What History Is

Sometimes in reaction to American naivete and historical groundlessness, various sectors of the Church will appeal to “history” and “tradition” as an antidote. I hope it is clear that I do in fact value tradition and want to listen to “the mind of the church,” however I am equally committed to being honest about what this means.

Somewhere along the way, the myth of the seven councils took an astonishing hold on the mind of various traditionalists. This myth basically states that back in the good ol’ days, the Church (the unified, holy, purest Church) held seven councils which defined true Christianity, and most of our problems today would be solved if we would just run back to these councils. Some people up the ante and say we should sign on to all of the lesser canons of the councils, and perhaps they will even say that these councils are infallible. Protestants are regularly challenged on why they don’t subscribe to Nicea II. “If you don’t subscribe to that one, what is stopping you from rejecting all the rest?” Continue reading


N T Wright on the Atonement

Be sure to read this and this.

Here’s a sample:

The biblical doctrine of God’s wrath is rooted in the doctrine of God as the good, wise and loving creator, who hates – yes, hates, and hates implacably – anything that spoils, defaces, distorts or damages his beautiful creation, and in particular anything that does that to his image-bearing creatures. If God does not hate racial prejudice, he is neither good nor loving. If God is not wrathful at child abuse, he is neither good nor loving. If God is not utterly determined to root out from his creation, in an act of proper wrath and judgment, the arrogance that allows people to exploit, bomb, bully and enslave one another, he is neither loving, nor good, nor wise. To trivialize – almost to domesticate! – this massive biblical doctrine, rooted as it is in the doctrines of God as creator and as the one who will restore his creation at the last (in other words, in the biblical sense, ‘judge’), into a few anecdotal trivialities about God petulantly hurling thunderbolts around is hardly the way to begin a serious argument.

And to go ahead and cover my bases, I am really really really for penal substitution. To quote Johhny Cash and the Blind Boys of Alabama, “Sooner or later God’s gonna cut ya down.”

The Spirit’s Task is to Reveal the Son

Nevertheless he calls the Spirit, who is of the essence of God the Father, or of his own essence, another advocate.  For the principle of the essence is one with regard to both; it does not exclude the Spirit but allows the principle of the difference to be conceived of solely in his being and subsisting in his own person.  For the Spirit is not a Son, but we accept by faith that he exists and subsists truly and individually as that which he is.  For he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son.  But since the Son knew that he himself was in truth an advocate, and is named as such in the sacred Scriptures, he calls the Spirit ‘another advocate’, not that the Spirit who is and is said to be the Spirit of the Son, can by any chance bring about anything of a different kind in the saints than he can himself.  That the Son is himslf an advocate, both in name and in reality, John will witness in his own writings, where he says, ‘I am writing this to you so that you may not sin’ but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the expiation for our sins’ (1 Jn 2:1-2).  He therefore calls the Spirit ‘another advocate’, intending that he should be conceived of as a seperate hypostasis, yet possessing such a close likeness to himself and with the power to operate in a manner identical to that in which he himslef might perhaps do, that he appears to be the Son himself and not at all different.  For he is his Spirit.  And indeed he called him the very Spirit of truth, also calling himself the truth in the passage we are considering (Jn 14:6).
~ Cyril of Alexandria on John 9:1

Cyril on the Perspecuity of Scripture

To anyone who approaches it in a hasy manner this passage will seem difficult and something of a trap with regard to the faith. Consequently, at this juncture there are already those who expect us to get bogged down in insuperable difficulties thrown up by our opponents. But there is nothing at all difficult here. ‘For all things are straightforward to those who understand,’ as Scripture says, ‘and plain to those who fine knowledge’ (Pov. 8:9), that is to those who devoutly study to interpret and understand the mysteries contained in the divine Scriptures.

~Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on John 4.1

A History of Klaas Schilder and the Liberation of 1944

Here’s a portion of my paper for History of Christianity II. I wrote on the history of the Liberated Churches which lead to the formation of the Canadian Reformed Churches. Being a native Mississippian, this was somewhat foreign territory, but I was able to get my hands on some pertinent resources, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this project. Here goes:

Continue reading

Klaas Schilder and the Liberated- Some Online Resources

Oome Kees [Cornelius Van Til] spoke of being influenced by four people: J. Gresham Machen, Gerhardus Vos, Klaas Schilder and Abraham Kuyper.

Learning From the Life of Dr. Klaas Schilder

Ordained Servant 4.3

S. G. De Graaf- The True Faith

S. G. De Graaf- “Two Covenants” from Promise and Deliverance

J. De Jong- The Liberation of 1944

J. Douma- The Liberation- After 50 Years

W. W. J. VanOene- An Historic Meeting

Calvin’s Mature Sacramental Union

At one point, however, Calvin does more than summarise. He goes, we believe, beyond earlier positions (at least generally understood today), in a direction which not only marks him off clearly from the position of Zwingli and Bullinger but also might have provided the Maulbronner disputation with a more auspicious point of departure, if not with a formula concordiae. Dealing with II Sam. vi. 2 (‘Dieu des armees habitant entre les cherubins’) Calvin applies the text to Baptism and the Eucharist: ‘We should not take these signs as mere visible things, symbols to nourish our spiritual senses, but we are to know that God there unites his power and his truth: both the res and the effectus are there with the symbol; one must not separate what God has joined together.’ If we are right in concluding that with the symbol or sign (sacramentum tantum) not only the visible element but also the res sacramenti or effectus is given, a manductio oralis seems to be unavoidably implied. Christ ‘habite en nous par foy’. To receive him in bread and wine, however, is not the effectus fidei but the effectus sacramenti, inseperably attached to the sacrament by God. The demarcation line between the objective act of God and the subjective act of faith runs between manductio and inhabitatio, not between exhibitio and receptio as the younger Calvin, the Pfaltzer theologians at Maulronn and – we may add- all those who later were to claim Calvin’s authority have taught.

~Heiko Oberman The Dawn of the Reformation pg. 241-242

Secession Theologians and the Covenant

More and more theological conviction (1880) grew that the Covenant is a reality in history which is clearly distinct from God’s eternal decree of election: God has established his Covenant within the time with the believers and their children. In the Covenant He does not ask the question whether we belong to the number of the elect, but whether we accept Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the Covenant. And this ‘question’ is not obligation-free. It requires a response. It is a matter of God calling us. He calls us to believe in Christ, the ‘mirror of our election’ (John Calvin). In this way He fulfills his eternal decree of election unto salvation.

Those who like to join in the celebration of the victory– for it was a victory indeed!– of living in and thinking from the Covenant, can do so by reading the writings of men like W. H. Gispen and others. Those writers point the finger to the fact that, as a result of the influence of Labadism, church life for a long time took its starting-point in election and regeneration, rather than in the Covenant of grace as it was established with Abraham and his seed. Consequently those who desired to do their public profession of faith and to participate in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper were asked whether they by repentance and faith felt assured of their election and regeneration. If they were not aware of that, they were advised to withdraw lest they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

~ J. Kamphuis An Everlasting Covenant pg. 22