Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Salvation before the birth of Jesus

While reading the book of Isaiah tonight, a particular passage impressed me as in no other previous reading:

Declare ye, and bring it forth; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath showed this from ancient time? who hath declared it of old? have not I, Jehovah? and there is no God else besides me, a just God and a Saviour; there is none besides me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:21, 22 - ASV)

Clearly, the above exhortations are not from some abstract being, but rather, from a personal being (singular) who utilizes a personal name (singular), in His revelatory discourse to the prophet Isaiah.

So, I ask, who is the above person? Is it the Father, is it the Son, or is it the Holy Spirit? What was the name of the person described above that one must look to be saved (and no other)?

Grace and peace,


Friday, September 24, 2010

More muddled ‘logic’ from TurretinFan

Yesterday, TurretinFan (hereafter TF) took aim at an old comment posted by Bryan Cross and missed the implications by a 'country mile.' The following is the comment from Cross that TF cited:

In the first century, no one needed to confess that Christ is homoousious with the Father. But after the fourth century, to deny the homoousious is to fall into [at least material] heresy. (LINK)

TF responded with:

This is dead wrong and gets things exactly backwards. It has always been heresy to deny the Son's divinity. Arius was a heretic before Nicaea, and the Nicene council simply affirmed (with respect to Arianism) what was always the teaching of the Bible.

The church does not make up orthodoxy. When the church does its job correctly, it merely recognizes the truth that was already once delivered to the saints. There was no new delivery in the fourth century or any of the succeeding centuries.

Of course, Romanists have to put the cart before the horse, because they've added to the gospel. If they tried to claim that it was always heresy to deny the Immaculate Conception, they'd have to treat Augustine, and the Augustinians down through Aquinas as heretics. So, they place the cart before the horse and say that it is only heresy to deny the Immaculate Conception after "the Church" makes that doctrine part of the gospel.

The absurd result is the one that Bryan Cross has illustrated above, where the Son's divinity becomes something that it was ok to deny before 325 A.D.

Amazing - absolutely amazing. (LINK)

Historical theology for most Reformed folk does not really start until the early 16th century; those who do attempt to interact with the pre-Nicene Church Fathers almost always read them anachronistically. Honest students of patrology acknowledge that the pre-Nicene CFs were subordinationists (see these threads:;;;;;;;, which means that if one were to follow TF's 'logic', they were all heretics!
Even worse, if one applies TF's logic to the soteriology of the Church Fathers prior to Luther, what CF would stand untouched with the charge of heresy, if judged by "the gospel" espoused by TF—i.e. justification by faith alone, through the imputation of Christ's righteousness alone? (See the following two threads for an introduction into this issue:;

To borrow a phrase from TF: Amazing - absolutely amazing. But then, I have come to expect such 'logic' from the pen of one who once wrote that Thomas Aquinas held to sola scriptura! (See THIS THREAD for the link to TFs amazing assertion.)

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ken Temple and Robert Reymond

I have been meaning to address certain comments that our Reformed brother in Christ, Ken Temple, made in the combox of our previous thread (LINK) concerning what theologians have termed the "timelessness" God; Ken wrote:

As for Scriptural evidence that the God of the Bible is above and outside of time; and created time, matter, space, energy:

Genesis 1:1

Psalm 139

Rev. 1:8; 4:8

Isaiah 46:9-10

Isaiah chapter 40

Psalm 90:42

Peter 3:8

Isaiah 45:21

I Cor. 8:6

Colossians 1:16

Hebrews 1:2

"I am that I am" - Exodus 3:14

John 8:24, 8:58, and all the other "I am" statements in John. John 1:1-5; 17:5

Read a good Systematic Theology such as Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology, pages 156-261, including the Trinity; or Louis Berkhof or Robert Reymond.

I sincerely wonder how closely Ken has read Reymond's A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, for Reymond actually denies the "timelessness" God; note the following:

These verses [Gen. 21:33; Ps. 29:10; 45:6; 90:2, 4; 102:25-27; Is. 40:28; 1 Tim. 1:17] clearly ascribe everlastingness to God. But what is not so clear is whether his everlasting existence should be understood, with most classical Christian thinkers (for example, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas), as also involving the notion of timelessness. (Page 192, 1st ed.)

In pages 173-177, Reymond reflects on what some other Reformed thinkers have had to say on this issue (e.g. Gordon H. Clark, Robert Lewis Dabney, Charles Hodge), and provides "three reasons" why he ends up rejecting God's "timelessness". He sums up his conclusion with: would seem that the ascription to God of the attribute of timelessness (understood as the absence of a divine consciousness of successive duration with respect to his own existence) cannot be supported from Scripture nor is it self-consistent. At best, it is only an inference (and quite likely a fallacious one) from Scripture. These reasons also suggest that the Christian should be willing to affirm that the ordering of relationships of time are true for God as well as for man. (Page 176, 1st ed.)

