Thursday, August 30, 2012

James R. White: you should have stayed out of "the deep water" - part 2


At the 13:30 ff. mark of the NCE-E1 video linked to in my previous thread, James White said:

And it would be very easy—would have been absolutely simplistic—to, to press T. D. Jakes to come up with a meaningful response to one simple question—which I would think would be just obvious to a church leader at least—uhh, and that is this: Did the Son as a divine person pre-exist his birth in Bethlehem? Not as an ideal idea; not as, as concept in the mid of the Father; but, did the Son as a divine person exist prior to his birth in Bethlehem? Did he have interaction with the Father...

And a bit later at 15:00 ff.:

All you have to do to recognize modalism, and to, and to unmask modalism, is to, is to say: Do you believe that the Son as a divine person pre-existed his birth in Bethlehem? Was in relationship with the Father; there was communion and love between the Son and the Father before the incarnation. That question was not asked.

I discern two significant problems with the above comments by James: first, modalists believe "the one Being that is God" (I am using James' own phrase, from his book The Forgotten Trinity, here) pre-existed His incarnation, "as Father, Word, and Spirit." James' "absolutely simplistic" question is easily side-stepped by historic/traditional modalists. Second, a number of Evangelical theologians (including Reformed folk) deny that the second person of the Trinity existed as the Son prior to the incarnation !!! (See THIS THREAD for documentation.)

Maybe it was just on 'off-day' for James (I sincerely hope that in his debates with modalists his arguments were substantially more accurate and solid); but with that said, I shall end this post by recommending that a good portion of his presentation in the NCE-E1 video should be Forgotten as soon as possible...


Grace and peace,

David

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

James R. White: you should have stayed out of "the deep water" - part 1


Still trying to 'catch-up' on what transpired over the internet during my grandson's recent visit; the following thread posted by Ken Temple on the Beggars All blog caught my attention:


[Original online posting of the Vimeo video: No Co Ever: Episode  1]

In the written portion of the post, Ken penned:

I agree with everything these gentleman said on the issues of doctrine and the problems with the Elephant Room 2

. . . except for one small side comment that Carl Trueman made that I think is important for Christians to understand.

Ken then expounds on the "one small comment", stating:

When talking about the Christians at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, Professor Trueman said they were Turks. [around the 31 minute mark] Professor Trueman was right that the men at the Council of Nicea were not "white men", but they were not Turkish either. They were Greeks and Egyptians and Syrians (The Syrians before the Arabs conquered them in the 600s AD.) That is an amazing mistake by a church history professor, in my opinion. They were mostly Greeks, Syrians, 2 Latins from Rome, and Egyptians (Athanasius, for one) and others from around the Roman Empire. The Turks did not live in what is today called Turkey at the time of the Council of Nicea. The Turks (Seljuk and Ottomans) did not come to that land until before the Crusades (1071 AD) and they did not completely conquer the area known as Anatolia and Constantinople until 1453 AD. No Turks lived in these areas in the New Testament days nor in early church history until the 900s AD!

Apart from some particulars concerning the ethnic and geographical background of some of the bishops that attended "the Council of Nicea in 325 AD", Ken has been pretty accurate in his above assessment, though he appears to be unaware of some background information that seems to qualify Carl's remark in the video (see THIS LINK for Carl's article, "Gnosticism, Nicea and Celebrity").

But, this post is not about going to focus on the ethnic and geographical background of the bishops that attended the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, rather, it will build upon, "everything these gentleman said on the issues of doctrine", which Ken stated that he "agree[s] with".

Pastor Mike Abendroth, the host of the program that Ken linked to, near the beginning of the NCE-E1 video, states:

What is a 'kook and a Barney'? Well 'kooks and Barneys' are people who try to surf with experts, and they'll try to paddle in, out in the water, and they just get in the way of the surfers';  and they are known by the locals as 'kooks and Barneys'—they're in over their head, they're playing in the deep water. So I would like to offer a 'kooks and Barneys award'; and so, today, we are going to offer that award, not to a particular person, but to a group of people, and would be the organizers of The Elephant Room. (2:40 ff.)

[For information on "The Elephant Room", go to their OFFICIAL WEBSITE]

Now, I am going to 'play-on' Mike's theme of 'kooks and Barneys' a bit, for I think it will become apparent that at least one of the members of the panel of 'experts' in the video is probably "over their head", "playing in deep water"...

In the NCE-E1 video, at approximately the 6:20ff mark, James White said:

I really think what we're dealing with here—uhh um, and this, this may be more in, uhh, in, in the good Doctor Trueman's area to comment on—but, as, as I have had the opportunity to teach Church history in the past, and also joining to that working as an apologist, it seems to me that at different periods in Church history, the clarity that we gain on particular topics is due to the struggles that the Church is facing...

