Things That Cannot Be Shaken

This is the title of a new book by Scott Oliphint (professor of apologetics at WTS) and Rod Mays (national coordinator of RUM, the campus ministry of the PCA).

The book was inspired by the hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” The book is divided into five chapters, entitled “Says Who? He Whose Word Cannot Be Broken,” “Our Deepest Need: See! The Streams of Living Waters,” “We Are Not Alone: Round Each Habitation Hovering,” “Payment and Punishment: Washed in the Redeemers’s Blood!,” “Seeing the Unseen: Solid Joys and Lasting Treasure.”

The first chapter deals with the issues of authority, setting empiricism and rationalism over against the Word of God. The authors note that the problem with Satan’s tempting of Jesus was not that Satan required some sort of miracle, but that Satan would simply not believe what God had said (p. 26). In fact, “God had already said, ‘You are my beloved Son.’ No more proof was needed” (p. 27). They authors make the intriguing point that Jesus could have been a perfect empiricist or rationalist, since His faculties were not tainted by sin. However, Jesus trusted God’s Word alone (p. 27).

The second chapter deals with our deepest need, which is not to have our lives filled with stuff, or relationships, or anything other than God. A wonderful exposition of John 4 and the story of the woman at the well brings this point out nicely. The Holy Spirit is that living water that will well up in our lives.

The third chapter deals with a common problem today, namely, that people feel isolated, despite the fact that many people are crammed together in very small spaces. To a large extent, this is due to the Enlightenment, and Jean-Paul Sartre’s way of thinking, a crass individualism that sees hell as other people. The answer here is that the Gospel leads us to the church of Christ.

The fourth chapter deals with the atonement. Lewis’s book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe plays a prominent role as justice and mercy are threaded together at the cross.

Lastly, the fifth chapter points us in an eschatological direction, since faith looks to the things that are not seen. We need something that transcends us. Otherwise, there is no justification for the Christian faith, as Christopher Hitchens would say. What is eternal and unseen in the heavenly realms is, however, more solid than what we see here, which is temporary and passing away.

This is a great little book that makes many helpful apologetical points. It is a quick read (only 155 pages, including the end notes), and helpful as a guide to how our faith shold work in a postmodern world.

The Trinity and Post-Millenialism

Doug has answered my post here, although he has not answered my comments on this thread.

The comments of Steve W bring up the important question of the nature of a covenant. Is a covenant a relationship, or is it an agreement? All too often, the discussion is skewed from the start by prejudicial terminology like “contract,” which make it sound like a cold piece of business. Agreements, on the other hand, happen all the time between two closely connected or related people. The confessional position is that there is a promise and a stipulation (using the last term in a very large sense, which could include both a condition and a requirement).

Federal Vision advocates deny the logic of the confession when it comes to the Covenant of Works, and whether life was actually promised, whether there actually was an agreement, and so on. Usually it is claimed that there is no Scriptural warrant for this. However, if you follow the logic of the confession (19.1-2) and the WLC 99, what becomes clear is that the threat of death (Gen 2:17)implies the promise of life, and that the same condition applies to both the threat and the promise: if Adam did not obey, then the covenant curse came upon him; but if Adam obeyed, the covenant promise became his. If Adam was in a mutable state, then it would not have been right to retain Adam in a perpetual state of probation. If there was a natural body, then there is a spiritual body, as Paul says in 1 Cor 15:44b. There always was an expectation of something higher. Of course, this is of the nature of a good and necessary inference. However, one of the problems of the Federal Vision has always been a biblicistic undermining of good and necessary inference (whether intended or not), in that systematic theology is viewed as a Procrustean bed upon which the legs of exegesis are sawn off. I strongly differ.

Now, how does this kind of logic apply to the intra-Trinitarian relations? It is quite the wrong conclusion to say that if there was an agreement, then that implies a plurality within the Godhead. The same objection could be made against Ralph Smith’s paradigm. The fact is that either definition of covenant applies to the persons of the Godhead, not to the essence. If this is true, then no such implication of plurality (assuming that means a plurality of essence, though Steve’s comments were rather less than clear on this point) within the Godhead exists. It is a rather simple answer, but none the less powerful for that.

Lastly, on post-millenialism, I don’t really have anything more to add than what I’ve already said. I do have this one question, however. Do post-millenialists believe that all amils are pessimists? I, for one, am not, though I have no illusions as to the nature of persecution.