Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Greenville Seminary Conference
12/16/2009 - Jeff Downs
On December 12 I annouced the annual conference of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
At that time, the brochure was at the printer. Now, you can access the brochure, schedule, registration (not live yet), and anything else you want to know about the conference, by clicking this site http://www.gpts.edu/conference.
I look forward to seeing some of you there. I will be the man in the back running the sound system (this should be good) for the first time at this conference.
An Encouraging Year
12/13/2009 - James White
It was a year ago this week that I first mentioned the Ministry Resource List. Since then, this little idea has been a tremendous encouragement to us. Those of you who have assisted with resources through this means don't know how edifying it is to know that there are folks out there who want us to continue pressing forward doing what we are doing. My sincerest personal thanks to all who have participated!
Getting Our Priorities Straight!
12/11/2009 - James White
We received this e-mail this morning:
Quit talking about the manhatten declaration. who cared...revelation says the millenium is 1000 years. amillenialism is false.
Well there you go, folks! Bret Zagar has his priorities straight! Let's not worry about that gospel stuff, let's get that eschatology stuff right! I confess, I am thankful Bret noted that it is "Revelation" not "Revelations." That's a major plus. And yes, it specifically says a thousand years. What that means is, of course, the issue of debate, but something tells me Bret has already decided that controversy. So my apologies for wasting your time with discussions of the gospel and life and marriage and freedom and all that irrelevant side stuff. Let me drop this textual study I'm doing, forget about Beckwith and justification, and see if I can't find a copy of Left Behind somewhere around here...wait, didn't I leave my copy right next to The Prayer of Jabez?
"Mere" Imputed Righteousness and Other Stuff
12/11/2009 - James White
I have been away this week attempting to do some studying on various topics, and writing on projects that I have simply not been able to get to while at home. I am working on a chapter in response to Frank Beckwith's arguments in denial of sola fide, and I am also working on the expansion of the book refuting Harold Camping. Here is a brief snippet from what I've been able to get written on both of these topics.
There are two regular statements by Roman Catholic apologists and polemicists that truly gall me. The first is when they attempt to defend notoriously unbiblical beliefs (such as the Marian dogmas) through the grossly deceptive parallel to the divine doctrine of the Trinity. Such a blasphemous form of argumentation is worthy of the judgment it will bring upon its practitioners, to be sure. But the second common argument involves the straw-man caricaturization of the doctrine of justification as a “mere legal fiction” or, as Beckwith repeats it, “mere imputed righteousness.” Any man who claims to have once been a true evangelical who can then turn around and thusly describe his former beliefs plainly never believed the gospel I believe. Every fiber of honesty would have to be removed from my being for me to be able to describe the hope of my soul, the anchor of my salvation, as “mere imputed righteousness.” The very term “mere” is blasphemously shallow, for we are talking about the imputed righteousness of the incarnate God-man Jesus, the Messiah, whose free and purposeful self-giving is intimately tied not only to His perfect life and sinlessness, but to His role as High Priest, Intercessor, Mediator, and therefore the one who is able “to save completely all of those who draw near to God by means of Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). The use of “mere” in such a context is clearly meant to be deceptive and demeaning, and as such is unworthy of any truth-loving person.
Yes, yes, I know. I left my politically correct, post-modern filter at home. And on to Camping:
Mr. Camping has adopted a whole new array of false teachings, all of which demonstrate the central error that has driven him for decades now: a trenchant, stubborn unwillingness to submit to the Word of God by interpreting it in a meaningful, consistent fashion. All the while claiming careful allegiance to the biblical text, Harold Camping’s refusal to utilize any meaningful method of interpretation has led him, and his followers, farther and farther into error. No aspect of the Christian faith is safe once the firm foundation of an unchanging and meaningfully interpreted text is abandoned. It is not overly surprising that Camping has abandoned a belief in eternal, conscious punishment of the wicked. This is a very distasteful belief, and apart from a close connection to divine revelation and an understanding of the holiness of God, many find ways of jettisoning that particular doctrine. But his idiosyncratic teaching that Jesus actually died twice, once in eternity past, and once as a memorial upon the cross in time, is truly an eisegetical novum, proving that his connection to the text of the Bible, and to the teachings of the Christian faith of the past, is completely severed. All he has left is his own system, his own authority as a teacher, and that is surely not a sound foundation.
As to my reading, yesterday I spent some time on the "fig tree" synoptic parallels issue between Matthew and Mark, working through a lengthy and excellent paper submitted by one of my students, and I am taking a very serious look at the arguments in favor of the Byzantine text platform as enunciated by Maurice Robinson. His recently published article on the NA27 as a "test-tube text" without any historical manuscript witness is very challenging, and given that unbelieving textual critical scholarship has in essence completely abandoned the field (Ehrman being a good example) one is left wondering. It is good to think through such challenges fairly and honestly.
Don't forget that, Lord willing, we will be back to our regular DL schedule next week!
Oh, really enjoyed John MacArthur's no-holds-barred blast of the travesty that is TBN.
Sproul, Colson, and You, on the Manhattan Declaration
12/10/2009 - James White
Many had been wondering when RC Sproul would comment on the MD, and as most of you know, he has finally broken his silence. He strongly asserts a direct connection between the MD and the ECT, citing from comments made by Colson which I had not read. Colson, one of the leading voices bringing confusion to the nature of the gospel in America today (along with Timothy George, both crafters of the MD and signers of ECT), wrote regarding the MD:
Just imagine what could happen if we could say to the world that a million Christians have made this pledge—that we will not compromise the faith, no matter what. I think that would have an extraordinary impact on American culture.
And just as important, I believe the Manhattan Declaration can help revitalize the church in America. One great weakness of the Church today is its biblical and doctrinal ignorance. This document is, in fact, a form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith.
