Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not chasing originality!

I smiled to see that at the celebration of his 50th anniversary at Princeton, Charles Hodge said:

"I am not afraid to say that a new idea never originated in this Seminary."

Quoted by Hoefel, Robert J., ‘B. B. Warfield and James Orr: A Study in Contrasting Approaches to Scripture’ Christian Scholar’s Review 1986 vol 16 pt 1, p42 citing A. A. Hodge, The Life of Charles Hodge (NY, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1880), p521.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not Encouraging

John Woodbridge and Randall H. Balmer have just made me feel gloomy about my present toil:

“To review the intricacies of Reformed thought concerning biblical authority in brief compass is a perilous if not impossible task.” (p254)

“The problem of selecting representative spokesmen emerges when one treats so broad an expression as “Reformed thought” or the “Reformed tradition.”” (note 25, p397)

in Carson and Woodbridge (ed.s), Scripture and Truth (Baker, 1983)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Holiday Making Again

Having returned from our happy and, I trust, successfull (if a little wearying) CPAS camp - which I think we're meant to call a Venture - on Saturday and enjoying a restful Lord's Day yesterday, we're off on an Oak Hall trip to Lake Maggiore in the Italian Alps (which looks very nice) tommorow with about 35 others.

I'll be giving 6 or 7 talks from Ephesians (d.v.), so as I've been explaining (not entirely convincingly) to my parents and sister, it's not really just meant to be a jolly a holiday for me.

I'm ashamed to say I spoke on the same stuff last year on an Oak Hall trip, but I hope my talks will be improved, even if only a little bit.

One of the great pleasures of the trips is the opportunity for sequential Bible exposition. I think the brief is to speak for 20 mins +, maybe up to 35 mins a day, with the meeting lasting not more than an hour. Think I'll start at Eph 1:1 (or 1:3!) and see how it goes. How exciting. And what treasure there is in those chapters.

...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all....

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

(Eph 1-3, ESV)

No Book Meme Links

I've still not done that one book meme thing, partly as I'm not sure I feel about that "tagging" thing, but mainly because I don't want to be exposed as ignorant! Maybe in 30 years time.

For what its worth, I've re-read Lord of the Rings a couple of times, it made me cry and I'm in favour of it, though some of the poems / songs seem skipable to me. Sorry if that adds me to the geek gang.

In the absence of my answers to the book meme thing, maybe My Amazon list - - also on the right - may be of some interest to some. You get nice pictures of most of the books and you can add up to 200 chrs of comment. The site seems a bit tempramental, though.

You may have spotted that I've added a few more links on the right too. Most of them fairly predictable. Not the most productive of days!

Friday, August 11, 2006


We're going to be absent with out lap-top for a while. Tommorow morning we disappear to "camp" - not proper camping, staying in a boarding school - to indoctrinate small children.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

BBW sounding Presuppositionalist-esque

I guess its agreed that B. B. Warfield has a strongly rational(ist?) evidentialist apologetic and Hofecker says "certainly these few words don't make Warfeild a presuppositionalist" but they seen a pretty big hint in that direction:

What is a fact that is wholly separated from what is here called "dogma"? If doctrines which stand entirely out of relation to facts are myths, lies [then] facts which have no connection with what we call doctrine could have no meaning to us whatsoever. It is what we call doctrine which gives all their significance to facts. A fact without doctrine is simply a fact not understood. That intellectual element brought by the mind to the contemplation of facts, which we call "doctrine," "theory," is the condition of any proper comprehension of facts.... so closely welded are these intellectual elements - those elements of previous knowledge, or of knowledge derived from other sources - to facts as taken up into our minds in the complex act of appreciation, that possibly we have ordinarily failed to separate them, and consequently, in our worship of what we call so fluently "the naked facts," have very little considered what a bare fact is, and what little meaning it could have for us.

Hoekkecker in Wells, David F., Reformed Theology in America: A History of its Modern Development (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1985) p80, citing Warfield, Shorter Writings, 2:230

The Walking Stick of Orthodoxy

"As Archibald Alexander, Princeton [Seminary]'s first president, approached his death, he summoned Charles Hodge to his bedside and gave him a walking stick. This stick, explained Alexander, was handed down to Hodge "as a symbol of orthodoxy." The elder Hodge [whose son, A. A. Hodge later suceeded him] fulfilled that theological mission by his dedicated leadership of Old School Presbyterians, his voluminous publications, and his diligent seminary teaching."