And a bit later at 7:14 ff.:

In the early Church, as was mentioned before, the difference between homoousios and homoiousios is, is a HUGE gap, but it is only one letter...

Is that an accurate statement? Note what St. Athansius, the great defender of the Nicene Creed and Trinitarianism, had to say:

Those who deny the Council altogether, are sufficiently exposed by these brief remarks ; those, however, who accept everything else that was defined at Nicaea, and doubt only about the Coessential [homoousios], must not be treated as enemies ; nor do we here attack them as Ariomaniacs, nor as opponents of the Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers, who mean what we mean, and dispute about one word. For, confessing that the Son is from the essence of the Father, and not from other subsistence, and that He is not a creature nor work, but His genuine and natural offspring, and that He is eternally with the Father as being His Word and Wisdom, they are not far from accepting even the phrase, 'Coessential' [homoousios]...But since they say that He is 'of the essence' and 'Like-in-essence,' [homoiousios] what do they signify by these but 'Coessential?' [homoousios] (De Synodis (Councils of Arminum and Seleucia), 41 - NPNF 4.472.) 

A "HUGE gap" in the early Church ???; I, and St. Athansius, think not.

A bit later, Mike reads off the questions that Mark Driscoll presented to T. D. Jakes, all of which Jakes' answered in the affirmative. James White then jumps in with:

But before that, before those questions, Jakes had provided the absolutely necessary redefinition from a non-Trinitarian modalistic perspective, which was when asked initially about the existence of three divine persons, his response was, 'I can go there, but that's not my favorite way of saying it; that doesn't do it for me'. Well when someone starts talking about the ancient creeds of the Church and says, 'that doesn't do it for me, I want to know why. And when you go back into his teaching before this, he is consistently used the language of manifestations, he has said that there is one God, but different manifestation, going to a major textual variant in 1 Timothy 3:16 where, uhh, God was manifect in the flesh—even though the earliest reading, the manuscripts, He was manifest in the flesh—but leaving that to, to, uhh, to the side, Oneness Pentecostals, Jesus only Pentecostals, uhh, teach that Jesus was literally two persons...

James White does not know what he is talking about here, Oneness Pentecostals DO NOT teach, "that Jesus was literally two persons".

From the United Pentecostal Church International website (the largest Oneness Pentecostal denomination) we read:

The Oneness of God

God is absolutely and indivisibly one (Deuteronomy 6:4; Galatians 3:20). In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). He is the self-revelation of the one God, the incarnation of the full, undivided Godhead (John 20:28; I Timothy 3:16).

God has revealed Himself as Father (in parental relationship to humanity), in the Son (in human flesh), and as the Holy Spirit (in spiritual action). (See Deuteronomy 32:6 and Isaiah 63:16; Luke 1:35 and Galatians 4:4; Genesis 1:2 and Acts 1:8.) The one God existed as Father, Word, and Spirit before His incarnation as Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and while Jesus walked on earth as God Himself incarnate, the Spirit of God continued to be omnipresent. However, the Bible does not teach that there are three distinct centers of consciousness in the Godhead or that Jesus is one of three divine persons.

Jesus is true God and true man as one divine-human person. We can distinguish these two aspects of Christ’s identity, but we cannot separate them. The Incarnation joined the fullness of deity to complete humanity. (Link - bold emphasis mine.)

Dr. Gregory A. Boyd in his critical book, Oneness Pentecostals & The Trinity, 'gets it right':

And yet, Oneness Pentecostals insist, Jesus was only one person. If he appears to be more than that, if the Father and Son appear to be more than distinct "natures" and rather appear in the Gospels as actual distinct "persons," this can only be an illusion assumed for the sake of revelation. (Page 35.)

James White not only misrepresents the Oneness Pentecostals, he also misrepresents the modalism that existed in the early Church:

So the prayers of Jesus—this is not technically, exactly like what Sabellius had it; there were different forms of dynamic monarchianism, and things like that in ancient Church history...(12:46 ff.)

Sabellius DID NOT teach any of the "different forms of dynamic monarchianism, and things like that in ancient Church history"; fact is, Sabellius was a modalist monarchian. (FYI: Oneness Pentecostals ARE NOT dynamic monarchians, they are modalistic monarchians).

Much more to cover, but it will have to wait until part 2.


Grace and peace,

David

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A new systematic theology now online for reading and/or download


Last week, through Sunday, I had my 11 year grandson staying at the beach, and spent very little time on the internet; as such, I am playing 'catch-up' in cyberspace concerning my personal areas of interest.

