A Presuppositional Apologetical Response by Lönngren Taljaard (Doctoral Thesis Accepted North-West University)
While in the past the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa (DRCSA) confessed the authority of the Bible as the Word of God, many within the Church today do not see the Bible as authoritative on all matters. Prevailing views on the Pauline epistles is a prime example. In many ways, Paul is viewed as “a product of his time who could only describe the awesome reality of God’s saving presence in limited (patriarchal) language”
The well-known South African theologian Andrew Murray, himself a member of the DRCSA, reacted as far back as 1862, shortly after the midway mark of the 19th-century, to the large-scale rationalism that had been advocated in Dutch theology faculties and warned against the influence it may have had on fellow ministers in the DRCSA. This battle where the authority of Scripture was at the centre became so severe that it was not able to escape the Cape courtrooms.
You won’t find the word “disproportionism” in any dictionary worth its salt, so feel free to stop the googling. I admit that this is not the queen’s English, but in a world where “isms” abound it is important for us to know about the dangers of them all, whether “relativism,” “anti-supernaturalism,” “post-modernism,” or whatever other dubious “isms” may exist that are worthy of refutation. Such is the case with the topic I’d like to address in this article. For some reading this, the term “Hyper-Calvinism” might no yet have entered their sphere of cognizance, however there are subtle ways in which they might already have been influenced by it. In broad strokes, Hyper-Calvinism is a misrepresentation of “good” Calvinistic teachings or tenets, the majority of which I personally can vouch for. Within a Calvinistic framework, these teachings, although biblical, get inflated, magnified, or for the lack of a better word, get “pumped-up” to the point of being disproportionate, leading to what I like to call "theological disproportionism.”
Generally speaking, good churches who are considered to be “like-minded” are split down the middle as it involves their view of women as deaconesses. Some say “absolutely not,” while others say “sure, why not.” We as Stellenbosch Bible Church have since our founding in the month of May, 2015, opted for the latter view when the church was constituted by one elder (yours truly) and three other families. Perhaps some might have been led to believe that we do not allow women to be deaconesses because of the absence of women deaconesses in our church. However, their absence in our current detachment of deacons has purely been for circumstantial reasons, in particular personal readiness and qualification of women who have since the church’s founding been identified and approached as potential deaconesses by the elder (1 Tim. 3:8-13). Things have not changed since our founding days. So, in order to help those of you who were not members with us during that pioneering first year of our church, I’d like to briefly offer you the reasons for our acknowledgment of the legitimacy of deaconesses.
The New Testament sign of the believer is undoubtedly the sign of baptism. But what exactly does this look like? Some have said that the Old Testament, 8th-day circumcision is what controls our understanding of baptism and would therefore see it as something that is done with babies as a sign of the New Covenant. They would argue that since circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant, so infant baptism — which seems to be the best possible transition from Old Covenant times to New Covenant Times (New Testament times) — would be the best possible transition from circumcision to baptism.
However, is this a good deduction to make with regards to the church’s current obligation to signify salvation through baptism (Matt. 28:19)? Is the church’s present-day practice of baptism mainly a vestige of a period in salvific history that, historically speaking, was symbolised by males only? That could hardly be the case in light of New Testament examples of believers, whether male or female, who were baptised after coming to faith in the Lord Jesus.
The argument between infant baptism (paedobaptism) and believer’s baptism by immersion (credobaptism) therefore mainly centres around this issue that involves its definition in New Testament times. If we define it in terms of a rehashed, reshuffled, or changed 8th-day circumcision, then it could perhaps make sense that babies should be baptised. But if it can be proven that it became the New Covenant sign of the believer, which is really a sign in its own right, then one could make a strong case for believer’s baptism.
To a large extent dispensationalism is misunderstood by those who oppose it. This may be the result of the application of a faulty hermeneutic in Bible interpretation. Since our hermeneutic drives our interpretation we need to make sure that it lines up with Scripture. If not, the results can be hazardous. The following aims at displaying the hermeneutical features of the dispensational system. As a system, dispensationalism consists of a solid method of interpretation; therefore adopting its principles of interpretation is valuable. We will look at the meaning of “hermeneutics.” It is essential to understand what we are talking about when we use this term. Subsequently we will look at the key tenets of dispensational hermeneutics. This will be done by contrasting and critiquing some of the views contrary to the one applied in dispensationalism.
