Venema: How to Approach the Doctrine of Predestination

August 3, 2010

It is necessary to prosecute our enquiries on this subject with wisdom and prudence, in sobermindedness and humility, dispassionately, and without violating the spirit of unity and brotherly love.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 294.


The Mystery of Redemption

August 2, 2010

And now let us attend to the relation in which we stand to the Triune Jehovah or to each of the persons of the Trinity. We are bound to admire and adore the three in one, and to celebrate their praise as such. We should see in this mystery the foundation of the work of our redemption. In perfect consistency with his justice and holiness, God is now in Christ the sinner’s God, a way has been opened by the Son by which the sinner may draw near to the Father, and deliverance is offered by the Spirit’s sanctifying work from the power of sin. We should render thanks to God for the great love wherewith he hath loved us, in giving us such a glorious manifestation of himself, and in revealing a mystery which no created being could have discovered or even imagined. We should, moreover keep our eyes fixed on the Trinity as the pattern of our happiness and of the union that should exist among those who profess their faith in this great doctrine.

Hermann Venema, Institutes of Theology, trans., Alex W. Brown (Andover: Draper Brothers, 1853), 266.


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.


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.