sample of lecture on “Of Creation,” The works of God toward creatures reveal the triune God to creatures
The Works of God toward Creatures Reveal the Triune God to Creatures
Psalm 104:30 says, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.” Here both creation and renewal are attributed to the Spirit of God. But notice one more thing about this text. Notice these words carefully: “You send forth Your Spirit.” Now listen to Bavinck: “special properties and works are attributed to each of the three persons . . in such a way that the order present between the persons in the ontological Trinity is revealed” (Bavinck, RD, 2:318.). The theologia is reveled in the oikonomia. The mystery of the Trinity is manifested in the external works of the Trinity.
“You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth,” says Psalm 104:30. The language of sending forth echoes the intra-trinitarian life of God. The Spirit is from the Father and the Son. As Michael Horton says, commenting on Psalm 104:30 “The Spirit is not a power emanating but a person sent” (Horton, The Holy Spirit, 31). Though God’s external works are not God, they tell us something about the triune God of the works. The works of God toward creatures reveal the triune God to creatures.
This method was, in my opinion, cogently argued in the first two chapters of Confessing the Impassible God. Those chapters were written by Charles J. Rennie and Ronald S. Baines. I highly commend them for your consideration. For example, Baines says, “To suggest that giving precedence to the texts which speak of God ontologically . . . is methodologically flawed, as Carson does, simply does not follow.”(fn.1.) Baines’ statement is in response to these words by D. A. Carson:
The methodological problem with the argument for divine impassibility is that it selects certain texts of Scripture, namely those that insist on God’s sovereignty and changelessness, constructs a theological grid on the basis of those selected texts, and then uses this grid to filter out all other texts, in particular those that speak of God’s emotions. These latter texts, nicely filtered out, are then labeled “anthropomorphisms” and are written off. (fn.2.)
Baines responds as follows:
What is perplexing with Carson’s objections to both classical impassibility and present day versions of passibility is that he fails to provide a hermeneutical framework for dealing with the biblical material. (fn.3.)
The issue is method, as Baines implies; and method is the very reason why I bring this up at this point. How do we account for the biblical material that at face value seems contradictory? For when considering divine creation, we must account for “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers” (Psalm 8:3), and for the fact that God is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible” (1 Tim. 1:17). Divine fingers and divine invisibility, at face value, seem contradictory. A hermeneutical framework for dealing with the biblical material must be in place or one is bound to confess that God has literal wings, for example. For in Psalm 17:8 we read, “Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.” Either God actually does have wings or this must be some sort of ornithomorphism (i.e., the attribution of birdly traits to God). Surely no one wants to assert that God has eternal wings and “[s]urely [no one wants to] believe that God temporarily or permanently assumed the intermediary properties of feathered appendages.” (fn.4.)
This very issue of privileging the ontological scriptural assertions of God over the metaphorical has received push-back from men who should know better. Our confession itself, however, is an illustration of this very method. Let me prove this assertion.
- Ronald S. Baines, “Hermeneutics: Analogia Scripturae and Analogia Fidei,” in Confessing the Impassible God: The Biblical, Classical, & Confessional Doctrine of Divine Impassibility, eds. Ronald S. Baines, Richard C. Barcellos, James P. Butler, Stefan T. Lindblad, and James M. Renihan (Palmdale, CA: RBAP, 2015), 86.
- D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2006), 165. Elsewhere, responding to classical impassibilists, Carson says: “You may then rest in God’s sovereignty, but you can no longer rejoice in his love. You may rejoice only in a linguistic expression that is an accommodationof some reality of which we cannot conceive, couched in the anthropopathismof love. Give me a break. Paul did not pray that his readers might be able to grasp the height and depth and length and breadth of an anthropopathism and know this anthropopathism that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:14–21).” See D. A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), 59. Baines responds to this with these appropriate words: “While we will deal with this in greater detail below, no classical impassibilist that we have encountered reads Paul this way. Doesn’t Paul affirm that the love he wants the Ephesians to know is that which ‘surpasses knowledge’?” See Baines, “Hermeneutics: Analogia Scripturae and Analogia Fidei,” 84.
- Baines, “Hermeneutics: Analogia Scripturae and Analogia Fidei,” 83.
- Cameron G. Porter, “’The Majesty of Mystery’: A Review Article”, JIRBS (2017): TBD.
The Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies (JIRBS) is published to explain and support the theology of Holy Scripture as it is summarized in the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith. The journal will be published annually.
This is the first book in the series Recovering our Confessional Heritage. The series is sponsored by the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies in cooperation with RBAP. The Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies is a graduate theological school which aids churches in preparing men to serve in the Gospel Ministry. For more information please visit irbsseminary.org.