(W. Andrew Hoffecker, 'Benjamin B. Warfield' in David F. Wells (ed) Reformed Theology in America: A History of its Modern Development (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1985) p60 citing A. A. Hodge, Life of Charles Hodge (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1880) p382.)

Sadly Hoffecker doesn's say what became of that walking stick.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Van Til on Warfield on Scripture

Here are some highlights from Cornelius Van Til’s ‘Introduction’ (pp3-68) to Warfield, Benjamin B., The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible edited by Samuel G. Craig (Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948):

I wasn’t always crystal clear what ideas Van Til is interacting with but he’s thinking of the post-Kantian philosophy of the likes of Heidegger, Samuel Alexander, John Dewey, Whitehead, Bergson when he talks about modern principles and his interlocutors are Evgueny Lampert, Clement C J Webb, Alan Richardson and then especially Emil Brunner (as representative of dialectical theology).

“In view of all these claims it is apparent that the orthodox apologist cannot pacify the adherents of the new principle by making certain concessions. There are otherwise orthodox believers who are willing to concede that Scripture was not infallibly inspired. They seek to preserve the general historical trustworthiness of the Bible without maintaining its infallibility. Those who make such “minor concessions” will find, however, that the same objections that are raised against an infallible Bible will hold in large degree against a Bible that is essentially trustworthy in some more or less orthodox sense of the word. Those who recede from the high claim of Scriptural infallibility as maintained by Warfield to the position of maintaining the general trustworthiness of Scripture, do not in the least thereby shield themselves against the attack of the modern principle as outlined above. That principle attacks the very possibility of the existence in history of an existential system. And the orthodox advocates of the general trustworthiness of Scripture cannot afford to give up the claim of Scripture to provide such a system.” (p16f)

“We are now prepared to state the issue between the basic principle of interpretation of human life and experience that thus comes to expression in modern theology, philosophy and science and that which comes to expression in the idea of an infallible Bible as set forth by Warfield. That issue may be stated simply and comprehensively by saying that in the Christian view of things it is the self-contained God who is the final point of reference while in the case of the modern view it is the would-be self-contained man who is the final point of reference in all interpretation.” (p18)

“All too frequently Christian theology and apologetics has not been consistent with its own principles. It has sought to prove the existence of God and the propriety or necessity of believing in the Bible as the Word of God by arguments that assumed the possibility of sound and true interpretation without God and without the Bible.”

The Aquinas-Bishop Butler approach falls into:

“virtually assuming that the candle of human reason derived its light exclusively from itself they set out to prove that there was another, an even greater light than the candle, namely, the sun.” (p20)

"… there cannot be other facts than God-interpreted facts. In practice, this means that, since sin has come into the world, God’s interpretation of the facts must come in finished, written form and be comprehensive in character. God continues to reveal himself in the facts of the created world but the sinner needs to interpret every one of them in the light of Scripture.” (p22)

“The real issue is whether God exists as self-contained, whether therefore the world runs according to his plan, and whether God has confronted those who would frustrate the realization of that plan with a self-contained interpretation of that plan. The fact that Christians individually and collectively can never do more than restate the given self-contained interpretation of that plan approximately does not correlativize that plan itself or the interpretation of that plan.” (p23)

“The self-contained circle of the ontological trinity is not broken up by the fact that there is an economical relation of this triune God with respect to man. No more is the self-contained character of Scripture broken up by the fact that there is an economy of transmission and acceptance of the word of God it contains. Such at least is, or ought to be, the contention of Christians if they would really challenge the modern principle. The Christian principle must present the full force and breadth of its claim. It is compelled to engage in all-out war.” (p23)

The non-Christian philosopher now stresses “the relativity of all knowledge in any field to man as its ultimate reference point. … Christians ought not to be behind in stressing the fact that in their thinking all depends upon making God the final reference point in human predication.” (p25)

There is an all comprehensive opposition between belief and unbelief. “There is no question of agreeing on an area or dimension of reality. Reason employed by a Christian always comes to other conclusions than reason employed by a non-Christian.” (p25)

“There can be then no way of avoiding the fact that it is in the theology of Warfield, the Reformed faith, that we have the most consistent defense of the idea of the infallibility of Scripture…. it is only in a theology such as that of Warfield, a theology in which the doctrine of salvation by the grace of the sovereign God has come to something like adequate expression that the doctrine of the Bible as the infallible Word of God can, with consistency, be maintained.” (p29)

“… even prior to the entrance of sin man needed supernatural communication.” (p31?)

