Articles by Scott Oliphint

A Hamster Wheel Floating

Article by   June 2015
We have been dealing with a well-worn objection to Covenantal apologetics. As we have seen, the objection goes back, at least, to the time of the Reformation. It is an objection that Roman Catholics used against those who would hold to the Reformed view of Sola Scriptura. In modern discussions, it has become an objection of Arminian theology against a Reformed view of God's (special and general) revelation. Thus, it is an objection that presupposes a neutral notion of reason, such that reason is thought to supply the universal foundation for any and every rational theory of knowledge. Such a presupposition, we have attempted to show, is at home only within an Arminian or Romanist theology; Reformed theology cannot affirm it. continue

More Spalled Concrete

Article by   May 2015
In our last two articles, we've been dealing with various objections that continue to be offered against a Covenantal approach to apologetics. The objection that we considered last time needs more explanation and discussion that we were able to give it in one article. We will continue that discussion in this article (and the next) in order to try more fully to address the objection itself. The hope is that these responses will be taken into account if the objection continues to be offered, rather than, as is often the case, simply repeating the objection as if nothing has been offered in response. continue

God of the "Whats" and the "Hows"

Article by   April 2015
In our last article, we saw that the objection of circular reasoning in a Covenantal approach to apologetics has actually been a standard objection to Reformed thinking for centuries. Objections like this one are understandable, given that the ones offering them are, for the most part, outside the pale of Reformed theology. Whether we want to recognize it or not, our theology dictates our apologetic methodology. Responses to a "Classical" approach to apologetics, given its home in Arminian theology, need, first of all, to find their home in Reformed theology. Any disagreement on apologetic approaches is, first of all, a disagreement of theology. The debate, therefore, should be of a biblical and theological nature, and not primarily philosophical. continue

Around and Around We Go

Article by   February 2015
Since we completed our discussion of the "Ten Tenets" last month, I thought it might be useful to comment on some of the common objections to a Covenantal approach to apologetics. One of the most common objections against a "Covenantal" (or presuppositional) approach to apologetics is that it reasons in a circle, and thus provides no real argument for its position. Reasoning in a circle is a fallacious endeavor, so the objection goes; it cannot provide reasons for what it claims. Examples of this objection could be almost endlessly multiplied, but we will be content with just a couple. In a recent exchange between Covenantal and Classical apologists, one of the latter complains continue

The Accident of Two Legs

Article by   December 2014
Part of what it means to love the Lord our God with our minds is that we are meant to interpret the world around us, the people we meet and see, ourselves and our relationships, in light of the sovereign plan and purpose of God. In other words, we are to interpret these things as they really are, and not as somehow irrelevant or inapplicable to Christianity. continue

Proofs, Persuasion and the Truth Problem

Article by   November 2014
In much of the history of apologetics, the notion of proof has been central. A defense of the faith, so it goes, is given when one gives a proof, or proofs, for the existence of a god. Once the proof is given, the apologetic task is done, and it might be prudent for the apologist to introduce his interlocutor to his pastor so that the central details of who this god is might be discussed. continue

The Problem of Theological Cataracts

Article by   September 2014
C. S. Lewis once famously said: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." If, as Christians, we see everything through the lens of Holy Scripture, we can, by the grace of God, understand the world as it really is, rather than how it might appear on the surface. continue

Living in Wonderland or Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise

Article by   August 2014
This tenet has a host of ideas supporting it, and it may help to clarify the terms used in order to make explicit some of those ideas. When we think of the antithesis as "absolute," we are pointing to the fact that the ground or foundation of the antithesis is not measured on a relative scale. For example, the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian does not depend on how each one is acting at a particular time. It is not measured by how much "good" a non-Christian accomplishes, or how much sin a Christian commits. The way in which God has chosen to identify mankind, since the fall, is that one is either in Adam or one is in Christ. So, when God looks on the host of people on the earth, he sees those who either abide under wrath, by virtue of being sinful in Adam, or under grace, by virtue of being counted righteous in Christ. There is no third "place" to be. There is no sliding scale with God. No one can be partially in Adam and partially in Christ. One's foundation before God is defined by one of these two "Adams," the first or the last (I Cor. 15:45). Because of this, we all operate -- we live and move and have our being -- in terms of the one to whom we are united. continue

Treading Through the Tenets: Of Metaphysics and Marriage

Article by   June 2014
This month we look at the man-ward side of God's natural revelation, which means, what we do with what God is doing. Last month, we saw the God-ward side of that revelation. God is, always and everywhere, from the time of our existence into eternity future, making himself known to all people, at all times. Note carefully: God is the actor here, and not we ourselves. God is the one revealing, and ensuring that his revelation gets through to every creature. There is no possibility of getting an "F" on the "Knowing God" exam on judgment day. There is no possibility that the knowledge that God reveals is in any way false. The sober and substantial truth of the matter is that all people, by virtue of being image-bearers of God, begin their existence as knowers of God, because knowers of creation. This has massive theological, and epistemological, implications for every person. Christians, and philosophers, would do well to tuck this truth away in their bag of necessities and have it handy to pull out each and every day, first thing in the morning. This is the way to begin to interpret ourselves, and the world around us. Because God is actively revealing himself, that revelation hits its mark every time. We know because he reveals; it's that simple. continue

Tolle Lege: A Brief Response to Paul Helm

Article by   June 2014
I have decided, with some reluctance, to respond to Paul Helm's recent critique of God With Us. The reasons for my minor reluctance are two. First, I consider Paul a friend. I have learned much from him and, for example, wanted to make sure our students here at Westminster were exposed to his teaching, so was pleased to invite him to teach a doctoral course here a few years ago. I do suspect, however, that his antipathy to Van Til is some of what motivates his comments below. These disagreements, I trust, remain disagreements among friends -- at least I would hope they do. continue
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