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Archive for August, 2010

While this message certainly defends the biblical doctrine of hell, arguing at some length against the views of men like Pinnock and Stott, it goes beyond the subject, delving into the inadequacy of hell itself.  This last statement will no doubt raise an eyebrow as many will wonder what is meant by the word “inadequate.”  Well, dear listener, I’ll leave that for you to consider.  So wrap your ears around this excellent message and enjoy!

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: High.  I thought it was thought provoking, stirring and insightful.  I heartily commend to all listeners.    

Length: 1 hour.

To Download: Click picture and download from the Desiring God website.

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2 Corinthians chapter 3 is a challenging section of Scripture to exegete.  I suppose any focused discussion of the old covenant as it relates to the new is going to prove difficult, for here one will be required to demonstrate how they put their bible together.

Sinclair Ferguson, as has been his trademark, masterfully threads pastoral preaching with doctrinal fidelity.  This is merely to say that 2 Corinthians chapter 3 is unpacked nicely, but not from the perch of an ivory tower. 

In the two or three week span of which I have found little to share on this website, as the lectures/podcasts I’ve been listening to have been less than stellar, this one stood out.  So I’ll happily share it with you.   Hopefully things pick up…    

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Moderate.  If you are preaching through 2 Corinthians, take a moment to listen to Mr. Ferguson.  It will be worth your time. 

Length: Just shy of an hour.

To Download: Click picture.

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For those of you who do not know C.J. Mahaney, he leads Sovereign Grace Ministries (Think Reformed non-cessationists) in its mission to establish and support local churches.  Before handing the reigns over to Joshua Harris, he pastored Covenant Life Church for 27 years.  He also serves on the Council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and the board of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  He’s a good shepherd, an able communicator, and a man full of zeal and the Spirit of God. 

Here recently I listened to one of his conference messages, “I Wish I Had Been There,” a message given at the 2010 Resolved Conference held in Palm Springs.  In it Pastor Mahaney brings to life Mark 5, a passage of Scripture, you may recall, that centers on a man who could not be bound and who lived among the tombs and who was filled with an unclean spirit.  Not only is the text brought to life, but as is customary for C.J., he sets up and illustrates the text with some riveting stories of his own. 

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Moderate

Length: 1 Hour

To Download: Click Picture.  It’s the fourth one down.

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R.C. Sproul has a five part (about 2 ½ hours) series on the veracity of the Scriptures.  While there is much that is commendable in these lectures, and while the information is presented in an interesting and thought provoking manner, I think the good doctor has unnecessarily limited himself by adopting and holding closely to a classical model of apologetics.  I’d like to explain why this is this case, so I’ll add a short critical review at the end.  Nevertheless, to stress again, I found the discussion interesting. 

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Must Listen Factor: Low to Moderate

To Download: Click picture.

Critical Review:

In part one of this lecture series, R.C. Sproul spends a good deal of time critiquing what appears to be the presuppositional position of apologetics.  I say “appears to be” because he criticizes words and phrases often employed by presuppositionalists.  And yet, as those words and phrases are fleshed out, one wonders if he understands presuppositionalism (which he surely does).  The alternative, I suppose, is to say that he’s critiquing a strawman, or pure fideism wrapped in Van Tillian lingo.  Either way I was a bit disappointed.  To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, at one point he pitted rationality against presupposing the Word of God as absolute, as though presuppositionalism repudiates the idea of presenting a rational defense of the Word of God, or that the argument for the self-attesting nature of Scripture is anything less than supremely rational.  Nothing could be further from the truth, at least in my view of things.   

In a nutshell, his problem with the view that the Scriptures are self-authenticating, or self-attesting, or that the authority of the Word must be presupposed, which is to say that there is no higher standard by which they can be judged, or that it is the ultimate starting point, rests on three objections.  They are:

(1)   This position is fallacious.  It falls prey to vicious circularity.

(2)   This position can’t handle competing “Divine Word” claims (i.e., Islam, Mormonism, etc.).  How does one adjudicate between such supposed revelations?

(3)   The Bible itself encourages people to test it on the grounds of evidence. 

Regarding the first point, R.C. Sproul fails to recognize, or admit in this context, that all ultimate truth claims are necessarily circular.  For example, how would you go about proving rationalism without presupposing rationality?  Or prove the veracity of logic without being logical?  Or empiricism without the reliability of sense experience?  Circularity is unavoidable, and it’s unavoidable for glorious reasons. 

Precisely because God is ultimate, reality reflects this ultimacy.  If men or angels deify something, then it becomes an idol.  And an idol always fails.  It always frustrates.  It exhibits contradiction.  And it does not satisfy. 

Let’s get right to the very bottom of things here.  I can think of no better example than possibility itself to illustrate the point.  Suppose an agnostic says, “Ah, yes, but how do you know?  Isn’t it possible that God isn’t ultimate?  Just admit that for me.  Isn’t it possible, even conceivably possible, that God isn’t ultimate?”

Many will be tempted to answer yes.  But when we better understand who God is and how absolutely crucial His nature is to epistemology, ontology and metaphysics, we will quickly recognize the agnostic’s hidden absolute.  We will see that for him possibility is ultimate.  Maybe we live in a matrix?  Maybe we are a brain in a vat being led to believe there is this present reality around us?  Maybe God is an evil being just tricking us to believe that he is really good.  Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe.  It goes on and on.  It’s an infinite spectrum of ‘what ifs.’  But behind all of this, possibility is ultimate, not the God of Abraham.  And when possibility is ultimate, knowledge goes out the door.  You can’t know anything for certain.  Nothing!  Chance destroys knowledge.  And as such, the agnostic lives in a frustrating, dialectic world of rationality and irrationality.  Basically, possibility becomes an idol.  But as with all idols, it cannot take the seat of God because it is a false god.  And as such, it always collapses.  It destroys itself.  It leads to frustration and foolishness.  Try it, friends.  Try to show how you can know anything for certain apart from God.

