BiblicalTraining.org has just posted the second semester of Bruce Ware‘s free MP3 lectures on systematic theology. Download them here: ST 1 and ST 2. (You’ll need to create a user account if you don’t already have one.)
This outstanding article became available today on John Frame‘s website: “Antithesis and the Doctrine of Scripture.” Frame notes, “This was my inaugural lecture on assuming the J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL.” (See also “The Works of John Frame and Vern Poythress,” including their blog.)
I’m taking a Ph.D. seminar with Dr. Graham Cole at TEDS this semester: “Historical Theology: The Atonement.” (BTW, Dr. Cole is currently working on a book on the atonement that will be part of D. A. Carson‘s New Studies in Biblical Theology series; it probably won’t be finished until around 2010.) Consequently, I’m doing a fair bit of reading on the atonement. Last Thursday I enjoyed reading one of the latest contributions on the subject:
Beilby, James and Paul R. Eddy, eds. The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2006.
The four views defended are:
- Christus victor: Greg Boyd
- Penal substitution: Tom Schreiner
- Healing: Bruce Reichenbach
- Kaleidoscopic: Joel Green
The thesis of the first three essays is that their view is the primary facet of the atonement–not that it is the only facet. Green argues that no facet should be primary.
Bottom line: Schreiner cleans house. First class. Well done. Highly recommended.
Point of interest: Boyd’s response to Schreiner involves a five-page comparison and contrast of his view with Schreiner’s as it lines up with C. S. Lewis‘ depiction of Aslan’s death in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (pp. 100-105). Boyd lists two “profound” differences between Schreiner’s view and his/Lewis’ view.
- “First and most fundamentally, Lewis believes that self-sacrificial love is a ‘deeper magic’ than the law, while Schreiner, so far as I can see, does not” (p. 102).
- “Because of their differing views on ‘deep magic,’ Lewis and Schreiner provide very different answers to the question, Who demanded that the deep magic of the law be satisfied with ‘a kill’? For Schreiner, it is God. For Lewis (and most advocates of the Christus Victor view) it is the devil. Here is where the rubber meets the road in terms of the difference between these two views . . .” (p. 103).
For years I have been baffled by the number of people who have no problem with using Aslan’s death as an illustration (without qualification) of Christ’s atonement. Although it is wonderfully illustrative for some aspects of Christ’s atonement, it is fundamentally flawed by placing too much authority and initiative in the hands of Satan (i.e., the white witch).
For more on problems with the Christus Victor view (which often includes some form of the ransom-to-Satan theory), see explanations and refutations in standards systematic theologies. Wayne Grudem‘s Systematic Theology is a good place to start (p. 581 et al.).
I’m currently working on a term paper on D. A Carson’s theological method, and I’ve really enjoyed reading many of Carson’s books and articles. One virtue (among many) that I highly esteem in Carson’s writings is his combination of humility and boldness. The following quotes are some of my favorite that illustrate courageous boldness:
- “When the Bible is examined as a whole, and its themes and plot-line traced out . . . the position of religious pluralism is from a Christian perspective utterly untenable. One may be a Christian, or one may be a religious pluralist in the third sense [i.e., not empirical or cherished but philosophical/religious pluralism]; one cannot be both. From the pluralist’s perspective, the Christian must appear a bigot, unless ‘Christian’ is redefined so that it has no necessary connection with Scripture; from the Christian’s perspective, the religious pluralist, however sincere, is both misguided and an idolater” (The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 238).
- “So which shall we choose? “Experience or truth? The left wing of the airplane, or the right? Love or integrity? Study or service? Evangelism or discipleship? The front wheels of a car, or the rear? Subjective knowledge or objective knowledge? Faith or obedience? Damn all false antithesis to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ” (Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], 234).
- “Drawing lines” is “utterly crucial” because “truth demands it,” “the distinction between orthodoxy and heresy models it,” “the plurality of errors calls for it,” and “the entailments of the gospel confront our culture—and must be lived out.” (These are the four major headings in “On Drawing Lines, When Drawing Lines Is Rude,” ch. 8 in Gagging of God, 347-67.)
This evening I finished reading D. A. Carson‘s The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996). (I know, I’m about ten years behind here.) I don’t have time to write a full book review, but I would like to mention a few thoughts.
- This is one of the finest big-picture books I’ve ever read. Life-changing. Worldview shaping.
- The section on hermeneutics (chs. 2-3) is first-class.
- Carson’s analysis of postmodernism, especially as manifested in religious pluralism, is sharp and refreshing.
- Carson’s emphasis on the Bible’s story-line or plot-line is inspiring.
- Carson wrote this book over a three-year period and read over 1300 books in preparation. It shows.