November 26, 2020

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 - Shedd - V - Theology (Doctrine of God) continued

Required reading

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here) - Continue Theology (Doctrine of God) by reading up to the paragraph commencing 'VOL. I., p. 299. It may be asked why "a Divine attribute cannot belong to a fraction of the Divine essence," as well as a human attribute may belong to a fraction of the human nature?' (page 132 of my edition)


My summary  
Today we continue the extra material for Shedd's chapter on the Doctrine of God.

We learn further about:
(i) infinity;
(ii) monotheism;
(iii) natural and revealed religion;
(iv) the ontological argument;
(v) the divine essence;
(vi) eternal generation.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed the quote from Augustine on the image of God: 'Augustine (City of God 11.26) thus speaks of man as the image of the Trinity: “We recognize in ourselves the image of God, that is, of the supreme Trinity, an image which though it be not equal to God or rather though it be very far removed from him, being neither coeternal nor, to say all in a word, consubstantial with him, is yet nearer to him in nature than any other of his works and is destined to be yet restored that it may bear a still closer resemblance.”'

What a humbling truth, we resemble our creator!

Next week's reading
Continue Theology (Doctrine of God) by reading up to the paragraph commencing 'VOL. I., p. 409. Mohler, in his Symbolics, contends that the doctrine of the absolute dependence of man upon God, held by both Luther and Calvin, makes God the author of sin.' (page 153 of my edition).

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

November 21, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - IX - Part III commenced

 Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence Part III by reading Points 1 to 34.

My summary
This week Edwards proves the divinity of Christ from:
(i) the worship of Christ;
(ii) the names of Christ;
(iii) his work of redemption;
(iv) his work of creation;
(v) the procession of the Spirit from Christ;
(vi) the marriage of the Lamb;
(vii) his work of preserving creation;
(viii) his work of governance;
(ix) his work of judgement;
(x) his work of destruction.

What grabbed me
I liked the parallel Edwards made between creation and redemption: 'The works of creation being ascribed to Christ, most evidently prove his proper divinity. For God declares, that he is Jehovah that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, and spreadeth abroad the earth by himself, Isa. xliv. 24. (See also the next chapter, xlv. 5-7, 12.) And not only is the creation of the world ascribed to Christ often in Scripture, but that which in Isa. is called the new creation, which is here represented as an immensely greater and more glorious work than the old creation, viz. the work of redemption, as this prophet himself explains it, (Isa. lxv. 17, 18, 19.) is every where, in a most peculiar and distinguishing manner, ascribed to Christ. 2 Peter i. 1. “Through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” GREEK. Tit. ii. 13. “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” GREEK. It is agreeable to the manner of the apostle’s expressing himself in both places, to intend one and the same person, viz. Christ, under two titles: as when speaking of God the Father, in Eph. i. 3. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” GREEK. See Dr. Goodwin’s Works, vol. i. p. 93,94.'

Creator and redeemer - what a Saviour!

Next week's reading
Conclude Part III.

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

November 19, 2020

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 - Shedd - IV - Theology (Doctrine of God) commenced

Required reading

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here) - Commence Theology (Doctrine of God) by reading up to the paragraph commencing 'VOL. I., p. 191. The Unlimited as well as the All is often put for the Infinite.' (page 111 of my edition)


My summary  
Today we begin the extra material for Shedd's chapter on the Doctrine of God.

We learn further about:
(i) man in the image of God;
(ii) creation of time and space;
(iii) distinction between matter and mind;
(iv) angelic bodies;
(v) human consciousness.

What grabbed me
I liked the quote from Calvin about the purpose of the incarnation: 'The end for which Christ was promised from the beginning is sufficiently known; it was to restore a fallen world. Therefore under the law his image was exhibited in sacrifices to inspire the faithful with a hope that God would be propitious to them, after he should be reconciled by the expiation of their sins. The prophets proclaimed and foretold him as the future reconciler of God and men. When Christ himself appeared in the world, he declared the design of his advent to be to appease God and restore us from death to life. The apostles testified the same.'

Oh, wonderful Saviour!

Next week's reading
Continue Theology (Doctrine of God) by reading up to the paragraph commencing 'VOL. I., p. 299. It may be asked why "a Divine attribute cannot belong to a fraction of the Divine essence," as well as a human attribute may belong to a fraction of the human nature?' (page 132 of my edition)

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

November 14, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - VIII - Part II

Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Part II.

My summary
This week Edwards gives us some observations on the mysteries in Scripture, including:
(i) the incarnation;
(ii) the trinity;
(iii) the suffering of infants.

What grabbed me
I liked Edwards' comments on the mystery of the incarnation:
'There is nothing impossible or absurd in the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ. If God can join a body and a rational soul together, which are of natures so heterogeneous and opposite, that they cannot, of themselves, act one upon another; may he not be able to join two spirits together, which are of natures more similar? And, if so, he may, for ought we know to the contrary, join the soul or spirit of a man to himself.'

