Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Good Creation (Revised)

It ought to be considered by those tempted to "make peace" with evolution by professing "theistic evolution," that positing such an origin of the cosmos brings up the question of the origin of evil.

For one thing, any kind of evolution calls into question what was meant when God said that what he had made was "good" at every step, and even "very good" when finished.  Did what was good, even very good, arise through mutations and the survival of the "fittest," or any other process that we would consider "natural," even if guided by the providence of God?  Is death normal -- or good?  Doesn't the creation groan in bondage, until its own resurrection?  Was it created in bondage?

Furthermore, evolutionary beliefs lead in the direction of Gnosticism or Manichaeism, since the origin and development of the universe, and the moral condition implied by the process of evolution, also implies that matter and energy, and the laws of the same as presently constituted, are not free from evil -- or else that that evil is good.

Once all this is seen, namely, that theistic evolution is an ancient heresy, then it should be rejected yet one more time, as it has had to be by the believers since time immemorial.

None of this was unknown to the writers of the Scripture, especially the New Testament.  Creation (not something else; there were plenty of options known to the Greeks) is the first article of faith (Heb 11).  Theistic evolution is just Epicurus redivivus with a little "theistic" icing.

PS:  Theistic evolution, in the manner described above, also justifies the main argument of the "new atheists," namely, that "How can there be a God, when the presence of evil is so obvious?"  In other words, the Manichaeism is evident in that the real God, if he exists, cannot cope with or do without the death-dealing evil present with matter and energy, and the laws of nature as they are currently known, and as they came into play during the process of evolution creating the universe -- or else he does not wish to have it any other way, and his "providence" is therefore corrupt.  The universe ceases to be the testimony to the goodness of God that it really is and was intended to be, though it is now fallen.

There had to be a good creation -- and then a Fall. If the "Fall" came first -- is just Nature, as science sees it, howsoever it is guided by God's providence, then the Biblical worldview cannot be maintained.  Death is then "natural."  Therefore, it must be the case that the Fall followed the finished Creation, and there must yet be an End of this fallen Creation and a Beginning of the New Heavens and the New Earth.  We did not "evolve" our way to this point, naturally or morally, and we will not "evolve" our way to the resurrection.

The inherent logic of Paul's arguments in Rom 1 and Acts 17 (on Mars Hill) is that all men know that God exists, is creator, and is good, and they also know that both they and the world are broken, that is, that there has been a Fall.  Theistic evolution militates against these evangelical arguments by teaching that what amounts to the Fall was inherent in the creation and the creating process, by God's design, from the very beginning.  Theistic evolution is thereby an anti-apologetic for Christianity.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

With Christ at the Table (Revised)

The sects wrangle about how the Lord is present at his Table -- or if he is.

But, there is only one question to answer:

Is our Lord present to us because we believe, that is, as a result of our faith?  Do we make him present with us?  Inconceivable!

We believe in Christ because he is first present, offering himself to us as the God-man through bread and wine, to be received by faith!

Faith can only receive what is already present and truly offered!

Glory be to God!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Puritans and the Federal Vision

As I was reading the story of the acquital of Peter Leithart today in the Aquila Report, a thought suddenly sprung to mind.  It is a question -- a question to which I do not have an answer, but I think a question worth investigating.

The question is this:  What is the correlation between the "parallel soteriology" of the Federal Vision (FV) and the "parallel soteriology" of William Perkins (WP) and his "map" of the spiritual paths of the elect and the non-elect professing Christians?

I'm not saying that FV is modeled on WP.  I'm saying that it is probably the case that both are struggling with the problem of apostasy -- a circumstance of immense Scriptural reality, and intense Scriptural warning.

For WP, the non-elect, when subjected to "common" operations of the Spirit in the Christian context may profess faith, seem to be seriously converted, become ministers of the Word, endure for a while, perhaps a long while, and then apostatize incurably, and end up in damnable heresy or disobedience.  The consequence of this teaching was an immense emphasis in "Puritanism" on self-examination, whereby a professing Christian could -- God willing -- discern his own case, whether or not he was truly converted, and, if not, "close with Christ" in a saving manner.  The result of this doctrinal approach was various, as can be seen in various Puritan writers, some of whom (Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth) are more "gracious and pastoral" toward their readers or hearers, and some (Alleine, Alarm to the Unconverted) are more harsh.  In any case, the effect of this doctrinal approach was to spread doubt among everyone (including the elect!).  Coupled with this was the belief that there were no grounds for assurance that one was in the faith, except those grounds within oneself, which were placed there by the Spirit -- that is, visible elements of sanctification.  Now, visibility of the Lord's Work within ourselves is valuable, says Calvin, but, contrary to these Puritans, Calvin would place this source of assurance last in order, faith alone being first, in accordance with Luther's teaching.  But, by early Puritan time (and Westminster time 100 years later) this item given last in importance by Calvin has become first in importance.  Therefore, the Puritans commonly questioned everyone's conversion, this being thought to be the safest for all.  Here, also, is the sore point for many who advocate some form of the FV.

Part of the approach of the FV, as I see it, is to deal the with question of apostasy just as much as William Perkins and his followers among the Puritans.  However, an antithetical affection characterizes the movement.  Rather than causing everyone to doubt, the approach is taken to bolster any potential spark of faith in all who profess faith in good behavior, and in their children.  In some way, this has the look and feel of Lutheranism, with which I'm extremely familiar.  If the approach is taken to bless all professions, believing that this approach to pastoral work and doctrine is more in line with Scripture teaching than that approach which spreads doubt, it is certainly conceivable that the teaching in these churches would seem to savor of "baptismal regeneration" (because every child is considered to be a Christian until he proves otherwise), "sacramental efficacy," etc., coupled, necessarily, with a doctrine of "apostasy," which may seem to teach that an actual Scriptural, doctrinal, true conversion can be lost.

Both the Puritan "doubters" and the FV "blessers" of professions of faith are attempting to deal with the Scriptural and experiential fact of real apostasy.  (I do not say that this is the only driving force for both parties.)  This observation, in my opinion, exposes a weakness within the kind of orthodox, American, Reformed evangelicalism which might oppose both FV and the WP tactics:  There is no serious handling of the doctrine of apostasy.

Let's not drop the ball on an opportunity for further reformation!