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PA083 http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa083.htm [okay about six hours work to filter the best of 30 scholarly papers/js]
Antithesis I:1 (Jan./Feb. 1990) © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
At War With The Word - The Necessity Of Biblical Antithesis
The following discussion is an excerpt from the 1987 Van Til Lectures, delivered by Dr. Bahnsen at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia.
The antithesis between followers of God and followers of Satan is sovereignly inflicted as God's judicial curse. This enmity is not only social but also intellectual in nature, and, therefore, to ignore it in our apologetic is to compromise the gospel.
Without the ingredient of antithesis, Christianity is not simply anemic. It has altogether forfeited its challenge to all other worldviews. Anyone who is familiar with the corpus of Van Til's publications and writings will recognize that the subject of antithesis is one fitting hallmark of his scholarly contribution to twentieth century apologetical theory.
Antithesis In Van Til's Apologetic
It was in the interest of antithesis that Van Til wrote his first major classroom syllabus, now entitled A Survey of Christian Epistemology, stating that, "It is necessary to become clearly aware of the deep antithesis between the two main types of epistemology," Christian and non-Christian.
The approach to apologetics which gives us piecemeal evidences (e.g. John Warwick Montgomery), or the approach to apologetics which gives us pragmatic, personal appeals (e.g. Francis Schaeffer [worshiped at Elmbrook megaChurch]) or the approach to apologetics which begins with voluntaristic, fideistic axioms (e.g. Gordon Clark) do not adequately deal with the antithesis - thus with Christianity's indispensability for making sense of rational thought, history, science, or human personality. [oh boy, a giant swallow there!]. It is not a matter of whether we should choose between those approaches and the presuppositionalist approach. Given the fact of antithesis, the only approach that will be usable is the presuppositional one. The situational perspective advanced by Montgomery and the existential perspective advanced by Schaeffer cannot compete with the normative apologetical approach of Cornelius Van Til. Only that perspective challenges the unbeliever with Christianity's indispensability.
Van Til wrote at the end of Toward a Reformed Apologetic:
Finally, it is my hope for the future, as it has always been my hope in the past, that I may present Christ without compromise to men who are dead in trespasses and sins, that they might have life and that they might worship and serve the Creator more than the creature...Rather than wedding Christianity to the philosophies of Aristotle or Kant, we must openly challenge the apostate philosophic constructions of men by which they seek to suppress the truth about God, themselves, and the world.
Van Til says we are children of the King. To us, not to the world, do all things belong. It is only if we demand of men complete submission to the living Christ of the Scriptures in every area of their lives that we have presented to them the claims of the Lord Christ without compromise. In short, we must not synthesize Christ's words with unbelieving philosophies, but rather present Him antithetically in apologetics. Only then do we do so without compromise.
Chalcedon Report No. 125 (January, 1976), Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
Rapture and Resurrection
By Rev. Greg L. Bahnsen
The significance of hope for a person, the function of vision for his life-style, the critical need for accurate calculation and wise planning, and the ethical ramifications of one’s historical expectations have been repeatedly stressed and illustrated in futurology (the study of the future) which has become firmly entrenched in modern thought, from psychology and morality to economic and sociology. The spirit of our age has taken an eschatological turn. Secular counterparts to apocalypticism and various millenarian perspectives can be uncovered, and theological counterparts to humanistic utopianism and political engineering are likewise to be found. Your view of the future, whether stemming from revelation or extrapolation, is not a matter indifferent or irrelevant; your attitude toward history is not simply idle speculation. Ideas have consequences.
In a previous (“Future and Folly”) I discussed what certain radical theologians have said about the future, how they have divinized and politicized it. With them eschatology has become a humanistic hope – a hope possible only by denying God’s transcendence over time and by washing away the content of His word with alien and antagonistic assumptions. An affirmative view of history for them grows out of a negative view of Scripture.
On the other hand, there are theologians to be found who take a negative view of history and allege that it grows out of a positive view of Scripture. According to this outlook the Christian’s hope resides not in the positive gains to be developed in history, but rather in his escape from the climax of a steadily degenerating trend in history. That is, as things are getting worse and worse in terms of world conditions and response to the gospel, the believer can look ahead to his “secret rapture” from the world prior to the great tribulation toward which history is moving. It is supposed that all genuine believers, along with the dead in Christ, will be caught up from the earth to be with the Savior during the closing few years of the present historical epoch. The tribulation period on earth will end with Christ’s return; following His second coming there will be a long period of time (the millennium) that will terminate with the resurrection of the wicked and their final judgment.
