October 18, 2019

Miscellaneous Discourses in Vol II of the Works - Edwards - II - Men naturally are God's enemies concluded

Required reading

Miscellaneous Discourses in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Conclude 'Men naturally are God's enemies'.


My summary

Last week we started the discourse on 'For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son'  (Rom. 5:10).


Edwards' demonstrated his main point that men naturally are God's enemies and started answering objections.


Today Edwards:

(i) answers the objection that natural men do show respect to God from time to time;

(ii) teaches us how indebted to God we are for his restraining grace;

(iii) explains why natural men are not willing to come to Christ;

(iv) discusses why God justly may refuse to show mercy;

(v) gives practical improvements.


What grabbed me

I enjoyed the section on how good it is that God has restrained evil: 'God's work in the restraint that he exercises over a wicked world, is a glorious work. God's holding the reins upon the corruptions of a wicked world, and setting hounds to their wickedness, is a more glorious work, than his ruling the raging of the sea, and setting bounds to its proud waves, and saying, Hitherto shall thou come, and no further. In hell, God lets the wickedness of wicked spirits have the reins, to rage without restraint; and it would be in a great measure upon earth as it is in hell, did not God restrain the wickedness of the world. '


Oh the mercy of God in not leaving us to our wicked devices!


Next week's reading

Commence 'Wisdom displayed in salvation' by reading Sections I and II.


Now it's your turn

Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

October 17, 2019

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 - Shedd - V - Chapter 1 Anthropology concluded

Required reading
Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Chapter 1 'Man's creation' by reading up to the paragraph that begins '3. Thirdly, the physiological argument favors traducianism.' (found on page 63 of my edition).

My summary
Today we read Shedd's arguments for traducianism from physiology - the third and last principal support for the doctrine..

Firstly Shedd states that the physiological argument favors traducianism because sex in man implies a species, and a species implies that the entire invisible rudimental substance of the posterity is created in the first pair of the species.

Secondly Shedd makes the case that Tradacianism on the side of the body presents less difficulty. It should not be confined to the body but extended to the soul, for the following physiological reasons : 
1. Man at every point in his history, embryonic as well as foetal, is a union of soul and body, of mind and matter;
2. The creation of the soul subsequently to the conception of the body, and its infusion into it, is contrary to all the analogies in nature;
3. If the body is propagated and the soul created, the body is six thousand years older than the soul, in the instance of an individual of this generation.

Thirdly, Shedd answers principal objections urged against the theory of Traducianism:
1. It is said that it conflicts with the doctrine of Christ's sinlessness;
2. It is objected that traducianism implies division of substance, and that all division implies extended material substance;
3. It is objected that upon the traducian theory that all the sinful acts of Adam and Eve ought to be imputed to their posterity, as well as the first sin.

What grabbed me
I appreciated Shedd's counsel to accept the mysteries of traducianism: 
'It is no valid objection to the doctrine of existence in Adam, and in foregoing ancestors, that it is impossible to explain the mode. The question: "How can these things be ?" as in the instance of Nicodemus, must be answered by the affirmation that it is a fact, and a mystery. It is no refutation of the doctrine, to ask how the nature exists before it is individualized or procreated, any more than it is a refutation of the doctrine of the resurrection, to ask how the invisible substance of a human body still continues to exist after death. We know the fact from Scripture ; and science also confirms it by its maxim that there is no annihilation of rudimental substance in the created universe. The body of Julius Caesar is still in being, as to its fundamental invisible substance, whatever that substance may be. Resurrection, though miraculous, is not the creation of a body ex nihilo. In like manner, the elementary invisible substance of the individual Julius Caesar, both as to soul and body, was in existence between the time of the creation of the whole human species on the sixth day, and the time of the conception of Julius Caesar. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 37) states that the bodies of believers, "being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection." This implies that the believer's body, as to its invisible substance, continues to exist for hundreds or thousands of years between its death and its resurrection. But this kind of existence is no more mysterious than the existence of the human nature in Adam, and its continued existence between Adam and the year 1875. In one sense, the posterity of Adam are as old as Adam ; the children as old as the parents. The human nature out of which all individuals are derived was created on the sixth day, and all sustain the same relation to it so far as the time of its creation is concerned.'

Just because something is too difficult for us to comprehend completely doesn't mean it isn't true.

Next week's reading
Read Chapter 2 'Man's primitive state'.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

October 11, 2019

Miscellaneous Discourses in Vol II of the Works - Edwards - I - Men naturally are God's enemies commenced

Required reading

Miscellaneous Discourses in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Sections I to IV of 'Men naturally are God's enemies'.


My summary

Today we begin the Miscellaneous Discourses in Vol 2 of the works of Edwards.


