My blogging has reduced to a trickle. I just don’t have the time like I used to when I began my blog nearly 17 years ago. Occasionally, I become stirred in my spirit over some issue and I can pound out an article in a couple of hours if not less. I can say, however, that even though I am hardly blogging, at least my actual blog is still active. That’s something I suppose.
I did make a commitment (because I have a smidgen of down time during and in between holidays) to catalog the books I either heard in audio format or read. I like to provide recommendations for fellow friends and other readers.
Books I heard
Striking Back – Aaron J Klein. A brief history of the terrorist attacks against Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and how Israel hunted down all the terrorists and wiped them out. The book provides an interesting background to the development of Mossad and Israeli spy craft.
Norco 80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History – Peter Houlahan. The retelling of the worst, poorly conceived bank robbery ever. Attempted by a group of 5 men, two of them former members of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa who had become end-time survivalists. They were heavily armed with machine guns and the pursuit by law enforcement resulted in 30 patrol cars damaged, a police helicopter damaged, numerous houses and businesses damaged, and one officer killed.
Intellectuals and Society – Thomas Sowell. I am hoping to read more Thomas Sowell in the years to come. I prefer listening to audio books; but sadly, our local library system only has this book available in audio. It was an overview of how intellectual, liberal elites think they know better than everyone else how to live their lives and make a society.
The Political Incorrect Guide to American History – Thomas E. Woods. This is a short history of America. Published by the fine folks at the Political Incorrect Guide group who have produced some wonderful titles over the years. The one on the Vietnam War is worth getting, as well. The authors and the books are always described by reviewers as “controversial” which means they are right with their views of historical reality.
How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe – Thomas Cahill. A history of Ireland and the unique place of the Irish people, not only in Europe and the US, but throughout the world. They had one of the first libraries that copied and preserved important manuscripts from antiquity. The background to St. Patrick was especially well done and I would recommend the book just for those couple of chapters or so detailing his life and influence.
Books I Read
Leviathan Awakes and Caliban’s War – James S. A. Corey. I have enjoyed watching The Expanse series on Amazon Prime, so I thought I would read the novels, that of course are much better. I was able to work my way through the first two. The author’s name is a pen name for two authors who wrote the series. The stories take place 300 years or so into the future. Humankind has colonized the solar system, but instead of Star Trek ships that go 6 times the speed of light and alien cultures everywhere, it is just people who have normal ships that go fast, but it takes time to get from point A to point B. Mars is an independent planet, no longer associated with Earth, and miner clans colonize the asteroid belt. The tense situations between all the groups explode when an alien molecule is discovered on one of Jupiter’s moons and a mysterious corporation begins to weaponize it.
Holiness Unto the Lord – Allan P. Ross, Leviticus – Mark Rooker, Lectures on Leviticus – Joseph Seiss. I taught through the book of Leviticus with my volunteers this past year and those three books were extremely helpful in my preparation.
The Failure of Natural Theology: A Critical Appraisal of the Philosophical Theology of Thomas Aquinas – Jeffrey Johnson. The book is a bit heady, and readers uninitiated with Aquinas and the issues pertaining to his natural theology may find it a tad daunting; but overall, pastor Johnson does a fantastic job laying out the case against Aquinas’s “baptism” of Aristotle as a filter through which we do theology. The neo-Thomists on social media have been whining about this book for a number of weeks, calling pastor Johnson to repent for writing it, so you know it is worth the time.
The Old in the New: Understanding How the New Testament Authors Quoted the Old Testament – Michael Vlach. An excellent survey of how the New Testament writers quoted from, and used, the Old Testament in their writings to the church. Vlach works through the major passages like Matthew 2:15, Galatians 3:16, and others that are referenced as proof the NT writers re-wrote or poured new meaning into what the OT writers stated. An excellent resource to have on hand as a rejoinder to Reformed folks who insist the Bible is one big picture book that is read according to types.
The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization – Arthur Herman. I am currently working on writing my various blog articles on apologetics, evangelism, and apologetic methodology, into a book. I have returned to re-reading works I haven’t visited in some years. In my research, I heard a podcast on which one of the hosts mentioned how great this book was. I found it for cheap and began reading through it and it truly is a fantastic work. Herman chronicles the lives and philosophical worldviews of Plato and Aristotle and their lasting impact on western society, especially (and regrettably to a degree) the Christian church all the way up to the Reformation. The book is informative and entertaining to read. If you want to see how Greek philosophy had such an influence on Christian theology, it is worth the time reading.
From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology – Andrew Steinmann. Without a doubt this is the best book I read all year. Not only was it informative and a joy to read, it is an important work for apologetics. The Bible is a historical book. The events recorded within it’s pages really happened in time and space. And because the Bible records real, historical events, the Bible also records time markers by reference to other historical events taking place at the same time those written down in the Bible happened. That is also the importance of genealogical lists found throughout Scripture. Those time markers provide key, chronological dates that establish the historicity of the events in Scripture.
Steinmann works his way from the life of Abraham, establishing key, historical benchmarks that anchor the events in Scripture into history. He works his way forward to Christ and the ministry of Paul that ends in Acts 28. The study he provides on the life of Christ is one of the big reasons to have this book. Though it is a bit pricey (around forty dollars or more), the book is a valuable edition to your library.
I have been saying for many years that William Lane Craig, the so-called Christian philosopher and famous apologist, is really a menace to the Faith he claims to defend. He advocates for a number of doctrinal views that are – to be blunt – heretical. He defends Molinism, the counter-Reformation system that was created to safe guard libertarian free-will against the clear Scriptural doctrine of God’s monergistic sovereignty in salvation. He touches the eternal nature of God by having Him exist in time, bound chronologically along with His creation. And he is a self-proclaimed “Neo-Apollinarian” (which is really just classic Apollinarianism), the ancient heresy that denies the full humanity of Jesus Christ.
Recently, Craig published an article at First Things arguing for his view of the “historical” Adam. His “historical” Adam “plausibly lived sometime between around 1 million years ago to 750,000 years ago,” or so he concludes. That is an imaginary, fantasy Adam that never existed except in the fevered minds of Bible rejecting Socinians who re-read the Genesis narrative according to deep-time, evolutionary constructs.
But his denial of the real, historical Adam that is recorded in the pages of Scripture, isn’t the worst part of the article. It’s a hot mess of heretical nonsense that declares among other things, the denial of original sin, the Mosaic authorship of Genesis, and the innerancy of Scripture. There have been a few quick responses to his overall take on Adam, but I wanted to highlight the overlooked heretical notions Craig presents in his article.