Obviously, any Christian who loves the Lord will not despise His revealed word as do the radical theologians. The believer desires to view history (including the future) through the spectacles of Scriptural truth. What should his perspective then be? He cannot be indifferent to the future, so what shall he think and do with respect to it? Is the choice between a secularized hope in human politics and a retreatist hope in the rapture? Repudiating radical theology, is the Christian forced by God’s word to anticipate the secret rapture sometime prior to the end of this age? I think not, and for the simple reason that Scripture does not teach that the rapture of believers will be either secret or separated by a noteworthy period of time from the termination of the current epoch.
When shall the saints be raptured from earth to meet their Lord? When shall believers be “caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” ever to be with Him (I Thess. 4:17)? The passage just cited makes it clear that the rapture coincides with (1) the resurrection of the saints (vv. 1316, and “together with them” in v. 17), and (2) the coming of the Lord from heaven (v. 16). Scripture elsewhere clarifies when these two events shall occur.
First, the resurrection of the saints will occur at the coming of Christ, which itself brings the end (I Cor. 15:23-24). Christ declares that he will raise us again on the last day (John 6:39-40, 44, 54). Moreover, the saints and the wicked shall exist together on earth until the “harvest” day of God’s judgment on the “tares” (Matt. 13:24-30); the redeemed and the wicked will not be separated from each other until the end of the age (Matt. 13:47-50). Therefore, the resurrection of the saints must coincide with the resurrection of the wicked (one following closely upon the other); when the believers come forth unto the resurrection of life, at that time all in the tombs will as well come forth, including the wicked who are raised to judgment (John 5:26-29). We see, then, that there is no significant gap between the rapture of the saints, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, the resurrection and judgment of the wicked, and the end of the age.
Secondly, the coming of the Lord mentioned in I Thes. 4:16 is also called the “day of our Lord Jesus Christ” when the saints shall be found unreprovable; this day coincides with the end (I Cor. 1:7-8). Moreover, the coming of the Lord mentioned in I Thess. 4:16 will bring the glorification of the saints (cf. Rom. 8:17, 23;I Cor. 15:43; Phil. 3:21; I John 3:2). Paul brings together the return of Christ and the glorification of the saints in 2 Thes. 1:710; he there makes it quite clear that these two events will be accompanied by the judgment of the wicked. This confirms what we read elsewhere, to wit, that when Christ establishes his bar of eternal judgment, all mankind including both the sheep and the goats (i.e., the redeemed and the reprobate) will be judged (Matt. 25:31-34, 41, 46). We see, then, that there is no significant gap between the rapture of the saints, the coming of the Lord, the glorification of the saints, the general judgment of mankind (including the wicked), and the end of the age.
We must conclude from God’s word that the rapture will not eventuate prior to the very last day of history, that it will not leave behind the world of the wicked, and that it will not separated from the resurrection and judgment of the wicked. The pre-tribulational rapture seven (or three and a half) years before the Lord’s return is contrary to the teaching of the bible. Furthermore, it must be noted that the rapture of the saints will be anything but a secret event; it will be accompanied with the shout of Christ, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God (I Thess. 4:1617). Nobody will miss it.
Consequently, the Christian is not forced to choose between a humanistic affirmation of history and a biblical retreat from history. His perspective on history and his hope for it are found in neither divinized politics nor the rapture. A positive view of Scripture and a positive view of history go hand in hand. Prior to the resurrection of the saints (i.e., the defeat of the last enemy, death) Christ must reign till he has put every other enemy under his feet (I Cor. 15:25-26). Radical and dispensational theologians alike fail to see that in history prior to the parousia, the kingdoms of the world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15). This vision and hope indeed has consequences!
Calvinism Today – 4, Vol. III, No. 2 (April 1993), Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
Gospel Prosperity and the Future of Israel
By Greg L. Bahnsen
Talk of eschatology in evangelical circles today will inevitably come around to the issue of God’s plans for ethnic Israel (the Jews). Special reference is often made to the nation of Israel in prophecy. One of the most popular preachers in southern California proclaimed in 1980 that anybody who was not aware that Jesus must – given the recent history of the nation of Israel – be returning soon very likely did not truly know Him in a saving fashion. For this preacher the Jews had such an obvious place in the Bible’s end-time plans that only those with sin-blinded eyes could fail to see the signs of the times. He was a Christian Zionist who had made a sizable financial contribution to the nation of Israel and predicted that Jesus would return prior to the end of 1982. His millennial position was conspicuously dispensational premillennial.
As we survey the Biblical material which we have covered in this discussion, what summary concerning the place of Israel in Biblical prophecy would be appropriate? The following truths stand out:
1. The promises to Abraham and to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament were all pledged in and through Christ for God’s true people.
2. The greater attention and care which God gave to the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament increased Israel’s culpability for breaking the covenant and rejecting the Messiah.
3. Israel as a nation and the ethnic Jews as a race have been rejected by God, so that they no longer constitute His kingdom or chosen people.
