El Pacto de Redención por pastor Alexander Leon

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Una buena predicación explicando la doctrina del pacto de Redención desde el texto de Gálatas 3:15-18.  La predicación también se trata de una exhortación para evitar las enseñanzas falsas.

Durante la predicación pastor Alexander Leon refiere a la predicación por pastor Eduardo Flores acerca de la teología del pacto bautista reformado o el federalismo bautista reformado.  Se puede encontrar esta predicación aquí:

 

El enfoque cristocentrico del libro de Jonás

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Estas predicaciones por el pastor David Barceló de la iglesia Evangélica de la Gracia, Barcelona ubicada en Barcelona España demuestran una hermenéutica reformada.  Las predicaciones tiene el enfoque correcto del antiguo testamento que es Cristo.  Pastor David Barceló explica bien los contrastes entre el profeta Jonás que falló obedecerle a Dios con nuestro perfecto salvador, el Señor Jesucristo.  El libro de Jonás no se trata de como mejorar nuestras vidas por nuestras propias fuerzas, sino que señala a nuestra gran necesidad por un perfecto Salvador sin lo cual quedamos sin esperanza.

 

La Iglesia Local y la Gran Comisión Parte 2

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Se puede encontrar el primero parte con el siguiente link:

https://1689reformedbaptist.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/la-iglesia-local-y-la-gran-comision-parte-1/

2. El mandato para hacer discípulos en la Gran Comisión es una función de la iglesia.  El evangelismo no es el proceso de ganar votos, después de que alguien es convertido por la gracia de Dios él necesita ser bautizado y ser un miembro de una iglesia local.  Esto es para que él sea discipulado y crezca en su fe por los medios que Dios ha dado a la iglesia, los Medios de la Gracia.  El hecho es que en el texto griego de Mateo  28:19 el único mandamiento en la Gran Comisión es hacer discípulos, “Por eso después de haber ido (participio), hagan discípulos (Mandato)”.  Ya es supuesto que los Apóstoles irán en obediencia al orden de Cristo, por eso el énfasis es sobre el mandato de hacer discípulos, el componente necesario del evangelismo después de la conversión de pecadores.  Necesitamos tener en cuenta como creyentes que no representamos nosotros mismos, sino nuestra iglesia local cuando hacemos evangelismo.  Por eso deberemos discernir por ejemplo de comenzar un estudio bíblico fuera de la iglesia local sin recibir consejo de los ancianos de la iglesia que puede parecer como una manera útil de atraer gente a la iglesia.  Pero eso no puede reemplazar la función de la iglesia local, y hay un peligro de una falta de enseñanza fiel por poner gente en una posición para enseñar quienes no son cualificados para manejar el estudio tampoco hay una falta de responsabilidad a la iglesia local.

 

El Dr. Jim Renihan explica como la función del evangelismo fue conectado atentamente a la iglesia local por los tempranos baptistas reformados en vez de ver la Gran Comisión como una tarea para individuales cumplir para convertir la gente.  Por el contrario a este mentalidad los baptistas reformados del Siglo 17 percibieron la meta del evangelismo no como solamente la conversión, pero que los que profesan tener la fe llegaron a ser miembros de una iglesia local bíblica.

 

“La fórmula para plantar iglesias fue al frente de esta obra.  El evangelismo no fue llevado a cabo solamente para buscar convertidos.  Iglesias tuvieron que ser plantados.  Esta es una parte esencial de la doctrina confesional de la iglesia.  Ellos que recibieron el don de la salvación fueron anticipados ser miembros de un bien ordenado iglesia.  Los baptistas no pudieron percibir del evangelismo separado de plantar iglesias [6]”.

3. Los Medios que Dios ha ordenado para la iglesia para cumplir este papel de hacer discípulos es a través de los públicos Medios de la Gracia que son observados en el día del Señor. Este contrasta con las modas para ser “popular” y “relevante” en la iglesia para los incrédulos por buscar medios “innovadores” y “radicales”.

 

El Michael Horton dice, “La Cristiandad estadounidense es un cuento de turbulencias perpetuas en las iglesias y las vidas individuas.  Comenzando con la experiencia extraordinaria de la conversión, nuestras vidas son motivadas por una expectativa constante por la próxima gran cosa.  Nos aburrimos de los ordinarios medios de la gracia de Dios, asistiendo la iglesia cada semana.  Las doctrinas y las disciplinas  que han formado un fiel testimonio cristiano en el pasado son frecuentemente marginados o substitutos con nuevas modas o métodos.  El nuevo y mejorado puede deslumbrarnos por un momento, pero pronto han llegado a ser “tan ultimo año[7]”.

 

¿Que son los Medios de Gracia y por qué son importantes?

 

Por afirmar los medios de la Gracia reconocemos el papel Soberana de Dios en la iglesia y los medios que Él usa para lograr su voluntad por santificar los creyentes.  Los Medios de la Gracia ayudan creyentes para no perder el centro en nuestra santificación mientras enfocamos en Cristo quien no solamente obtuvo nuestra redención por nosotros, pero también los beneficios de la redención.  Cristo no es solamente Soberano sobre nuestra justificación, pero también sobre nuestra santificación.  Cuando deseamos ser conformados a la imagen de Cristo y crecer en nuestra fe no podemos negar los medios primarios públicos  que han sido ordenados como funciones de la iglesia para la santificación de los creyentes.  Este libra los creyentes de la carga de la condenación innecesaria del individualismo de intentar ser radical y extrovertido en la fe que se agota porque le falta una vista holística de la Soberanía y la Suficiencia de Cristo.  Necesitamos buscar nuestro contento en Cristo vía de los medios que Él ha ordenado para la iglesia en vez de intentar santificarnos por otros medios fuera de la Escritura.

 

El Pastor Richard Barcellos dice lo siguiente sobre los medios de la Gracia, “Yo defino los medios de gracia como una sistema de entrega que Dios ha instituido para traer gracia– esto es, el poder espiritual, cambio espiritual,  ayuda espiritual, fortaleza espiritual, bendiciones espirituales – hacia las almas necesitadas en la tierra.  La gracia viene del Padre, a través del Hijo, por el Espíritu ordinariamente en conjunción con los ordenados medios.  Los medios de gracia son aquellos conductos vía cual Cristo ajusta, modifica, cambia, transforma, y desarrolla almas en la tierra… Los medios de gracia, entonces, son la sistema de entrega de Dios por medio cual lo que ha sido adquirido para nosotros es distribuido o enviado para o en nosotros [8]”.

 

Los Medios de la Gracia fueron vistos como un parte esencial de la fe salvadora y el crecimiento espiritual por nuestros baptistas antepasados en la Confesión de fe de Londres 1689 y también por los otros confesiones reformados como la Confesión de Fe Westminster (WCF).  La predicación de la Palabra de Dios fue vista tener un papel primario entre los Medios de la Gracia porque es usado por Dios ambos para la salvación de almas y para la santificación de los creyentes:

 

la Confesión de fe de Londres 1689, Capitulo 14 Párrafo 1 “De la fe Salvadora” : La gracia de la fe, por la cual los escogidos reciben capacidad para creer para la salvación de sus almas, es la obra del Espíritu de Cristo en sus corazones, y ordinariamente se realiza por el ministerio de la Palabra; [9]  por la cual, y por la administración del bautismo y la Cena del Señor, la oración y otros medios designados por Dios, esa fe aumenta y se fortalece. [10]

 

El libro de R. Scott Clark hace una observación semejante por dar comentario sobre la discusión de la WCF sobre los Medios de la Gracia,

 

“En la WCF [La confesión de fe Westminster] 1.7 nosotros confesamos que a pesar de la verdad que “todas las cosas” en Escritura no son igualmente claros o fáciles para entender, sin embargo, todo “necesario para ser sabido, creído, y observado para la salvación” es claramente revelado en la Escritura; y “por el uso adecuado de los medios ordinarios”  es la corazón de nuestra piedad.  Los Estándares (WCF) vuelven continuamente a la noción que es la voluntad de Dios para usar medios lograr su voluntad (WCF 3.6; 5.3; 17.3; 18.3; WSC [el catecismo Westminster más corto] 88).  WLC [el catecismo Westminster más largo]  Pregunta 154 dice: “¿Qué son los medios exteriores por los cuales Cristo comunica para nosotros los beneficios de su mediación?”  Respuesta: “Los exteriores y ordinarios medios por los cuales Cristo comunica a su Iglesia los beneficios de su mediación, so todos sus ordenanzas; especialmente la Palabra, los sacramentos [el baptismo y la Cena del Señor], y la oración; todos los cuales son hechos eficaces a los elegidos para su salvación…El Espíritu funciona una unión misteriosa a través de la predicación del evangelio por lo cual crea la fe.  El fortaleza aquella unión vía la Palabra y el sacramento[11]”.

Los Medios de la Gracia nos hacen recordar que no existen héroes radicales de la fe, quien por sus mismos sirven como ejemplos de la fe porque todos ellos tienen debilidades y fueron imperfectos, sino que señalaron a la culminación del único héroe y redentor, el Señor Jesús Cristo.  Por medio de la Predicación de la Palabra, Cristo esta activamente haciendo su papel como Profeta vía el predicador para dar su Palabra profética revelado en las Escrituras a los creyentes.  A través de la Cena del Señor no solamente recordamos de la obra de Cristo como nuestro sumo sacerdote y mediator, pero también tenemos la esperanza del presente como Él esta intercediendo a la diestra del padre para nosotros, y tenemos una esperanza futura como nosotros esperamos con ganas el estado prometido de entrar en la gloria.  Puede que este sirva como un ánimo a los creyentes para ser contentos con los ordinarios Medios de la Gracia, confiar en los soberanos y suficientes medios de Dios que ha dado a la iglesia a través de su hijo Cristo por los cuales la iglesia cumple su obra de la Gran Comisión.

[6] James M. Renihan, Edification and Beauty: The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705 (Eugene, Oregon; Wipf & Stock & Paternoster, 2008), 60

[7] Michael Horton, Ordinary: Sustainable faith in a radical, restless world (Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan, 2014), 16

[8] Richard C. Barcellos, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory (Ross-shire, Scotland; Mentor, 2013), 23-24

[9] Jn. 6:37, 44; Hch. 11:21,24; 13:48; 14:27; 15:9; 2 Co. 4:13; Ef. 2:8; Fil. 1:29; 2 Ts. 2:13; 1 P. 1:2.

