GRACE: Living with it!

Here’s another good program at the White Horse Inn.  Mike Horton interviews Elyse Fitzpatrick regarding her new book.  However, the conversation is not merely about the “new book” but more so about the nature of the Gospel as it bears upon our life…the whole of it, to include the struggle to trust in our approval in Christ alone (and not ourselves) and our failures in sin.

The program:  Give Them Grace

Kingdom: One or Two? (part 1)

Here is an interesting conversation over at Office Hours (WSC) on Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.  Though I am not a fan of some of the Reformed (covenantal) distinctives presented here (e.g. Sabbath-keeping; strict Regulative Principle of Worship; etc) this conversation does help to sort out some of the distinctives of what I would consider a sound understanding of a New Covenant perspective on the Two Kingdoms.

Back on March 14, 2010, The White Horse Inn also hosted VanDrunen to speak about what natural law is and how it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ.

VanDrunen seeks to answer questions like:

What is natural law?

Is it consistent with Reformed theology?

How about the Two Kingdoms approach to the relationship between Christianity and culture?

Here are some of my notes from the March 14th White Horse Inn program:

  • To start out, VanDrunen takes time to explain the difference between the two distinct notions of 1) TWO CITIES and 2) TWO KINGDOMS
    • TWO CITIES
      • Regarding the TWO CITIES, we are talking about the CITY OF GOD and the CITY OF MAN
        • An individual is either a citizen of one or the other (not both!).
        • There is NO OVERLAP of the two cities.
  • TWO KINGDOMS
    • Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Man
      • KINGDOM OF GOD
        • Heavenly
        • Eternal
        • Holy Spirit-ruled in the light of the Gospel
        • Christ, Cult-centered
        • Sacred
      • KINGDOM OF MAN
        • Earthly
        • Temporal
        • Natural Law-ruled in light of nature
        • Culture-centered
        • Secular
    • An individual CHRISTIAN has a dual-citizenship, being related to both Kingdoms
      • There is an OVERLAP of these two kingdoms, within the people who are members of both, Christians.
      • The ‘unbeliever’ is not a member of the Kingdom of God, and is therefore a member of only the temporal Kingdom of Man.
    • All ‘unbelievers’ ultimately have but a ONE KINGDOM perspective, and so too many who are believers who adhere to non-biblical notions that blur the line of distinction between two real, biblically understood kingdoms (i.e., Christ and Caesar).
      • FUNDAMENTALISM (of whatever strip) is always a predominantly single kingdom perspective
      • NEO-CALVINISM (Theonomy; Dutch Transformationalism; etc) is typically a single kingdom perspective
      • BROAD-EVANGELICALISM is typically a single kingdom perspective
      • HIGHER-LIFE thinking runs along a single kingdom perspective
      • CHARISMATIC thinking runs along a single kingdom perspective
      • PIETISM/MORALISM also find their bearing to be more of a single kingdom perspective, making everything to be either holy or wicked, missing the biblical distinction between common, holy, and wicked

Stay tuned.  More to come on Natural Law and Religious Liberty!

GNOSTICISM: A Perennial Philosophy

An excellent lecture by Peter Jones: A Gnostic Gospel

As usual, Peter provides us an informed look at Gnosticism and its revival in our time.

A few notes from this lecture:

1)      Gnosticism:

  1. Dualism on the back of Monism
  2. A perennial philosophy
    1. Assuming a spirit behind everything
  3. Is the bridge for Paganism to enter into culture
  4. A parasite on the Church
    1. In “word” it pretends to be Christian
    2. In “spirit” it practices Paganism
  5. A “spiritual” view of existence
    1. A planetary vision
    2. Geo-logians propagate it
      1. Utilizing notions of “Mother Nature”
      2. Re-inventing humanity
  6. A “progressive spirituality”
    1. A worldwide scope; a cosmic view
    2. Not like the “New Age” which was particularly “self-centered”
    3. Two Tiers of Consciousness
      1. Myth (i.e., Theism, etc)
      2. Reality (i.e., Monism)
    4. Also described as “integral-spirituality”
  7. Manifests itself on two fronts:
    1. Inter-faith Mysticism
      1. A shared spiritual experience
      2. Uniformity of belief is not necessary
      3. Progressive-Christianity flows within this stream
      4. Intellect is not the medium, but Imagination is the way to mystery
      5. Experience is a higher authority than doctrine (i.e., Scripture, etc)
    2. Social Justice
  8. Pagan at its core
    1. A non-dualistic existence
      1. No Creator/creature distinction
      2. A non-binary world
    2. Seeking synthesis of everything through One-ism
      1. Syncretism: not in doctrine but experience
  9. Liberalism is always something of a form of Gnosticism, which seeks to sell social justice under the cloak of cheapened Christian jargon.