Not only is Reymond at odds with many of his fellow Reformed theologians on this issue of God's "timelessness", he also takes issue with the Nicene Creed, the eternal generation of the Son, and the term "person", all of which has caused some Reformed folk to express certain reservations about his book. Perhaps the most thorough critique of the tome was provided by Dr. Robert Letham in his Fall 2000 - 62.2, Westminster Theological Journal (pp. 314-319) review.

Anyway, I hope that Ken drops by so we can discuss some of these issues.

Grace and peace,


Friday, September 17, 2010

Lampe vs. Williams vs. Kirk, Farrer and Dix

As related in the following four threads: John Bugay and the German critical scholar Peter Lampe; John Bugay, Peter Lampe, and William Dever; John Bugay’s latest response; and Another post has vanished, I believe that it is inconsistent for conservative apologists to employ liberal scholarship against their antagonists for polemical purposes. I have been reflecting on John Bugay’s use of Peter Lampe as a prime example. John (a former Roman Catholic—twice now), has become a vocal anti-Roman Catholic critic, and like so many other anti-Roman Catholic apologists, he invokes liberal scholarship (Catholic and Protestant) to attack his former faith, accepting methods and presuppositions that can be used against the RCC, whilst refusing to give any substantial credence to those same methods and presuppositions when they are enlisted against his conservative paradigm. John has launched a vigorous attempt to defend his position, not only in response to my threads and posts, but also against the recent thread, Modern Scholarship, Rome and a Challenge, at Called to Communion (a thread started by Sean Patrick/Blogahon, a participant here); the following are John’s threads (the order is the oldest to the newest):

David Waltz fails to consider what is being studied…

Best-of-Breed New Testament Scholarship

In a discussion at Called to Communion

Some concluding thoughts from the Called to Communion discussion 1

Intellectual Inconsistency in the Infallible Magisterium?

”Objection, Your [dis]Honor!”

A lot of information to digest for sure! However, having read through all these threads (and most of the comments therein), I do not believe that John has adequately addressed the most pressing issue—which I have mentioned on more than one occasion—here it is again:

The premise/presupposition that archeology and secular history must take precedence over Biblical historicity.

This is the method that is foundational for Lampe (and so many other liberal scholars), and he applies it not only to Biblical historicity, but also to the history provided in the writings of early “Catholic” bishops and authors.

In my previous posts linked to above, I gave 3 examples of Lampe’s method at work when turned on the Bible; I supply all 3 together below: “The Pastoral letters presuppose Aquila and Prisca still to be in Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19) while Paul is already in Rome. This is one of the historical inconsistencies found in the Pastorals. [#1]

For example, when Paul moved from Ephesus to Macedonia, by no means did Timothy remain behind in Ephesus, as 1 Tim 1:3 supposes: Acts 19:22; 20:1-4; 2 Cor 1:1; Rom 16:21

How did the author come to the mistake regarding Aquila and Prisca?”...

Conclusion: In a seach for appropriate names to create a literary fiction based in Ephesus, the prominent names of Aquila and Prisca could not miss falling into the hands of the deutero-Pauline author. (Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus, 2003, pp. 158, 159.) [#2]

The writer of Revelation nonchalantly ignored the hierarchical structures that had also emerged in the Christian congregation by the end of the first century [as witnessed by the Pastorals]. Prophecy was the only church office he wanted to acknowledge in the earthly Christian congregation (cf. 10:7; 11:18; 19:10; 22:6, 16). Radical apocalyptic statements and the refusal in any way to integrate into the old Hellenistic Roman context characterized this type of dealing with the coexistence of the two contexts. All evidence indicates that, like many other early Christian teachers, the author of Revelation chose to step out of a settled life in the Hellenistic Roman society and become a wandering prophet in Asia Minor. (Peter Lampe, “Early Christian House Churches: A Constructivist Approach”, in Early Christian Families in Context, ed. David L. Balch. Carolyn Osiek, p. 82.) [#3]

I would now like to provide a 4th example:

The case of Aquila and Priscilla suggests that only the key figures of the conflict were expelled: Aquila and Priscilla were such leading persons, as may be concluded from their later church involvements (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19). If only the key figures were banned, the silence of Josephus and other historiographers concerning the incident is more easily explained. Luke’s formulation that “all of the Jews” were expelled (χωρίζεσθαι πάντας τοὺς Ἰουδαίους) appears, by contrast, redactionally exaggerated: πᾶς is a Lukan term. “All” of the Jews were not forced to leave…(Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus, 2003, p. 14 – bold emphasis mine.)

