alien righteousness

Book Talk: Concise Reformed Dogmatics – Genderen and Velema

Currently reading through Concise Reformed Dogmatics by two Dutch theologians and learning a lot from it.CRD

Here below are some snap shots of important points that Genderen and Velema make in the section titled The attributes of Holy Scripture on the Authority of Holy Scripture:

What does Scripture itself say? The autopisty of Scripture implies that we appeal to Scripture itself to establish its authority.  As in the case of theopneusty, it is not a matter of a single text, but of the entire Scripture as we have received it.  As the Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit, Scripture speaks to us with authority.  In it God addresses us with his absolute authority.

The Old Testament was to our Lord Jesus Christ not merely a collection of human writings.  What authority would it have had for Him, who himself spoke with authority (Matt. 7:29), and could say that his words in no wise would pass away (Matt. 24:35)?  He accepted the authority of Scripture without reservation:  “It is written” (Matt. 4: 4, 7, 10).  To him this was the end of any dispute.  “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).  He saw his path of suffering spelled out in Scripture: “But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matt. 26:54).

It is incorrect to suppose that Jesus’ appeal to Scripture would reflect no more than an acceptance of Jewish tradition or an uncritical adoption of a contemporary opinion with respect to the authority of the sacred books, and in particular the books of Moses.  This would be hard to believe, because he invariably opposed the views of his contemporaries whenever this was called for.

When Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount: “But I say unto you,” this may not be viewed as undermining the authority of the law of Moses.  In contrast with the scribes, he demonstrates its deeper meaning.  He has not “come to destroy the law or the prophets…but to fulfill them.  “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-48).

Also in the apostolic epistles we read repeatedly: “It is written.” There is no room for bargaining, for Scripture has a normative character to its authors and to its hearers or readers.  While introducing a quotation from the Old Testament, Paul can write: “as God hath said” (2 Cor. 6:16).  The testimony of Scripture is the testimony of the Spirit (Heb. 10:15-17).  It is of great importance that in the short summary of faith in Christ, which was delivered to Paul and which he passed on to the church, the words “according to the Scriptures” occur twice. Yet no specific Scripture passage is mentioned.  The apostle implies that the facts of redemption are in agreement with all of Holy Scripture (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  (86-87, CRD)

In connection with various misunderstandings that can arise when the divine authority of Scripture is recognized, it is necessary to reject the view that the Bible is a book of law with clauses for all possible eventualities.  Neither is the Bible a reference work from which isolated quotes can be selected without having to pay any attention to their context.  Frequent citation from Scripture is in and of itself no proof of being faithful to the Bible.  Whenever we refer to Scripture passages, we need to take into account their meaning, purpose, and context.  The authority of Scripture is not the authority of a list of truths or pronouncements, but the authority of the entire word of God, of which Christ is the center, and that as the reliable Word of God calls for faith.  (95, Concise Reformed Dogmatics)

In the section on the clarity of Scripture:

Scripture is “a light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19).  It is so, because it is full of him, who is the Light of the World.  This is an element that Luther emphasized in his polemics with Erasmus.  The greatest mystery has been revealed:  Christ, the Son of God, having become man; the triune God nevertheless being one; Christ having suffered for us and yet being Lord forever.  “Remove Christ from the Scriptures and what wilt though have left?” (WA, 19:606).  When Christians have come to know the core content of Holy Scripture, i.e., Christ, the Son of God, everything else take on significance and becomes entirely transparent (cf. WA, 44:510).  (99-100, CRD)

Here’s a section from chapter 4, Concerning God: Knowledge Of God

Knowledge of God can never mean that God is comprehensible.   With our minds we can try to understand things pertaining to this world, but the Bible says of God that he is incomparable (Isa. 40:18) and that his greatness is unsearchable (Ps. 145:3).  Elihu says:  “Behold, God is great,  and we know him not” (Job 36:26).  God far exceeds our understanding.  God is always greater than we think (Deus semper maior).  God is God.  “We may not form any earthly conceptions of God’s heavenly majesty (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 46).

Like Augustine, who was deeply convinced of the ineffability and incomprehensibility of God and found it easier to say what God is not than what he is, we know that we need to stop here. “Although we cannot say anything profound about God, yet he tolerates the obedient service of the human voice and desires that by means of our words we rejoice in praising him” (De doctrina christiana, 1:6).

God’s incomprehensibility does not render knowledge of God impossible.  This is then knowledge of a unique nature.  Knowledge of God is already a key concept of the prophetic proclamation.  In multiple ways the New Testament testifies to the fact that people know God in Christ.  (118, CRD, Italics mine)

Next up is some notes from Horton’s catechism class (which was available through audio) at the Christ Reformed Church on the Heidelberg Catechism question and answer #1, and then post some more snap shots from Concise Reformed Dogmatics regarding atheism and the problem with proofs and then move onto the chapter on the Holy Trinity as revealed in Holy Writ.


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