December 2012


As we have seen from last week, in The God Who is There, Schaeffer has been discussing the line of despair. This is the point at which man has given up “hope of achieving a rational unified answer to knowledge and life.” (p. 23) This began in philosophy and worked its way through until it finally reached theology. Thus man turned to what is called existentialism in the search for meaning. Modern existentialism began with Kierkegaard but it was Karl Barth who open its door into theology. This new theology, as Schaeffer describes it, ” has given us hope of finding a unified field of knowledge. Hence, in contrast to biblical and Reformation theology, it is antitheology.” (p. 54)

In the second section, The Relationship of the New Theology to the Intellectual Climate, Schaeffer gives two examples of how the line of despair has impacted theology, thus creating the “new theology”. First, in regards to liberal German theology Schaeffer observes:

The old liberal theologians in Germany began by accepting the presuppositions of the uniformity of natural causes as a closed system. Thus they rejected everything miraculous and supernatural, including the supernatural in the life of Jesus Christ. Having done that, they still hoped to find an historical Jesus in a rational, objective, scholarly way by separating the supernatural aspect of Jesus’ life from the “true history.” (p. 52)

Those who have kept up with the historical Jesus Seminar can see where this came from and that it has not changed it its underlying assumptions.

Second, Schaeffer makes a telling observation in how the new theology uses words as they tried to apply the use of symbol from the field of science. Within the scientific field symbol has a well-defined meaning in order to bring further precision to the discussion and ones understanding. Schaeffer notes:

But the new theology uses the concept of symbol in exactly the opposite way. The only thing the theological and scientific uses have in common is the word symbol. To the new theology, the usefulness of a symbol is in direct proportion to its obscurity. There is connotation, as in the word god, but there is no definition. The secret of the strength of neo-orthodoxy is that these religious symbols with a connotation of personality given an illusion of meaning, and as a consequence it appears to be more optimistic than secular existentialism. One could not find a clearer examples of this than Tillich’s phrase “God behind God.”

At first acquaintance this concept gives the feeling of spirituality. “I do not ask for answers, I just believe.” This sounds spiritual, and it deceives many fine people. These are often young men and women who are content only to repeat the phrases of the intellectual or spiritual status quo. They have become rightly dissatisfied with a dull, dusty, introverted orthodoxy given only to pounding out the well-known cliches. The new theology sounds spiritual and vibrant, and they are trapped. But the price they pay for what seems to be spiritual high, for to operate in the upper story using undefined religious terms is to fail to know and function on the level of the whole man. The answer is not to ask these people to return to the poorness of the status quo, but to a living orthodoxy which is concerned with the whole man, including the rational and intellectual, in his relationship to God. (p. 60-61)

I think what Schaeffer has said here still has relevance for today. I am a thirty something and I can attest to the pull there is today towards abandoning historic Christian orthodoxy for avante garde theology. It is new for the sake of being new and not old. There are those within theological academia who are pushing for theological expressions that are edgy. Everyone has to say something new and everyone wants to be the next theological maverick. Orthodoxy has been given a black eye by this kind of theological thinking.

I am reminded of two passages from the New Testament that we would be wise to head:

I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)

Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard form me, in faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Tim. 1:13-14)

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From Ante Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1: Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr & Irenaeus:

Ignatius: Epistle to Polycarp, Chap. 3 – Exhortations:

Let not those who seem worthy of credit, but teach strange doctrines, fill thee with apprehension. Stand firm, as does an anvil which is beaten. It is the part of a noble athlete to be wounded, and yet to conquer. And especially we ought to bear all things for the sake of God, that He also may bear with us, and bring us into His kingdom. Add more and more to thy diligence; run thy race with increasing energy; weigh carefully the times. Whilst thou art here, be a conqueror; for here is the course, and there are the crowns. Look for Christ, the Son of God; who was before time, yet appeared in time; who was invisible by nature, yet visible in the flesh; who was impalpable, and could not be touched, as being without a body, but for our sakes became such, might be touched and handled in the body; who was impassible as God, but became passible for our sakes as man; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes.

