Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 20: Moving Forward 3

“Of all the religious beliefs in the world, past or present, none have more thoroughly based themselves on history than Judaism and Christianity.  the divine-human encounter in the biblical faith always involves claims about real people, living in real places, who acted in real events in the past, many of which are also cited in secular history.  …Judeo-Christianity’s Scripture encompass a two-thousand-year-plus period–two millennia in which its holy books constantly interlaced themselves with history” (“In the Fullness of Time” by Paul L. Maier, Introduction p. xv).  Human reason is competent to examine history and history’s artifacts.

Ken Ham explains the difference between observation science (sometimes called experimental science) and historical science (sometimes called origins science).  Scientific explanations are appropriate for observable facts, but scientific explanations concerning origin are not verifiable.  Science has exceeded its ability for knowledge.  If reason would remain within its sphere, then there would be no contradiction with theology.  Nevertheless, reason often assumes a position of antagonism to revealed truth (Heinrich Schmid).  If an unbeliever refuses plain evidence and denies logic, we learn man’s real reason for denying the truth.

Many of the passages which are used as proof texts for a scientific defense of the truth (apologetics), only prove that Christians ought to use the Scriptures to “give a reason for the hope that is within them” (1 Peter 3:15) and to “contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3).  There are two passages which tell Christians to beware of human reason going beyond its sphere(Col 2:8).  We are told to pull down everything which exalts itself about the knowledge of God in the Holy Scriptures (2 Cor 10:4-5).

Overheads:   Overheads-for-Aug-18-2019.pdf
Handout from August 11 (grey):  Naturalism-Presuppositions.pdf
Handout for August 18 (white): Science-and-the-Bible-for-Aug-18-2019.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 19: Moving Forward 2

With this class, we continue looking at the “Four Points Raised in John Warwick Montgomery’s article, ‘Christian Apologetics in the Light of the Lutheran Confessions.’”  Today’s class looks at points three and four.

3. After the fall, man has a bound will in spiritual matters (Ephesians 2:1, “dead in trespasses and sins.”)  Nevertheless, man still has freedom of the will in non-spiritual matters.  “The human will has liberty in the choice of works and things which reason comprehends by itself….   There is left in human nature reason and judgment concerning objects subjected to the senses.” The believer and unbeliever share a common ground of logic and fact. What are we to make of those who have reason and judgment and yet come to the illogical conclusion that there is no god(Psalm 14:1), etc.?  They are fools.  “…The power of concupiscence is such that men more frequently obey evil dispositions than sound judgment. And the devil, who is efficacious in the godless, as Paul says, Eph. 2, 2, does not cease to incite this feeble nature to various offenses” (Ap XXVIII Free Will, 70-71).

4. Apart from the power and efficacy of the Holy Spirit, man is neither enlightened nor converted.  Therefore, we must confess that none of the capacities of the unregenerate man(human reason, the knowledge which it can obtain, apologetics) permit him to mend his broken relationship with God.  Apologetics can reveal that man doesn’t know God, lacks righteousness, and doesn’t know God’s will toward man.  Thus, God the Holy Spirit works through the means of grace in order to create and strengthen faith, “… neither preacher nor hearer is to doubt this grace and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, but should be certain that when the Word of God is preached purely and truly, according to the command and will of God, and men listen attentively and earnestly and meditate upon it, God is certainly present with His grace, and grants, as has been said, what otherwise man can neither accept nor give from his own powers” (FC SD II 55).  Furthermore the Word is not efficacious through the recitation of syllables, as if Scripture were a magic spell.  If the Word is twisted to a false interpretation, it abolishes the righteousness of faith.  The Holy Spirit works through the perspicuous teaching of the Word so that man is brought to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of that Word that we are saved by grace through faith in the work and person of Jesus Christ.  “No sane man can judge otherwise…” (Ap IV 254).

Outline for today’s lesson: Apologetics-Moving-Forward.pdf
Book of Concord References for today’s lesson:  Apologetics-Part-2-for-Aug-4-2019.pdf
Handout from July 21:  Apologetics-Definition-a.pdf  Page 2 has outline of Four Points Raised…

Note: Sunday, September 1, we will begin a new 9-month Bible study on the Book of Concord.  The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.

Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf

Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 18: Apologetics Moving Forward

In previous classes we have defined Apologetics as the scientific validation of the truth and absoluteness of the Christian religion against unbelief on the basis of human reason and science.  We previously looked at 1 Peter 3:15 and Jude 1:3, but these came up short as proof texts to support apologetics.  It would seem that the right use and limits for apologetics may be a bit more complex.  The use of human reason in apologetics is able to judge correctly in the things of this world.  Based on creation and conscience, apologetics can reveal that there is a God, who makes a distinction between right and wrong.  Nevertheless, apologetics cannot discover the will of God or validate “the truth and absoluteness of the Christian religion.”

