The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine

We speak with Dr. Stephen G. Myers about Ebenezer Erskine and the important events of Presbyterian history with which he was involved.Dr. Myers is Professor of Historical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In his book, Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition: The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine, he touches upon many significant issues, including the Marrow Controversy, the relationship of law and grace, covenant theology, and church-state relations. In learning about this era of Presbyterian history, we come to understand how Erskine also serves to refine modern understandings of still controversial theological issues.

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Pastoral Care During the Reformation

William VanDoodewaard speaks to us about Martin Bucer, John Knox, and the development of pastoral care during the Reformation. Dr. VanDoodewaard is professor of church history at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of 1 & 2 Peter: Feed My Sheep (Welwyn Commentary Series), The Quest for the Historical Adam, and The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition.

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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.

Dissertations/Theses Mentioned

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Warfield and True Church Unity

Jeff Stivason joins us to speak about his article, “Benjamin B. Warfield and True Church Unity,” published in the Westminster Theological Journal 79 (2017): 327–43. He argues that Warfield developed a theology that requires the existence of denominations. Jeff is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA) in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania and has joined us previously to speak about Warfield on the mode of inspiration.

Abstract

This article examines Benjamin B. Warfield’s view of church unity. Though the research explores the entire corpus of Warfield’s body of work, the primary exploration encompasses the exegesis of two articles that are almost identical and yet separated by fourteen years, “True Church Unity: What It Is,” and “Christian Unity and Church Union; Some Primary Principles.” The teaching of these writings substantiate the following claim: the progressive and constructive nature of Warfield’s understanding of theology requires the existence of denominations. The article proceeds in the following manner. First, the research focuses on Warfield’s understanding of what church unity was not according to the apostolic church. Second, having understood the unity in the negative, the article moves on to observe the ground and nature of ecclesiastical unity in the apostolic church as understood by Warfield. The third point explores the progressive and constructive nature of systematic theology and how it applies to Warfield’s understanding of ecclesiastical unity. In this point, the idea of unity and the legitimacy of denominational separation is explored and substantiated from Warfield’s perspective. The fourth and final point gives attention to the minimalism that has the power to eclipse the church’s visible unity. In particular, the failure to engage in theological inquiry grounded upon the Scriptures will hinder and even destroy the unity of the church.

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Hermeneutics in Light of Christ’s Relationship to His Body

Matthew Patton speaks about Augustine’s hermeneutical principle totus Christus, which recognizes an interpretive role for the Church in that the “whole Christ” (head and body) serves as the eschatological fulfillment of the Old Testament. Dr. Patton delivered a paper titled, “Totus Christus as Hermeneutical Key for a Christian Reading of Jeremiah,” at the 2017 National Convention of the Evangelical Theological Society. Rev. Dr. Patton is the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Vandalia, Ohio. Dr. Patton is the author of Deuteronomy: A 12-Week Study in Crossway’s Knowing the Bible series.

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Jonathan Edwards on God’s Involvement in Creation

Jeff Waddington speaks about his chapter in the new festschrift for Vern Poythress, Redeeming the Life of the Mind (Crossway). Jeff’s chapter, titled, “Jonathan Edwards on God’s Involvement in Creation,” is an examination of “Miscellanies,” no. 1263. Jeff examines four theological and philosophical themes in Edwards’s doctrine: Trinitarian-theistic idealism, occasionalism, and continuous creation. A fourth element in Edwards’s understanding of God’s relation to creation is his apparent embrace of the analogia entis or chain of being.

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