Ignatuis: Epistle to the Tarisans, Chap. 2-4 – This deals with the doctrine of Christ esp. the Incarnation:

I have learned that certain of the ministers of Satan have wished to disturb you, some of them asserting that Jesus was born [only] in appearance, was crucified in appearance, and died in appearance; others that He is not the Son the Creator, and others that He is Himself God over all. Others, again, hold that He is a mere man, and others that this flesh is not to rise again, so that our proper course is to live and partake of a life of pleasure, for that this is the chief good to beings who are in a little while to perish. A swarm of such evils has burst in upon us. But ye have not “given place by subjection to them, no, not for one hour.” For ye are the fellow-citizens as well as the disciples of Paul, who “fully preached the Gospel from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum,” and bare about “the marks of Christ” in his flesh.

Mindful of him, do ye by all means know that Jesus the Lord was truly born of Mary, being made of a woman; and was as truly crucified. For, says he, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus.” And He really suffered, and died, and rose again. For says [Paul], “If Christ should become passible, and should be the first to rise again from the dead.” And again, “In that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God.” Otherwise, what advantage would there be in [becoming subject to] bonds, if Christ has not died? what advantage in patience? what advantage in [enduring] stripes? And why such facts as the following: Peter was crucified; Paul and James were slain with the sword; John was banished to Patmos; Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews who killed the Lord? But, [in truth,] none of these sufferings were in vain; for the Lord was really crucified by the ungodly.

And [know ye, moreover], that He who was born of a woman was the Son of God, and He that was crucified was “the first-born of every creature,” and God the Word, who also created all things. For says the apostle, “There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.” And again, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus;” and, “By Him were all things created that are in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”

Ignatius, Epistle to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch, Chap. 2 – Cautions Against False Teaching:

Every one that teaches anything beyond what is commanded, though he be [deemed] worthy of credit, though he be in the habit of fasting, though he live in continence, though he work miracles, though he have the gift of prophecy, let him be in thy sight as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, labouring for the destruction of the sheep. If any one denies the cross, and is ashamed of the passion, let him be to thee as the adversary himself. “Though he gives all his goods to feed the poor, though he remove mountains, though he give his body to be burned,” let him be regarded by thee as abominable. If any one makes light of the law or the prophets, which Christ fulfilled at His coming, let him be to thee as antichrist. If any one says that the Lord is a mere man, he is a Jew, a murderer of Christ.

Igantius, Epistle to the Philippians, Chap. 1 -2 – Reason for Writing the Epistle – This represents trinitarian thinking:

Being mindful of your love and of your zeal in Christ, which ye have manifested towards us, we thought it fitting to write to you, who display such a godly and spiritual love to the brethren, to put you in remembrance of your Christian course, “that ye all speak the same thing, being of one mind, thinking the same thing, and walking by the same rule of faith,” as Paul admonished you. For if there is one God of the universe, the Father of Christ, “of whom are all things;”and one Lord Jesus Christ, our [Lord], “by whom are all things;” and also one Holy Spirit, who wrought in Moses, and in the prophets and apostles; and also one baptism, which is administered that we should have fellowship with the death of the Lord; and also one elect Church; there ought likewise to be but one faith in respect to Christ. For “there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is through all, and in all.”

There is then one God and Father, and not two or three; One who is; and there is no other besides Him, the only true [God]. For “the Lord thy God,” saith [the Scripture], “is one Lord.” And again, “Hath not one God created us? Have we not all one Father? And there is also one Son, God the Word. For “the only-begotten Son,” saith [the Scripture], “who is in the bosom of the Father.” And again, “One Lord Jesus Christ.” And in another place, “What is His name, or what His Son’s name, that we may know?” And there is also one Paraclete. For “there is also,” saith [the Scripture], “one Spirit,” since “we have been called in one hope of our calling.” And again, “We have drunk of one Spirit,” with what follows. And it is manifest that all these gifts [possessed by believers] “worketh one and the self-same Spirit.” There are not then either three Fathers, or three Sons, or three Paracletes, but one Father, and one Son, and one Paraclete. Wherefore also the Lord, when He sent forth the apostles to make disciples of all nations, commanded them to “baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” not unto one [person] having three names, nor into three [persons] who became incarnate, but into three possessed of equal honour. (Italics mine)

Ignatius, Epistle to the Philippians, Chap. 3 – Christ was truly born and died – This is on the Incarnation of Christ:

