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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Van Til and Scholasticism

This episode was recorded just prior to our 2017 Theology Conference on The Reformation of Apologetics. We discuss the theological approach of scholasticism as it pertains to Thomas Aquinas, the Reformers, and Cornelius Van Til.

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Apologetics and the Five Solas

This episode was recorded live at our 2017 Theology Conference on The Reformation of Apologetics. In celebration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation and the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Cornelius Van Til, we consider the connection between Reformed apologetics and the five solas.

The solas summarize the theological principles of the Reformation, and while one may not consider apologetics to be a major discipline of the Reformation, we seek to show how the Reformation dictates a consistent apologetic method. We contend that to be a covenantal apologist, one must be a Reformed theologian. Moreover, to be a consistent Reformed theologian, one must be a covenantal apologist.

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The Image of God: Then and Now

Camden Bucey and Jeff Waddington discuss the image of God and whether man retains the image after the fall into sin. Man was made in the image of God, yet there has been a change in humanity that was brought about through the Fall into sin. We must negotiate what that change entails and whether or not it has led to a loss of the image.

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Cracking the Foundation of the New Perspective on Paul

Dr. Robert J. Cara speaks about his book, Cracking the Foundation of the New Perspective on Paul: Covenantal Nomism versus Reformed Covenantal Theology (Mentor, 2017), which is published in the Reformed Exegetical and Doctrinal Series. The New Perspective on Paul is broadly united on its view of the theology contained in Second Temple Jewish literature. Arguing that these documents do not contain a doctrine of works righteousness, Paul certainly cannot be arguing against such a view—quite simply because it didn’t exist.

Dr. Cara examines the Jewish sources and “cracks the foundation” of the NPP by demonstrating how they incorporate meritorious works and thus establish the traditional Protestant view of Paul and his doctrine of justification. Dr. Cara is Provost, Chief Academic Officer, and Hugh and Sallie Reaves Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary.

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