William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint – An Introduction to the Thought of Alvin Plantinga

Meet Alvin Plantinga

Alvin Plantinga was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Raised in the Christian Reformed Church, he has theological roots in the Dutch Reformed tradition. As the son of a philosophy and psychology professor, Plantinga evidenced a knack for and interest in philosophy early on.1

Plantinga studied philosophy at Harvard, Calvin College, the University of Michigan, and Yale, earning his PhD from Yale in 1957. Throughout his prolific career, Plantinga spent the majority of his years teaching, first, at Calvin College for nineteen years, then, until his recent retirement, at Notre Dame University. It would not be an overstatement to say that virtually all matters metaphysical and epistemological must address much of Plantinga’s own work. His Nature of Necessity did much to further discussions of modality in metaphysics, and his most recent work in epistemology, the roots of which began early in his career, have stimulated a multitude of developments and critiques in philosophical and theological circles.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Timothy George – The Typographical Reformation

The English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) once said that the three greatest inventions during his lifetime were gunpowder, the mariner’s compass, and printing. Gunpowder forever changed the nature of armed conflict and introduced an era of savage warfare that is with us still. The compass enabled Columbus, Magellan, and other navigators to discover the New World and map it with precision. The printing press brought about an explosion of knowledge, the expansion of literacy, and a revolution in learning that touched every aspect of European civilization, not least the church.

One of the leaders of the church who recognized the importance of printing right from the start was the scholar-bishop Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, who in 1458 became Pope Pius II. In October of 1454, Aeneas Silvius found himself at the famous Frankfurt book fair, no doubt on the hunt for special treasures for his great library. Soon after the fair, he wrote to a friend about his meeting there a “marvelous man” (vir mirabilis) who had with him a perfectly produced book, one that was exceedingly clean and correct in all of its lettering, with beautiful characters that could be read “effortlessly without glasses.” Some scholars think that the wondrous man Aeneas Silvius encountered at the fair was Johann Gutenberg and that the spotless book he saw was Gutenberg’s masterpiece, the forty-two-line Bible (so called because it had forty-two lines per page), hot off the press from his workshop at Mainz.

Gutenberg was a goldsmith by trade. While living in Strasbourg, he had experimented with a metal alloy suitable for type and a machine that would allow printed characters to be cast with relative ease, placed in even lines of composition, and then manipulated again and again to make possible the mass production of a large number of texts. Moving down the Rhine to the city of Mainz, he perfected his experiment with the press and was soon able to produce the world’s first printed Bible, an edition of the Latin Vulgate.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

William Cunningham – The Person Of Christ in the Early Church

The subjects which we have been considering, in connection with the Arian controversy and the Nicene Creed, come under the head of Theology, in the most restricted meaning of the word, as descriptive of that branch of divine truth which treats directly of God, or the Divine Being; and, accordingly, they are often discussed in the older systematic works under the head De Deo Uno et Trino. It is an important feature of the information which God in His word gives us concerning Himself, that in the unity of the Godhead there are three distinct persons, the same in substance, and equal in power and glory; and men who know not or who deny this, cannot be said to know the true God as He has made Himself known to us. The topics involved in the controversies, to which we now proceed very briefly to advert, come under the head of what, according to the modern divisions generally adopted upon the continent, is called Christology, as distinguished from Theology in the most restricted sense of the word, and were usually discussed in the older systems under the head “De persona Mediatoris.” They respect the constitution of the Saviour’s person, not as He existed from eternity with the Father, but as He was when on earth working out the salvation of sinners, and as He now is in heaven at God’s right hand.

So far as the Socinians are concerned, the controversy is virtually terminated by the proof of Christ’s true and proper divinity. Though some ancient heretics denied Christ’s humanity, and though one or two modern Arians have held that the super-angelic creature whom they regard as the Son, or Logos, informed or dwelt in Christ’s body, and thus served as a substitute for a human soul; yet it may be said, practically and substantially, to be universally admitted that Christ was truly and really a man, possessed of a true body and a reasonable soul.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Lex Meyer – Is the Rapture Biblical?

The “Rapture” theory is one of the most recent doctrines to have developed in modern Christianity. It was developed around the nineteenth century and has become exceedingly popular in the past 50 years.

There are a number of variations about the rapture, such as pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation, but the general idea is that all Christians will be taken up to heaven at some point during the last days.