“… it is not because the evidence is not clear but because man has taken out his spiritual eyes that he does not, and ethically cannot, see any of the facts of the world for what they really are.” (p32)

“This is not to disparage the light of reason. It is only to indicate its total dependence upon God.” (p37)

“… all human predication is intelligible only on the presupposition of the truth of what the Bible teaches about God, man and the universe…. The Scripture offers itself as the sun by which alone men can see their experience in its true setting. The facts of nature and history corroborate the Bible when it is made clear that they fit into no frame but that which Scripture offers.” (p37)

“Christianity must claim that it alone is rational. It must not be satisfied to claim that God probably exists. Nor does it say that Christ probably rose from the dead. The Christian is bound to believe and hold that his system of doctrine is certainly true and that other systems are certainly false. And he must say this about a system of doctrine which involves the existence and sovereign action of a self-contained God whose ways are past finding out.” (p38)

“Reformed thinking claims that Christianity is reasonable. To make good its claim it shows that reason itself must be interpreted in terms of the truths of Scripture about it. It is reasonable for a creature of God to believe in God. It is unreasonable for a creature of God to set up itself as God requiring a system of interpretation in which man stands as the ultimate point of reference.” (p49)

“Having been liberated from the orthodox doctrine of an infallible Bible by higher criticism, Brunner feels that he is also liberated from all concern for internal consistency of the Bible’s testimony to Christ.” (p63)

“The prodigal is at the swine-trough but finds that he cannot as a rational creature feed himself with the husks that non-rational creatures eat. It is in this situation that the present volume goes out, beseeching the prodigal to return to the father’s house. In the father’s house are many mansions. In it alone will the “son” find refuge and food. The presupposition of all intelligible meaning for man in the intellectual, the moral and the aesthetic spheres is the existence of the God of the Bible who, if he speaks at all in grace cannot, without denying himself, but speak in a self-contained infallible fashion. Only in a return to the Bible as infallibly inspired in its autography is there hope for science, for philosophy and for theology. Without returning to this Bible science and philosophy may flourish for a while with his father’s substance. But the prodigal had no self-sustaining principle. No man has till he accepts the Scripture that Warfield presents.” (p68)


My favourate (yes, my only) illustration of repentance is, I think, stolen from Charlie Skreene.

Charlie was leading the youth group at the end of a busy and pressurised term. He put the Star Wars video on and told the yuffs to look out for what Christian doctrine was illustrated by the film.

The furtile minded youth group came up with all sorts of amazing suggestions: isn't The Force a bit like the Holy Spirit and isn't there a great battle going on between good and evil in our world too, Skywalker is a sort of Saviour-figure?

Then Charlie showed a section again: our heros are running down a tunnel, they see a whole load of ray-gun slinging baddies coming the other way and they turn and leg it in the opposite direction. Simple: Repentance. Turn around and go the other way or you're heading for disaster.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Warfield on Scripture

I’ve just finished reading the 456 pages of B. B. Warfield’s Revelation and Inspiration (the first volume of the OUP edition of his works), with a view to writing up his doctrine of Scripture.

My 23 pages of scrappy notes (mainly quotations) are available here and below are a few highlights.

Warfield’s scholarship is obvious immense and his defence of The Church Doctrine of the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture is compelling and stirring stuff. Its not always concise but its often eloquent. Still worth a look, I reckon.

I guess the next task is to move onto whatever secondary literature I can find about Warfield’s doctrine of Scripture.

As I mentioned before, I’ve got some questions about what Warfield says about the prophetic mode of inspiration and how the prophets received the Words of God entirely from outside themselves and were not involved in its composition.

I think Professor Tony Lane has suggested that Warfield under-estimates the humanity of Scripture, so that’ll need following up.

And I might need to get into the evidentialist / presuppositionalist debate about apologetics: is Warfield’s defence of the trustworthiness of the Bible and inerrancy too rationalistic and should it all be rather more Van Tilian? Van Til wrote the introduction to Warfield’s The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (which virtually reproduces the OUP Revelation and Inspiration) so I’m looking forward to that.

