Monthly Archives: June 2005

Brief notice

By the way, one thing that is keeping me too busy to write much is the fact that I am going to Juarez in a couple of weeks to teach the advanced class in an English as a Second Lanuguage camp. And I am taking Calvin along as an assistant.

Please pray for our safety and for the benefit of the participants.

Instead of a blog entry

Back from GA, but too busy to write much. Had a great time at the assembly meeting old friends and even making new ones.

I thought Batman Begins was the movie we had all been waiting for. I didn’t hate everything about Tim Burton’s original movie, but I did really dislike the sequels and that changed my perspective on the first one. Plus, with this new movie I suddenly realize how much the eighties are over and, with all the problems, I think the liberation is a good thing.

(BTW, when I got to the movie, I forgot all about Tom Cruise, cradle-robbing, and scientology. So that didn’t diminish my enjoyment)

The problem with arguments over ideas

The problem with arguments over ideas is that they never last as such. Invariably people identify with them and, at that point, the issue is no longer defending an idea as much as establishing one’s identity. And of course, appealing to the identity of a group also provides a path for power within the group.

Obviously, I think arguments over ideas are necessary in some cases. I’m just pointing out the problem that besets them.

More good news

This is wonderful in so many ways. And it is providentially a great follow-up to the interaction between Dr. Chapell and Rev. Lusk.

I’m slightly disappointed this was made a matter of dispute (as evidenced by the reply box missing from the printer version I linked). Dr. Kelly was permitted to simply publish an essay at the pcanews site fully loaded with questions to cleanse the PCA of the position which Dr. Kidd espouses. When criticism roled in, Dr. Duncan made it clear that it was presumptuous to differ with so great a scholar as Dr. Kelly. Now every reader is invited to critique Dr. Kidd by the reply box at the bottom of the article.

Well, perhaps all such articles will have such reply boxes. Perhaps the powers that be have now decided to be consistently more even-handed. I hope so.


I should add that it is no secret I have been disappointed with some reactions to the “New Perspective” by some professors at some Reformed seminaries. However, by no means have I been disappointed in all of them. This downloadable essay by Professor Doug Green (Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia) is quite good. Also, this symposium is really helpful for getting dialog off the ground.

What Ridderbos Really Said

According to Herman Ridderbos, justification is a second-order doctrine. He writes of the Gospel that Paul preached that it has been easily misunderstood due to a concern for individual justification or other concerns.

[I]t has become evident how easily the entrance to Paul’s preaching is blocked or narrowed when one comes to place in the center and absolutize certain facets of his proclamation of salvation at the expense of others. It may undoubtedly be said to be a result of the more recent investigations that… it has succeeded in arriving at a broader conception of Paul’s preaching. It has no longer sought the basic motif of his preaching in one particular soteriological aspect, whether in justification by faith or in victory over the flesh through the Spirit, but transcending all these partial viewpoints, and antecedent to them, in the eschatological or redemptive-historical starting point of Paul’s proclamation. The whole content of this preaching can be summarized as the proclamation and explication of the eschatological time of salvation inaugurated with Christ’s advent, death, and resurrection….

…Paul saw the advent and work of Christ as revelation of the fulfilling activity of God in history and as the breaking through of the great time of salvation… [p. 44]

When he speaks here[2 Cor 5.17] of “new creation,” this is not meant merely in an individual sense (“a new creature”), but one is to think of the new world of the re-creation that God has made to dawn in Christ, and in which everyone who is in Christ is included… [p. 45]

The “proclamation by Paul” is a proclamation of “the redemptive dispensation that has dawned in Christ,” which has an “eschatological character” (p. 46). Ridderbos goes on to argue his case from the term, “mystery,” appealing to Ephesians 1.9. Page 47:

What is here called in various nuances the revelation of the mystery is nothing other that that which the fullness of the time brings to view; it is the fulfillment of the eschatological promise of redemption in the times appointed for it, its “own times,” that is denoted in this fashion.

Ridderbos does not say this is merely Paul’s teaching. “[T]his revelation of the mystery is the real content of Paul’s Gospel (Rom 16.25, 26), the object of “the ministry which was entrusted to him” (Col 1.25, 26; cf. Ephesians 3.2).” For Ridderbos, the Gospel is the story of the death and resurrection of Christ, the fact that Jesus is the New Creation at God’s right hand ruling a new kingdom. Justification results from the Gospel, but justification is not identical with the Gospel.

In love with us

We know that God doesn’t need us or anything in his creation. We feel need and it is entangled in our emotions. The mistake is to think that because God lacks the need we have that he also lacks the emotional depth we feel. In fact, it is probably the other way around, according to Romans Eight: our emotional depth is shallow compared to God’s, and is the result of the work of his Spirit in our lives. Otherwise, we would be stoics.

Having pointed out that God holds us to him like underwear and that he treats himself like a pauper waiting to come into his fortune, which happens to be us, I suppose it is no surprise that God also treats us as a woman he wants more than anything. Here is the challenge of faith: Do we really believe God feels this way about us. But, paradoxically, it is also a support for faith. God is never cool to us and he will always be faithful.

I abhor various “free will theisms” for degrading God. But, knowing who God is, I’m amazed at how willing he is to degrade himself in how he describes his love for us.

Once more with feeling

Those of you who have been catching televised reruns of Buffy, might not realize how abbreviated the musical episode in season six really is. I heard a version of Spike’s song that had a complete verse that was missing from what I watched on TV. Also, for those with broadband, here is the “wacky broadway nightmare” song with a whole new shift in tone led by Buffy. I guess the lesson here is to only trust the DVD. I have watched season 3 and found that even the non-musical episodes sometimes have a few remarks that got squeeaed out to make room for commercials.

For those without knowledge: The scene involves the scoobies trying to figure out why life has become a musical in which they burst out into song–during which discussion they burst out into song.

Wollebius on infant faith and baptism


The Abridgment of Christian Divinity
So exactly and methodically compiled that it leads us, as it were by the hand to the:

–Reading of the Holy Scriptures
–Ordering of Common Places
–Understanding of Controversies
–Clearing of Some Cases of Conscience

By John Wollebius,
Doctor of Divinity & Ordinary Professor in the University of Basil

Faithfully translated into English,
and in some obscure places cleared and enlarged
By Alexander Ross

The Third Edition

Printed by T. Mabb, for Joseph Nevill, and are to be sold at his Shop at the signe of the plough in the New-Buildings in Paul’s Churchyard, 1660.

Chapter 23, pp. 194-196

XIII. the end of Baptism, besides those which are common to it, and the Lord’s Supper, is the sealing of our regeneration, and of our reception, or ingrafting into the family of God.

XIV. The Subjects of Baptism are all that be in the Covenant; even the children of those who are reckoned among the number of the Covenanters.

/p. 195/

XV. Infants have both Faith and Reason: although not in the fruit, yet in the seed and root; though not in the second act, yet in the first; though not by an outward demonstration of the work: yet by the inward virtue of the Holy Spirit.

XVI. But concerning the Infants of Infidels, the case is otherwise; who are not born of Parents, even so much as either of /p. 196/ them a Believer: for they are not to be baptized till they be of discretion, and are able to testify their faith.

Faith and faithfulness

Colossians 1.21-23:

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister…

When Paul exhorts his readers to “continue in faith, stable and steadfeast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel,” is he encouraging them to believe the Gospel or to be faithful to God’s covenant?

Doesn’t merely asking such a thing demonstrate that it is a faulty and misleading question?