Interpreting Genesis 1–3

Dr. Vern Poythress speaks about the hermeneutical issues of interpreting Genesis 1–3 and how biblical interpretation relates to contemporary scientific study.

Dr. Poythress is Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Biblical Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary and the author of Interpreting Eden: A Guide to Faithfully Understanding and Reading Genesis 1–3 (Crossway). The publisher writes:

Christians have long discussed and debated the first three chapters of the Bible. How we interpret this crucial section of Scripture has massive implications for how we understand the rest of God’s Word and even history itself. In this important volume, biblical scholar Vern Poythress combines careful exegesis with theological acumen to illuminate the significance of Genesis 1–3. In doing so, he demonstrates the sound interpretive principles that lead to true understanding of the biblical text, while also exploring complex topics such as the nature of time, the proper role of science, interpretive literalism, and more.


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Van Til in Colombia

Jim Cassidy speaks about his recent trip to Colombia to lecture on Van Til’s apologetic. Jim, Glen, and Camden also speak about books they are currently reading or have read.

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On Richard Dawkins

Dr. Ransom Poythress has written Richard Dawkins in P&R Publishing’s Great Thinkers series. Poythress speaks about Richard Dawkins’s system of thought. Since the early 2000s, Dawkins has been an outspoken advocate of what has been termed the New Atheism. Poythress discusses Dawkins’s beliefs and advocates methods for approaching those who believe likewise. Dr. Poythress is assistant professor of biology at Houghton College in Houghton, New York.


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The Marburg Colloquy

Carl Trueman speaks about the Marburg Colloquy, a meeting called by Philip I of Hesse to unite the Protestant states in a political alliance. To accomplish such a union, he sought theological agreement between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli. While Luther and Zwingli could agree on fourteen theological points laid out at the meeting, they could not come to terms on the real presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.

Dr. Trueman is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College.


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The Deacon

Dr. Cornelis Van Dam, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament at Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, joins us to speak about the biblical office of deacon and the Church’s responsibility to provide for those in need.

Dr. Van Dam has written The Deacon: Biblical Foundations for Today’s Ministry of Mercy (Reformation Heritage Books, 2016). In this excellent book, Van Dam addresses the office of deacon, including the Old Testament background, New Testament times, the history of ancient, medieval, and Reformation practice, and the current functioning of the office.

Dr. Van Dam has also written The Elder: Today’s Ministry Rooted in All of Scripture (P&R Publishing). His bibliography is available online through the seminary.


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Justification Accomplished and Applied

Today we provide an introduction to the doctrine of justification with a consideration of several basic categories. We begin with a confessional doctrine of justification from the Westminster Standards. We then consider justification’s relationship to faith. Then we turn to the believer’s relationship to the person and work of Christ and consider how we are united to him. Finally, we speak about the relationship of that union to faith.

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 11—Of Justification

1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.


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2018 Highlights

As is our annual custom, we’ve selected several clips from the episodes we released over the last year. We spoke with many people and had many fascinating conversations. I hope we’ll pique your interest, and you’ll go back to listen to many of the full conversations represented by these highlights.

Thank you to everyone who visited reformedforum.org/donate throughout the year. We are tremendously grateful for your generous support. Be assured that we’re setting the stage for another big year as our board continues to think and pray about our next steps.

We’re looking forward to another full year of Christ the Center. January 25 marked our 10th anniversary. Jeff, Jim, and I recorded that first episode during my first year in seminary—three homes and three children ago. Things have changed over the years, but our goal has stayed the same. Our mission is to present every person mature in Christ (Col. 1:28).

Episodes

  • 524 — Marcus Mininger, Uncovering the Theme of Revelation in Romans 1:16–3:26
  • 533 — Michael Kruger, How the Second Century Shaped the Future of the Church
  • 540 — The Nature of Apostasy in Hebrews 6
  • 542 — Bill Dennison, Karl Marx
  • 551 — The Impeccability of Jesus Christ
  • 555 — Darryl Hart, Still Protesting
  • 556 — The Deeper Protestant Conception
  • 566 — Glen Clary, The Liturgies of Bucer, Calvin, and Knox
  • 570 — Danny Olinger, Geerhardus Vos: Reformed Biblical Theologian, Confessional Presbyterian
  • 571 — Cory Brock and Nathaniel Gray Sutanto, Bavinck’s Philosophy of Revelation

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Vos Group #51 — The History of Prophetism: Critical Theories

In this installment of #VosGroup, we turn to pages 198–199 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider critical theories of prophetism. We extend and amplify the material in these pages more than usual by connecting Vos’s teaching to the theology of Karl Barth and other modernist approaches.

Broadly, the term can be associated with “instrument of revelation” and this is so important to note. For Vos, contra Barth, there is a direct, organic disclosure of God’s revealed truth in our calendar-time history. It is not in a distinct, third-time dimension that Barth calls Geschichte that “revelation” occurs. For Barth, revelation is Jesus Christ in a distinct time dimension, God’s third time for us, that “revelation” occurs. Revelation is Jesus Christ. The Scriptures, the prophets and calendar time history are not themselves revelation–they only point to revelation. Revelation is a “supra-historical” event in a time dimension altogether different from our calendar time.

But Vos would say this is fundamentally wrong–it is a different religious conception of “revelation” altogether. God speaks directly to Adam in the Garden of Eden in terms of positive, special, verbal revelation. God’s voice can be heard, speaking with inerrant and inescapable authority, in Eden. It is this initial self-revelation from God, in the Garden of Eden, prior to the fall, that supplies us with our conception of revelation. God both acts and speaks in calendar time history, and that special is initially given to Adam under the covenant of works. God’s revelation in nature (image of God) is by divine design subordinate to God’s revelation in positive categories. In other words, Genesis 2:7 (image of God) and Genesis 2:15–17 (Covenant) demand the idea that God reveals himself with absolute authority and clarity directly in history.

Vos says, “But the Reformed have always insisted upon it that at no point shall a recognition of the historical delivery and apprehension of truth be permitted to degenerate into a relativity of truth. The history remains a history of revelation. Its total product agrees absolutely in every respect with the sum of truth as it lies in the eternal mind and purpose of God.”


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