The Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge

Alan Strange speaks about the doctrine of the spirituality of the church in the ecclesiology of Charles Hodge and how it was formed in the years leading up to and during the American Civil War. Dr. Strange’s dissertation on the topic has been published in P&R Publishing’s Reformed Academic Dissertations series as The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge. Dr. Strange previously addressed the topic in episode 443 of Christ the Center, but in this episode, we focus more on the Presbyterian General Assemblies and how they wrestled with the theological and political issues surrounding the war.

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Vos Group #45 — Excursus: Reformed Dogmatics

Vos Group takes an excursus to discuss Vos’s Reformed Dogmatics. In this series, like all of his works, Vos presents the “deeper Protestant conception” of covenantal union and communion with the Triune God. We discuss how the immutable Creator does not change in the freely willed “new relation” to creation—only creation does, and that the Roman Catholic view of the image cannot deliver the “essence” of religion, which is communion with God.

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Reading Van Til, Evangelicals & Catholicism, and African Ontology & Epistemology

In this episode, we answer questions from our listeners and discuss a few things we’ve been contemplating recently. We discuss a proposed reading list for the works of Cornelius Van Til, worshiping on Sunday, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and African worldview and theology. It’s a wide-ranging conversation and one we hope you enjoy.

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Eden, Canaan, and the Heavenly Temple Dwelling of God

Eden and Canaan are earthly projections that both reveal yet veil the glory of the heavenly dwelling place of God. Had Adam passed probation, he would have been translated into the highest heavens in the presence of God where he would enter Sabbath Rest (Genesis 2/Ez. 28:14 and the mountain of God). When Christ finished his wilderness sojourn, he ascended into that very reality of Sabbath Rest—rest the first Adam did not enter (Heb. 1:3; 8:2, 5; 9:23–24; 10:12; 12:24; 4:9–10). Christ, as ascended, has entered rest—a rest he in the process of conferring on the church in this age (4:3) and will bring to consummation in the age to come (4:9–11).

The whole point of the land of Canaan in Hebrews—the way it relates to this big-picture creational concern—is that it was a place of rest (Psalm 95:7–11 is quoted in Hebrews 3:7–11). Israel was seeking to leave the wilderness and enter into the “rest” of God in Canaan. Canaan was a local, earthly expression of a corresponding heavenly Sabbath Rest (95:11/Genesis 2:2 as the two theme texts in Hebrews 3 and 4).

Canaan was an earthly type of Sabbath Rest, and some in Israel failed to enter the earthly typical land of rest because they lacked faith in the promised Messiah (Heb. 3:19). In a parallel way, the author of Hebrews grounds his exhortation that the church in this age press on to Sabbath Rest by faith in the ascended Messiah, so that none of us fail to enter that Rest.

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Theophany: A Biblical Theology of God’s Appearing

Dr. Vern Poythress speaks with us about his book, Theophany: A Biblical Theology of God’s Appearing, published by Crossway. Each time God appears to his people throughout the Bible—in the form of a thunderstorm, a man, a warrior, a chariot, etc.—he comes to a specific person for a specific purpose. And each of these temporary appearances— called theophanies—helps us to better understand who he is, anticipating his climactic, permanent self-revelation in the incarnation of Christ.

Describing the various accounts of God’s visible presence from Genesis to Revelation, Dr. Poythress helps us consider more deeply what they reveal about who God is and how he dwells with us today.

We also spoke about the upcoming Westminster Conference on Science & Faith to be held April 6–7, 2018 at Proclamation Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (see map). They will explore the relationship between theistic evolution and the Christian faith. Register at wcosaf.com.

Dr. Poythress is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

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How the Second Century Shaped the Future of the Church

Michael J. Kruger joins us to speak about his book, Christianity at the Crossroads: How the Second Century Shaped the Future of the Church in which he examines how Christianity took root in the second century, how it battled to stay true to the vision of the apostles, and how it developed in ways that would shape both the church and Western culture over the next two thousand years.

Dr. Kruger is President and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is the author of several books including, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Crossway, 2012), The Early Text of the New Testament (Oxford, 2012; edited with Charles Hill), and The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate.

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March 2018 Book Update

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Vos Group #44 — Totemism

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 174–175 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider totemism and Vos’s deep critique of biblicistic modernism. Totemism seeks to explain the distinction between the clean and the unclean by way of “a form of superstition” rooted in “savage tribes and families” who offered worship to certain animals and plants.

Biblicism is any approach to reading Scripture that does not take the creeds and confessions of the church as normed norms that faithfully and accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture, over against heresy and heterodoxy as it has arisen in various forms. You can be either a liberal or conservative, and you can still be a biblicist—it is no respecter of persons in that regard.

Modernism is that movement associated with the Enlightenment, rooted in Kantian philosophy, that seeks a de-supernaturalized history understood as a neutral realm of facts that leads toward an ethical ideal of true humanity (Schleiermacher is central in this regard). Modernists also take the Bible to be like any other historically conditioned book and thus an expression of community biography, rather than a history of progressive, organic, supernatural, covenantal revelation. In other words, modernism represents a neutral, anti-supernaturalistic, religion of ethics. It is Pelagianism come to historical self-consciousness—or come to consciousness of a purely immanent, natural, philosophy of history (Albrect Ritschl is a key figure here).

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The Drama of Preaching

Dr. Eric Watkins, Pastor of Covenant OPC in St. Augustine, Florida, joins Jim Cassidy, Chris Hartshorn, and Dale Van Dyke for a discussion on his book, The Drama of Preaching: Participating with God in the History of Redemption. Dr. Watkins explains how the idea of drama informs our understanding of peaching. Preaching is the telling of God’s drama of redemption in which believers find themselves as active participants. He further explains how the drama motif gives the church a ready entry point with a postmodern world in which story is so highly valued.

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