4. The church of Jesus Christ (Gentile and Jew) is now the kingdom of God, the people of God’s own possession, and as such inherits the promised blessings to Abraham and to Israel.
5. This fact indicates glorious days for the gospel throughout future history, for the seed of Abraham (true believers) must grow to an overwhelming numerical size and bless all nations.
6. The mass conversion of Gentiles in the world will provoke the Jews to jealousy and bring them to a mass conversion of their own to Jesus Christ. This has nothing per se to do with Palestine or a national body, and it does not indicate that the Jews will have any blessing from God apart from the church of Jesus Christ and submission to the gospel (in the same way as the Gentiles).
7. When the world sees “all Israel” become saved in this way, there will be further and greater blessings from God upon the whole Gentile population since Christ will be internationally exalted among men.
What response should we give these truths? Not only should we correct our thinking theologically, avoiding the excesses of dispensationalism and amillennialism, but we should be moved to at least three practical reactions. First, we should be greatly encouraged and motivated to pursue Christian missions. This was the effect of these truths upon the Puritans (cf. Iain Murray’s The Puritan Hope). Second, we should be confident of the cultural benefits which the kingdom of God will bring to the world through the work of Christ’s people. This will call for the consecration of all our efforts in the world as work for the Lord’s kingdom (cf. Gary North’s Unconditional Surrender). Third and above all, we should be moved, as was Paul when he looked at the glorious plan of God for the prosperity of the gracious gospel of Jesus Christ, to exclaim: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past tracing out! . . . For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:11, 36).
PT163 Penpoint Vol. IV:5 (June, 1993) © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
"The Theological Battle Today Focuses on Hermeneutics"
A substantial part of theological defection from the orthodox Biblical faith in our day traces back to a mishandling of the word of God.
The Counsel of Chalcedon XIV:4 (June, 1992) © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
"Cross-Examination: The Place of the Jews in Prophecy"
In Scripture, is there a distinctive future promised for the Jews as an ethnic group or nation? With respect to the question of the relationship of the Christian gospel to the Jews, as well as their place in Biblical prophecy, we believe the following truths to be based on God's word:
The Old Testament promises to Abraham and to the nation of Israel, when properly interpreted in light of the whole Bible, were all pledged in and through Christ for God's true people in all ages.
The greater attention and care which God gave to the nation of Israel throughout the period of the Old Covenant increased Israel's culpability for breaking the covenant and rejecting the promised Messiah.
Israel as a nation -- and the ethnic Jews as a race -- have been rejected by God, so that they no longer constitute His kingdom or His chosen people among all the nations on earth.
The kingdom of God is now in the days of the New Covenant identified with the international church of Jesus Christ (Gentile and Jewish); this is the "people for God's own possession" which, as such, inherits the blessings promised to Abraham and to Israel.
The Jews do not have any guarantee or hope of blessing from God apart from submission to the Son of God as Messiah, faith in the gospel, and incorporation into the church.
God's transfer of the kingdom away from Israel to the church indicates that there will be glorious days for the gospel throughout New Covenant history; the seed of Abraham -- true believers -- will grow to an overwhelming numerical size and bless all nations.
The progressing mass conversion of Gentiles in the world will eventually provoke the Jews to jealousy and bring them to a mass conversion of their own to Jesus Christ.
Commitment to the realization of this spiritual blessing for the Jews does not in itself necessarily commit the Christian, one way or the other, to a restoration of the Jews to the land of Palestine or their (alleged) moral right to that land.
When the world sees "all Israel" become saved (through Jewish longing for the saving blessing experienced by the Gentiles), there will be yet further and greater blessings from God upon the whole population of the world because Christ will then be internationally recognized and exalted among men.
The Biblical teaching regarding the Jews and the future of Israel is, therefore, one more line of Scriptural support for the optimism and confidence of the postmillennialist regarding the success of the Great Commission before Christ returns in judgment on the world.
Question: Is what has been said above the standard postmillennial view regarding "the Jewish question"?
Answer: No; there is no universally accepted or "standard" position among all postmillennial commentators regarding the place of the Jews in prophecy. The above view cannot claim to be the "official" postmillennial statement, but nevertheless many, many well respected postmillennial scholars have interpreted the Bible, particularly Romans 9-11, in the fashion suggested. A forceful presentation of this view can be found in John Murray's commentary on Romans (in the New International Commentary series). The writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith adhered to this perspective, as we see in the Larger Catechism #191 and its prooftexts. What do we pray for when we pray "Thy kingdom come"? The Westminster Assembly answered: "we pray that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in" (citing Romans 10:1; 11:25-26).
