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The Wonderful Works of God

Carlton Wynne and Charles Williams speak about the new edition of Herman Bavinck’s The Wonderful Works of God published by Westminster Seminary Press. The book was first published in English under the title, Our Reasonable Faith. The new edition is re-typeset and includes an introduction by Dr. Wynne, Bavinck’s original introduction translated by Nathaniel Gray Sutanto, and helpful indices collected by Charles Williams.

Carlton Wynne is assistant professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA.

Charles Williams is pastor of Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, Illinois.


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Vos Group #60 — The Intra-Mental State of the Prophet

We turn to pages 224–229 of Vos’s book, Biblical Theology, to speak about the intra-mental state of the prophet, by which Vos means to inquire into “how the soul felt and reacted under the things shown within the vision” (p. 224).

Far too much attention has been given to what is represented by the Greek term ecstasis. The term served first as a translation of the Hebrew tardemah (cf. Gen. 2:21 with Adam and Genesis 15:12 with Abram). In Adam’s case, there is no visionary state. In Abram’s case, there is such a vision (expound the theology of the theophany). But tardemah does not throw any light on Abram’s state of mind.

Ecstasis, on the other hand, has a very definite conception in Greek consciousness that leads in the direction of error. That conception is that of “insanity or mania” and was applied to the oracular process—the process of receiving visions and the resultant state in which it put the seer-prophet. This led to a close association between the prophet and some feature of instability—some manic tendency that seems inherent to the process of receiving a vision.

Vos points us to God’s inspired, inerrant, and infallible revelation in history, which does not bypass the human mind or allow the recipient to escape his humanity, but elevates him to greater communion with God.


2019 Highlights

Since Christ the Center began nearly twelve years ago, we have taken time to look back on the highlights of the year. Given that we now post highlights from each episode every week we have taken an analytic approach. These are this year’s top ten clips from Christ the Center as determined by YouTube views.

  1. Episode 614 — Bracy Hill, Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter
  2. Episode 600 — Glen Clary, Praying in Tongues
  3. Episode 580 — Camden Bucey, Liberation Theology
  4. Episode 603 — Cornelis Venema, Karl Barth and the Doctrine of Election
  5. Episode 600 — Glen Clary, What Is Cessationism?
  6. Episode 598 — Christopher Watkin, The Problem of the One and Many
  7. Episode 603 — Cornelis Venema, Augustine and Pelagius
  8. Episode 578 — Carl Trueman, Luther and Zwingli at Marburg
  9. Episode 619 — Alan Strange and Brian DeJong, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the United Reformed Churches in North America
  10. Episode 613 — Will Wood, Schools of Biblical Criticism

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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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Bavinck’s Christian Worldview

James Eglinton, Nathaniel Gray Sutanto, and Cory Brock speak about Herman Bavinck’s book, Christian Worldview. Sutanto, Eglinton, and Brock together have translated and edited this work and Crossway has brought it to print for the first time in English.

In the book, Herman Bavinck deals with pastoral concerns that arose within a culture that exchanged modernistic certainty for an appreciation of the unrecognizable and unknowable. Apart from the triune God revealed in Scripture, the culture was grasping for meaning.

Christian Worldview marks a new phase in his theological development. He spent the 1880s and 90s in Kampen wherein his main dialogue partners were liberal Protestants or materialist atheists. In 1900, two years before Bavinck moved to the Free University in Amsterdam, Friedrich Nietzsche died and something of a cult of his ideas developed in the Netherlands. Bavinck sought to address these new theological concerns. He developed a wholistic vision of all things and a wholistic way of living. He situated science and wisdom under a broader category of “worldview.”

Nathaniel Gray Sutanto is a teaching elder at Covenant City Church in Jakarta, Indonesia, and an adjunct faculty member at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of God and Knowledge: Herman Bavinck’s Theological Epistemology.

James Eglinton is the Meldrum Lecturer in Reformed Theology at New College, University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Trinity and Organism, Herman Bavinck on Preaching and Preachers and Bavinck: A Critical Biography (forthcoming from Baker Academic).

Cory C. Brock serves as minister of young adults and college at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, and is an adjunct professor of theology at Belhaven University.


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Socinianism

Carl Trueman joins us to speak about Socinianism, a non-Trinitarian system of doctrine that arose out of the Radical Reformation and developed in Poland during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was named for the Italian uncle/nephew tandem of Lelio and Fausto Sozzini (Latin: Socinus). While the label is not commonly used in our current historical context, Socinianism developed into contemporary Unitarianism. The Socinian system of doctrine is summarized in The Racovian Catechism.

Dr. Carl Trueman is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania and the author of numerous books, including The Creedal Imperative. Along with Aimee Byrd and Todd Pruitt, he is a contributor to the Mortification of Spin podcast.


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Faithful and Fruitful Ordained Ministry

Healthy churches have healthy elders and deacons. When a local congregation is blessed with faithful officers the results are bountiful (Acts 6:7). William Boekestein and Steven Swets speak about ordained ministry in its manifold dimensions. Boekestein and Swets have edited, Faithful and Fruitful: Essays for Elders and Deacons (Reformed Fellowship), which provides current and future church leaders with an exciting opportunity of personal development. 

Like its companion (Called to Serve), this collection of essays offers biblical and practical essays written by seasoned churchmen drawing upon a wealth of leadership knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Engaging study questions for each essay can help readers make the most of the Bible’s instruction and encouragement for those tasked with the responsibility and privilege of leading Christ’s church.


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