[10] Ro. 10:14,17; Lc. 17:5; Hch. 20:32; Ro. 4:11; 1 P. 2:2; http://www.chapellibrary.org/files/archive/pdf-spanish/lbcos.pdf

[11] R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice (Phillipsburg, NJ; P&R Publishing, 2008), 333-334

 

What is a Reformed Baptist/Particular Baptist Church?

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The purpose of this post is to discuss an important matter in the growing reformed Baptist movement since there are three basic groups of Reformed Baptist in America and the varying definitions have likewise affected how other countries define a Reformed Baptist and what makes a church a Reformed Baptist Congregation.  I will not cover all of the details in this post, but I will recommend 2 books that are essential for understanding the key issues:

  1. Renihan, James.  Edification and Beauty: The Practical Ecclesiology of the English particular Baptists, 1675-1705 (Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2008)
  2. Chantry, Tom and Dykstra, David. Holding Communion Together: The Reformed          Baptists:  The First Fifty Years, Divided & United (Alabama: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2014).

*The first book is a publication of Dr. James Renihan’s doctoral thesis on the Ecclesiology of the 17th century particular Baptists and is an essential primary source for understanding their Ecclesiology.

*Chantry & Dykstra’s book gives a helpful overview of some of the key issues with the recent reformed Baptist movement in the last 50 years in America with issues faced in the past that still have important ramifications in the present.  Regardless of what position you side with it is necessary reading to understand the key issues and distinctions among Reformed Baptist churches.

Probably the largest issue is the difference in definitions since many Christians use the adjective reformed to define different theological positions.  For instance the New-Calvinism movement would argue that as long as you accept TULIP, affirming the doctrines of Grace, reformed soteriology, then you are reformed. Others would call this group Calvinists for example Bethel Baptist Church associated with John Piper defines its beliefs as Calvinistic, Baptistsic, and Charismatic, but not as reformed:

https://www.hopeingod.org/about-us/who-we-are/our-beliefs

The two most well-known names associated with the Reformed Baptist Movement in America are FIRE and ARBCA.  I have been a member of a FIRE church in the past and I am currently a member of an ARBCA church so I am aware of some of the differences between these two, but I am only going to give some basic differences.  You can read Chantry & Dykstra’s book to understand some of the historical differences between FIRE and ARBCA, I am only briefly addressing the difference in views of confessional subscription below which clarifies the principle difference between FIRE and ARBCA.

FIRE, which stands for Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals, gives the following definition of its tenets, it can be summarized as a Cessationist Calvinistic Baptist Fellowship that holds to a loose view of Subscription to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.  By loose subscription I mean that FIRE churches are not required to affirm all of the doctrines contained in the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, for example one of the reasons FIRE started was because of a disagreement with ARBCA on the Lord’s Day and abiding validity of the 4th commandment for Christians.  Degrees of subscription to the 1689 LBC vary amongst individual FIRE churches, for example some FIRE churches affirm the Lord’s Day while others don’t view the 4th commandment as abiding for believers.  Here are the links from the FIRE website summarizing their doctrinal views:

http://www.firefellowship.org/core-beliefs

http://www.firefellowship.org/position-statements

A FIRE church could be a minimum of a Calvinistic Baptistic Dispensational congregation or a more confessional Calvinistic Baptist church that affirms covenant theology, the Lord’s Day, and the Regulative Principle of Worship.  I am trying to briefly define the variety of views present in FIRE to avoid mischaracterizing their position.

ARBCA, the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America, is an Association of Reformed Baptist Churches that holds to a full subscription/strict subscription view of the 1689 London Baptist Confession.  You can view a summary of this view by Dr. James Renihan under Appendix#1 of the ARBCA Constitution:

http://www.arbca.com/arbca-constitution

Here is a brief definition by Dr. Jim Renihan from Appendix#1 defining what Full subscription does and does not affirm:

“One should note the language found in the agreement signed by the messengers of the founding churches in Mesa, Arizona in March, 1997; in the ARBCA constitution; and in the application for membership. The first states, “We declare that our primary rule of faith and practice is the inerrant Word of God, and adopt as our subordinate standards the excellent document commonly known as the London Baptist Confession of 1689, and the Constitution of this Association.” The second states, “While we hold tenaciously to the inerrant and infallible Word of God as found in the sixty-six books of the Bible (this being our final source of faith and practice), we embrace and adopt the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 as a faithful expression of the doctrine taught in the Scriptures. This Confession is the doctrinal standard of the Association,” and in the third the applying church signs this statement: “We accept the London Confession of Faith of 1689 as an accurate and reliable expression of what the Scriptures teach and the faith we confess.” In each case, the member churches commit themselves to the Confession as a whole. We maintain the primacy of the Scriptures, and “embrace and adopt” the Confession as a truthful expression of our convictions with regard to the details of Scripture.