It is sometimes referred to as the “secret rapture” because they believe it will come suddenly and without warning. They teach that the rapture could happen at any moment, so we must always be ready because no one knows the day or the hour.

Many of the recent books and movies about the rapture convey an almost comical situation in which piles of clothes are left on chairs where people once sat, vehicles are suddenly abandoned while driving down the road, and everyone on earth (who are “Left Behind”) are overcome with confusion and fear.

So, where did the rapture doctrine come from?

There is no documented evidence of anyone teaching the rapture prior to the late 18th century. That means for the first seventeen hundred years of Christianity no one was teaching the rapture. No one!

The first known mention was in an essay published in 1788 by Morgan Edwards, and the next by a Jesuit priest named Manuel Lacunza in 1811. Then in 1827, John Nelson Darby put forth one of the most noteworthy works regarding the rapture, which caused the theory to circulate among the masses. As a result, Darby is believed by many to be the one who introduced the rapture concept, since there were no major Christian teachings about it prior to him. He was not the first to mention it, but Darby was definitely the one who made it popular.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Joel Beeke – John Bunyan: The Faithful Tinker

Young John Bunyan (1628–1688) hardly seemed fit for preaching. He was a coarse person with little education and a mouth full of foul language. He had lost his mother and sister to death and was exposed to the evils of military service before his seventeenth birthday. As a young man, he worked with his hands as a tinker or worker in soft metals. His soul was probably much like his body after carrying his sixty-pound portable anvil: outwardly tough and calloused, though inwardly bruised and burdened. Marriage to a church-going woman brought some moral improvement and produced much self-righteousness, but it was not until Bunyan overheard a few poor women talking about the new birth and the grace of God in Christ for sinners that he realized his greatest need.

The faithful pastor of those women, John Gifford, taught Bunyan about the grace of God. Bunyan read Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians and learned how Jesus Christ made satisfaction to divine justice for our sins by His death. Bunyan was transformed, and others soon called upon him to speak in meetings for evangelism and exhortation. Feeling very unworthy, he nevertheless was able to speak from his experience of the truth: “I preached what I felt, what I smartingly did feel, even that under which my poor soul did groan and tremble to astonishment.” He was not a fire-and-brimstone preacher who looked down on unbelievers, but one who lived with a “fire in mine own conscience.”

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Lex Meyer – A Forgotten Fundamental Belief

According to the book of Hebrews, the resurrection of the dead was considered to be one of the “elementary principles of Christ”, and was a foundational doctrine among First Century believers.

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:1-3)

The writer of Hebrews seems to indicate that these things are so basic and fundamental that he did not see the need in “laying again the foundation”. Unfortunately, it seems that the doctrine of “the resurrection of the dead” is no longer a fundamental teaching among believers. Today, popular teachings about eternal life center around heaven, rather than the hope we have in the resurrection.

Nearly all Christians are aware of the resurrection of Yeshua, but they have little or no knowledge about their own resurrection. In fact, a great number of preachers and teachers have no understanding whatsoever about the resurrection of the dead, which is why they are incapable of teaching their congregations this elementary principle of Christ.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Kruger – Five Myths About the Ancient Heresy of Gnosticism

gnostic-e1480690542718

In the world of biblical studies, at least among some critical scholars, Gnosticism has been the darling for sometime now. Especially since the discovery of the so-called “Gnostic Gospels” at Nag Hammadi in 1945, scholars have sung the praises of this alternative version of Christianity.

Gnosticism was a heretical version of Christianity that burst on the scene primarily in the second century and gave the orthodox Christians a run for their money. And it seems that some scholars look back and wish that the Gnostics had prevailed.

After all, it is argued, traditional Christianity was narrow, dogmatic, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited, whereas Gnosticism was open-minded, all-welcoming, tolerant and loving. Given this choice, which would you choose?

While this narrative about free-spirited Gnosticism being sorely oppressed by those mean and uptight orthodox Christians might sound rhetorically compelling, it simply isn’t borne out by the facts. So, here are five claims often made about Gnosticism that prove to be more myth than reality:

Myth #1: Gnosticism was more popular than traditional Christianity.

