Friday, August 18, 2006

Let People Think!

“Let me write the song of the nations, I don’t care who writes its laws”.

Loosely based on his book, “Deliver us from evil”, Ravi Zacharias spoke with courage, passion and conviction on moral relativism, hedonism and eliminating faith from the public sphere; and how all these brought forth the loss of shame, reason and meaning to Life and Society.

It was a public lecture like no other, especially when it was held within the walls of a Malaysian university; which ironically, had become a hostile ground for education and critical thinking and a fertile ground for indifference and moral relativism.

Drawing Logic and Reason and significant teachings of the Christian faith, Ravi Zacharias gave us all an important consideration about knowing the one true God.

Listen to the public lecture here-
The Three Great Challenges to Religion and Society- A Proposal for True Spirituality


Anonymous alwyn said...

it's great! but it cuts off before it ends! :(

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Logic and Reason -- lamentably, something that the Charismatics "despise", exalting experience instead whether directly or indirectly.

The word, "Logos" in the Prologue of John can also be aptly translated as "Logic" or "Reason" as in "Thought-Thinking-Thought", in other words not merely an abstract concept like a word signifying something but a word spoken, Verbum, Sermo, that is the meaning conveyed by the at least King James translators = God's creative act which was immanent in Him but made known or revealed within the Trinity and in Jesus Christ through the Bible alone.

So, logic is not contrary to the Bible nor to sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), as we all know is one of the "slogans" of the 16th cent. Protestant Reformation.

I'm afraid the lack of "thinking" in the Church today has led to much confusion and errors such as the Charismatic movement.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

Hi Jason, may I ask why you state that Charismatics despise logic? (in fact, the first time I saw R. Zacharias was in Calvary Church!)

Personally, I feel that Charismatic Christians tend to emphasize the power and gifts of the Spirit, and in fact have much to teach us in this area. They are not *against* logic or reason. On the contrary, churches like FGA and Calvary have very strong Bible study groups and theology classes.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Hi Alwyn,

I couldn't find the right or appropriate word for it ... so I used a word, i.e. "despise" which as you pointed out is prone to over-generalisation. It would be true of wacky groups like the Toronto Blessing people (Vineyard Ministries) but may not actually apply directly to the FGA as you pointed out.

What I was trying to share was that Charismaticism is contrary to Scripture's "self-sufficiency" (it's claim to be so). The Reformers of the 16th cent. Protestant Reformation coined a phrase in Latin called, "sola Scriptura" which means that Scripture alone (is the source of all divine revelation).

So, for the Charismatic to claim extra-biblical revelation *including* tongues and prophecies is anti-logical because to "add or take away from the prophecies of this book (Revelation) is to take away from the Bible as a whole (Rev.22:18-19). All the 66 books belong *integrally* together as the one Book. To take or add to one book is to add to the Bible as whole. That is the first instance.

In the second instance, we have other passages which talk about Scripture's self-sufficiency (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:16). Deut. 13 also warns us not to heed to prophecies other than God's appointed prophets even if these come to pass.

3rdly, we have the testimony of the Church -- its witness. The early Church had no qualms rejecting the first recorded organised charismatic movement known as "Montanism" (4th cent.), although regretably Tertullian sympathised with it in his later days. The church fathers as a whole spoke out against extra-biblical prophecies, tongues etc. because the Bible was already a closed *canon*.

Martin Luther spoke out against the "heavenly prophets" of the Anabaptists -- he had no hesitation to condemn them.

4thly, the Charismatic experience is not confined to Protestantism, but is also widespread in the Roman Church also which strenghtens their faith in the Eucharistic Presence of Christ in the species of bread and wine (i.e. they actually believe that to gaze at the wafer is to look into the very Face of Our Lord Himself), mariology (theology of Mary),etc.

In short, Charismaticism is contrary to the faith of the churches of the Protestant Reformation which claims continuity with the early church and by retrogression, the apostolic church.

In terms of exegesis of the relevant passages:

Acts 2, e.g. does not refer to angelic languages. These were human languages -- signifying the catholicity of the Church (universality).

1 Cor. 14 is clear that there must be an interpreter ALWAYS to interpret the tongues. If *not*, then the tongue speaker is to confine his or her "ecstatic experience" at home (i.e. privately).

Pentecost makes it clear that ALL ARE PROPHETS, PRIESTS AND KINGS. Therefore, all have equal access to God, though the experience may differ in degrees. But God's direct supernatural revelation does not discriminate. That is the basis of the prophetical and priestly office(s).

