Paul Helm – Molinism 101

God’s Knowledge

In thinking about God’s knowledge theologically it was customary for many years, until and including the Reformation, to distinguish between God’s necessary knowledge and His free knowledge. The distinction is obvious and natural. God’s necessary knowledge includes several kinds of truths. It is the knowledge of matters such as the truths of mathematics (for example, 2+2=4). It is also the knowledge of truths such as the whole is greater than the part and no circle can be a square. God’s necessary knowledge also includes His knowledge of all possibilities, such as possible people, the possible lives they could lead, and the whole range of possible worlds. These are known to God immediately and intuitively.

God’s free knowledge, on the other hand, is His knowledge of His decree (of that which, in His wisdom, God freely and unchangeably ordained to come to pass). That which God decrees is obviously a subset of all the possibilities that are known to Him. His decree also has its source solely in His mind and will.
Middle Knowledge

In the late 1500’s a new kind of knowledge was proposed by two Iberian Jesuit thinkers, Luis de Molina (1535-1600) and Pedro da Fonseca (1528-1599). Middle knowledge (or ‘Molinism’ as it came to be called), was their contribution to a controversy within the Roman Catholic church over grace, free will and predestination. In our own time Molinism has been proposed by Alvin Plantinga and others in connection with God’s relation to evil. I think it is fair to say that while Roman Catholic theologians have long discussed middle knowledge in their textbooks, recent interest in it has been due to Plantinga and his discussion of the topic in his book God, Freedom and Evil.

Continue Reading

Erik Raymond – 3 Ways the Gospel Changes Marriage

When a new leader is appointed in an organization change is inevitable. The incoming boss will set policy, establish tone, and reflect an attitude in their organization. The same is true for our marriages. The new leader I am referring to here is not a new husband but rather the true husband, The Lord Jesus Christ.

We know from the Scriptures that a Christian marriage is never simply a union of two people but two people united together in Jesus Christ. This is another way of saying that Jesus is our head, the Lord and the life-giver of our marriage. When a couple embrace the truth of the gospel, whether in conversion or sanctification, there are always corresponding changes associated with Jesus being the head of the marriage. Below are three of the more common changes that Christ works into a marriage as he rules it through the gospel.

Continue Reading

Dan Delzell – God Established Marriage Equality 6000 Years Ago

Jewish and Christian students of the Bible have been given a detailed historical timeline in Scripture. We know that God created Adam and Eve about 6000 years ago. The biblical timeline reveals that Noah was born roughly 1000 years later. Abraham was born close to 1000 years after Noah. David was born around 1000 years after Abraham. And Jesus was born close to 1000 years after David. Christ’s miraculous birth took place roughly 2000 years ago, which was about 4000 years after God created Adam and Eve. Do the math. It is laid out clearly in God’s Word.

When God created man and woman, He made them equal. He created them to be incredibly satisfied with one another. He created them to produce children. That’s why a man and a woman can “make a baby.” Two men can’t do that, and neither can two women. Two men are not equal. They are simply homogeneous. Two women are not equal. They too are simply homogeneous. Marriage equality is defined by God as a man and a woman who are equal before Him and with one another. It really is a beautiful thing the way these two beings complement each other.

When Adam and Eve chose to sin, it brought all sorts of wrong desires into the heart of man. Some of these impure desires fall in the realm of sexuality, such as tendencies toward fornication, adultery, and homosexuality. We are all sinners. In that sense, we all have a “sinner equality.” We all far short of God’s standard. Some people struggle with a short temper. Others struggle with jealousy. Still others struggle with greed. And some struggle with fornication or some other sexual temptation. But we all are guilty. We all need God’s forgiveness.

In our culture, people creatively attempt to explain away sinful desires. I suppose we have all done it in one way or another. The latest attempt involves using the term “marriage equality” in an effort to promote same-sex marriage. Whatever “rights” a society may decide to give a pregnant mother, or a same-sex couple, does not guarantee that society has chosen to stay within God’s boundaries for protecting life and within God’s boundaries for marriage equality between a man and a woman.

Continue Reading

Tony Reinke – Meet Jonathan Edwards

Spiders, hedonism, revivals, and the mysteries of the trinity — Jonathan Edwards’s mind was rich and his writings are prolific. Digestible overviews of his life and writings are always appreciated.

During the recent conversation between John Piper and Douglas Wilson, mention was made of moderator Joe Rigney‘s trip to New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho in March of 2010. Joe is Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary where he teaches undergraduates in the Christian Worldview Program and courses on Jonathan Edwards at the seminary. It was on the trip to NSA that Joe delivered an introduction to Jonathan Edwards, his theology, his writings, and his life and legacy. A video of the lecture and ensuing Q&A session is online. Timestamps follow.