(Other postmillennialists would not interpret Paul's words as indicating a distinctive and blessed future for ethnic Israel, but rather for Israel in the spiritual sense as all the elect. Some have even taken the radical -- and historically dubious -- position that ethnic Jews are not even to be found, or can no longer be identified, on the earth. But Paul's explicit concern was for his "kinsmen after the flesh" [Rom. 9:3], not just spiritual Israel. Moreover, God's assurances concerning these kinsmen would not be thwarted by the loss to human history of those who are Jews after the flesh, concerning whom He had made promise.)
Question: By saying that in the days of the New Covenant God has rejected ethnic Israel as His special people, have you made God a covenant-breaker?
Answer: Not at all. God is the One who kept covenant, and then eventually visited covenant-breaking Israel with the sanctions of His covenant. Rejection of Israel was not contrary to the covenant, but precisely in fulfillment of the terms of that covenant. "And all these curses shall come upon you, and shall pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not hearken to the voice of Jehovah your God..., and they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and upon your seed forever" (Deuteronomy 28:45-46). God threatened to reverse the promise made to Abraham: "You shall be left few in number, whereas you had been as the stars of heaven for multitude" (v. 62). And promised land will be forfeited, said Moses: "you shall be plucked from off the land that you go in to possess, and Jehovah will scatter you among all the peoples, from one end of the earth to the other" (vv. 63-64). Moses sang that there should be no doubt about God's threatened rejection of Israel: "For Jehovah will judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants" (32:36).
Question: What right do we have to think that God has rejected Israel as His special people once and for all, actually transferring its privileges to another?
Answer: Our convictions here are based on the words of Christ, the Lord of the covenant. He said that the martyred blood of all the previous saints of God would be required now of His own generation (Luke 11:51). The capital city and God's own temple would be desolated (13:35) as Jerusalem is trodden down by the Gentiles (21:24). What will God do to those who have killed the prophets and finally murder His Son? He will destroy the husbandmen "and give the vineyard to others" (20:9-16). The Jewish leaders perceived very clearly that "He spoke this parable against them" (v. 19).
As Matthew's gospel puts it: Jesus declared "Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken away from you [the Jews] and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (21:43).
Paul brings out the meaning of this judgment from God when he writes, "by their unbelief they were broken off" (Romans 11:20). After this point those who claim to be the Jews are nothing more than a synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9).
Question: What then becomes of God's promises to the people of Abraham?
Answer: Abraham actually rejoiced and looked ahead to Christ's day (John 8:56), and as Paul teaches us, all the promises of God are affirmed and confirmed in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Indeed, the promises spoken by God to Abraham were intended for his seed -- his singular seed, that is Christ (Galatians 3:16). Believers in Christ are made "joint-heirs" with Christ as God's Son (Romans 8:15-17).
Accordingly, the church now stands in the place of privilege which once belonged to ethnic Israel. The church is "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16); it is conceived of as the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12, 19). What God once said of the nation Israel, He now declares about the church of Christ (1 Peter 2:9). Those who are of faith are, therefore, hereafter deemed the true sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7, 29). "He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart" (Romans 2:28-29). The promises which God made to Abraham and to His people, Israel, will thus be fulfilled in those who are joined to Christ for salvation.
Question: So then, can there be no special future for ethnic Israel in God's redemptive plan?
Answer: If Israel will be joined to Christ for salvation, then it will enjoy the blessing of God again -- not apart from the Gentiles, but in the same way as the Gentiles (cf. Acts 10:35; 15:9). Paul assures us: "if they do not continue in unbelief, they shall be grafted in [to the olive tree representing God's people], for God is able to graft them in again" (Romans 11:23). The partial hardening of Israel has taken place, says Paul, until the fulness of the Gentiles comes into the kingdom (11:25). Israel will be provoked to jealousy (11:11; cf. Deut. 32:21!). And "in this way all Israel shall be saved" (11:26).
For further studies of eschatology on tape, write for a catalogue from Covenant Tape Ministry, 24198 Ash Court, Auburn, CA 95603.To receive Dr. Bahnsen's free monthly newsletter, Penpoint, write to Southern California Center for Christian Studies, P. O. Box 18021, Irvine, CA 92713.
PA207 Westminster Theological Journal LVII (1995) 1-31 © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
By Dr. Greg Bahnsen
Penpoint VII:2 (Feb./Mar., 1996) © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
Presuppositional Reasoning with False Faiths
Presuppositional apologetics as taught by Cornelius Van Til urges the Christian to argue with unbelievers in an "indirect" fashion, doing an internal analysis of the unbeliever's worldview (his fundamental assumptions about reality, knowledge, and ethics) and comparing it to the worldview revealed in the Bible. Many students of apologetics have come to see the strength of this apologetical challenge when it is applied to the various kinds of views advocated by atheists or materialists. Given the presuppositions of the atheist, he could not make sense out of adherence to the laws of logic (as I tried to show in my public debate with Gordon Stein), nor could he make sense out of the principles and procedures of science itself (as I tried to show in my public debate with Edward Tabash). The atheist cannot give a rational account of the fundamental assumptions of ethics, either. Atheism is philosophically unable to argue ethically, scientifically, or logically against the Christian faith.