Also, most Charismatics are Arminians, i.e. they do not believe in the 5 Points of Calvinism (total depravity, unconditional predestination, limited atonement, irresistible regenerating grace, preservation and perseverance of the saints), although Our Lord has clearly stated or by good and necessary consequence infer that He taught e.g. predestination (e.g. John 6).

I believe that Charismatics are Christians. There may be genuine conversions *in* the respective churches or experience, hence these are true Christians. But I would not regard Charismatic Churches as bearing the marks of a true (Protestant, Evangelical) Church.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

Thanks for the lengthy write-up, Jason. Still, I think it's good to take R.Zacharias' advice: "Whenever we throw mud, we not only get ourselves dirty, we also lose a lot of ground."

I would urge you to focus on using your theology to bless those - like Charismatics - who in your view do not 'bear the marks of a true Church'.

Do not stop at 'truth'. Move on to love, :)


10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think one would be very hard pressed to show that the injunction in Rev 22:18-19 refer to the entire corpus of the NT canon.

Rather it only applies to the book of Revelation and does not within the proper construct of language and hermeneutics refer to the entire corpus of the NT canon.

Besides, the thought of a NT canon did not yet arise at the time of Revelations. Concern about such started emerging around the time of Marcion but it wasn't also really full blown.

In 2 Tim 3:16, Paul was referring to the OT as the NT was not yet completed - the books of John and Revelations were not even written yet.

For one who puts a high premium on logic and reason, it doesn't seem reasonable to me for you to pronounce anathema on the charismatics, catholics and wesleyans but only by glossing by the historical realities to make your favourite proof texts fit.

At the end of the day, Christ will not judge you on what you know or do not know, but rather:

"I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me..." excerpted from Matt 25

Christ your Lord focused a great deal on doing; not knowing.

May I suggest that you do the same.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Mystery Commenter said...

5 Points for Jason Loh's consideration:

1. Please read more than 3 commentaries which are not published by Banner of Truth before jumping into a conclusion u know "logos" = logic" and stripping the text naked of the old testament overtones and jewishness in John's text.

2. Check on your church history facts .. and also the context which gave rise to the reformation slogans - i.e. the 4 Sola's .. especially on Scripture in relation to church tradition and abuse of their time. Use more caution before "unthinkingly" applying it on a movement the Reformers were not directly reacting to.

3. Use google to check whether Toronto Airport Fellowship is still with the vineyard and read up on how John Wimber and the subsequent leadership handled the controversy.

4. Please read the Bible especially the words of Jesus in John's Gospel to find out what is the mark of a Christians and the church by implication should be. The last I remembered there was some talk about "A New commandment" and Loving one another? Plus, the Reformers had various marks explaining how they viewed the true church - TULIP was not one of them. Go back also to the Nicene creed to see that the marks of the church also didnt include TULIP. For the record, if you want to accept TULIP that is fine. But don't too quick to write off those who don't hold your view of "predestination".

5. BTW, since there is an emphasis on being word based here. I think Hebrews chapter one says the final word is Jesus - and not the Bible! Don't get me wrong. I subscribe to Scripture alone. I don't subscribe to Bibliolatry.

3:38 PM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Hi Alwyn,

Thanks for notifying me the minor defect. I have tried uploading the file again but I suspect Multiply does not support the size of the file- hence, the abrupt ending of the lecture.

Any recommendations on good uploading tools online?

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

works fine for me bohtea. downloaded entire lecture till the end. no probs on my side

4:41 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

Boh Tea, the file works for me now (could've been my downloading which was the problem)...thanks again, Alwyn.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Charismaticism is contrary to the Catholic Faith as embodied in the creeds and confessions of the Reformed Churches, and that includes the Ecumenical Creeds. Charismaticism is a new-fangled movement, unknown within classical Protestantism, not to mention the "undivided Church" ("pre-1054 schism") until recent times, e.g. the Irvingite movement, and the Azusa Street revival.

In other words, any precursors like Montanism stood outside the mainstream (i.e. Catholic) Church in communion with one another through the bishops and universally expressed by theprimacy of honour accorded to the Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc.

In other words, Charismaticism cannot claim Apostolic Succession ... devoid of any demonstrable organic continuity in faith and practice to the Church of Pentecost.

The Reformers to a man condemned the Anabaptist movement, in part because of its proto-Charismaticism. This is why e.g. the Formula of Concord, Augsburg Confession etc. insists that the Holy Spirit never worksapart from the means of grace -- Baptism and the Eucharist, and by extension, the "sacramentals" such as absolution, the sign of the Cross, etc. To sever the Holy Spirit from the Word and Sacraments is pure subjectivism and mysticism, contrary to the Reformed Catholic Faith.

