What We Celebrate at Christmas

The following is from Ligonier Ministries Blog 

In this excerpt from What Did Jesus Do?R.C. Sproul reminds us that what we really celebrate at Christmas is the incarnation of God Himself.

Transcript

“What we celebrate at Christmas is not so much the birth of a baby, as important as that is, but what’s so significant about the birth of that particular baby is that in this birth we have the incarnation of God Himself. An incarnation means a coming in the flesh. We know how John begins His gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So in that very complicated introductory statement, he distinguishes between the Word and God, and then in the next breath identifies the two, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then at the end of the prologue, he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Now in this “infleshment,” if you will, of Christ appearing on this planet, it’s not that God suddenly changes through a metamorphosis into a man, so that the divine nature sort of passes out of existence or comes into a new form of fleshiness. No, the incarnation is not so much a subtraction as it is an addition, where the eternal second person of the Trinity takes upon Himself a human nature and joins His divine nature to that human nature for the purpose of redemption.

In the 19th century, liberal scholars propounded a doctrine called the kenotic theory of the incarnation, and you may have heard it, the idea being that when Jesus came to this earth, He laid aside His divine attributes so that the God-man at least touching His deity no longer had the divine attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and all the rest. But of course, that would totally deny the very nature of God, who is immutable. Even in the incarnation, the divine nature does not lose His divine attributes. He doesn’t communicate them to the human side. He doesn’t deify the human nature, but in the mystery of the union between the divine and the human natures of Jesus, the human nature is truly human. It’s not omniscient. It’s not omnipotent. It’s none of those things. But at the same time, the divine nature remains fully and completely divine. B. B. Warfield, the great scholar at Princeton, in remarking on the kenotic theory of his day said, “The only kenosis that that theory proves is the kenosis of the brains of the theologians who are propagating it.”—that they’ve emptied themselves of their common sense.

But in any case, what is emptied is glory, privilege, exaltation. Jesus in the incarnation makes Himself of no reputation. He allows His own divine exalted standing to be subjected to human hostility and human criticism and denial. “He took the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men.” This is an amazing thing that He doesn’t just come as a man, He comes as a slave. He comes in a station that carries with it no exaltation, no dignity, only indignity. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient even to the point of death,” the shameful death of the cross.”

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Dr. Oliphint On Christianity and Philosophy

The following video selections come from the Westminster Theological Seminary videos on Vimeo Source:   http://vimeo.com/westminsterts/videos The goal here is to gather and create awareness of the videos related to this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Notice any familiar faces in the framed photos behind him? 😉

Van Til interacting with Bavinck and Calvin on Natural Theology

Herman Bavinck
Herman Bavinck

According to Bavinck apologetics cannot precede systematics. A true apologetics, he says, presupposes dogma. 5 There is in Christian dogmatics no place for reason as an agency by which, independently of the truth of Christianity, a natural theology may be established. The Roman Catholics are mistaken when they seek to work out a natural theology independently of Scriptures. There was a time, says Bavinck, when Reformed theologians also fell into this mistake. So, for instance, S. Van Til divided his work on theology into two parts, one dealing with natural and one with revealed theology. 6 But all this, says Bavinck, was due to false philosophical influences upon theology. He wants to return to the position of Calvin for whom Scripture was the eyeglass through which the Christian should read the book of nature. 7 “Originally natural theology did not serve the purpose of gradually leading up to revealed theology. In studying natural theology, theologians did not provisionally adopt the position of reason in order by reasoning and proof to climb up to the position of faith. On the contrary, the theologian stood upon the position of faith and in the attitude of faith looked upon nature, and thus with his Christian eye, and by means of Scripture, he would find traces of that God which from the Scriptures and through Christ he had learned to know as his heavenly Father.” 8 To this he adds: “Even if there is a knowledge of God through nature, this does not mean that there are two principles in dogmatics. Dogmatics has only one principium externum, namely, the Scriptures, and only one principium internum, namely, the believing reason.” 9 – Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, Chapter 5, A. The Position of Herman Bavinck

5 p. 38.
6 p. 95.
7 p. 73.
8 p. 74.
9 p. 74.

“If God is Good, Why is There Suffering and Evil?”

Special thanks to Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church for making these video resources by Dr. Scott Oliphint available for free on YouTube.

