Are Denominations A Scandal?

Comes the question, Has the splintering of the Protestant church into thousands of denominations become a hindrance to our witness to the world? What can we do? This is an important question that we may not dismiss. Our Lord warned the visible . . . Continue reading →

Calvin On The Discovery Of The Empty Tomb

We now come to the closing scene of our redemption. For the lively assurance of our reconciliation with God arises from Christ having come from hell as the conqueror of death, in order to show that he had the power of a . . . Continue reading →

“Biased Facts,” Objective Reality, The Reformation, And The Resurrection

A few days ago someone, somewhere on social media, in objection to something I wrote, used the arresting expression “biased facts.” I learned from the Dutch Reformed philosophical theologian Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987) that there are no such things as uninterpreted facts . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (16e): Defending The Faith (1 Peter 3:13–17)

We might think about this passage relative to how to defend the faith. We might discuss it under the method of apologetics (about which Peter says nothing) or we might discuss it under the message to be defended. Again, Peter says relatively little about what is being defended. Of course, he has already addressed that earlier and he will return to it again but here it seems evident that he was at least as interested in how we defend the faith as what we are defending. Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (16d): Defending The Faith (1 Peter 3:13–17)

The pagans have no frame of reference by which to understand what we are saying. The Christian faith is a mystery. We claim that a Jewish rabbi was crucified and raised on the third day, that he was and remain, in fact, God the Son incarnate. There is nothing about paganism that prepares them to understand that. Further. the pagans think about religion as a matter of works, as a matter of a quid pro quo. They think that the gods are powers to be controlled and manipulated. We make offerings and we perform duties and thereby, they think, we have obligated the gods to be good to us. That is not the Christian faith. We say that God has been gracious to us in that while we were sinners (disobedient and judgment deserving), God sent his Son to obey for us, in our place, and to die for us, as our substitute. We say that we are right with God not by anything we have done or can do but merely because God has credited to us who believe all that Jesus did for us. That is a supernatural religion. The pagan has a natural religion. He elevates nature (works) into a religion and seeks to use it to control the gods. Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (16c): Defending The Faith (1 Peter 3:13–17)

  13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your . . . Continue reading →

Strangers And Aliens (16b): Defending The Faith (1 Peter 3:13–17)

Thus, “and in your hearts sanctify Christ the Lord prepared always unto a defense to everyone seeking a word (or reason) for the hope in you….” The scenario that Peter has in mind was not theoretical. About the very same time he was dictating these words (to his secretary) for the churches in Asia Minor (W. Turkey) Christians in Rome were undergoing a violent, horrible persecution at the hands of a madman, Caesar Nero. Peter and the other Christians knew that before the soldiers laid hands upon a Christian and hauled him before the authorities, one must have resolved some truly basic questions. Who am I? What is my only comfort in life and in death? Am I prepared to suffer and, if necessary, to die for Christ, who gave himself for me? Continue reading →