Reformed.IO Project

I have recently purchased the Reformed.IO domain with the goal of providing collaborative means for Reformed Christians to commune.There has been of late a number of incidents on the major social media platforms (Facebook & Twitter) that have censored content specific to holding a Christian worldview. I do not think it is too unrealistic to see this trend continuing with the ultimate risk of the Christian witness being completely inoculated.

I’m currently investigating a number of different technical frameworks to use, but to host this and to make it successful will require funding. This will mostly amount to monthly expenses around paying for compute power. The more folks utilize the service the more it will cost to continue maintaining it and having it operate at acceptable levels.

I already have some high-level objectives defined and here the main ones:

  • Forum Boards – To discuss various topics such as Sola Scripture, Confessions, Christology, and the like.
  • File Exchanges – Ability to exchange files of interest
  • Collaboration Teams – Create teams for specific discussions and collaboration.
  • Real-time Chat

I’m estimating if there is a lot of activity with the service it will take about $30 a month to get things going. If you are interested in seeing this project take place, please consider becoming a monthly Patreon by clicking the link below. If just 30 people commit to $1 a month it would go live.

Patreon for Justin Andrusk

Pushing The Antithesis – Part 4 – Worldview Features

beermat_apologetics.012-300x225The fourth chapter of the book focuses on the different components that comprise a worldview. They are the building blocks of a worldview and without any one of them you can not have a complete worldview and this is why it’s so important to define each one and to expand upon each level to under the questions that they need to answer.

Another key factor that each of these worldview building blocks serve to show how utterly non-sensical the Atheist worldview is in that since it cannot accept order in the Universe and therefore is left to attribute every event to chance he cannot justify in what he observes.

Metaphysics

The study on what is the nature of reality. Beyond the physical as in laws of logic & science.

Metaphysics seeks to address three core questions:

  • What does it mean to exist?
  • What is the nature of man? Is he free? Good? An animal?
  • What is the nature of the universe? Is it objectively real? Or is it simply appearance?

Metaphysicians seek to understand the world as a whole.

What Metaphysicians study is actually Christian theology in secular dress.

God is the ultimate ground of all reality. – Gen 1:1, Exodus 20:11, Neh 9:6, Rev 4:11

Epistomology

The study of the nature and limits of human knowledge.

Epistemological inquiry focuses on four class of questions:

  • What is the nature of truth & objectivity?
  • What is the nature of belief and of knowledge? What are their relationships? Can we know and yet not believe?
  • What are the standards that justify belief?
  • What are the proper procedures for science & discovery? How can they be trusted?

 
The unbeliever will not be able to rationally to account for the order of the universe which he experiences, since he is committed to the fate of chance.

There is no way to account for reason in the non-Christian system.

Ethics

Studies right & wrong attitudes, judgments, and actions, as well as moral responsibility and obligation.

Focuses on four main areas of concern:

  • What is the nature of good and evil?
  • What are the standards for ethical evaluation?
  • What about guilt and personal peace?
  • How do we attain or produce moral character?

For the non-Christian there is no sure basis for ethics.

The chapter can be best summed up in this Atheist Creed crafted by Christian scholar Steve Kumar:

There is no God.
There is no objective Truth.
There is no ground for Reason.
There are no absolute Morals.
There is no ultimate Value.
There is no ultimate Meaning.
There is no eternal Hope.

Recommended Reading

Bahnsen, Greg, “The Concept and Importance of Canonicity

Butler, Michael R., “A Truly Reformed Epistemology

Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Humanist Manifesto II

Thompson, Bert, “In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration” Part 1 | Part 2

Book Review: Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms

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Series: Emory University Studies in Law and Religion

Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdsmans Publishing Co.

Copyright: 2010

ISBN: 978-0802864437

Pages: 512

Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms can be summarized as a survey of the historically reformed Christians position on the two key concepts of the Two Kingdoms and Natural Law. Those two terms in the title are the key to understanding this book both in how the data the author uses to interpret the reformed position on these two concepts along with how they work themselves out in both the civil and ecclesiastical realms.

The book is an excellent work of collating the historical position on these two concepts going all the way back to Pre-Reformation area with Augustine all the way down to Greg Bahnsen and R.J. Rushdooney. One of the main reasons that I picked up this book is that I could not find a book that has attempted such a large venture and the author should be commended for such a work. The author does a good job of defining what he means when he interprets what Natural Law means from the historical sources he cites.

In regards to the term, “Natural Law” the book essentially defines it as the decalogue applied to unregenerate man being made in the image of God. It is vital to understand that this term has nothing to do with the Ecclesiastical part of the book (this is covered in the Two Kingdoms term), but purely in the civil realm in regards to how un-generate man can rule the civil realm in righteousness and justice. This presents a problem from the Christian Reformed position in that the assertion has always been that although man has been created in the image of God, man is dead in trespasses and sins. This is no problem when it comes to the doctrine of the church, but with this book the position is negated when it comes to the civil realm and the “Natural Law” of man.  The author claims early in the book that he’s not trying to defend the position in the book, but merely to express what the historical Reformed Christian position has been on the subject. If you do read this book you will begin to see that the author holds to the actual premise that he’s attempting to demonstrate: that the Reformed position is providing chapter by chapter is the correct one and deviations from this are wrong and heretical.