Amen!

Next week's reading
Commence Part III by reading Points 1 to 34.

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

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 - Shedd - III - Bibliology concluded

Required reading

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here) - Conclude Bibliology.


My summary  
Today we finish the chapter of supplementary material for Shedd's teaching on Bibliology.

We read about:
(i) inspiration of humans;
(ii) Old Testament ethics;
(iii) inerrancy;
(iv) homogeneity of thought and language;
(v) alleged contradictions in Scripture;
(vi) miracles;
(vii) canon.

What grabbed me
I loved this comment on inspiration:

'The divine and the human element in Scripture are erroneously supposed, by those who deny the inerrancy of the latter, to be merely in juxtaposition instead of blending and fusion. Mere juxtaposition would leave the human factor in its ordinary fallible condition, unaffected by the divine. But the mind of the prophet or apostle is represented as theopneustos (divinely inspired; 2 Tim. 3:16). This inbreathing of the human mind by the Holy Spirit lifts it above its common fallible condition and frees it from the liability to error which attaches to the uninspired human. An inspired human mind is in an extraordinary state by reason of the divine afflatus which sweeps it along (pheromenoi; 2 Pet. 1:21). If the relation of the two factors were merely that of juxtaposition, the Scriptures would be a mixture of the infallible with the fallible, as the rationalist asserts they are. But when the two are blended so as to fill the human with the divine, the product has in it no mixture of error. Both elements are alike inerrant; the divine originally in and of itself, the human derivatively because illumined by the divine. To suppose that the human side of the Bible contains error is to suppose the mind of the prophet or apostle to have been left in its common uninspired state when he contributed to its production. The attempt of rationalistic criticism to inject error into revelation by means of its human side can succeed only by assuming that the inspired human is the ordinary human and that the prophet or apostle writes like any common human author. This is merely the contiguity of the divine and human, not the interpenetration and inspiration of the human by the divine. On this theory the Bible is the product of the divine as infallible and of the human as fallible; in which case the errancy of the latter nullifies the inerrancy of the former. If the inerrant truth, which comes directly from the Holy Spirit, on passing through the fallible mind of the prophet or apostle becomes vitiated by the passage and is converted into error, the result is worthless. But if, while the Holy Spirit reveals the truth, he at the same time illumines and informs the human mind which he is employing as his human organ for communicating it to human beings and preserves it from error, thus making it the inspired-human in distinction from the common-human, then the product will be completely inerrant.'

No juxtaposition here!

Next week's reading    

Commence Theology (Doctrine of God) by reading up to the paragraph commencing 'VOL. I., p. 191. The Unlimited as well as the All is often put for the Infinite.' (page 111 of my edition)


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

November 9, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - VII - Part I concluded

Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Conclude Part I by reading Chapter IX and X.

My summary
Firstly, this week, Edwards observes in what respect the propagation of Mahometanism is far from being parallel with the propagation of Christianity.

Secondly, Edwards teaches us that the Jewish nation have, from the very beginning, been a remarkable standing evidence of the truth of revealed religion.  His points centre primarily on events from the Old Testament period.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed Edwards remark about the change made by Christianity:  
'The change made in the world by the propagation of Christianity, was a great change indeed, with regard to light and knowledge. It was a change from great darkness to glorious and marvellous light. By the preaching of the gospel in the world, the day-spring from on high visited the earth, and the sun arose after a long night of the grossest darkness.'

A glorious light indeed!

Next week's reading
Read Part II.

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

November 5, 2020

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 - Shedd - II - Bibliology commenced

Required reading  

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here) - Commence Bibliology by reading up to the paragraph beginning 'VOL. I., p.85. The fact that inspiration... (page 50 of my edition).


My summary  
Today we begin a chapter consisting of supplementary material for Shedd's teaching on Bibliology.

We read material on:
(i) inspiration;
(ii) inerrancy;
(iii) the origin of the four gospels (this takes up most of the reading).

What grabbed me
I enjoyed this comment on the relationship of the Scriptures to the church: 'The apostolic writings, consequently, stand in a wholly different relation to the Christian church from all others, secular or religious. The church grew out of them and rests upon them. This cannot be said of any or all of the immense body of Christian literature which has sprung from them.'

The church grew out of the word, not the word grew out of the church.

Next week's reading    

Conclude Bibliology.


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

October 24, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - VI - Part I continued

Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Part I by reading Chapter VIII.

My summary
Today we continue observations from Edwards on the light of reason, including refuting the following proposition: if 'reason and the light of nature, without revelation, are sufficient to show us, that the end of God’s government, in his moral kingdom, must be, to promote these two things among mankind, viz. their virtue, and their happiness.'