Lecture time-markers —

04:14 — 1. Edwards on the Trinity

14:06 — 2. Edwards on Creation

18:27 — 3. Edwards on God’s End in Creation

32:06 — Conclusion

Q&A time-markers —

34:04 — Edwards on typology

37:56 — First recommended Edwards books to read

39:55 — Edwards on God’s direct creation and the place of causality

43:00 — Edwards and the classical tradition (Aristotle, Augustine, etc)

45:27 — Dante, Locke, and Edwards’s influences

47:02 — Edwards on spiders

49:14 — Edwards’s faults and weaknesses

51:36 — The Great Awakening and how Edwards processed it

56:46 — The Enlightenment and its influence on Edwards

59:40 — Edwards’s legacy

Nick Batzig – Sing Your Heart Out to God

singing-1024x576 Many years ago, I had an employer who was intent on trying to provoke me with a variety of sacrilegious jokes and statement. Having just come back from visiting her parents over one Easter weekend, she told me how she had visited their church that Easter Sunday. What she said next left an indelible mark on my thinking about congregational singing for many years. She said, “What I don’t get is why you people don’t sing like you believe what you are singing?” She then told me that the congregation was sort of mumbling the words of the hymn, “I Serve a Risen Savior.” Rocking back and forth, she mocked this particular congregation by mumbling under her breath, “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today.” Without hesitating, I agreed with her and said, “It is terrible that those who say that they believe that Christ is risen don’t sing as if they actually believe He is risen. They should be singing their hearts out because He is risen.” This leaves us with the question, “If the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts of His people to stir them up to sing God’s praises is one of the sweetest of all His works then why do so many congregants fail to sing with all of their heart in worship?” There are many answers to this question, but here are a few suggestions:

Much of the scriptural teaching about the beauty of loud congregational singing has been lost by the injuries that have been sustained by both sides in the worship wars. In many performance-driven congregations worship teams overpower congregational singing and the singing that happens is akin to the drowned out admiration singing at a concert. In more traditionalistic churches, a perceived abuse of experience in the performance-driven churches has fueled a pushback that results in a dry and lifeless singing.

Additionally, too many in our churches are overly self-conscious about what others will think of them if they sing too loudly or, at times, out of key. The messiness of congregational singing is part of the beauty of God using weak and broken people. While we certainly want to strive for excellence in how we sing to our God, the sound of a child singing extremely loudly or, even at times, out of key, is a sweet sound that brings God great glory (Ps. 8). If we would simply seek to sing with joy in our hearts to the Lord we would lose self-awareness and embrace God-awareness. We would not fear what others might think about our singing.

If we could step back and lay aside stylistic preferences and fixate on the place and power of congregational singing, we would come to understand how special and beautiful it is in the life of believers. After all, on the cross Jesus purchased not only believers, but also their ability to sing redemptive praises to God from the heart. Add to this what Sinclair Ferguson says about hymnody: “When truth gets into a hymnbook it becomes the confident possession of the whole church.” In short, the Gospel enables and encourages us to take up theologically rich Psalms and hymns and to sing our hearts out to God. Here are five encouragements to enjoy this privilege and its benefits in the life of the body of Christ:

1. Singing Our Hearts Out to God is the Fruit of Redemption in Christ. The Proverbs tell us that “whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25:20). Singing praise is a human experience that belongs uniquely to the realm of joy in our experiences. Nothing produces joy so much as the truth of what Christ has done for His people through His death and resurrection. This does not mean that we never sing songs of lamentation, but the Scriptures always move believers from sorrow to joy (see Psalm 30:5; 42:5, 11; 43:5, Ezra 3:10-13 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13). Throughout the Scriptures we read of believers singing “a new song.” This has unique reference to the work of the new creation procured by Christ through His death and resurrection and established in full through the New Covenant (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3).

Continue Reading

Book Review – Who is Jesus?

Who-is-Jesus Who is Jesus? Seems like such an easy question. He is the Son of God, he came and died on the cross and rose again, and will one day return for His bride. But who is Jesus? Do we really grasp this Messiah, this history altering figure? Are we able to share with the world who Jesus is and why he is far more than just a moral teacher who lived a long time ago? Pastor and author Greg Gilbert in his excellent book aptly titled Who is Jesus explores this simple yet truly profound question.

There are some books that while small in length, nevertheless pack a giant punch. Gilbert’s book very much fits into this category. While at first glance and upon the first read the message relayed in this book may seem to be focused on those searching for an answer in relation to this Jesus character so many talk about, I firmly believe this is also a book that even the most seasoned believer needs to read. After all, knowing Jesus is at the crux of what we call the Christian life.