If I have read John correctly, Lampe’s method/presuppositions when applied to the Bible’s history is/are misguided, and has lead him to incorrect assessments; however, the same method/presuppositions has lead him to correct assessments concerning the nature/history of the early Church at Rome (except, of course, his belief that “All” of the Jews were not forced to leave)—John sees no inconsistency here, which leaves me a bit dumfounded.

Moving on from Lampe’s misguided Biblical assessments to the early history of the Christian church/churches at Rome, one needs to ask the question: are Lampe’s conclusions impeccable? Putting aside the issue of the type of theological diversity that was being tolerated at Rome (Lampe’s view is similar to Dunn, Erhman and so many other liberal scholars), I am going to concentrate on whether or not the “Catholic” church/churches at Rome had a monoepiscopate form of church government (i.e. that one bishop/elder was looked to as the head of rest of the elders in the ‘house’ churches found at Rome) that we find so clearly in the writings of Ignatius. I am going to begin my exploration into this issue with a lengthy quote from the scholarly Anglican work, The Apostolic Ministry –Essays on the History and the Doctrine of Episcopacy (1946, edited by Kenneth E. Kirk)—from the forward we read:

The view that the traditional doctrine of the episcopate is wholly discontinuous from anything contained in the New Testament—and especially from our Lord’s call and commissioning of His apostles—was first clearly asserted in Hatch’s Bampton Lectures of 1880, in which the origins of episcopacy were sought in the episcopi of pagan clubs and societies. It reappeared in Harnack’s theory of the ‘charismatic’ and ‘official’ ministries: the primitive spirit-inspired ministry of apostles, prophets, and teachers was succeeded, as the inspiration died down, by the routine ministry of the executive officers of the local Churches. This assumption of discontinuity has shown a strange persistence; it dominates, for example, Dr. Headlam’s Bampton Lectures of 1920, in which the Church itself, the gospel sacraments, and the apostolate are acknowledged to be of divine institution, but the Episcopal organization of the second-century Church is treated as of ecclesiastical ordinance only, and so as possessing only human authority. Dr. Streeter’s subjective and whimsical rewriting of the history of the first-century Church (in The Primitive Church, 1929) added little of permanent value, but provided evidence of the direction in which thought was tending.

It is not difficult to show that the popularity of the view to which Hatch lent his authority depends on certain obvious misreadings of the evidence. Of these two are all-imortant:

(i) The first is the lack of attention to the implications of the word ‘apostle.’ This is all the more surprising, in that no less than ten long columns of Dr. Hatch’s own Concordance to the Septuagint (completed after his death by Dr. Redpath) proved the intimate connexions of the Greek apostellein with the Hebrew shaliach, and should have led to the conclusion that the deliberate choice of the unusual word apostolos for those whom the Lord sent implied for them identical authority (including the authority to appoint their successors) with that which was within so short a period to be claimed for the bishops. In other words, the position assigned to the bishops at the beginning of the monepiscopal period was no new thing. It was the same as that allotted by the Lord to His apostles; and the undoubted fact to which the pastoral epistles bear witness, and to which Clement of Rome makes unhesitating appeal, that the apostles appointed others with powers like their own to carry on the work, argues effectively for a full continuity between the New Testament and the second century. This contention is abundantly illustrated in these essays, being in fact the pivot of the argument of the book.

(ii) The second confusion centers round the words episcopos, episcopē, episcopein. Most writers on the subject have assumed that in the New Testament these words refer to an office in the Church, and have consequently found themselves involved in the elaborate chess-problem of fitting ‘apostles,’ the ‘bishops,’ and the ‘elders’ into their places in the New Testament hierarchy. But in fact episcopē and its cognate words refer not to an office, but to a function, and describe not the status or rank which certain officers hold, but the work of oversight and pastoral care which they perform. In the same way diakonos, diakonia, and diakonein describe a function, and it is only towards the end of the New Testament period that the ‘deacon’ begins to appear as a Church officer. (Pages v-vii.)

In chapter 1, "The Apostolic Ministry", K. E. Kirk, D.D., Bishop of Oxford, demonstrates with remarkable clarity, that the Bible supports (dare I say demands) the position that the episcopate is the inheritor of the apostolic responsibility in terms of church oversight and leadership.

