Prolegomena — The Beginnings Of A Reformed Weltanschauung

Prolegomena — The Beginnings Of A Reformed Weltanschauung

This course of study is intended to begin building the framework that will be the basis upon which the Lion’s share of the rest of the curriculum will based. It will spend a great deal of considering issues of Epistemology. Because it is foundational there will be additional reading then what you will find in your subsequent courses.

Main Texts

1.) A Christian View Of Men & Things — Gordon H. Clark
2.) Van Til’s Apologetic; Reading and Analysis — Greg Bahnsen

Required Reading

1.) Thales to Dewey — Gordon H. Clark
2.) Introduction to Philosophy — Gordon H. Clark
3.) Three Types of Religious Philosophy — Gordon H. Clark
4.) Reason, Religion, and Revelation — Gordon H. Clark
5.) God’s Hammer — Gordon H. Clark
6.) Historiography; Secular or Religious — Gordon H. Clark
7.) The Meaning of History — Ronald Nash
8.) The Word of God and the Mind of Man — Ronald Nash
9.) The Light of the Mind — St. Augustine’s Theory of Knowledge — Ronald Nash
10.) Language and Theology — Gordon H. Clark
11.) The Philosophy of Science and the Belief in God — Gordon H. Clark
12.) From Rationality to Irrationalism — C. Greg Singer
13) Essays on Ethics and Politics — Gordon H. Clark
14.) The Clark – Van Til Controversy — Herman Hoeksema
15.) Classical Apologetics by John H. Gerstner, Arthur W. Lindsley and R.C. Sproul

1.) Read the main Text books and write chapter summaries. Identify where you find differences between Clark and Van Til.

2.) Read the rest of the Required Reading and write a paper on the following Subject Matter

A.) A Christian View of Epistemology
B.) A Christian View of History
C.) A Christian View of Language
D.) A Christian View of Science
E.) A Christian View Of Ethics
F.) A Christian View of Politics
G.) A Christian View of Education

3.) Write a paper critiquing the methodology of S.L.u G. (book #15).

4.) Write a paper detailing the foundation and authority of and for a Biblical World and Life View

5.) Interact 1 hour weekly with the Instructor regarding points of interest in the book that you are currently reading.

6.) Be prepared for pop quizzes or short essay requirements.

McAtee Contra Piper On The Church’s Role In Speaking To Political Power

Just about 11 months ago John Piper’s lack of support for anti-sodomite legislation was reported here,

However the Piper ministry was convinced that the Newspaper got it wrong. So, instead of trusting the Newspaper’s reporting and just going with that I am going to fisk Piper to show how the Newspaper got the essence of the story correct.

Piper said in his sermon,

Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism. Pray that the church and her ministers would feed the flock of God with the word of God centered on the gospel of Christ crucified and risen. Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative initiatives, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word, and to the cross.

First, Piper reveals that he has compartmentalized his thinking. Somehow for Piper the Christian faith has nothing to say to Politics when Political agendas are impinging on the clear revelation of Scripture. Scripture forbids sodomy but Piper refuses to concretely support legislation that would forbid sodomite marriage. One of the uses of the law (usus politicus) reminds us that one of the purposes of the law is to be used by our magistrates in order to govern society. That is, the law serves the commonwealth or body politic as a force to restrain sin. And yet Piper would have ministers seemingly ignore this use of God’s law.

Second, Piper fails to realize that Politics is just theology by another means. Politics is not a free floating category unrelated to theology. Politics is instead the outward manifestation of a people’s inward beliefs. So, when Piper refuses to tell his people that they should support what God’s law proscribes and prohibits in their social order he is suggesting that the Church can not speak God’s voice on these matters.

