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Category Archives: From my reading

Perfectionism and John Owen

I am currently teaching John Owen’s Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers in our Sunday school class. We’re working through a chapter a week, and both as preparation for my own teaching, and as a way of helping the church grasp Owen, I’m “translating” Owen from his English into something a bit more comprehensible.

We’re in chapter two, and I was puzzled by this section, in his discussion of perfectionism:

And, therefore, many in our days who have talked of perfection have been wiser, and have affirmed it to consist in knowing no difference between good and evil. Not that they are perfect in the things we call good, but that all is alike to them, and the height of wickedness is their perfection.

For what it’s worth, here’s my rendering:

Because of the obvious errors of this teaching, many in our days who talk of perfection have been more subtle, saying that perfection consists of knowing no difference between good and evil. So they are not perfect in the things we call good, but they say that all is alike to them, so that the height of their wickedness is their perfection.

Here’s my question: does anybody know anything about this teaching that Owen mentions here? While I’m familiar with the jist of perfectionism, I’ve not heard of this particular strain of the teaching.

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in From my reading

 

Possible non-existences

With respect to this matter of non-existence, it would seem then that four theoretical possibilities are open. There may be those (a) who think it reasonable to doubt the existence of God but unreasonable to think of the non-existence of the universe. There may be those (b) who think it possible to think intelligibly of the non-existence of both God and the universe. There may be those (c) who think it impossible to think intelligibly of the non-existence of either the universe or of God. Finally, there may be those (d) who think it possible to think intelligibly of the nonexistence of the universe but impossible to think intelligibly of the nonexistence of God.

Of these various possibilities it will at once be observed that the acceptance of any of the first three positions puts one on the antitheistic side of the argument. Only the last position is consistent with theism. But it will also be observed that in many instances any one of the first three positions is taken for granted at the beginning of an argument without awareness of the fact that those holding the position have therewith foreclosed to themselves the possibility of arriving at a theistic conclusion. In other words, any one of these three positions is thought to be consistent with the application of a strictly empirical method of research which, it is thought, may lead to any conclusion whatsoever.

Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Apologetics, From my reading

 

A self-supporting island floating on a shoreless sea

But what does it mean to show us what the metaphysical traits of “being” really are, when, admittedly, nothing can be said about these traits? And are we not supposed to be done with metaphysical traits and with a “being” of which no one can say anything? It were better if Wittgenstein had included science as well as metaphysics when he said, “Wovon man nicht kann sprechen, daruber soll man schweigen.” Modern science has imposed silence upon God but in doing so, it was compelled to impose silence on itself. Modern science boldly asks for a criterion of meaning when one speaks to him of Christ. He assumes that he himself has a criterion, a principle of verification and of falsification, by which he can establish for himself a self-supporting island floating on a shoreless sea. But when he is asked to show his criterion as it functions in experience, every fact is indeterminate, lost in darkness; no one can identify a single fact, and all logic is like a sun that is always behind the clouds.

Cornelius Van Til, Christian Theistic Evidences

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Apologetics, From my reading