For there is but One that became incarnate, and that neither the Father nor the Paraclete, but the Son only, [who became so] not in appearance or imagination, but in reality. For “the Word became flesh.” For “Wisdom builded for herself a house.” And God the Word was born as man, with a body, of the Virgin, without any intercourse of man. For [it is written], “A virgin shall conceive in her womb, and bring forth a son.” He was then truly born, truly grew up, truly ate and drank, was truly crucified, and died, and rose again. He who believes these things, as they really were, and as they really took place, is blessed. He who believeth them not is no less accursed than those who crucified the Lord. For the prince of this world rejoiceth when any one denies the cross, since he knows that the confession of the cross is his own destruction. For that is the trophy which has been raised up against his power, which when he sees, he shudders, and when he hears of, is afraid.

The Epistle of Barnabas, Chap. 4 – Antichrist is at hand: let us therefore avoid Jewish errors:

It therefore behoves us, who inquire much concerning events at hand, to search diligently into those things which are able to save us. Let us then utterly flee from all the works of iniquity, lest these should take hold of us; and let us hate the error of the present time, that we may set our love on the world to come: let us not give loose reins to our soul, that it should have power to run with sinners and the wicked, lest we become like them.

The Epistle to Barnabas, Chap. 11 – Baptism and the corss prefigured in the OT – This is an interesting interpretation of Psalm 1:

Let us further inquire whether the Lord took any care to foreshadow the water [of baptism] and the cross. Concerning the water, indeed, it is written, in reference to the Israelites, that they should not receive that baptism which leads to the remission of sins, but should procure another for themselves. The prophet therefore declares, “Be astonished, O heaven, and let the earth tremble at this, because this people hath committed two great evils: they have forsaken Me, a living fountain, and have hewn out for themselves broken cisterns. Is my holy hill Zion a desolate rock? For ye shall be as the fledglings of a bird, which fly away when the nest is removed.” And again saith the prophet, “I will go before thee and make level the mountains, and will break the brazen gates, and bruise in pieces the iron bars; and I will give thee the secret, hidden, invisible treasures, that they may know that I am the Lord God.” And “He shall dwell in a lofty cave of the strong rock.” Furthermore, what saith He in reference to the Son? “His water is sure; ye shall see the King in His glory, and your soul shall meditate on the fear of the Lord.” And again He saith in another prophet, “The man who doeth these things shall be like a tree planted by the courses of waters, which shall yield its fruit in due season; and his leaf shall not fade, and all that he doeth shall prosper. Not so are the ungodly, not so, but even as chaff, which the wind sweeps away from the face of the earth. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the just; for the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Mark how He has described at once both the water and the cross. For these words imply, Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water; for, says He, they shall receive their reward in due time: then He declares, I will recompense them. But now He saith, “Their leaves shall not fade.” This meaneth, that every word which proceedeth out of your mouth in faith and love shall tend to bring conversion and hope to many. Again, another prophet saith, “And the land of Jacob shall be extolled above every land.” This meaneth the vessel of His Spirit, which He shall glorify. Further, what says He? “And there was a river flowing on the right, and from it arose beautiful trees; and whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever.” This meaneth, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit. “And whosoever shall eat of these shall live for ever,” This meaneth: Whosoever, He declares, shall hear thee speaking, and believe, shall live for ever.

Epistle of Barnabas, Chap. 15 – The false and true Sabbath – Here Barnabas discusses the Sabbath, days of creation and eschatology all together and seems to imply that the 6 days of creation represent the length of time for all of history until Christ comes back for the perfect final Sabbath rest:

Further, also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart.” And He says in another place, “If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them.” The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.” Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.” Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Moreover, He says, “Thou shalt sanctify it with pure hands and a pure heart.” If, therefore, any one can now sanctify the day which God hath sanctified, except he is pure in heart in all things, we are deceived. Behold, therefore: certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness. Then we shall be able to sanctify it, having been first sanctified ourselves

Multiply by ChanDisciples make disciples. Though this three word sentence is as clear as a cloudless sky and given by Jesus in one of the clearest passages of Scripture (Matt. 28:19), it has been one of the most largely undeveloped and neglected aspects of church and Christian life. That is, disciples of Jesus Christ are not so adept at making new converts to Christ into disciples of Christ. While some groups can be very productive in evangelism, that is often where it stops and thus the church is filled with undiscipled disciples of Christ. Granted, once one becomes an adopted child of God they are a disciple of Christ in its most bare sense of the word. However, being a disciple of Christ is not merely a static state of existence one has in relation to Christ once saved. Rather, it is a dynamic relationship that is growing. Thus, discipleship is properly a description of the ongoing growth of a self-identified disciple of Christ.