Now some may offer up, as Piper does, that the Church cannot speak on these issues while individual Christians should. That sounds nice and tidy but it is really just a guarantee of the Church’s effeminacy. Consider, that if the Church refuses to speak God’s voice on these matters and its membership forms Christian associations on these matters the consequence is that you could get all kinds of advocacy groups all going under the banner of “Christian.” You could have a Christian group for man boy love. You could have a Christian Sodomy group. You could have a Christian pro-Sodomite marriage group as well as Christian groups supporting Christian morality. But in Piper’s anti-politics theology what voice will speak a “thus saith the Lord” to the advocacy groups that are potentially coming out of Piper’s church that support anti-Christ behavior? Not Piper … for he has said that isn’t his business.

Others can say what they want, but I still contend that this smells of cowardice to me on Piper’s part and on all the part of those who advocate this retreat-ism.

It should be the expectation of every Christian that their laws should be informed by Biblical categories. St. Paul reminds us,

9Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for murderers, 10For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for enslavers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

Here Paul insists that the law is for the lawless. This is clearly support the usus politicus and ministers should, when necessary, be able to point to legislation and candidates and say, “based on the fact that this legislation or this candidate supports God’s usus politicus we need to get behind them.

Third, Piper introduces a false dichotomy in order to justify his cowardice. The Shepherds can, at the same time, point you over and over again to God and to His word while saying, “We need to support this candidate or legislative mandate, because he is and the legislation is also supporting God and His Word.”

What if the pending legislation was proposing forcing Jews to wear yellows stars of David in order to be identified as Jews? Would Piper sill counsel that pulpits be quiet about political activism? I think not. I think Piper’s reluctance to be politically active is one where he picks and chooses what to be active on and what not to be active on.

Piper preaches,

“Please try to understand this concluding point. When I warn you against politicizing me, or politicizing the institution called Bethlehem, or the church in general, I do so not to diminish her power but to increase it. The impact of the church for the glory of Christ and the good of the world does not increase when she shifts her priorities from the worship of God and the winning of souls and the nurturing of faith and raising up of new generations of disciples. It doesn’t. It feels in the moment that it does. “Look at how many people showed up for the rally!” Or “Look how many signatures in that church they got!” Or “Look how that committee is functioning!” It feels powerful, but give it a generation. And little by little, that vaunted power bleeds away the very nature of the church and its power.”

1.) Raising up new generations of disciples? Piper is raising up new generations of disciples by refusing to give them God’s counsel on concrete actions they can take to support God’s legislating word? Piper is going to make disciples by modeling before them the necessity to hold truth in the abstract while evading truth in the concrete. Piper is going to make disciple by going all Platonic and Pietistic from the pulpit?

Allow me to suggest that the Church has too many of those disciples (and Pastors) already.

2.) Again, note how Piper is compartmentalizing his thinking. Discipleship happens in the Church. Instructing disciples on what discipleship looks like outside the Church is a no no. This is ecclesiastical schizophrenia.

3.) Certainly we can agree that it is possible for the Church to make the good the enemy of the best but to suggest that the Best (Preaching Christ and Him Crucified) necessitates that we give up the good (speaking clearly God’s voice on social issues where God has clearly spoken) is utter nonsense. It is like saying that since feeding my children was so important and such a priority while they were in my home that I could not also instruct them. Such thinking is utter idiocy. So, let us avoid hobby horses to the neglect of preaching up Christ but lets us also avoid the hobby horse that says that we can’t give concrete instructions to God’s people from God’s Word when the State intrudes itself upon God’s authority.

4.) Of course it is my position that it is Piper who is seeking, in all this, a theology of glory, despite his implicit accusation that that is what the putative “political activist” preachers do. When Piper avoids this kind of concrete instruction he can be sure he will offend no one. In offending no one he can build his big cash filled church because no one is offended by his supporting people and legislation who align with God’s authoritative Word that certain people may not approve of. People can sit in a church where they are offended in the abstract and blow it off but when they are offended in the concrete by knowing the Pastor is going to advocate defeating concrete positions by supporting concrete legislation or candidates then they are prone to leave.

Piper preaches,

If the whole counsel of God is preached with power week in and week out, Christians who are citizens of heaven and citizens of this democratic order will be energized as they ought to speak and act for the common good. It’s your job, not mine. Don’t look to me to wave the flag for your vote. Or wave the flag for your candidate.

