Rank #1: The History of Heaven
Lane Tipton speaks about his recent conference addresses and his newly available video course, Foundations of Covenant Theology. In this conversation, we seek to address the question of the Spiritual character of the law as an administration of the Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament and set the priority for the history of heaven as a frame of reference for understanding covenant theology in general and the law’s relationship to the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace in particular.
In the beginning in Genesis 1:1, “heavens” is a reference to an archetypal temple-dwelling of God. Before God creates an earthly temple or tabernacle, he makes a heavenly temple dwelling that he fills with the glory of his Spirit and populates with angels. The earth is a replica of these invisible heavens. Prior to a history on earth per se, there is a bona fide history of heaven, which results in the Lord being enthroned in heaven at the end of the creation week. Covenant history now moves forward with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ to this throne and his return when he will bring his people into this glory.Order Now
- YouTube playlist of all the 2019 Theology Conference addresses.
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Nov 01 2019
Rank #2: Socinianism
Carl Trueman joins us to speak about Socinianism, a non-Trinitarian system of doctrine that arose out of the Radical Reformation and developed in Poland during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was named for the Italian uncle/nephew tandem of Lelio and Fausto Sozzini (Latin: Socinus). While the label is not commonly used in our current historical context, Socinianism developed into contemporary Unitarianism. The Socinian system of doctrine is summarized in The Racovian Catechism.
Dr. Carl Trueman is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania and the author of numerous books, including The Creedal Imperative. Along with Aimee Byrd and Todd Pruitt, he is a contributor to the Mortification of Spin podcast.
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Nov 22 2019
Rank #3: The Mountain of the Lord
Mountains appear throughout the Bible as an important symbol of God meeting with man. In this episode, we trace the biblical-theological theme of mountains in an effort to understand more deeply God’s plan and purpose in bringing his covenantal people to glory.[podcast src=”https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/11291036/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/yes/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/990000/” width=”100%” height=”90″ scrolling=”no” class=”podcast-class” frameborder=”0″ placement=”bottom” use_download_link=”” download_link_text=”” primary_content_url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/reformedforum/ctc612.mp3″ theme=”custom” custom_color=”990000″ libsyn_item_id=”11291036″ /]
Sep 20 2019
Rank #4: Warfield’s Doctrine of Inspiration
In 1894, B. B. Warfield published an article in which he compared the views of the Westminster divines and the Reformers on the mode of inspiration. According to Warfield, the Reformers argued for a mode of concursus while the Protestant Scholastics argued for dictation. Dr. Jeff Stivason analyzes this characterization, speaking to Warfield’s historical context and his understanding of progressive orthodoxy.
Jeff Stivason is pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA) in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania and professor-elect at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. His article, “Is Warfield’s Claim True that Calvin is Better than Westminster on Inspiration?” is available in the Westminster Theological Journal Vol. 81, No. 2 (Fall 2019), pp. 279–293.
Mar 27 2020
Rank #5: Echoes of Exodus
Dr. Bryan Estelle joins us to speak about Echoes of Exodus: Tracing a Biblical Motif (IVP Academic, 2018). Israel’s exodus from Egypt is the Bible’s enduring emblem of deliverance. It is the archetypal anvil on which the scriptural language of deliverance is shaped. More than just an epic moment, the exodus shapes the telling of Israel’s and the church’s gospel. Estelle traces the motif as it unfolds throughout Scripture.
Dr. Estelle is professor of Old Testament at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California. He is also the author of Salvation through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel According to Jonah. He has contributed essays to Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry: Essays by the Faculty of Westminster Seminary California and The Law Is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant.
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Mar 13 2020
Rank #6: All That Is in God
James Dolezal discusses his book All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism (Reformation Heritage Books, 2017). Dr. Dolezal serves as associate professor in the school of divinity at Cairn University in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
In this conversation, and the book that guides it, Dolezal addresses the doctrines of classical theism as well as contemporary models of theology proper, which reject, compromise, or otherwise diminish the classical formulations. Interacting with primary sources from theologians such as Bruce Ware, John Frame, and K. Scott Oliphint, Dolezal charitably offers a critique while reaffirming that all that is in God is God.