His Rejection of the Historicity of the Genesis Record. Craig states that Genesis 1-11 “functions as mytho-history,” a description he borrows from Thorkild Jacobsen, a Danish Assyriologist who was recognized as a world expert in the ancient Near East. Jacobsen is an unbeliever who rejects the inspiration of Scripture, so I understand why he would make such a claim. One wouldn’t, however, expect a famous Christian philosopher/apologist to believe such nonsense. But Craig has always been a man-pleaser, seeking ways to save face before the academic and intellectual ceiling-gazing, chin-rubbing, pipe-smoking intellegensia. Labeling Genesis mytho-history prevents those weird portions of Genesis from embarrassing him before his academy friends. That’s why he derisively scoffs at such events like Eve being created from Adam’s rib, or a talking snake in the garden, or Adam’s offspring living to 900 plus years describing those stories and characters as “fantastic.” Those are just fables; and he wants everyone to understand that he knows it is plain silly to take any of them as real, literal history.
But Jesus took them as real, literal history. So did the inspired prophets and apostles who often reference the events in Genesis 1-11 as real history. None of them ever considered those first eleven chapters as mytho-history. Especially Jesus, the Son of God, the incarnate second Person of the Trinity who was, you know, THE CREATOR! He was there. He created everything. He is clear to his audience in his teaching that Adam and Eve were real, historic people who lived recently in time, not a million years ago. Craig’s mytho-history endangers the integrity of not only Genesis, but all of Scripture, making the Lord Jesus and all the inspired writers of Scripture teach as truth, what were really myths, which means they are mistaken as to the reality of the world and in essence passing along lies and errors in the pages of our Bible.
A true apologist for the Christian faith should want to instill confidence in the integrity of God’s holy Word, not placate worldly notions of Darwinian SCIENCE! by sowing doubt in God’s Word among believers.
He Denies the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch. At places within his article, Craig speaks of the “Pentateuchal author.” If readers are not paying attention, they’ll miss the subtle significance of those words: Craig doesn’t believe Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible that has been historically attributed to him. But again, Jesus and the prophets and apostles ALL said Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, when they would cite from those texts and proclaim that “Moses said such and such.” There is no doubt that both Scripture and church history affirm the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Yet Craig adopts the secular worldly view of some unknown writer or writers who are lost to ancient history who authored the first five books.
His View of Adam Ultimately Denies Adam’s Sin and Christ’s Saving Work. Christ is called the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), and His work on the cross imputes His righteousness to His people like Adam’s fall imputes his sin and guilt to all of humanity (Romans 5:12-14, 1 Corinthians 15:22). That’s the core message of the Gospel. However, the historical Jesus imputing His righteousness to guilty sinners does not work with a non-historical, mythical Adam who, according to Craig, couldn’t possibly have lived in a utopian garden, disobeying God by eating from a magical tree after his wife was tricked by a talking snake. That is just ridiculous. He wants us to believe that Adam lived a million years ago and did something that is undefined and left to the mysterious of prehistoric history that caused sin to have come to all of humanity and placing them under God’s wrath. The ramifications of his position directly strikes at the heart of the Christian faith and the Gospel message. And he is supposed to be the world renowned apologist?
Craig is teaching heresy plain and simple. What is worse is that he has become a scoffer and mocker of the faith. During an interview with Sean McDowell he discussed his forthcoming book that will apparently develop his rejection of Genesis and Adam in more detail. Craig contemptuously sneers at the idea that Genesis can be taken as a literal, historical record and ridicules those who would do so. He sounds like the many “ex-vangelical” atheists who are scattered across the internet posting their scornful remarks against God. This is not a recent development. He has always rejected the biblical history of Genesis 1-11. He hates creationists who affirm a young universe and God’s miraculous creation of the universe, the world, and all that is contained in it in 6 24-hour days. He is an individual who should be marked and avoided as a false teacher, and not held up and praised as a famous apologist. Christians should not affirm anything that he does, because he is working to tear down the very Faith he is claiming to defend.
I would recommend these resources as a refutation to Craig’s view of Genesis,
Contrary to Craig’s ridiculing assertions, all of those works are written by solid, scholarly men who all affirm and believe in a real, historical Adam as recorded in the pages of Scripture, who disobeyed God by falling into sin after eating the real, edible fruit of a literal, historical tree.
I want to dispel a particular myth that has taken root across social media. It is the claim that the legal battles with the state of California and the county of Los Angeles during the corona virus pandemic has brought John MacArthur to change his fundamental views of Romans 13 and the responsibility Christians have toward the government. That of course is ridiculously untrue. John has been consistent in his position, and anyone claiming he changed it demonstrates a deep unfamiliarity with what John teaches and has taught on the subject of Christians and government.
What Has John Taught?
If a person were to review John’s sermons on the topic of Christians and government, specifically the ones that were expositions of the relevant passages like Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13 ff., he will find that John has always maintained that Christians must submit to the authority of the governments where they live. That would include those governments that are hostile to religious faith and may engage in oppressive tyranny. So that we are clear, John isn’t saying that Christians should roll over and allow themselves to be killed by hateful governing authorities. He means that Christians should live peaceable lives, seeking the welfare of the city. The Christian Church should not have a reputation of subversion and political agitation. Believers shouldn’t be out in the streets leading protests fomenting rebellion to overthrow the state.
Take for example his comments from a sermon on 1 Peter 2:13 that was preached in 1989. John states,
The command is simple, "submit yourselves," from the Greek word hupotassō. It literally is a military term meaning to arrange in military fashion under the commander. It's talking about being subject. The best translation would be, "Put yourselves in an attitude of submission.” “Put yourselves in an attitude of submission." By the way, that is distinctively Christian because attitudes of submission and humility in ancient times were looked upon as those things which characterized cowards and weaklings. And no man of strength would ever think of submitting himself or being humble. So God's people were to live in a humble, submissive way in the midst of a hostile, godless, Christ-less, sinful, wicked, accusing, slandering society. In fact, God's people had often been accused of insurrection, would continue to be accused of insurrection but were never called by God to engage in it, never.
He goes in the same sermon to say,
Frankly, I believe it is sad to see Christians who set the example of public civil disobedience, Christians who set the example of the violation of law, Christians who harass the police, because if we are the righteous then what will the unrighteous feel that they should do? If we are the virtuous of society, if we are the righteous who serve the God who ordained government, how can we defy the very God and the very government He has ordained? And if we set the example who are the righteous, then what will the unrighteous do?
Consider his sermons from Romans 13. Those messages were given in 1985, and there he teaches the exact some thing. In the opening message to his series “The Christian’s Responsibility to Government,” John provides some reasons for why the Church should not be leading the way on political activism, the more notable being that God has not called Christians to that duty, and the Church can swiftly become compromised with both the secular state and other groups of false religionists who may advocate for the same goals.