This idea of disciples making disciples is the passion behind the new book Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan and Mark Beuving. Chan and Beuving’s desire is to help believers understand what it means to be a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ. The goal of discipleship is to be like the person you are following. For the Christian that is Christ. “That’s the whole point of being a disciple of Jesus: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process.” (p. 16)

Though disciples are individuals, discipleship is not accomplished individually. “The proper context for every disciple maker is the church. It is impossible to make disciples aside from the church of Jesus Christ.” (p. 51) After all, how would one fulfill and be a recipient of the over 50 “one another” passages in the New Testament on their own outside of the local church? Further, if disciples are to obey the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations, they cannot do that one their own. Discipleship happens in the life of the individual within the life of the church.

While discipleship for the follower of Christ happens within the local church, it is not merely contained within the local church. Growing disciples of Christ will naturally develop an outward focus on the world around them. This is how the church fulfills the great commission to make disciples of very nation. As unbelievers are evangelized and brought within the local church for discipleship, they in turn are driven to evangelize others so that they too might become disciples of Christ and being their discipleship journey within the local church as well. The authors rightly point out:

We are called to make disciples, and strengthening the other members of the church body is an important part of this. But if we are not working together to help the unbelieving world around us become followers of Jesus, then we are missing the point of our salvation. God blessed Abraham so that He could bless the world through him (Gen. 12). (p. 74)

So the natural question that arises is “What does discipleship look like?” Finding root in Matt. 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” Chan and Beuving spend the rest of the book (about 230 pages worth of it) discussing how to study the Bible and the content of the biblical story line. So, what is all important to discipleship is knowing Scripture since it is within Scripture that we find all that Jesus has commanded His disciples.

After giving a brief introduction to basic Bible interpretation principles, the authors spend the bulk of the book walking from Genesis to Revelation and drawing out the redemptive biblical story line. I will not rehash it but it is divided into the Old and New Testaments and follows the Creation, Fall, Redemption and Consummation structure while filling out much of the redemptive portion. With this the book ends. What might become readily apparent to those who are more familiar with books on discipleship is that Chand and Beuving have taken a markedly different approach to discussing what discipleship looks like. Most books on discipleship cover the typical topics of prayer (though this is touched on), Bible study, the fruits of the Spirit and the like while not addressing the issue of the whole message of the Bible. This may be because most discipleship books are geared towards (though not always stated as such) Christians who have been saved for a while but are looking for more growth in these areas. Chan and Beuving have perhaps shifted their focus (though it is not stated) more towards new Christians who have not been reading their Bibles and would not be familiar with the overall message of Scripture.

Since the content of Multiply seems to be driven in this direction the book is more for new Christians rather than seasoned ones. And that is fine because for new believers this is an excellent resource. In fact, the book is accompanied by a series of videos you can find online at www.multiplymovement.com. Here you can listen to each chapter read aloud. In addition, there is a corresponding video for each chapter in the book in which Chan and David Platt discuss the content of the chapter. As such, Multiply is designed not just for individuals to read on their own but to go through with others in a group with a leader.

Multiply is a great book to get into the hands of new believers. There is nothing worse than seeing a person commit their lives to be a disciple of Christ to only sputter along in their Christian life never really growing as a disciple of Christ. This book provides a needed tool to help new believers understand their identity as disciples, get properly oriented within the context of the local church as the place their discipleship takes place and to get an early grasp on the message of Scripture so they can understand all that Christ has commanded them. I recommend buying several copies of this book to have ready to give to new believers!