- James Dolezal, God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness
- Christ the Center, episode 185 — James Dolezal, God without Parts: The Doctrine of Divine Simplicity
- Christ the Center, episode 237 — James Dolezal, Divine Impassibility
- Christ the Center, episode 383 — Samuel Renihan, God without Passions
- Camden Bucey, “Addressing the Essential-Covenantal Model of Theology Proper“
- Camden Bucey, “Van Til and the Creator-Creature Relation“
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Mar 20 2020
Rank #7: Karl Rahner
Jeff Waddington, Glen Clary, and Lane Tipton speak with Camden Bucey about his book, Karl Rahner, and contemporary issues regarding Rahner, modern Roman Catholicism, and contemporary theology.
Arguably the most influential Catholic theologian of the twentieth century, Karl Rahner (1904–1984) developed a theology that has influenced much of post-Vatican II Catholicism and its modern inclusivist approach to missions.
Despite his impact, little has been written on Rahner from a Reformed perspective. In this introduction and critique, Camden Bucey guides readers to an understanding of Rahner’s theology as a whole. Beginning with Rahner’s trinitarian theology, he moves through each of the traditional departments of theology to show how Rahner developed one basic idea from beginning to end.
Rahner set out to explain how God communicates himself to humanity, whom he created specifically for the purpose of fellowship with him. Once we trace this thread, we gain a deeper understanding of his thought and its reach today.
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Endorsements for the Book
“If you want to understand present-day Roman Catholicism, you must come to terms with Vatican II (1962–65). Everything that Rome now teaches and does is filtered through it. But if you want to understand Vatican II itself, you need to know about Karl Rahner. . . . Part of the confused and naive attitude of contemporary evangelicals toward Rome depends on the lack of awareness of both Vatican II and Karl Rahner. This lucid book is a helpful introduction to this seminal Roman Catholic theologian whose language contains all the key Christian words (e.g., Trinity, Christ, humanity), but whose meaning is significantly different from that of straightforward biblical teaching. It is time that Reformed theologians do their homework in grasping what is at stake with contemporary Roman Catholicism.”
—Leonardo De Chirico, Pastor, Breccia di Roma; Lecturer, Historical Theology, IFED, Padova, Italy; Director, Reformanda Initiative
“Roman Catholic apologists often boast about their church’s antiquity but seldom mention modern Roman Catholic theology, which often sounds as modern as liberal Protestantism. Karl Rahner, one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, whose prominence was evident at the Second Vatican Council, is one of the best examples of Roman Catholicism’s modernity. Camden Bucey’s fair-minded and careful assessment of Rahner’s theology is valuable in itself, but doubly so for anyone wanting an introduction to modern Roman Catholicism’s own contribution to liberal Christian theology.”
—D. G. Hart, Distinguished Associate Professor of History, Hillsdale College
“Though Karl Rahner is among the most significant Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, he is little known (and seldom read) by evangelical and Reformed theologians. Camden Bucey’s fine study offers an excellent summary of Rahner’s Trinitarian theology that promises to redress this problem. He not only provides a helpful explanation of Rahner’s well-known Trinitarian axiom (‘the “economic” Trinity is the “immanent” Trinity’), but also locates it within the broader context of Rahner’s anthropocentric theology. While Bucey critically engages Rahner’s theology from a Reformed perspective, he does so throughout in a careful, irenic, and constructive fashion.”
—Cornelis P. Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary
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Dec 06 2019
Rank #8: Schools of Biblical Criticism
Will Wood discusses various approaches to higher criticism, including source, form, and redaction criticism. This conversation dives into a topic that was covered briefly in an episode on the authorship of Isaiah.
Biblical higher criticism demonstrates several presuppositions that are contrary to orthodox understandings of history and the Bible. For example, predictive prophecy cannot exist. As a result, there is no a priori reason in their view for the Bible to have been written in the form we now possess.
Source criticism seeks to investigate how the various Bible books came into being through the use of disparate sources.
Form criticism does not look for written precursors to biblical texts but to oral precursors. Form critics believe earlier Israelite society was pre-literate. Therefore, sources that supposedly came to comprise the Bible were passed down through different oral forms, or getungen, which help to access the sitz im leben, or setting in life of the community.
Tradition-historical criticism uses methods from both source and form criticism. It distinguishes between traditium, which is the particular tradition content passed down, and traditio, which is the process of transmission.
