In part one I quoted from Carl Henry as he lamented the lack of teaching on the Trinity. I suppose there are many reasons one could give for why it is that such a significant and central teaching of the faith is rarely taught. However, my opinion is that the misappropriation of the mystery of the Trinity is partly to blame. That is not to say there is not a mysterious aspect to God’s Being, but where Scripture has spoken we are obligated to learn.
One of Henry’s laments was that the “practical values” of the Trinity have been neglected. That might seem like a paradoxical proposition for modern day evangelicals who typically appeal to all things practical. What this actually points to is a dilemma that exchanges Christian theology for something more like a christianized form of pragmatism. Contrary to conventional thought the Trinity is one of the most practical teachings that we could discuss in our day. Having reached this point in the discussion of the Triniy I would like to focus attention to one of the most fundamental of practical values of the Trinity.
Personhood is one of those aspects of human existence typically taken for granted but vitally important for people to understand. Certain aspects of our being like love,feelings, emotions, thoughts, consciousness, compassion etc. can not be explained very well from a conventional approach like a naturalistic standpoint. One example of this – although there are many – I have quoted from prominent atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel who writes,
“It seems to me that the powerful appearance of contingency in the relation between the functioning of the physical organism and the conscious mind — an appearance that depends directly or indirectly on the first-person perspective — must be an illusion. But the denial of this contingency should not take the form of a reductionist account of consciousness of the usual type, whereby the logical gap between the mental and the physical is closed by conceptual analysis — in effect, by analyzing the mental in terms of the physical (however elaborately this is done — and I count functionalism as such a theory, along with the topic-neutral causal role analyses of mental concepts from which it descends).”
When Nagel uses terminology like “logical gap” he is speaking of a disconnect between the physical and mental that can’t be explained or “closed” by conceptual (naturalistic) analysis. In my conversations with naturalistic or materialistic philosophers who make an attempt to “close” the gap by conceptual means often find themselves in a dichotomy between the world they pretend to understand through analysis and the world they actually live in. I can recall a professor at a secular college that I attended who admitted to me that while he thought the love he had for his wife was nothing more than a chemical process in his brain, he would NEVER admit that to her. That is the dichotomy they are forced to live in.
How do we understand personhood from a Christian perspective? We understand that God is personal evidenced by His exhibiting personhood between the persons of the Godhead. Scripture tells us that there was person to person relations like love among the Triune community from all eternity. We also know that when God created He did so using Himself as a representational model. So when we look at God we see persons in relation from all eternity, and being created in His image we too are also persons in relation albeit at a creaturely level explaining why we exhibit aspects of personhood. This does not negate the fact that there is a biological aspect to our being also but it answers the question as to the personhood of man.
“…If Christianity is really true, then it involves the whole man, including his intellect and creativeness. Christianity is not just “dogmatically” true or “doctrinally” true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life. ~ Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?
Lectio Continua on Hebrews commentary on Hebrews by David McWilliams has just been released and following in the line of great commentaries by Lectio Continua it proves to be an essential contribution to this very important book of the Bible.
Here are what the endorsements had to say:
This promises to be a great resource for churches seeking to know the Word of God more fully. –Carl R. Trueman, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA
Dr. McWilliams addresses the Epistle of Hebrews with theological precision and homiletical incisiveness. We learn how Hebrews draws from all of Scripture to unfold the covenant of grace culminating in the majesty of Christ, the God-Man, who fulfills the calling of Prophet, Priest, and King as the Mediator of a New Covenant. McWilliams grasp of the profound theology of Hebrews is marvelously displayed in the simplicity of expositional preaching. The result is a superb asset for any Christian, but especially for preachers and teachers of God s Word in general and the book of Hebrews in particular. –Harry L. Reeder, III Senior Pastor, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, AL
David McWilliams exposition of the book of Hebrews admirably fulfills the aims of the Lectio Continua Expository Commentary series. Combining exegetical rigor with pastoral sensitivity, McWilliams opens up the riches of the book of Hebrews as a sermon-epistle that emphasizes the superiority of Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant, and warns its recipients of the real danger of falling away through unbelief and neglect. Though the book of Hebrews is densely argued, and therefore presents daunting challenges to its readers, McWilliams manages to open up its treasures in a clear and compelling manner. Pastors and church members alike will greatly benefit from his exposition, which is saturated with homiletical and pastoral insights. –Cornelis P. Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary, Dyer, IN
Some of the other volumes in this series are J.V. Fesko’s Lectio Continua on Galatians, and Kim Riddlebarger’s, Lectio Continua on First Corinthians
TITLE: 40 Question About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
AUTHOR: John S. Hammett
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2015, (331 pages).
This is a great time for such an important topic to be raised. The subject of the Sacraments/Ordinances have taken a back seat in recent times to more “relevant” topics in contemporary evangelicalism and thus has been relegated-albeit unintionally- to seconary status. Ironically, I am of the belief that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are among the most relevant topics we can discuss. Therefore, I was very pleased to see 40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper by John S. Hammett as part of the 40 Questions Series.
Timothy George described this book as “a good resource for all Christians.” This is a great point to make. The format is catechetical or question and answer. Many of these questions are the same questions that we all have but rarely think to ask: “Why was Jesus Baptized?” “How often should the Lord’s Supper be observed?” “What is the Roman Catholic view of Baptism?” “Why do we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?”. The treatment of these questions are thorough without being bogged down with minor technicalities making this work readable for layity yet still important for the pastorate.
What I found personally useful was the books organization. It’s broken up into four parts: 1. General Questions About Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, 2. Questions About Baptism, 3. Questions About the Lord’s Supper, and 4. Concluding Questions. Under parts 2 and 3 there are sub-headings or sections that deal with Introductory Questions, Denominational Views, Theological Issues, and Practical Aspects. This makes questions more accessable for the reader who is interested in having quick access to particular questions. This format is a very useful way to study not only Baptims and Lord’s Supper but any doctrinal question.
My personal thoughts on the book are very favorable and I would highly recomend it especially for those not in the ministry with a desire to understand the Bible’s teaching. In this book, Hammett not only does an outstanding job at exploring the teachings of Baptistm and the Lord’s Supper, but he does it in such a way as to be respectful to opposing view points attempting to be as objective on the issues as possible. Some readers who have the “just tell me what to believe” approach to study might get frustrated over this book. Hammett isn’t trying to do that here. However, for the reader who is able to look at the answers presented and make the appropriate logical connections you will come away with a significant sacramentology.
Excelent read, five stars.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.