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Theology in the Life of the Church

Doctrine is not optional for the body of Christ. Yet, neither is it to be pursued in abstraction. Christians must speak the truth in love, applying that truth in the changing circumstances of daily life.

Using the biblical metaphors of a shepherd and a pilgrim, Jeff Waddington and Camden Bucey comment on a variety of challenges in the ministry and the importance of presenting every person mature in Christ (Col. 1:28).


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Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism

Darryl G. Hart speaks about J. Gresham Machen’s classic work, Christianity and Liberalism. In becoming familiar the content and historical context of this book, people will gain an understanding not only of twentieth century Presbyterianism but also of global Christianity to a degree. And in contemplating the lessons of this era, people will also be better equipped to meet the challenges that face the contemporary church.

Westminster Seminary Press has issued a new edition of Machen’s classic work and has included new essays by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, the institution Machen founded in 1929 after the reorganization of the board of Princeton Seminary.

Dr. D. G. Hart is Distinguished Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College and the author or co-author of many books on American religious history, including Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American PresbyterianismDefending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern Americaand The Selected Shorter Writings of J. Gresham Machen.


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Archibald Alexander and Princeton Seminary

Travis Fentiman and James M. Garretson speak about the new book, God, Creation, and Human Rebellion: Lecture Notes of Archibald Alexander from the Hand of Charles Hodge (Reformation Heritage Books). Fentiman discovered the handwritten notes through the Internet Archive and embarked on a crowdsourcing project to transcribe the notes. Dr. Garretson contributed a wonderful introduction.

In this episode we discuss the historical context of American Presbyterianism in the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the unique contribution of Archibald Alexander, and the significance of Princeton Seminary to both American and global presbyterianism.


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The Authorship of Isaiah

The New Testament cites the book of Isaiah more than any other Old Testament book. Scripture itself treats the book as a literary work by a single author. In this episode, Will Wood, discusses critical approaches to this prophecy that tend to view the book of Isaiah as a composite work of many different people and even different groups. All the while, we will come to see that the question of authorship is not self-contained; it raises significant issues regarding fundamental matters of the faith.

Will Wood is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia.


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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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The Gospel and Self-Conception

Daniel Schrock speaks about self-conception in light of the Revoice movement and the Nashville Statement. Looking to the believers’ union with Christ in his death and resurrection, Schrock provides a way to answer questions such as, “Is it proper to speak of being gay as a Christian’s identity?” The basis of this episode is Schrock’s article, “The Gospel and Self-Conception: A Defense of Article 7 of the Nashville Statement.”


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The Doctrine of Election

Dr. Cornelis Venema speaks about the doctrine of election. His book, Chosen in Christ: Revisiting the Contours of Predestination, is available in Mentor’s Reformed, Exegetical, and Doctrinal Studies series. Venema addresses the subject from exegetical, historical, contemporary, and pastoral vantage points. In this conversation, he addresses the doctrine of election in the Old and New Testaments, the relationship between covenant and election, the polemical discourse between Augustine and Pelagius, and the revisionist doctrine of Karl Barth.

Dr. Venema is President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana. He is the author of several books, including Promise of the Future, Christ and Covenant Theology, and Children at the Lord’s Table? Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion.


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Evangelicals and Post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism

Leonardo De Chirico speaks about evangelical responses and assessments of Roman Catholicism post-Vatican II. Vatican II was an ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church held from 1962–1965 and widely interpreted as bringing the Catholic Church into a new relationship to the world and other religions.

De Chirico analyzes the several prominent evangelical scholars, including G.C. Berkouwer, Cornelius Van Til, and John Stott, in order to identify various strengths and weaknesses in evangelical perspectives on modern Roman Catholicism. De Chirico concludes that evangelicalism typically misses how two foundational aspects of Catholic theology (the relationship of nature to grace and a Christological ecclesiology) serve to undergird an entire theological system.

Leonardo De Chirico planted and pastored an Evangelical church in Ferrara (northern Italy) from 1997 to 2009. Since 2009 he has been involved in a church planting project in Rome and is now pastor of the church Breccia di Roma. He earned degrees in History (University of Bologna), Theology (ETCW, Bridgend, Wales) and Bioethics (University of Padova). His PhD is from King’s College (London) and it was published as Evangelical Theological Perspectives on Post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism (Bern-Oxford: Peter Lang 2003).


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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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