Earlier today, I found that Drake Shelton back on August 24th, 2012 has made available online his 2nd edition of: Systematic Theology - A Complete Orthodox Protestant and Scripturalist Body of Divinity (LINK).

Because I am still working my way through Michael Horton's The Christian Faith - A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way, I have not yet read Drake's work, and hope to do so later this week; but, given what I have read of Drake's works on theology, I am reasonable sure that his book will yield some substantial contributions.


Grace and peace,

David

Friday, August 17, 2012

I am a bit embarrassed to admit...


OK, perhaps "embarrassed" is hyperbolic, but I am somewhat surprised that I 'missed' the publication of the following three documents (which I 'discovered' via the reading of Benedict XVI's April 20th, 2012 full message - LINK):

Verbum Domini (Benedict XVI's 2008 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation) - HTML version; PDF version

Instrumentum Laboris (The Word of God In The Life And Mission Of The Church) - HTML version; PDF version

Lineamenta (The Word of God In The Life And Mission Of The Church) - HTML version; PDF version

So far, I have only 'skimmed' through these lengthy documents, but hope to engage in a more thorough reading this weekend, the Lord willing. May have a post(s) on these in the future...


Grace and peace,

David

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Provocative post...


I must confess upfront, that I am anything but passionate about politics. This does not mean that I have not seriously considered the nature/role Christians are to play in the world that we live; but rather, that my explorations into this topic have left me at this time somewhat 'neutral' (my studies into this issue have ranged between libertarianism and theonomy).  With that said, I found the following post to be a bit more than interesting (I am providing the opening portion of the post here—go to the link for the entire thread):


The Worldview of Romney and Ryan and the 2012 Presidential Election

Romney and Ryan are the first non-Protestant combination Presidential and Vice-Presidential ticket in the history of American elections. America has been characteristically a Baptist/Protestant country, much of which stems from what was left in Europe. This flies in the face of a national history-long trend. I actually don't think that President Obama and Vice President Biden are Protestant and Catholic, but some kind of quasi-humanism/religious liberalism, but the President claims to be Protestant.

Both Romney and Ryan come from a top-down hierarchical religious structure that belies their states rights, power to the people, economic freedom paradigm. In modern colloquial terms, what's up with that? Why are we so sure now that the Mormon president or the Pope won't be telling our candidates what to do, say in the vein of that for what John F. Kennedy had to answer for in the 1960 presidential election? I've been thinking about this recently and let me give you my take. I think I'm right, but I'm open to your thoughts. (
LINK)


Grace and peace,

David

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

TurretinFan: assisting Reformed conversions to the RCC ???


Yes, I am talking about the same TurretinFan (hereafter TF) who once wrote that Thomas Aquinas held to sola scriptura (see following links: first; second). The same TF who edits and/or deletes comments made on his blog he does not like; and same TF whose anti-Catholic bias puts into question much of what he publishes on Catholicism—the following contains the most recent example...

While engaged in online research pertaining to "the rule of faith" (Irenaeus related research), the following thread came up:


From the above post, we read:

Moreover, Mr. Anders specifically asserted: “The Catholic Assertion: The Church is the Rule of Faith.”

Interestingly, Benedict XVI (Yes, I know he’s German like Kung, Rahner, and Luther, but hear me out) is reported as saying:

The word of Scripture is not “an inert deposit within the Church” but the “supreme rule of faith and power of life”. Benedict XVI wrote this in a message to participants in the annual Plenary Session of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, held from Monday, 16, to Friday, 20 April, at the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae.

L'Osservatore Romano, 21 April 2012

So, will our Roman communion friends concede what that German prelate who claims to be the successor of Peter and Paul concedes? Or do will they deny that Scripture is the supreme rule of faith?

I mean one might think that “the Catholic position” is better expressed by the pope who says: “The Church has always considered and continues to consider Sacred Scripture, together with sacred Tradition, “as the supreme rule of her faith” (DV 21) and as such she offers it to the faithful for their daily life.” (
19 June 1985, General Audience)

And yes, he’s quoting from Vatican II, but I hear that they are planning on making even SSPX finally assent to those teachings.

So, what will it be? Will our Roman communion friends be on the pope’s (I suppose that should be popes’, as the 1985 audience would be the Polish prelate, not the German one) side? Do they agree that he has conceded that the Scriptures are a rule of faith and has further alleged that “Tradition” is as well?

[Note: TF failed to give a link to the original source of the David Anders quote, so I shall do so - link to David Anders post; link to TF's original reply.]

TF seems to think he has created a real dilemma for David Anders; but reality says something quite different. In addition to David's response to TF (link), the full context of Benedict XVI's April 20th, 2012 message should clear the matter up (at least for the objective reader):

To the Venerable Brother

Cardinal William Levada

President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

I am pleased to send you, Venerable Brother, to Cardinal Prosper Grech. O.S.A., to the Secretary and to all the Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission my cordial greeting on the occasion of the annual Plenary Assembly which is being held to address the important topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible.”

