I had acquired through a friend on Twitter, a copy of Greg Bahnsen’s, “Pushing the Antithesis“. As such I have decided to publish a blog post for each chapter. This is the first of twelve blog posts. Each post will consist of some key bullet points along with some recommend reading links where available.
As the chapter title suggests, Dr. Bahnsen puts to bed the supposed “neutrality” that anyone has let along the Christian.
The main points to be observed from this chapter are:
- This “neutral” approach is neither biblical nor effective.
- Christians must not set aside their faith commitment even temporarily in an attempt to approach the unbeliever on “neutral ground”.
- If you don’t start with God as your basic assumption, you can’t prove anything./
- The assumption of God’s existence required to all reasoning.
- Evolution theory is taken for granted throughout the college curriculum, just as it is in all aspects of modern though and experience.
- Modern education is effectively subliminal advertising for atheism.
- The university and the media supposedly encourage neutrality by urging tolerance of all views.
- But we are all aware that the Christian view is seldom given equal tolerance.
- The Christian who strives for neutrality unwittingly endorses assumptions which are hostile to his faith.
- Simply put, you cannot adopt a position of neutrality toward God if you are to remain faithful to Christ.
- The Bible claims infallible and obligatory authority which demands commitment to its truth claims.
- Such neutrality actually amounts to skepticism regarding the existence of God and the authority of His Word.
- He (Satan) suggested that she must remain neutral in order to decide who was right, God or Satan. She did not accept God’s word as authoritative and conclusive, but as a true neutralist, determined for herself which option to take. (Gen 3:4-6)
- Robert South (1634-1716) said, “He who would fight the devil with his own weapons, must not wonder if he finds himself over matched.”
- Van Til – “there simply is no presupposition-free and neutral way to approach reasoning.”
- A true biblical apologetic does not set aside Christ from our hearts, but sets apart Christ in our hearts.
Bahnsen, Greg L., Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith
Demar, Gary, Thinking Straight in a Crooked World: A Christian Defense Manual
Gentry, Kenneth L., Jr., Defending the Faith: An Introduction to Biblical Apologetics
One of the most important aspects of any aspect of Christianity is that it is itself a complete system. Try to isolate any one component from the system and the same is no longer consistent. We see good example of this expounded by Greg Bahnsen in his book on Van Til’s apologetic in regards to B.B.Warfields method of apologetics:
“We thus see two things about the philosophical (epistomological) perspective which Warfield encouraged the apologist to take: it should be (1) outside of a commitment to Scripture and (2) in agreement with the right reason of the unbeliever-in a word, autonomous.”
Here we see two grave mistakes; one in that God’s authoritative word is not relevant at the outset of our dialogue with the unbeliever and two that Scriptures themselves must bow down to the rationality of the unbeliever before they can be accepted. So right out of the gate the Christian apologist who takes this approach is already defeated since the whold foundation for which he/she stands (The Holy Scriptures) is removed as a foundational basis for the apologetic and therefore it’s just a matter of whose rationality is more convincing.
I hope you can see another danger in this approach and that this approach is reduced to mere opinion and probability among may ideas. Of course this will fail from a pure reasoning standpoint with the unbeliever, because the unbeliever has become vain in his reasoning (Romans 1:21), and he cannot receive the things of the Spirit, because they are foolishness. (I Cor 2:14)
Let us remember that apologetics just like theology, evanlgelism, and philosophy are all part of a single system derived from the single authoratitive source of God’s Word.
Source of Quote: Van Til’s Apologetic – Greg Bahnsen
From Van Tils Apologetic by Greg Bahnsen:
As Van Til goes on to say, if one does not begin with some such general truths (universals) with which to understand the particular observations in one’s experience, those factual particulars would be unrelated and uninterpretable -i.e., “brute”. In a chance universe, all particular facts would be random, have no classifiable identity, bear no predetermined order or relation and thus be unintelligible to man’s mind.
I recently ran across what I consider a good use case for applying this principle of Christian apologetic’s; On the Reformed Theology G+ forum someone posted the following question: Do you accept the idea of objective morality? If so, what is your criteria for morality that isn’t subjective (open to interpretation)?
Christianity asserts that it is the law of God as revealed in the Bible. This is not a subjective response as it’s an assertion of worldview and is not bound in a single subject or a few peoples opinion. We can also not treat the question of morality as say the shooting average of Lebron James. The rules of interpretation of shooting averages facts do not conflict with opposing worldviews, but of a basic understanding of mathematics.
When we interpret the facts of morality we are dealing with transcendence in that the object is not bound by space or time. For the non-theist that believes everything is essentially ‘matter in motion’ this is antithetical to his presuppositions for which he interprets reality.
So it’s not simply a matter of providing an argument that isn’t open to interpretation, but comes down to how one interprets the facts for which they are observing. And the method of interpretation is driven by their presuppositions.
Christianity Today has an article that expounds T.D. Jakes decison to file a lawsuit against a rapper that has referenced a portion of one of his sermons. To quote the justification for this:
“The “Holy Ghost” remix by Jeezy featuring Kendrick Lamar was produced without the knowledge or consent of T.D. Jakes, TDJ Enterprises, Dexterity Music, or its associated companies. We are taking the necessary legal actions to stop the unauthorized use of T.D. Jakes’ intellectual property.”