Seems to me that the church needs to use all of its power and all of its resources, and all of its energy and forces to convert men and women to Jesus Christ. And that's what God has called us to do. The Scripture speaks not at all about Christians engaging in politics. It has nothing to say about it. Other than the fact that we're to be model citizens, it says nothing. It speaks not at all about Christians engaging in civil change. That is not our priority. It doesn't mean we're not to be involved as citizens where we can be. It's a question of priority.[emphasis mine]
I highlight that one sentence because there will be choruses of critics saying John is hypocritical. He says the Christian Church shouldn’t be involved in politics, but then he said Christians should vote for Donald Trump. But it is not “political activism” to encourage people to vote for one particular candidate over another. That’s doing our part as citizens in our American system, which is totally acceptable. But I digress…
That One Exception
The ONLY exception for the Church’s duty in submitting to the authority of the government is if the government imposes orders for Christians to disobey God and the commands of Scripture. John says as much in the conclusion of his first sermon on Romans 13,
Now you say, "Wait a minute. You mean we're to submit to everything? Everything, everything without limitation?" No, there's one limitation. There's one limitation. And we'll deal with that and conclude our study tonight. ... The one time we have a right to disobey the authority and the government is when the government commands us not to do something God commanded us to do. Or when the government commands us to do something God commanded us not to do. Okay? When it invades that domain. For example, if all of these laws that are supposed to be being made for the rights of homosexuals come to the point where they make demands on Grace Community Church to hire homosexuals, that's where we say sorry, you have just told us to do what God forbids us to do. We will not do that. Those are the only places where we have justification. And I hope, if it comes to that, we have the opportunity to speak loudly and clearly as to why we stand with the truth of God. [emphasis mine]
John has been clear since the time he taught through Romans in 1985 and later in 1 Peter in 1989: It is the duty of God’s Church to submit to the governing authorities, either good or bad, and to seek the civil peace with those authorities. The only time those duties are overridden as it were, is when the government imposes laws or commands that cause the Church to VIOLATE God’s will for His people as revealed in Scripture. That has been John’s consistent position throughout his ministry and it is still reflected in the commentaries adapted from those messages, as well as other printed material, like his book, Why Government Can’t Save You.
Did Corona Virus and Government Lock Downs Change Any of That?
A week after the 2020 Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church, California governor, Gavin Newsom, issued a lock down of the entire state that was to last three weeks. The goal of the lock down was to slow the spread of Covid-19, preventing the state’s healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed by the then prediction of hundreds of thousands of people succumbing to the choking horror of the virus.
The Thursday before the lock downs were to go into effect, the elders of Grace Community Church met to decide how they would move forward handling the mandate. At that time, due to the unknowns regarding the virus and the urgency from state and local health officials for preventing its spread, the elders decided to defer to government authorities and suspend services at GCC for three Sundays.
That of course is an entirely reasonable decision. It was never sinful for GCC, or any congregation for that matter, to cancel services for three weeks in compliance with a state health mandate that helps the general welfare of the city. Again, at that time, it was prudent given the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Yet, immediately after GCC chose to suspend services, John and the elders came under scrutinizing criticism from other believers for “bowing to Caesar” by allowing the STATE to dictate their services. The bulk of those criticisms, though, came from individuals who attended small congregations in rural areas of the United States, or in locations that were favorable to churches staying open. They were not navigating a 5,000 member congregation at a high profile church in a major city in California.
Those critics overlooked the fact that the elders of GCC had determined at their initial meeting that IF the state began abusing it’s authority by preventing churches assembling together for worship and fellowship, they would have to reconsider their obedience to that mandate. Phil Johnson stated in an article at his blog addressing that very issue. He writes,
How long until the government-ordered quarantine is undeniably excessive, or we conclude that it's targeted persecution against our worship and therefore an illegal attempt to make us disobey Hebrews 10:25? That time may come, and when it does, we may have to implement the principle of Acts 5:29. The question of whether we have already passed that point is another subjective issue, but it's clear that among believers—in the church itself—there is not yet consensus on whether the quarantine has gone too far.
That consensus on whether the quarantine has gone too far is, as Phil states, subjective. That means the leadership in various congregations must have the liberty to make those decisions they believe are best for their members, not placating the finger-wagging of online scolds.
On April 19th, John did a Q&A on a Sunday evening. Keep in mind this is just over a month since the lock down mandate went into effect and had since been extended past the three week mark. A question was asked about churches who were defying the various state mandates and what John thought of that. He responded,
Yeah, let me make very clear this question because it keeps coming up. If the government told us not to meet because Christianity was against the law, if the government told us not to meet because we would be punished, fined for our religion and our religious convictions, we would have no option but to meet anyway. And that takes you to the fifth chapter of Acts where the leaders of Israel said to the apostles, “Stop preaching.” And Peter’s response was very simple. He said, “You judge whether we obey God or men,” then he went right out and preached.
If the government tells us to stop worshiping, stop preaching, stop communicating the gospel, we don’t stop. We obey God rather than men. We don’t start a revolution about that; the apostles didn’t do that. If they put us in jail, we go to jail and we have a jail ministry. Like the apostle Paul said, “My being in jail has fallen out to the furtherance of the gospel.” So we don’t rebel, we don’t protest. You don’t ever see Christians doing that in the book of Acts. If they were persecuted, they were faithful to proclaim the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ even if it took them to jail; and that’s been the pattern of true Christianity through all the centuries.
But this is not that. Might become that in the future. Might be overtones of that with some politicians. But this is the government saying, “Please do this for the protection of this society.” This is for greater societal good, that’s their objective. This is not the persecution of Christianity. This is saying, “Behave this way so that people don’t become ill and die.” [emphasis mine]
He goes on to say in his answer that the church doesn’t want to come across as defiant at the expense of hurting those vulnerable to the disease, and so at the moment, it is best to obey the authorities. But, as I emphasize in that answer, a response of defiance against government “might become that in the future.” He left open the possibility that such may happen.
And that is exactly what did happen. As the pandemic plodded onward, it became increasingly clear that the virus was not as severe as was originally claimed. In fact, the absurd over reaction to the virus with lock downs and stay at home orders was creating more catastrophic devastation to people than the virus itself. The state of CA and the county of LA continued their draconian overreach infringing not only on the rights of the general society, but the Church’s duty to gather for worship and ministers to each other. It was quickly coming to a place that an Acts 5 approach would be necessary. That decision with John and the elders was solidified during the summer riots, when the same politicians and health officials who had upended society with their medical police state mandates, tossed them all away to excuse the outrageous looting and mayhem caused by “protesters.” It was at that point GCC’s compliance and obedience to the lock down came to an end.