The question sometimes arises whether the presuppositional method can argue as effectively against non-atheists, however. That is, students of apologetics wonder whether we can argue presuppositionally with unbelievers who adhere to false religious faiths. They might not seem to fall so readily into the philosophical problems of unbelievers who deny any supernatural reality whatsoever. How does a presuppositional apologist deal with someone who has another "god" or another religious book, etc.?
It is imperative that we bear in mind that Van Til describes the presuppositional method as from the outset setting forth and working with the distinctive doctrines of Christian theism (e.g., the Trinity, divine providence). Van Til's presuppositional method is concrete, not abstract or formal; he does not offer for dialog with the unbeliever merely the worldview of a generic god of some undetermined nature and character, but the specific and full worldview of Biblical Christianity. That is why Van Til's Apologetics syllabus and the book The Defense of the Faith both began with detailed statements of Christian theology. These were not simply a review, warming up to apologetics; they were for Van Til a defining part of the apologetical task. Accordingly, the presuppositional method is not at all amenable to use by "just any other religion" which competes with Christianity -- as many critics have hastily suggested.
How does the apologist deal with advocates of other religious faiths, if he wishes to use the presuppositional method? The same way he deals with atheists and materialists, etc. By internally examining "the worldview" which is offered by whatever religious devotee is having the dialog with him. The formal fact that the opposing religionist speaks of "god" (or "gods") is not a difficulty here, for they must define their specific concept of deity. Remember here the example of Scripture: "for their rock is not as our Rock" (Deuteronomy 32:31); recall the devastating prophetic critique of the heathen's "lifeless" idols which are (contradictorily) under the sovereignty of those who bow down to them. The use of religious vocabulary and appeals does not change the applicability of the indirect method of disproving your opponent's presuppositions.
Most unstudied (and overly general) comments by people about comparative religion -- for instance, that "all religions are alike" or "you can have your pick of sacred books" -- can be easily contradicted by the apologist. If anybody is tempted to be the spokesman and defender of "just any" non-Christian religion (so as to silence the Christian apologetic), it must be politely observed that the overwhelming and vast majority of world religions cannot even offer epistemological competition to the Christian worldview. They have no basis for "knowing" what they claim at all. Why? There are indeed other "sacred" books (Bhagavad Gita, Analects, Avesta, Adi Granth, Sutras, Tao Tsang, I Ching, etc.) but they are nothing at all like what the Bible presents itself as being. What does an internal analysis of the metaphysical and epistemological presuppositions of these different religions uncover?
Metaphysically, there is no god, or no personal god, or no god who is omniscient and sovereign, etc. Accordingly, from an epistemological perspective these "sacred" books are not and cannot be anything like what the Bible claims for itself, namely, to be the Personal communication and infallible verbal revelation from the only living, completely sovereign, and all-knowing Creator. The other religious books, on their own presuppositions, give no reason to submit to them as true or normative; in terms of their own worldviews, these books as pieces of literature can have no epistemological or ethical authority. What they say (when you can make sense of it at all) could not be anything but simply "one man's opinion" against another man's opinion!
The remaining world religions or cults which might begin to have something to offer in competition with Christianity (viz. a personal deity, a verbal revelation) are usually poor imitations of a quasi-Christian philosophical outlook (living on "borrowed capital"), or they can be treated as Christian heresies (borrowing or deferring to portions of the Bible itself or misreadings of it). Ordinarily the best tactic is to reason with such religious competitors from Scripture itself, then, refuting the departures and misinterpretations from what has been acknowledged as the word of God. This too amounts to an "internal critique" of the worldview.
For example, parts of Sun Myung Moon's teaching cannot be "authorized" by him simply with an appeal to the Bible, when he in fact rejects other aspects of the Bible and refuses to grant the Bible's own claim to plenary authority. Without that plenary authority, no simple appeal to what the Bible itself says (without some other, outside warrant) can serve to "authorize" the point he is attempting to make. The apologist will then want to cross-examine this extrabiblical authority for its credentials.
