quotes Charlie likes

"In the beginning, God' (Genesis 1:1).
God comes first. Before anyone else is mentioned, He is there."— The Bible

Monday, 12 January 2015

The Apologetics of James McCosh (1811-1894)

After sixteen years' service as a parish minister at Arbroath and Brechin, he moved from his native Scotland when, in 1851, he was appointed to the Chair of Logic at Queen's University, Belfast. This appointment came as a result of his growing reputation as a natural theologian, achieved as a result of the publication of his book, The Method of Divine Government, Physical and Moral, in 1850. He moved to the U. S. A. in 1868 when he was appointed by Princeton College to the dual position of the Chair of Philosophy and the President of the College. In 1888, he resigned from the Presidency, continuing in the Chair of Philosophy until his death. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Scottish Common Sense Philosophy - 'the principles of common sense' - propounded by Thomas Reid (1710-96) in opposition to the scepticism of David Hume (1711-86). Though lacking in originality, his vigorous writings on the Scottish Common Sense Philosophy, e.g. Intuitions of the Mind (1860), The Scottish Philosophy (1874), have exerted a significant influence on the theological development of 'old Princeton and Westminster', Different conclusions have been reached concerning the extent to which old Princeton and Westminster theology is built on Scottish Common Sense Philosophy. Vander Stelt - Philosophy and Scripture (1978) - draws a close connection between the two while Calhoun - The Majestic Testimony (1996) - does not. In his defence of theistic evolution, e.g. The Typical Forms and Special Ends of Creation (1855) and The Supernatural in Relation to the Natural (1862), he adopted a view which was extremely uncommon among orthodox evangelicals of his day. Those who share his outlook will regard his work as apologetically significant. He also engaged in the kind of apologetics which argues for the Christian faith by challenging the validity of alternative philosophies. In these controversial writings, e.g. An Examination of Mr. J. S. Mill's Philosophy (1866) and Christianity and Positivism (1871), he often advanced rather superficial criticisms which were based on a failure to achieve an adequate understanding of the views he attacked.
David B. Calhoun, Princeton Seminary: The Majestic Testimony (1869-1929), (Edinburgh, 1996)
J. C. Vander Stelt, Philosophy and Scripture: A Study in Old Princeton and Westminster Theology, (Marlton, New Jersey, 1978)

Marx’s Call for a World-Changing Philosophy: Herbert Marcuse, Liberation and Jesus Christ

Marcuse emphasizes that liberation is grounded in the truth.
He sees, in Marx’s thought, an “absolutism of truth (which) … once for all separates dialectical theory from the subsequent forms of positivism and relativism” (Reason and Revolution (RR), p. 322, emphasis mine).
Marcuse describes this absolutism of truth thus: “According to Marx, the correct theory is the consciousness of a practice that aims at changing the world. Marx’s concept of truth, however, is far from relativism. There is only one truth and one practice capable of realizing it. Theory accompanies the practice at every moment, analysing the changing situation and formulating its concepts accordingly. The concrete conditions for realizing the truth may vary, but the truth remains the same and the theory remains its ultimate guardian. Theory will preserve the truth even if revolutionary practice deviates from its proper path. Practice follows the truth not vice versa” (RR, pp. 321-322, emphasis mine).
Marx’s call for a world-changing philosophy is, in Marcuse’s opinion, directly related to the liberation of the individual since, for Marx, the transition from capitalism to socialism is necessary “in the sense that the full development of the individual is necessary” (RR, p. 317).
It is this goal of individual freedom which must be maintained where revolutionary practice has resulted in the replacement of one repressive system with another.
The New Testament conception of truth is quite different from that of Marcuse.
The New Testament proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Truth (John 14:6) and that freedom comes through truth - “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
When truth is defined christologically, Jesus Christ is recognized as the Liberator. The practice of liberation is, then, rooted in the confession of faith in Him as the Liberator.
When liberation theology is properly rooted in such faith in the Liberator, it does not become social activism which is independent of personal faith.
Discussing the connection between Christology and “political theology”, Berkouwer writes, “Helmut Thielicke … criticizes ‘political theology’ on the grounds of its christology, not on the grounds of its concern for the affairs of this world. In this christology, Thielicke thinks, Jesus is viewed as a model of human activity in such a way that the issue of his divinity evaporates. He sees this as a natural upshot of a christology that has concern only with man and his world. Jesus becomes a substitute for an absent God. Naturally, in the mind of ‘political theologians’ Thielicke’s fears are misplaced. For, they say, what they want is not to replace the gospel, but to trace its bearing on worldly affairs” (A Half Century of Theology, pp. 208-209, emphasis original).
According to Berkouwer, “the problem for Christian theology lies in the manner in which the work of man is integrated into the work of God” (p. 209, emphasis original).
Man’s liberating activity must be rooted in rather than arbitrarily separated from the liberating activity of God in Christ.
The New Testament proclamation concerning the work of Jesus Christ the Liberator emphasizes the uniqueness of His redemption through which man, by faith, receives God’s gracious gift of justification (Romans 3:24-25).
In view of this teaching concerning the uniqueness of the work of Jesus Christ the Liberator, salvation is described thus: “this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
The call to Christian obedience is issued on the basis of divine mercy (Romans 12:1; Ephesians 2:10).
A Christian theology of liberation may be regarded as an attempt to understand the Gospel and follow its practical implications in the contemporary world without implying an unbelieving replacement of the Gospel of divine redemption with an ethic of social action.