Why is it their job and not Pipers? Why is it the flock must act without the Shepherd? This is Pietism once again. The minister dare not get his hands dirty in concrete affairs. The minister must remain dealing with all these things in the abstract.

And if a candidate is advocating a position that is consistent with God’s Law how is it that the Minister is waving the flag for his parishioner’s candidate? What makes that candidate uniquely the parishioner’s candidate? Why is it wrong for the Minister to “wave the flag” against candidates that are advocating sodomy or tagging Jews with yellow Stars of David?

Second, America is not, nor has ever been, a Democratic order. We are founded as a Constitutional Republic. Piper might want to investigate the difference.

Piper preaches,

Let me read you from this week’s WORLD magazine the editorial by Marvin Olasky. Many of you are familiar with WORLD. WORLD is a very political magazine, and it ought to be. I just love the Marvin Olasky and the team at WORLD. I’m glad they’re doing what they’re doing. This is what he said in the article, pleading with churches not to be politicized:

Wise pastors prompt [Christians] to form associations outside the church, and leave the church to its central task from which so many blessings flow. That pattern in the 18th and 19th centuries worked exceptionally well. New England pastors in colonial times preached and taught what the Bible said about liberty, and the Sons of Liberty — not a subset of any particular church — eventually sponsored a tea party in Boston harbor. Pastors through America during those centuries preached about biblical poverty-fighting, and in city after city Christians formed organizations such as (in New York) the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. (WORLD, June 16, 2012, 108)

My job is to feed the saints with such meals that they go out strengthened and robust and able to do the study and do the courage and do the action needed as salt and light in this world. And that will go away if you insist on the church and the ministry being the political leaders. It will and we can point to many where it has.

1.) WORLD has long been recognized as a neon-conservative magazine. It seldom represents political or theological orthodoxy.

2.) Piper goes on earlier about how he can’t wave the flag for certain causes and yet by supporting Olasky and WORLD magazine he waves the flag for Neo-conservative pagan politics.

3.) We no longer live in the 18th and 19th centuries. The leaven of humanism has worked its leaven far more through the institutional structures of our culture. What might have worked during a time that remained much more Christian will not apply during a time that is doing all it can to tear Christianity up, root, branch and twig.

A Second Hand Account On Keller On Preaching

Lance summarized Dr. Tim Keller’s preaching methodology by saying,

“In Tim Keller’s preaching seminar he mentions that saying bold things about abortion and homosexuality ‘C issues’ is not helpful when one hasn’t laid the ground work of the Gospel ‘A’ and a biblical worldview ‘b.’ Although he believes these are both… sin, he hits hard on A’ and B’ primarily so that people would actually believe and be saved, rather than always insisting on implications of those, namely C’. Plus, why mis-step with the conservatives and emphasis some sins over others. If we want people to be saved, we must share the A’ and B’ clearly and consistently; rather, than be known for our theological positions, something that won’t save anyone. He’s in the center of the postmodern worldview and we are just about there ourselves. lets take time to unpack things, when we ‘know’ they will be offended and quit listening when we post our theological positions. If you want that preaching seminar PDF ill send it to you. Its be best thing I’ve ever read on preaching. I’m assuming if you were to talk with a homosexual, you would similar things.”

Now, I don’t know Lance and I don’t know if this is a faithful representation of what Keller teaches in his Seminar, but for the sake of dissection let’s say it is. Here is how I would critique such an approach,

I’m pretty sure that one can’t lay out the ground work of either the Gospel or a biblical worldview if one doesn’t deal with prominent sins. Keep in mind that laying the groundwork out means talking about the backdrop of the Gospel which is man’s rebellion against God. Now, it will do no good to talk about a general rebellion of man against God without being somewhat accurate as to what that rebellion concretely looks like. I mean, is Keller looking to convert Abortion Doctors and Homosexuals only to later tell them after being “saved;”

“Now, about those abortions and that Homosexuality, I know you didn’t realize that salvation meant giving that up, but I have a surprise for you.”