Maybe the later Puritans and Banner of Truth folks, Martyn Lloyd-Jones etc, are open to such views --revivalism, Pentecostalism, but emphatically not the position of classical Protestantism (16th cent. Protestant Reformation) is the lineal ancestor of Arminianism, Wesleyanism, Pentecostals.

As for the word, Logos, may I kindly remind that the NT was written in (koine) GREEK. Hence when the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to pen the Prologue, the word which can be translated as Logic was used.

I noticed that folks like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin have been conveniently left out ...

The Western Catholic creeds are even more clear that - in the filioque clause - that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father (principaliter) but from the Son also as constituting as single cause (causa unitatis), e.g. the Council of Florence 1415. The implication is that the mission of the Holy Spirit is always subordinated to the Son's. See Acts 1 an 2. There is therefore no Christian who has been baptised by water and Spirit (regenerated, adopted, sanctified, justified) who also does *not* possess the Spirit in its fulness. There is therefore no Second Work of the Spirit, second baptism ...

Also, we get the picture how the Holy Spirit who descended upon the Incarnate Word at his (Johannine) Baptism, how it illumines the role of the Spirit in relation to Inscripurated Word (lit. the mind of Christ is "enhypostatised" in Holy Scripture Itself). The Holy Spirit inheres in the Bible as a potentia ordinata (dunamis) and operates sovereignly out of Word and Sacraments (energia) just as the Chalcedonian Definition tells (more clearly with the Oriental Orthodox Churches - miaphusis - One Nature) that at the Incarnation the Two Natures are joined together in a Hypostatic Union to constitute a new Nature WITHOUT CONFUSION OR SEPARATION. In other words, the Word is never apart from the Spirit and the Spirit is never apart from the Word.

As for exegesis, it's that the Apostle Paul puts speaking in tongues as the list of the gifts. So how can ...

1. Tongues be made a test whether one is baptised in the Spirit or not?

2. Tongues be made a barometer or one's spirituality?

Doesn't 2 Tim 3:16, Rev.:22-18-19, etc. apply to the entire Bible now, after it's canon has been completed? Even Pius IX never claims extra-biblical revelation in Papal Infallibility (1870, Vatican I). Ex cathedra (inter alia) only means that the Pope is infallible, when he pronounces on his own or acting in concert with the Extraordinary Magisterium, i.e. an Ecumenical Council (Trent, Vatican) or as embodied by the bishops (the universal magisterium) that which was implicit in the Divine Mysteries themselves (Holy Scripture). It is never a fresh revelation from the Holy Spirit like the Charismatics. Funny how they have out-Roman even Roman even in its most ardent form of Ultra-Montanism. Though the authority is apart from and above Scripture, pertaining to the "form", the contents are ever the same, relating to the substance of teaching.

The again, the prophecies of Fatima, etc. are no different than the Charismatics -- visions, dreams, etc. Charismatic piety fits well into Roman Catholic piety ...

As for predestination, the Reformation Churches (Presbyterian, Anglican, Continental, Lutheran) claim continuity with Ss. Clementof Rome, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, Ambrosiater, Cyprian of Carthage, Augustine of Hippo, Prosper of Aquitaine, Fulgentius of Ruspe, Isidore of Seville, Gottschalk of Orbais, Ramtramnus, Servetus Lupus, Thomas Bradwardine, Peter Lombard, Gregory Rimini, John Major, etc. - Patristics, Middle Ages and Pre-Reformation -- double (gemini - twofold) predestination (election and reprobation). This is the true Catholic Faith ...

Scripture warns us not to add nor to take away whether by tradition or fresh revelation (as per the Westminster Confession) ... to do so would be base one's authority on Scripture plus something else ... Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Faith etc. it is not ...

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

I forgot to add that one of the marks of a true church is preaching the Word (i.e. declaring the whole counsel of God). Arminianism distorts the truth (Ephesians 1, Romans 9), Charismaticism also distorts the truth. It is precisely because the then NT Church only had the OT that they had to rely on fresh revelation. But once it's completed, there's no need for them anymore.

