Reflections on the Life of Robert L. Thomas

Image of Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old
by Robert L. Thomas
Kregel Academic & Professional
Kindle Edition

By William D. Barrick. Reposted with permission from Dispensational Publishing House.

Robert L. Thomas, Th.D. (June 4, 1928-Sept. 6, 2017)

Dr. Robert L. Thomas modeled this truth in his own life and ministry in the Word of God. Throughout his teaching ministry (1959-2008) he applied his brilliant, God-given mind to Bible study, research, writing, and teaching. That career culminated in December 2014 with Dr. John MacArthur announcing the awarding of professor emeritus status to Dr. Thomas in honor of his 49 years of full-time teaching on the graduate level (1959-2008).

As a member of the Evangelical Theological Society from 1961 until the present, Dr. Thomas gathered with his peers and helped to guide the society. He served as secretary-treasurer, Far West Section (1969-1970); vice-chairman, Far West Section (1970-1972); chairman, Far West Section (1972-1973); led in the formation of a new section for the Pacific Northwest (named the Northwest Section); National Membership Committee member (1979-1982; 1984-1988); vice-president, president-elect and president (1988-1990); and executive committee member (1990-1994). Throughout the history of the Dispensational Study Group in ETS, Dr. Thomas attended the meetings, presented papers and engaged his peers in the ongoing discussions of hot-button topics. Read more about Reflections on the Life of Robert L. Thomas

Reasons for the Reformation

First page of the 1517 Basel printing of the Theses as a pamphlet

There was nothing remarkable about that day in October, 1517, when a Roman Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther fastened his now famous ninety-five theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenburg, Germany. He certainly did not expect to ignite a religious revolution. As a loyal son of the established church, Luther merely wished to engage his university town in theological discussion about certain church doctrines that troubled him. His goal was to try to rein in some of the most grievous abuses of the Church by discussing them openly.

Little did he know that his theses would be copied, printed, and distributed across Europe within days. In the providence of God, Luther’s modest debate propositions ignited a fire that is still burning today. On this five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it is fitting to remember how it all began, and more importantly, why.

There are some today who question the validity of this great schism with Rome. They believe that the Reformation, though probably warranted in its day, is no longer necessary. They assure us that the abuses of Luther’s day have been addressed, and it’s time to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and join hands as fellow members of Christ’s body. Read more about Reasons for the Reformation

Honor True Widows: 1 Timothy 5:3–16 with Implications for the Church’s Social Responsibilities, Part 5

From DBSJ 21 (2016); posted with permission. Read the series so far. This installment concludes the exegetical study of 5:3-16.

Concluding Exhortation: Verse 16

εἴ τις πιστὴ ἔχει χήρας, ἐπαρκείτω αὐταῖς καὶ µὴ βαρείσθω ἡ ἐκκλησία, ἵνα ταῖς ὄντως χήραις ἐπαρκέσῃ.

If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are really widows.

Paul concludes this passage with a final exhortation to believing women to care for widows in their family so that the church’s limited resources could be used to care for the true widows who had no family. There is some confusion about Paul’s use of πιστὴ. Though some manuscripts have πιστὸς ἢ πιστή or simply πιστὸς, πιστὴ is supported by both external and internal considerations.58 Paul could be referring to either young widows or wealthy widows (Acts 9:36–42). However, it is probably best to see this as any believing woman who has a relative who is a widow. The reason he addresses women instead of men is “because the woman in a household would bear the main burden of caring for a widow.”59 Since χήρας is plural, it may refer to not only a widowed mother, but perhaps grandmother or mother-in-law as well. Read more about Honor True Widows: 1 Timothy 5:3–16 with Implications for the Church’s Social Responsibilities, Part 5

Theology Thursday - Luther Meets Cardinal Cajetan

After Luther published his 95 theses, inviting debate on the abuse of indulgences, things began to move rapidly in Wittenberg. Phillip Schaff, the grand church historian, sums up the course of events during the following year:1

Pope Leo X. was disposed to ignore the Wittenberg movement as a contemptible monkish quarrel; but when it threatened to become dangerous, he tried to make the German monk harmless by the exercise of his power. He is reported to have said first, “Brother Martin is a man of fine genius, and this outbreak is a mere squabble of envious monks;” but afterwards, “It is a drunken German who wrote the Theses; when sober he will change his mind.”

