Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Nicene Creed, Council of Ephesus and Cyril of Alexandria: the Son of God begotten from the Father's essence


A number of Reformed folk (including Calvin himself) are quite adamant in their doctrinal stance concerning what is meant by the concept of the Son of God being begotten from God the Father; specifically, that the Son is begotten from the Father's person ONLY, emphatically denying that it is also from the Father's essence/substance (οὐσία).

Persons following this blog are well aware that the original Nicene Creed explicitly contradicted the above denial; yet once again, from the opening of the Nicene Creed of 325 we read:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible ; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father... (NPNF - 2nd series, Vol. 14, The Seven Ecumenical Councils, p. 3 - bold emphasis mine.)

The Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries who wrote on this subject were almost unanimous in their assent of the above. I have recently provided selections from some of those Church Fathers (e.g. Athanasius, Basil), and at this time would like to add Cyril of Alexander's assessment (which was officially adopted at the 3rd Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431). After quoting the entire Nicene Creed of 325, Cyril continued with:

Following in all points the confessions of the Holy Fathers which they made (the Holy Ghost speaking in them), and following the scope of their opinions, and going, as it were, in the royal way, we confess that the Only begotten Word of God, begotten of the same substance of the Father... (Ibid.. p. 202 - bold emphasis mine.)

Now, what I find interesting is the fact that most confessional Reformed folk claim they accept the creeds and definitions of the 1st four Ecumenical councils; and yet, a number of those same folk deny that the Son of God was begotten from the essence/substance of the Father. How can this be anything but a blatant contradiction?


Grace and peace,

David

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our possible future ???



While watching the 700 Club during my workout earlier today, the following segment gave cause for reflection:


Could this be a foretaste of our nation's future ???


Grace and peace,

David

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bart Ehrman's new book




Last month, Dr. Bart Ehrman's much anticipated book, Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics, was released by Oxford University Press. The following is the publisher's "Description":

"Arguably the most distinctive feature of the early Christian literature," writes Bart Ehrman, "is the degree to which it was forged." The Homilies and Recognitions of Clement; Paul's letters to and from Seneca; Gospels by Peter, Thomas, and Philip; Jesus' correspondence with Abgar, letters by Peter and Paul in the New Testament--all forgeries. To cite just a few examples.

Forgery and Counterforgery is the first comprehensive study of early Christian pseudepigrapha ever produced in English. In it, Ehrman argues that ancient critics--pagan, Jewish, and Christian--understood false authorial claims to be a form of literary deceit, and thus forgeries. Ehrman considers the extent of the phenomenon, the "intention" and motivations of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish forgers, and reactions to their work once detected. He also assesses the criteria ancient critics applied to expose forgeries and the techniques forgers used to avoid detection. With the wider practices of the ancient world as backdrop, Ehrman then focuses on early Christian polemics, as various Christian authors forged documents in order to lend their ideas a veneer of authority in literary battles waged with pagans, Jews, and, most importantly, with one another in internecine disputes over doctrine and practice. In some instances a forger directed his work against views found in another forgery, creating thereby a "counter-forgery." Ehrman's evaluation of polemical forgeries starts with those of the New Testament (nearly half of whose books make a false authorial claim) up through the Pseudo-Ignatian epistles and the Apostolic Constitutions at the end of the fourth century.

Shining light on an important but overlooked feature of the early Christian world, Forgery and Counterforgery explores the possible motivations of the deceivers who produced these writings, situating their practice within ancient Christian discourses on lying and deceit. (LINK)


I have the book on order, but given the fact that we are in the 'holiday season', I have no idea when the book will arrive. However, even though I have yet to read Ehrman's book, a gent I have respect for (Dr. Tim Henderson) has already offered a valuable critique on one of the topics of the book. The following are the links to his three installments:





Grace and peace,

David

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Questions concerning the Monarchy of God the Father


During the past couple of years, I have produced over a dozen threads focusing on the doctrine of the 'Monarchy of  God the Father' (link to germane threads).

There seems to be a growing number of Christians who are embracing this important doctrine, having discerned the early Church Fathers and councils retained the clear Biblical teaching, and that beginning in the late 4th century, there was a movement away from the established teaching of the Monarchy of God Father to the Monarchy of an essence/ousia—i.e. the 'one God' of the Bible and early Church was no longer a person, but a thing/what.

For sometime now, I have been pondering over what additional assistance could be provided to those who have taken the time to read through the threads linked to above (threads which have included links to important contributions made by others—e.g. Ryan and Drake), but have not yet embraced the important doctrine of the Monarchy of God the Father; and yesterday, the thought of a body of pointed questions came to mind. I have chosen the following questions—with relevant Biblical references—for interested persons to reflect on.

Does/is the 'One God' of the Bible:

Owe their existence to another? (John 5:26; 6:57)

Do the 'will' of another? (John 5:30; 6:38)

'Taught' by another? (John 5:19; 8:28; 12:49)

'Sent' by another? (John 5:30, 36; 12:49; 14:26)

The 'image' of another? (Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3)

Have a 'God'? (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34; John 20:17; 1 Cor. 3:23; 11:3; Rev. 3:2, 12)
 

To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.