As we know, such a topic is essential for a correct hermeneutic of the biblical message. Precisely inspiration, as action of God, makes it possible to express the Word of God in human words. Consequently, the topic of inspiration is decisive for the appropriate approach to the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, an interpretation of the sacred texts that neglects or forgets their inspiration does not take into account their most important and precious characteristic, that is, their provenance from God. Moreover, in my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, I recalled that “The Synod Fathers also stressed the link between the theme of inspiration and that of the truth of the Scriptures. A deeper study of the process of inspiration will doubtless lead to a greater understanding of the truth contained in the sacred books.” (n. 19).

Because of the charism of inspiration, the books of Sacred Scripture have a direct and concrete force of appeal. However, the Word of God is not confined to what is written. If, in fact, the act of Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, the revealed Word has continued to be proclaimed and interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church. For this reason the Word of God fixed in the sacred texts is not an inert deposit inside the Church but becomes the supreme rule of her faith and power of life. The Tradition that draws its origin from the Apostles progresses with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and grows with the reflection and study of believers, with personal experience of the spiritual life and the preaching of Bishops (cf. Dei Verbum, 8, 21).

In studying the topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible,” the Pontifical Biblical Commission is called to offer its specific and qualified contribution to this necessary further reflection. In fact, it is essential and fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that the sacred texts are interpreted in keeping with their nature: Inspiration and Truth are constitutive characteristics of this nature. That is why your endeavor will be of real usefulness for the life and mission of the Church.

With good wishes to each one of you for the fruitful development of your works, I would like, finally, to express my heartfelt appreciation for the activity carried out by the Biblical Commission , committed to promoting knowledge, study and reception of the Word of God in the world. With such sentiments I entrust each one of you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who with the whole Church we invoke as Sedes Sapientiae, and I impart from my heart to you, Venerable Brother, and to all the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission a special Apostolic Blessing. (Zenit link)


With polemics like TF's is there any 'wonder' as to why so many Reformed folk are converting to the RCC ???


Grace and peace,

David

"Reformed civil war": the continuing conflict


My recent reception in the mail of two publications, Horton's, The Christian Faith - A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, and the Spring 2012 issue of The Westminster Theological Journal, has prompted me to take a brief break from my Irenaeus research to share a few reflections on some of the data discussed in these works.

Back on May 31st, 2010, I published a post on Williams B. Evans' Spring 2010, Westminster Theological Journal article, DÈJÁ VU ALL OVER AGAIN? THE CONTEMPORARY REFORMED SOTERIOLOGICAL CONTROVERSY IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
, which spoke of a "Reformed civil war" concerning certain aspects of soteriology. This "Reformed civil war" is showing no signs of ending, for in the most recent issue of The Westminster Theological Journal (Volume 74.1 - Spring 2012), yet another article on this "civil war" was published: William R. Edwards, John Flavel On The Priority Of Union With Christ: Further Historical Perspective On The Structure Of Reformed Soteriology.

Edwards' essay begins with:

A relatively small but significant debate continues within a segment of the Reformed community regarding priority within the structure of soteriology. Although there is a much longer history, the context for the current debate reaches back most immediately to various critiques of the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision. These movements emphasize union with Christ while objecting to the doctrine of justification as historically understood within Reformed theology. In particular, the role of imputation, whereby Christ's righteousness is attributed to the believer, is openly challenged. (Page 33 - see above link for full article.)

Edwards then writes that, "The response from Reformed circles defending the traditional formulation of the doctrine of justification has, generally speaking, followed along two lines." The first, "continues to assert the central role of union with Christ as the overarching principle in the application of redemption", while the second, "places greater emphasis on the priority of justification for the entire structure of salvation". He lists Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Lane G. Tipton, Mark A. Garcia, and William B. Evans as representatives of the first view, and Michael S. Horton, John V. Fesko, W. Robert Godrey, and David VanDrunen of the latter.

Via an interaction with the 17th century Reformed theologian John Flavel, Edwards end up siding with first group, arguing that their position is, "no new reading of Calvin", and that, "those maintaining the priority of union with Christ are standing well within the Reformed tradition."

In addition to Edwards' WTJ contribution, I found online, the following blog post by him: A Guide to Recent Discussions on Justification and Sanctification.

And before ending, I would like to list a few more resources, that can be accessed and/or obtained online, which are related to the topic of 'union with Christ':



J. V. Fesko - John Owen On Union With Christ and Justification

More later, the Lord willing...


Grace and peace,

David