What grabbed me
I liked Edwards' concluding paragraph: 'The light of nature teaches that religion which is necessary to continue in the favour of the God that made us; but it cannot teach us that religion which is necessary to our being restored to the favour of God, after we have forfeited it.'

We cannot know the way of salvation apart from revelation.

Next week's reading
Conclude Part I by reading Chapter IX and X.

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

October 22, 2020

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 - Shedd - I - Preface and Theological Introduction

 Required reading  

Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here) - Read Preface and Theological Introduction.


My summary  
Today we begin a new volume in Shedd's Dogmatic Theology three volume set which is a supplementary volume to earlier volumes.  It primarily consists of selected citations from other author's works.

This week's reading is on theological introductions and source of knowledge.  It contains quotes not just from church fathers and Puritans like Baxter, but also pagans such as Plato and Cicero.

What grabbed me
I liked the prayer from Baxter: 'O you that freely gave me your grace, maintain it to the last against its enemies, and make it finally victorious. O let it not fail and be conquered by blind and base carnality or by the temptations of a hellish enemy; without it I had lived as a beast, and without it I should die more miserably than a beast. My God, I have often sinned against you; but yet you know I would fain be yours. I have not served you with the resolution, fidelity, and delight as such a master should have been served, but yet I would not forsake your service nor change my master or my work. I have not loved you as infinite goodness, and love itself and fatherly bounty should have been loved, but yet I would not forsake your family. Forsake not, then, a sinner that would not forsake you, that looks every hour toward you, that feels it as a piece of hell to be so dark and strange unto you.'

Forsake me not!

Next week's reading    

Commence Bibliology by reading up to the paragraph beginning 'VOL. I., p.85. The fact that inspiration... (page 50 of my edition).


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

October 17, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - V - Part I continued

Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Part I by reading Chapter VII.

My summary
Today we continue observations from Edwards on various matters.

This week Edwards teaches us that reason is an insufficient substitute for revelation.  

Most of the points show that reason cannot establish propositions we take for granted, including religion.

What grabbed me
Edwards was very blunt at times: 'The light of nature is, in no sense whatsoever, sufficient to discover this religion. It has no sufficient tendency to it; nor, indeed, any tendency at all to discover it to any one single person in any age. And it not only has no tendency to the obtaining of this knowledge, by mere natural means, but it affords no possibility of it. Not only is the light of nature insufficient to discover this religion, but the law of nature is not sufficient to establish it, or to give any room for it.'

Sola Scriptura!

Next week's reading
Continue Part I by reading Chapter VIII.

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

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 - Shedd - XLIV - Chapter 6 Hell concluded

Required reading  

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here)  - Conclude Chapter VI 'Hell'.


My summary  
This week we finish hearing from Shedd on the eternal nature of hell.

Shedd now proves that endless punishment is rational and right because:
(i) it is supported by the human conscience;
(ii) of the endlessness of sin;
(iii) sin is an infinite evil;
(iv) of the preference of the wicked themselves;
(v) of the history of morals.

Shedd concludes the chapter with some comments on divine mercy. 

What grabbed me
What a way to end the chapter!

In my opinion, this is some of Shedd's most exhilarating work.

I liked this comment, for example: 'The Christian Gospel — the universal offer of pardon through the self-sacrifice of one of the Divine Persons — should silence every objection to the doctrine of Endless Punishment. For as the case now stands, there is no necessity, so far as the action of God is concerned, that a single human being should ever be the subject of future punishment. The necessity of hell is founded in the action of the creature, not of the Creator. Had there been no sin, there would have been no hell ; and sin is the product of man's free will. And after the entrance of sin and the provision of redemption from it, had there been universal repentance in this life, there would have been no hell for man in the next life. The only necessitating reason, therefore, for endless retribution that now exists, is the sinner's impenitence. Should every human individual, before lie dies, sorrow for sin, and humbly confess it, Hades and Gehenna would disappear.'

We are responsible for hell, not God!

Next week's reading    

Commence Dogmatic Theology Vol 3 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here) by reading the Preface and Theological Introduction.


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

October 10, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - IV - Part I continued

Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Part I by reading Chapter VI.

My summary
Today we continue observations from Edwards on various matters.

We learn about Scripture's:
(i) mysterious nature;
(ii) development;
(iii) superiority to pagan knowledge.

What grabbed me
I liked Edwards' comments on the continued growth in understanding of the Scriptures through the ages: 'The Scriptures, in all their parts, were made for the use of the church here on earth; and it seems reasonable to suppose that God will, by degrees, unveil their meaning to his church. It was made mysterious, in many places having great difficulties, that his people might have exercise for their pious wisdom and study, and that his church might make progress in the understanding of it, as the philosophical world makes progress in the understanding of the book of nature, and in unfolding its mysteries. A divine wisdom appears in ordering it thus. How much better is it to have divine truth and light break forth in this way, than it would have been, to have had it shine at once to every one, without any labour or industry of the understanding? It would be less delightful, and less prized and admired, and would have had vastly less influence on men’s hearts, and would have been less to the glory of God.'