Here are some of the best or most striking bits:

Particularly magnificent is the first part of ‘The Inspiration of the Bible’ (p51ff).

“… over against the numberless discordant theories of inspiration that vex our time, there stands a well-defined church-doctrine of inspiration.” (p52) - the universal conviction of the church since the beginning as to “the divinity of the Scriptures”.

“What this church-doctrine is, it is scarcely necessary minutely to describe. It will suffice to remind ourselves that it looks upon the Bible as an oracular book, - as the Word of God in such a sense that whatever it says God says, - not a book, then, in which one may, by searching, find some word of God, but a book which may be frankly appealed to at any point with the assurance that whatever it may be found to say, that is the Word of God.” (p52)

“We know how, as Christian men, we approach this Holy Book, - how unquestioningly we receive its statements of fact, bow before its enunciations of duty, tremble before its threatenings, and rest upon its promises.” (p53) – It is our support in trial, our trust, guide, comfort and strength.

“… this attitude of entire trust in every word of the Scriptures has been characteristic of the people of God from the very foundation of the church.” (p53)

* * *

“Scripture is conceived, from the point of view of the writers of the New Testament, not merely as the record of revelations, but as itself a part of the redemptive revelation of God; not merely as the record of the redemptive acts by which God is saving the world, but as itself one of these redemptive acts, having its own part to play in the great work of establishing and building the kingdom of God.” (p107)

* * *

“The Church, then, has held from the beginning that the Bible is the Word of God in such a sense that its words, though written by men and bearing indelibly impressed upon them the marks of their human origin, were written, nevertheless, under such an influence of the Holy Ghost as to be also the words of God, the adequate expression of His mind and will. It has always been recognized that this conception of co-authorship implies that the Spirit’s superintendence extends to the choice of the words of the human authors (verbal inspiration), and preserves its product from everything inconsistent with a divine authorship – thus securing, among other things, that entire truthfulness which is everywhere presupposed in and asserted for Scripture by the Biblical writers (inerrancy). Whatever minor variations may now and again have entered into the mode of statement, this has always been the core of the Church doctrine of inspiration. And along with many other modes of commending and defending it, the primary ground on which it has been held by the Church as the true doctrine is that it is the doctrine of the Biblical writers themselves, and has therefore the whole mass of evidence for it which goes to show that the Biblical writers are trustworthy as doctrinal guides. It is the testimony of the Bible itself to its own origin (p173) and character as the Oracles of the Most High, that has led the Church to her acceptance of it as such, and her dependence on it not only for her doctrinal teaching, which is looked upon by her as divine because drawn from this divinely given fountain of truth.” (p174)

* * *

The fallacy of “Christ versus the Apostles”:

“… we have no Christ except the one whom the apostles have given us.” (p187)

“… the cry, “Back to Christ!” away from the teaching of His apostles, whose teaching He Himself represents as His own, only delivered by His Spirit through their mouths, is an invitation to desert Christ Himself. It is an invitation to draw back from the Christ of the Bible to some Christ of our own fancy, from the only real to some imaginary Christ.” (p189)

* * *

“The weight of the testimony to the Biblical doctrine of inspiration, in a word, is no less that the weight to be attached to the testimony of God – God the Son and God the Spirit.” (p213)

* * *

“… the Spirit who is in all spheres the executive of the Godhead.” (p280)

* * *

“It would be difficult to invent methods of showing profound reverence for the text of Scripture as the very Word of God, which will not be found to be characteristic of the writers of the New Testament in dealing with the Old. Among the rich variety of the indications of their estimate of the written words of the Old Testament as direct utterances of Jehovah, there are in particular two classes of passages, each of which, when taken separately, throws into the clearest light their habitual appeal to the Old Testament text as God himself speaking, while, together, they make an irresistible impression of the absolute identification by their writers of the Scriptures in their hands with the living voice of God. In one of these classes of passages the Scriptures are spoken of as if they were God; in the other, God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures: in the two together, God and the Scriptures are brought into such conjunction as to show that in point of directness of authority no distinction was made between them.” (p283)

“… a habitual identification, in the mind of the writer, of the text of Scripture with God as speaking…” (p284)

