Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hays on Idealism

Steve Hays responded to my comment on idealism.

One needs to distinguish between epistemological idealism (e.g. Blanshard) and metaphysical idealism (e.g. Berkeley, McTaggart).
Yes, epistemological idealism isn't as problematic.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Steve Hays on Presuppositionalism

Steve Hays responded to my post on Van Til.

This is Van Til’s way of indicating that if you take the unbeliever’s position to its logical extreme, the unbeliever negates his knowledge of God (or anything else). In principle, the unbeliever knows nothing. ...Van Til does think that unbelievers retain some true knowledge

"Common ground" could stand for common beliefs. What believers and unbelievers both know about God, at a conscious or subconscious level. Or it could stand for common standards. Do believers and unbelievers share the same methods and assumptions?

If this is what Van Til meant, then I don't have a problem with it. But at lest in this respect, his view doesn't seem different than Clark's.

RazorsKiss on Presuppostional Apologetics

RazorsKiss at Choosinghats was kind enough to respond to my post on James White and Presuppostionalism. While I will respond to his other points as well, my main concern was to respond to his use of certain passages of scripture.

Friday, July 9, 2010

James Anderson's Defense of Van Til

James Anderson responded to my post on James White and Presuppositionalism by providing a link to an article he wrote defending Van Til. (link) Before getting into specifics on Anderson's article, I wanted to make some general comments. Undoubtedly, Van Til stated what I said he stated: 1) unbelievers don’t have true knowledge, 2: Christians and non-Christians have no common ground, 3) we should embrace apparent contradiction and circular reasoning and 4) our knowledge doesn't conincide with God's (i.e. scepticism). I will document this below. But it's also true, as Anderson's article points out, that Van Til at times said the opposite of these points or claimed to be misunderstood. Van Til's harshest critics (Clark & Robbins) simply accuse Van Til of contradiction himself. On the other hand, James Anderson (and other Van Til advocates such as Frame) seem to indicate that Van Til was not contradicting himself but rather had some deep, insightful meaning. However, they spend the bulk of there defense on explaining what Van Til did not mean rather then sharing what exactly Van Til's deep meaning was. Of course, if Van Til was irrational, then one could fill volumes with what Van Til didn't mean, because ultimately he didn't mean anything. So at best, Van Til is too confusing to be of any use and at worst he is an open advocate of contradiction.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

James White on Presuppositionalism

James White recently argued for presuppositional apologetics and against evidential apologetics. (link) He starts out with an analysis of Colossians 1:16-18, and Colossians 2:2-9, which focus on the Lordship of Christ. James White points out that the gospel is a radical claim, which unbelievers reject.

What caught my attention was James White's denial that unbelievers can have 'true knowledge' and his objection to the approach of starting from common ground between believers and unbelievers to show the reasonableness of believing in the God of the Bible and other Christian doctrines.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Index to Review of John Owen's the Death of Death in the Death of Christ

Part 1- Review of Owen’s Atonement Theory

In this section I review Owen’s view of the Atonement. In particular, I argue that Owen’s conflation of offering and intercession leads him to undermine justification by faith. I caution the reader to not attempt of “fix Owen’s argument for him”, or demand of me explanations of other aspects of passages quoted, or ask “how does this thought fit into an overall atonement theory”. Instead, just focus on understanding what Owen had to say, and if he was correct or not. There will be time explaining the atonement, when I give a positive defense of my own views. Owen’s view of the atonement lead him to unusual interpretations of certain “unlimited atonement” passages, so it’s well worth it to examine what he said about the atonement.

Part 2 – Top 10 Reasons to believe Christ Died for all

This section discusses the reasons to believe the atonement is unlimited. If Owen made some counter-arguments, they are included and addressed. The reasons are primarily based on exegesis, but some are based on systematic theology or even consistency within the Calvinist position. One key argument is that the Calvinist definition of the word “world” is a special pleading. They give “world” a definition that is alien to the New Testament, existing only to get Calvinists off the hook.

Part 3- Refutation of Owen’s arguments against Unlimited Atonement

Owen makes 24 arguments against unlimited Atonement, each of which is dealt with in turn. This section surveys a broad range of passages and scriptural arguments. It gives partial but not full explanations of the atonement. Owen’s key arguments are based on justice and satisfaction, which conflict with justification by faith.

Part 4- Atonement Theory

This section explains the atonement and contrasts an Arminian explanation with Owen’s. Both Owen’s explanation and this one are penal substitution, but whereas Owen’s atonement theory is one step, this one’s two step. The Lamb has been slain and the blood is applied.

Part 5 – Are Arminians Semi-Pelagian?

This section covers J. I. Packer’s misrepresentation of Arminianism and charge of semi-Pelagianism in his introduction to Owen’s book. The Council of Orange condemned semi-Pelagianism and this section demonstrates Arminius’ compliance with the 25 Cannons of Orange.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

G. H. Clark Claims God Creates Sin

This one is Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” This is a verse that many people do not know is in the Bible. Its sentiment shocks them. They think that God could not have created evil. But this is precisely what the Bible says, and it has a direct bearing on the doctrine of predestination.

Some people who do not wish to extend God’s power over evil things, and particularly over moral evils, try to say that the word evil here means such natural evils as earthquakes and storms. The Scofield Bible notes that the Hebrew word here, ra, is never translated sin. This is true. The editors of the Bible must have looked at every instance of ra in the Old Testament and must have seen that it is never translated sin in the King James Version. But what the note does not say is that it is often translated wickedness, as in Genesis 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth.” In fact, ra is translated wickedness at least fifty times in the Old Testament; and it refers to a variety of ugly sins. The Bible therefore explicitly teaches that God creates sin.
(Gordon Clark. Predestination. The Trinity Foundation. 1987. p. 18)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque

Ever wonder why Baal worship had such a strong comeback after Elijah's great victory? I don't. (link)

The Foreknowledge Argument and Hyper Libertarian Free Will

Here's William Hasker's version of the foreknowledge argument.

(B1) It is now true that Clarence will have a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow. (Premise)
(B2) It is impossible that God should at any time believe what is false, or fail to believe anything that is true. (Premise: divine omniscience)
(B3) Therefore, God has always believed that Clarence will have a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow. (From 1, 2)
(B4) If God has always believed a certain thing, it is not in anyone's power to bring it about that God has not always believed that thing. (Premise: the unalterability of the past)
(B5) Therefore, it is not in Clarence's power to bring it about that God has not always believed that he would have a cheese omelet for breakfast. (From 3, 4)
(B6) It is not possible for it to be true both that God has always believed that Clarence would have a cheese omelet for breakfast, and that he does not in fact have one. (From 2)
(B7) Therefore, it is not in Clarence's power to refrain from having a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow. (From 5,6) So Clarence's eating the omelet tomorrow is not an act of free choice.

(Hasker. God, Time and Knowledge. p.69)

The weak point in the argument is B4 - although it certainly sounds bad to say it's in my power to bring it about that God has not always believed something He has always believed. So I think best strategy for the libertarian is to grant the argument and the truth of B4, but explain why the argument rules out hyper-libertarian free will (link) and not libertarian free will.