Redaction criticism asks how the biblical books were brought into the full text we have today. Redaction critics are not merely concerned with oral or written sources, but with the activity of a type of editor, who brought them together.[podcast src=”https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/11291051/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/yes/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/990000/” width=”100%” height=”90″ scrolling=”no” class=”podcast-class” frameborder=”0″ placement=”bottom” use_download_link=”” download_link_text=”” primary_content_url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/reformedforum/ctc613.mp3″ theme=”custom” custom_color=”990000″ libsyn_item_id=”11291051″ /]
Sep 27 2019
Rank #9: Puritan: All of Life to the Glory of God
David Woollin of Reformation Heritage Books and Matthew Robinson of Media Gratiae discuss Puritan: All of Life to the Glory of God. Centered around a feature-length film, the full box set includes books, thirty-five Sunday school lessons, and other resources for education.[podcast src=”https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/12294557/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/yes/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/990000/” width=”100%” height=”90″ scrolling=”no” class=”podcast-class” frameborder=”0″ placement=”bottom” use_download_link=”” download_link_text=”” primary_content_url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/reformedforum/ctc625.mp3″ theme=”custom” custom_color=”990000″ libsyn_item_id=”12294557″ /]
Dec 20 2019
Rank #10: The Doctrine of Election
Dr. Cornelis Venema speaks about the doctrine of election. His book, Chosen in Christ: Revisiting the Contours of Predestination, is available in Mentor’s Reformed, Exegetical, and Doctrinal Studies series. Venema addresses the subject from exegetical, historical, contemporary, and pastoral vantage points. In this conversation, he addresses the doctrine of election in the Old and New Testaments, the relationship between covenant and election, the polemical discourse between Augustine and Pelagius, and the revisionist doctrine of Karl Barth.
Dr. Venema is President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana. He is the author of several books, including Promise of the Future, Christ and Covenant Theology, and Children at the Lord’s Table? Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion.
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Jul 19 2019
Rank #11: A Christian View of Economics
Shawn Ritenour, Professor of Economics at Grove City College, speaks about the basics of economics and the Christian principles upon which the study must be based. Dr. Ritenour is the author of Foundations of Economics: A Christian View (Wipf & Stock).
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Jan 10 2020
Rank #12: Faithful and Fruitful Ordained Ministry
Healthy churches have healthy elders and deacons. When a local congregation is blessed with faithful officers the results are bountiful (Acts 6:7). William Boekestein and Steven Swets speak about ordained ministry in its manifold dimensions. Boekestein and Swets have edited, Faithful and Fruitful: Essays for Elders and Deacons (Reformed Fellowship), which provides current and future church leaders with an exciting opportunity of personal development.
Like its companion (Called to Serve), this collection of essays offers biblical and practical essays written by seasoned churchmen drawing upon a wealth of leadership knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Engaging study questions for each essay can help readers make the most of the Bible’s instruction and encouragement for those tasked with the responsibility and privilege of leading Christ’s church.
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Nov 15 2019
Rank #13: Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism
Darryl G. Hart speaks about J. Gresham Machen’s classic work, Christianity and Liberalism. In becoming familiar the content and historical context of this book, people will gain an understanding not only of twentieth century Presbyterianism but also of global Christianity to a degree. And in contemplating the lessons of this era, people will also be better equipped to meet the challenges that face the contemporary church.
Westminster Seminary Press has issued a new edition of Machen’s classic work and has included new essays by the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary, the institution Machen founded in 1929 after the reorganization of the board of Princeton Seminary.
Dr. D. G. Hart is Distinguished Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College and the author or co-author of many books on American religious history, including Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American Presbyterianism, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America, and The Selected Shorter Writings of J. Gresham Machen.
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Aug 30 2019
Rank #14: Hebrew Discourse Analysis
Matthew Patton speaks about his book, Basics of Hebrew Discourse: A Guide to Working with Hebrew Prose and Poetry (Zondervan Academic, 2019). Dr. Patton is pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Vandalia, Ohio.
This book, written by Matthew H. Patton, Frederic Clarke Putnam, and Miles V. Van Pelt, is a syntax resource for intermediate Hebrew students. This Basics book introduces students to the principles and exegetical benefits of discourse analysis (text linguistics) when applied to biblical Hebrew prose and poetry. Where standard Hebrew reference grammars have traditionally worked to describe the relationship between words and phrases within discrete clauses (micro syntax), discourse analysis works to describe those relationships that exist between clauses and texts (macro syntax).
This resource fills a needed gap for intermediate Hebrew students and gives them the tools to work with Hebrew syntax on the macro level. Professors and pastors working with Hebrew will also find this one-of-a-kind resource highly valuable.
