Vos Group #45 — Excursus: Reformed Dogmatics

Vos Group takes an excursus to discuss Vos’s Reformed Dogmatics. In this series, like all of his works, Vos presents the “deeper Protestant conception” of covenantal union and communion with the Triune God. We discuss how the immutable Creator does not change in the freely willed “new relation” to creation—only creation does, and that the Roman Catholic view of the image cannot deliver the “essence” of religion, which is communion with God.

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Eden, Canaan, and the Heavenly Temple Dwelling of God

Eden and Canaan are earthly projections that both reveal yet veil the glory of the heavenly dwelling place of God. Had Adam passed probation, he would have been translated into the highest heavens in the presence of God where he would enter Sabbath Rest (Genesis 2/Ez. 28:14 and the mountain of God). When Christ finished his wilderness sojourn, he ascended into that very reality of Sabbath Rest—rest the first Adam did not enter (Heb. 1:3; 8:2, 5; 9:23–24; 10:12; 12:24; 4:9–10). Christ, as ascended, has entered rest—a rest he in the process of conferring on the church in this age (4:3) and will bring to consummation in the age to come (4:9–11).

The whole point of the land of Canaan in Hebrews—the way it relates to this big-picture creational concern—is that it was a place of rest (Psalm 95:7–11 is quoted in Hebrews 3:7–11). Israel was seeking to leave the wilderness and enter into the “rest” of God in Canaan. Canaan was a local, earthly expression of a corresponding heavenly Sabbath Rest (95:11/Genesis 2:2 as the two theme texts in Hebrews 3 and 4).

Canaan was an earthly type of Sabbath Rest, and some in Israel failed to enter the earthly typical land of rest because they lacked faith in the promised Messiah (Heb. 3:19). In a parallel way, the author of Hebrews grounds his exhortation that the church in this age press on to Sabbath Rest by faith in the ascended Messiah, so that none of us fail to enter that Rest.

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Vos Group #44 — Totemism

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 174–175 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider totemism and Vos’s deep critique of biblicistic modernism. Totemism seeks to explain the distinction between the clean and the unclean by way of “a form of superstition” rooted in “savage tribes and families” who offered worship to certain animals and plants.

Biblicism is any approach to reading Scripture that does not take the creeds and confessions of the church as normed norms that faithfully and accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture, over against heresy and heterodoxy as it has arisen in various forms. You can be either a liberal or conservative, and you can still be a biblicist—it is no respecter of persons in that regard.

Modernism is that movement associated with the Enlightenment, rooted in Kantian philosophy, that seeks a de-supernaturalized history understood as a neutral realm of facts that leads toward an ethical ideal of true humanity (Schleiermacher is central in this regard). Modernists also take the Bible to be like any other historically conditioned book and thus an expression of community biography, rather than a history of progressive, organic, supernatural, covenantal revelation. In other words, modernism represents a neutral, anti-supernaturalistic, religion of ethics. It is Pelagianism come to historical self-consciousness—or come to consciousness of a purely immanent, natural, philosophy of history (Albrect Ritschl is a key figure here).

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Vos Group #43 — Uncleanness and Purification

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 173–174 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider uncleanness and purification, a deep structure of Scripture, what Vos says, “forms a fundamental conception, which . . . has entered into the permanent fabric of biblical religion.”

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Vos Group #42 — The Variety of Offerings

We continue our #VosGroup series starting on page 170–172 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider the variety of Old Testament offerings and sacrifices. Vos addresses the different types of offerings and how they relate to one another and to the eschatological plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.

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Vos Group #41 — The Meaning of Covering

We continue our #VosGroup series starting on page 166 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider the meaning of covering. Vos focuses on the meaning of expiation and demonstrates how the blood of Jesus functions with reference to sin. God covers, takes away, and obliterates the sin of his elect.

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Vos Group #40 — Vicariousness Defined

We continue our #VosGroup series by opening pages 165–166 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider the definition of vicariousness. Orthodox Christianity recognizes the vicariousness of Christ’s life and death for sinners, but what does that mean precisely? Geerhardus Vos explores several possibilities and offers the best biblical option for understanding how Jesus lived, suffered, and died for his people.

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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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