Time and again we are told that Gnostics were just as widespread as orthodox Christians, and that their books were just as popular too (if not more so). The reason they did not prevail in the end is because they were oppressed and forcibly stamped out by the orthodox party who had gained power through Constantine.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Terry Mortenson and Bodie Hodge – The Documentary Hypothesis: Moses, Genesis, and the JEDP?

moses

In the past few hundred years, the Bible has been under severe attack by scientific and philosophical skeptics of all sorts. In this scientific age the most-attacked book of the Bible has arguably been Genesis, particularly the first 11 chapters. Long-age geology, big-bang cosmology, secular archaeology, liberal theology, and philosophical attacks on miracles in the Bible have deceived many people to believe that the Bible is not true and therefore cannot be trusted.

One of the major attacks on the Bible in the past three hundred years has been directed against Moses and his authorship of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis–Deuteronomy). Such attacks on these foundational books of the Bible come both from non-Christians as well as professing Christians.

Seminary courses, theology books, introductions to the Pentateuch in Bibles, and the secular media have promoted the man-made idea that Moses did not write the Pentateuch (also known as the Law or Torah). Instead, it is claimed that at least four different authors (or groups of authors) wrote various portions of these books over many centuries and then one or more redactors (editors) over many years combined and interwove everything together into its present form. For example, one translation of the Bible we surveyed said this in its introduction to the Pentateuch:

Despite its unity of plan and purpose, the book is a complex work, not to be attributed to a single original author. Several sources, or literary traditions, that the final redactor used in his composition are discernible. These are the Yahwist (J), Elohist (E), and Priestly (P) sources which in turn reflect older oral traditions.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

D. A. Carson – The Puritans: What They Have That The Moderns Have Not

A-Puritan-Theology-570x300

Whoever dares embark on a subject of this nature in a paper this brief faces three insuperable difficulties. The first concerns definition: how large a group of people, over how broad a time-span, can be included in the term “Puritan”? Even if that problem is solved, it leads directly to the next: in a brief article, the detailed documentation needed to be convincing cannot possibly be included. And that lack produces the third difficulty: as the documentation decreases, the dangers inherent in subjectivity increase in proportion. It is all too easy to discover in Puritan writings precisely what the critic would like to discover. Having admitted the difficulties, we nevertheless plunge into the subject since the contemporary Church of Jesus Christ continues to exhibit a sad ignorance concerning that incomparably Godly and influential minority group of believers called Puritans. Though the term be filled with opprobrium and mockery by the ignorant, let those who love the Lord. Jesus remember with respect that genuine purity is never to be despised; and the Puritans, in church life as in individual deportment, in private prayers as in scholarly achievement, stand amongst the grandest exemplars of Biblical purity.

The Puritan age proper spans a mere hundred years. In the middle of the sixteenth century, the crying need in both England and Scotland centred on the appalling ignorance of the masses at the parish level. Nominally, the people had become Protestants by royal decree. Following the years of turmoil under Henry VIII, the boy King Edward VI (1547-1553), and Mary Tudor (1553-1558, of “Bloody Mary” fame), the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 coupled with the formal abolition of Catholicism by the Scottish Parliament in 1560 brought back scores of British exiles from their havens of refuge on the Continent. No haven was as influential as Geneva, where Calvin and his colleagues had taught some two hundred British exiles. They returned to their homeland bringing with them the so-called Geneva Bible, which went through 140 editions during the subsequent eighty years, read by Scottish Presbyterians and English Puritans alike. The Westminster Assembly, which effectively brought together divines from both groups, met in 1643; and out of this convention there emerged a matchless expression of Biblical truth in systematic and catechetical form: the Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

Michael Kruger – Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory

mary-and-jesus-e1480432749119

When I was a kid, I always used to enjoy the “whack a mole” game at the local arcade (yes, we had to go to an “arcade” to play games). You had be quick to win that game. Each time you hit a mole, another would pop up, taking its place.

Of course, that is what made the game both fun and frustrating at the same time. No matter how hard you worked, it always seemed that the moles just wouldn’t go away.

Sometimes it’s like that in the world of biblical scholarship. Theories pop up, are quickly refuted by the academy, and then, just when you think they have gone away, they pop again. Some theories just keep coming back.

In 2003, Dan Brown’s best-selling fictional book The Da Vinci Code raised (again) the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that this fact had been cleverly suppressed by the church for thousands of years. Apparently it took a fictional author to uncover the “real” truth.

Brown was not the first to make such a claim, of course, but his book gave it new life. At least for a while. But, after a chorus of scholars showed the claim to be (again) without merit, the chatter about Mary Magdalene died down a bit.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0