Buswell and Van Til

David Owen Filson joins us to speak about Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, theologian and former president of Wheaton College and Covenant College and Seminary. Buswell was involved with the early modernist-fundamentalist controversy and the founding of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, though he joined the Bible Presbyterian Church when it split with the fledgling OPC over premillennialism and teetotalism. He continued to be an interlocutor with members of the OPC and faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Interestingly, he coined the term “presuppositionalism” while debating with Cornelius Van Til over apologetic and theological method.

Dr. Filson is teaching pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He previously spoke on the subject in episode 316, January 17, 2014

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The Trinity, Language, and Human Behavior

Pierce Taylor Hibbs speaks about language and the Trinity. His book, The Trinity, Language, and Human Behavior: A Reformed Exposition of the Language Theory of Kenneth L. Pike is available in P&R Publishing’s Reformed Academic Dissertations series. Hibbs describes Kenneth Pike’s linguistic theory and compares it to the theology of Cornelius Van Til, demonstrating shared Trinitarian themes.

Pierce Hibbs is the Assistant Director of the Theological English Department at Westminster Theological Seminary. He writes at wordsfortheologians.org.

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The Free Offer of the Gospel

In this episode, we speak about the free offer of the gospel. The real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men. This issue was related to several theological controversies of the 1940s and stemming back decades earlier. Much of this particular issue comes the split of 1924 within the Christian Reformed Church which led to the formation of the Protestant Reformed Church under the leadership of Herman Hoeksema.

For some, the antithesis is so absolutized that there can be no real transition from wrath to grace and no free offer of the gospel. Cornelius Van Til spoke of the antithesis as an ethical rather than metaphysical antithesis. In a letter to Jesse de Boer, he indicated that it was merely another way to speak of total depravity.

As we walk through a study committee report delivered to the 15th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, we are confronted with the great mystery of God’s will and his infallible revelation to us in Scripture.

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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.

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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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