NOTE: I received this book for free from David C Cook and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

Lie, The by Kan Ham

In 1979, after having been a public school science teacher and part-time speaker on creation during the weekends, Ken Ham retired from teaching to start a ministry that would later become what many today know as Answers in Genesis (AiG). Not even a decade after Ham began his now world famous creation ministry he published his first book in 1987, The Lie. This book encapsulates the message that lies at the heart of everything AiG stands for and teaches. This message is that God has given us a record of how He created everything in the book of Genesis and that the scientific theory of evolution as everything was an accident and all life evolved over millions and billions of years from a single cell, is a lie.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of The Lie and Master Books has published an
updated version. While the core of the book is the same, Ham has added new more contemporary examples with a few additional appendixes and has updated the cover of the book. Some of the diagrams in the book have been updated as they have been changed to more accurately reflect how Ham presents the creation/evolution debate (see castle diagram in Appen. 1, p. 197).

The basic content of the book is a compilation of lectures Ham was doing, and continues to do to this day, in churches and schools while teaching on creation/evolution. If you have watched any of his videos or heard seen him speak then some of the material will sound familiar. The basic thrust of the book is to call Christians back to the book of Genesis as our starting point for understanding origins rather than following the evolutionary teaching of secularism. For Christians, Genesis is to shape our worldview. If the church accepts evolution as the basis for origins then it will naturally produce a contrary worldview which it at odds with Scripture. If evolution is true, Ham points out, then we are left with a worldview that has no room for God and will naturally result in the moral and spiritual degradation of society.

Through the apologetical method of presuppositionalism, Ham does a good job of getting the heart of the issues within the creation/evolution debate. It needs to be pointed out that Ham employs a modified version of presuppositional apologetics from its more well known proponents like Cornelius VanTil, Greg Bahnsen and John Frame but this is not the place to tease this out. Presuppositionalism addresses ones starting point. For Christians it is the existence of God and his revelation to man in Scripture. To accept evolution as the explanation of human origins is to silence the voice of Scripture, and thus God, and therefore replace one set of presuppositions about life and reality for another. When it comes to the area of science and evidence ones presuppositions have a great impact on how a person interprets the data. Overall, Ham does a good job making the connection as to how accepting evolutionary thinking about origins leads to a worldview that is at odds with Scripture.

While there is much to commend Ham for in the book there were two things that stuck out to me that I had a hard time with. I only mention them because they are central to the books argument. First, I am not convinced about the hard line Ham draws between observational and historical science (see chap. 2 & 3). If one were to accept Ham’s premise that historical science can tell us nothing about the past because the evidence exists in the present, then we must throw out, possibly among other things, the whole field of archaeology which I know AiG engages in, and rightly so (see. pgs, 47, 49 & 57). Second, while I hold to the days of creation as being six 24 hour days, I do not see all of the creation day views as mutually exclusive like Ham does. While I hold to a young earth I do not hold to a young universe and I do accept part of the cosmic temple view as popularized by John Walton though I reject his functional ontology view of creation.

Those differences aside, The Lie is the go to book for the heart of AiG’s message. Readers will come face to face with the obvious differences between the worldview of Scripture and secularism/evolution. Ham is passionate about the truth and about Christians knowing the truth. Ham employs ample Scriptural support for Christians to consider and come to grips with. This is Ham’s clarion call for Christians to wake from their slumber of ignorance about the origins debate and arm themselves with understanding and truth about the issues at stake.

NOTE: I received this book for free from Master Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Handy Guide to NT Greek by HuffmanAs anyone who has studied another language can attest to, having shorter versions of your grammar and syntax books can be a big help for translating. No one wants to have to lug around their big language books and flip through numerous pages to find a verb or noun translation chart on a page you cannot remember. Much less, having small sticky notes sticking out of the top pages of the book makes you look, well, nerdy – right?

For several years now linguists and grammarians of New Testament Greek have been producing short helpful summaries of the various paradigms students need to have memorized and be able to refer to quickly when translating. While most of these helps have come in the form of laminated charts (ranging from one to six connected sheets) Douglas Huffman has written a very helpful little book titled The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming. And handy it is!

Purpose

Huffman justifies the form and purpose of this book for several reasons. First, while it would be of help to beginning first year Greek students, the book is primarily and most helpful for second year students. Second, while in book form, the contents are mainly comprised of every chart one would need with a few explanatory remarks on the nature of nouns, verbs and those slippery  (but important) prepositions. Third, given the contents of the book it is ideal for quick review in between semesters or before a final exam. This will also make it easier for pastors to keep up with their Greek right out school while adjusting to new ministry demands. No one intends to lose their Greek but it happens and this can certainly help prevent it. Fourth, the size of the book (5.1″ x 7.4″) makes it smaller than your Greek NT and thus not a hindrance to always keeping it with your Greek NT.