Taken at face value, these words imply, even though they do not explicitly state, strict, or full subscription. This does not mean that we treat every doctrine in the Confession as if it were equally important, but we do commit ourselves to all of the doctrines of the Confession. In addition, as Dr. Smith says so well, “full subscription does not require the adoption of every word of the Confession or Catechisms, but positively believes that we are adopting every doctrine or teaching of the Confession or Catechisms.” This is an important distinction, and needs to be understood. It is possible for an individual, a church, or an association to be cautious about the wording used to express a specific doctrine without denying the doctrine that wording seeks to define. Full subscription honestly adopts all of the doctrines expressed in the confessional formulation. In the case of the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America, this means that by subscribing to the document commonly known as the London Baptist Confession of 1689, we receive all of the doctrines contained in it as true, founded on the Word of God[1]” (bold and italics are added by me for emphasis).

The full article on confessional subscription by Dr. James Renihan has been published in Appendix VI of Chantry, Tom and Dykstra, David. Holding Communion Together: The Reformed Baptists:  The First Fifty Years, Divided & United (Alabama: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2014), 271-294 which you can read to get the full historical context and further details.

You can also listen to the Confessing Baptists’s podcast with Dr. James Renihan on Confessionalism that gives a useful overview of different views of Confessional Subscription amongst the reformed Community (Dr. Jim Renihan is not exclusively addressing Reformed Baptists in the podcast; he primarily mentions differences in subscription amongst Reformed Presbyterians primarily, but the same basic categories apply to Reformed Baptists also):

http://confessingbaptist.com/podcast022/

I also highly recommend the recent lecture by Pastor Arden Hodgins on Confessionalism at the 2016 ARBCA General Assembly, In Defense of Confessionalism, that gives a very useful outline of what Confessionalism is in contrast to a Biblicist position and why it is important for Churches to be Confessional (I will discuss this more in a later post since it is a crucial point):

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=5616150307

As a result of the Full-subscription position of ARBCA churches, and ARBCA church would see the doctrines in the 1689 as interconnected and therefore modifying or removing a doctrine from the Confession will modify others as well.  An illustration would be having a row of dominoes laid out in a column, by knocking down via modifying or explicitly denying a doctrine presented in the 1689 you will necessarily have to modify other doctrines.  For example if someone takes exception to the Lord’s Day, chapter 22 in the 1689 LBC, that will also require modification of the doctrine of the Means of Grace and the Regulative Principle of Worship.

It is important in light of this brief overview that we carefully define our terms since a lot of the confusion over what constitutes a reformed Baptist is a result of different groups defining it in various ways which are not all compatible.  We must understand our historic particular Baptist roots of the 1st and 2nd London Baptist Confession of faith to properly understand how they defined particular Baptist theology and confessional subscription rather than reading into the definition our preconceived biases of what we think it means to be a Reformed Baptist.  We must go back to the original sources, ad fontes!   Hopefully the 2 resources that I mentioned at the beginning of the post will help readers to go to some of the key primary resources.

I will conclude with a brief example of how differences of definitions for reformed have affected not only the reformed movement in the U.S. but also in other countries.  For example this you-tube channel by two Calvinistic brasilians called, Dois Dedos de Teologia (Two fingers of Theology), they affirm a Calvinistic cessationist view and equate that as being “reformed” rather than subscribing to a historically reformed confession.

https://www.youtube.com/user/doisdedosdeteologia

I hope that this post has shown some of the important issues that should be considered by those who consider themselves Reformed Baptists or those interested in better understanding what Reformed Baptists believe.  I have attempted to do so carefully and to respectfully and accurately represent some different views.  These issues are not unnecessarily splitting hairs, but rather required discussions that have crucial ramifications for the function of the local church, pastoral ministry, missions, and evangelism to name a few.  I will attempt to more fully draw out some of these implications in further posts on this topic of Confessionalism as it relates to defining the Reformed Baptist Movement.

 

 

[1] http://www.arbca.com/arbca-constitution

 

 

Una Introdución a las hermenéuticas para interpretar la escatología y el libro de Apocalipsis

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Esta clase dominical de La Iglesia Evangélica de la Gracia ubicado en Barcelona, España (la qual es una iglesia bautista reformada) da una buena resumen de los principios de interpretación para la escatología bíblica  y como deberemos interpretar el libro de Apocalipsis.

 

“¿Qué es la Teología Bíblica?” por Claudio Garrido

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Una buena introdución a la Teología Bíblica y también una buena explicación de la hermenéutica Cristocéntrica.  Es muy importante para creyentes entender estas temas para interpretar la Bíblia con un centro en Cristo en vez de un centro solamente en nuestros mismos.  Si entendemos bien la Teología Bíblica y a hermenéutica Cristocéntrica entonces volvemos a nuestros raices de las hermenéuticas de la Reforma en el Siglo XVII.

 

Solamente no concordo con el uso de Tim Keller porque su teología en muchas areas está errada, aunque la citación de él en esta presentación explica bien la hermenéutica Cristocéntrica.

An Introduction to the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity Part I

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I want to briefly introduce this first post in a series of blog posts condensing the material from the book written by Dr. James Dolzeal, God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Eugene, Oregon; Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011) and give a basic overview of each chapter to show the importance of this often neglected doctrine and conclude with a post on some practical applications of the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity.  Bold text in quotes is added by me for emphasis of a key point.  I abbreviate the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity as the DDS, as does Dr. Dolzeal in his book.