Just infant baptism, the rite of baptism, Eucharist, elders and bishops gradually push out the former co-existence of circumcision, Passover, etc. like the charismatic prophets made way for a fixed and formalisation of the life and witness of the church where bishops became the dominant worship leader, as president of the Eucharist, delegating his dutiesto priests who in turn was assisted by deacons, the attention of the church turned to martyrs where their bones were interned and entombed and prayers were offered in their commemoration, feasts were celebrated in their honour -- in other words, the Church became more settled ... no longer was glossolalia which was never widespread in the first place and never unique amongst the various competing religions a feature the ritual of the Church ... the agape feasts became more separate and finally suppressed.

The focus was on the preaching of the Word (oratio) by the bishop or priest, reading (lectio) of the Gospel and parts of Scripture by the deacon and the oblatio, the eucharistic sacrifice by the bishop together with the priest con-celebrating with the entire assembly. The Holy Spirit was now invoked to descend upon the gifts of bread and wine so that there may be (transmutatio) change into the Body and Blood of Our Lord, and invoked to descend upon the whole congregation also. The action of the Holy Spirit was on the entire church gathered so that the "orders" ministerial priesthood and laity may together within the ONE priesthood of all believers fulfil their respective roles within the liturgy of the Church.

Hence, from the liturgical point of view, charismaticism represents an aberration from the mind and instincts and norms of the Church throughout the ages, as the focus of worship would no longer be expressed in the Lord's Supper and the Preaching of the Word in the accompaniment of psalms, canticles, hymns and prayers but on sudden convulsions, breaking into laughter, repetitive and mantric songs, vague notion about leading of the Spirit, contrary even to the Pauline injunction that all things be done decently and in order.

To be justified by faith alone is to live by faith, to be ushered into the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ Who sitteth at His right hand by faith in the Spirit, and to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit by faith as we are convinced and assured in our minds that what we believe is the Truth.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous sinner saved by grace said...

We all have flaws. We are after all saved by grace. I do not mean we turn liberal by giving in to false doctrines and putting ourselves in a slippery slope.

I believe good theology enhances worship to God and the tricky part of imparting sound theology to people is to always be gracious and at the same time, seasoned our speech with salt. (Col 4:6)

Let us bear in mind that being justified by faith alone, we must be careful not to confuse between trusting God and trusting in the righteousness that God has imputed in us through Christ.

Read this excellent sermon by John Piper on Luke 18:9-14.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Jean Baptiste said...

Hey Jason et al,

Do you guys have a blog? Might be better to post there as the comments here have developed beyond the original intent and scope of the post (which is Ravi Zacharias and his excellent lecture)

Pax Christi

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Mamak Commenter said...

Terima Kasih ... boh tea for the space. Minta Maaf ... because taken too much of your space. Mr. Jason is too educated and articulate for a fool like me. Appreciate his energy and effort in learning but perhaps lacking in restraint and wider reflection.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Actually part of the duty of the priesthood of all believers is discernment. Discernment does not mean being nit-picky, hair-splitting talk, but genuine concern about errors in the Church. I believe theological issues are more important than cultural or political, although maybe these are not so divided as in UK, or America. In UK, we can talk about preserving Christian ethos and values at schools, or institutions ... but in countries like Malaysia, we can't do that but have be more general, hence cultural issues in its own right although part of the Christian worldview.

But comparing cultural issues like materialism and theological issues (in the church), theological issues assume a more cogent and urgent dimension. St. Paul the Apostle never called for the abolishing of slavery. Nothing in Scripture suggests that. On the contrary, slaves are to be exemplary in their conduct, particularly towards their masters.

Is slavery an "evil"? Yes, it *is*. But Christians are not revolutionaries. In other words, apostolic mission gives supreme importance to fulfilment of the Great Commission, and all political intention is subordinated towards achieving that mission -- individual activities like membership in an NGO is a different matter -- this is Christian liberty. But the Church is called to be the, rather it is the pillar and ground of the Truth, and also the repository and guardian and keeper and witness of the Truth as it is in the Bible. Our weapeons are not carnal but spiritual. The Bible is the Sword of the Spirit.

John 17 says that the Truth sanctifies God's people. It is by the Truth that triune God defends, gathers and preserves to Himself a Church which is chosen from eternity and of which we have been made living members thereof.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

Jason Loh,

Arguing that churches have to go back to the 'position' of the Reformation churches?
This, i suppose the 'position' you are talking is in their doctrinal stand which OBVIOUSLY is not in a vacuum.

I think the 'position' of the Reformation can be summed up with 'semper reformanda'. Not reforming back to the 16th ctry Reformation stand on their reactionary doctrines but to reform and continue in so doing to be more biblical, if possible reform even the doctrinal stand of the Reformation.