I believe and know there is no chance in the universe.  God is absolutely in control and His knowledge is perfectly exhaustive.  Therefore possibility is not ultimate.  Therefore we can know, because God can tell us how things really are.  And if I doubt that, if I don’t plant both feet on this truth, I cannot know anything for certain.  The preconditions for certainty disappear.  I slip off into the void of self-consuming possibility.  Therefore, God calls us to do what is absolutely best for us.  Exercise faith and know that He is the great I AM.  And that, I would urge R.C. to remember, is found in His Word.   

Meditate on Hebrews 6:17-18, Colossians 2:3 and Proverbs 1:7. 

Also ask yourself this question: Should Adam have set up a science lab in the Garden and tested God’s Word to see if what He said was really true?  Think about it, how could Adam know for absolute certain that the Serpent wasn’t right?  Couldn’t Adam have thought, “Is it possible that the Serpent is right and God isn’t?”  Would he have to taste the fruit to really know?

Surely history has been teaching us in the most vivid way possible the utter folly of this kind of epistemological idolatry.       

Well, now, I didn’t think I would ramble on this long.  I’ll have to save comments on points two and three for a later date.

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In the 1920s, H.L. Mencken defined a Puritan as, “A person in constant dread that someone somewhere might be happy.”

Many think of the Puritans as a community of people with continually downcast expressions, sour affections, and long, jabbing pointy fingers.  Oh, and they’re probably carrying torches too; looking for witches to burn. 

I must say that when I downloaded this lecture, I expected to be bored.  Much to my surprise and delight, however, I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Noll’s presentation.  Not only did I find it extremely informative, but I especially enjoyed his willingness to fairly praise and criticize the Puritans.  It felt balanced.  Very balanced.  And I came away really feeling like I learned something about our Protestant forefathers.   

Difficulty: Intermediate

Length: Just short of an hour.  Q and A takes up 10 or 15 minutes at the end. 

Must Listen Factor: Well, let’s be honest here.  Not too many people are going to want to listen to this.  And that’s ok.  But look.  If you like history at all, as well as theology, then you’ll definitely want to give this a listen.  As for the rest, save space on your mp3 player.    

To Download: Click picture.  If your browser won’t open Itunes properly, simply open Itunes, search “Westminster Notable Guest Lecturers,” and look at #16 within the folder.

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When I was completing my theological studies through a ministerial program in the C&MA, I distinctly remember dreading the section on eschatology.  For up until that point, eschatology was a foggy, nebulous concept.  The map inside Robert Van Kampen’s book The Sign, which was the gold standard in the church I grew up in, was more than a little foreboding.   Unfolding the illustrious map revealed an apocalyptic vision of bizarre animals, fiery meteors, trumpets and a carefully constructed, if not wildly complex, chronology of the final seven years. 

I couldn’t make sense of it.  Yet I believed it… that is, until my guided studies forced me to think through the issue more carefully. 

It was Matthew 24 that first bothered me.  I would read Van Kampen, look at Matthew 24, read Kampen, read the parallel account in Luke, and time and time again scratch my head in bewilderment.  It just didn’t make sense.  It didn’t seem to jive with the text.

It’s quite obvious now why it didn’t make sense.  Dispensationalism, for all its popularity these days, is woefully inadequate as a theological paradigm.  I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but I think it’s true.   

The journey out of dispensationalism had many twists and turns for me, but one figure whom I found particularly helpful was a pastor by the name of Kim Riddlebarger.  He holds to the Amillennial position, the position that probably best describes my eschatological outlook (Although I am what one might call an optimistic Amillennialist, which is just a funny way of saying that I’m friends with Postmillennialists).  I found his book The Case for Amillennialism particularly helpful.  I commend it to you.  But if you’re an audio scavenger like me, you’ll definitely find his lectures on the subject profitable.  There are a bunch of them, so they this not for the faint of heart.  But listen.  They are good.  If you haven’t thought much about eschatology, I heartily recommend this series to you.  They are clearly presented, biblically insightful and helpfully organized. 

What are you waiting for?  Download them.

Difficulty: Intermediate (Though if you’re a noob, prepare to be hit with a lot of new information).

Must Listen Factor: If you have read the Left Behind Series and think it fairly represents the Bible regarding eschatology, then this is a must listen 🙂

To Download:  Click the picture.  You will see on the right hand column a section entitled “Amillennialism 101 Audio Resources.”  Fire away.

Additional Resources: As far as free articles are concerned, I recommend Sam Storms’ resources to you.  You can find them here: LINK.  They are excellent.  Now if you want the true gold standard, pick up G.K. Beale’s commentary on Revelation.  It is worth its weight in gold, and let me tell you, it’s heavy.

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It is important to understand the philosophical undercurrents of our age.  Not only will we be in a better position to exegete culture, but we will be more adequately prepared to engage the popular mindset of unbelief.  There is, of course, no single all encompassing worldview of unbelief in our country, but if there were one, postmodernism comes close.   

Few have thought more deeply about the phenomenon of postmodernism than D.A. Carson.  When preparing to write his book “The Gagging of God,” Dr. Carson read hundreds of volumes concerned with the topic.  And it shows.  He provides a very helpful summary of the history of thought from pre-enlightenment to modernism to postmodernism.  In addition, he helpfully explores the underlying ideas of, say, Michel Foucault or Jacques Derrida. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about epistemology.  It’s all about epistemology.

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Must Listen Factor: High for scavengers.  Moderate for everyone else.  Carson takes a complicated subject and makes it understandable.  I benefitted greatly from this lecture.      

To download: There are two parts.  To download them, click the picture.

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