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The right use of ‘Reason’ example 2

Arthur Pink“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11).

Here again the Lord shows us how this faculty is to be employed by a process of holy reasoning. He was speaking on the subject of prayer, and presented an argument for assuring His disciples of their being heard at the throne of grace. The argument is based on a comparison of inequalities and the reason drawn from the less to the greater. It may be framed thus: If earthly parents, though sinful, are inclined to listen to the appeals of their little ones, most certainly our heavenly Father will not close His ears to the cries of His children: natural parents do, in fact, respond to and grant the requests of their little one, therefore much more will our Father deal graciously and generously with His. It is said of Abraham that he accounted or reckoned thus within himself: There is nothing impossible with God. Likewise the apostle,

“For I reckon [convince myself by logical reasoning] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Other illustrations of Paul’s inspired reasoning are found in Romans 5:9, 10; 8:31, 32. In all of these instances we are taught the legitimacy and right use of reasoning.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

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The Evisceration of the Christian Faith

 By Sean Gerety

One of the central doctrines of the Reformation and the Christian faith is the principle of sola Scriptura – Scripture alone. It is in this principle that all other Biblical doctrines find their source, legitimacy, and warrant. It is the underlying axiom of the Christian faith. Not surprisingly, and as one would expect, any alteration in this foundational doctrine will affect every other doctrine which may be logically drawn from this one inerrant and infallible source. Throughout history this critical doctrine has been the focus of attack for the simple reason that if the foundation can be broken, it is only a matter of time before the whole structure will fall. Even the redundancy, “inerrant and infallible,” is evidence of an earlier attack on the doctrine of Scripture by Liberals and Neo-orthodox who sought an “infallible” word from God in what they believed to be an erring book. Yet, today, among those calling themselves Reformed, there has been an even more deadly and pervasive attack on the truth of Scripture that has left men impotent to defend the Gospel. This movement has attempted to divorce the statements of Scripture from their logical and necessary implications…

According to Van Til, it is not just the extent of God’s knowledge that can never be exhausted by man, but there is a complete discontinuity between the truths God knows and the “truths” man knows. God’s knowledge and the knowledge possible to man, Van Til and the Westminster Seminary faculty wrote in 1944, do not coincide “at any single point.” Van Til repeated this statement many times in his subsequent books. As a consequence of this complete disjunction between God’s knowledge and man’s knowledge, “Our knowledge is analogical and therefore must be paradoxical,”1 and “all teaching of Scripture is apparently contradictory.”2 Not only is there a complete break between God’s thoughts and man’s, but, as we will see, God’s logic and man’s logic are not the same. This explains why one of the hallmarks of Vantilian Newspeak is the distinction (without a discernible difference) between “apparent” and “real” contradictions in Scripture. As Van Til put it, “While we shun as poison the idea of the really contradictory, we embrace with passion the idea of the apparently contradictory.”3…

According to Van Til and his followers, the “apparent contradictions” of Scripture arise primarily as a result of our “creatureliness” or “finitude,” and, as creatures before the Sovereign Creator, we are to accept these “apparent contradictions,” not try to reconcile them, and to believe that for God there are no real contradictions. This is the explanation offered by John Frame in his essay, “Van Til: the Theologian” (which can also found in the book Foundations of Christian Scholarship [edited by Gary North] under the title “The Problem of Theological Paradox”). Frame asserts:

“[W]e are in a strange state of affairs: we have two propositions (“God is good” and “God foreordains evil”) which we can show to be logically interdependent in one sense; yet we cannot show them to be logically compatible except by an appeal to faith….4 This balance of interdependence and paradox is in the interest of thinking in submission to Scripture. Scripture must be followed both in its assertions of interdependence and in its refusal to reconcile all doctrines to our satisfaction.5”

Thus, a paradox remains for us, though by faith we are confident that there is no paradox for God. Faith is basic to the salvation of our knowledge as well as the salvation of our souls [17].

Notice the role “faith” plays when confronting an apparent contradiction in Scripture. According to Frame, and by way of example, we cannot show through the use of logic how God’s goodness and his foreordination of evil can be harmonized; instead, we appeal to “faith.” According to Frame, “We must not simply push our logic relentlessly to the point where we ignore or deny a genuine biblical teaching” [33, emphasis is Frame’s]. Logic fails, and we are unable to harmonize a particular set of Biblical teachings. That’s where “faith” comes in. We are not to wrestle with these “contradictory” teachings and attempt to logically harmonize what might seem to us to be conflicting truths, for, it is assumed at the outset, all such wrestling is futile and is a prideful violation of the Creator/creature distinction.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

 

My comment:

The writer of this article quotes from the Westminster Confession Chapter 1, Paragraph 6:

6. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

The 1677/89 contains much of this statement, but omits- (by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture) and adds (or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture).

