Archive for July, 2010

Venema and the Hiddenness of God

July 30, 2010

If God were to act arbitrarily, then we must renounce our confidence in his word, in all revelation, and in the whole of religion. For he may promise something to-day and deny it to-morrow. And who could repose reliance on a Being—whatever declarations he may make, whatever promises he may hold out—whatever command he may enjoin—in regard to whom there is a possibility that he may deceive us? We should be continually haunted with the suspicion that as he acts arbitrarily, he may be acting for the very purpose of deceiving us. But if it be said that he cannot so deceive us because he is unchangeably good and holy, we in saying this deny that he acts arbitrarily, for there is a something that limits him. He uniformly acts therefore not according to his mere good pleasure, but in consistency with his wisdom and other perfections.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 190.

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More Bonhoeffer II

July 30, 2010

Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Jesus Christ? Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by the one Word and Deed which really binds us together—the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 28.

More Bonhoeffer

July 30, 2010

God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 27.

Nothing But Grace

July 30, 2010

It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is by grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to love in community with Christian brethren.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), 20.

Not Absolutely Free

July 29, 2010

For by creation he assumed certain relations towards his creatures—relations arising necessarily from his being their creator, and relations to which all his actions must be conformed. God besides cannot deny himself, and therefore in all his actions towards his creatures he is not absolutely free. For he is possessed of goodness, wisdom, justice, and he must act agreeably to these perfections.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 175.

Hermann Venema: What Reason Can & Cannot Do

July 26, 2010

It plainly declares, indeed, that he is a transgressor, and that he has forfeited the divine favour—that God, who is just and holy, cannot, without a full exhibition and vindication of these attributes, re-admit the sinner into his fellowship. But it breathes not a whisper as to the way in which this manifestation may be made, and how, in consistency with these attributes, a reconciliation can be effected between the parties at variance. This is a problem too difficult for reason to solve. Revelation alone clears up the mystery. It tells us, that that the Son of God was made flesh, in order that he might vindicate the divine holiness and satisfy the demands of divine justice. This wonderful scheme was foolishness to the Gentiles and a stumbling-block to the Jews.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 28.

By the Power of His Deity (via Heidelblog)

July 21, 2010

Heidelberg Q 17.

Heidelberg Catechism Q. 17: 17. Why must he also be true God? That by the power of His Godhead He might bear in His manhood the burden of God's wrath,1 and so obtain for 2 and restore to us righteousness and life.3 1 Isaiah 53:8. Acts 2:24. 2John 3:16. Acts 20:28. 3 1 John 1:2. The sub-text of Satan's offer, in the garden, was power. You see, the covenant of works offered glorified, everlasting, consummated fellowship with God on condition of abs … Read More

via Heidelblog

Brunner on the Word of God

July 19, 2010

The Law of God is everywhere, the Promise of God is only in the Bible—the promise, namely, that God comes to His sick, rebellious people, to heal them, the message of the “Saviour,” the healing, saving, forgiving, and redeeming God. This promise is really the Word of God.

Emil Brunner, Our Faith, trans.  John Rilling (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1954), 62.

This Terrible Glass

July 16, 2010

If we possessed in this life of a perfect faith in Christ, and so of perfect holiness, then I grant the believers should not need this terrible glass of the law, and of the covenant of works. But because unbelief still resteth in this our nature, and the relics of that inherent contagion still abide in us, and for that so long as we live here, neither our faith nor holiness can be perfected; therefore, to waken more and more our unbelief and inherent sin in us, and more and more to increase faith and holiness, we have ever need of this terrible glass, as a continual severe schoolmaster, which, ever casting many fears before us, may drive us to the faith of Christ, and to sanctimony of life.

Robert Rollock, “Treatise of Effectual Calling,” In Select Works of Robert Rollock, 2 vols., ed. William Gunn (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2008), 48-49.

All of Grace

July 15, 2010

First, that the cause wherefore we answer God’s calling, or believe in God, is God’s own grace, which worketh in us this faith by the Holy Ghost, which is given us with his work; for, like as God of his mere grace calleth us outwardly unto himself, so the same—his grace and free love in Jesus Christ—kindleth this faith in us, whereby we answer his heavenly calling.

Robert Rollock, “Treatise of Effectual Calling,” In Select Works of Robert Rollock, 2 vols., ed. William Gunn (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2008), 30.