“We must obey God rather than men.” Does this mean we have no responsibility to our leaders? Not at all. God has ordained human government for the peace and well-being of temporal society. Romans 13, “We are to recognize the authorities are designed by God. We are to submit to them in the sphere in which God has designed them to operate.” We’re to do more than that. We’re to honor them, show them respect. Through the years we’ve done that here. We continue to do that with the authorities in our city every opportunity we have. We render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. We even have been called, 1 Timothy 2, to pray for their salvation, as I did this morning. When orders come, however, to us that contradict the orders of our King, we have to obey God rather than men.[emphasis mine]
I believe there is a false perception that John changed his views because this was perhaps the first time in the history of his ministry and the life of GCC that what was taught from the pulpit regarding the Church’s responsibility to government was put into actual practice. The critics are either entirely unaware of what John genuinely believes on this subject, or they have some differing take on the relevant passages than what he does. So, when they see him genuinely apply his convictions in real time, they falsely conclude: “He changed his position!” That is hardly the case.
A couple of other articles that may be of interest along these lines is a time line of events from the beginning of the lock downs to the legal victory GCC had over LA County. And Phil Johnson’s article that was written last year, but was just published officially detailing the medical fascism of health procedures as dictated by the LA County health department.
Dr. Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention after contentious debate and a lot of dirty political maneuverings by his supporters. He was hailed by the academic elite in WokeEVA Inc. and the secular media as this moderate choice for the SBC after the convention attendees were able to beat back those terrible legalistic ultra-conservatives.
I’ll let readers do their own research regarding the aftermath of the 2021 convention and what all of it forebodes for conservative, Bible-loving Southern Baptists. What came to light within the week or so after the convention is what is most concerning.
Back in January 2019, then SBC president J.D. Greear, “preached” a sermon (really more of a TEDtalk) on Romans 1:26-32, where Paul condemns homosexual sin. Greear downplayed the seriousness of the sexual perversion by declaring homosexuality as no more sinful than heterosexual sin and saying how God speaks much more loudly about injustice, theft, and other similar lesser sins, and “whispers” about sexual sins. We as Christians, he says, should only whisper about those sins God whispers about. He was rightfully criticized and his sermon was another sad illustration of how big megachurch elites in the SBC were not only wildly off-target regarding the wickedness that struts throughout our culture, but also terrible handlers of God’s Word.
Fast-forward to the week of the 2021 SBC convention. Some alert soul happened to remember that Ed Litton had said something similar to Greear regarding God whispering about the sin of homosexuality. People who take sin seriously and know God has never whispered about any sin, especially the gross perversion of same-sex attraction and homosexuality, just face palmed and wondered why Litton wasn’t vetted before he was nominated to be the SBC president. Of course, he was vetted. Lots of solid men posted articles and podcasts detailing the problems with the man’s thinking and overall direction his leadership would take the SBC. But, no one really cared. They only wanted to beat those MAGAtard, white Christian nationalists who hate women.
While the SBC tumultuously wrestled over who would be the next president, another curious individual noticed that Litton’s whispering comments sounded way too familiar to what Greear said. He took the time to find Greear’s original sermon and then listened to Litton’s sermon preached exactly a year later in January 2020 on the same subject and was shocked — SHOCKED — to discover that there wasn’t a few similar comments, but entire sections literally plagiarized, including the opening illustrations and the exact outline of the passage! He edited the the two sermons together:
Many evangelical elites have roundly condemned plagiarism in sermons over the years. For example Justin Taylor contributed to an article at Desiring God, What is Plagiarism? back nearly 15 years ago. The same for Al Mohler who spoke against pastors plagiarizing sermons in one of his The Briefing daily podcasts, Plagiarizing in an Internet Age. Jared C. Wilson wrote for the 9 Marks blog an article entitled, “Thou Shalt Not Steal” that tells pastors that any plagiarizing of sermons is breaking the 8th commandment. And unironically, J.D. Greear wrote an article back in 2012, What Counts as Plagiarism in a Sermon? In it, he lays out 5 rules he follows so as not to plagiarize other men’s sermons, and Ed Litton broke every. single. one. of them.
Litton’s sermon on Romans is such a flagrant example of plagiarism that in a born-again, God-fearing Christian community that values holiness, obedience to God’s law, and personal integrity among it’s pastors, it should cause an instant disqualifying scandal for Litton. He should not only resign as SBC president, but also as pastor.
Regrettably, that won’t happen. Those who voted him in are not spirit-filled God fearing individuals who value God’s Word and personal holiness. It may be that a number of them aren’t even born-again, but I digress. In fact, all of those men who thundered against pastors plagiarizing sermons won’t say a word. Everyone will rush to defend him with some contorted, deformed version of the truth.
The sad reality is that such sermon mining has been going on for at least 2 decades since the advent of the internet. It’s not only practiced regularly by pastors at all levels, it’s actually encouraged by various websites who host prepared sermon outlines for either free download or purchase. The mindset excusing this naked intellectual laziness is that it frees up a pastor from having to spend his time in the study so as to concentrate on people and spreading the gospel. Why spend hours on a Thursday afternoon preparing a sermon when you can have one already made for you!? That way you can counsel, and hospital visit, and whatnot, and just read over the prepared sermon on Saturday afternoon.
It reveals the heart of a lot of what is wrong with the SBC and honestly, with the Church throughout the United States. No one values the Word of God anymore. They don’t want to study it or disciple others how to study it, and until that foundational attitude toward Scripture is changed in the heart of pastors and the people they shepherd, Bible-loving Christians will continue to be rolled by those latte-sipping worldlings.
Update as of June 27, 2021: Litton has responded to his plagiarizing by essentially confessing to it. In his statement, he says that he had permission by Greear to swipe his sermon. In a similar statement, Greear affirms that he did in fact give Litton permission to use it, so all is good and everyone should calm down. The problem, however, is that Litton at no point during the sermon alert his audience that he was borrowing heavily from Greear’s message from the previous year. That doesn’t help at all. Greear’s very first point in his article outlining his five rules for preventing plagiarism states,
1. If I ever preach the gist of another person’s sermon, meaning that I used the lion’s share of their message’s organization, points, or applications, I give credit. I don’t ever think it’s a good idea to preach someone else’s sermon… but in those rare times when you feel like you just can’t help it, you have to give credit. A sermon is a major thought unit. If it’s not yours, you have to acknowledge where it came from.
Litton’s sycophantic “yes men” all cheered those statements as “demonstrating integrity,” and said the charges of plagiarism need to be dropped. Well, if Greear’s rules are right, Litton certainly violated that first one.