Chapter 3, “The Ministry of the New Testament”, has A. M. Farrer, D.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, building upon Dr. Kirk’s marvelous essay focusing in on the NT warrant for a three-fold ministry and apostolic succession.

And in chapter 4, “The Ministry in the Early Church”, Rev. Dom Gregory Dix, moves on from NT writings to early patristic period. This 122 page essay presents a picture of the early Church that is considerably different from what we find in the writings of Bauer, Dunn, Ehrman, Lampe, and so many other liberal revisionists.

I have perhaps, saved the ‘best’ for last. Dr. Williams (a member of the Evangelical Theological Society), author of Bishop Lists, published in 2005, is a conservative New Testament and patristic scholar, who obviously begins his research with a different set of presuppositions than Lampe and his ilk.

[Dr. Williams impressive credentials can be accessed at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary website.]

Dr. Williams’ (certainly no novice when it comes to liberal scholarship), Bishop Lists is, IMO, a powerful antidote to the revisionist history that has dominated much of the early patristic academia since Hatch’s Bampton Lectures of 1880. One can hope that this masterful work will be built upon by other conservative scholars in the near future.

I shall end this post with an exhortation to Lampe fans that they obtain copy of Bishop Lists, as well as The Apostolic Ministry –Essays on the History and the Doctrine of Episcopacy; I am confident that those who take the time to read these two important works will come to the conclusion that Lampe, and so many other liberal revisionists, have offered us little more than dubious theories filled with gaping holes.

Grace and peace,


Monday, September 13, 2010

"Dr." James White: Christians should be buying Qur'ans

On September 8th, 2010 "Dr." James White called in on the live program, "News and Views English" of the "Aramaic Broadcasting Network" ( to share his views on Pastor Terry Jones proposed "Burn a Koran Day". I learned about his call-in via his blog at AOMIN, and the YouTube videos that he linked to:

My Attempt to Reason with Dr. Jones of Gainesville

[Also available @ YouTube: Burn the Quran 8.]

During his call-in, James stated:

...I would like to suggest that we should be buying Qur'ans, like you have on the desk, of you and I do programs together, and studying as both you and I have, so we can proclaim the Gospel and demonstrate that Muhammad was not a true prophet and the Qur'an is a denial of the truth found in Jesus Christ...(3:56 - 4:14)

Pastor Jones a bit later responded with:

...I think definitely we don't need to be buying Qur'ans and reading them; I think that's absolutely ridiculous, we need to be reading the Bible , we need the Bible...I would not encourage Christians to buy a Qur'an and read it...I hope that we are not encouraging Christians, your normal, everyday Christian, to buy a book of lies and deception, a book that is very deceiving, a book that is filled with deceiving spirits, that we are not telling them to buy that book... (6:11 - 7:11)

Before I begin sharing some of my own thoughts on this issue, I want to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR THAT I DO NOT SUPPORT THE BURNING OF QUR'ANS. However, with that said, I would now like to reflect a bit on which of the two positions presented above is the most consistent one, keeping in mind the fact that both men believe the Qur'an is not from God, that it is a false religious book, that it presents a false Gospel, that it is anti-Christian, that it "is filled with deceiving spirits", that Muhammad was a false apostle, et al.: should one adopt James White's position that Christians should be buying Qur'ans, or should one side with Pastor Jones that the only Christians who should be buying Qur'ans are the professional, anti-Islamic apologists?

Pastor Jones makes reference to a historical event recorded in the Old Testament when King Josiah, prompted by the reading of "the book of the law" (by the high priest Hilkiah), begins his famous 'reform/s', eradicating ALL the false religious practices and objects that had crept into the religion of Israel (2 Kings 22, 23:1-25). King Josiah was being faithful to the commands given by Yahweh, through the prophet Moses; one of the more definitive instructions given is found in Deut. 13:1-10:

If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he give thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; hou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams: for Jehovah your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after Jehovah your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he hath spoken rebellion against Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage, to draw thee aside out of the way which Jehovah thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, that is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; hou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thy hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him to death with stones, because he hath sought to draw thee away from Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (ASV)

Now is not the time or place to get into the controversial debate of the role the Old Testament should play in determining the set of civil laws faithful Christians should adopt in countries where Christians are the majority, and hold legislative positions in government (Greg L. Bahnsen's, Theonomy In Christian Ethics, is an excellent introduction to this subject), but whatever side one takes on this issue, the Old Testament should not be ignored, and the very least should serve as a guide to the INDIVIDUAL practice/s concerning the issue of false religion.