The writings of an an infinite God evoke infinite fascination.

Next week's reading
Continue Part I by reading Chapter VII.

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

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 - Shedd - XLIII - Chapter 6 Hell continued

Required reading  

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or here)  - Continue Chapter VI 'Hell' by reading up to the paragraph beginning 'The argument thus far goes to prove that retribution in distinction from correction, or punishment in distinction from chastisement, is endless from the nature of the case: that is, from the nature of guilt.' (page 730 of my edition).


My summary  
Today Shedd begins to teach us the rational argument for endless punishment.

Firstly, the doctrine of hell is supported by the fact that sin is voluntary.  Therefore guilt is punished in hell, not chastised or for the public good.

It is also supported by the continuous and indivisible nature of guilt. 

What grabbed me
I liked the comparison of the punishment of a human court with the divine court: 'Earthly courts and judges look at the transgression of law with reference only to man's temporal relations, not his eternal. They punish an offence as a crime against the State, not as a sin against God. Neither do they look into the human heart, and estimate crime in its absolute and intrinsic nature, as does the Searcher of hearts and the Omniscient Judge.'

A temporal judge can only give a temporal punishment.  An infinite judge, understands the infinite crime and gives an infinite punishment.

Next week's reading    
Conclude Chapter VI 'Hell'.

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

October 1, 2020

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 - Shedd - XLII - Chapters 6 Hell continued

 Required reading  

Dogmatic Theology Vol 2 by William G.T. Shedd (Available from Amazon or hereContinue Chapter VI 'Hell' by reading up to the heading 3. The rational argument. (page 714 of my edition).


My summary  
Today Shedd continues to teach us about the doctrine of hell.

Firstly he refutes the suggestion of a form of universalism where people are regenerated in an intermediate state.

Secondly Shedd considers the cases of the heathen and infants who never heard the gospel.

What grabbed me
I was interested in Shedd's teaching on salvation of the heathen and infants.  And pleased to see this caution: 'This extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit is mentioned by the Redeemer, to illustrate the sovereignty of God in the exercise of mercy, not to guide his church in their evangelistic labor. His command is, to "preach the gospel to every creature." The extraordinary work of God is not a thing for man to expect and rely upon, either in the kingdom of nature or of grace. It is his ordinary and established method which is to direct him. The law of missionary effort is, that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God," Rom. 11 : 17.'

We should never assume God will convert anyone without using the proclamation of the gospel.

Next week's reading    
Continue Chapter VI 'Hell' by reading up to the paragraph beginning 'The argument thus far goes to prove that retribution in distinction from correction, or punishment in distinction from chastisement, is endless from the nature of the case: that is, from the nature of guilt.' (page 730 of my edition).

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

September 28, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - III - Part I continued

Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Part I by reading Chapters IV and V.

My summary
Today we continue observations from Edwards on various matters.

Firstly Edwards teaches us about the general judgement and future state.

Secondly we learn about the miracles of Christ and how they compare with the miracles in the Old Testament.

What grabbed me
I liked Edwards' point that the early Christians were no different from other Jews: 'There could be nothing peculiar in the constitution of the first Christians, tending to enthusiasm, beyond the rest of the Jews: for they were of the same blood, the same, race and nation. Nor could it be because they wanted zeal against Christianity, and a desire to oppose and destroy it; or wanted envy and virulent opposition of mind to any pretences in the Christians to excel them in the favour of God, or excellency of any gifts or privileges whatsoever. They had such zeal and such envy, even to madness and fury.'

Next week's reading
Continue Part I by reading Chapter VI.

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

September 26, 2020

Miscellaneous Observations - Edwards - I - Part I continued

 Required reading

Miscellaneous Observations on Important Theological Subjects in Vol 2 of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Part I by reading Chapters II and III.

My summary
Today we continue observations from Edwards on various matters.

This week Edwards:
1. Answers the objection concerning the apostles' apprehensions of the second coming of Christ;
2. Teaches us that Jesus prophecies are proof that he was the Christ and a divine person.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the defence of Christ's divinity by pointing to his prophecies, for example: 'That the foretelling of future events, as by his own knowledge, and as events that are to be accomplished by his own power, is spoken of by God as his great prerogative, and as a good and sure evidence of the divinity of the person who can do thus; and God speaks thus, in those very places in which he is foretelling the coming of the Messiah.

Next week's reading
Continue Part I by reading Chapters IV and V.

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