Furthermore, as of Sunday morning following the revelation of his plagiarism, Litton’s church has scrubbed his Youtube channel or privatized over 100 videos of his sermons. That’s bizarre, and demonstrates a cover-up rather than the so-called transparency he and the SBC are supposed to be operating under these days. I have it under good authority that there are many other plagiarized sermons of his out there that are word-for-word verbatim. He and his team can scrubbed all they want but they must remember that the internet is forever.
As the hell year of 2020 closes out, I wanted to post the books I heard and read in 2020.
I’ll begin with the ones I heard (I listened to some Star Wars novels, but I don’t feel the need to highlight them).
Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson – S.C Gwynne
A wonderful biography. Because Jackson was a Confederate general (and one of the greatest in all of American history), he is treated by our woke moderns as a racist villain. He was nothing of the sort, even founding the first black Sunday school to teach literacy and biblical theology to the slaves.
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution – Nathaniel Philbrick
Philbrick is a brilliant historian on the American colonial and Revolutionary eras. Excellent overview of the events and people leading up to the Revolutionary War and the drama surrounding Arnold’s betrayal. I would also recommend Philbrick’s history on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. Great Christian history even though it is not specifically written as such.
Foundation – Issac Asimov Dune – Frank Herbert
Both of these books are getting a film treatment this next year. All the fanfare around them gushes how both books are brilliant empire building epics that inspired George Lucas and other film makers. I had never read Foundation, but it was one of the most boring stories I have listened to. I almost gave up on it. The scientists are the heroes who use their SCIENCE! to predict the future and put the Scientists! all in power when the idiot dummies who run the empires in the galaxy collapse upon themselves.
Dune, on the other hand, was fantastic. I had started reading the book when I was a kid, but it didn’t interest me. I became familiar with the 1984 movie version and the 2000 SciFi channel version. I liked the TV version over the movie version. At any rate, Frank Herbert did a much greater job of writing an empire building story with memorable characters and dialogue than Asimov.
Now to the books I read.
First, the ebooks.
Disloyal Opposition – Julie Kelly. A biography of sorts on the NeverTrump movement. It was entertaining to say the least.
Cynical Theories – Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay. A book written by two secular unbelievers on the destructive ideas put forth by the current trends of critical race theories and other postmodern nonsense.
The Absurdity of Unbelief and Expository Apologetics are both apologetics oriented books. Presuppositional and Scriptural, as apologetic methodology should be. Picked them up at G3.
He Died For Me explores the extent of the atonement in various Calvinistic expressions. I thought it laid out the discussion rather well. Another G3 find.
Creation Unfolding is written by my old seminary friend from Australia, Ken Coulson. He has since obtained a doctorate in geology. I left a fuller review at Amazon HERE.
Before the Throne is a lay level study on the holiness of God and how we as believers should be shaped by God’s holiness. It’s a good book to utilize in small group Bible studies.
God Doesn’t Whisper, written by my friend Jim Osman, is a book dismantling the disastrous idea that God speaks to Christians through personal signs, omens, murmurings, and unintelligible impressions that a believer then has to decode in some fashion or he will miss out on God’s will. Highly recommended!
History of Christian Thought is the second volume in Justo Gonzalez’s major work on Church History. The 2nd volume covers the middle ages up until the Reformation.
The remainder of my book stack I plan to read this next year. Or in the case of a few, finish them.
1 & 2 Thessalonians. My friend Cameron has started the personal project of reading through all of John MacArthur’s NT commentaries. He told me, “You know, we listen to his preaching every week, attended TMS, and work for GTY and I have never just read his commentary work.” The same with me. The only ones I have read through have been Galatians and 2 Timothy, because I taught those books. So I took up his habit. Cameron began with Matthew and is currently in the Gospel of Luke. I thought I would begin with some of his smaller works first.
Holiness – JC Ryle. I read big portions of this book decades ago and loved it. Ryle set me thinking correctly about sanctification. I was planning on preaching on the topic of holiness with my volunteers this past year, but then stupid COVID lockdowns happened.
What About Evil? This is Scott Christensen’s magnum opus on the problem of evil and how Christians should have a biblical response. Well researched and written. Can’t recommend it highly enough!
The Genesis Account is a commentary on Genesis 1-11. Sarfati, who has become a distant friend of mine on social media, provides a detailed, apologetic work that presents Genesis as legitimate history. Thoroughly exegetical, dealing with all the major views naysayers use to dismiss this foundational book.
A History of Christian Thought Volume 3. Justo Gonzalez’s third and final volume in his historical survey of Christian doctrine. Look forward to starting it.
Over 15 years ago I began blogging at Blogger. My primary purpose for blogging was to have an outlet for articulating what I was learning theologically and apologetically. One of my earliest series of articles was on the topic of King James Onlyism. As a new believer, I was sucked into believing the polemics of various advocates like David Cloud and Gail Riplinger. I morphed into becoming a belligerent KJV Onylist who pestered everyone with my newly acquired dogma. I thought I had a pure, God-fearing, Bible-loving belief in God’s revelation and I wanted to tell everybody about it. I wasn’t allowing any spiritually corrupt, fake Christian tell me my Bible had errors in it and that I needed to read a modern “perversion!” Then, in God’s grace and with the means of solid men pouring their lives into mine, I saw the foolishness of my KJVO convictions. I abandoned them and embraced the truth of how God transmitted and preserved His written revelation.
Reflecting on my decade or so as a KJVO “true” believer, I put together a number of articles engaging the apologetic talking points of KJV onlyism. I gained for myself a lot of notoriety with those dozen or so articles. KJV proponents swarmed to my blog wanting to refute me, and their ridiculous responses only provided me more material for my blog. What really blessed my heart, however, were the individuals who contacted me privately, expressing how they were helpful in drawing them out of hardcore independent, Fundamentalist legalism concerning the doctrine of Scripture. I was grateful for those testimonies and that God used me as a means for encouraging those brothers and sisters.
Eventually, I journeyed from Blogger to the WordPress platform and updated and reposted those articles for a wider audience. Over a year and half or more ago, a friend of mine asked if I had anything in print on KJV onlyism. He particularly wanted something simple and basic. An older lady had contacted him and wanted a response to a KJVO book she had received from Chick tracts publications. Most of the material I knew in print was excellent, but maybe disheartening for someone who isn’t familiar with all the terminology within textual criticism and translation circles.
I was moved to putting something into print, but didn’t really know where to start. I began pulling together my primary articles from my blog and re-editing them into what I thought could be a pdf file of some sort. Then I had a few other friends suggest using Amazon’s free book service. I looked into it, and for what I wanted to provide, they offered a simple (and free) way of getting my material into the hands of folks interested in the topic.