Grace and peace,

David

Monday, November 5, 2012

B. B. Warfield's birthday


It was on this day, 161 years ago, that the highly esteemed Reformed theologian Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (November 5, 1851 – February 16, 1921) was born (near Lexington, Kentucky).

When it comes to Reformed theologians, B. B. Warfield is one of my personal favorites—I think it is safe to say that he is one of the top 10 Reformed theologians that American has produced—his substantial body of work (writings, sermons, and addresses) continues to influence a large number of English speakng Reformed folk.

I would like to honor this great man's birthday by providing some links to online resources that are dedicated to him:












[Please feel free to provide additional, germane links in the combox.]

Enjoy !!!


Grace and peace,

David

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq al-San'ani as a Source of Authentic Ahadith of the First Century A.H. - by Harald Motzki


To those folk who are engaged in serious Islamic studies (Muslim and non-Muslim), the importance of the Hadith (i.e. speeches, reports, accounts of the actions and words of Muhammad) literature cannot be undervalued. There are six major/recognized collections by the Sunnis, known under the names of the compilers: al-Buhkari, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Abu Daud, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, and al-Nasai; the Shia (who include material from their Imams), have added al-Kulayni, Ibn Babuya al-Qummi, Muhammad al-Tusi, and the massive Bihar al-anwar of Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi (well over 100 volumes).

A much lesser known, but earlier, collection of hadith was the Musannaf of Abd al-Razzaq al-San'ani. One Islamic scholar has recently produced an informative essay that may vastly improve the status of Abd al-Razzaq's Musannaf. I have embedded Harald Motzki's contribution in full below:







Grace and peace,

David 

Athanasius: on God, His Son/Word and the Godhead - part 2


In the first installment of this series, I provided an extensive selection from Athansius that delineated his position on God, His Son/Word, and the Godhead with great clarity (LINK).

With this second installment, I would like to provide a few more selections from his corpus that should add even greater clarity to his view. The first group shall be from his De Decretis (or, Defence of the Nicene Definition) wherein, among other important issues, he delves into what Nicene Creed means by "of the essence" and "one in essence" (i.e. homoousios), with the final quote being once again from his 4th Oration/Discourse Against/Contra the Arians:

...I mean, "of the essence" and "one in essence," and that "the Son of God is neither a creature or work, nor in the number of things originated [γενητῶν not γενvητῶν], but that the Word is an offspring from the substance of the Father." (De Decretis - NPNF 2nd Series, 4.152)

Is it right to say that what is God's offspring and proper to Him is out of nothing? or is it reasonable in the very idea, that what is from God has accrued to Him, that a man should dare to say that the Son is not always ? For in this again the generation of the Son exceeds and transcends the thoughts of man, that we become fathers of our own children in time, since we ourselves first were not and then came into being ; but God, in that He ever is, is ever Father of the Son. And the origination of mankind is brought home to us from things that are parallel ; but, since ' no one knoweth the Son but the Father, and no one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him,' therefore the sacred writers to whom the Son has revealed Him, have given us a certain image from things visible, saying, ' Who is the brightness of His glory, and the Expression of His Person;' and again, ' For with Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light shall we see lights;' and when the Word chides Israel, He says, ' Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of wisdom; ' and this Fountain it is which says, 'They have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters?.' And mean indeed and very dim is the illustration compared with what we desiderate ; but yet it is possible from it to understand something above man's nature, instead of thinking the Son's generation to be on a level with ours. For who can even imagine that the radiance of light ever was not, so that he should dare to say that the Son was not always, or that the Son. was not before His generation? or who is capable of separating the radiance from the sun, or to conceive of the fountain as ever void of life, that he should madly say, ' The Son is from nothing,' who says, ' I am the life',' or 'alien to the Father's essence,' who says, ' He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father"?' for the sacred writers wishing us thus to understand, have given these illustrations ; and it is unseemly and most irreligious, when Scripture contains such images, to form ideas concerning our Lord from others which are neither in Scripture, nor have any religious bearing. (Ibid. 4.157, 158 - bold emphasis mine.)

This then is quite enough to expose the infamy of the Arian heresy ; for, as the Lord has granted, out of their own words is irreligion brought home to them'. But come now and let us on our part act on the offensive, and call on them for an answer; for now is fair time, when their own ground has failed them, to question them on ours ; perhaps it may abash the perverse, and disclose to them whence they have fallen. We have learned from divine Scripture, that the Son of God, as was said above, is the very Word and Wisdom of the Father. For the Apostle says,' Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God  ; ' and John after saying,' And the Word was made flesh,' at once adds, 'And we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truths,' so that, the Word being the Only-begotten Son, in this Word and in Wisdom heaven and earth and all that is therein were made. And of this Wisdom that God is Fountain we have learned from Baruch, by Israel's being charged with having forsaken the Fountain of Wisdom. If then they deny Scripture, they are at once aliens to their name, and may fitly be called of all men atheists, and Christ's enemies, for they have brought upon themselves these names. But if they agree with us that the sayings of Scripture are divinely inspired, let them dare to say openly what they think in secret that God was once wordless and wisdomless let them in their madness say, 'There was once when He was not,' and, 'before His generation, Christ was not;' and again let them declare that the Fountain begat not Wisdom from itself, but acquired it from without, till they have the daring to say, ' The Son came of nothing;' whence it will follow that there is no longer a Fountain, but a sort of pool, as if receiving water from without, and usurping the name of Fountain. (Ibid. 4.159, 160 - bold emphasis mine.)