Contents

The book is divided into three sections: grammar reminders, syntax summaries and phrase diagramming helps. For the grammar reminders all of the first and second year memorization charts are contained. This includes the alphabet, liquid verb contracting rules, noun, adjective, pronoun and verb charts. For all of the grammar parts there is a brief definition of each. For instance, each of the parsing parts of a verb are defined as well as the six verb tenses. What is particularly helpful with the verb charts is that each principle part is color coded so students can separate and see them better on the chart. Further, peculiarities about different parts of speech are briefly noted such as the characteristics of second and third declension nouns.

For syntax summaries there are much fewer charts but more summary definitions. These include case endings (e.g., all 20 uses of the genitive), article and verb usages and the various conditional sentence structures. Along with most of the various syntactical uses of each grammatical part is part of all of a Greek verse in parenthesis to show as an example. The various uses of hoti and hina clauses are explained in chart form. Also, a very helpful yes and no answer chart is used to help with labeling the various participles.

Lastly, the phrase diagramming helps aid the student in diagramming a sentence or paragraph in order to see the flow of thought of the author. This aids not only in exegesis but also interpretation and finally preaching. Huffman focuses on phrase diagramming (as opposed to technical, semantic diagramming and arching) since it is more user friendly for pastors and produces the same results as other more technical forms. Huffman provides an eight step process with examples and charts to guide the student from choosing a passage to diagram to making an outline for a sermon or teaching lesson.

Conclusion

As one who really enjoys NT Greek (though I have not kept up with it as I should) I am very excited about this book! Reading through it reminded me of why I love NT Greek and so much that I learned came to the forefront of my memory. Though aimed more at second year students, I recommend this book for first year students as well. Get it early and use it often! You are sure to wear  this book in with frequent use very quickly. This is the kind of book I am sure many teachers wish they could have made for their students and every student will wish they had years ago when they first started learning NT Greek. Hats off to Huffman for making a resource that will no doubt have timeless use for all NT Greek students!

NOTE: I received this book for free from Kregel and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

If you found this review to be helpful can you take a minute to give it a positive vote on Amazon?

Complete Works of Francis SchaefferI have been wanting to read through The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, 5 Volumes and I have put it off long enough. As I am doing with my reading through the church fathers, I am going to have a weekly (hopefully) posting titled Saturdays with Schaeffer in which I will either post a long excerpt, several short ones, summarize a point he makes in the weeks reading or even do a book review once I finish one of the books in the volume I am in. I am doing this for two reasons. First, I have been challenged to read the complete works of at least one great Christian author and so I have choose Francis Schaeffer. Second, I chose Schaeffer because I enjoy apologetics and Schaeffer was one of the greatest apologists Christianity has ever produced.

The first volume is titled A Christian Worldview of Philosophy and Culture which contains the following books:

  1. The God Who is There
  2. Escape From Reason
  3. He is There and He is not Silent
  4. Back to Freedom and Dignity

In the first section of The God Who is There Schaeffer discusses what he calls “the line of despair” which is to say people have “given up all hope of achieving a rational unified answer to knowledge and life.” (p. 23) The shift in thinking started in philosophy and eventually reached its way into theology. Before the shift that brought about “the line of despair” man thought rational even though they had no foundation upon which to do so. Schaeffer explans:

Above the line, people were rationalistic optimists. They believed they could begin with themselves a draw a circle which would encompass all thoughts of life, and life itself, without having to depart from the logic of antithesis. They thought that on their own, rationalistically, finite people could find a unity within the total diversity – an adequate explanation for the whole of reality. (p. 10)

At some point in Europe around 1890 and in America around 1935, this all changed within the field of philosophy. Schaeffer explains again:

But at a certain point this attempt to spin out a unified optimistic humanism came to an end. The philosophers came to the conclusion that they were not going to find a unified rationalistic circle that would contain all thought, and in which they could live. It was as though the rationalist suddenly realized that he was trapped in a large room with no doors and no windows, nothing but complete darkness. (p. 10)