The purpose of the series . . . is to address issues related to the Second London Confession of Faith of 1677/89 (2LCF). . . . The series will include treatments of various subjects by multiple authors. The subjects to be covered are those the series editors (along with consultants) determine to be of particular interest in our day. The authors will be those who display ample ability to address the issue under discussion. Some of the installments will be more involved than others due to the nature of the subject addressed and perceived current needs. Many of the contributions will cover foundational aspects of the self-consistent theological system expressed in the Confession. Others will address difficult, often misunderstood, or even denied facets of the doctrinal formulations of the 2LCF. Each installment will have a “For Further Reading” bibliography at the end to encourage further study on the issue discussed. ~ from the series editors, James M. Renihan and Richard C. Barcellos
“In Chapter 1, I seek to show how creeds and confessions exist in every church, denomination, or association, though they are not always written down. This is owing primarily to a mistaken view of what creeds and confessions actually are, as well as a wrong understanding of the relationship between sola Scriptura and written confessions of faith. Having an unwritten creed is susceptible to several dangers for the people of God.
In Chapter 2, the biblical warrant for creeds and confessions is established. The church has always been a creedal church, even during the apostolic era, and though we hold to the cessation of special revelation, we do not hold to the cessation of illumination and the ongoing need to earnestly contend for the faith.
Chapter 3 is devoted to a further definition of what a confession of faith is and how it differs from the Scriptures. The Scriptures are the infallible Word of God; the confession is our interpretation of the Word of God. This precludes the confession from ever taking the place of Scripture or being over Scripture, because apart from the Scripture, interpretation would be moot.
In Chapter 4, the confession is shown to be a consensus document, both in its original formation and in its continued function. It is important to understand and appreciate the amazing consensus our confession and our sister confessions have had in the past, the need for a clearer understanding of what it means to subscribe the confession, and how the confession functions within the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA).
Chapter 5 addresses very briefly the matter of words and terms and the need to understand the authorial intent of the confession.
The concluding remarks found in Chapter 6 are practical applications, addressed primarily to ministers and elders, and especially those who represent their churches in the General Assembly of their Association.” ~ Arden L. Hodgins, Jr.
“Moses, writing after the historical acts of creation, utilizes the covenantal name of God, Yahweh, while discussing Adam’s Edenic vocation (Gen. 2:4ff.). Isaiah utilizes concepts that started with Adam to explain the universal guilt of man, while using the word “covenant” (Isa. 25:5-6). Hosea, looking back upon previous written revelation, makes explicit what was implicit in it. The prophet’s inspired words give us God’s infallible knowledge of one of the similarities between ancient Israel and Adam. Both had a covenant imposed on them by God and both transgressed their covenants (Hos. 6:7). Paul, while reflecting on Adam’s Edenic vocation, contrasts the disobedience of Adam and its results with the obedience of Christ and its results (Rom. 5:19). The term “works” in the phrase “covenant of works” contrasts with “grace” and “gift” in Romans 5:17. Paul asserts that Adam was a type of Christ (Rom. 5:14). Adam sinned and fell short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Christ did not sin (Heb. 4:15) and, upon his resurrection, entered into glory (Luke 24:46; Acts 26:19-23; 1 Pet. 1:10-12), a quality of life conferred upon him due to his obedience (Rom. 5:21). This is the life he confers upon all believers.
These scriptural realities, understood by the utilization of the hermeneutical principles of the Holy Spirit as the only infallible interpreter of Holy Scripture, analogia Scriptura, analogia fidei, and scopus Scripturae, led to the confessional formulation of the doctrine of the covenant of works.” ~ Richard C. Barcellos
The doctrine of associational churchmanship expressed in our Confession is another one of these circumstances. Our discussion will involve the following: first, the three ways to describe interchurch relations; second, the church in the Second London Confession of Faith (2LCF); third, an overview of chapter 26.1-11 and brief exposition of 26.12-13; fourth associationalism; and finally, a conclusion and application.” ~ James M. Renihan
- Of Creation, Richard Barcellos, Ph.D. (four lectures)
- Overview of 2LCF 4, Of Creation, James M. Renihan, Ph.D. (one lecture)
- “In the space of six days,” James M. Renihan, Ph.D. (one lecture)
- “Besides the law written in their hearts, they received a command…,” – Moral and Positive Law, Samuel Renihan, Drs. (one lecture)
Drs. Stefan T. Lindblad, B.A. in History and Classics from Seattle Pacific University, M.Div. from Westminster Seminary California and the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies, and Ph.D. candidate in Systematic and Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, is our speaker at this fall’s conference. The conference will be held on October 24-25, 2016.
Here are the lecture titles thus far: