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

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

Am I Evil?

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“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?
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Fall from Grace – OPC Pastor Converts to Roman Catholicism

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.

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The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards


Resolutions 1 through 21 were written by in one sitting in New Haven in 1722.

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
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Thoughts on Van Til: Scripture & Philosophy


From Van Til’s “The Defense of the Faith”:

“But to engage in philosophical discussion does not mean that we begin without scripture.
We do not first defend theism philosophically by an appeal to reason and experience in order, after that, to turn to scripture for our knowledge and defense of Christianity. We get our theism as well as our Christianity from the Bible…It is therefore the system of truth as contained in Scripture which we must present to the world.”

The starting point for the Christian worldview is always the scriptures, but if you listen to Christians attempting to defend the Christian faith, they seldom start with the Scriptures. Instead they feel it is necessary to “put themselves in the mind of the unbeliever” in order to establish a “common ground” to have sound discourse with them. When this approach is utilized the battle is over.

Why would the battle be over with defending the Christian faith with this approach? The moment the Christian concedes(Even just for the sake of argument) they have already agreed that there is a possibility that God and the Bible may not be true. The Scriptures never grant the Christian such liberty. Let’s look at the verse below and see if we can apply it to our example above:

(ESV) John 8:24: “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

Jesus was speaking to the Jewish religious leaders and you say he was engaged in an apologetic for the faith. He does not once concede and say, “OK, let’s just for sake of the argument I”m not who I say I am, namely the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world…?” No, this is never once entertained, but the unbelieving leaders are forced to either accept His testimony and therefore to believe that he is the promised Messiah or they will perish in their sins. There is zero room for neutrality. And this is the point; to concede to the unbelievers position is to believe that God is neutral and we not from the Scriptures that this is not the cause. The Lords judgements are binary; we are either covenant keepers or covenant breakers. Saints or reprobates.

So this is why the presuppositional method of apologetics is the most faithful defense of the Christian faith to the scriptures. We have committed our way to the King of Kings and as Christ said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

The Doctrine of Repentance Book Review

The Doctrine Of RepentanceThe Doctrine Of Repentance by Thomas Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As is the case with most of Thomas Watson’s books, the exegesis of scripture is superb and the practical advise that he offers is timeless. This book really hits home by expounding that for the Christian repentance is a continual process and is part of the sanctification process that God uses to conform us to the image of His Son.

View all my reviews