Once again we see that for Charles Colson, the gospel is no longer a part of "the faith" that he refuses to compromise. That is, "the faith" has been boiled down to a skeleton of basic beliefs (Trinity, resurrection) that can unite varied and disparate religious traditions into one big (and politically powerful) group. This Least Common Denominator (LCD) form of "Christianity" is what is needed, evidently, to "revitalize the church in America." I cannot help but shake my head in disbelief as someone promotes a gospel-less Christianity and says this is what the church needs to be "revitalized" today. But it is truly a matter for deep concern that Mr. Colson believes this document is a "form of catechism for the foundational truths of the faith." How can this gospel-less document be a catechism for anything other than cultural Christianity? Without the gospel, you cannot change hearts and minds. So while the document mentions the gospel and says we must preach it in its fulness, evidently, that fulness does not include the very doctrinal precision demanded by the inspired Scriptures themselves. Paul, and all who would follow his example today, have gone overboard, evidently, and missed the great unifying impact of allowing anything and everything to fit under the banner of "the gospel." Somehow, we are asked to believe that this document, with its noble words regarding life and marriage and freedom, but which lacks any warning of the wrath of God, the holiness of God, punishment of sin and sinners, the cross, redemption, repentance, and the once-for-allness of the substitutionary atonement of Christ, is an antidote to "biblical and doctrinal ignorance." If abandoning these vital revelations of God is what is needed for me to get in line with the new enlightened and unified "Church of today," may I ever remain in dismal ignorance.
I, too, refuse to compromise on life, marriage, and freedom. I hereby let the world know that my allegiance is first and foremost to God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, and with all those who this day suffer around the world under the hatred and persecution of those who hate the gospel (whether they be atheistic communists, Muslims, or Hindus), I will refuse to bend the knee to any government's demands in these areas. But apart from, in clear distinction from, those who crafted this document, I add that I even more clearly and firmly refuse to compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I refuse to boil it down to an inoffensive minimalism that allows all the falsehoods of Rome to pass for the pristine, soul-saving gospel once for all delivered to the saints. I refuse to blaspheme that gospel by identifying such things as the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice, purgatory, indulgences, the Marian dogmas, and the identification of the Roman priest as an alter Christus, as mere "differences of opinion" that do not fundamentally deny the gracious nature of the gospel. I hereby promise to remain steadfast in seeking to clarify, not confuse, the gospel message, and to hold forth even those elements of the gospel that the world finds most repelling and distasteful, including the wrath and holiness of God, and the coming judgment upon all who refuse God's gracious offer of salvation solely in and through Jesus Christ. I call upon all who likewise love and honor the gospel to refuse to join in any man-made movement that would remove the gospel from the definition of the Christian faith, but instead to demonstrate their steadfastness in their profession of the faith, in their lives, and in their cultivation of a vital, active Christian worldview.
Finally, I call upon those who have been caught up in the euphoria of "joining together" at the cost of the gospel to withdraw their signatures from the Manhattan Declaration, but to do so only in conjunction with a clear affirmation not only of the noble elements of defense of life, marriage, and freedom, but to do so in the context of an open and public profession of the centrality of the gospel as the sole means by which the hearts of men and women can be changed to God's glory. I call upon pastors and elders to give serious consideration to this matter, and to address it openly, in light of the concerted effort of Colson, George, and others, to promote this document and its ever clearer compromise of the gospel itself.
The Amazing Arrogance of Richard Dawkins
12/08/2009 - James White
Now, I have criticized, strongly, the apologetic methodology of William Lane Craig. I would debate Dawkins quite differently than Craig would. But that aside, it is fascinating to observe the level of hubris, simple personal self-deception and arrogance, that defines Richard Dawkins as a human being who has dedicated his every moment of existence to his leadership of, and membership in, τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων, those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Dawkins' published works have been juvenile in their philosophical, historical, and biblical errors, yet, being a "scientist" overshadows all of that, of course. Hence, he will not debate the very people who would be able to expose his numerous errors. Behold the creature in denial of his Creator:
Nature and Sufficiency of Scripture (March 9-11, 2010)
12/03/2009 - Jeff DownsWhile there is nothing on the GPTS website yet, the brochure is at the printers and being sent out. So, I guess it is safe to post the following information:
Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary will hold their annual conference March 9-11, 2010 at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, Simpsonville, SC.
Below is a list of topics (in order) and speaker:
"Englishing the Bible: English Bible Translation and its Purposes", Dr. Benjamin Shaw.
"The Westminster Assembly and Scripture", Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn.
"Holy Spirit + Holy Men = Holy Bible", Dr. David Murray
"A More Sure Word: The Self-Authenticating Nature of the Bible", Dr. Tony Curto.
"The Modern Roman Catholic View of Scripture", Dr. Mark Herzer.
"Critique of Bart Ehrman", Dr. James White.
"Salvation, Sanctification, and Spectacles", Dr. David Murray.
"Why Creeds if the Bible is the Sufficient and Final Rule of Authority", Dr. Joseph Pipa.
"Critique of Peter Enns", Dr. James White.
There will also be four 20 minutes Q&A sessions. There is usually times for book signing, but I do not see it on the brochure.
Last year (we had a conference on Calvin), close to 500 people attended.
Early Bird Registration is $65; Spouse $30; Students $20. Keep watching this site for the brochure and to register online.
I (and GPTS) would appreciate it very much if you would pass on the information about this conference.
12/01/2009 - James White
Reformed Baptist Preaching (Hebrews 4:1-11):
Non-Reformed Baptist preaching (Ergun Caner at Thomas Road Baptist Church this past summer).