6. The whole Councel of God concerning all things 9necessary for his own Glory, Mans Salvation, Faith and Life, is either expressely set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new Revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

The Baptist Union Censure

THE censure passed upon me by the Council of the Baptist Union will be weighed by the faithful, and estimated at its true value. “Afterwards they have no more that they can do.” I brought no charges before the members of the Council, because they could only judge by their constitution, and that document lays down no doctrinal basis except the belief that “the immersion of believers is the only Christian baptism.” Even the mention of evangelical sentiments has been cut out from their printed program. No one can be heterodox under this constitution, unless he should forswear his baptism. I offered to pay the fee for Counsel’s opinion upon this matter, but my offer was not accepted by the deputation. There was, therefore, nothing for me to work upon, whatever evidence I might bring. What would be the use of exposing myself to threatened law-suits to gain nothing at all? Whatever may be said to the contrary, if we go to its authorized declaration of principles, it is clear that the Union is incompetent for any doctrinal judgment, except it should be needful to ascertain a person’s views on baptism. I decline to submit to it any case which would be quite beyond its powers. Would any rational man act otherwise? I have rather too much proof than too little; but I am not going to involve others in litigation when nothing is to be gained.

I do not complain of the censure of the Council, or feel the least care about it. But was this the intent of its loving resolution? Is this the claw which was concealed by the velvet pad of its vote to send four doctors of divinity to me “to deliberate how the unity of the denomination can be maintained in truth, and love, and good works”? Did those who passed that resolution mean — we send these four men to put him to the question? Why, then, did they not say so? Did the world ever hear of such a result of a “deliberation”? The person with whom they deliberate upon union “in truth, and love, and good works” is questioned and condemned! Let plain sailing Christian men judge between me and this Council.

The question now to be answered is — “Does this decision represent the opinion of the Baptist Union?” It may be so. It may be that the Council is elected in such a manner that it is fairly representative. It may be that the churches will admire the conduct of their prominent men. I do not believe it. It is not for me, as an outsider, to raise the question; but surely there are members of the Union who will consider it, and act accordingly.

I have, in simple brotherly kindness, given the advice which was asked of me; but had I known the secret object of the deputation from the Council, I would not have given it any advice of any sort. These gentlemen came, avowedly, to me to deliberate upon “unity in truth, and love, and good works”; but their real errand was not what was openly avowed. What they were driving at is made clear by the facts. Before considering as a Council the advice which, in any fair English construction of the words, was the object aimed at, they censure the man with whom they professed to deliberate. How is this consistent with itself? It is quite as well that their resolutions should be as incomprehensible as their doctrinal position is indefinable. But this goes far to render my recommendations useless. Is it not a waste of breath to deliberate under such circumstances? When language is used rather to conceal a purpose than to express it, it becomes fearfully doubtful whether any form of doctrine can be so worded as to be of the slightest use. Nevertheless, I would like all Christendom to know that all I asked of the Union is that it be formed on a Scriptural basis; and that I never sought to intrude upon it any Calvinistic or other personal creed, but only that form of belief which has been accepted for many years by the Evangelical Alliance, which includes members of well-nigh all Christian communities.

To this it was replied that there is an objection to any creed whatever. This is a principle which one may fairly discuss. Surely, what we believe may be stated, may be written, may be made known; and what is this but to make and promulgate a creed? Baptists from the first have issued their confessions of faith. Even the present Baptist Union itself has a creed about baptism, though about nothing else. The churches of which it is composed have nearly all of them a creed of some sort, and the very men who object to a creed many of them hold offices which require adhesion to certain doctrines, implied, if not actually written down. Trust-deeds of chapels and colleges usually have some doctrinal declaration; and how persons who hold positions connected with churches and institutions having creeds can fairly object to them when they meet in a united character, I am quite unable to see. Certain members of the Council talk about having expelled Unitarians: does not this admit that they have already an unwritten Trinitarian creed? Why not print it? Possibly “modern thought” has methods of getting over this which have never occurred to my unsophisticated mind.