In some people's minds it is the Muslim faith, however, which presents a threat to presuppositional apologetics because, it is imagined, Islam can counter(feit) each move in the Christian's argument. This too is an inaccurate preconception. The two worldviews are dissimilar in pivotal ways when one reflects on Islam's unitarianism, fatalism, moral concepts, lack of redemption, etc. Islam can be internally critiqued on its own presuppositions. Take an obvious example. The Koran acknowledges the words of Moses, David, and Jesus to be the words of prophets sent by Allah -- in which case the Koran may be, on its own terms, refuted because of its contradictions with earlier revelation (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
Sophisticated theologies offered by Muslim scholars interpret the theology of the Koran (cf. 42:11) as teaching the transcendence (tanzih) of unchanging Allah in such an extreme fashion that no human language (derived from changing experience) can positively and appropriate describe Allah -- in which case the Koran rules out what the Koran claims to be.
Then again, the Islamic worldview teaches that God is holy and just toward sin, but (unlike the theology of the Bible -- see here the words of Moses, David, and Jesus) there can indeed be "salvation" where guilt remains unremitted by the shedding of blood of a substitute for the sinner. The legalism of Islam (good works weighed against bad) does not address this problem because a person's previous bad works are not changed by later good ones, but continue on one's record in the very sight Allah (who supposedly cannot tolerate sin but must punish it).
Thus we see that Van Til's presuppositional approach to defending the faith is an effective tool for responding to all kinds of unbelievers, irreligious and religious alike. That is because all men think in the context of a broader worldview which can be internally criticized, even if it utilizes "religious" concepts. The only religious concepts which can make philosophical sense out of life are those definite, concrete, truths revealed infallibly by God in His own word
 If you would like to hear more of how these arguments against atheism work, each delivered at the University of California (Irvine or Davis), you may order my lecture "Does Ethics Depend on God?" (tape #1417), my debate with Gordon Stein (# ASST), and my debate with Edward Tabash (# AST2) from Covenant Media Foundation at (800) 553-3938. For more on this consult my lectures on Islam (e.g., "The Crown or Crescent," tape #1387) and my debate (at Orange Coast College in 1991) with a leading Muslim scholar in America, "Sister Faiths?" (tape # ASI2) which are available from Covenant Media Foundation at (800) 553-3938.
The Biblical Worldview (Part I-Vol. IX:7; July, 1993) & (Part II-Vol. IX:9 Sept., 1993) (Available in the book: Always
Ready PA600) © Covenant Media Foundation, 800/553-3938
The Problem Of Miracles
More often than not the modern mind finds abhorrent the occurrence - or even the possibility - of miracles. Miracles would disrupt our simplistic (and impersonalistic) views of the predictability and uniformity of the world around us. Miracles would indicate that there is a realm of inscrutable mystery for the (pretended) autonomy of man's mind. Miracles would testify to a transcendent and self-conscious Power in the universe which unbelievers find unnerving. So rather than examine whether miracles have in fact occurred or take seriously their reports and significance, it is better, thinks the unbeliever, to dismiss their possibility in advance.
So we will hear critics of Christianity say things like: "How can anybody with even a smattering of high school science believe that a virgin can conceive a child, a man can walk on water, a storm can be calmed upon command, the blind or lame can be instantly healed, or a dead corpse can resuscitate? The modern world knows better! The miracle-claims of Christianity are evidence of its irrationality and superstitious character." In the face of such ridicule and challenge, Christians sometimes cower in silence, when in fact it should be the critic who is intellectually ashamed - put to shame by his historical ignorance, as well as the logical defects in his thinking.
Begging The Question
The unbeliever who dismisses in advance the Biblical account of miracles should not only be ashamed of his arrogant slander against the ancient world's alleged ignorance and gullibility [wrong] , he should also be embarrassed by the logically fallacious character of his "reasoning." Consider again our earlier statement from a hypothetical unbeliever, summarizing the actual comments which we hear from non-Christians: "How can anybody with even a smattering of high school science believe that a virgin can conceive a child, a man can walk on water, a storm can be calmed upon command, the blind or lame can be instantly healed, or a dead corpse can resuscitate? The modern world knows better! The miracle-claims of Christianity are evidence of its irrationality and superstitious character."
Unbelievers who speak this way are usually quite unaware of the fatuous and fallacious character of what they are saying and suggesting. They often think that they are treating the miracle-claims of the Bible as independent evidence that the Christian worldview is rationally unacceptable. Their reasoning is something like this: we already know miracles do not occur ("How could anybody believe..."), and since Christianity claims that such impossible things did occur (e.g., virgin birth, resurrection), we can draw the conclusion that Christianity must be false. But that conclusion is not so much "drawn" as it is taken for granted from the very outset. The denial of the very possibility of miracles is not a piece of evidence for rejecting the Christian worldview, but simply a specific manifestation of that very rejection.Only if the Christian worldview happens to be false could the possibility of miracles be cogently precluded. According to Scripture's account, God is the transcendent and almighty Creator of heaven and earth. Everything owes its very existence and character to His creative power and definition (Gen. 1; Neh. 9:6; Col. 1:16-17). He makes things the way they are and determines that they function as they do. "His understanding is infinite" (Ps. 147:5). Moreover, God sovereignly governs every event that transpires, determining what, when, where, and how anything takes place - from the movement of the planets to the decrees of kings to the very hairs of our heads (Eph. 1:11). According to the Bible, He is omnipotent and in total control of the universe. Isaiah 40 celebrates in famous phraseology the creation, delineating, direction, providence, and power of Jehovah (vv. 12, 22-28). He has the freedom and control over the created order that the potter has over the clay (Rom. 9:21). As the Psalmist affirms, "Our God is in the heavens; He has done whatsoever He pleased" (115:3).
