Natural Theology and the Immediate Knowledge of God

The idea of natural theology has been much debated. One’s understanding regarding the project of natural theology will inevitably impact substantially one’s apologetic methodology and epistemology.

K. Scott Oliphint and James Dolezal visit the Reformed Forum studio to discuss natural theology. Michael Sudduth’s book The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology (Burlington: Ashgate, 2009) will act as the foil of the discussion. The book is in the Ashgate “Philosophy of Religion” series edited by Paul Helm and Linda Zagzebski.

In The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology Sudduth identifies three main categories in the world of Reformed objections to natural theology: objections from the immediacy of our knowledge of God, the noetic effects of sin, and the logic of theistic arguments. While recognizing various forms of natural theology, Sudduth argues that none of the main Reformed objections are successful against the project of natural theology itself.

The foundation for Sudduth’s book was laid in his 1996 D.Phil. dissertation at the University of Oxford. In that work, Sudduth attempted “to synthesize the Reformed epistemology of Alvin Plantinga and features of the evidentialist tradition with its emphasis on natural theology – rational arguments for the existence and nature of God.” (Sudduth, Preface) The book is even titled after Plantinga’s 1980 paper of the same title.


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Is it Lecturing or Preaching?

The Christ the Center panel met with Anthony Selvaggio, a teaching elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY, a visiting professor of New Testament at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, a practicing attorney and author of many books and articles, about the necessity of remembering that ministers are called to preach to real people. Additionally the panel discussed the relationship of redemptive historical preaching to exemplary and experimental preaching. Finally, the panel discussed the obligation of pastors to avoid plagiarism when citing sources. All in all, this was a fascinating discussion about the central calling of the pastoral ministry.

The discussion begins with an article Anthony for Reformation21 titled Preaching to People?

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Apologetics and Systematic Theology in the Thought of Van Til

The Christ the Center panelists engage Dr. K. Scott Oliphint, professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, in a wide-ranging discussion about Cornelius Van Til and the recent publication of th fourth edition of his The Defense of the Faith . Dr. Oliphint, who is arguably the most authoritative expert on Van Til, shares about the historical context which gave rise to this book, including disputes with individuals connected with Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, and what is now Kuyper College, in the 1950s concerning common grace and philosophical idealism. Much of the material in the original edition of the book that evinced this debate was removed in subsequent editions and has now been restored and amply expanded with a helpful introduction and explanatory notes. Of special interest is the discussion of Van Til’s connection with Reformed Scholasticism and Herman Bavinck through his doctrine of analogy. When all is said and done, it comes down to this: Van Til was simply applying orthodox Reformed theology to apologetics. (more…)

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Types of Preaching Through History

The Christ the Center panel, ably augmented by Glen Clary, pastor of Immanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church of West Collingswood, NJ, had the privilege of sitting down and chatting with Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old, the John H. Leith Professor of Reformed Theology and Worship at Erskine Theological Seminary and dean of its Institute for Reformed Worship, about his latest book, volume seven in the profoundly learned and helpful series The Reading and the Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. While the conversation included discussion of various types of preaching and the oral (versus written) form of preaching, the focus of the conversation was on the importance of lectio continua or the consecutive exposition of Scripture, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Christ the Center is pleased to offer this episode as a reminder to us all of the centrality of preaching, especially preaching as worship.

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Keeping up on the Biblical Languages

Miles Van Pelt, Associate Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS speaks about the importance of the original languages for biblical study. Miles has helped produce several popular books and resources for original language study including Basics of Biblical Hebrew and Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew. Dr. Van Pelt encourages pastors and scholars to a renewed sense of the importance and efficacy of biblical study in Greek and Hebrew.

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