To say that “a creed comes between a man and his God,” is to suppose that it is not true; for truth, however definitely stated, does not divide the believer from his Lord. So far as I am concerned, that which I believe I am not ashamed to state in the plainest possible language; and the truth I hold I embrace because I believe it to be the mind of God revealed in his infallible Word. How can it divide me from God who revealed it? It is one means of my communion with my Lord, that I receive his words as well as himself, and submit my understanding to what I see to be taught by him. Say what he may, I accept it because he says it, and therein pay him the humble worship of my inmost soul.

I am unable to sympathize with a man who says he has no creed; because I believe him to be in the wrong by his own showing. He ought to have a creed. What is equally certain, he has a creed — he must have one, even though he repudiates the notion. His very unbelief is, in a sense, a creed.

The objection to a creed is a very pleasant way of concealing objection to discipline, and a desire for latitudinarianism. What is wished for is a Union which will, like Noah’s Ark, afford shelter both for the clean and for the unclean, for creeping things and winged fowls.

Every Union, unless it is a mere fiction, must be based upon certain principles. How can we unite except upon some great common truths? And the doctrine of baptism by immersion is not sufficient for a groundwork. Surely, to be a Baptist is not everything. If I disagree with a man on ninetynine points, but happen to be one with him in baptism, this can never furnish such ground of unity as I have with another with whom I believe in ninety-nine points, and only happen to differ upon one ordinance. To form a union with a single Scriptural ordinance as its sole distinctive reason for existence has been well likened to erecting a pyramid upon its apex: the whole edifice must sooner or later come down. I am not slow to avow my conviction that the immersion of believers is the baptism of Holy Scripture, but there are other truths beside this; and I cannot feel fellowship with a man because of this, if in other matters he is false to the teaching of Holy Scripture.

To alter the foundation of a building is a difficult undertaking. Underpinning is expensive and perilous work. It might be more satisfactory to take the whole house down, and reconstruct it. If I had believed that the Baptist Union could be made a satisfactory structure, I could not then have remained in it; because to do so would have violated my conscience. But my conscience is no guide for others. Those who believe in the structure, and think that they can rectify its foundation, have my hearty sympathy in the attempt. Let them give themselves to it earnestly and with firm resolve: they will have need of all their earnestness and resolution. In the Assembly, in the Associations, and in the churches they can urge their views, and make it plain that they mean to make the Union an avowedly Evangelical body on the old lines of faith. This they must do boldly, and without flinching. I have no very assured hope of their success, for the difficulties are exceedingly great; but let them combine, and work unitedly, and persistently, year after year, and they may do something, if not everything. It is not for me to lead in a work which I have been forced to abandon; but there are other men who are less known, but not less resolute, and these should take their turn. The warfare has been made too personal; and certain incidents in it, upon which I will not dwell, have made it too painful for me to feel any pleasure in the idea of going on with it. It might even appear that I desired to be reinstated in the Union, or wished to head a party in it, and this is very far from my mind. But let no man imagine that I shall cease from my protests against false doctrine, or lay down the sword of which I have thrown away the scabbard. However much invited to do so, I shall not commence personalities, nor disclose the wretched facts in all their details; but with confirmatory evidence perpetually pouring in upon me, and a solemn conviction that the dark conspiracy to overthrow the truth must be dragged to light, I shall not cease to expose doctrinal declension wherever I see it. With the Baptist Union, as such, I have now no hampering connection; but so far as it takes its part in the common departure from the truth, it will hav to put up with my strictures, although it has so graciously kicked me under pretext of deliberation.

Will those who are with me in this struggle remember me in their constant prayers to the Lord, whom in this matter I serve in my soul and spirit?

(From THE SWORD AND THE TROWEL Magazine, February, 1888).

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 34 Page 2

The Biblical and Logical Necessity of Uninspired Creeds

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. — 2 Timothy 1:13

And he gave . . . pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no mo re children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. — Ephesians 4:11-14

Also [they] caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. — Nehemiah 8:7-8

To see the unavoidable necessity of uninspired creeds, consider the following conversation between

Hans (a paleopresbyterian) and Franz (a neopresbyterian):

HANS: We’re studying the Westminster Confession of Faith. Want to join us?

FRANZ: No; I don’t give heed to the words of men like you do.