We completed readings on parts of the Second Volume of Edwards Works a few years ago in the Book Club.  So from now on we'll be reading what hasn't already been covered.


The first sermon is on 'For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son'  (Rom. 5:10).


Edwards' main point is that men naturally are God's enemies.


Firstly he shows:

(i) in what respects natural men are God's enemies;

(ii) how great a degree they are enemies;

(iii) why they are enemies (primarily, the worship of idols).


Then Edwards begins answering objections starting with the claim that men are not conscious of this enmity towards God.


What grabbed me

I particularly liked this explanation as to why men don't see their enmity toward God: 'Some natural men are such "dogs" as to do things, if they had opportunity, which they do not imagine it is in their hearts to do. You object against your having a moral hatred against God; that you never felt any desire to dethrone him. But one reason has been, that it has always been conceived so impossible by you. But if the throne of God were within your reach, and you knew it, it would not be safe one hour. Who knows what thoughts would presently arise in your heart by such an opportunity, and what disposition would be raised up in your heart.'


If we could wrest God from his throne, we would!


Next week's reading

Conclude 'Men naturally are God's enemies'.


Now it's your turn

Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

October 10, 2019

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 - Shedd - IV - Chapter 1 Anthropology continued

Required reading
Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Chapter 1 'Man's creation' by reading up to the paragraph that begins '3. Thirdly, the physiological argument favors traducianism.' (found on page 63 of my edition).


My summary
Today we finish Shedd's arguments for traducianism from systematic theology.

Last week we saw that the traducian theory best explains:
(i) the imputation of the first sin of Adam to all his posterity as a culpable act;
(ii) the transmission of a sinful inclination.

This week we see that the traducian theory best explains:
(iii) the temptation by Satan;
(iv) the universality of sin.

Then Shedd answers the following objections to traducianism:
(i) it conflicts with the intuitive conviction of the human mind that culpability and punishment stand in the relation of cause and effect and hence, like these, are inseparable;
(ii) the separation of punishment from culpability is a characteristic of the Semi-Pelagian and Arminian anthropology, and when adopted introduces a Semi-Pelagian and Arminian tendency into Augustinianism and Calvinism.

What grabbed me

Most of the reading today pointed out the radical difference between Christ's suffering and Adam's suffering for sin.

I liked this point particularly: 'But St. Paul nowhere teaches the same thing respecting sin. He never says that sin may be put to a man's account either deservedly or undeservedly; either when he has sinned or when he has not sinned. His doctrine is that of Scripture uniformly, that sin is always imputed to man and angel kata opheilema; never dorean, never choris ergon, never undeservedly and gratuitously.  The punishment of man's disobedience he denominates "wages," but the reward of his obedience he denominates a *' gift." Rom. 6 : 23. Christ's obedience, which is the same thing as "the righteousness of God'' (Rom. 1 : 17 ; 9:8), can be a gift to his people ; but Adam's disobedience cannot be a gift to his posterity. Heaven can be bestowed upon the sinner for nothing that he has done ; but hell cannot be. The characteristic of gratuitousness, or absence of inherent desert, can be associated with righteousness, but not with unrighteousness.'

A big difference.  We earn hell. Whereas heaven is a gift.

Next week's reading
Conclude Chapter 1 'Man's creation'.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

September 27, 2019

Theological Questions in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - I

Required reading
Theological Questions in Vol I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards - (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Theological Questions

My summary
Today we simply read a list of 90 theological questions which I'm guessing were written by Edwards, not the editors of his Works.

The subject matter of the questions include:
(i) creation;
(ii) God's attributes;
(iii) the persons of God;
(iv) knowledge of God;
(v) decrees and covenants of God;
(vi) sin, including the fall;
(vii) redemption and atonement;
(viii) hell and heaven;
(ix) ecclesiology.

What grabbed me
Some of the questions are easy to answer, some are not so easy.  

But many are very important.  Including: 'Why was an atonement, and one so precious as the blood of Christ, necessary?'

You could spend a lifetime writing an answer and still not fully answer that one.

Next week's reading
Commence Miscellaneous Discourses in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) by reading Sections I to IV of 'Men naturally are God's enemies'.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

September 25, 2019

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 - Shedd - III - Chapter 1 Anthropology continued

Required reading
Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Chapter 1 'Man's creation' by reading up to the paragraph that begins '(c) The temptation by Satan is best explained by traducianism' (found on page 49 of my edition).


My summary
Today Shedd argues vigorously for traducianism.

Last week he examined the support of Scripture.

This week he begins showing the support of systematic theology.

Firstly we hear that the imputation of the first sin of Adam to all his posterity as a culpable act is best explained and defended upon the traducian basis.