Thanks to the people running the Westminster Theological Seminary facebook page for the announcement.

We are blessed to live in a period of time in history where sharing of information is so fast, easy, and simple.  I graduated from high school a couple of years before Windows 95 released, and my family could not afford a computer pre-Windows (IBM anyone?). I bought my first computer (a used one) around 1997-98. I cannot remember if we had internet access right away, I do know when we did, we had a 56k dial up modem. Fast forward about 14 years…

My first  (and only) son was born in December of last year, and he will grow up not knowing what it was like before all the high tech gadgets and technology. Even after all these years, I am still amazed sometimes how far technology has come along in a short time,  especially having grown up without a computer or the internet.

The Sovereignty of Grace by Cornelius Van Til

G.C. Berkouwer
G.C. Berkouwer

In 1969 P&R published a relatively short  booklet by Cornelius Van Til entitled “The Sovereignty of Grace: An Appraisal of G. C. Berkhower’s View of Dordt”. For thought, the following quote is part of the conclusion:

“Berkouwer was therefore leading us forward when, in his earlier works, he constantly pointed out that the Reformed doctrine of Scripture and the Reformed doctrine of salvation by grace alone as involved in one another stand alone in their final opposition to those who start from human subject as though it were autonomous.

In his later works, however, Berkouwer is making an alliance with those whose theology is, in the last analysis, based on the assumption of human autonomy. Admitting that Barth’s “revised supralapsarianism blocks the way to ascribing decisive significance to history,” Berkouwer none-the-less insists that his “main concern is in speak of the all-conquering grace of God in Christ Jesus.” Barth denies, as basically destructive of the gospel of free grace, that which Berkouwer, in his earlier work, stressed as being foundational to all true theology, namely, the direct revelation of God in history through Scripture and the step-by-step redemptive work of Christ in history. Yet, Berkouwer now considers Barth as a fellow-defender of grace.

Not only this. Berkouwer now advocates principles similar to those of Barth and of neo-orthodoxy as though through them alone we can defend the teaching of free grace.

Yet Berkouwer appears not to be certain of himself in his advocacy of the neo-orthodox pattern of thought, as a new and better way. Committed as he is to the historic Christian position of salvation through the work of Christ in history, he halts and objects when Barth goes too far in rejecting this.

When Reformed Christians today read Berkouwer, they should realize that there are two mutually destructive principles operative in his theology. There is the position of the historic Reformed Faith and there is the position that would go beyond the first position by means of a modern existentialist pattern of thought. The first position is now gradually being snowed under. It is now said to be formalist and determinist.”

The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought

The Reformed Pastor & Modern Thought“The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought” published in 1971. This is an interesting and important work, as relevant today as ever. In the first chapter Dr. Van Til primarily discusses Reformed apologetics in relation to John Calvin’s Institutes. The second chapter dealing with Roman Catholicism, also deals with classic Greek philosophers, contrasting Thomas Aquinas with John Calvin. Chapter three deals with the philosophy and religion of Immanuel Kant and his influence within Protestantism. Chapter four is an analysis of Richard Kroner and Paul Tillich. Chapter five is a response to modern Catholicism. The last chapter six is a response to the modern ecumenical movement.

PREFACE

“This little volume is designed to aid the Reformed pastor in his work of helping high school and college students face the challenge to their faith presented in their classes on science, philosophy, and religion.

To be able to help his young people the Reformed pastor must himself have some acquaintance with modern science, modern philosophy, and modern religion. But, more than that, he must see clearly for himself that unless science, philosophy, and religion frankly build upon the authority of Christ, speaking his Word in Scripture, they can offer no coherent interpretation of life. Modern thought has repeatedly, in attempting to explain reality, shown its own incoherence.

The first chapter sets out to deal comprehensively with the relation of Christianity to modern thought. It can be read as a complete unit by itself and is, as such, the basis of what follows.

The second chapter deals with traditional Catholicism, the third with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant as the basic source of modern Protestantism, the fourth with modern Protestantism and its relation to twentieth century philosophy, the fifth with modern Catholicism, and the sixth with Ecumenism. In each case the effort is made to show the Reformed pastor how he may relate himself to these movements. The argument of the book is that only the Reformed faith can truly present the gospel as a challenge to modern unbelief.”