Three months after the appearance of the Theses, he directed the vicar-general of the Augustinian Order to quiet down the restless monk. In March, 1518, he found it necessary to appoint a commission of inquiry under the direction of the learned Dominican Silvester Mazzolini, called from his birthplace Prierio or Prierias (also Prieras), who was master of the sacred palace and professor of theology.

Read more about Theology Thursday - Luther Meets Cardinal Cajetan

Using the London Baptist Confession of 1646 in the Local Church

Reformed Baptists are drawn to the London Baptist Confession of 1689 (originally issued in 1677) because it so closely mirrored the popular Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith. But the first two London Baptist confessions of 1644/1646 offer a window into history and a resource for Baptists today that is slightly different in its emphases. The London Baptist Confession of 1646 is Reformed and Baptist in its theology while emphasizing the newness of the New Covenant era that began with Christ. This article explores some of the benefits and challenges of using the London Baptist Confession of 1646 in the local church today.

Appealing Qualities

There are three appealing qualities of this Confession that are worthy of highlighting.

The Confession was originally drawn up and signed by seven churches in London in 1646. This was a “corrected and enlarged” edition of the first confession, published in 1644. The title of the original Confession of 1646 was: “A Confession of Faith of Seven Congregations or Churches of Christ in London, Which are commonly (But Unjustly) Called Anabaptists.” A copy of the original Confession of 1646 is widely available on the internet. An edition printed by Matthew Simmons and John Hancock in Popes-head Alley, London, 1646 is available online from The Angus Library and Archive at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford. Read more about Using the London Baptist Confession of 1646 in the Local Church

A Theological Case for Inerrancy (Part 1)

The battle over the inerrancy of Scripture hasn’t and isn’t going away. We must decide how we will approach the Bible – what our working assumptions will be. If “all Scripture is God-breathed” then all Scripture has the insignia of God upon it. This would be the bare-bones theological deduction from the relationship between the two.

For the human element to be lifted above the Divine element so as to enjoy equal ultimacy over the resultant production of Scripture requires an alteration to Scripture’s own self-witness. This is the reason why those who reject the idea of inerrancy (and I am far from rejecting all their work on account of their error), often plead in the vacuum of unaided reason.

Taking one prominent broadly evangelical theologian as an example, Donald Bloesch wrote, Read more about A Theological Case for Inerrancy (Part 1)

Against Cardboard Shepherds

"The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes," by Lambert Lombard

Trinitarian heresies usually stumble over who Christ is. Without fail, these heretical groups, sects and movements brand themselves as “renewal movements.” God gave us the Scriptures but, alas, things went haywire after the apostles died. The church lurched into heresy bit by bit. These groups warn us that the Greeks influenced Christian thinking, and eventually this pagan philosophy corrupted our doctrine of God, and the church was in darkness. Until … (cue theme music) … someone read the Bible for himself and discovered The Truth (insert heresy now).

For example, Anthony Buzzard, a conservative Unitarian, writes,

Though I believe with a passion the extraordinary and yet eminently sane claims of the New Testament writers, I have the strongest reservation about what the Church, claiming to be followers of Jesus, later did with the faith of those original Christians. I believe that history shows an enormous difference between what has through the centuries come to be known as the Christian faith and what we find reported as first-century Christianity.1

The truth is that these cults are reading the Bible in a very flat, sterile way. The Gospels are thoroughly Trinitarian, and the cults cannot find their doctrine through a systematic exposition of Scripture. Here, in our text this morning, we see Jesus as the shepherd over Israel: Read more about Against Cardboard Shepherds

A Prayer for the Survivors of the Las Vegas Shooting

Lord, we are grieved that at least 59 people have died from the Las Vegas shooting, and that hundreds more have been injured. Father, we know that evil is a reality in our world. The curse that resulted from Adam’s sin brought with it death, disaster, and hardship. It also left all humans with a sinful nature, one that resists being tamed.

Lord, we especially want to pray for those grieving the loss of loved ones. Many lives were quickly snuffed out. Their loss is a grievous one, and the suddenness of it makes it even more painful. These loved ones feel the emptiness, the helplessness, the loss; dark clouds hover over their lives, lives that were forever changed in an instant. How can this be? Read more about A Prayer for the Survivors of the Las Vegas Shooting