This approach looks a great deal like thorough going compromise.

And the smell of compromise gets even heavier when we read Keller’s answer to a direct question on preaching against homosexuality.

Well, it’s much, much, much easier to to have private conversations about it. I think . . . uh . . . can make this short. I . . . I believe in general that if you preach on why homosexuality is a sin . . . uhhh . . . there are . . . at least in my . . . in my . . . in my . . . in my church I know there’s lots and lots of folks who have same sex attraction who know that that’s not . . . as a Christian, I can’t do that. I’m not gonna go there. There’s a good number of them. I’ve got a lot of non-Christians who are present who are friends of gay people but are not gay. Uhhh . . . and then uhh, there’d be a number of people with same sex attraction who . . . are there. And generally speaking, it’s almost impossible to preach a sermon and hit all 3 or 4 of those constituencies equally well. Ummmm . . . it’s just . . . it’s just think about . . . you know . . . you know . . . you’re a communicator. You know you need to . . . well, what’s my goal? Who are my audience and . . . wow! it’s like a conundrum you can’t solve. So, the best thing has always been for me..[CONSPICUOUS COUGH] . . . to not do the public teaching as much as segment my audience through . . . ummm [CONSPICUOUS COUGH] . . . Books, through classes, through one-on-ones, and so on. I think the time is probably coming in which we’re going to have be more public in how we talk about homosexuality. And I haven’t . . . I’m actually thinking quite a lot about it. Uhhh . . . as to how I will go about it or how we should go about it but I’m not prepared to give you 3 bullet points. (Note: ellipses represent pauses)

That explanation that Lance gave in the first blockquote (and I’m not impugning Lance, as it is not, as far as I know, Lance’s opinion) is so full of holes it is downright embarrassing that anyone would try to pass that off as erudite let alone the embarrassment present by seeing scads of people being suckered by such reasoning.

I’ve already exposed one hole

Here are some more

2.) He is suggesting that salvation of people is dependent upon the way he gives the message. If we really believe that the Gospel itself was the power of God unto Salvation we wouldn’t be conjuring up ways to manipulate people into the Kingdom. (i.e. –The thought process seems to be something like, “I can’t speak about homosexuality or abortion because if I do they won’t be swept up into the hurricane of redemption.”)

3.) Presumably “A” and “B” and “C” are all theological positions. You can’t carve “C” out and call it a theological position while suggesting “A” and “B” are somehow something else then a theological position. If he doesn’t want to be known for theological positions then he should keep quiet about not only “C” but also about “A” and “B” as well. Dividing them up the way he does in the explanation above only provides an excuse that when examined only briefly and with the greatest of nonchalance is exposed as utterly vacuous.

4.) If we are going to avoid naming some sins in “A” and “B” why name any sins at all in the presentation? In Keller’s model a God without wrath brings men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.

5.) And what does the fact that Keller is at the center of the postmodern world have to do with anything? Is the subtext with such a statement supposed to be that because he is at the center of the postmodern world therefore he has to speak differently about sin if people are to know Christ?

The Voice Of God Among Men

“The minister must remind himself in a lively manner that God has sent him, that he ascends the pulpit as an ambassador of God, speaks in the name of God, and is as the mouth of the Lord unto the congregation.”

~ Wilhelmus á Brakel (1635-1711), The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 2, p. 138

“For in hearing us, you gave such heed, as if not hearing men, but as if God Himself were exhorting you.”

~ Chrysostom on I Thessalonians 2:13

“Yes it is I who admonish, I who order, I who command, it is the bishop who teaches. But…… it is Christ who commands through me.” “The preacher explains the text; if he says what is true, it is Christ speaking.”

~ St. Augustine — Bishop Of Hippo
Fourth Century Theologian

“Flesh and blood are an impediment. They merely behold the person of the pastor and brother … They refuse to regard the oral Word and the ministry as a treasure costlier and better than heaven and earth. People generally think: ‘If I had an opportunity to hear God speak in person, I would run my feet bloody’ … But you now have the Word of God in church … and this is God’s Word as surely as if God Himself were speaking to you.”