“The two sets of passages, together, thus show an absolute identification, in the minds of these writers, of “Scripture” with the speaking God.” (p284)

“… living words still speaking to us… the ever-living Scripture” (p300)

“… Scripture an oracular book, and all that it says, God says to him” (p330)

* * *

“It is by no means to be imagined that it is meant to proclaim a mechanical theory of inspiration. The Reformed Churches have never held such a theory: though dishonest, careless, ignorant or even over-eager controverters of its doctrine have often brought the charge…. explicit in teaching that the human element is never absent. The Reformed Churches (p397) hold, indeed, that every word of the Scripture, without exception, is the word of God; but, alongside of that, they hold equally that every word is the word of man…. the marks of fervid impetuosity of a Paul – the tender saintliness of a John – the practical genius of a James…. Though strong and uncompromising in resisting all effort to separate the human and divine, they distance all competitors in giving honor alike to both by proclaiming in one breath that all is divine and all is human.” (p398)

The Pastor's Job or Exhortation to a Man of God

I got this quotation on the job of the Pastor from John MacArthur from Sam Allberry (the Curate at St Ebbe’s)’s blog, Shibboleth at It’s a bit pungent but it makes a point, or two, I reckon.

Fling him into his office. Tear the office sign from the door and nail on the sign "study". Take him off all mailing lists. Lock him up with his books, and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts, and broken hearts and the flick of lives of a superficial flock and a holy God. Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through. And let him come out only when he is bruised and beaten into being a blessing. Shut his mouth from forever spouting remarks and stop his tongue forever tripping lightly over every non-essential. Require him to have something to say before he dares break the silence and bend his knees in the lonesome valley of prayer. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for God. And make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his ecclesiastical records. Put water in his petrol tank. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit and make him preach the Word of the living God. Test him, quiz him, examine him, humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, game scores and politics. Laugh at his frustrated efforts to play psychiatrist. Raise a choir and form a chant and haunt him with it night and day: 'Sir, we would see Jesus.'

When at last he dares assay the pulpit ask him if he has a word from God. If he doesn't dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper and digest the television commentary and think through the day's superficial problems and manage the community's weary drives better than he can. Command him not to come back until he has read and re-read, written and re-written until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say "Thus saith the Lord". Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom. And give him no escape until his back is against the wall of the Word. And sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left: God's word. Let him be totally ignorant of the down street gossip.

Give him a chapter and order him to walk around it, camp with it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it and say about it all things which ring with the truth of eternity. And when he's burnt out by the flaming word, when he's consumed at last by the fiery grace burning through him and when he's privileged to translate the truth of God to man and finally transferred from earth to heaven, then bear him away gently and blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly. Place a two-edged sword on his coffin, raise the tomb triumphant for he was a brave soldier of the Word and 'ere he died he had become a Man of God.

I think the quotation might be from Rediscovering Expository Preaching.

Good job that God’s grace is sufficient and that His power is made perfect in weakness.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Importance of Being Punctuated

I enjoyed these two “portraits” illustrating the importance of proper punctuation, from a JETS editorial (44/1 (March 2001)1 –3) by A. J.Kostenberger:

Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we ’re apart. I can be forever happy — will you let me be yours? Gloria

Dear John: I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we ’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? Yours, Gloria.

JETS Style Tips

This, which I stumbled across at made me smile. Its apparently taken from JETS editorial policy – their web site gives a 26 page (house?) style guide for those with a few days to spare. (Read it as a break from stupid on-line surveys, perhaps)

1. Always avoid the apt art of alliteration.

2. Avoid clichés like the plague.

3. Never, ever generalize.

4. Do not be redundant or use more words than necessary.

5. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

6. Don’t use contractions.

7. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

8. Foreign words are usually not apropos.

9. The passive voice is to be avoided.

10. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

[1] Köstenberger, A., JETS editorial, 31/3/06

It seems like generally good advice but draconian in places. Perhaps. But I think I’d like to add a few footnotes (and other comments), wouldn’t you? Foreign feels far fetched for such a post and a flaw beyond the wit of the present writer.

Ros, please don’t be tempted to mark my blog against these criteria.

The Oak Hill Alumni site, from which this was culled, ( seems in its early stages but would be well worth a look, I think.