Theology

Is There A God?

(About this series)

CHAPTER II: IS THERE A GOD?

BY REV. THOMAS WHITELAW, M. A., D. D., KILMARNOCK, SCOTLAND

Whether or not there is a supreme personal intelligence, infinite and eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, the Creator, upholder and ruler of the universe, immanent in and yet transcending all things, gracious and merciful, the Father and Redeemer of mankind, is surely the profoundest problem that can agitate the human mind. Lying as it does at the foundation of all man’s religious beliefs—as to responsibility and duty, sin and salvation, immortality and future blessedness, as to the possibility of a revelation, of an incarnation, of a resurrection, as to the value of prayer, the credibility of miracle, the reality of providence,—with the reply given to it are bound up not alone the temporal and eternal happiness of the individual, but also the welfare and progress of the race. Nevertheless, to it have been returned the most varied responses.

The Atheist, for example, asserts that there is no God. The Agnostic professes that he cannot tell whether there is a God or not. The Materialist boasts that he does not need a God, that he can run the universe without one. The (Bible) Fool wishes there was no God. The Christian answers that he cannot do without a God.

I. THE ANSWER OF THE ATHEIST

“There is no God”

In these days it will hardly do to pass by this bold and confident negation by simply saying that the theoretical atheist is an altogether exceptional specimen of humanity, and that Read more about Is There A God?

Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 1

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It attempts to answer questions regarding the origin of human knowledge, and considers especially how we can know with certainty. Epistemological answers are basic and necessary building blocks of any philosophy, worldview, or belief system. In fact, of the four major components of philosophy and worldview (epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and socio-political thought), none can be adequately addressed until we answer the question of how we can know.

Regarding metaphysics, for example, we can’t make legitimate assertions about the character of God or the existence of the human soul until we first address how such assertions can be verified or falsified. Further, unless we have a means for validating ethical prescriptions as either worthy or unworthy, we have no warrant for choosing one prescription over another—especially when we encounter apparently competing or conflicting goods. And if we have no mechanism for authentication, then how can we even arrive at a definition of what is good in the first place? Finally, in socio-political thought, on what basis can we choose one system of government over another, or how can we determine whether a law is commendable? Without correct epistemological answers, there is no basis for our understanding or choosing one thing over another. In short, epistemology is really about authority, verifiability, truth, and certainty. Read more about Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 1

Strive Not About Words

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. (KJV, 2 Timothy 2:14)

I’ve often heard this text used to discourage detailed debate about the meaning of Scripture passages, or even to devalue highly precise Bible study. Is this what Paul’s warning to Timothy here is about?

First, observe that whatever “striving about words” is, Paul clearly saw it as something that threatened Timothy’s ministry. Timothy is to “charge them before the Lord” not to do this. Second, the activity is doubly discouraged as lacking in value (“no profit”) and also as causing damage of some kind to hearers (“subverting”). Third, the activity apparently involved individuals in at least two roles: the “strivers” and the “hearers.”

So what activity is being forbidden here? What is meant by “strive not about words”? Read more about Strive Not About Words

What is a "Dispensationalist" Theology?

A Dispensationalist is a Christian who sees in Scripture certain clear divisions in the progress of revelation in which God governs history. At its best this is done on the basis of the covenants revealed in the Bible. A “dispensation” (Greek, oikonomia) is an administration or economy, wherein, within a certain period of time (known to God, but afterwards revealed to man), God pursues His plan through the lives of men. The term oikonomia is made up of two other words: oikos, meaning house, and nemo, meaning to administer, manage, or dispense. Literally, an oikonomia is a house-management or household administration. In its theological usage it is well suited to describe what we might call a divine economy. This is much the way the word is used in Ephesians 1:10; 3:2, 9; Colossians 1:25-26, and 1 Timothy 1:4. These passages also show that Paul held to the reality of certain dispensations in the broad sense given above.

Not unsurprisingly therefore, even Covenant theologians often speak of dispensations. For example, both Charles Hodge and Louis Berkhof employ the term much like Dispensationalists do. Willem VanGemeren speaks of “epochs.” The number of these administrations is open to debate. Though commonly held, the seven dispensations articulated by C. I. Scofield are not the requisite number in order to be admitted into the ranks of Dispensationalist thinkers. The present writer, for instance, questions the theological value of some of these “economies” except perhaps as markers helping one trace the flow of God’s acts in biblical history. Read more about What is a "Dispensationalist" Theology?

Books of Note - Preaching? and Theology of the Reformers

Preaching?: Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching by Alec Motyer

Image of Preaching?: Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching
by Alec Motyer
Christian Focus 2013
Paperback 192

“The Word of God is the constitutive reality at the heart of the Church” (p. 18).

There are as many ideas about how to grow a church as there are books on the subject. There are books that focus on meeting felt needs, worship strategies, small groups and a myriad of other ministries that can be maximized to grow your church. However, what many of these books fail to recognize or address is that the bedrock of growing a church is the ministry of the Word through preaching.

With a biblical focus on the Word of God at the heart of a church Alec Motyer has written Preaching?: Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching. As the Old Testament editor for The Bible Speaks Today series, Motyer has turned his pen to writing on preaching and has written a book that addresses both the biblical-theological aspects as well as some practical issues.

The first five chapters address the nature of preaching. These chapters are exegetically grounded in various passages of Scripture. Motyer defines good preaching as that which has a “sense of being plain and unmistakable” (p. 11). Preaching that is good is to be expositional, that is, “the restatement of a Scripture” (p. 30). Motyer wants to impress upon his readers that preaching is the ground upon which the whole church grows and functions. All ministry grows out of the Word and the preaching of the Word. His exegetical work deals with many NT passages that provide us with the nature and task of faithful biblical preachers. His observation, especially of the book of Acts, is that it is the ministry of the preaching of the Word that drove the growth of the early church. Surely there were other attending contributions, like the work of the Spirit through the Word, but it was always the Word that led the way and was responded to. Read more about Books of Note - Preaching? and Theology of the Reformers

The Good Addiction

One of the things that always amuses me about being a pastor’s wife is that people think they have to be careful around me. As if I have a delicate condition that can’t handle the realities of the world. In order to protect me, they shuffle, they fumble, they apologize and then use euphemisms to describe situations that I could paint in living color. What they don’t understand is that, behind this genteel exterior, I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the brokenness, heard the sobs, and felt the ache of a creation waiting for redemption. In this kind of work, you lose your innocence pretty quickly.

Those who haven’t probably aren’t doing their jobs.

The other amusing thing is how quickly my conversations with my pastor-husband turn from the prosaic to the profound. One moment we’re discussing the rotation of children’s workers, and the next we’re talking about how to apply the realities of theosis to counseling.

Just last week over our dessert and coffee, we found ourselves discussing the nature of addiction. Whether it manifests itself in substance abuse, eating disorders, gambling, or pornography, the roots and overall structure of addiction is fairly consistent. And one of the most dangerous characteristics of addiction is that it always leaves you wanting more. You tell yourself this one thing, this one game, this one look will be enough. But it never is. You are left craving the next hit, the bigger fix, to achieve the high that you felt the first time. Read more about The Good Addiction

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