Category: theology

Edwards, Necessity & Certainty: Part 1

by Ken Hamrick

This will be a series of informal posts chronicling my quest to understand and engage Jonathan Edwards on the ideas of necessity and certainty, and to establish where Andrew Fuller departed from Edwards’ view. In this, I’m seeking to expand the argument made in the paper, “Fuller & Inability: A Centrist Response to Tom Nettles.”

Edwards defines necessity in the following way:

Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than the FULL AND FIXED CONNECTION BETWEEN THE THINGS SIGNIFIED BY THE SUBJECT AND PREDICATE OF A PROPOSITION, which affirms something to be true. When there is such a connection, then the thing affirmed in the proposition is necessary, in a philosophical sense; whether any opposition or contrary effort be supposed, or no. When the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms the existence of any thing, either substance, quality, act, or circumstance, have a full and CERTAIN CONNECTION, then the existence or being of that thing is said to be necessary in a metaphysical sense. [1]

He treats necessity and certainty as the same thing Continue reading

It’s Not Calvinism But Rationalism That Divides Us

by Ken Hamrick

Having debated Calvinism for many years, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of leaving to mystery that which can never really be figured out—a view espoused by many others before me. Such a position is disdained by both sides as something of a weak and anti-intellectual compromise. But arriving at this Antinomist position after thoroughly studying the issues is to arrive in strength, not in weakness. I’ve always argued from the middle anyway, previously confident in the power of reason to explain truth.  But unless the intellect is tempered by faith, it is a hindrance to real understanding; and only by faith can reason be humble enough to see its limits. Reason is just not equipped to take us beyond our finite, temporal thinking so that we can grasp the ways of the infinite, timeless God who transcends creation—that is faith’s role. Seeing that there is more to the equations involved in reality than the merely finite and temporal is also faith’s role. Accepting this, I find that I now have little interest in arguing with either side (which may be why the middle is so rarely heard from). As such, this article is intended to appeal to those who are not yet “sold out” to one side or the other, rather than to debate with those who are. The latter may strongly disagree, but I no longer feel the need to answer them beyond what is offered below. Continue reading

Admonitions to a Disappointed Young-Earther

This article was also published at SBC Voices

by Ken Hamrick

Recently, I came across a paper in the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry, written by Dr. Kenneth Keathley in 2013, entitled, “Confessions of a Disappointed Young-Earther.”[1] The piece is well done and gives an informative summary of the various arguments and supposed problems of the Young-Earth Creationism movement. After reading it, I must say that I’m just as disappointed as Dr. Keathley, but for different reasons. I’m disappointed that the enemy, who is delegitimizing the truth-claims of Christianity by undermining the authority of Scripture, is often met with so little resistance and so much well-meant, reasonable-sounding cooperation. I’m disappointed that not even the best among us are immune from a skeptical evidentialism. And I’m disappointed that one so capable of competent reason would falter in thinking that evidence has bearing on the question of a recent miraculous creation.

I’m no scientist, and I do not claim to be able to present all the scientific intricacies of the various arguments. To be fair, there do seem to be some valid points brought against Young-Earth “creation science” and even a few points in support of it. Nevertheless, I do not argue for a “young” earth, but for an old earth recently created—what Dr. Keathley presents as Philip Henry Gosse’s “Omphalos argument” or the mature earth view. The Bible clearly and explicitly reveals a recent creation by divine fiat. Miracles being what they are, we should not expect to find proof in physical evidences for this recent miraculous act. But, neither should we expect the secular scientific view to be free from error, overconfidence, and overreaching. Ultimately, though, the scientific argument is irrelevant to the vital question at hand—and that fact is sadly missed by Young-Earthers and Old-Earthers alike. Continue reading

Awakening To The Theology

by Dr. James Willingham

The ground work or foundation for awakening prayer as well as for the visitation that we call an awakening is to be found in the theology we find linked to the First and Second Great Awakenings and the Launching of the Great Century of Missions as the late historian, Kenneth Scott Latourette called it or the Modern Missionary Movement as it is called today.  That theology with few exceptions must be described as Sovereign Grace or Calvinism.  The latter term actually diverts attention from the reality that Sovereign Grace is taught in Holy Scripture, and the very term is predicated on the use of the word, “reign,” used in Romans 5:21: “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Reign or rule, of course, suggests the very idea of sovereignty, the authority and power to demand that things be done with a certainty.  Sin abounds.  Grace superabounds.  The enemy comes in like a flood, and God raises up a standard against him, a counter flood, a greater flood.  Like Noah’s flood of old which covered the whole earth, the deluge of grace shall fill the whole earth with His knowledge and glory.  The stone becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth.