REALITY: Grasping it with both Faith and Reason

The following are notes based upon a Ken Samples lecture, which can be listened to here:  Dangerous Ideas (part 4)

NOTES on Making Sense of Reality from a Christian Perspective – Compatibility of Faith and Reason

1)      Ultimate Metaphysical Question:

  1. Why is there “something” instead of nothing?
    1. Why does anything exist?

2)      The existence of God is the best explanation of reality.

  1. A cumulative argument is sufficient
    1. Being more plausible, credible, and reasonable
    2. Having ‘explanatory power’
    3. Not arguing for certainty, but plausibility
  2. We believe that to make sense of the world “faith” is essential
    1. Denial is a willful choice
      1. Fool: suppresses the truth
    2. Atheism requires a great faith
      1. They too have to bear the burden of proof, in explaining God’s alleged nonexistence in light of reality

3)      Reason does not cause faith, but reason supports faith

  1. Reason = general revelation
  2. Faith = special revelation
    1. The latter is in itself reasoning, but more particularly on the basis of special revelation and divine intervention
    2. The former reveals that it is epistemologically and morally inexcusable to reject a biblical faith; particularly that it would be irresponsible to do so without giving due consideration to the true nature of reality and how well a Christian faith coincides with it.

4)      C.L.E.A.R.

Cosmos: cosmological argument

Life: meaning realities

Ethics: objective, prescriptive realities

Abstractions: ultimate source of conceptions

Religion: sense of the divine

  1. COSMOS
    1. Cosmological Argument
      1. Singular beginning (origin)
      2. Order and elegance
      3. Fine tuning
    2. “Almost everyone believes there was a beginning of the Universe and Time.” Steven Hawking
      1. Matter, Energy, Space, and Time
        1. All have a mysterious origin
    3. Big Bang
      1. Bible: only holy book to address the particular dynamics of this
      2. Universe: 13 Billion years old
      3. Earth: 4 Billion years old
    4. A look into outer space displays an undeniable order
      1. The universe is just the right place for life
      2. Laws of physics do not demand a universe as such as we have.
        1. It doesn’t have to be the way it is to exist
        2. It does have to be the way it is for us to exist
        3. Extremely complex design requires an explanation that is not bound by the laws of physics
  2. LIFE
    1. Meaningful Realities
      1. Human consciousness; free-agency; and meaning
        1. Materialism, etc. cannot give us a plausible explanation for their existence.
  3. ETHICS
    1. Objective, prescriptive ethics
      1. Duties and Human Values
        1. Universally objective law
        2. Murder is always wrong
        3. Moral values are built into reality, our existence
        4. Why is there not absolute moral chaos?
          1. Atheism: Morality is invented, descriptive, and subjective
          2. Nazism could have been considered right, if they won the war!
    2. Problem of Good
      1. Why is there good?
      2. This is equally as important to answer as is the question of ‘why there is evil?’.
  4. ABSTRACTIONS
    1. Numbers; Logic; Propositions
      1. Conceptual realities
        1. Never in your life have you seen a number
          1. “9” is a symbol that represents a notion of nineness
          2. These make life meaningful and intelligible
            1. These come from the mind of God
            2. They are unexplainable on the basis of matter alone
              1. Physicalism; Materialism
  5. RELIGION
    1. Sense of the divine
      1. Awareness of God
      2. Universal religiosity of humanity
        1. Inherent in man
        2. Intuitive awareness
    2. Jesus Christ
      1. Called himself “God”
        1. “I am.”  (Jn.8)
        2. Matchless moral character
          1. In three years…turned the world upside-down
          2. Prolific miracle work
            1. His enemies never denied that He did them!
            2. Messianic prophecies
              1. Fulfilled
            3. Empty tomb
              1. Post-mortem appearances
              2. 500+ witnesses
            4. Paul’s conversion
              1. From Judaism to Christianity
                1. The equivalent of Hitler becoming a Jew!

The Christian faith, based upon the Holy Bible, makes the most sense of life, of reality.

AUDIO: Christ and Culture (debate)

Here’s the first in a series of debates on the relationship between Christ and Culture.  I’ve only listened to the first installment and it proved a worthy listen.  I’m going to assume the same could be said for the remainder.

Go here:  Christ and Culture: Introductory Remarks

Other files here:  Archive for the ‘Christ and Culture’ Category

KINGDOM: Two Kingdoms of God vs “Christendom”

Here’s a conversation that might begin to answer nagging questions like this one: “What is the Kingdom of God?” If you have the least interest in knowing the answer, it might be worth a half hour of your time. (((WARNING))) This isn’t something that promotes “Religious Right” or “Moralistic Left” ideologies.

Kingdom of God (part 1)

Kingdom of God (part 2)