Author Archives: highplainsparson

About highplainsparson

I'm a servant of the word of God, serving the Lord in Colorado. The husband of one and father of four, I count my blessings daily. I wish to build up Christ's flock in love to him and holiness. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Book Review: How to Defend the Faith — YINKAHDINAY

Pastor and author Wes Bredenhof reviews my book:

How to Defend the Faith: A Presuppositional Approach, Riley Fraas. Thaddeus Publications, 2018. Softcover, 133 pages, $8.99 USD. I first became interested in apologetics as a university student some 25 years ago. Back then, we didn’t have a lot of books written about the theory or practice of Reformed apologetics. I should qualify that: we […]

via Book Review: How to Defend the Faith — YINKAHDINAY

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“How to Defend the Faith: A Presuppositional Approach” is released in paperback and e-book

Description: “You know that Christianity is the truth, but can you prove it in conversation with an unbeliever? How to Defend the Faith takes the apologetical theory of Cornelius Van Til, known as the presuppositional apologetic, and makes a practical guide for how to use it in real conversation with real people. This book equips the Christian with confidence that he or she will be able to soundly refute every non-Christian worldview that comes along, and logically prove the truth of biblical Christianity. It is intended for the Christian who desires to engage unbelievers with rational proof for Christianity, and would like to be more confident in knowing how to approach the debate and the words to say. With this book in your arsenal, you will never enter the intellectual fight unarmed again.”  Paperback: $8.99.  Kindle E-book: $6.99.

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Rendering to Caesar: Civil Religion in Transition — TheEcclesialCalvinist

Issues with some of the historical analysis, but overall there are some helpful thoughts.

 

I presented an earlier version of this material at Erskine College and Seminary three weeks after 9/11. In the wake of that horrifying event we Americans struggled to make sense of it all, to recover our national sense of equilibrium. One of the more visible ways that Americans sought to make sense of it […]

via Rendering to Caesar: Civil Religion in Transition — TheEcclesialCalvinist

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Sinless Concupiscence?

Pelagius2Richard D. Phillips states in his interesting update following the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly: “At the heart of our division on this subject is whether or not to define same-sex attraction (SSA) as a morally neutral status that does not require repentance. PCA progressives seem to have asserted such a sub-category beneath sinful desire (essentially adopting the pre-Reformation concept of concupiscence).”

I’m trying really hard, but I can’t for the life of me think of a definition of concupiscence that anyone in the Reformed or Presbyterian tradition would not consider to be sin.  According to Reformed (and even Catholic) doctrine, Original Sin is sin.  (Concupiscence, too.)  Any Presbyterian should understand that given the clarity of our confessional standards on the subject:

Westminster confession of Faith (1646), IV. Of the Fall of Man, Sin, and the Punishment Thereof

v. This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

But maybe those Westminster divines were suffering from Puritan Brain Syndrome.  Lest we think a contrary view that original sin and/or concupiscence are not in themselves sin, has a place in Reformed doctrine, let us see how soundly other Reformed Confessions proclaim that original sin is sin:

French Confession of Faith (1559)

XI. We believe, also, that this evil [original sin] is truly sin, sufficient for the condemnation of the whole human race, even of little children in the mother’s womb, and that God considers it as such; even after baptism it is still of the nature of sin,

39 Articles (1572), Article IX, Of Original or Birth Sin

And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized: yet the Apostle doth confess that con­cupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.

Belgic Confession, (1619), Article 15, Of the Doctrine of Original Sin

[Original Sin] is therefore so vile and enormous in God’s sight that it is enough to condemn the human race

Phillips mentions pre-reformation sources.  What would Aquinas say on the subject of whether concupiscence toward sodomy is sin?

Aquinas, Summa Theologica, “Whether Original sin is concupiscence?”

Augustine says (Retract. i, 15): “Concupiscence is the guilt of original sin.” (Aquinas, Objection)

Aquinas: Reply to Objection 1, …so far as it trespasses beyond the bounds of reason, it is, for a man, contrary to reason. Such is the concupiscence of original sin.

Reply to Objection 2 …Therefore original sin is ascribed to concupiscence, as being the chief passion, and as including all the others, in a fashion.

Reply to Objection 3 …for [concupiscence] clouds and draws the reason, as stated above. Hence original sin is called concupiscence

Some appetite (Aquinas), inclination or proclivity toward sin, lying below the level of desire, must be characterized as sin.  On first reaction, one wonders if PCA progressives are raising Pelagius from the grave. But on second thought, even Pelagius would have considered an inclination or proclivity to desire to commit sodomy to be sin (by imitation not by nature.)  Does anyone in the PCA believe in sin?

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CanRC Proposal to Approve Trinity Psalter Hymnal

YINKAHDINAY

For several years, the Canadian Reformed Churches were working with the United Reformed Churches to produce a joint song book.  Progress was slow, but steady.  However, eventually the URC abandoned the joint venture with the CanRC and later decided to work with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church instead.  The OPC and URC are now on the verge of releasing the Trinity Psalter Hymnal.  Apparently it’s supposed to be available around the beginning of May.

