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Vos Group #59 — Revelation through Showing and Seeing

In this episode, we turn to pages 220–223 of Vos’s book, Biblical Theology, to discuss the reception of divine revelation through showing and seeing. The prophets were given visions and heard the Lord and angelic beings speaking to them audibly. We explore the significance of this fact with regard to our understanding of God’s progressive revelation in history.

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Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner book cover

Jeff Waddington, Glen Clary, and Lane Tipton speak with Camden Bucey about his book, Karl Rahner, and contemporary issues regarding Rahner, modern Roman Catholicism, and contemporary theology.

Arguably the most influential Catholic theologian of the twentieth century, Karl Rahner (1904–1984) developed a theology that has influenced much of post-Vatican II Catholicism and its modern inclusivist approach to missions. 

Despite his impact, little has been written on Rahner from a Reformed perspective. In this introduction and critique, Camden Bucey guides readers to an understanding of Rahner’s theology as a whole. Beginning with Rahner’s trinitarian theology, he moves through each of the traditional departments of theology to show how Rahner developed one basic idea from beginning to end.

Rahner set out to explain how God communicates himself to humanity, whom he created specifically for the purpose of fellowship with him. Once we trace this thread, we gain a deeper understanding of his thought and its reach today.

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Endorsements for the Book 

“If you want to understand present-day Roman Catholicism, you must come to terms with Vatican II (1962–65). Everything that Rome now teaches and does is filtered through it. But if you want to understand Vatican II itself, you need to know about Karl Rahner. . . . Part of the confused and naive attitude of contemporary evangelicals toward Rome depends on the lack of awareness of both Vatican II and Karl Rahner. This lucid book is a helpful introduction to this seminal Roman Catholic theologian whose language contains all the key Christian words (e.g., Trinity, Christ, humanity), but whose meaning is significantly different from that of straightforward biblical teaching. It is time that Reformed theologians do their homework in grasping what is at stake with contemporary Roman Catholicism.”

—Leonardo De Chirico, Pastor, Breccia di Roma; Lecturer, Historical Theology, IFED, Padova, Italy; Director, Reformanda Initiative 

“Roman Catholic apologists often boast about their church’s antiquity but seldom mention modern Roman Catholic theology, which often sounds as modern as liberal Protestantism. Karl Rahner, one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, whose prominence was evident at the Second Vatican Council, is one of the best examples of Roman Catholicism’s modernity. Camden Bucey’s fair-minded and careful assessment of Rahner’s theology is valuable in itself, but doubly so for anyone wanting an introduction to modern Roman Catholicism’s own contribution to liberal Christian theology.”

—D. G. Hart, Distinguished Associate Professor of History, Hillsdale College

“Though Karl Rahner is among the most significant Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, he is little known (and seldom read) by evangelical and Reformed theologians. Camden Bucey’s fine study offers an excellent summary of Rahner’s Trinitarian theology that promises to redress this problem. He not only provides a helpful explanation of Rahner’s well-known Trinitarian axiom (‘the “economic” Trinity is the “immanent” Trinity’), but also locates it within the broader context of Rahner’s anthropocentric theology. While Bucey critically engages Rahner’s theology from a Reformed perspective, he does so throughout in a careful, irenic, and constructive fashion.”

—Cornelis P. Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary


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The History of Heaven

Lane Tipton speaks about his recent conference addresses and his newly available video course, Foundations of Covenant Theology. In this conversation, we seek to address the question of the Spiritual character of the law as an administration of the Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament and set the priority for the history of heaven as a frame of reference for understanding covenant theology in general and the law’s relationship to the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace in particular.

In the beginning in Genesis 1:1, “heavens” is a reference to an archetypal temple-dwelling of God. Before God creates an earthly temple or tabernacle, he makes a heavenly temple dwelling that he fills with the glory of his Spirit and populates with angels. The earth is a replica of these invisible heavens. Prior to a history on earth per se, there is a bona fide history of heaven, which results in the Lord being enthroned in heaven at the end of the creation week. Covenant history now moves forward with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ to this throne and his return when he will bring his people into this glory.

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The History of Heaven: Paul’s Christological Interpretation of the New Beginning in 1 Corinthians 15:45–49

Dr. Lane G. Tipton delivers his second plenary address at the 2019 Reformed Forum Theology Conference held at Hope OPC in Grayslake, Illinois. In this address, he discusses Paul’s Christological interpretation of the new beginning in 1 Corinthians 15:45–49.

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Vos Group #58 — Revelation through Speech and Hearing

In this episode, we turn to pages 216–220 of Vos’s book, Biblical Theology, to discuss the reception of divine revelation through speech and hearing. Vos treats this topic because, among other things, it lies at the heart of true religion. If God is not speaking, then we do not know him. If it is merely men who speak, we do not know God and therefore are not in a religious bond of covenantal fellowship with him. It is of the essence of true religion to affirm that God speaks and that prophets hear God speaking and then speak that same Word to the church. You cannot have true religion without such supernatural verbal revelation.

This requires that God speaks to the prophet before the prophet spoke. This is critical, since it utterly destroys the liberal theories that locate the actual words in human agency alone, such as the kernel theory we talked about earlier. The speaking of God is not meant in a figurative way, “but in the literal sense it appears in various ways” (p. 217).

Vos next makes a point that the verbal communication from Jehovah is both external and internal, and that internal (to the soul or audible only to the prophet) does not collapse into the “consciousness theology” and the subjectivism of the liberal concept of “revelation” where revelation simply means a heightened moral consciousness or awareness of nearness to the ethical ideal of the prophetic religion.

Vos urges us not to probe the proportion of internal and external revelation, but to accept that both forms come to the prophets, making them bearers of words that have divine authority.


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Vos Group #57 — Objective Revelation to the Prophets

We turn to pages 214–216 of Geerhardus Vos’s book, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, to discuss the kernel and divination theories of the reception of prophetic revelation. Critical scholars seek to identify human beings as the origin of the prophetic message. Vos defends the orthodox notion that God reveals himself in objective verbal revelation to the prophets, who delivered that inspired and inerrant message to the people.


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Vos Group #56 — The Mode of Reception of the Prophetic Revelation

We turn to pages 212–213 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to discuss the mode of reception of the prophetic revelation. In the fourth section of his book, Vos continues to contrast the modernist conception with that of confessional orthodoxy. He stresses that revelation does not originate naturally but is in its essence, “a real communication” from God to the prophets.

Our study of Vos is focused on biblical theology, or what Vos termed “the history of special revelation.” A modernized conception of revelation construes history as natural and mechanical in character. History is encased in patterns of natural cause and effect. It is a closed reality. For the Kantian, the mind of man imposes rational categories onto nature. Others view the mind and discovering natural and immutable laws, which don’t exhibit any variation. It is an anti-supernaturalist conception of history. For the modernist, supernatural revelation cannot exist in the sphere of natural history.

Vos, however, is unwavering in his commitment to the self-attesting word of God, which is a supernatural word from the transcendent God, who nevertheless condescends voluntarily to speak to those made in his image.


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