confessions [iTunes link] is a free iPhone app put out by Westminster Seminary California. Its content includes: The Apostles', Nicence, and Athanasian Creeds; The Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dordt, the Westminster Confession, and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

The app is very easy to use and has a couple of really nice features. First, the search feature is great. Searching for any term, such as "faith" returns every instance of the word "faith" as expected; however, you can also use certain keywords such as NEAR to modify your search. For example, if you search for "faith NEAR justification" the app will give you every instance where the word "faith" is with 10 words of the word "justification" in any of the creeds, confessions or catechisms.

Another feature I really like is the ability to look up Scripture references using your preferred online Bible site. The app comes with two "built-in" sites: the Crossway ESV and the BibleGateway ESV sites. However, if, like me, you prefer another version such as the New King James, you can insert the link to the NKJV site in the Settings of this app, and the Scripture reference links will load from the NKJV instead of the ESV. (To change versions using the BibleGateway link, simply replace "ESV" with "NKJV" or "KJV"or whatever you preferred version is in the link on the Settings page.)

There is one serious problem I have with this app. That is, although in the table of contents it lists "Westminster Confession of Faith, London, England (1647)" it, in fact, does not contain the original version of the Confession. It is the American version of the Westminster Confession, more specifically, the version adopted by the OPC. I want to be clear that my issue is not so much with the American version (although I prefer the original), as much as it is with the fact that the table of contents claims something that is not true. This error needs to be corrected.

Overall, this is a very helpful app and I find myself using it on a regular basis. Westminster Seminary California is to be commended for making this available to us all for free.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Thoughts on David Norman's Thornwell Lecture

I have now had time to read and re-read Dr. David Norman's Thornwell Lecture he gave on the 4th at First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, SC. Let me summarize my comments in this way: Dr. Norman has been President of Erskine for 12 days. I believe we can neither overly praise nor condemn him based on one speech. Dr. Norman has my full support and I hope he has yours as well.

Now, for specifics. There were many things to be pleased with in Dr. Norman's lecture. First, I greatly appreciated the kind words he had to say about Dr. DeWitt:
I do not know Dr. de Witt very well. But I do know him to be a man of the Gospel, and as such I will not sit quietly if his reputation is truly in jeopardy.
Knowing the vitriol that is spewed out against Dr. de Witt by some, this statement by Dr. Norman took a great deal of courage. Well done, Dr. Norman!

I also agree that the phrase "integration of faith and learning" needs to be better defined. Dr. Norman said:
I don’t particularly like the phrase because in many circles it has become an empty slogan of dead liturgy, and what the phrase means is way too important to abandon to the mindless mortuary of recitation and sloganeering.
Anytime a phrase becomes mindless recitation, it can no longer have any force. If we do not clarify what we mean by "integration of faith and learning" and if, after clarifying, we do not enforce what we mean by the phrase, then we have become a "sounding brass or a clanging cymbal," but do no one any good.

Certainly, there are other issues that I wish Dr. Norman would have addressed, but he only had a certain amount of time and I think he did a good job of touching on the major issues.

Again, I state: Dr. Norman has my full support, and I hope he has yours as well. Continue to pray for him!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Notes from Last Night's Show

Last night (well, technically, this morning), I was a guest on the Radio show on KKLA 99.5 here in Los Angeles. The topic of the show was "Science." I had prepared notes for several theological presuppositions which Christianity provided before "science" could be practiced. During the show, I didn't have time to go over them. So, I am posting my notes here, for anyone who is interested. These notes are based 98% on Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton's excellent book The Soul of Science [TSOS], most notably chapter one.

