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Petrus Van Mastricht’s Theoretical and Practical Theology

Todd M. Rester speaks about the theology of Petrus Van Mastricht (1630–1706). Dr. Rester has served as a translator of Mastricht’s Theoretical-Practical Theology, which is being published by Reformation Heritage Books and edited by Dr. Joel Beeke. As of this interview, the first two volumes (Prolegomena and Faith in the Triune God) are available. Mastricht presents a theological method particularly instructive for contemporary readers, treating every theological topic according to exegetical, dogmatic, elenctic, and practical concerns.

Dr. Rester is associate professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He has served as a post-doctoral research fellow for the EU European Research Council project and at Queen’s University Belfast.

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Christian Perspectives on Sport Hunting

Dr. Bracy V. Hill, senior lecturer in history at Baylor University, speaks about Christian perspectives on sport hunting. While hunting isn’t the first thing on the minds of biblical scholars, hunting is mentioned and used in numerous metaphors throughout Scripture. One particularly mysterious account is that of Nimrod in Genesis 10. Moreover, the activity of hunting raises many important theological issues, such as man’s relationship to creation, the nature and eschatology of death, and the Christian’s directedness away from a wilderness toward a heavenly city.

Dr. Hill is co-editor of God, Nimrod, and the World: Exploring Christian Perspectives on Sport Hunting in which many of these themes are addressed. Dr. Hill is the author of many article and wrote a dissertation titled, “The Language of Dissent: The Defense of Eighteenth-Century English Dissent in the Works and Sermons of James Peirce.” He also appeared on the Meateater Podcast to discuss many of these themes but to an audience of hunters.

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Schools of Biblical Criticism

Will Wood discusses various approaches to higher criticism, including source, form, and redaction criticism. This conversation dives into a topic that was covered briefly in an episode on the authorship of Isaiah.

Biblical higher criticism demonstrates several presuppositions that are contrary to orthodox understandings of history and the Bible. For example, predictive prophecy cannot exist. As a result, there is no a priori reason in their view for the Bible to have been written in the form we now possess.

Source criticism seeks to investigate how the various Bible books came into being through the use of disparate sources.

Form criticism does not look for written precursors to biblical texts but to oral precursors. Form critics believe earlier Israelite society was pre-literate. Therefore, sources that supposedly came to comprise the Bible were passed down through different oral forms, or getungen, which help to access the sitz im leben, or setting in life of the community.

Tradition-historical criticism uses methods from both source and form criticism. It distinguishes between traditium, which is the particular tradition content passed down, and traditio, which is the process of transmission.

Redaction criticism asks how the biblical books were brought into the full text we have today. Redaction critics are not merely concerned with oral or written sources, but with the activity of a type of editor, who brought them together.


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Vos Group #58 — Revelation through Speech and Hearing

In this episode, we turn to pages 216–220 of Vos’s book, Biblical Theology, to discuss the reception of divine revelation through speech and hearing. Vos treats this topic because, among other things, it lies at the heart of true religion. If God is not speaking, then we do not know him. If it is merely men who speak, we do not know God and therefore are not in a religious bond of covenantal fellowship with him. It is of the essence of true religion to affirm that God speaks and that prophets hear God speaking and then speak that same Word to the church. You cannot have true religion without such supernatural verbal revelation.

This requires that God speaks to the prophet before the prophet spoke. This is critical, since it utterly destroys the liberal theories that locate the actual words in human agency alone, such as the kernel theory we talked about earlier. The speaking of God is not meant in a figurative way, “but in the literal sense it appears in various ways” (p. 217).

Vos next makes a point that the verbal communication from Jehovah is both external and internal, and that internal (to the soul or audible only to the prophet) does not collapse into the “consciousness theology” and the subjectivism of the liberal concept of “revelation” where revelation simply means a heightened moral consciousness or awareness of nearness to the ethical ideal of the prophetic religion.

Vos urges us not to probe the proportion of internal and external revelation, but to accept that both forms come to the prophets, making them bearers of words that have divine authority.


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Theology in the Life of the Church

Doctrine is not optional for the body of Christ. Yet, neither is it to be pursued in abstraction. Christians must speak the truth in love, applying that truth in the changing circumstances of daily life.

Using the biblical metaphors of a shepherd and a pilgrim, Jeff Waddington and Camden Bucey comment on a variety of challenges in the ministry and the importance of presenting every person mature in Christ (Col. 1:28).


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Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism

Darryl G. Hart speaks about J. Gresham Machen’s classic work, Christianity and Liberalism. In becoming familiar the content and historical context of this book, people will gain an understanding not only of twentieth century Presbyterianism but also of global Christianity to a degree. And in contemplating the lessons of this era, people will also be better equipped to meet the challenges that face the contemporary church.

Westminster Seminary Press has issued a new edition of Machen’s classic work and has included new essays by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, the institution Machen founded in 1929 after the reorganization of the board of Princeton Seminary.

Dr. D. G. Hart is Distinguished Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College and the author or co-author of many books on American religious history, including Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American PresbyterianismDefending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern Americaand The Selected Shorter Writings of J. Gresham Machen.


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Archibald Alexander and Princeton Seminary

Travis Fentiman and James M. Garretson speak about the new book, God, Creation, and Human Rebellion: Lecture Notes of Archibald Alexander from the Hand of Charles Hodge (Reformation Heritage Books). Fentiman discovered the handwritten notes through the Internet Archive and embarked on a crowdsourcing project to transcribe the notes. Dr. Garretson contributed a wonderful introduction.

In this episode we discuss the historical context of American Presbyterianism in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the unique contribution of Archibald Alexander, and the significance of Princeton Seminary to both American and global presbyterianism.


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The Authorship of Isaiah

The New Testament cites the book of Isaiah more than any other Old Testament book. Scripture itself treats the book as a literary work by a single author. In this episode, Will Wood, discusses critical approaches to this prophecy that tend to view the book of Isaiah as a composite work of many different people and even different groups. All the while, we will come to see that the question of authorship is not self-contained; it raises significant issues regarding fundamental matters of the faith.

Will Wood is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.


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Vos Group #57 — Objective Revelation to the Prophets

We turn to pages 214–216 of Geerhardus Vos’s book, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, to discuss the kernel and divination theories of the reception of prophetic revelation. Critical scholars seek to identify human beings as the origin of the prophetic message. Vos defends the orthodox notion that God reveals himself in objective verbal revelation to the prophets, who delivered that inspired and inerrant message to the people.


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