That's semper reformanda, the sole-spirit of the great Reformation.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

And by the way, so what, if John used Koine Greek in his writtings?

No languages can be translated 100% accurately.

Perhaps John in using 'logos' did not so much emphasizes on 'logic/reason' as proposed by Gordon Clark. I think John, as a Jew, meant it to be more as the 'Wisdom of YHWH'.

And between the greek 'logos' and the jewish 'wisdom' is a whole world of difference. With 'double similiarities', John's usage might falls on somewhere along that line with no less sympathy with his own tradition.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Sze Zeng,

It can't be ... Logic is logic. The Wisdom of Yahweh is God's Logic at work ... You and I will not be able to understand the Wisdom of Yahweh without logic. That Christ is Logic fits perfectly with Wisdom of Yahweh Revealed. If Christ is not Logic, then He is either incapable of revealing Himself nor His Wisdom, Ten Commandments, or He revelation is not based on propositions which is what the Bible is. Either way, revelation is not intelligible and hence cannot be understood and obeyed.

Greek philosophy has been much influential amongst the diaspora Jews even before the NT period and also during like Philo in Alexandria which was also the place where the Septuagaint was translated.

Whether Greek philosophy or Johannine Gospel, the same word is used with the same concept (rationality - intelligence, order, design), although the divergence is in the ideas of divine spark in every man. But it means as Augustine said that Christ is the Light of every man, the theory of knowledge (epistemology). In other words, without Christ, reason is impossible.

I suppose you could say that Jewishness of St. John the Apostle (perhaps the same author also for Revelation) really comes to the fore with the symbolisms (repetitive and non-chronological) -- in fact, (it ought to go without saying that) many of the typology is heavily borrowed from the OT, more pertinent if written before AD 70 i.e. before the destruction of Jerusalem.

I think it is precisely this Jewishness that many of the Revelation passages cannot be taken "literally".

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Sze Zeng,

Truth is unchanging. The Protestant Reformation solas are therefore unchangeable. Though the context was a revolt against ecclesiastical authority of medieval Church, the cause is unchanging.

You're right, semper reformanda means that the Church must always reform according to the Bible.

E.g. traditional notions about say worship like in singing hymns and choruses. The church shouldn't argue that to be relevant to the modern context, the church must be hip-hop, or trendy, or user-friendly etc. Context is important, as you say nothing exists in a vacuum. But we must becareful not to be conformed to the world too.

The position of the Protestant Reformation would be the best because that is the direct heritage of all non-Roman churches. Or else, the churches would be rootless. And in the West, rootless evangelicals opt for Rome and the Byzantine churches.

In other words, the Protestant Reformation is not about putting make-up, head-covering, in churches. It's not about whether a Christian can drink alcohol or not. It's not about the architecture of the church. It's not about using PA system ... etc.

But it is about justification by faith alone and Scripture alone all its implications. The implications cannot be separated from the axioms as you would know Gordon Clark would put it.

This is why e.g. the Nicene Creed was inserted very early from its composition into the liturgies to safeguard a correct or at least catholic understanding of the Eucharist and salvation. In other words, the orthodox understanding of Christology cannot be separated from other doctrines and its liturgical expressions.

Also, the Reformation is not about what kind of dress the clergy should wear. The Anglican tradition is different from the Presbyterian. The former put on a cassock and tippet, the latter put on an academic gown, or a band. But none of these traditions would insist that is the mark of orthodoxy. The mode of baptism also ... if a missionary is in Greenland, then the cultural context would presumably be by sprinkling.

Cultural expressions of the essentials of the apostolic and catholic truth may vary from time to time, or across the space. But the Catholic faith remains the same ... the motto of the Roman Church i.e. semper eadem (ever the same) also can be for the Reformation as well. I believe the response who descendants of the Reformation should be semper fidelis, (ever faithful).

8:15 PM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

Hi Jason,

Logic is logic, but logic is not identifiable with YHWH's wisdom. For eg. isn't it logical for YHWH to wipe out all mankind from the earth? Why did He sent Jesus to atone for us instead? Love and merciful or justice and righteousness? This is illogical. None of our human experience able to explain this logically. We can only have 'faith' in the revealed words that YHWH has in His wisdom all that is good. (but if you are heavilly influenced by Gordon Clark, then you might dismissed the 'empiricism' here).

And regarding the influence of Greek philosophy to the Jews (both Diaspora or Jerusalem) is debatable. One eg. The 1st century Sepphoris wasnt hellenized until after AD 70. Others would be the Maccabean revolts in the inter-testamental period. This shows that Jews were (and still are) very observant to their own tradition.