Interestingly enough, all of this is to be accomplished not by force but by persuasion  Which brings us to the statement from a work which began my journey toward this understanding of God’s design.  In his Introduction to his translation of William Ames’ Marrow of Divinity (the first textbook in theology used at Harvard, so I understand), Dr. John Eusden stated; “Predestination is an invitation to begin one’s spiritual pilgrimage,….”  That statement was like a light turned on in my mind and heart. Continue reading

Shedding Light on the Length of Pre-Sun Creation Days: A Text-Based Approach

by Ken Hamrick

In the ongoing debate over the Genesis creation account, one supposed problem that seems particularly troublesome for many is the question of the length of a day prior to the creation of the sun (on Day 4). Since the sun is the means by which a day is usually measured, then it is objected by Old-Earthers that we are left without any sure understanding of what God might possibly mean by the term, “day,” when it is used to describe the first three days of creation. Here’s the text:

Genesis 1 ESV
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Continue reading

AiG to File Discrimination Suit against Kentucky | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoLawsuit to defend religious freedom explained in new video

by Mark Looy on February 3, 2015

Note: This article is slightly adapted from a news release being sent to the national media today. The release and this web article provide a link to a video of AiG President Ken Ham interviewing attorney Mike Johnson about the religious freedom lawsuit—watch the video at the link above.

Answers in Genesis (AiG), developer of the Ark Encounter theme park in Northern Kentucky, confirmed today it is filing a federal lawsuit against state officials for denying the park participation in the state’s tax rebate incentive program. Although the program is available to all qualifying tourist attractions seeking to build in the state, AiG’s application was rejected solely because of the religious identity and message of AiG. The lawsuit explains how this action by Kentucky officials, including Gov. Steve Beshear, violates federal and state law and amounts to unlawful viewpoint discrimination.

via AiG to File Discrimination Suit against Kentucky | Answers in Genesis.

Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org

Russell Mooreby Russell Moore

Tabletalk: How did you come to pursue a career as a systematic theologian and Christian ethicist?

Russell Moore: I felt a call to ministry early on and preached my first sermon at my home church in Biloxi, Miss., when I was twelve. I then drifted from that calling toward a career in politics. When I was working on Capitol Hill as a very young man, I picked up in the Library of Congress a copy of a Free Will Baptist manual on weddings, funerals, and so forth. After I returned home I wondered, “Why did I want this?” The Lord used that to rekindle my sense of His call to ministry. I never imagined how God would merge these callings together.

via Religion and Politics by Russell Moore | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

Discipleship Beyond the Mommy Blogosphere | The Gospel Centered Woman

Gospel Centered WomanIn one of our most widely read and discussed articles yet, Hannah Anderson laid out ways the “mommy blogosphere” has become a vehicle for driving how Christian women think and talk about practical matters of the faith. She concluded the piece by arguing that in recognizing this reality, there is a necessity for local churches to consider how some of what’s encountered in that world may be generating a lack of balance or perspective in how a woman considers seasons like marriage or motherhood in the context of her identity as a child of God. She also argued that one way for churches to address this dynamic is not necessarily to dissuade women from reading or writing blogs entirely, but to encourage women in those churches who are gifted in teaching and writing, to apply those gifts to the Christian blogosphere as a whole.

The argument that women should be encouraged to engage in “digital discipleship” at a deeper and more gospel-oriented level is by no means an argument that women’s discipleship should happen exclusively online. Quite the opposite.

via Discipleship Beyond the Mommy Blogosphere | The Gospel Centered Woman.

Leadership and Spiritual Maturity

Grace to Youby Jeremiah Johnson

New believers, and especially young men, are often very passionate for the truth. The joy of new life in Christ goes hand in hand with the desire to proclaim God’s truth to others and see them come to repentance and faith in Him.

But that passion usually exceeds the new believer’s preparedness to preach. Without a tested and proven faith, and without a strong understanding of Scripture—or any training in how to study and understand it—new believers should not assume leadership positions in the church.