Early Christianity came into existence within the confines of a pagan nation, and it would be centuries before Christians became the majority and could implement civil laws that were Biblically based. But, that does not mean that one's individual practice could not import the essence of the Old Testament's teaching on false religion, idols, etc.; Acts 19:19 gives us a glimpse into the mindset of some early Christians:

And not a few of them that practised magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. (ASV)

The apostle Paul wrote:

Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18 - ASV)

Now, if the Qur'an is what James White and Pastor Jones believe that is—a false book "filled with deceiving spirits", et al. (I think that they are both probably wrong on this)—then who is being more Biblically consistent: White or Jones?

Interestingly enough, James White is a Calvinist, who holds great respect for John Calvin, yet it is Pastor Jones' position on the Qur'an that is much closer to Calvin—note the following:

Calvin's last personal encounter with evangelical Anabaptism seems to have occurred two years later, when an otherwise unknown Belot came to Geneva and laid out tracts for sale. Calvin had him arrested...Belot was expelled from the city. When apprehended two days later, he was beaten for defiance, his books were publicly burned, and he was threatened with the gallows if he should return. (George Williams, The Radical Reformation, pp. 597, 598.)

So, I ask once again, if one adopts the view that the Qur'an cannot be from God, that it is a anti-Christian book, "filled with deceiving spirits", who is being more Biblically consistent: White or Jones?

But then, maybe White and Jones are both wrong...

Grace and peace,


Friday, September 3, 2010

Another post has vanished

During the last couple of weeks, a good number of my posts to comboxes in threads by John Bugay at the Beggars All blog have disappeared after showing up for a couple of minutes. The same has happened here at AF on at least two occasions. I have reported the problem to Blogger, but have not gotten a response.

This morning, I posted my continued response to John Bugay’s thread, Best-0f-Breed New Testament Scholarhip; it showed up, but unfortunately, the last I checked (about 15 minutes ago), it too has vanished. The following is a copy of my morning post:

Hi John,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>> Well, David, I hope everything comes out all right at your trip to the dentist!>>

Me: Went much smoother that I anticipated; in fact, wasn’t too bad at all (though I still hate going !!! [grin]). As soon as I got home I jumped on my bike and went on a 2 hour ride so I would not be tempted to eat something before I should—it wiped me out, ended up taking a short afternoon nap, and ultimately did not log on to the internet until this morning. Anyway, on to more important things—continuing my reflections on your opening post—you penned:

>> Just as an aside, I recall reading that you are from Northern California? Quickly, who are the mayors of San Francisco going back 100 years? (Hegesippus wrote in 166, and so it would have been approximately 100 years-worth of names he’d have had to come up with.) Who are the mayors of your current home town going back 100 years? What were their names – be sure to get them in the correct order – and affix dates to them. If you can’t do it, what would you do? Ask old folks for some of the names they remember. There’s no guarantee that would be a successful effort though. And if you were arguing against heretics, as Hegesippus was, and going back 20 or 30 years, there weren’t actually any “mayors” but maybe just councils or itinerant sheriffs, well, you might be tempted to incorporate those names in the drawing up of those lists. But it doesn’t make for an accurate list.>>

Me: Not NC, Washington State (Long Beach):

For the record, according to Hegesippus (as related by Eusebius), he wrote his “Memoirs” during the episcopate of Eleutherus which dates after 166 AD (died circa 189 AD). As for the approximately 100 years of remembrance, “oral tradition” back in the first century did not have to compete with TV, radio, Twitter, Facebook, the internet, et al. I have little doubt that Eleutherus could accurately recall his predecessors. Now, with that said, I still know the names of all the presidents of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (i.e. JWs) which spans a period of over 100 years; I also know all the names of the presidents the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e. Mormons), 150 plus years; and I use to remember when I was in the OPC all of the presidents of Princeton seminary up to the departure of Machen, 124 years.

>> It may be possible for you to question Lampe’s analysis of the Hegesippus/Irenaeus lists, but I cannot imagine you can challenge his analysis of episcopoi/presbuteroi -- he relies incredibly heavily on primary sources such as Clement and Hermas and others, and you certainly can’t (easily) challenge his entire fractionation-and-house structure. The “presbyterial style” of government also has deep roots within the New Testament.>>

Me: See my
September 3, 2010 10:13 AM reply to Ken:

Anyway, I am going to start working on a post that examines Lampe’s “From Paul to Valentinus” right after I submit this particular post; don’t know how long I will spend on it before I put it up, but hopefully, by the end of the day.

Sincerely hope that you and yours have a great Labor Day weekend!

Grace and peace,


Back to work on my upcoming thread on Peter Lampe’s, From Paul to Valentinus.

Grace and peace,