The Deeper Protestant Conception

We discuss how a return to sola scriptura through confessional Reformed theology spares us from the errors of Roman Catholicism and modernism.

Reformed covenant theology, broadly considered, is facing a crisis regarding what constitutes “reformed” theology. The situation currently is one of chaos and confusion. Some claim that the way forward is by way of retrieving the theology of Thomas Aquinas, the angelic doctor of the Roman Catholic church, in the service of a so-called “Reformed” apologetic. The line of this argument is that if you follow the Roman Catholic theology and method of Aquinas, you will arrive at Protestant conclusions. Others enlist Aquinas in conversation with the likes of John Webster and Karl Barth, in the interest of retrieving “catholic” tradition in the development of a reformed theological identity. Still others, outside of our reformed circles, are engaged in ecumenical dialogue between Thomas and Barth (Bruce McCormack and Thomas Joseph White’s Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth: An Unofficial Dialogue, or Keith Johnson’s Karl Barth and the Analogia Entis, which helpfully to my mind points out the significant points of convergence between the two theologians).

It is very much worth pointing out that Van Til virtually predicted this in advance in his sadly neglected but highly important work Confession of 1967, where he says, “If now we live in a dialogical age and if only the church as ecumenical can meet the needs of such an age, then surely the Roman Catholic too must learn to see this fact. As Martin Marty says, “If Protestants and Roman Catholics wish to make possible a creative coexistence, to enrich our pluralistic society, and to profit from each other’s separate histories, they will have to participate in dialogue.…” And what does such “dialogue” look like? Again, Van Til says, “It was Hans Urs von Balthasar who, more than anyone else, has helped Barth to see that Roman Catholicism also begins its theology from the Christ-Event. Roman Catholicism, says von Balthasar, does not believe in direct revelation any more than does Barth. To be sure, Rome does speak of “faith and works,” of “nature and grace,” of “reason and revelation.” But this “and” is not, as Barth thinks, fatal to the idea of the primacy of Christ and of faith in Christ. The whole discussion between Barth and the Roman Catholic position may therefore start from the idea that revelation is revelation in hiddenness. ”The difference between Barth and Roman Catholicism will therefore be not of principle but of degree” (Confession, 119).



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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Camden Bucey

5 months ago

I think I mentioned you can’t divide a negative number in half. Well, that’s ridiculous. I was thinking of square roots, which you still can do if you consider the “imaginary” number i. I should stick to theology…

CM

5 months ago

Fantastic show. Finding Dr. Strimples online lectures, especially on Roman Catholicism is Difficult. Is there anyway you can make them more accessible?

Timothy Joseph

5 months ago

Hilarious, start the program by stating James Dolezal is a friend, then spend an hour and a half attacking him, of course, not by name. Whether Dolezal is overly influenced by Thomas is not the issue in your attack, as evidenced by your idolization of Voss, it is simply that James has a classic Reformed understanding of God’s simplicity and immutability and calledout some fellow Vossians for their deviation from it.
I was wavering on attandence at this conference hoping it would be about the Beatific Vision from a Reformed perspective, but no longer interested if it is about defending Vossians.

This also answers your ‘inability’ to get James on to discuss ‘All that is in God’!!!

Disappointing at least.

Tim

Camden Bucey

5 months ago

Tim,

I regret you interpreted our episode in this manner. James Dolezal is a friend. I greatly appreciated James’s book, and I share James’s criticisms of the “Vosians” you believe we’re trying to protect. But in reality, I don’t believe there are any Vosians addressed in All that Is in God, at least regarding the specific issue of divine immutability and God’s relation to creation. That includes Dr. Oliphint—meaning I believe he differs with Vos on this point. But just because I share the same deep concerns about theological mutualism, doesn’t mean I have to follow James at every point. Friends can disagree.

James still has an open invitation to join us. I would love to speak with him about these important matters. Nonetheless, the episode wasn’t about James. There are scores of Reformed theologians who have turned to Thomas on these matters. That is what is most concerning.

I believe there are deep structural problems with a Thomistic theology and philosophy. I also hold to a “classic Reformed understanding of God’s simplicity and immutability,” yet such a position is not identical to Thomism. You claim that we idolize Vos. I believe we set forth quite clearly why Vos is so helpful in these matters. He offers a Deeper Protestant Conception that avoids the twin errors of Roman Catholicism and modernism. This will be substantiated further in October. I’d still love to see you there.

Regards,

Camden

Timothy Joseph

5 months ago

Camden,
Thanks for the kind reply. I appreciate the clarifications, at least of my misunderstanding. I do hope to be able to attend in October.

In Him whose Grace is Sufficient!

Tim

Brian

5 months ago

Hey guys. I love all your episodes and this one too. I also read Dolezal’s book, loved it, and didn’t find your episode to attack him in any way. However, for uninformed guys like me, it did seem like you were punching into the wind. You are seeking to “sound an alarm” but I guess I’m not seeing where the fire is. If you wouldn’t mind stating who and what’s being said where, it would be helpful to others like me who seek to avoid the fire. Finally, you’ve asked me to be patient and listen, so that’s what I will do in hopes to further understand your concerns.

Keep up the good work men. Can’t join you in October but maybe some day.

Patrick Brink

5 months ago

I’m with Brian. It would be helpful to point out some concrete examples. For example, how does Thomas’s nature grace dualism color his idea of God’s simplicity compared to a Reformed view?

Bill Kron

5 months ago

Can you clarify the statement that Dr. Tipton makes about Rome being a true church? How can Rome be called a true church while holding to a false gospel?

The comment in question can be heard at this timestamp:

https://overcast.fm/+50Ze-4mY/1:01:01

I do hear some clarification in his statements following, but can we rightly call them brothers?

Thank you!

I’m probably misunderstanding, would appreciate the clarification nonetheless.

Glen Clary

5 months ago

I think Lane meant to say that Rome is a Christian church because there are vestiges of the true church in it. That was the position of Calvin and Hodge and the reason they accepted Roman baptisms.

Bill Kron

5 months ago

That helps—thank you, Glen!

Matt Sanders

3 months ago

Vestiges of truth mixed with hearty heresies doth not make Rome a Christian church.

Richard Brash

4 months ago

Will the conference talks and Q&A be available online afterwards?
I am a PhD student in the UK and would love to get to this conference, but I have just googled the airfare!!

Richard Brash

4 months ago

OK sorry I have just watched to the end of the video and I see that you will be making the talks available online afterwards. Thankyou. I really look forward to these. A great service to the church. Your broadcasts have been really useful. Blessings on the conference.

Matt Sanders

3 months ago

The Deeper Protestant Conception was very enjoyable. Overall though you are not as harsh on Romanism as you should be.

Brad Anderson

3 months ago

Can you point me to where I will find the donum superadditum in Aquinas? I am guessing it’s in Part 1, Question 95?

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