Christian Doctrines that Laid the Foundation for Science
  1. Reality of Creation (TSOS, 22)
    1. The Bible teaches that nature is real
    2. This is opposed to various forms of pantheism and idealism teach that finite particular things are merely appearances of the One, the Absolute, the Infinite. Individuality and separateness are illusions. Hinduism is one such example.
    3. Creation teaches that finite objects are not mere appearances of the Infinite, but that God made them; they have a real existence. The doctrine of creation implies the world is not illusory.
  2. God’s Creation is Good (TSOS, 22-23)
    1. The ancient world often equated the material world with evil and disorder; hence, denigrating anything to do with material things.
      1. Manual Labor was left to slaves
      2. Many historians believe this is one reason the Greeks did not develop an empirical science, which requires practical, hands-in observation and experimentation.
    2. Christianity teaches that the world has great value as God’s creation.
      1. Throughout the Creation account in Gen. 1 we find that phrase “And God saw that it was good.”
      2. Creation is to be studied because it is a good thing which God has given to us.
      3. Calvin wrote: “There is need of art and more exacting toil in order to investigate the motion of the stars, to determine their assigned stations, to measure their intervals, to note their properties.”
  3. Creation/Creator Distinction (TSOS, 23-24)
    1. Nature is good, but it is not a god. It is a creature.
    2. Pagan religions are typically animistic or pantheistic. Spirits or gods reside in nature.
      1. Pagan man lives in “an enchanted forest”
    3. Christianity teaches that God does not inhabit the world in the way these pagan deities do.
      1. He is not the personalization of natural forces.
      2. He is not the world’s “soul”
      3. He is its CREATOR
      4. In this way, Gen. 1 stands in stark contrast with other ANE religions by rejecting any religious status to things such as the Sun, the Moon, and the stars
    4. This “de-deification” of nature was a necessary precursor to science.
      1. As long as nature commands religious worship, dissecting her is judged impious.
      2. If the world is charged with divine beings and powers, the only appropriate response is to supplicate them or ward them off!
    5. When the world was no longer an object of worship, then--and only then--could it become an object of study.
  4. Rational God
    1. Paganism taught a multitude of gods; Christianity One.
    2. This meant that the Creator’s handiwork was unified and coherent.
    3. The God of the Bible is trustworthy and dependable
      1. Therefore the creation of such a God must likewise be dependable
    4. Nature exhibits regularity, dependability, and orderliness.
      1. Historical example: Copernicus
        1. He knew the universe was “wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator.”
  5. Laws of Nature
    1. Pagan culture saw nature as alive, and moved by mysterious forces
    2. Christianity led to the belief, based on the trustworthiness of God, that all natural occurrences are lawful and intelligible.
    3. God is a Law-Giver, therefore we can look for Laws in Nature, just as we find His Laws in Scripture.
    4. Note the order: God first then laws, NOT laws therefore God.
      1. Biblical presuppositions!
  6. Creation Ex Nihilo (TSOS, 27)
    1. Pagan religions posited creation from some pre-existing substance.
      1. Plato’s demiurge merely injects reason (Ideas) into reason-lass matter
      2. Even this the demiurge did imperfectly
      3. In short, this Greek creator’s hands were tied
      4. Greeks, therefore, expected a level of imprecision in nature
    2. Christianity teaches there is no pre-existing material that God simply forms into all things
      1. God creates out of nothing the world exactly as He wills.
      2. Historical example: Kepler and elliptical orbits
  7. The Image of God (TSOS, 29)
    1. Science depends on the sheer act of faith that the universe possessed order and could be interpreted by rational minds.
      1. If only God is rational, but none of His creators are, what good does it do us?
    2. In Christianity, man is made in the Image of God, and is therefore a rational creator, just as God is a rational Creator.
    3. Humans can “think God’s thoughts after Him” as Kepler put it.
    4. The Natural world is comprehensible because the same Logos that is responsible for its ordering is also reflected in human reason. (Kaiser, TSOS, 29)
  8. The Freedom of God (TSOS, 30-32)
    1. God had created a rational knowable creation out of nothing, and He was free to create it in any manner He saw fit.
    2. God was not constrained by Aristotelian Forms
      1. Rational intuition of the Forms is contrary to experimentation
    3. 1277, Bishop of Paris (Etienne Tempier) condemned this form of Aristotelianism
      1. God could not allow any other planetary motion than a circular one
      2. God could not create a vacuum
      3. “Voluntarism” taught that there was no limitation on God’s Power
      4. Natural Law was not Forms inherent in nature but as divine commands imposed from outside nature
      5. Matter was driven not by internal rational Forms, but by the sovereign commands of God.
    4. Historical Example: Robert Boyle
      1. God as “the free establisher of the laws of motion”
      2. These laws “depend perfectly on His will.”
    5. Not surprisingly, this lead to experimental methodology
      1. If God created freely rather than by logical necessity, we cannot gain knowledge of creation by logical deduction. Instead, we have to go out and look, to observe and experiment.
      2. Ian Barbour: “The world is orderly and dependable because God is trustworthy and not capricious; but the details of the world must be found by observation rather than rational deduction because God is free and did not have to create any particular kind of universe.