Now with all the above in mind, add to this the previous published selection (LINK) and then what follows:

‘I and the Father are One.’ You say that the two things are one, or that the one has two names, or again that the one is divided into two. Now if the one is divided into two, that which is divided must need be a body, and neither part perfect, for each is a part and not a whole. But if again the one have two names, this is the expedient of Sabellius, who said that Son and Father were the same, and did away with either, the Father when there is a Son, and the Son when there is a Father. But if the two are one, then of necessity they are two, but one according to the Godhead, and according to the Son’s coessentiality with the Father, and the Word’s being from the Father Himself; so that there are two, because there is Father, and Son, namely the Word; and one because one God. For if not, He would have said, ‘I am the Father,’ or ‘I and the Father am;’ but, in fact, in the ‘I’ He signifies the Son, and in the ‘And the Father,’ Him who begot Him; and in the ‘One’ the one Godhead and His coessentiality. For the Same is not, as the Gentiles hold, Wise and Wisdom, or the Same Father and Word; for it were unfit for Him to be His own Father, but the divine teaching knows Father and Son, and Wise and Wisdom, and God and Word; while it ever guards Him indivisible and inseparable and indissoluble in all respects.

But if any one, on hearing that the Father and the Son are two, misrepresent us as preaching two Gods (for this is what some feign to themselves, and forthwith mock, saying, ‘You hold two Gods’), we must answer to such, If to acknowledge Father and Son, is to hold two Gods, it instantly follows that to confess but one we must deny the Son and Sabellianise. For if to speak of two is to fall into Gentilism, therefore if we speak of one, we must fall into Sabellianism. But this is not so; perish the thought! but, as when we say that Father and Son are two, we still confess one God, so when we say that there is one God, let us consider Father and Son two, while they are one in the Godhead, and in the Father’s Word being indissoluble and indivisible and inseparable from Him. And let the fire and the radiance from it be a similitude of man, which are two in being and in appearance, but one in that its radiance is from it indivisibly. (Orations/Discourses Against/Contra the Arians, Book 4.9, 10 – NPNF 2nd Series, 4.436 bold emphasis mine.)


All to the glory of God the Father and His Only-begotten Son...


Grace and peace,

David

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Puritans: two exhaustive online resource sites


While engaged in some online research yesterday, I discovered two sites on Puritan authors that are nothing short of extraordinary concerning the number of resources which are made available to the public; with many of those resources being FREE.



Enjoy !!!


Grace and peace,

David

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Granville Sharp: his six rules of Greek NT grammar


Earlier today I received an email from another friend and brother in Christ who had questions about Granville Sharp's "rule". Granville Sharp actually produced six 'rules' of New Testament grammar, but it is his first "rule" that has received by far the most 'ink'. A concise summation of Sharp's six rules can be found at:


Sharp's book on these six rules can be read, and/or downloaded at:


The support for Granville Sharp's 1st rule within the Evangelical community has had a long and substantive history—the following articles/essays are some good representatives:





But, there has been solid opposition to Sharp; the first I am aware of came quite early on (1805) from the pen Calvin Winstanley. An online PDF version can be accessed at:


The most rigorous opposition that I have knowledge of has come via the former Jehovah's Witness, Greg Stafford, who has produced literally hundreds of scholarly pages on this issue, all of which can be accessed at:


Mr. Stafford is also currently writing a full length book on this topic, which is supposed to be released sometime this month:  

The Sharpest Rule: A Review and Restatement of Greek's Most Tragic Rule

I sincerely hope I have provided interested readers enough resources to delve into this subject with some serious depth.

As for myself, I remain 'open' to both sides, calling the ongoing grammatical debate a 'draw'. However, I suspect a number of folk will not give Stafford's copious contributions an objective look simply because he is a former JW, and will side with the Bowman's and Wallaces's without any serious reflection and study; IMO, to do so would be a huge mistake, for Stafford has more than 'held his own' with the best the Evangelical camp has had to offer. I shall end here with a firm exhortation to all interested parties that they read through the material without prejudice before drawing any firm conclusions.


Grace and peace,

David

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Inerrancy and the Bible: a recent panel discussion by members of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The current president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Albert Mohler online bio), with four other faculty members, recently held a panel discussion on the inerrancy of the Bible. The full discussion can be viewed via the following imbedded video (link to original video site):






I am going to refrain from commenting on this discussion for the moment, and instead, link to an Evangelical assessment of it:


Dr. Enns in his review lists some 34 points that were made by the panelists, and briefly shares his reflections on each of those points.

A lot to digest—looking forward to the thoughts of those who are interested in this important issue.


Grace and peace,

David