~ Martin Luther
16th Century Reformation Theologian

“When the Prophet says, by the breath of his lips, this must not be limited to the person of Christ; for it refers to the Word which is preached by his ministers. Christ acts by them in such a manner that He wishes their mouth to be reckoned as his mouth, and their lips as his lips; that is, when they speak from his mouth, and faithfully declare his Word (Luke 10:16)” (Comm. on Isa. 11:4).

~ John Calvin
16th Century Reformation Theologian

“Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is preached, and received of the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be feigned, nor to be expected from heaven: and that now the Word itself which is preached is to be regarded, not the minister that preaches; who, although he be evil and a sinner, nevertheless the Word of God abides true and good.”

~ Second Helvetic Confession (1566)

Question — “What is required of those that hear the word preached?”

Answer — “It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the word of God …”

~ Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 160

“First, when you come to hear the Word, if you would sanctify God’s name, you must possess your souls with what it is you are going to hear, that what you are going to hear is the Word of God. It is not the speaking of a man you are going to attend, but you are now going to attend upon God and to hear the Word of the Eternal God … Therefore you find that the Apostle, writing to the Thessalonians, gives them the reason why the Word did them as much good as it did. It was because they heard it as the Word of God, I Thess. 2:13 … Mark, so it came effectually to work because they received it as the Word of God. Many times you will say, ‘Come, let us go hear a man preach.’ Oh no, let us go hear Christ preach, for as it concerns the ministers of God that they preach not themselves, but that Christ should preach in them, so it concerns you that hear not to come to hear this man or that man, but to come to hear Jesus Christ” (Gospel Worship, p. 200).

~ Jeremiah Burroughs
17th Century Puritan Theologian / Member of the Westminster Assembly

“It is not only man preaching, as he says to the Thessalonians in I Thessalonians 2:13: You listened, he says to them, and you realized it was not merely the word of man but it was indeed what it actually is, the Word of God. This is his preaching, and this should be true of our preaching” .

~ D. M. Lloyd-Jones — 20th Century Reformed Preacher & Theologian
Knowing the Times, p. 276

“… Christ is represented as being heard in the gospel when proclaimed by the sent messengers. The implication is that Christ speaks in the gospel proclamation.”

John Murray — 20th Century Reformed Theologian
Commentary – Romans 10:14

“Through the preaching it pleases God through Christ, the exalted Lord, the chief prophet of God, who alone gathers his church, to speak to his people unto salvation. This is evident from Romans 10:14, which, according to the original, asks, ‘How shall they believe in him whom they have not heard?’ Through the preaching, therefore, you do not hear about Christ, but you hear him. The difference is easily understood. When you hear about or of someone, he is not present. You do not hear his own voice, but the voice of someone else who tells you something about him. But when you hear someone, you hear his own voice. He is present with you. He is addressing you personally. This is the sense of Romans 10:14, which teaches that you cannot believe in Christ unless you have heard him speak to you, unless you have heard his word addressed to you. This is exactly the meaning of the words, ‘How shall they believe in him whom they have not heard?'”

~ Herman Hoeksema — 20th Century Reformed Theologian
Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, p. 289

“A true sermon is an act of God, and not a mere performance by man. In real preaching the speaker is the servant of the Word & God speaks & works by the Word through his servant’s lips … The sermon is God’s ordained means of speaking and working.”

~ J. I. Packer
20th Century Anglican Theologian

Preaching has fallen on hard times. Part of that reason for this is that we are decreasingly a word oriented culture and as such it is difficult for us to follow even the best 30-45 minute oral presentations. Another problem we have that mitigates against the rise of strong preachers and preaching is our cultures lack of willingness to hear an authoritative word. We largely live in a “each man does is what is right in his own eyes” culture and as such preaching will not be taken seriously because it cuts against our resistance to any authority besides our own. Another reason for this is that preachers, having been educated in government schools and that combine with their having been saturated in our culture Preachers have lost the ability to think (and so speak) outside of and in opposition to our dominant cultural paradigm.