Secondly Shedd explains that the transmission of a sinful inclination is best explained by the traducian theory. In doing so he contrasts the views of elder and later Calvinists, even showing their inconsistencies.

What grabbed me

I did like this explanation of the link to Adam's sin: 'Now if the traducian postulate be tine, namely, that Adam and his posterity were specifically one in the apostasy, all that is said of the individual Adam can be said of his posterity. The posterity committed the first sin prior to its imputation to them, and it was imputed to them as a culpable and damning act of disobedience. And the first sin corrupted the nature of the posterity simultaneously with its commission, and this corruption, like its cause the first sin, was prior to its imputation to them as culpable and damning corruption. There is certainly nothing unjust in imputing the first sin, and the ensuing corruption, to the posterity, on the ground that they were the author of both. There is indeed something inscrutably mysterious in the postulate of specific unity, but not more than there is in the postulate that God creates individual souls each by itself, and brings about corruption of nature in them negatively, by the withdrawment of grace, instead of positively by the first sin of Adam.'

A much easier way to explain original sin.

Next week's reading
Continue Chapter 1 'Man's creation' by reading up to the paragraph that begins '3. Thirdly, the physiological argument favors traducianism.' (found on page 63 of my edition).

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

September 20, 2019

Five discourses on the soul's eternal salvation in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - XIV - Fifth discourse concluded

Required reading
Five discourses on the soul's eternal salvation in Vol I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards - (Available from Amazon or free here) - Conclude the Fifth Discourse (The excellency of Christ).

My summary
Today we read the applications from the fifth discourse on "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain" (Revelation 5:5-6).

Edwards teaches us that Christ's excellencies:
I. Signify and exhibit to us that variety of excellencies that meet together and are conjoined in him;
II. Induce us to accept of him, and close with him as our Saviour;
III. Induce us to love the Lord Jesus Christ, and choose him for our friend and portion.

What grabbed me
Great applications from great truths.

I particularly loved this encouragement: 'If you do come to Christ, he will appear as a Lion, in his glorious power and dominion, to defend you. All those excellencies of his, in which he appears as a lion, shall be yours, and shall be employed for you in your defence, for your safety, and to promote your glory; he will be as a lion to fight against your enemies. He that touches you, or offends you, will provoke his wrath, as he that stirs up a lion. Unless your enemies can conquer this Lion, they shall not be able to destroy or hurt you; unless they are stronger than he, they shall not be able to hinder your happiness. Isa. xxxi. 4. "For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them; so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof."'

If God is for us, who can be against us.

Next week's reading
Read Theological Questions.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

September 19, 2019

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 - Shedd - II - Chapter 1 Anthropology continued

Required reading
Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Chapter 1 'Man's creation' by reading up to the paragraph that begins 'Secondly, the theological argument strongly favors traducianism' (found on page 29 of my edition).


My summary
Today Shedd continues his defence of traducianism by arguing that Biblical representations favour it.

Firstly, Shedd explains that individuals in scriptures are not propagated in parts but as wholes with the rest of the human race.  This is seen in the garden of Eden but also in references to humanity collectively in the rest of Scripture.

Secondly, Shedd argues against the notion that propagation is only physical. He cites various Scriptures that refer to man in his entirety of soul and body.  Thus creationism texts are easily applicable to traducianism.

What grabbed me

I liked the argument from the creation of Eve: 'That man was created a species in two individuals appears, also, from the account of the creation of Eve. According to Gen. 2:21-23, the female body was not made, as was the male, out of the dust of the ground, but out of a bone of the male. A fractional part of the male man was formed by creative power into the female man. Eve was derived out of Adam. " The man," says St. Paul (1 Cor. 11 : 8), "is not made out of (ek) the woman, but the woman out of (ex) the man." And the entire woman, soul and body, was produced in this way. For Moses does not say that the body of Eve was first made out of Adam's rib, and then that her soul was separately created and breathed into it—as was the method, when Adam's body was made out of the dust of the ground — but represents the total Eve, soul and body, as formed out of a part of Adam. "The rib which the Lord God had taken from man made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said. This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh : she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man," Geo. 2 : 22, 23. The fact that the total female was supernaturally produced from the male, favors the traducian position that the total man is propagated ; that the soul like the body may be derived. The same creative act which produced the body of Eve out of a rib of Adam, produced her soul also. By a single Divine energy, Eve was derived from Adam, psychically as well as physically. This goes to show that when a child of Adam is propagated, the propagation includes the whole person, and is both psychical and physical. For the connection between a child and its parents is nearer and closer than was the connection between Adam and Eve at creation.'

Amen.

Next week's reading
Continue Chapter 1 'Man's creation' by reading up to the paragraph that begins '(c) The temptation by Satan is best explained by traducianism' (found on page 49 of my edition).

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.