H: What do you mean?

F: I go by the Bible. I can’t rely on the words of mere uninspired men.

H: Me, too. That’s why we’re studying the Confession. You should join us; it’d be very edifying.

F: Wait a minute. I just told you that I only go by the Bible, and yet you have just equated the study of this Westminster Confession with a study of the Scriptures!

H: And as I just said, I only go by the Bible, too. So, I’m not going to pay any attention to what you’ve just said. You’re not inspired, after all.

F: Of course I’m not inspired; but what I said was right because it was BIBLICAL.

H: How could it be biblical if it was merely what you — an uninspired man — told me? I only listen to the inspired words of the Bible. Isn’t it lording it over my conscience to tell me to accept your uninspired words as though they were the very inspired words of God?

F: Oh, come on. I may not have quoted chapter and verse, but I was telling you what the Bible MEANS. That’s why you have to pay attention to it.

H: Are you saying the meaning of the Bible, even if explained in the uninspired words of uninspired men, is still binding — in fact, as binding as the very words written in the Bible?

F: Well, yes, that is what I’m saying. The meaning of the Bible, though stated in different words, has the same authority as the exact words found there. And since I’m telling you that the meaning of the Bible is not to give heed to the uninspired words of men, you still have to receive it as though those exact words I’ve spoken were written in the pages of Scripture.

H: Wait a minute. How is what you’ve just said any different from the Westminster Confession? After all, the writers of the Confession were only putting forth what they thought was the meaning of the Bible.

F: Well, er. . . umm. . . .

H: I know of one difference: they were all preeminently qualified to expound the Word of God. They were recognized as having these gifts by the various churches that delegated them to sit at the Westminster Assembly. Any scholar who knows anything about Protestant history knows that these men were the “cream of the crop”, and that almost certainly there has never been since that time (and maybe even up to that time, except for the apostles themselves) one body containing so many godly and learned men. I don’t think you possess the same qualifications, at least not yet.

F: Hmmm, good point.

H: Furthermore, the Holy Spirit says in Ephesians 4 that Christ has given to the church teachers as a powerful and necessary means to building up the body of Christ into “a perfect or complete man”. Obviously, these teachers do not have the gift of inspiration, and yet the Spirit didn’t view this as a challenge to the sufficiency of Scripture, but rather as a necessary outgrowth of it. This is because he desires that we know the meaning of the Bible, not just the bare words. As R.L. Dabney said, “He who would consistently banish creeds must silence all preaching and reduce the teaching of the church to the recital of the exact words of Holy Scripture without note or comment.”

And, just because these men lived in the past doesn’t mean that they’re not a gift from God to us today. The Bible everywhere speaks of the church as one body throughout all history (Gal. 3:23-24; 4:1-3; Ps. 66:6; Hos. 12:4; Deut. 5:2-3). Therefore, the astute teachers of the past are our teachers as well, thanks to God’s gracious preservation of their writings. Actually, because these men were on the crest of the waves of reformation, and not in the trough of apostasy as we are today, we ought to pay more attention to them than to contemporary teachers. This is because all of us — including our teachers — have been blinded by our cult ure’s wretched and extreme departure from the Lord Jesus Christ.

F: What time did you say you were meeting? I believe the meaning of Scripture requires that I attend!

Larry Birger, Jr.

 

My note: I hold to the 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith, but I believe that this illustration makes a good point. It shows the logical necessity of holding to creeds and confessions.

The Cost of Relativism

March 17, 2015 1 comment

by David Brooks

One of America’s leading political scientists, Robert Putnam, has just come out with a book called “Our Kids” about the growing chasm between those who live in college-educated America and those who live in high-school-educated America. It’s got a definitive collection of data about this divide.

Roughly 10 percent of the children born to college grads grow up in single-parent households. Nearly 70 percent of children born to high school grads do. There are a bunch of charts that look like open scissors. In the 1960s or 1970s, college-educated and noncollege-educated families behaved roughly the same. But since then, behavior patterns have ever more sharply diverged. High-school-educated parents dine with their children less than college-educated parents, read to them less, talk to them less, take them to church less, encourage them less and spend less time engaging in developmental activity.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

William Lane Craig vs. Antony Flew

Today I listened to a debate between William Lane Craig and Antony Flew on the existence of God. In this debate Craig opens with 5 arguments for the existence of God. When Flew steps up to present his argument against the theistic arguments, he instead fumbles around and rambles on as if he doesn’t know where to go with his response. He constantly laments that he doesn’t have time to refute those arguments, given by Craig, while at the same time he points his attacks against doctrines of the scriptures which he doesn’t like.