It will be interesting how the case actually works out in the courts and if it goes in Mr. Jakes favor, this could set a dangerous precedent for DRM and in particular for SermonAudio. I think an important point of reference is that T.D. Jakes does indeed consider his sermons intellectual property and that it’s not to be used without some form of royalty to be paid out. This is disturbing as we are instructed not to peddle the Word of God for profit:
2 Cor 2:17: "For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God;
but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ."
I would exhort pastors everywhere if your going to license your digital sermons, please use the GPLV3 since as we have freely received, we should freely give.
Hope I don’t get sued over this blog post.
I have been reading through Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth and the book has been focusing a lot on the doctrine of assurance and thought I would share some tid bits.
“This precious ruth thus proved, looks sourly and wishly upon all those that affirm that believers cannot in this life attain unto a certain well-grounded assurance of their everlasting happiness and blessedness, as papists and Arminians; all know that know their writings and teachings, that they are in arms against this Christ-exalting, and soul-cheering doctrine of assurance. ‘I know no such thing as assurance of heaven in this life’, saith Grevinchovius the Arminian. Assurance is a pearl that they trample under feet; it is a beam of heaven that hath so much light, brightness, and shining glory in it, that their blear-eyes cannot behold it.”
“Arminians are not ashamed to say, that God may crown a man one hour, and uncrown him in the next.”
So we see in this excerpt from Mr. Brooks work that what the Arminian professes is actually antithetical to the gospel and brings if not bad news, then most certainly questionable news. From this we can see why the Roman Catholic church places such emphasis on purgatory; they have no hope of assurance without a meritorious work of penance that cannot ever be met since only Christ was sinless to pay the offenses against an infinite God would take an infinite amount of time to satisfy and that would never bet met and hence no hope at all.
What saith the scripture? In John 10:29, Christ says, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
Notice that Christ assures the believer that salvation is not dependent upon the believer in that God’s electing purposes take precedence over man’s efforts to earn salvation. This does not make man an autonomous robot requiring no action on his part; it just means that God’s grace is sufficient to secure the believers position in Christ.
Let the reader consider.
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5 (KJV)
Before I became a Christian I was a big heavy metal fan of Metallica and one of their songs off of their first albums, was a song titled, “Am I Evil?”
Years later, I am now a Reformed Christian and Calvinist and I thought that this song as bad as the lyrics are morally, does teach a fundamental Christian doctrine; Total Depravity.
So what is the definition of Total Depravity?
Former OPC pastor Jason Stewart decided to leave the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) as a pastor for full communion into the Roman Catholic Church. His blog post outlines his reasons and I must say they would not be surprising for someone that was raised Roman Catholic, but I find them untenable for a former pastor of the Reformed Faith.
Apostasy from the Gospel-Abrig: by John Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dr.Owen expounds all the dangers of apostasy from the Gospel as outlined in Scripture. He gives a particular emphasis on the Roman Catholic Church being the apex of apostasy within the Christian Religion along with good arguments.
View all my reviews
From Richard Baxter’s “A Christian Directory – Volume I:
A sound and well composed catechism studied well and dept in memory, would be a good measure of knowledge, to ordinary Christians, and make them solid and orderly in their understanding,
and in their proceeding to the smaller points, and would prevent a great deal of error and miscarriage, that many by ill teaching are cast upon, to their own and the churches grief!
We can see plainly that the a few of the sound benefits of committing a catechism that exhorts sound doctrine offers:
1. Ground Christians in the fundamentals of Christian doctrine.
2. Refutation of error introduced into the Church.
3. A continual means of growing in grace.
So what are some biblically faithful catechisms that you can use to commit to memory? Here are a few:
Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Heidelberg Catechism
The Catechism of the Church of Geneva
There have already been a number of blog entries on the James Macdonald/Mark Driscoll interview with T.D. Jakes on his supposedly now orthodox views on the doctrine of the Trinity. You can read the transcript here. I’m just going to address once specific statement that he made:
Driscoll: We all would agree that in the nature of God there is mystery. But within that, for you, Bishop Jakes, the issue is one God manifesting Himself successively in three ways? Or one God existing eternally in three persons? What is your understanding now? Which one?
Jakes: I believe the latter one is where I stand today. One God – Three Persons. I am not crazy about the word persons though. You describe “manifestations” as modalist, but I describe it as Pauline. For God was manifest in the flesh. Paul is not a modalist, but he doesn’t think it’s robbery to say manifest in the flesh. Maybe it’s semantics, but Paul says this. Now, when we start talking about that sort of thing, I think it’s important to realize there are distinctives between the work of the Father and the work of the Son. I’m with you. I have been with you. There are many people within and outside denominations labeled Oneness that would be okay with this. We are taught in society that when we disagree with someone in a movement, we leave. But I still have associations with people in Onenness movements. We need to humble both sides and say, “We are trying to describe a God we love.” Why should I fall out and hate and throw names at you when it’s through a glass darkly? None of our books on the Godhead will be on sale in heaven.