Archive for February, 2009

Grace From Beginning To End

February 22, 2009

Berkhof on the Covenant of Grace

This covenant may be called a gracious covenant, (a) because in it God allows a Surety to meet our obligations; (b) because He Himself provides the Surety in the person of His Son, who meets the demands of justice; and (c) because by His grace, revealed in the operation of the Holy Spirit, He enables man to live up to His covenant responsibilities. The covenant originates in the grace of God, is executed in virtue of the grace of God, and is realized in the lives of sinners by the grace of God. It is grace from beginning to end for the sinner.

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 278

Berkhof, ST

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Berkhof and Dr. Strangelove

February 22, 2009

Is it just me or does Louis Berkhof look amazingly similar to Dr. Strangelove?

I think it is uncanny. However, I am guessing that neither Stanley Kubrick or Peter Sellers were fans of Berkhof. Maybe I am wrong.

Calvin on Providence

February 19, 2009

JCalvinBut we must so cherish moderation that we do not try to make God render account to us, but so reverence his secret judgments as to consider his will the truly just cause of all things. When dense clouds darken the sky, and a violent tempest arises, because a gloomy mist is cast over our eyes, thunder strikes our ears and all our senses are benumbed with fright, everything seems to us to be confused and mixed up; but all the while a constant quiet and serenity ever remain in heaven. So must we infer that, while the disturbances in the world deprive us of judgment, God out of the pure light of his justice and wisdom tempers and directs these very movements in the best-conceived order to a right end. And surely on this point it is sheer folly that many dare with greater license to call God’s works to account, and to examine his secret plans, and to pass as rash a sentence on matters unknown as they would on the deeds of mortal men. For what is more absurd than to use this moderation toward our equals, that we prefer to suspend judgment rather than be charged with rashness; yet haughtily revile the hidden judgments of God, which we ought to hold in reverence?

Calvin, Institutes, 1.17.1

Seinfeld and Predestination

February 17, 2009

g_costanzaWho says Reformed theology is not relevant? Certainly not Louis Berkhof. In his Systematic Theology, Berkhof uses a term that is in one of the most famous Seinfeld episodes of all time. Of course, I am referring to the “Yada Yada” episode.

For those of you not familiar with Seinfeld, perhaps the greatest sitcom of all time, “Yada Yada” is a term used when a person skips over major details of a story. Usually, yada yada yada is used to avoid spelling out the details of something that one really doesn’t want to talk about. Take George for example:

George: Well, we were engaged to be married, uh, we bought the wedding invitations, and, uh, yada yada yada, I’m still single.

Marcy: So what’s she doing now?

George: Yada.

George didn’t want to go into the details of why the engagement did not culminate in marriage because the glue from the wedding invitations he picked out caused the death of his fiance. Okay, so now you are probably wondering how all this is related to Berkhof. If you look at page 111 of the Banner of Truth edition, you will see Berkhof is writing about the Scriptural terms for predestination. And at the bottom of the page, Berkhof notes that the Hebrew verb yada’ means “to know” or “to take cognizance” of something.

So basically, when Seinfeld uses the term “yada yada yada” it is to mean something similar to “you know, you know, you know.” And how do I know (pun intended) this: Louis Berkhof’s Systematic Theology.

So when Brian McLaren or Rob Bell tell you that Reformed theology is not relevant you can say, “Louis Berkhof, yada yada yada, Reformed theology is relevant.”

Yeh Is Not Emergent

February 17, 2009

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Allen Yeh on why he is not emergent.

The Case For Infant Baptism

February 14, 2009

JLTLCI grew up in traditional non-denominational evangelicalism where baptism was performed only when a child makes a public profession of faith. I can still remember being baptized when I was nine years old. I remember standing in the baptism pool with my pastor speaking into the microphone and announcing to the congregation that baptism is something that Jesus commanded us to do and that the purpose of our baptism was to display the individual’s commitment to Christ. I had never heard of the covenant of grace or signs of initiation into the covenant. If you had told my that churches baptized babies I would have thought you were crazy. I had not even really heard about infant baptism until I was in college. I remember thinking that it seemed quite strange since it would be impossible for an infant to make a profession of faith in Christ. But I remember a friend I respected saying that the biblical argument was actually quite strong for infant baptism. Daniel Hyde’s Jesus Loves the Little Children: Why We Baptize Children gives  a clear, concise, and strong argument for infant baptism.

Being an individual new to confessional Reformed theology, piety, and practice,  this book was a timely read for me.  About three weeks ago I actually just witnessed my first direct experience of infant baptism when a few couples at the Reformed church I am now attending had their babies baptized.

Hyde does a great job of clearly laying out the theological framework for why Reformed churches practice baptism. The book was clear and plainly written and quite irenic. I liked how Hyde dedicated one of the early chapters to clarify some of the terms that he would be using in the book. Hyde writes that “historically speaking, Christians and the Protestant Reformers understood baptism as the visible initiation into the Church of Jesus Christ by means of the outward sign of water.” Further, similar to circumcision, baptism is the sign of initiation into a covenant relationship with God. God is a covenant making God and deals with his people in covenants. The covenant of grace was first announced in the garden in Gen 3:15 and was proclaimed through the prophets. God made a tangible sign of the covenant of grace with Abraham (circumcision) and God commanded Abraham to circumcise his son, Issac, prior to any profession of faith from Issac. Therefore, Issac was circumcised on the eighth day. The sign of circumcision is a bloody sign that typologically points to the death of Christ on the cross.

Hyde basically summarizes the argument for infant baptism on pages 42-43. He says that God’s covenant promises are unchangeable and that he promises to include the children of believers in he covenant in the OT. Further, both the OT and NT are clear that children of the believers are included in the covenant. Therefore, if the children are in the covenant they should not be denied the sign of baptism showing that they are in the covenant.

When I Became a Christian

February 5, 2009

Indeed, in the testimony of faith, three answers can be given to the question of when I became a Christian. Firstly, I have been a child of God from all eternity in the heart of the Father. Secondly, I became a child of God when Christ the Son lived, died and rose again for me long ago. Thirdly, I became a child of God when the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of adoption – sealed in my faith and experience what had been planned from all eternity in the heart of the Father and what was completed once and for all in Jesus Christ. There are three moments but only one act of salvation, just as we believe there are three persons in the Trinity, but only once God. We may never divorce any one from the other two. So Jesus commissioned the disciples to preach the gospel and to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Of these three moments, the second is the decisive one in the gospel of grace. Christus pro nobis prior to Christus in nobis. “Little child, for you Jesus Christ has come.”

James B. Torrance, Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace (76)