Still Protesting

Darryl G. Hart, Distinguished Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College, joins us to speak about his book, Still Protesting: Why the Reformation Matters (Reformation Heritage Books). This book addresses the divide between Protestants and Roman Catholics, considering some of the reasons that prompted the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. It emerges particularly from the context of the increasing number of Protestants who convert to Roman Catholicism, and Hart’s aim is to address some of the most frequent reasons given for abandoning Protestantism.

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Vos Group #48 — The Word as the Instrument of Prophetism

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 187–190 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider the word of God and prophetism. Prophetism is restricted to the word as its instrument. The prophetic ministry was a declarative, spiritual authority of one who speaks and writes in the words of Jehovah himself. There is the closest possible connection, then, between the prophetic office and the declaration of the Word of the Lord, as that Word is given by the superintending agency of the Spirit, who breathes out the prophetic Scriptures (cf. 1 Pet. 1:10–11; 2 Tim. 3:16). The effect of being restricted to the ministry of the Word of God was a heightening of the “spiritualizing” relation between Jehovah and Israel.

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Effectual Calling and Regeneration

Theologians often speak of regeneration, the work of the Holy Spirit to bring someone to the new birth. But the Westminster Standards speak of effectual calling as the work of the Spirit to give people new hearts, enlightening their minds and renewing their wills. Are effectual calling and regeneration the same thing? If not, how do they relate? In this episode, we discuss the relationship between these two aspects of the ordo salutis.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

Watch roughly the first half of this episode on YouTube.



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Moses and Christ in the Epistle to the Hebrews

Jim Cassidy and Camden Bucey speak about the relationship between the Old Covenant and New Covenant in the epistle to the Hebrews. Moses was a servant in God’s house, but Jesus Christ is a faithful son. Christ is the mediator of a better covenant. But we should not conclude that these covenants are unrelated. Indeed, Moses was a servant in God’s house, not a different house. The substance of the Old Covenant is Christ, and it was nothing less than his grace that was mediated to Old Covenant believers, though it was administered through promises, types, and sacrifices. We discuss the earthly things of Old Covenant worship and how they are shadows and copies of the heavenly reality to which Christ has brought his people.

The Impeccability of Jesus Christ

The impeccability of Christ is an important, though debated point. It involves not only the sinlessness of our savior, but whether it was possible for him to sin. As we consider the issue, we turn to F. W. Kremer’s article, “The Impeccability of the Lord Jesus Christ” published in Reformed Quarterly Review, Volume 26, April 1879.

We discuss the tendency to consider Christ’s humanity independently of his divinity. It’s not merely that people recognize the natures are distinct, but that they implicitly acknowledge that his humanity can be abstracted from his divinity. In the abstract, we could acknowledge that Jesus’s human nature had the capability of sinning. For example, his body was physically capable of taking a sword and murdering someone. But we cannot consider Christ’s human nature in the abstract. He is the second person of the trinity who has assumed a true body and a reasonable soul. Sin involves a moral agent. Does the human nature of Christ constitute a full moral agent apart from the person of the son? This also raises serious issues regarding God’s decree. Throughout the episode, we maintain that if it was possible for Christ to sin, it was possible for Christ to fail.

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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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Vos Group #47 — The Place of Prophetism in Old Testament Revelation

We continue our #VosGroup series in pages 185–188 of Vos’ book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to consider the unfolding of God’s plan as it moves from the period under Moses to that of the prophets. Prophetism marks an epochal movement in OT revelation. In other words, the “new happenings” of God’s mighty deeds in redemptive revelation bring enduring advancement toward consummation—each epoch builds upon and brings advancement to what has proceeded.

The new feature is “the organization of the theocratic kingdom under a human ruler” (185). God is seeking to confer himself on a holy people through a holy king in a holy theocratic realm. As such, Prophetism is a “Kingdom-Producing Movement (186–187). This is a critical point to grasp: prophetism is attached to the advancement of the theocratic kingdom. Prophetism therefore has no independent significance. Its entire rationale grows out of the producing and advancement of the theocratic kingdom of Jehovah.

This comes into even greater clarity as we recognize that the Word is the instrument of Prophetism (187–88). The essence, formally, of prophetism is that it “restricts” itself to the Word of God—the Word from the mouth of Jehovah. The Word of God “in reality did more than anything else towards the spiritualizing of the relation between Jehovah and Israel” (187).

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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 Purposes of the Lord’s Supper

The first paragraph of chapter twenty-nine in the Westminster Confession of Faith sets forth the institution of Lord’s Supper and the uses and ends for which it is designed:

Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

In this episode, we discuss the five purposes of the Lord’s Supper detailed in the confession:

  1. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper as a commemorative ordinance for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death.
  2. The Lord’s Supper is a confirmatory sign (cf. Rom. 4:11) for the purpose of sealing all the benefits procured by Christ’s death unto true believers.
  3. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for the spiritual nourishment and growth of believers in him.
  4. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for believers for their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him.
  5. Finally, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to be a bond and pledge of believers’ communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

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