The following is an attempt to establish an accurate view regarding the authorship and date of the Pastoral Epistles. There has been a vicious attack on the Bible and particularly with regards to the question of inerrancy and authorship. These questions however can only be properly addressed by viewing the evidence and allowing the evidence to speak for itself. Evangelicals have long faced opposition from liberal theologians who have questioned the validity and inerrancy of the Bible. By imposing endless questions on the text these theologians have succeeded to create doubt in the hearts of many concerning their own belief in the basic truths of the Bible.
One such area that liberal theologians would challenge is the authorship of the Bible. They would argue that certain portions of Scripture have not truly been written by those who have traditionally been believed to have written it. However, by closer observation of the facts we are able to arrive at a clear understanding and a proper rebuttal of such assaults.
It can be a heart wrenching experience when someone you have grown to respect walks away from the faith. This is especially true when you are young and impressionable, and in need of good role models around you in the church. Young believers are in need of good and wholesome examples who have walked the road of faith, despite their weaknesses, and have been proven by the trials they have endured in the process (Jas. 1:2-3) that they are in the faith.
Every now and again we will take some time to look back at the pages of Christian history. There is so much that can be learned from those who have studied the Bible and have determined for it to be their rule of life. Church history is never superior to bibliology, by no means, but it certainly does aid our understanding of various biblical doctrines today. As we are able to identify how the things that we believe about God today agree with what theologians from earlier centuries have believed about it, we can receive some affirmation for that which we believe, especially as these doctrines are preached and believed today.
The same however is true for lessons that can be learned from church history which should not be repeated. Not everything that happened in the first few centuries after Christ was necessarily good...
Augustine progressed philosophically as most men of his day. Eventually neo-Platonism would have a considerable effect on his thinking, especially as he made sense of God and the created order through these lenses. In his “Confessions” he makes quite clear that a subtle disdain of the physical had started to set in. From his account it seems that it could have been his hatred for his past sinful lifestyle that led him to the false piety of an over-spiritualized view of God and what he grants men.
Let’s just say, it’s difficult not to brag at times, especially when the world is often filled with people who like to gloat about all their accomplishments. They like to talk about all their successes in life and somewhat expect any unsuspecting bystander to be okay about hearing about their jobs, the places they have traveled, the people they know and the things they have amassed throughout their years.
It can be tempting for Christians to want to play the same game when facing someone like this. Even Christian to Christian we can be tempted to want to share in the narcissist hobby of bragging, boasting, “tooting our own trumpet,” call it what you will. Scripture does not allow for this kind of behaviour. Of all people Christians should be known for their humility. We are not people who goes around bragging about our accomplishments. The reason is simple. Everything that we have become in Christ is because of what God has done for us in Christ...
But if there is any reason for bragging, any reason for triumph, any reason for letting the world know about it, let it be Christ. He is our only reason for boasting. The apostle Paul explains this so well in 1 Corinthians 1 where he talks about the worth of the cross, or the worth of Christ as the Saviour of the world. As he does so, Paul focuses his explanation of the cross, and in particular, its uncomplicated message on two broad groups, the Jews and the Gentiles.
There is a golden thread that runs through the Bible which can sometimes go unnoticed by some. It involves this road that we travel on. For all God’s children of all generations, the walk of faith that we are engaged in does not occur in a vacuum, rather it occurs in an onward and upward motion, spiritually speaking. We often forget the fact that this road that we are on is marked by the grinding footprints and cross-dragging induced furrows of many saints who before us have had to travel the same road on their way to glory (Matt. 7:13-14). This is a walk that has been attempted and completed by many of the Lord’s dear followers of old. There is therefore much that we can learn from the pages of church history, in particular from Christian biography (Prov. 13:20). As Paul instructed the Corinthians, we would be wise to imitate them too, as we diligently imitate the Lord (1 Cor. 11:1). One such saint that deserves recognition at this juncture is a man by the name of John Charles, or J.C. Ryle. The son of a wealthy banker, Ryle was born in the town of Macclesfield within the region of Cheshire, England, on 10 May, 1816. Like many other boys he took a liking in different kinds of sports during his teenage years, but especially excelled at the activities of rowing and the game of cricket. After his transfer to Christ Church, Oxford in 1834, his cricket playing career reached its crescendo in an 1836 Varsity match at Lords, when he took no less than 10 wickets in a bowling effort, sealing the match for Oxford.