Miracles Of Darkness
A further misunderstanding of the supernaturalness of miraculous events is detected in the common conviction that "miracles" can be genuinely performed only by the living and true God - in which case any duly authenticated case of a miraculous occurrence functions as a marker or evidence that God is at work, usually verifying the divine approval of the message or the person of the miracle-worker. But this premise is simply out of step with the Biblical witness itself.
On the day of judgment there will be people who had worked mighty works, even casting out demons, who will not have the approval or acceptance of God (Matthew 7:22-23). When Moses worked miracles by the power of God before the Pharaoh, Scripture tells us that the court magicians were able to replicate some of them, obviously by the evil power of Satan (e.g., Exodus 7:11-12). False prophets (Deuteronomy 13:1-2) and false messiahs (Matthew 24:24) are recognized in God's word as having the power to perform miracles. A beastly leader in Revelation 13:13-15 has attributed to him the working of great miracles, like calling fire down from heaven and causing a statue to speak. Why do evil men perform such miraculous deeds? To deceive men and lead them into theological error, to lure them into lies (cf. Deuteronomy 13:2; Revelation 13:14). Accordingly, the Bible can describe these evil miracles as "lying wonders" (2 Thessalonians 2:9) because they are amazing events which lie about God and mislead His people - not (as some interpreters illegitimately foist upon the text) because they are "pseudo" miracles (fake, pretend, illusory). They are real wonders which mislead people from the truth.
And thus the "supernatural power" behind the working of a miracle may be the living and true God whom people should worship and obey, but it might also be the Prince of Darkness, the Devil, who wishes to deceive men and lead them into soul-damning error. (Of course, as the book of Job teaches us, even the workings of Satan take place subject to the sovereign direction of God. Satan is not a genuinely autonomous power in the universe.)
 David Hume, "Of Miracles" in An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Charles W. Hendel (Indianapolis: Boobs-Merrill Co.,  1955), p. 126.
http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa065.htm PA065 Wow! 255 heavy topics!
225 Questions for Presbytery Apologetics Exam; 7 pp, (1986) © Covenant Media Foundation.=======================
http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa012.htm [huge historical evaluation of Darwin...]
On Worshipping the Creature Rather Than the Creator
By Dr. Greg Bahnsen
PA003Synapse II (Westminster Seminary, January, 1972) © Covenant Media Foundation -- 800/553-3938.
The Impropriety of Evidentially Arguing for the Resurrection
.../... Therefore, for moral, methodological, material, and pragmatic reasons we should see the impropriety of arguing for the resurrection of Christ in an evidentialist fashion. Although evidence has a part in the Christian apologetic, it is not the pivotal and foundational part. While we may momentarily silence the belligerent claim of the skeptic by showing that even on his tacit assumptions the resurrection is not a sheer impossibility (as evidence would indicate), our central defense of the faith had better be made of stronger stuff. As Paul at Athens, we must demand a complete, change of world-outlook and presupposition (based on the authority of God's word) and not just a mere addition of a few facts. [now that is the most contra-typical doctrine I've heard!](for further reading on evidences in apologetics see C. Van Til's Christian-Theisic Evidences)
[Bonus:MegaChurches Killed Christianity...]
FYI: WCA is the largest church I've ever been too, with
millions of people belonging to its giant army of AFFILIATES including EBC and RPCC
oops: [its not his site, but] pursuing RCSproul's yoke led me to this gem:
Bill Hybels and Willow Creek are setting up their blockbuster "The Leadership Summit" August 10-12, 2006. Among the speakers are Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, and Bono, with his inspiring "testimony" of self-absorbed "works."
We're also told: "A good leader does more than just scale the next mountain. Leaders must cast a vision so compelling others can see it too. Recruit teams. Encourage innovation. Build solid infrastructures. Create a community. Motivate change. Reach down to pull others up. These are the jobs of a leader; taking new ground, not somewhere else, but right where you are."
No doubt this is a very powerful message for secular business strategies, but it has absolutely nothing to do with calling out a people to God willing to turn their back on this world, take up their cross and to follow Jesus...no matter what; to the end. Though the following message is certainly much more pleasing to the flesh. But remember the Bible says: "They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them." (1 John 4:5)
"The Leadership Summit 2006 offers you and every leader on your team a place to rededicate yourselves to God's life-changing work. You'll be challenged to invest your gifts and abilities in the single most important work on this planet - helping your local church reach its full, God-given redemptive potential."
And the American Christian Church continues to become more like this cursed world every day...
On his blog this morning, one seeker pastor of a 4,000+ person megachurch had this to say: "I think there is one word to describe a church that is boring--SIN! Look at it this way--God is not boring. He invented laughter. He invented the sunset. He's the One who developed the concept of sex! (Thank you Jesus!) And Jesus--He was not a boring dude.".
So perhaps in his effort to avoid "sinful boredom", we see sermons presented liked this one; it's at best irreverent and at worst blasphemous. The sermon is listed on his church website with the Wonder Bread logo, and this description:
"Jesus said, 'I am the bread of life'. ... In this series we focus on some of the promises of Jesus and point to the WONDER that is 'the bread of life'."
Earlier Ingrid was talking about a writer who believes that "in-house" differences with Joyce Meyers, Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Joel Osteen and company shouldn't be addressed in the church, and that Christians need to stop tearing down other Christians because everyone is doing a good job for the body of Christ. And she said, "It makes one wonder just how bad the teaching has to get for this man before he would get concerned." So in this new article we ask the above question.
Other articles on the historic orthodox Christian faith are also available at our Apprising Ministries website. I pray that that you may feel led to join forces with us here at AM so that this labor in Christ can continue to be a Lighthouse for our great God during this growing darkness.
Unfortunately, unlike Elvis, Joel Osteen has not left the building and as I point out in this article unless you have been living on another planet you have no doubt heard of, or even seen America's smiling pastor Joel Osteen, head of Lakewood Church, one of the largest professing Evangelical Christian congregations in the world. What needs to be understood here is that the only way someone like this could even be considered an Evangelical is due to the disturbing low ebb of discernment today in the Body of Christ. Here is a man who at best has such an alarming simplistic message concerning Christianity, and at worst is yet another of the many Word Faith teachers currently infesting our Lord's precious Church, an alarmingly arrogant breed who are now fearlessly spouting their doctrines of devils.
Other articles on a wide range of topics touching on the historic orthodox Christian faith are also available at our Apprising Ministries website, as well as biblical counseling. And not only does our name encourage you to become informed, it can also make one think of "uprising," as in awaken-it's morning and time for the true disciples of Jesus Christ to awaken from our slumber, for the time has now arrived for the Body of Christ to move "onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war"
INGRID SCHLUETER I've been in Christian radio for 18 years. Of all the trends I've observed, the explosion of the "seeker"-centered megachurches is one of the most disturbing. (Read More)
VCY AMERICA Daily Live Audio Feed: VCY Americahttp://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/archives/purpose_driven_madness/ ==> a boat-full of whacks at McTheology
The Laodiceans Well, it seems that Dr. Andrew Jackson of SmartChristian.com takes some serious exception to this particular work of Ingrid's here in Christ. Jackson, who was trained at the spiritual cesspool that is Fuller seminary and which gave birth to the Church Growth Movement, tells us of a quite favorable post from David Wayne of JollyBlogger concerning Rick Warren while taking yet another jab at Slice.For those who might be interested, my personal thoughts on this matter are here in "It Is Intriguing." And as Chris Pajak, still flying under Jackson's radar, reminded me this morning: "Remember, they hated the Lord first."
Posted by Rev. Ken Silva on June 29, 2006 @ 10:41 AMPurpose Driven Madness | Comments (23 so far)
| World Newspapers – World newspapers, magazines, and news sites in English, sorted by country and region. |
Alternative News - World Newspapers.com, a great site for alternative news around the world.
Tom Flocco - for honest government in our lifetime
In These Times-
The Progressive Populist-
Common Dreams News Center-
Veterans for Peace-
Tom Paine -
United for a Fair Economy-
Globalvision International News-
Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy-
WorldLink TV - "Television without Borders"-
PrisonPlanet.com - wacky
InfoWars.com - wacky
Martin Luther on TD Jakes' idea of success: "Riches are the least worthy of gifts which God can give a man. What are they to God's word, to bodily gifts, such as beauty and health, or to the gifts of the mind, such as understanding, skill, wisdom! Yet men toil for them day and night, and take no rest. Therefore God commonly gives riches to foolish people, to whom he gives nothing else."
Get your Rapture hats ready, kiddies! The sky is falling, and our wise gift of nuclear winter will propel us all into the loving arms of the all-knowing and all-everywhere G-d.
God's Word [From DrKeller's BaseCamp] aka: the Da'God Code
.more food: here's the buffet http://www.cmfnow.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=5
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