Since man could no longer start with oneself to find a unifying answer to all of life they looked without. The “line of despair” marks the point at which man sought an existential experience which seeks for an experience outside of oneself (existential). This experience was incommunicable and yet gives meaning to life. In response to this, Schaeffer shows us how the incarnation of Christ is an answer to those seeking an existential experience to bring meaning to all of life:

“Yes, I have had a final experience, but it can be verbalized, and it is of  a nature than can be rationally discussed.” Then I talk of my personal relationship  with the personal God who is there. I try to make them understand that this relationship is based on God’s written, propositional communication to men, and on the finished work of Jesus Christ in space-time history. They reply that this is impossible, that I am trying to do something that cannot be done. (p. 18)

It is amazing to see that though God has revealed himself to man in the person of Christ, man still rejects Him, instead seeking something else which will only lead him further from God. This reminds me of one of my favorite passages of Scripture, John 1:1-18:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The lightshines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (ESV)

As I mentioned last week, I have joined a reading group that literally spans the globe that is reading through all 38 volumes of the early church fathers. There are an estimated 300-400 people in the group with people still joining! So far there have been a number of encouraging sections and things that have shed light on how the early church thought. So far the most notable thing that has caught my attention is how saturated with Scripture their writing is!

Since I realize there are probably many people who would like to read through the fathers but will not, I have decided (as best I can) to share with you a weekly post with excerpts of my weeks reading that have stood out. It will be called Fridays with the Fathers. The excerpts will come from what I have read from Saturday-Thursday. I may give a one sentence context to the quote but the content of the post will mostly be excerpts with the source. Who knows, maybe reading these will ignite a desire to begin reading the fathers along with us!

So, here are some excerpts for this weeks reading:

Epistle to the Ephesians IX:

Nevertheless, I have heard of some who have passed in among you, holding the wicked doctrine of the strange and evil spirit; to whom ye did not allow entrance to sow their tares, but stopped your ears that ye might not receive that error which was proclaimed by them, as being persuaded that that spirit which deceives the people does not speak the things of Christ, but his own, for he is a lying spirit. But the Holy Spirit does not speak His own things, but those of Christ, and that not from himself, but from the Lord; even as the Lord also announced to us the things that He received from the Father. For, says He, “the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s, who sent Me.” And says He of the Holy Spirit, “He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever things He shall hear from Me.” And He says of Himself to the Father, “I have,” says He, “glorified Thee upon the earth; I have finished the work which, Thou gavest Me; I have manifested Thy name to men.” And of the Holy Ghost, “He shall glorify Me, for He receives of Mine.” But the spirit of deceit preaches himself, and speaks his own things, for he seeks to please himself. He glorifies himself, for he is full of arrogance. He is lying, fraudulent, soothing, flattering, treacherous, rhapsodical, trifling, inharmonious, verbose, sordid, and timorous.

Epistle to the Magensians XIII:

Study, therefore, to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles, that so all things, whatsoever ye do, may prosper both in the flesh and spirit; in faith and love; in the Son, and in the Father, and in the Spirit; in the beginning and in the end; with your most admirable bishop, and the well-compacted spiritual crown of your presbytery, and the deacons who are according to God. Be ye subject to the bishop, and to one another, as Jesus Christ to the Father, according to the flesh, and the apostles to Christ, and to the Father, and to the Spirit; that so there may be a union both fleshly and spiritual.

Epistle to the Philadelphians II:

Wherefore, as children of light and truth, avoid the dividing of your unity, and the wicked doctrine of the heretics, from whom “a defiling influence has gone forth into all the earth.” But where the shepherd is, there do ye as sheep follow. For there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing, who, by means of a pernicious pleasure, carry captive those that are running towards God; but in your unity they shall have no place.

Epistle to the Smyrneans VIII:

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles. Do ye also reverence the deacons, as those that carry out [through their office] the appointment of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as where Christ is, there does all the heavenly host stand by, waiting upon Him as the Chief Captain of the Lord’s might, and the Governor of every intelligent nature. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize, or to offer, or to present sacrifice, or to celebrate a love-feast. But that which seems good to him, is also well-pleasing to God, that everything ye do may be secure and valid.

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