Nor should they launch into ministry simply because “God told me to.” To the undiscerning, that might be a persuasive argument. But God’s people have a responsibility not to blithely believe everyone who claims to speak for Him. Moreover, they need to hold the leaders they follow to biblical standards (which gets back to the original reason for this series).

via Leadership and Spiritual Maturity.

Answers for Teachers 2015 | Around the World with Ken Ham

Ken HamWe are offering all teachers and educators an opportunity to earn a CEU while learning to defend God’s Word in the classroom. Get answers for yourself and your students at this year’s Answers for Teachers conference.

This exciting, information-packed event is being held at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky on February 20, 2015, from 8 AM to 6 PM. You will hear from AiG’s Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. Terry Mortenson, Dr. Andrew Snelling, Dr. David Mention, Dan Lietha, Tim Chaffey, and Bryan Osborne. During the seven sessions you will learn about cell biology, evidence for a young earth, ape-men, the Resurrection, and so much more!

via Answers for Teachers 2015 | Around the World with Ken Ham.

Old-Earth Compromisers: Preconceived Skepticism Shrouded in ‘Open-Mindedness’

by Ken Hamrick

Old-Earth Creationists, who accept the evidence-based claims that the earth is billions of years old, ought to honestly acknowledge that their view does not rest on natural evidence, but upon their own prior skeptical denial of creation by divine fiat (or, command). It is dishonest to put forth such a view as being based on the evidence. Without first denying that a miraculous creation by fiat might have occurred, they would have no basis for giving weight to any natural evidence. This doesn’t mean that they have properly thought this out and realized that they must first deny the plausibility of a miraculous creation by fiat; rather, for most of them, their preconceived skeptical denial remains unrecognized, like a hidden assumption.

To answer the question, How long ago did God create the world?, they immediately look—as a matter of course—to what the scientific evidence ‘reveals.’ Ostensibly, this supposes to give equal weight to all sources of truth, whether God’s revelation in Scripture or God’s revelation in the physical world (nature). However, the bias of the scales toward nature becomes evident: whenever the two (the plain reading of Scripture and natural evidence) seem to contradict, they never opt for reinterpreting natural evidence in light of the inerrant Scripture, but always insist on reinterpreting Scripture in light of the inerrant natural evidence (at least where creation is concerned). Continue reading

A Reply to Bruce Gordon’s Biblical Critique of Young-Earth Creati | Answers in Genesis

answers-in-genesis-logoby Ashby L. Camp on January 28, 2015 […]

This paper is a response to the biblical criticisms recently leveled by Bruce Gordon against young-earth creationism. It explains why his arguments against a young-earth creationist understanding of the Creation Week, the origin and age of mankind, the consequences of the Fall, the extent of Noah’s Flood, and the scope of the judgment over the Tower of Babel are unpersuasive. Gordon shows little proficiency in the grammatical-historical approach he rebukes young-earth creationists for not properly employing. He routinely advances dubious and historically anomalous interpretations of Scripture while pronouncing his approach sophisticated and that of young-earth creationists naïve.

via A Reply to Bruce Gordon’s Biblical Critique of Young-Earth Creati | Answers in Genesis.

The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Why This Matters for the Church | Moore to the Point

Russell Moore

Russell Moore

The Supreme Court announced today that they are taking cases on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Effectively, this means that the highest court in the land will decide, this year, whether marriage, as defined for thousands of years, will exist in our country any longer. Here’s what we should keep in mind.

First of all, this is not something we should shrug off. Marriage isn’t merely a matter of personal import or private behavior. States recognize marriage for a reason, and that reason is that sexuality between a man and a woman can, and often does, result in children. The state has an interest in seeing to it that, wherever possible, every child has both a mother and a father. The state doesn’t create this reality. It merely recognizes it, and attempts to hold husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, accountable to their vows and to their responsibilities. In every aspect of the Sexual Revolution, from the divorce culture to cohabitation to casual sex to the abortion revolution, children have borne the burden. Continue reading →

How I Almost Lost the Bible | Christianity Today

Christianity TodayHad it not been for the first editor of CT, I likely would have gone the way of liberal scholar Bart Ehrman.
Gregory Alan Thornbury/ January 14, 2015

I was born at the Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania—a fact that once prompted a friend of mine to say, “You’re evangelical born, evangelical bred, and when you die, you’ll be evangelical dead.” My father, John Forrest Thornbury, was the model of a country parson, serving as the pastor of Winfield Baptist Church, a historic congregation in the American Baptist tradition, for 44 years.