'Justification by faith alone' and 'Scripture alone' are debatable. The former by New Perspective of Paul, the latter by how do you define it (Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxical or Fundamentalism or Evangelicalism or lot more).

9:37 AM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

Thus i think that only 'semper reformanda' is the sole spirit of the great Reformation to be true to:

1) Our own cognitive responsibility
2) God
3) Scripture

Other 'semper' are, in ways, dogmatic. The 'evolution' of theology can be seen through the works of the gospel authors, epistles authors, early Church Fathers, all the way to Calvin, Edwards, Hannack, Schleiermacher, Barth, Tillich, Rahner, Ratzinger, Moltmann, Pannenberg, McGrath & etc. And still 'evolving'. To use Leon Jackson's word, it is a 'mosaic of collective knowledge', or to use van Huysteen's word, it is evolutionary epistemology.

No theology is perfect. It must continue to be reforming over and over over time.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there no point arguing about Logos vs Wisdom. Early gk philosophers (and even the stoics) have thought of logos to be some sort of animating overarching power/reality - maybe in a way similar to LaoTzu's Dao/Tao (which is the chinese word used to translate logos in St. John's Gospel)

Having said that,I believe John's logos meant more than the "reasoning faculty" (logic) but definitely no less. Also he may have intended it to be closer to the stoics' thought (a power which gives life? - redemptive) than say, aristotelian logic (logical thinking, wise thoughts).

And on the Reformation:
While we take Luther/Calvin's Reformation as a point of reference (for whatever reason) we must remember that our gospel is the gospel which Paul preached, which Jesus heralded. While the confessions are great, we must not allow these to hamper active and passionate pursuit of the truth. The oft said truth, "the reformers are not perfect". Semper Reformanda must be characteristic of a Church of Sinners (albeit saved by grace).

Though i m not pro-NPP (for now; just as a caveat), I appreciate what Sander, Dunn and Wright has done. Their studies continue to give us more information from fresh(er) perspectives (no pun intended). While a calvinist may reject NPP (though some in Westminster do support it - and yes, i know some consider Westminster already "fallen from reformed grace", if such was possible in view of the TULI"P"), he'll have to argue his breath against the excellent points of those who are pro-NPPs, points which were also strongly grounded in biblical theology. Call me biaased, but I refuse for now to believe Wright is of a worst xtian character and mind and scholarship and faith than say Sproul. Pardon the ad hominem, but my point is the Church of all things in god's good earth MUST allow creativity and exploration. In fact these two words always come to mind when I think of the Johannine logos.

I believe all bible-reading xtians KNOW by heart that we should not be conformed to the world. And definitely non-calvinist, non-cessasionist, non-arminians, non-npp (and neti, neti..) know this. But, if someone goes to the bible with utter sincerity (which is important), let us also go to their results with utter sincerity. I am not saying, go accept doctrines of JW, or mormons, but go, listen to JW, mormons. No, don't accept POMO, but go listen to the POMOs. Be serious about handling the Truth whereever He is found. And be sure to be the light which points the Truth in the midst of darkened many-things.

Lastly, I do think we have passed the age where social gospel=liberalism. The powers and principalities which Jesus won against were not merely of the AIR, but also of the EARTH. The princes of the earth plot together against the Holy One of god! and we know he rejected the world offered on the devil's platter, offered by the princes, went to the cross to the utter surprise of every finite mind, and then gain back all things by the strong and mysteriuos power of Life so that every knees will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (and caesar is not?).


7:55 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...


I must say your comments are very refreshing, esp coming from a more Reformed perspective such as you do(?). I'm encouraged by the reminder that Christian character cannot be ignored as we examine doctrine, on listening, on creativity and so on.

"...the Church of all things in god's good earth MUST allow creativity and exploration."

Can I hear an Amen? :)

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Sze Zeng,

Not sure if i would agree with you that the Cross (where justice meets mercy) was "illogical" ... Though, you're right that our comprehension can never exhaust the full extent of the Cross, in its intention, scope and power. I am glad we can agree that Logos means logic and that God is rational/logical.

Having said this, you're right that as a Clarkian, I'd not subscribe to empiricism. As Clark puts it, justification by faith alone, Trinity, etc. these are not empirical concepts. These are revealed propositions and therefore are concepts independent of our observation or experience. That is, these concepts are "self-subsistent" realities. Furthermore, the fact that Paul, e.g. said that all men are under the wrath of God is not an empirical concept or based on empiricism. Paul is not omniscient and "multi-locational" (i.e. ubiquitious). Therefore, he could not have known that truth by experience. It's a revealed truth --passed on from God (what is objectively true in Him) to man (what is subjectively true in him/her).