The CanRC have been watching these developments closely.  At Classis Pacific East of February 22, 2018, the Aldergrove church presented a proposal to adopt the psalms and hymns of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal.  It was presented as a proposal for synod, with the hopes that classis would adopt it and forward it on via the next Regional Synod West.  According to the press release, Classis Pacific East did what Aldergrove asked.  So the proposal is going…

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Samuel Rutherford on the two kingdoms

And I see not, but those who doe confound them, may also say, that the Christian State and Christian Church be all one state, and that the government of the one must be the government of the other; which were a confusion of the two kingdoms. It is true, God hath not prescribed judicials to the Christian State, as he did to the Jewish State, because shadows are now gone, when the body Christ is come; but Gods determination of what is morally lawful in civill laws, is as particular to us as to them; Samuel Rutherford, Due Right of Presbyteries, 70.

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On this day in 1837, the plan of Union ended

On this day in church history, 1837, the Plan of Union was abrogated by the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, meeting at the Central Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.  The Plan of Union was made in 1801 as an agreement between the Presbyterian Church and Congregational Churches to work together for planting churches in the west.  The Baptists and Methodists were outrunning both, establishing churches among formerly Presbyterian or Congregational settlers at a wildfire pace.  For them, it was enough to find a man with gifts, give him a Bible and one or two other books, put him on a horse, and smack the horse’s rear, sending him forth to preach and plant churches!  With their emphasis on an educated ministry, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists just could not compete.  It took them years to churn out a minister.  But they felt that there could be synergistic gains by working together.  After all, both denominations were Reformed, Calvinist, and Paedo-baptizers, with an emphasis on simple and reverent worship.  It seemed like a good idea.  And the Presbyterians were badly in need of ministers.  The majority of Presbyterian pulpits in the west were vacant.  They did not have the institutional strength of the Congregational churches such as the seminaries Harvard and Yale, (to which many Presbyterian students already went), nor the amount of giving to home missions and pool of young candidates that New England had.  The Presbyterians needed Congregational money and young men!  Men licensed to preach would go out and establish congregations, whether Congregational or Presbyterian, and the church plants could decide later upon being duly constituted, whether they were going to be Presbyterian or Congregational.  Presbyterian ruling elders or Congregational committeemen could join together in the regional presbytery/association in the mission regions.

A few decades later, the agreement was ended.  The Presbyterians to this day lament the New Haven Theology that came into the western presbyteries through men educated at Yale, and the Congregationalists lament that so much of their own members’ treasure and sons, in the end, had planted in the west, not so many Congregational as Presbyterian churches.  As the Rev. Mr. Lawrence proclaimed (to laughter) at the General Convention of Congregational Churches in Albany, New York, 1852, “They have often come from the West to our New England, and ranged over our fat pastures, and borne away the fleeces from our flocks; they have milked our Congregational cows, but they have made nothing but Presbyterian butter and cheese.”

 

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Augustine of Hippo on Revelation 20:3 “little season”

On the contrary, we are rather to believe that in these days there shall be no lack either of those who fall away from, or of those who attach themselves to the Church; but there shall be such resoluteness, both in parents to seek baptism for their little ones, and those who shall then first believe, that they shall conquer that strong one, even though unbound—that is, shall both vigilantly comprehend, and patiently bear up against him, though employing such wiles and putting forth such force as he never before used; and thus they shall be snatched from him even though unbound. The City of God, book 20, chapter 8

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Augustine of Hippo On Faith as the Instrumental Means of Salvation

Augustine of Hippo spends one chapter in his work, the city of God recapping the various philosophical schools of Greece and Rome. He relates and critiques their debates about the supreme good and evil, virtue, pleasure, and their interrelation. Then he contrasts that “earthly city” with the “city of God”, in the process affirming the doctrine of justification by faith alone, adapting the philosophical categories and terminology to his purpose for the benefit of his pagan readers:

“if then, we be asked what the city of God has to say upon these points, in the first place, what its opinion regarding the supreme good and evil is, it will reply that life eternal is the supreme good, death eternal the supreme evil, and that to obtain the one and escape the other we must live rightly. And thus it is written, ‘the just lives by faith,’ or we do not as yet see our good, and must therefore live by faith; neither have we in ourselves power to live rightly, but can do so only if he who has given us faith to believe in his help do help us when we believe and pray.” Augustine, the City of God, book 19, chapter 4

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Baptism is not absolutely necessary for salvation–St. Augustine

For whatever unbaptized persons die confessing Christ, this confession is of the same efficacy for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism. For He who said, “Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John 3:5 made also an exception in their favor, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven;” Matthew 10:32 and in another place, “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” Matthew 16:25 And this explains the verse, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Augustine, City of God, Book XIII, chapter 7.

 

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