My childhood environs prefigured what has become my life’s passion: the relationship of Christian faith to higher education. Lewisburg is home to Bucknell University, an elite private college whose alumni include two evangelical luminaries: Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and Makoto Fujimura, acclaimed contemporary painter. Several years ago, Tim told me that he had occasionally attended my father’s church while at Bucknell. Continue reading →

Why Followers of Jesus are NOT Charlie Hebdo | themelios

Joel Rainey

Joel Rainey

“Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” -James 1:19, ESV

Last weeks massacre in Paris in reaction to a satirical cartoon published by the famed Charlie Hebdo has sparked fresh debate about the virtues and vices of free speech. These brutal attacks were apparently precipitated by a cartoon in that publication featuring a disrespectful and lewd depiction of Muhammad, Islam’s founding prophet.

The world, it would seem, is appropriately outraged, as there is absolutely no justification for violence. If one’s ideas or beliefs can’t stand heavy scrutiny–even the disrespectful kind–without resorting to violence, then whatever you believe is demonstrated to be a lie. People from across all ideological and religious spectrum–including vast numbers of Muslims–are rightfully condemning this act. But what most–including Christians–are missing in this conversation is that it involves two very different questions. Continue reading →

2014 Most Notable News: Creation Is a Hot Topic | The Institute for Creation Research

icr-home2by Brian Thomas, M.S. *

Every generation of believers must settle for itself the core questions of ultimate origins. Where did everything come from? Can God’s account of beginnings in Genesis be trusted as actually history? The year 2014 illustrated that this generation is still interested in answers. If nothing else, recent events make it clear that Christians remain divided and passionate about origins.

Billed as a kind of debate of the century, Bill Nye defended evolution and Ken Ham defended creation during a February event that millions viewed online.1 Long afterward, discussions swirled over who may have won the debate. The number of viewers was unexpectedly large, showing that national interest in origins has not waned. It seems that people still want to know if humans really evolved through billions of years of birth, death, and mutation, or if they descended only thousands of years ago from one man and one woman in an originally “very good” creation. Continue reading →

In Light of Recent Events | GRACE to You

John MacArthur

John MacArthur

Recent and potential terrorist attacks in France currently dominate the news cycle. Analysts, experts, and commentators discuss and debate the facts, often with skewed and confused perspectives on Islam, and offer a variety of political and emotional responses.

It’s no surprise that every time tragedy occurs—especially at the hands of Islamic terrorists—the world struggles to find answers and understand the spiritual realities involved. Discussions about politics and how governments should respond have their place. But void of spiritual truth, no discussion can fully deal with how to think about and respond to these horrific events. Continue reading →

CALL TO PRAYER: More than conquerors in 2015 & beyond | Baptist Press | Frank Page

Frank Page

Frank Page

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column by Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, is part of his ongoing call to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening for our churches, our nation and our world.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this year was the year during which we live as “more than conquerors”? The Lord gives us the key to see how this may be accomplished in our lives — it can only be done “through Him who loved us.”

These words from Romans 8:37–39 shine as one of God’s brightest promises to His children. The passage says: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Continue reading →

Assessing the State of Your Church and How It Got There | TGC | Trevin Wax

Trevin WaxOver the past month or so, I’ve been writing a series of posts on the need for a Christian to know “what time it is” from a biblical (see here, here, and here) and personal standpoint (here).

Today, I want to begin to apply some of these insights to an organization. I’m going to consult a few business books and see how some of the advice might apply to a local church.

What Time Is It In Your Church?

Understanding the life and times of an organization is essential for wise decisions. Too often, pastors and church leaders step into a church or ministry situation without understanding the particular moment the organization is in. When that happens, bad decisions are likely to follow. Continue reading →

Religious Liberty vs. Erotic Liberty — Religious Liberty is Losing | AlbertMohler.com

Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler

Barely five days after The New York Times ran a major news article on the firing of Atlanta’s fire chief for his views on homosexuality, a major Times opinion writer declared that religious liberty is a fine thing, so long as it is restricted to “pews, homes, and hearts” — far from public consequence.

The firing of Kelvin Cochran as chief of Atlanta’s Fire Rescue Department came after the city’s major, Kasim Reed, determined that the chief could not effectively manage the department after he had written a book in which he cited Scripture in defining homosexuality as a sin. Continue reading →