I have already alluded to some apologetic implications of this doctrine in my critique of Dr. K. Scott Oliphint’s book, Covenantal Apologetics:

https://1689reformedbaptist.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/divine-impassibility-apologetics-the-inconsistency-of-dr-k-scott-oliphints-apologetics/

Due to the technical nature of the book I won’t be covering every detail. I will try to cover the main points and define key terms in each chapter, so hopefully this series will be useful for anyone trying to read through the book to get a condensed chapter summary and serve as an introduction to the DDS.  This series will also provide a useful starting place to understanding the DDS as the foundation for understanding the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility which is currently debated among many theologians.  Divine Impassibility assumes the DDS, so in order to properly understand Divine Impassibility it is important to get the context of the doctrine by first studying the DDS.  As will be demonstrated in this series the DDS upholds many essential doctrines of God, such as His Immutability, Aseity, Eternality, and Impassibility.

For anyone who wants a useful brief overview of the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility I highly recommend Sam Renhian’s book, God without Passions: A Primer

http://www.rbap.net/god-without-passions-a-primer-by-samuel-renihan/

I. Defining Divine Simplicity

What is Divine Simplicity?  Dr. Dolzeal defines this doctrine as follows in the Preface of his book,

The classical doctrine of simplicity, as espoused by both traditional Thomists and Reformed scholastics, famously holds forth the maxim that there is nothing in God that is not God.  If there were, that is, if God were not ontologically identical with all that is in him, then something other than God himself would be needed to account for his existence, essence, and attributes.  But nothing that is not God can sufficiently account for God.  He exists in all his perfections entirely in and through himself.  At the heart of the classical DDS (Doctrine of Divine Simplicity) is the concern to uphold God’s absolute self-sufficiency as well as his ultimate sufficiency for the existence of the created universe[1].

Dr. Dolzeal also provides this more concise definition in the first chapter of his book,

The doctrine of divine simplicity teaches that (1) God is identical with his existence and his essence and (2) that each of his attributes is ontologically identical with his existence and with every other one of his attributes.  There is nothing in God that is not God[2].

What Dr. Dolzeal is expressing here is the distinction between God as self-sufficient Creator, who is not dependent upon anything, and the creation.  This distinction between Creator and creature assumes that God is not composed of parts or pieces in contrast to creation which is composed of parts and is therefore dependent and not self-sufficient.  All created things are made of parts whether it is a house, car, or a computer, which makes the whole dependent on the parts because if one part isn’t working it may not function properly.  However God is self-sustaining, He is not dependent on something else to be God because by nature God is Creator and in a separate category of being from His creation.  He cannot be composed of parts or dependent on something outside of Himself because then He would cease to be God and be just like us, dependent on something else to exist.  We as creatures are dependent upon God to sustain us, but God requires no one to sustain Himself.

The first chapter of Dr. Dolzeal’s book gives an overview of the current landscape of the DDS among evangelical Christians; both current proponents and opponents of this doctrine.  Rather than re-iterating the historical theology of the DDS and all of the critiques by contemporary opponents of the doctrine of divine simplicity I will summarize the key presuppositions of both positions that Dr. Dolzeal provides in an outline format.  This will help provide a historical framework for some of the reasons why this classical and historical doctrine of God is often rejected by contemporary theologians.

II. Historical Theology & the DDS

Dr. Dolzeal gives a brief overview of the DDS as affirmed by patristic sources, medieval theologians, and reformed and modern theologians to demonstrate its historical significance as a catholic (universal) Christian doctrine.  In the patristic section Dr. Dolzeal briefly discusses 2 important apologetic uses of the DDS as employed by patristic authors:

(1) Irenaeus used the DDS in response to Gnostic views of God involving emanations, and God undergoing passions and mental changes to affirm and uphold God’s Immutability in his book, Against Heresies.

(2) Gregory of Nyssa affirmed the DDS to affirm unity of essence when describing the Doctrine of the Trinity in response to accusations of tri-theism by opponents.  Augustine also affirmed DDS, in order to affirm that each subsistence of the Trinity is Immutable [3].

Dr. Dolzeal mentions several Medieval writers who affirmed the DDS in order to affirm God’s Immutability and Aseity (self-sufficiency) such as Boethius, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas, and Duns Scotus.  He focuses on the importance of Aquinas’ articulation of the DDS as it pertains to the Creator-creature distinction to contrast creatures’ essence as separate from its being, and therefore contingent on something outside of itself, whereas God’s essence is identical with his existence.  This leads to the conclusion that God is necessary and self-sufficient in contrast to creation which is contingent and dependent on a source outside of itself to be sustained.  Aquinas’ first cause argument for the existence of God assumes the DDS because everything else needs a cause outside of itself to exist, whereas God is the First and necessary uncaused, and self-sufficient being.

Dr. Dolzeal observes continuity among the Protestant Reformers and Scholastics who affirmed Aquinas’ articulation of the DDS.  He cites John Owen’s used of the DDS as a polemic against Socinian distortions of the doctrine of God.  The DDS was affirmed by Reformed writers into the 19th and 20th century.  Here are two citations from John Owen and Herman Bavinck showing their affirmation of the DDS,

John Owen on the DDS, “With reference to Exodus 3:14-15, Owen also explains God’s unity via the DDS: “[W]here there is an absolute oneness and sameness in the whole, there is no composition by an union of extremes….He, then, who is what he is, and whose all that is in him is, himself, hath neither parts, accidents, principles, nor anything else, whereof his essence should be compounded[4].