Some "Berkouwer" Links

G. C. Berkouwer – Scholarly, Pastoral and Evangelical

Saved by Grace, Reaching out with Grace

Berkouwer on Social Concern and Sanctification

Berkouwer and Systematic Theology

Faith in Scripture as God’s Word

Understanding Christian Truth

Revelation and Reconciliation

Karl Barth and Paul Tillich: Responding to Theological Liberalism

Berkouwer and Arminius

Avoiding Mindless Fideism and Faithless Rationalism

Pride and Faith in Berkouwer’s "Studies in Dogmatics" (introduction)

Berkouwer and Barth on Universalism

A Critique of J D Bettis, "Is Karl Barth a Universalist?"

A Little Bit about "The Triumph of Grace … " and "A Half Century … "

G. C. Berkouwer: "Seeking and Finding"

Berkouwer was a prolific writer. In 1990, at the age of 86, his largest book was published, Zoeken en vinden 

(Seeking and Finding). 

In that volume Berkouwer narrated a number of memories and experiences from more than seventy years of theological 


The professor of dogmatics was himself one of the main characters in this book. 
In this volume, Berkouwer analyzed the struggle within the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands which led to a church split during World War II. Berkouwer was president of the GKN general synod which met off and on from 1943 until 1945 -- the synod which deposed Dr. Klaas Schilder, Dr. S. Greijdanus, and numerous other officebearers. In later years, Berkouwer gradually reached the conclusion that the successive synods held throughout those years had really backed those opposed to the synodical decisions into a corner. Looking back across the distance of several decades, Berkouwer felt that the synod at which he himself presided should have done things differently.
Berkouwer stimulated among many of his students a love for theology. A total of forty-two students obtained their doctorates under his sponsorship and guidance. From this group, several became teachers of theology themselves. In 1971 Dr. G.W. de Jong obtained his doctorate from the John Calvin Academy in Kampen with a dissertation about Berkouwer's theology.
Berkouwer was born in The Hague and raised in Zaandam, but his fame spread around the world by means of his many publications. In 1932 he obtained his
doctorate from the Free University, with a dissertation entitled Geloof en
Openbaring in de nieuwe Duitse theologie (Faith and Revelation in Recent World War and Theology, 1945), Conflict met Rome (Conflict With Rome, 1948), German Theology). In addition he wrote, among other works, Karl Barth (1936),
Het probleem der Schriftkritiek (The Problem of Scripture Criticism, 1936), Wereldoorlog en theologie (De triomf der genade in de theologie van Karl Barth (The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth, 1954), and Vaticaans Concilie en de nieuwe theologie (The Second Vatican Council and Recent Theology).In 1949 the first volume of his eighteen-volume Studies in Dogmatics appeared in the Netherlands. Berkouwer was a well-known theologian beyond the Netherlands as well. A large number of his books have been translated into English and published in North America. Berkouwer participated in various international projects. In 1962, he was an observer at the Second Vatican Council in Rome.
From the Internet Christian Library website