My friend, Jim Osman, who pastors Kootenai Community Church in Idaho, was extremely helpful with formatting my Word document into a book manuscript. Pastor Jim has some excellent books on spiritual warfare and evaluating the “hearing the voice of God” false doctrine so entrenched in modern evangelicalism, so check those out. Josh Comstock put together the brilliant cover art for my book and helped me brainstorm book titles that eventually became Royal Deceptions.
The online version of these articles have already been removed, so for any readers who may have benefited from sharing them in the past, I thank you, and please considering directing others to my book. It would be deeply appreciated.
Doug Kutilek is one of my favorite obscure writers. He comes from an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist background. Back when I was wrestling through my convictions on King James Onlyism, his online articles were extremely helpful in freeing me from that quagmire. I soon learned he had an monthly email newsletter list that I joined immediately. For years, I would receive his book reviews, articles on various theological topics, and other interesting highlights that he passed along. His writing has tapered off the last few years. I am guessing his age may be a factor. None the less, when I do receive a newsletter, it is always a bright spot that illuminates my inbox.
The most recent newsletter contains a brief study of Paul’s appeal to Roman government during his missionary ministry. It is said that during this draconian lockdown that has wrecked countless lives and forced everyone to participate as actors in a ridiculous hygienic fascist theater, that believers should take no recourse to appeal for their rights as American citizens. This is false, as we can see with a brief review of Paul’s appeals to Roman when he was falsely accused and hindered by his enemies.
From the “As I See It” newsletter, Volume 19, number 6.
A couple days ago, I spent some five hours watering my drought-stressed garden, which gave me a great deal of time for thought and reflection. I turned my attention to the teaching of Paul regarding the Christian and his relationship to civil government. Of course the classic text is Romans 13:1-7. I have written elsewhere on this text and so will not do so again here, other than to briefly summarize: we are to submit to legitimate government authority. It exists for our benefit by maintaining order in society, punishing evil doers and protecting the innocent (in recent weeks, numerous state governors and city mayors in America have abnegated their responsibilities in this area, allowing evil doers to literally run riot, without consequence). We follow the law not simply because we don’t want to suffer punishment, but because it is the right thing to do. And we support government in its legitimate functions by paying taxes, and by recognizing government authority in its proper realm. Elsewhere (I Timothy 2:1-2), Paul admonishes prayer for government officials, so that we can simply be left alone, free from government harassment or persecution—“that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life,” to quote his exact words. That Paul was serious about submission to the lawful authority of government is evident from his words, when charged with a crime: “If then I am a wrong-doer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death,” (Acts 25:11a; note, furthermore, that he supports the death penalty in principle).
From his actions, as recorded in the book of Acts, we learn something more about Paul and his view of government—that he repeatedly displayed a strong insistence that his legal rights as a citizen be recognized and respected, and objected to government usurpations and violations of those rights.
At Philippi (Acts 16:16-40), Paul and Silas were accused of crimes by slave-owners whose income they had indirectly interfered with by freeing a fortune-telling slave girl from demon possession. These owners stirred up a lynch mob, resulting in Paul and Silas being severely beaten at the direction of the mob-accommodating city leaders, and subsequently consigned in shackles to the city jail.
Now, it is important to know that Paul (and Silas, too) was a Roman citizen, a privilege at the time enjoyed by only about 5-10% of the populace in the vast Roman Empire. Among the rights of a citizen were freedom from beatings without trial, the right to be tried before the emperor rather than in a local court of law, and the right to not be executed by crucifixion. When the magistrates sent orders for Paul and Silas to be released, ‘having learned their lesson,’ they supposed, these abused men refusedrelease, until the magistrates spoke to them personally. Paul’s message to them: “We are Roman citizens, and you have beaten us and jailed us without cause.” The magistrates were fear struck upon learning that they had violated the sacred civil rights of two Roman citizens, an action which could have subjected the rulers to severe personal penalties, perhaps up to and including execution. Profuse apologies followed, and a request that the abused men quietly leave the city.
Some years later, when Paul gave his personal testimony and verbal defense to the violent and badly misinformed mob in the temple in Jerusalem (Acts 22), he was rescued from the rioters and certain death by the Roman soldiers garrisoned nearby (demonstrating that the police power of government can be and often is for our benefit). The method of “interrogating” the prisoner to find out the cause of the riot was to be severe flogging while bound (v. 24). As they bound Paul and prepared to inflict the beating, no doubt his mind flashed back to Philippi and he decided to demand his rights sooner than later this time, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” As with the magistrates at Philippi, the centurion in charge “was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him,” (v. 29). Paul insisted vigorously that his civil rights be respected and not violated.
Two years later, Paul was still a prisoner in Judea but now at Caesarea, and facing possible trial before the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, where his condemnation was a foregone conclusion (Acts 25). The newly-arrived Roman governor Festus was amenable to the Sanhedrin’s demand to try Paul themselves. To escape from the injustice of a prejudicial tribunal, Paul invoked his right as a Roman citizen: “I appeal to Caesar,” (v. 11).
So then, Paul as one who had certain definite civil rights, repeatedly invoked them and demanded that they be recognized by the governing authorities.
The citizens of the United States have “certain unalienable rights” with which they have been “endowed by their Creator,” to quote the Declaration of Independence. The rights are specified in writing in the “Bill of Rights,” the first ten amendments to the Constitution. It is notable that these amendments expressly tell the government what it cannot do: “Congress shall make no law, . . .”; “. . .shall not be infringed,”; “. . .shall not be violated,”; “Shall not be construed, . . “ And just here is the genius of the U. S. Constitution as written: it expressly limits government to the specified powers delineated and denies all others to it. Throughout most of history, the case has been the opposite: governments have often exercised nearly unrestricted powers over the people, and the governments have instead declared to them what they, the people, could or could not do. The general populace had only such rights as the government might concede to them for the present time, subject to revocation at will.
It is not wrong, indeed it is right and necessary, that we Christian citizens of the United States insist and demand that our Constitutional rights be recognized and respected, and that any and all infringements and usurpations be removed forthwith. This includes, especially, our right to unhindered religious worship—“Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” For governors or mayors to demand the closing of churches but not of retail stores, for crowd (and masking) restrictions to be imposed on churches but not on street demonstrations (and rioters), is a blatant violation of our rights. And I could add demands by a mayor for full lists of members from the churches in his city, and a governor’s prohibition of hymn singing. (I could also note the arbitrary government forced closure of certain businesses as “non-essential” while leaving others open for business as usual is a power I do not find in the Constitution). Likewise, it is proper that we demand—and exercise—our right to armed self-defense, as guaranteed in the Second Amendment. So, too, with the other God-given, and government-guaranteed civil rights. “Use them or lose them.”