Herman Bavinck on the DDS, “If God is composed of parts, like a body, or composed of genus (class) and differentiae (attributes of differing species belonging to the same genus), substance and accidents, matter and form, potentiality and actuality, essence and existence, then his perfection, oneness, independence, and immutability, cannot be maintained[5].

Dr. Dolzeal even mentions how the DDS was affirmed by 19th and 20th century Catholic theologians such as Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, however a shift began to occur in the 20th century away from an affirmation of the DDS as Louis Berkhof stated in his systematic theology,

In recent works on theology the simplicity of God is seldom mentioned.  Many theologians positively deny it, either because it is regarded as purely metaphysical abstraction, or because, in their estimation, it conflicts with the doctrine of the Trinity[6].

III. Recent Criticisms of the DDS

Atheistic philosopher Richard Gale gives 3 primary reasons for rejecting the DDS:

  1. It makes God equivalent to abstract attributes, thereby making God impersonal.
  2. If God is identical to His properties, then His properties cannot be shared by his creation, otherwise they would be God.
  3. If all of God’s properties are one and the same, then there should be no distinction between God’s attributes, but there appears to be differences between God’s attributes e.g. Omnipotence vs. omnibenevolence. Therefore distinctions between God’s attributes prove that God is not simple.

As will be observed later in the chapter overviews these criticisms are rooted in a foundational misunderstanding of the Creator-creature distinction.   Many of Richard Gale’s arguments are likewise employed by Christian theologians and philosophers to deny the DDS, so the arguments are not exclusive to Atheists.   Two primary criticisms that Dr. Dolzeal briefly responds to at the end of his first chapter are:

  1. Ontological Univocism (a denial of analogical predication and the Creator-creator distinction between the being of God and man. This assumes that there isn’t a fundamental distinction of God’s essence and the essence of creatures).
  2. Biblicist Hermeneutics ( a proof-texting approach to the Doctrine of God that argues that since there isn’t a single passage that explicitly says God is simple, therefore it cannot be a Biblical doctrine).

There are a large range of criticisms of DDS, which I will not be able to elaborate in a concise amount of space and since Dr. Dolzeal will address them in later chapters which I will be summarizing for blog posts I don’t need to list them all here.  It is better to address them progressively as the DDS is explained.

Dr. Dolzeal does observe a crucial underlying criticism among opponents of DDS, which is a tendency towards univocism, thereby denying the distinction between God and man by not making a careful distinction between the being of God and man.  It is this fundamental hermeneutical presupposition that critics of DDS deny before beginning to study DDS that results in their denial of it:

But it is precisely this ontological univocism that the DDS will not allow.  Though creatures bear the image of God’s existence and attributes, their similarity to God is better understood as analogical than univocal.  The manner in which God exists and possesses attributes is so radically unlike anything found in creatures that he cannot be classified together with them in a single order of being or as the highest link on a great chain of being.  As the one who ultimately accounts for being in general, as its first and final cause, God does not stand within the general ontological order.  In this connection the various critics surveyed in the foregoing section seem to have gratuitously precluded the very ontological outlook in which the DDS is intended to make sense[7].

The second common presupposition amongst critics of the DDS is a Biblicist hermeneutical presupposition as expressed by Dr. John Feinberg’s denial of the DDS[8]:

Are the biblical writers really making a metaphysical point in these passages?  Furthermore, would not any passage that speaks of God as possessing attributes argue equally well for the position that God is not identical with his attributes?  Feinberg concludes that the biblical data “underdetermine the issue.”  Indeed, this lack of explicit biblical data for the DDS “should be disconcerting at the least, and a good argument against it at most[9][10].

Many of the same arguments Dr. Feinberg is using here to deny the DDS could also be used by Biblicists such as Jehovah’s Witnesses arguing against the doctrine of the Trinity because it is not explicitly stated in one passage, but is rather the result of observing the totality of the Witness of Scripture and then being able to see the logical connections.  These arguments are not novel; the same Biblicist approach was employed by Socinians to deny the Deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. We cannot reduce the doctrine of God to mere proof texting arguments, we have to look at Scripture in its totality and have a consistent hermeneutic that accounts for the passages and doesn’t undermine fundamental doctrinal presuppositions that we cannot deny such as the Creator-Creature distinction.  No one interprets the Bible with a blank slate, with absolutely no presuppositions, when we study the Doctrine of God or any doctrine of Scripture.  This requires us to carefully think through our presuppositions as we study the DDS.

IV. Conclusion

In conclusion we can see that disagreement over the DDS is a hermeneutical difference at the most foundational level.  We must be humble as we study the Doctrine of God since as finite creatures we can never fully grasp the totality of all that God is.  This should encourage us to worship God who defies our limited creaturely categories in all his Divine perfections.  The importance of the DDS and its practical implications will become clearer as we progress.  I have attempted to address some of the reasons why this doctrine is so crucial to an orthodox doctrine of God in this brief introduction and overview of chapter 1.  As Dr. Dolzeal stated in the 2015 SCRBPC when he was discussing the DDS, we can rest in the assurance that God is immutable since according to the DDS God is not made of parts, and therefore we don’t have a God who will fall apart on us in the midst of the trials that we face in life.  It is the greatest comfort for believers to have an immutable God that is a firm foundation, than a mutable God who changes due to circumstances and causes since a mutable God would give us no assurance and would be creaturely and not Self-Sufficient and Sovereign.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36, NASB).