Gilbert rightly begins by noting there is “one massive treasure trove of information about Jesus – detailed, personal, eyewitness, blow-by-blow accounts of what he said, what he did, and who he was.” Of course where we find that information is the Bible. For those who might feel like closing this book at the mere mention of the word “Bible”, Gilbert encourages them to stick it out and to continue reading. If nothing else, the accounts of Jesus’ life shared by the biblical authors were written as literal and actual history and thus should be considered along those lines. Gilbert encourages the reader to simply take a look at the claims made in Scripture and to examine them to see if they are true. If they are true, then the reader necessarily has to make an important decision as to what to do with Jesus and to answer that all important question of who is Jesus.

Throughout this book, Gilbert makes the claim that Jesus was no ordinary man, that he is the King of Kings, the great “I AM”, was fully human, the last Adam, the Lamb of God who died for our sins, and the resurrected and reigning Lord. These are certainly some bold claims in the mind of some who have not yet fully dealt with that underlying question of who is Jesus. Gilbert recognizes that fact and with a great deal of patience and speaking from the heart of a pastor, he walks the reader through each important claim made in this book, proving along the way that Jesus is who he claimed to be.

For instance, Jesus claimed to be the great “I AM”. While such a claim may not seem that big of a deal to our modern ears, making the statement that one was the great “I AM” was in the eyes of the Jewish people stating you are God. When God spoke to Moses way back in the book of Exodus, He told Moses to tell the people of Israel that “I AM” had sent Moses to deliver the people from bondage. So to say you are equal with God was shall we say a rather bold statement. Gilbert aptly comments, “if Jesus just wanted to say that he pre-existed Abraham somehow, he would have said, “Before Abraham was, I was.” But by using the present tense – “I AM” – Jesus was clearly taking for himself, again, the unique and exclusive name of God.” Thus, as God and being the Son of God, in order to know God and to have relationship with our Creator, we must know Jesus and affirm that Jesus is who he said he was – God.

Gilbert also does an excellent job of working through the humanity of Jesus, something theologians call the hypostatic union – Jesus as fully God and fully man. This is a rather deep theological concept and Gilbert expertly relates he truth of this issue to the reader devoid of technical terms, instead choosing to engage why this matters. Why did Jesus need to become God incarnate? Simply yet profoundly, Gilbert states “Jesus became human because we needed him to do so. We needed someone to represent us before God and be our substitute. That’s ultimately why Jesus came- to be a loving Warrior King who would save his beloved people.”

I highly recommend this book for those searching for the answer to who is Jesus and also for those who are long in the faith who want to refresh themselves on the answer to that question. Jesus made some bold claims that must be dealt with and Gilbert does a great job of doing that very thing. Those who are searching will be challenged and those who have longed affirmed Jesus as Lord will find this book a wonderful reminder of who Jesus is and why they are so in love with him.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Owen Strachan – Evangelical Encouragement: What the Gosnell Groundswell Shows

I don’t know about you, but the groundswell of social media outrage at the lack of media attention to the trial of Kermit Gosnell is one of the most encouraging developments I’ve ever seen in the Internet 2.0 era.

If you missed it, the story is basically this: after months of complete inattention to the barbaric narrative of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, pro-life folks – including journalist Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, leaders, and Eric Metaxas – decided to do their part to raise a ruckus. Gosnell gives us a a window into the gruesome world of killing babies. He frequently induced pregnancies through his abortive methods, causing live births of potentially viable infants, only to (graphic content warning) slice their spines open to kill them. But he didn’t stop there–he cut their feet off and put them in jars as mementos.

The sheer evil of this case is enough to make you push away from your computer and wail and weep. “Rend the heavens,” the Old Testament writers implored the Lord, a sentiment appropriate to cases like this. If you’re reading this and you doubt the existence of evil, read up on Gosnell’s practice and reconsider.

But here’s the thing to note: even if these abortions had happened in the tidiest manner possible, with swarms of smiling, bright-eyed attendants working in crystal-clean conditions and a long-established doctor with a warm bedside manner, they would be no less barbaric. Abortion, we are reminded, is barbaric. Strong word, this–barbaric. Yet it fits our society perfectly. We’re drunk on the fumes of our supposedly morally advanced society, our technopoly with its modern advances, our bright and pampered 21st-century world which seems the apotheosis of social Darwinism. We are the ones human history has been waiting for. We’re brighter, living longer, avoiding cataclysmic world wars, spreading democracy through virtual platforms, humane, tolerant, happy, and whole.

It’s this narrative, you see, that the Gosnell murders destroy. The Gosnell murders reveal the evil heart that beats in the chest of our society. They’re unusually sordid, but the practice at their core–abortion–is pure evil, the perfect flowering of an unbridled narcissism. We’re patting ourselves on our backs, but our elegantly manicured hands have blood on them. We’re eating our young, dumping them in bins, and yet we scoff at ancient societies that–at the very least–trembled at child sacrifice.