American Funerals

Several years ago I took some part time work with a funeral home to help supplement my pastor’s income. The people who owned the Funeral home were gracious and they made sure that I never had a conflict of schedules. They understood where my priorities were and worked with me accordingly. The work was different. At times I would drive the hearse transporting the deceased from one funeral home to another. At other times I would pick up the deceased from the place where they had died and bring them to the funeral home. There would be times I would help with the parking and times I would deliver the flowers after the funeral service. It was all the stuff you would expect to find in working with a funeral home.

However I didn’t last more than a year doing this part time work. It wasn’t that they were dissatisfied with me. Nor was it that I was dissatisfied with them. It wasn’t the nature of the work that had me walk away from a little extra income. It was the depression I was struggling with that had me quit. Now, one might think it was a depression brought on by my being around death that had me quit, but it wasn’t that. The depression that drove me to quit the funeral home was the constant barrage of funeral sermons I was hearing. I got to the point I just couldn’t handle seeing people leave funeral after funeral with no idea what the Gospel was. More than that I had got to the point that I couldn’t handle the silliness that was going on in the name of Christ.

At one funeral the Pastor quoted the famous passage,

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

He then proceeded to eulogize the deceased by saying,

“Paul had many interests in his life and in heaven Jesus has a room for him for all the interests that he had. There will be a voluntary fireman room for him. There will be a ‘Dad’ room for him. There will be a sportsman room for him. etc. etc. Jesus has been very thoughtful this way.

At another funeral where the deceased had been involved in a tragic auto accident the Pastor climbed into the pulpit and the first words out of his mouth were,

“I want everyone who is sitting here and who can hear my voice to know that God didn’t have anything to do with this accident. God didn’t want this to happen and this isn’t God’s fault.”

At yet another funeral a female minister led the congregation in hand holding with the person next to them while she sang Bette Midler’s “The Rose.”

Eventually, I couldn’t take any more and I told my Funeral employer that my emotional well being was being adversely affected by all the funeral messages I was subject to and I had to quit.

I thought I had seen it all until today. Now, keep in mind my observations having nothing to do with the deceased and everything to do with the Clergy officiant. The deceased and his family were and are fine people.

Today I was at a Funeral and the minister got towards the end of the service and he said,

“Now I want everybody to uncross their arms and legs.” (Insert shuffling noises while most people are uncrossing arms and legs while others go out of their way to cross arms and legs.) “In ancient Judaism they never prayed with arms and legs crossed because it was thought that such a posture would block the effectiveness of the prayers. I want everybody here to get the full measure of the prayer so go ahead and uncross your arms and legs. Now, before we pray I want you to take your right hand and pretend you are reaching up into heaven and are pulling a gold coin out of a treasure chest.” (Insert spectacle of 200 people in a funeral home reaching with their right hand upward into ‘heaven’s treasure chest’ in order to pull out a gold coin. Now insert my fear that his next statement was going to be something like … “You do the Hokey Pokey and you shake it all about — that’s what its all about.”) He continued instead, “now, take that coin and pretend it is a memory and put in the pocket over your heart. That is your special memory of ______ that you will always have in your heart with you.”

Look, I try to be a reasonable man. I really try to listen to things with as much charity as possible. But a man can only take so much. Here we had a room full of people face to face with eternity and he is busy having people grab imaginary gold coins out of an imaginary heavenly treasure chest all the while making sure our body posture doesn’t get in the way of God’s ability to answer prayer. There was no mention of Christ. There was not mention of the Cross. There was no mention of resurrection. There was no mention of sin. There was no mention of grace and forgiveness. There was no mention of anything except the Chakra points of prayer.

If I were a pagan at a funeral like this, I guarantee you I would never ever darken the door of a church. If I were a pagan at a funeral like this I would never ever have anything to do with Christianity.

And now, I’m working on not being depressed again.