[1] Dr. James Dolzeal, God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Eugene, Oregon; Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011), xvii

[2] Ibid, 2

[3] Often referred to as person, but subsistence is more precise and avoids confusion of terminology by defining person in a creaturely way, which unravels the doctrine of God and the Trinity.  The 1689 LBC uses subsistence rather than person in Chapter 2.3.  I have discussed in more depth some of the issues regarding the use of person and why it is better to use subsistence in an earlier blog post on the Doctrine of the Trinity:

https://1689reformedbaptist.wordpress.com/category/english/attributes-of-god-doctrine-of-god/

 

[4] Owen, Vindicae: Evangelicae, XII:72, cited in Ibid, 9

[5] Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, II: 176, cited in Ibid, 9

[6] Berkhouf, Systematic Theology, 62, cited in Ibid, 10

[7] Dr. James Dolzeal, God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Eugene, Oregon; Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011), 29

[8] I recommend Dr. Richard Barcellos’ excellent thorough study of reformed/confessional hermeneutics and critique of Biblicist hermeneutics, Dr. Richard Barcellos, The Family Tree of Reformed Biblical Theology: Geerhardus Vos and John Owen Their Methods and Contributions to the Articulation of Redemptive History  (Owensboro, KY; RBAP, 2011)

[9] Feinberg, No One Like Him, 329

[10] Dr. James Dolzeal, God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Eugene, Oregon; Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011), 27

 

A Biblical Theology of the Lord’s Day, sermons on An Orthodox Catechism Q. 114-5 by Dr. Richard Barcellos

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Here are the first 4 sermons of a series on a Biblical Theology of the Lord’s Day from an Orthodox Catechism Q. 1114-5.  I’ll add more links as more sermons are uploaded:

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=215161217550

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=41116011559

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=41916034385

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=52162136551

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=516161155398

 

 

 

A necessidade da Aliança das Obras

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Tem um ditado entres os crentes sobre a doutrina da justificação, – a justificação e como se nunca tivesse pecado – mas este ditado somente contém uma metade da verdade, a outra metade é a justiça imputada aos crentes por meio da obediência perfeita do Senhor Jesus Cristo.  Se não temos a sua justiça perfeita estivermos a pé perante Deus condenados igualmente como o profeta Isaías quando ele viu a santidade de Deus na sua visão (Isaías 6:1-5).

Esta doutrina da imputação da obediência perfeita do Jesus Cristo é negado por muitos que professam ser crentes principalmente devido à influência da teologia dispensationalista. O qual nega a aliança das obras porque a palavra aliança não acontece até o capítulo 6 do Gênesis o qual descreve a aliança com o Noé e por isso não há uma aliança das obras nem uma aliança com o Adão na Bíblia.

Por exemplo aqui é uma citação de dois teólogos Dispensationalistas que ensinam no Seminário teológico Dallas que fica em Texas. Eles dizem que Cristo somente pagou a maldição da lei em nosso lugar, mas não obteve justiça perfeita para nós por meio seu próprio obediência. Acordo com estos dois teólogos, o Darrel Block e o Craig Blaising, Jesus só foi obediente porque se tivesse pecado então não poderia morrer em nosso lugar pagando a maldição de Deus; mas eles não incluem a necessidade da justiça perfeita de Cristo imputado aos crentes.

Em Gálatas 3:10-13, Paulo explica como o morte de Cristo foi cumprido e por isso terminou a aliança Mosaico. -Cristo nos resgatou da maldição da lei, fazendo-se ele próprio maldição em nosso lugar (porque está escrito: Maldito todo aquele que for pendurado em madeiro),- (Bíblia Sagrada João Ferreira de Almeida Revista é Atualizada 1993, Gálatas 3:13). Cristo tomou a maldição da aliança Mosaico sobre ele próprio para satisfazer as exigências de Deus. Esto não tivesse acontecido, entretanto, se ele próprio fosse um pecador quem precisaria a expiação para os seus próprios pecados. Mas como o Paulo diz no 2 Coríntios 5:21, -Aquele que não conheceu pecado, ele o fez pecado por nós; para que, nele fôssemos feitos justiça de Deus- (Bíblia Sagrada João Ferreira de Almeida Revista é Atualizada 1993). Esto é porque eles quem estão em Cristo são contados justos ( cf. Deuteronomio 6:25; 1 Corintios 1:30) e acham a maldição de Deus satisfeito por eles [1].

