Our philosophical term for the day is naturalism. There are a variety of ways of defining naturalism. We will use the philosophical definition of “methodological naturalism”.
“Methodological Naturalism” asserts that religious commitments have no relevance within science-natural science itself requires no specific attitude to religion, and can be practiced just as well by adherents of religious faiths as by atheists or agnostics. Alvin Plantinga, a leading christian philosopher, disagrees with this definition. He believes that religious doctrines do make a difference to scientific practice, yet are defensible for all that.
The majority of contemporary philosophers would happily accept naturalism as just characterized—that is, they would both reject “supernatural” entities, and allow that science is a possible route (if not necessarily the only one) to important truths about the “human spirit”.
Proponents of naturalism in the early nineteenth century included John Dewey, Sidney Hook, and Ernest Nagel.
Derek Brown is surveying some old classics that I have enjoyed over the years and I believe you will enjoy. The book he focuses on is The Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes. Here is a small quote from Sibbes,
We will only prolong our depression and deepen our hesitancy to obey if we give up on doing good whenever we wrestle with our motives—or when godly affections appear to dissipate as we set about some service for Christ.
Read Old Books!
Our theological word for the day is “imputation”. I will let the Westminster Confession of Faith define the term of the day.
Those whom God calls, He freely justifies “by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith” (WCF 11.1)
In other words, our righteousness is an alien righteousness. It comes from outside of us through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Paul wrote well on imputation in Romans 5, where he compares Adam and Jesus:
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.(v.19)
Our salvation and our righteousness come from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We have nothing that we contribute to either in any way. However, there is an additional part to this salvation and this righteousness. Our sins our imputed to Christ when we are called to Him. Here is what Peter says in 2 Peter 2:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.(v.24)
Our sins our His, and His righteousness is ours. This is the gift of the cross. We receive eternal salvation, and our given Christ’s own righteousness. We have much to be thankful for through our savior’s life, death, and resurrection.
Michael Kruger has a thoughtful post regarding the history of the books of the New Testament. You can read it on his blog Canon Fodder.
Nihilism is the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value. It also believes that a society’s political and social institutions are so bad that they should be destroyed. In the 20th century, nihilism encompassed a variety of philosophical and aesthetic stances that, in one sense or another, denied the existence of genuine moral truths or values, rejected the possibility of knowledge or communication, and asserted the ultimate meaninglessness or purposelessness of life or of the universe.
Friedrich Nietzsche argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. “Nihilism is . . . not only the belief that everything deserves to perish; but one actually puts one’s shoulder to the plough; one destroys” (Will to Power). In the twentieth century, it’s the atheistic existentialist movement, popularized in France in the 1940s and 50s, that is responsible for the currency of existential nihilism in the popular consciousness. Sartre, Camus, and Jean-Francois Lyotard combined their existentialism and post-modernism with nihilism to bring meaninglessness as a philosophy into our day.
Our word for today is “sanctification“. Sanctification can mean two things:
1. To consecrate, or set apart for a sacred use or purpose
2.To purify, or make holy
The Shorter Catechism (Q. 35) gives a lucid definition: “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness” (see Westminster Confession of Faith, chap. 13). Sanctification is a work of grace that is gradual and progressive. It relates to the conflict with and the victory over indwelling sin. There is a dying more and more unto sin and a living more and more unto righteousness.
Sanctification and justification differ in the following:
1. Their nature. Justification is a relative change in state; sanctification is a real change of the whole man.
2. Their order. Justification precedes sanctification, for imputed righteousness precedes implanted and inherent holiness.
3. Their matter. The matter of justification is the righteousness of Christ imputed. The matter of sanctification is an inherent righteousness communicated.
4. Their form. Justification is a judicial act by which the sinner is pronounced righteous. Sanctification is a moral act, or rather a series of acts, by which a change is effected in the qualities of the soul.
5. Their properties. Justification is perfect at first and is equal in all believers. Sanctification is imperfect at first and exists in different degrees of advancement in different individuals.
6. In justification we receive a title to heaven. Sanctification gives us a capacity of enjoying it.
Hebrews 12:23 speaks of the spirits of just men made perfect. As just men they went to heaven. There they were made perfect. So we see sanctification is completed at death. Christ is at the heart of sanctification. In Galatians 2:20 we see this clearly:
“…the life which I now live I live I live by faith in the Son of God.”
And Paul says the same thing in Romans 6 when he says we are to present our bodies as instruments of righteousness, according to our position in Christ. It is when we are able to understand this, and live in Christ, that true holy and sanctified living is possible.
Vassal of the King blog has a good post on reading your Bible. Remember your bible, the book you leave in the car or on the floor next to the couch until Sunday morning? He has a good list of things that will help you in getting the most out of reading God’s Word.
Our word for this week is existentialism. Existentialism is a philosophy concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility.
Most attribute the philosophy with Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher from the early nineteenth century. Friedrich Nietzsche is also considered a proponent of the philosophy, although he connected more with Nihilism.
In the twentieth century Jean Paul Sartre, is considered to be the philosopher who provided a foundation for the philosophy in all areas of life. Karl Jaspers, Martin Buber, and Martin Heidegger were also part of an existential cultural movement in Europe during and after World War II.
Liberal theologians, most notably Karl Barth, sought to make Christianity compatible with existentialism. However, there is no real Biblical connection that could exist between the two. There is a wide variety of philosophical, religious, and political ideologies that make up existentialism so there is no universal agreement in a set list of ideals and beliefs.
Here are a few differences between existentialism and Christianity:
Existentialism states that the world is absurd, and there is no hope. Christianity states that the world is absurd, and it is a wonder there is hope.
Existentialism is opposed to rationalism and traditional Christianity is not.
Existentialism asserts that man is free from imposed moral values. Traditional Christianity believes in God’s transcendent universal moral values.
Existentialism asserts that each person is their own authority concerning truth. Traditional Christianity insists that God is the absolute final authority over His creation and all things.
Existentialism believes that existence precedes essence. Traditional Christianity believes that a person’s essence is predestined from God and precedes existence.
It is essential for believers to know and understand many of the historical and cultural worldviews for us to be able to correctly and effectively defend the Biblical worldview. Continue to follow this series on Fridays, and our Theology Tuesday every week also. Please leave comments or ask questions below.
There is a really interesting and relevant post by Bob McKelvey at Meet the Puritans. He picks up on an editorial(linked in the post) by Carl Trueman about a friend of his who lost his position on a school board. McKelvey then makes an analogy to John Bunyan’s arrest in the sixteen hundreds. It is a wonderful post, and one you should read and consider.
Nate Claiborne has two good reviews on books that you may want to read. Visit his Marturo blog to read more.