I am not saying experience is not important or real. I'd prefer to say that experience is derived and "received" from revelation (Bible).

Yes, though there are certain points of contact between God and man -- e.g. David was King of Israel, God knows infinitely more than us.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Sze Zeng,

You're right that theology or dogma is always evolving. But then again, what does one actually mean by evolution? Is it micro or macro? I suppose you'd mean "micro", that there are implications or truths yet to be expressed in its fulness -- seminal, undeveloped, etc. I agree.

John Henry Newman is supposed to have coined the phrase, "development of doctrine" ... the logical conclusions of the present theology was developed by way of the reflection and practice of the Church over the age. Trouble is, being a Romanist, he used that to justify mariolatry, papal absolutism, idolatry like eucharistic adoration (i.e. either prostration or genuflecting before the elevated host), praying to saints as if they are minor deities, etc.

I prefer to see legitimate or licit doctrinal development as found in the true Catholic Church throughout the ages -- now embodied in the Protestant Reformation lineage. E.g. sola fide has always been the doctrine of the Church however obscured after the post-apostolic Church only to haveits lapm re-ignited by the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian controversies.

Yet, blessed St. Augustine was no systematician like Calvin or a scholastic like Aquinas. His doctrine of justification though rooted in gratutious predestination was underdeveloped and subsumed under what Protestants would term, "sanctification". Yet, there is a co-relativism or mutual relationship between justification by faith alone and predestination. The former presupposes the latter, and the latter implies the former. Where Prots would identify sola fide in Augustine schema would be in the vocatio or calling -- effectual and irresistible. In other words, justification is but the manifestation here and now of God's eternal predestination, both of which lie outside of man's experience. To be justified is to be regarded as favourable (not guilty, etc.) in God's sight. Predestination is God's favourable choice of man, not anything found in him.

So, doctrinal development must be based or grounded in established or received (i.e. apostolic and catholic) dogma of the Church. Any deviation is not true development.

This is why I don't agree with e.g. Wright, though he is very popular even amongst reformed circles (e.g. the Auburn Avenue theology folks in the US) Wright's model is an innovation with no grounding in either the Protestant (forensic) or Roman model of justification (transformative). This is why he never appeals to church history but to recent biblical scholarships.

The question is not whether 2nd Temple Judaism was legalistic or not. The issue is whether one's membership in the covenant community is perpetual or not. For Wright as for the e.g. Pharisees, the answer is no. Paul clearly railed against the notion that we enter the covenant by grace (as a matter of possession) but remain in it as a matter of performance (in the way of obedience).

Wright also say that Western Catholic Christianity including Protestantism is "introspective", "plagued with the notion of a guilty conscience" ... but he is no church historian nor a theologian ... classical Protestantism is extraspective in that it urges Chistians to look away from themselves and receive the promises and benefits of Christ in Word and Sacraments. Puritanism (e.g. Perkinsian analysis of faith) is a later devlopment where assurance became separated from faith.

But i'm not saying that his books are not worth reading. It's just his take on Protestant theology ... and his depreciation for justification by faith alone (imputed righteousness).

So, no like many others in the US and UK, I'd not see Wright's thesis as a licit doctrinal development. I'd say that his and others writings on 1st cent. Palestine, etc. are intriguing and useful in illuminating the theology current at the time, but then to use that to prove the Reformers misinterpreted St. Paul is not accurate at all.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...


i don't think i'd disagree with you, except on Westminster. But id say that you take on Wright is rather "balanced" though i myself would not go so far as to "exonerate" him. You're right, though, about Christian nonconformity to the world, etc.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

wow! Lots of energy in the comments here :-) I wonder Boh Tea whether you mind how the discussion has gone off tangen from your original post (even though they are important matters of discussion too) and have taken so much of your blog space? Just curious.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Jason Loh Seong Wei said...

Sze Zeng, Jack and all,

Please visit for a Gordon Clark's essays online.

In Christ

5:05 PM  
Blogger everquint said...

Haha .. "Let My People Think" post becomes a Colloquium.

Thinkers of faith a like! Inspire this generation to THINK~!

I realized even secular thoughts lack much depth! We all are scratching but the surface of every issue.

More so in academics... Chemistry students know nothing about Chemistry (myself a victim of death in thought). Sad case~!