Esto não é suficiente só ter nossos pecados perdoados para entrar no céu porque Deus requer a justiça perfeita como Jesus disse no Sermão no Monte,

-Portanto, sede vós perfeitos como perfeito e o vosso Pai celeste- (Mateus 5:48, Bíblia Sagrada João Ferreira de Almeida Revista é Atualizada 1993)

O Paulo explica a importância da aliança das obras quando ele compara o Adão com o Cristo no Romanos 5:12-21, se o Adão não fosse nossa cabeça federal nem representativo, então acordo com o Paulo Cristo não fosse nossa cabeça federal também. Se o Adão caiu sem representar ninguém como um representante federal então Cristo somente morreu por ele próprio. O teólogo A.W. Pink explica a necessidade da aliança das obras para preservar o evangelho porque se alguém nega a aliança das obras então pode resultar na negação que o Adão fosse nossa cabeça federal.  O fato que o Adão foi nossa cabeça federal, o qual mesmo alguns crentes acreditam quem negam a aliança das obras, supõe que houvesse uma aliança das obras no jardim porque a palavra “federal” é sinônimo com “aliança”. O Adão precisou ter uma aliança com Deus para ser uma cabeça federal, estos dois fatos não podem ser separados.

A desobediência do primeiro Adão foi a fundação judicial por nossa condenação; a desobediência do último Adão é a nossa fundação judicial em qual Deus só pode justificar um pecador.  A substituição do Cristo no lugar do seu povo, a imputação dos seus pecados para ele e a sua justiça para eles, é o fato  essencial do evangelho.  Mas o princípio de ser salvo pela obra de outra fez só é possível na fundação que nós fomos perdidos por meio o que outro fez. Os dois se sustém juntos.  Se não houvesse uma aliança das obras então não teria acontecido a morte em Adão, não teria a vida em Cristo [2].

Em conclusão, nos vemos a importância da teologia da aliança para o evangelho. Esto não é somente uma sistema abstrato para os teólogos; ao contrário esto é muito prático para como estudamos a Bíblia e como entendemos o evangelho.

Ainda que este método da interpretação não é consistente para eles que negam a aliança das obras porque a aliança Davídica não usa a palavra “aliança” no 2 Samuel 7:8-17, mesmo que ninguém negue que há uma aliança Davídica porque os componentes de uma aliança acontecem se bem que a palavra explícito “aliança” não seja usado. Depois a Bíblia chama 2 Samuel 7:8-17 uma aliança em 2 Samuel 23:5 e Salmos 89:3-4. O mesmo princípio da interpretação é usado para a aliança das obras embora em Gênesis 2 a palavra “aliança” não suceda, mas depois no Antigo Testamento é chamado uma aliança em Oseais 6:7, Isaías 24:3-6, e também pelo Paulo no Novo Testamento em Romanos 5:12-21.  A Bíblia nos dá uma interpretação infalível de se mesmo e por isso quando a Bíblia se refere a outra passagem na Bíblia é sem erros ainda que aconteça em outra parte da Bíblia. Esto é porque a Bíblia não foi escrito só pelos homens mas também por Deus, Ele é o autor principal pelo meio do Espírito Santo de todos os livros da Bíblia.

Nós vamos confiar na inspirada é infalível interpretação do Apóstolo Paulo em Romanos 5 explicando a necessidade de Adão como o nossa cabeça federal para que Cristo pode ser a cabeça federal dos crentes ( o qual supõe a aliança das obras) ou vamos ler Gênesis 2 somente focalizando no autor humano sem ler Gênesis 2 no contexto de todo a Bíblia? A segunda opção focaliza no argumento que a palavra “aliança” não acontece lá ( no Gênesis 2 ) e por isso é impossível que houvesse uma aliança das obras, o qual dá a prioridade ao autor humano em vez de permitir a Bíblia interpretar se mesmo.  Quando a Bíblia interpreta a Bíblia é um comentário infalível o qual não deveríamos ignorar, porém deveríamos usar a sua interpretação infalível para melhorar o nosso entendimento da Bíblia.

Podemos observar todo deste material resumido e aplicado à proclamação do evangelho na confissão de Fé Batista de Londres 1689 capítulo 20.1 [3],

1. O Pacto das Obras foi quebrado pelo pecado, e tornou-se inútil para conduzir à vida, então, Deus Se agradou em desvelar a promessa de Cristo a semente da mulher, como o meio de chamar os eleitos, gerando neles a fé e o arrependimento[1]. Nesta promessa a essência do Evangelho foi revelada, e é feita eficaz para a conversão e salvação dos pecadores[2].

[1] Gênesis 3:15

[2] Apocalipse 13:8

 

Citações:

[1] Blaising, Craig and Bock, Darrel, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids, MI.  Baker Books: 2003), 197-198

[2] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Divine Covenants (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 33

[3] http://oestandartedecristo.com/data/CFB1689CPCHSporEC.pdf

 

 

SCRBPC 2015 Panel Discussion on Divine Impassibility

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This video was recently uploaded on You-tube for the Panel Discussion on Divine Impassibility from the 2015 Southern California Reformed baptist Pastor’s Conference.  A profitable discussion on the crucial doctrine of Divine Impassibility.  Questions range from more technical questions to pastoral application of the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility:

 

This is the playlist for all of the Conference Sessions and additional interviews with Conference Speakers as well as some book interviews.  The Conference sessions are well worth listening if you want a thorough introduction to the doctrine of Divine Impassibility as Dr. Dolzeal traces the history leading up to contemporary positions on the Doctrine of God and faithfully exposits from Scripture the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility upholding a Classical Doctrine of God:

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