The second motif in the book has to do with the Two Kingdoms. This is where the role of the church and the role of the state is expounded from the historical Reformed Christian sources he documents. The author seems to handle this in a more consistent way until towards the end of the book when he discusses Cornelius Van Til and Greg Bahnsen. It’s the classic position where the church operates in it’s own sphere of church doctrine and discipline and the state (civil polity) operates in its own realm in governing and legislating according to it’s own doctrines and precepts. The author essentially puts Christ Kingdom into two domains: Christ as Creator and Christ as Redeemer. The domain of Christ as creator is argued to mean that Christ governs the civil realm as Creator along with the providence he gives to unregenerate man through natural law and the other domain being Christ as Redeemer where he rules and governs his church by His Word. Natural Law is the link in the authors chain as to how he justifies these two kingdoms.

A key and problematic theme that is recognized in the book is an appeal to pagan authors and authorities more so on the Natural Law side than the Two Kingdom side, but one that is most disturbing. There’s even a section in the book where the author appears to be passively mocking those that would have God’s law as the standard in the civil realm as ‘Biblicists’. This seems to me to be most disturbing given his Reformed Christian presuppositions.

I did find it interesting on his response to Bahnsen’s theonomic position, but then again it aligns with the whole argument of leaving sinful man to rule the civil realm and only expecting the regenerate in Christ to rule the ecclesiastical realm. You will also find in this book that when it came to the Reformed tradition actually executing their presuppositions that the author articulates various consistencies come to light. He highlights some of this in Calvin’s Geneva with the execution of Servetus being the best use case against the authors position since he was executed for an ecclesiastical charge and not one bound in the law of the civil realm at that time.

Concluding the book is a good survey of the historical Reformed position on the two areas of Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, but the premise that this position is correct or even consistent for that matter is questionable. As a Reformed Christian, I believe the Reformers were spot on in regards to the various doctrines of the church that they expounded and fought for, I just don’t think their position in the civil realm has been consistent for biblically driven enough to warrant the position that the author assumes. If the Scriptures are to be the only rule for faith in life, this includes the civil as well as the ecclesiastical realm.

 

Pushing The Antithesis – Part 3 – Defining Worldviews

beermat_apologetics.012-300x225The third part of the series has to do with as the title suggests, defining worldviews. The actual definition for what a worldview is plays a critical role in understanding the presuppositions one brings to the table for interpreting reality, knowledge, and ethics.

One of the reoccurring themes you will notice through this blog series is Bahnsen’s emphasis on the myth of neutrality. This becomes even more apparent when defining what a worldview actually is. In each of the major domains of a worldview you must assert truth’s in each area and this itself removes the option of neutrality. An assertion has only a binary conclusion; true or false.

Bahnsen defines a worldview as:

“A worldview is a network of presuppositions(which are not verified by the procedures of natural science) regarding reality(metaphysics), knowing(epistemology), and conduct(ethics) in terms of which every element of human experience is related and interpreted.”

Another quote worth providing is viewing the Christian faith as a complex system:

“We must recognize that the Christian faith is a complex system of mutually-supported, interwined beliefs filling out a broader interdependent worldview.”

Like in Systems Engineering each component affects the overall health of the whole system, so each element of a worldview affects that worldview as a whole. Each subcomponent functions as a link in the chain and if one link is inconsistent with the others the system will break down. The Christian faith is no different, which is why the Bible must be the only rule for faith, life, and apologetics, otherwise Christianity will self-destruct on the sand of human autonomy.
 

Recommended Reading

Bahnsen, Greg, “Worshipping the Creature Rather Than the Creator

Hurd, Wesley, “Me and my Worldview

Moore, T.M., “Beyond Creation vs. Evolution: Taking the Full Measure of the Materialist Challenge

Nickel, James, “Mathematics: Is God Silent?

Stump, James, “Science, Metaphysics, and Worldviews

Pushing The Antithesis – Part 2 – Destroying Philosphical Fortresses

beermat_apologetics.012-300x225The second part of the series has to do with taking down philosophical fortresses. Although we have not covered chapter 3 on worldviews you may consider this prep work as a number of principles will nicely lead into the next series.

Try to understand why the unbelieving mind is hostile to the Christian worldview; understand why no one can be neutral and still remain philosophically consistent; what is meant by the “noetic” effects of sin.

 

The main points to be observed from this chapter are:

  • Factually we must recognize that the unbeliever is not neutral.
  • Morally, we must understand that the believer should not be neutral.
  • Any claim to neturality is a pretense, and it is philosophically impossible.
  • “Noetic” is derived from the Greek word, nous, which means “mind”.
  • This is one aspect of the doctrine of “total depravity”, which declares that the fall reaches deep down into a man’s very being, even to his mind, and his reasoning faculties.
  • The world and the universe do not operate randomly by blind chance or under their own inherent power.
  • In fact, you will even give account for every “idle word” that you speak (Matt 12:36).
  • None of your words is neutral; each one is subject to God’s evaluative judgement.
  • We are not saying unbelievers “know nothing.” We are saying that they do not know anything “truly,” because they do not recognize the most fundamental reality: All facts are God-created facts, not brute facts.

Recommended Reading

Flashing, Sarah J., “The Myth of Secular Neutrality: Unbiased Bioethics?

Kruger, Michael J., “The Sufficiency of Scripture in Apologetics

Oliphant, Scott, “The Noetic Effects of Sin

Woodward, Thomas E., “Staring Down Darwinism: A Book Review

Pushing the Antithesis – Part 1: The Myth of Neutrality

beermat_apologetics.012-300x225I 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.

Recommended Reading

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

Warfield’s Apologetic Error

bb-warfield-1851-1921-grangerOne 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

Christian Apologetics – Interpretation of Facts

biblical_apologetics_degree_wideFrom 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.

Do We Now Need to License Digital Sermons?

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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.

Assurance is not for Arminians

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.