Beginning with this class, we will look at the “Four Points Raised in John Warwick Montgomery’s article, ‘Christian Apologetics in the Light of the Lutheran Confessions.’”  Today’s class looks at points one and two.  1. Man cannot “by his own reason or strength” accomplish or make any advance toward his salvation.  Nevertheless, we do use human reason in a ministerial way when we use the laws of language to discover God’s will in the revealed knowledge of God.  2. History is a proper subject for apologetics.  The Christian faith is a historical religion that correctly describes reality.  Although faith is not merely knowledge, it does include historical knowledge of what the Triune God has done in history (combined with the promise concerning those facts).  “Therefore it is not enough to believe that Christ was born, suffered, was raised again, unless we add also this article, which is the purpose of the history: The forgiveness of sins” (Ap IV, What Is Justfiying Faith, 51).

Outline for today’s lesson: Apologetics-Moving-Forward.pdf
Book of Concord References for today’s lesson:  Apologetics-Part-2-for-Aug-4-2019.pdf
Handout from July 21:  Apologetics-Definition-a.pdf  Page 2 has outline of Four Points Raised…

Note: Sunday, September 1, we will begin a new 9-month Bible study on the Book of Concord.  The following is a reading guide (through December) for those who would like to read along with us.

Reading Guide for Tappert, Kolb, English only of Triglotta, Concordia Reader’s Edition: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-1-Page-1-2.pdf

Reading Guide for Triglotta, Jacobs, Henkel, Die BekenntnisSchriften, Tappert, Kolb: Book-of-Concord-Reading-2019-2020-Chart-2-pages-1-2.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 17 Apologetics 2

Another passage used to support the task of apologetics is Jude 1:3, “…Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly (ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι) for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”  In context, the way in which we contend for the faith is by a Scriptural defense of the faith, and not an exhortation to make a scientific defense of the Christian faith by natural knowledge and human reason.

There has been “an incredible attack on the Bible” (p. 107) as atheistic evolution(naturalism) attempts “to explain life without God” (p.64-65). We are told that the Holy Scriptures are only fairy tales (p.22) about morality and salvation, while science presents the “real” history.  The church’s response has been pitiful. Some within the church have added evolution to Genesis one and called it theistic evolution.  Some have given up on the historicity of the Biblical accounts of creation and the flood, only to limit themselves to teaching morality and “spiritual” things (salvation).  Even of those who disagree with evolution, many do not contend and defend the teaching of the Christian faith but resign themselves to fatalism (p.84) and do not speak up.

The right use of apologetics and the proper limits for apologetics are be a bit more complex than simply citing 1 Peter 3:15 and Jude 1:3. Next week we will begin a positive argument for apologetics by looking at the “Four Points Raised in John Warwick Montgomery’s article, ‘Christian Apologetics in the Light of the Lutheran Confessions.’”

Handout from last week:  Apologetics-Definition-a.pdf
Outline for today’s lesson: Apologetics-Part-2a.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 16 Apologetics

Those who encourage apologetics almost always cite First Peter 3:15,  “… always be ready to give a defense{ἀπολογίαν} to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you….”  The Greek word, apologia {ἀπολογία}, simply means to give a defense against objections.  In context, there is nothing to suggest anything other than a defense by means of Scriptural evidence.  Nevertheless, modern day apologetics are exclusively devoted to the scientific vindication of the truth and absoluteness of the Christian religion against unbelief by means of natural knowledge and human reason.  Both pre-Reformation theologians and Lutheran theologians have debated whether there is a proper use for apologetics, and if there is, what the proper use is.

Handout 1: Apologetics-Definition-a.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 15: Not Confusing the Estates

The several descriptions of American culture given in the book, Gospel Reset, imply that the former cooperation between public schools and the church (e.g. the Bible, prayer and Christian worldview, see page 17) gave American society a foundational knowledge for understanding morality and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  Page 14 says, “… many in our culture simply don’t have any foundation to comprehend the message of Christ, ever since the Bible and Christianity have been kicked out of schools and replaced with the godless religion of secular humanism” (p.14).  Though, we would not want to mingle the estates of church and state, it is unquestionably true that “Christians and their worldview are treated with increasing intolerance” (p.17).   We might even say that public (state) schools are hostile to the teaching of the Christian faith (p.71-72).

Having distinguished between the three estates which God has instituted, as well as the means and duties of those within those estates, it would be more precise to say that natural knowledge is being denied by the state (and her schools).

    • The denial of the natural knowledge of a Creator (atheism) and Creation (evolution)
    • The denial of the intrinsic value of human life (abortion, euthanasia)
    • The denial of body, family, and marriage (gender, homosexuality)
    • The denial of right and wrong (baseline morality)

It is the job of the third estate (family) not only to provide for her children in body and soul, but also to teach her children.  Either directly or through surrogates, parents are to teach both natural knowledge so that their children might be useful to society, and revealed knowledge so that they might come to be saved and proclaim salvation to their neighbor.  All authority to teach comes from the parental estate.  “Marriage should be treated with honor; from it we all originate, because it is a nursery not only for the state but also for the church and the kingdom of Christ until the end of the world” (Luther’s works, v. 1, p. 240). 