When infringements of rights are allowed to go unchallenged, governments are emboldened to push the envelope again and again and again, until the “rights” exist only on paper and not in reality. Jefferson wrote of “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinc[ing] a design to reduce them under absolute despotism.” What we are experiencing now is the very thing Jefferson wrote about. Such has been the sad legacy of government after government through time, as ambitious rulers, gripped by “libido dominandi” (Latin for “the lust for power”) sought evermore control and power over the people. As has been famously said, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” that is, vigilance against those who would seek to take that liberty away.
If you are like most Christians, your immediate response is “Who?” Folks can read his article to get the gist of who or what QAnon is supposed to be and do. Needless to say, Joe thinks they are a dire threat against the Christian church even risking the pushing open of the very gates of hell to prevail against God’s redeemed.
If we chase Joe’s white rabbit, however, in reality he is troubled that serious Christians supported Trump in 2016 and he is extremely annoyed that even more will support him in 2020. This is especially true in light of the fact that they have witnessed how crazy leftist Democrats hate them, America, and anything that stands in the way of their leftist progressive Utopia breaking forth upon the planet. If those Evangelical were like me, a Ted Cruz guy throughout the 2016 election, the last four years have only demonstrated that Trump – warts and all – is the only rational option. He is a flawed man for sure, but he is the one man who actually loves America, it’s people, and it’s core values. Democrats want to fundamentally change that as Obama proclaimed back in 2008.
At any rate, Joe is convinced that during these last four years, conspiracy theories have abounded, and hapless Trump evangelicals, blinded by their unwavering adoration of Trump and their America First religious ways, have allowed conspiracy theories to cloud their thinking, the QAnon conspiracy being the most insidious. But do serious evangelicals know what QAnon is? I mean really? He tries to bolster his QAnon taking over the church thesis by comparing it to groups like Lyndon LaRauche and the Aryan nation, but they are just as way out fringe and virtually unknown to most faithful Christians as QAnon. It’s actually an insipid comparison.
Joe only lists two conspiracies as examples of his conspiracies seeping into the church, flat earthism and the belief that COVID 19 originated in a bio weapons lab.
Notice the sinister conflation. Anyone even familiar with flat earthism knows it is a kooky idea that swirls around in the fever swamps among moonbats on the internet. If I would venture a guess, most of them are untethered from a solid church and are the kinds of individuals who are easily tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. No serious minded Christian believes anything they promote.
The Wuhan bio weapons lab, however, is a possibility. Remember how Arkansas senator, Tom Cotton, was ridiculed for pushing what was called a debunked conspiracy theory when he suggested this very idea? WaPo ran a ridiculing hit piece against him in early February, and since then, intelligence has put forth some serious evidence that COVID 19 is a virus that originated in a lab.
Of course, only a few are saying the CCP intentionally manufactured the virus as a weapon, but the bat-to-human transfer involving some anonymous adventure tourist eating bat soup at a wet market in Wuhan is a bit fishy. Being a kid raised during the end of the cold war, I know that commies lie all the time. They also do dastardly things, and have a horrifically bad human rights track record. Moreover, they govern with catastrophic incompetence, Chernobyl for example. It is easy to see the same thing happening with the current communist thug cartel running China. Joe insists that a conspiracy cannot be believed without data and evidence. Okay. But there is lots of evidence that COVID 19 originated in a viral research facility near that wet market. Jim Geraghty lays out the trail in this article.
Unironically, however, he believes conspiracies without the presence of data and evidence. The biggest: the Russian collusion hoax that was initiated by the HRC campaign and investigated by direct order from Obama. Joe believes it was all legit, because that terrible Trump had to be colluding with Russians, the kind of conspiracy that lacked data and evidence as Joe outlines in his article. Now that conspiracy he believed for so long is crumbling day by day as documents are declassified.
More and more, during the last three years of Trump, we have seen absolute jaw dropping reports in the MSM, sources of news I imagine Joe believes are trustworthy and fair-minded, telling us Trump was finished. Almost without exception, all of those bombshell reports confidently predicting it was the beginning of the end as the walls are closing in on Trump were retracted within 24-hours. Believing legacy media without question is itself believing conspiracy theories.
Now that the Russian hoax has been exposed and all his hopes that Trump would be hauled from the White House in hand cuffs have been dashed to pieces, Joe has turned to projecting his conspiracy theory failure onto the Christian Church by creating a fresh conspiracy theory that accuses countless believers of drinking the QAnon kool-aid. The only problem is that the vast, vast majority of believers literally know nothing about QAnon. In a way it is slander, though a passive aggressive slander, the kind he decries at the conclusion of his article.
Internet gadfly, Jacob Brunton, believes presuppositional apologetics is maddening idiocy and any sound-minded believer who thinks presuppositionally and utilizes the methodology is a fool. He has taken to both Facebook and Twitter to rail against presuppers like myself.
Before we begin with a response to his missives, let’s remind ourselves of the main presup distinctives.
– Presuppositionalism desires to reform apologetic methodology. An apologetic approach that honors the sovereignty of God in salvation and the self-attesting nature of Scripture. It also focuses in upon the antithesis between believing and unbelieving thinking and philosophical worldviews. It then structures the Christian engagement with unbelievers according to a biblical framework. Classicists, like Jacob, will say they hold to the sovereignty of God in salvation, but they typically reject the self-attesting nature of Scripture and operate from the notion that proofs and evidence can be self-authenticating, as well as reasonably considered by unbelievers.
– The Christian begins his defense of the faith by setting apart Christ as Lord (1 Peter 3:15). He is the ultimate authority over our reasoning, argumentation, and confrontation with the unbelieving world.
– The Christian also acknowledges the fact of fundamental presuppositions. What would be considered elementary, unquestioned assumptions and axioms, govern the thinking, opinions, personal beliefs, and the ultimate heart commitments of every person.
– John Frame notes in his book analyzing Van Til’s theology, that man’s ultimate heart commitment, “plays an important role in our knowledge. It determines our ultimate criteria of truth and falsity, right and wrong. As long as we consistently maintain our ultimate commitment, we cannot accept anything as true or right that conflicts with that commitment.” [Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought, 136].