Craig recognized that Flew tried to argue three main points.

The first point Flew argued or tried to bring up against God was that if God was omnipotent, then he would control all things within his universe. In other words, God would be able to create a world in which everyone will do exactly what God wants them to do.

Craig here drops the ball and argues that God created a world that contained creatures that have libertarian freewill (1). Craig told Flew that he was a Molinist or one who believes in Molinism. Molinism was a view developed by Luis Molina over and against the Thomist’s view of grace and compatibilistic freewill (2). In other words Craig believes that man is free to either accept God or not to accept God and that God does not bend the will in order to bring about his desired purposes. Craig even takes 2 Peter 3:9 out of context in order to try and prove his point.

In Flew’s rebuttal against this, Flew quoted from Augustine, Calvin, Martin Luther and the scriptures to prove that the Bible teaches that man does not have freewill. If Craig confesses to be Christian and to follow the God of the Bible, then he must admit that if God exist, then man cannot be free. Of course, Craig drops the ball on this whole point here and maintains his position that man is free and God does not control the actions of freewill creatures. (What is ironic is that the atheist is quoting scripture and interpreting it rightly against the theist).

The second argument of Flew is that the doctrine of God’s love and justice are not compatible with the doctrine of Hell because the punishment is not proportionate to the crime committed.

Craig showed that if Flew’s arguments were true then all he did was disprove the doctrine of Hell, but did not disprove that God exist. Craig also stated that if the punishment of Hell was for finite sins committed in this life, then he would be right, men should not have to suffer eternally. But Craig dismantles this argument by showing that sinful men will infinitely sin  by continuing to reject God while in Hell for eternity and that sinning against and rejecting one’s Creator is a crime that deserves infinite punishment.

Finally in Flew’s third argument he was against bodiless persons. Flew never really developed an argument against bodiless persons, but instead asserted that bodiless persons could not exist. Craig showed that Flew’s argument here was not valid.

In conclusion, Antony Flew basically stuttered and mumbled and didn’t really know which way to go in order to refute Craig’s arguments for God’s existence.

You can listen to the debate here.

This debate took place in 1998.

Antony Flew was a renown atheist most of his life, but in the last years leading up to his death he recanted his atheism. You can find that here.

1. This is called Libertarian free will, that a person is equally able to make choices between options independent of pressures or constraints from external or internal causes. 

2. Compatibilist free will holds that a person can choose only that which is consistent with his nature. Therefore, for example, a person who is a slave to sin (Rom. 6:14-20) and cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14) would not be able to choose God of his own free will because his free will doesn’t have the capacity to contradict his nature.

 

William Lane Craig vs. Peter Atkins Round 1

March 27, 2012 8 comments

My second debate I listened to today was between William Lane Craig and Peter Atkins. Atkins was your typical scientist, whom upon denying the existence of God, has nothing left to try and answer the reason for the universe and all that lies therein except for evolution. Atkins argued that the arguments for theism do not work, yet just arguing they don’t work does not make the conclusions invalid to the theist arguments. In order for Atkins to really dismantle the theist arguments he must not only show that they don’t work, but must erect in their place, arguments that will be valid once the premises are reasoned to their logical conclusions.  This he did not do.

Atkins had as much faith in science as a theist has in his belief in God. Atkins argued that science can give an answer for all there is in this closed system or universe. Atkins believed that science can explain all things. Nevertheless Craig took him to task and showed that science cannot prove or explain mathematical equations, science cannot show the foundation for logic and reason, science cannot explain aesthetics, nor can science prove that science is true because the scientific method cannot be done on science itself.

Of course, Atkins used the famous argument against cause and effect that most atheist use. He stated that we know that cause and effect works within this closed system called the universe, but we do not know whether or not cause and effect works on the universe itself to bring it into existence.. Of course, before he was finished he actually admitted that nothing exist, in this universe or outside of it. As Atkins closed he lamented that he had been misrepresented.

Of course Craig took Atkins to task and dismantled his arguments. But Atkins could not receive truth because he trusted in science as if it were a god.

You can listen to this debate here.

This debate took place in 1998. There is a more recent debate between these two.