We pat ourselves on the back for it.

Continue Reading

Tim Challies – Visual Theology: Think on These Things

This series of infographics that I’m calling “Visual Theology” has visited the ordo salutis, the attributes of God and the books of the Bible. Today I continue this series with a stop in Philippians 4:8. This is the first of the graphics that answers a request from one of the readers of this site and is also the first to seek to display Scripture rather than theology (to draw a potentially-perilous line!).

The much-loved words of Philippians 4:8 read as follows: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” In this graphic we’ve attempted to both portray and explain the verse. I hope you enjoy it!

(Click on the image to see it full-sized)

Think On These Things

If you would like the graphic in high-resolution, you can download it in JPG or PDF.

Also, lots of people have requested printed versions of these infographics, so I’ve gone ahead and created a shop at Imagekind. You can buy each of the prints on a variety of media and at a variety of sizes; the prices you’re paying are just barely marked up to help cover the costs associated with the store and (hopefully, over time) cover the cost of some of the graphics. Visit

Michael Boling – Reflections on Job 40-42


Job 40-42

The book of Job concludes with God continuing His response to Job. Included in this lengthy response from God to Job is a short response by Job to God’s initial statements. Job is clearly realizing that he was in the wrong, not in the sense of being wholly unrighteous, but in the sense of even going so far as to wonder about God’s motives. God responds again out of the whirlwind telling Job once again to put on his “man pants” and to be prepared to answer a series of questions. God reminds Job who is God and who is not. One of the interesting parts of Job 40 to me is the mention of Behemoth. Far too many commentators state this is a reference to a hippo. That is rather poor exegesis considering a hippo, while it eats grass like an ox, by no means has a tail like a cedar tree. Now a dinosaur certainly would have fit that description.

In Job 41, another interesting animal is mentioned, namely Leviathan. As with Behemoth, far too many commentators state Leviathan was simply a crocodile or alligator. What is interesting is observed in verse 19 where God states “out of his mouth go burning lights; sparks of fire shoot out.” Not sure I have ever seen or heard of a crocodile or alligator shooting fire from its mouth. This seems more of a reference to what one would expect to read from a dragon legend. The description God provides of the Leviathan is nothing like a crocodile or alligator.

Job responds to God in chapter 42 by acknowledging God’s power and authority. Since God did say He expected a response from Job, a response is provided by Job, one of great repentance and humility. God states that He is angry with Job’s friends for they did not respond to Job or God properly as did Job. Thus, a sacrifice was needed to atone for their sin. This is rather interesting given this need for a sacrifice for sin takes place long before the Mosaic Law prescriptions. Job’s friends did as God commanded. Additionally, God restored to Job health, prosperity, and family. In fact, God restored to Job twice as much as he had originally and Job lived another 140 years and died, “old and full of days”.

Dave Jenkins – Grief, Loss, and Suffering

Recently, I’ve had three deaths in my family. My wife’s cousin died, my great-aunt died and last week my grandma died. In addition to this, my father has Frontotemporal dementia, and has been in the Veteran’s Hospital in Seattle for the past three months, on and off suicide watch. These recent experiences forced me to begin thinking about how to deal with grief and loss. These thoughts are more of a reflection of what I’ve been thinking about than a thorough examination of all the Bible teaches on this topic.

A good friend and I were talking about what I’ve gone through recently and he made the comment, “We never really get over it and we’re not supposed to get over it. The losses we suffer–of people we love–permanently scar our hearts. God uses this to make us more compassionate, more loving, more humble, more dependent on Him. We don’t return to a “normal” but a “new normal” shaped by what we’ve experienced. I think this is what Paul is getting at when he says he wants to know Christ through the “fellowship of suffering”. We were meant to feel the pain and grief deeply. Jesus did. Death is terrible. We should hate it as much as He hated it (expressed with Lazarus). But we also rejoice that death has been defeated as the final enemy.”

As I’ve been thinking about my friend’s helpful thoughts, I’ve come to realize that he was right– there isn’t a new normal after what I’ve gone through. I loved my grandma dearly. I remember times when I was a kid playing “Go Fish” and the conversations she and I had about life. When my grandpa died twelve years ago, I reflected long on all the memories I had of me running through the courtyard, and swimming in the pool at their apartment complex where they were apartment managers. In reflecting on my grandpa and grandma, I’ve come to realize that it is okay to reflect on such memories, but that it is not helpful for me to focus on them. When I focus on these memories I tend to get introspective and analyze “why” I’m feeling this way, when I should be focusing on Jesus through this season of life. My feelings are not the source of my comfort for grief; Jesus is– since He is the author, finisher, and perfector of our faith.

Continue Reading