Robert Reymond writes in his systematic theology that the word “presupposition” can be used both objectively and subjectively. When used objectively, “it refers to the actual transcendental foundation of universal meaning and intelligibility, namely, the triune God.” When the word is used subjectively, “it refers to a person’s most basic, personal heart commitment, this commitment having (1) the greatest authority in one’s thinking, being the least negotiable belief in one’s network of beliefs, and (2) the highest immunity to revision.” [New Systematic Theology, 145]
– With all of that in mind, a Christian’s apologetic and evangelistic encounter involves challenging an unbeliever’s ultimate heart commitments and presuppositions with the truth of Scripture. There is a trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the mind of the unbeliever so that he will recognize his sinful rebellion against God, relinquish his commitments/presuppositions that stand in defiance of his creator, and bring his every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Presuppositionalists don’t tend to bother with trying to “prove” the truth claims of Christianity or the existence of God with various philosophical arguments and evidences. It’s not that they won’t engage in philosophical arguments or utilize evidence, for they certainly will. They just recognize what the Scriptures tell us about the nature of mankind: that men have an innate knowledge of God (see Romans 1:18ff) and they are merely suppressing that knowledge, excusing it away. The issue is not that the unbeliever has a lack of compelling evidence or never heard persuasive philosophical arguments. It’s that unbelievers refuse to believe any evidence or philosophical arguments that contradict those non-negotiable heart commitments, and according to Scripture, those heart commitments are at enmity with God and hate anything to do with God. Until those heart commitments are overcome and defeated supernaturally, no presentation of any evidence reasonably presented will convince an unbeliever of the truth claims of Christianity.
The Thomist/classicist like Jacob don’t agree with that assessment of fallen men. The way presuppositionalists engage with unbelievers is considered inconsistent, confusing, irrational, and a whole lot of other similar descriptors. Hence his objection which I will now turn.
He lays out a summation of his complaint in a seven part tweet thread. Let me consider them in turn.
Here is the objection to the self-sufficiency of Scripture. The classicist insists that Christians can never use Scripture to prove the claims of Scripture, because that’s circular reasoning or some such nonsense. God doesn’t seem to agree with that notion, however. Scripture is a source of knowledge, because God declares it to be a source of knowledge. The entirety of Psalm 119, for example, is a declaration of Scripture being a source of knowledge. Just do a search of the word “truth” in Scripture and note how is is synonymous with Scripture itself.
Well, what about stuff the Bible never speaks to? Like what exactly? Rarely are genuine examples provided. How about Neanderthals? The Bible doesn’t say a word about Neanderthals. Okay, I’d agree. But I do know that Scripture tells us Adam and Eve were the first living humans on earth, that they did not evolve from some common ancestor between modern humans and Neanderthals, and it is denies the fundamental theology of sin and man when we try to speculate how we can harmonize modern day secular paleoanthropological interpretations of Neanderthals with the Bible like the majority of classicist apologetic ministries attempt to do. See Reasons to Believe, for instance.
We include general revelation? General revelation is usually understood to be the “evidences” an unbeliever can reasonably consider. He seriously seems to be under the impression that presuppositionaists never consider general revelation. If that’s the case, it’s a terrifically ignorant claim and one of the reasons why, as we will see in a moment, presuppositionalists say people like Jacob misrepresent them.
Van Til had a robust theology of general revelation. He understood general revelation to be what the Christian apologist appeals to when talking with unbelievers. He wrote about it extensively in his works. The disagreement presuppositionalists have with classicists regarding general revelation is how it is related to the unbeliever. Presuppositionalists believe, as the Bible tells us, that general revelation is misunderstood by unbelievers and they use it to suppress their knowledge of God rather than submit to him. It does not stand alone as self-sufficient to explain God, but works in tandem with the explanatory grid of special revelation.
The fact of the matter is that classicists DO compromise the doctrine of total depravity. Well, certainly those who claim to be Calvinistic and Reformed in their soteriology. What is the extent of “total” in the mind of the classicist? How total is total? I get the impression that they compartmentalize man. Man is fallen; but his reasoning ability is left untouched or intact so that he makes rational and reasonable evaluations of evidence, proofs, arguments, etc, and forms correct conclusions.
But the Bible says that man’s mind, the organ for his reasoning capacity, is severely impacted by sin. For instance,
– Romans 8:7 states that “the mind set on the flesh (all fallen men without exception) is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” “Not able” has the idea of incapable.
– Second Corinthians 4:4 states “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.”
– Ephesians 4:17, 18 states that the gentiles, who would be all the world of men not Jewish by birth, walk with futile minds and their understanding, you know, their reasoning ability, is darkened.
– Paul reminds the Colossians in 1:21 how they were once “hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds.”
– Paul warns Timothy in 6:5 of “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth” who will stir up all sorts of strife in the church. The word for depraved can have the meaning of disabled, not working.
– Paul tells Timothy in his last letter to him, 2 Timothy 3:7,8 about the difficult times coming in the last days when men with depraved minds will oppose the truth. Not only are they morally corrupted, but they are marked as ones who are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Just with that smattering of verses, the Bible is telling us that fallen, unregenerate men CANNOT reason rightly and Christians would be foolish to think they are capable of doing so. So we are not confusing soteriology with epistemology because the two concepts are intertwined with each other when it comes to men thinking and reasoning rightly about their lives and the world they live in. The world God created and endues with meaning.
Of course every epistemic standard is presupposed. Any so-called “epistemic standard” has to exist outside ourselves. Something greater has to be informing what it is that we know and establishing the rules that carries one to that knowledge.There is one, absolute, authoritative epistemic standard, and that is God revealed in Scripture. He is not arbitrary (I mean, God is God for crying out loud!) and it is not arbitrary, or “postmodern,” to declare that to an individual in an apologetic encounter.
Jacob likes to boast that he has these defeaters against presuppositionalism by asserting that they confuse philosophical categories and the like. His big one he will throw out is that presuppositionalists confuse metaphysics, philosophy that attempts to understand and explain being, with epistemology, philosophies that theorize about knowledge and systems of knowing. What he refuses to acknowledge is that those two philosophies are inextricably bound together. Only metaphysical beings with minds (metaphysics) can seek knowledge (epistemology). And metaphysical “first principles” must be in place in order to know them and how exactly do we know we are knowing about those first principles rightly? Honestly, this is a conundrum that has been mocking men for thousands of years. Ultimately, one has to take their understanding of those categories by faith (*cough* presuppositionally *cough*) just like Jacob is doing here.
Or virtue signalling by throwing down some fancy-smancy philosophical words to sound, like, really smart. Accusations of misrepresenting presuppositionalism will only continue if he raises these kind of sloppy objections and though he insists he has read the basic presuppositional literature, he gives no indication of actually engaging it.
Apologetics is not only a defense of the Christian faith against all the detractors, but it is meant to focus on evangelism. While Jacob may roll his eyes and accuse me of inconsistency, being postmodern, or whatnot, I will maintain my simple-mind ways of preaching the Word of God when I do apologetics. I don’t believe I have to prove it’s authenticity to anyone (and I am happy to answer questions if asked) and I am not ashamed of miracles, or telling someone I believe something by faith, or otherwise appearing foolish before a group of chortling Youtube skeptics. It is the preaching of the Word of God alone that God has promised will tear down loft thoughts raised against God and destroy the wisdom of this world.