Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
To stress the unity and eternity of God; to insist that the whole universe is His work; to emphasise that we live in a world of order, not of chaos; and to put the gods of Egypt and Babylon firmly in their place: these were the intentions of the author of Genesis 1. I suspect that if we had asked him, 'But how long were the days?' he would have looked blank. He was assuming a natural science rather than advocating it.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed would soon lose its effect if we became obsessed with the question, 'But is it really the smallest of all seeds?' And our Lord's encounter with Nicodemus would teach us little if we focused only on the question of reconciling John 3:8 with modern meteorology. I am not sure that our treatment of Genesis 1 has been much more intelligent. (Macleod, A Faith to Live By, 60).
If I am not hostile to the notion of a universe thousands of millions of years old and if I am prepared to accept that life-forms emerged according to a progressive pattern, from the simple to the more complex, does this make me a Darwinist? Not for a moment! I draw a very firm distinction between such a position and the position of consistent evolutionism. (Macleod, AFtLB, 62).
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Such a broad concept allows perfectly well for an Adam and an Eve, for the divine fiat, for man as the Imago Dei. In fact, it allows for all of the truths that Reformed Christianity holds to. I might not be a confirmed theistic evolutionist according to one specific model, but I can see that the earth is very old. Evolutionary processes at some level are contributing to biology today and have done so in the past. It seems probable to me that death existed in the animal kingdom even before the fall (from looking at the Genesis narratives, not from ignoring them). However, I still think that teleological arguments for design have got stronger and stronger in recent years, in the realm of microbiology and elsewhere. After all, it is this type of argument that eventually proved persuasive for Anthony Flew. Evolutionary process, the divine fiat and design are not mutually exclusive.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
The doctrine of sovereign election is that which explains why the covenant operates as it does. While Calvin hints at the idea of an eternal covenant in the Godhead, he is very clear that the covenant operates in time in union with the doctrine of election. This is true not only of the Israelites, but of Christians also. The covenant is not the same as secret election that infallibly secures salvation. Rather, the covenant is a general election that offers the promise of the benefits of the covenant. Only secret election ratifies the covenant in the case of any individual. Such is the covenant as viewed from the decree of God.
Nevertheless, the covenant has duties for men to execute. Thus man must not look to the decree for his salvation, but to the promises he finds in the covenant that he embraces by faith. Hence, the covenant creates an intermediate category of persons between those who are the ones rejected by God, and those who are elect. It is from this intermediate category that hypocrites arise, who later break the covenant by unbelief and disobedience. This type of covenant-breaking can even happen in the new covenant, since there are those admitted to the Church by baptism who will not be elect and who will not obey the covenant. Further there are those who come by profession of faith without a genuine working of grace. These too will ultimately show themselves to be non-elect by failing to fulfill the duties of the covenant. Nevertheless, those who enter the covenant sphere by baptism, even if not secretly elected, are really in the covenant.
For Calvin, the covenant is the place of salvation, but not all who are in the covenant will receive that salvation because of the mystery of divine election. Those who do not receive the grace of election are responsible for not fulfilling their covenant duties. They are those who have degenerated from sons of the covenant into illegitimate children. Such is Calvin's view of the hypocrite. Here we corroborate the views of Hoekema, Eenigenburg, Van Der Vegt, and Vanden Bergh vis-a-vis Polman and McClelland.