Handout 1: three-estates-etc-b.pdf    (See pages 3-4 from the Large Catechism, 4th Commandment)
Handout 2: ThreeEstates-Wolfmueller.pdf
Overhead: 3rd-Estate.pdf
Reference: Historical-Footnotes-2018-p.14.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 14: Worldview vs. Three Estates

Usually we speak of the Ten Commandments as the law of God which shows us our sin.  Furthermore, we know that only believers can do good works, because without faith nothing is pleasing to God (Heb. 11:6).  Good works flow from faith.  Nevertheless, when Luther describes the Ten Commandments as the fountainhead of all good works, he is contrasting God-ordained works with works which man makes up.  When an unbeliever lives 20 years within the estate of marriage, we should not be afraid to call it holy marriage–as marriage is established by God.  Thus, Luther has written, “For to be holy and to be saved are two entirely different things.  We are saved through Christ alone; but we become holy both through this faith and through these divine foundations and orders. Even the godless may have much about them that is holy without being saved thereby” (LW, v.37, p.364-365).

This lesson seeks to give some sound ways to speak about the God-instituted estates and the Table of Duties for those who live in these “various holy orders and positions” (Small Catechism).   God has established these estates not as a mean of acquiring salvation, but as both the means He uses to preserve His creation, and as the believer’s means by which, living in these estates, he gives thanks for God’s creation and salvation.

Handout 1: threee-estates-etc.pdf
Handout 2: ThreeEstates-Wolfmueller.pdf
Overheads: Gospel-Reset-Overheads-Jun-30-2019.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 13: The Three Estates

Although others have explained the three estates (church, family, and state) exclusively, the Word of God teaches these estates theologically and ethically.  Each and every person, believer or unbeliever, finds themselves to be a member of each estate.  The church was instituted in the Garden of Eden, before Eve was created and before the fall into sin.  The family was instituted when God united Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and before the fall into sin.  The state was instituted after the fall into sin, in order to curb sinful outbursts by the threat of punishment.

God has established these estates not as a mean of acquiring salvation, but as both the means God uses to preserve His creation, and as the believer’s means by which living in these estates he gives thanks for God’s creation and salvation

Handout 1: threee-estates-etc.pdf
Handout 2: ThreeEstates-Wolfmueller.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 12: Not a Christian Nation

Although the American culture has indeed changed, we need to be careful how we describe this change.  The illustration on pages 53 and 82 seems to teach that the United States formerly had God’s Word as her foundation, but now the foundation is man’s word.  Let’s be clear:  The United States has never been a Christian nation.  The United State does not teach or enforce Christian doctrine.  She does not rule her citizens by the spiritual or even the civil righteousness of the Ten Commandments.  She was founded by rationalists, deists, and Christians.  I’m not sure that the majority of her inhabitants were ever practicing Christians–but maybe at some time.  We can say that general Biblical knowledge of the population has probably declined.  We can say that outwardly immoral behavior (civil righteousness) has become more acceptable.  We can say that many are openly denying natural law and the conclusions of human reason in order to embrace their own sinful desires.

We also need to be concerned when the church is directed to influence “culture.”  For example, p.117 says, “The church is, by and large, no longer influencing the culture in our once very Christianized West, but now the culture is rapidly influencing  (infiltrating) the church.”  When the foundation and purpose for the right hand (church) kingdom and the left hand (state) kingdom are not properly distinguished, there will be much mischief.  Next week we will take up the topic of the three estates in order to determine what kind of “influence” is appropriate.

Overheads 1: Gospel-Reset-Overheads-Jun-16-2019.pdf
Handout Page 8: Gospel-Reset-Class-Eight-May-19-2019.pdf

Gospel Reset Bible Class, Pt. 11: Worldview

We need to understand the difference between trying to prove the Bible is true by extra-biblical evidence and showing that the extra-Biblical evidence agrees with or confirms (or at least doesn’t contradict) the teachings of the Bible.  The problem with trying to prove the Bible is true is that the person’s trust now is built not on the Holy Scriptures, but upon another source of authority.  The Scriptural foundation is the only solid foundation that can be trusted.

This book uses the terms society, culture and worldview.   In this study we try to determine the meaning of the term worldview, and especially Christian worldview.  After examining several individual beliefs/values for both the Christian and the secular humanist, we saw that the actions of each would be different based on their beliefs/values.  Nevertheless, it was a Wikipedia article that explained that “Different demoninations of Christianity have varying worldviews.”  In addition, Wikipedia states that the term “worldview” can be anything from a “philosophical concept to a synonym for ‘doctrine.'”

Overheads 1: Gospel-Reset-Overheads-Jun-9-2019.pdf
Web Site Snippets: Worldview-Jun-9-2019.pdf