"As Chemistry students, begin to think like Chemists~!!!"
-Dr. Kam of UM Chemistry Dept-

Let my people THINK~!

10:55 AM  
Blogger tehtarik said...

Hear ye, everquint!

Both Abraham Kuyper and J. Gresham Machen would not tolerate Christians who refuse to defend Truth, even in the face of many pirated versions of Truth masked in the Church -ie Jesus is a great teacher without necessarily saving you or feeling God in your experiences without needing to know Him from Scriptures...

My only reservation for 'reformers' is that we hold on to what is actually false conservatism- the forms rather than the substance of Truth.

Nevertheless, let my generation and my children's generation think!

P/S :Thanks, Ps Sivin for your concern. Perhaps when we meet again, we shall have even more off-tangen discussions.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

Hi Yennie,

i am replying Jason here. If it's not appropriate for you to have reply here, pls delete this. Pls do so cos i really wont mind. U have the liberty. It's ur space anyway. =)

Jason Loh,

First, i don agree that Logos is Logic, if you are refering to the Greek form of autonomous reason of the Form. I m contend that the cross is illogical in all reason and empiricism.

Secondly, as Geisler pointed out that Clark's rejection of empiricism is self-refuting. Clark has to depends on his sense to read the bible. He also has to depends on his sense in everyday affair, for eg. crossing the traffic. Hume's rejection of empiricism should be abandoned for any serious thinker. To live in that thought is to live in that time of Cartesian foundationalism, which is a failed philosophical method.

"I am not saying experience is not important or real. I'd prefer to say that experience is derived and "received" from revelation (Bible)."

This statement is false thoroughly. For this statement to be true, the assumption that the Bible reveals ALL facts and truth has to be there. And this is obviously not the case. The bible only reveals soteriology. Electro-magneticism discovered through empiricism, not the Bible.

Thirdly, theology/doctrine keeps evolving means that they keep evolving. No such thing as macro or micro. I dont mean either or i mean both. I would go as far to the extent of the question of God has to be evolve. This is true to ourselves, and thus true to God.

"So, doctrinal development must be based or grounded in established or received (i.e. apostolic and catholic) dogma of the Church. Any deviation is not true development."

That conviction killed Galileo and Copernicus.

Fourthly, on Wright. There was once a friend who told me that the dean of the reformed seminary he is attending criticised N.T Wright. I turned to my fren and asked him to name me any one reformed/orthodox scholar who go all the trouble in studying the matrix of idea of resurrection in the 1st century and wrote a 700 pages book defending the historicity of the resurrection of Christ. My friend couldnt name me one. I hope you can.

To talk about theology without biblical scholarship is planting feet in mid-air. N.T Wright got it right when he inter-relates history, mosaic theology, and literary criticism as a starting point for any sensible theology, liturgy, and thus, worship.

The reason why church history is not being look into because it is secondary. The mosaic theology that we have now is a collective and refinement from history of the church. Studying that scarcely, at best, give us thorough understanding on the developement of theology that serves as a framework for our current work, but it can never be an end by itself. Stuck urself in Church history will get you no where near sermper reformanda.

Since the bible is the source of theology, why not go directly to it instead of merry-go-round-ing on church history. To theologize from Church history is like attempting to build castle upon sand castles. Go directly to the source is the only way to guarantee a mighty fortress.

And here, i think, Wright got it right. And you got it wrong.

And calling fire down on Wright's NPP is still too early. Be patient for his next huge installment on Paul. At the mean time u may do it on Dunn and Sanders.

And by the way, Gordon Clark is a philosopher, not a biblical scholar. It's different playground all together. No one reads anything concerning the synoptic problems, the conversion of Saul, the impact of Hasmonean dynasty on Judaism, Jamnia council, Akiba, the A.D 132-135 war and etc in Clark's works. These are the contexts of the New Testament. To talk about theology by being ignorance of these is surely planting feet in mid-air.

Just as Moltmann the peak of Augustine, Aquinas and Barth; Nicholas Thomas Wright the peak of Calvin, Schweitzer, Kasemann, and Panennberg.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Sze Zeng said...

My recent discovery of the purpose of the gospel of John, the allusion of Jesus as the wisdom of God, historical methods of studying the gospels, and the reading of Septuagint has make a firm case for rendering 'logos' in John 1:1 as 'Wisdom of God' rather than Nash & Clark's 'logic'.

10:04 AM  
Blogger The Hedonese said...

hehehe... u bunch of calvinists!

Young, restless, breathless and constantly reforming :D

12:35 AM  

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