While students of Hebrew will certainly gain from Patton’s work, listeners will gain a deeper understanding of the Bible and tools for studying it in the English language as well.
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Jan 24 2020
Rank #15: Petrus Van Mastricht’s Theoretical and Practical Theology
Todd M. Rester speaks about the theology of Petrus Van Mastricht (1630–1706). Dr. Rester has served as a translator of Mastricht’s Theoretical-Practical Theology, which is being published by Reformation Heritage Books and edited by Dr. Joel Beeke. As of this interview, the first two volumes (Prolegomena and Faith in the Triune God) are available. Mastricht presents a theological method particularly instructive for contemporary readers, treating every theological topic according to exegetical, dogmatic, elenctic, and practical concerns.
Dr. Rester is associate professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania. He has served as a post-doctoral research fellow for the EU European Research Council project and at Queen’s University Belfast.
Oct 11 2019
Rank #16: 2019 Highlights
Since Christ the Center began nearly twelve years ago, we have taken time to look back on the highlights of the year. Given that we now post highlights from each episode every week we have taken an analytic approach. These are this year’s top ten clips from Christ the Center as determined by YouTube views.
- Episode 614 — Bracy Hill, Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter
- Episode 600 — Glen Clary, Praying in Tongues
- Episode 580 — Camden Bucey, Liberation Theology
- Episode 603 — Cornelis Venema, Karl Barth and the Doctrine of Election
- Episode 600 — Glen Clary, What Is Cessationism?
- Episode 598 — Christopher Watkin, The Problem of the One and Many
- Episode 603 — Cornelis Venema, Augustine and Pelagius
- Episode 578 — Carl Trueman, Luther and Zwingli at Marburg
- Episode 619 — Alan Strange and Brian DeJong, The Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the United Reformed Churches in North America
- Episode 613 — Will Wood, Schools of Biblical Criticism
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Dec 27 2019
Rank #17: Politics after Christendom
David VanDrunen speaks about his forthcoming book, Politics After Christendom (Zondervan Academic), reflecting upon the status and responsibilities of Christians in their contemporary pluralistic political communities. Dr. VanDrunen presents a biblical-theological model of political engagement and exploring themes such as race, religious liberty, justice, authority, and civil resistance.
David VanDrunen is Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Seminary California. He is the author and editor of several books, including Aquinas Among the Protestants, God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought, and Divine Covenants and Moral Order: A Biblical Theology of Natural Law.
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Feb 14 2020
Rank #18: Justin Martyr and Worship in the Ancient Church
In his first apology (ca. 150–155 A.D.), Justin Martyr wrote an early account of ancient Christian worship, describing ancient practices regarding the sacraments and Lord’s Day worship. It was written to an unbeliever, and therefore Justin does not assume that his intended reader—the Emperor Antoninus Pius (138–161)—knows anything about Christian worship. Moreover, while Pliny describes the worship practices of the Christians in Pontus, Justin describes the liturgical customs of the church in Rome. Justin lived and worshiped in Rome, but he didn’t convert in Rome. He most likely converted to Christianity in Ephesus around 130 A.D. So he was familiar with the liturgical customs of both Western and Eastern Christians. It is also important to understand that Justin’s account is descriptive not prescriptive. It is not a church order (e.g. Didache, Apostolic Tradition). It is simply a description of what Christians were already doing not what Justin thought they ought to do.
Apr 10 2020
Rank #19: Cain and Abel
Glen Clary leads us in a consideration of the biblical-theological themes in the Cain and Abel narrative of Genesis 4. Much more than a mere commentary on anger and murder, this passage has much to teach us about worship and God’s plan of communion with those made in his image.
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Aug 02 2019
Rank #20: With All Your Heart
Dr. A. Craig Troxel speaks about With All Your Heart: Orienting Your Mind, Desires, and Will toward Christ (Crossway, 2020). Whereas contemporary culture identifies the “heart” with feelings and emotions, Craig Troxel speaks about the range of uses of the word “heart” in the Bible. The heart knows, desires, and chooses. This fuller conception of “heart” helps us understand our battle with sin and the redemption that has been wrought by Jesus Christ.
Dr. Troxel is professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California. He previously served as pastor of Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, Illinois and Calvary Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Glenside, Pennsylvania.
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Feb 21 2020