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In basic logical outline, the thrust is as follows. Propositions are reasoned and developed with mutual involvement or support. The steps are:
1) To establish that God is; and that He is not less than is shown: in detailed demonstration (Chapter 1).
2) To show that since God is as a minimum, as established in 1) above, that therefore revelation from Him - explicitly articulated, given expressly in His name - is a necessity; and that the Bible is and must be that revelation.
3)To remove the pretensions of the pseudo-logical, and sometimes quasi-scientific reference to non-creation, to a non-creator god, series or situation, or a philosophically conditioned god-substitute or man-made rendering of 'the divine' or assault on it (Chs. 1, 2, 3).
4)This is extended in Chapter 10 where the consideration of the failure of the 'comparative religions' approach is provided in more depth. Jointly, chapters 3 and 10 abort the direct frontal assault on God, as also the subtler seeming provision of substitutes.
5)To show at a situational level, the superiority of the Biblical analysis, when applied to areas of tertiary student concern in sociology, psychology, economics and physics. There shown and used, is the Biblical basis for the understanding of (and impermeability to) irrational or ill-founded contemporary academic propaganda. This often, with strident and misled militancy, is seen conscripting students to folly. Here this meets due response, dwarfed by the word of God.
This is an applied section for student use (Chapter 4).
6)To show the POWER OF THE BIBLE in principle as a basis for solving chronic philosophic problems. Like an answer for cancer, it stanches the bleeding of these intellectual wounds, with a unique efficacy which attests and evidences the answer of its perspective to man's problems, thus verifying its truth (Chapter 5).
7)To make an independent verificatory excursion into the historic Lord Jesus Christ, and to consider this also in terms of a verification of the independent earlier finding that the Bible is the word of God (Chapter 6). This includes the removal of radical pretensions, that might look to assault the testimony of Jesus Christ, based on ignorance or unreason.
8)To provide preliminary prophetic demonstration, through prediction fulfilment :
a) as verification of the word of God: intrinsically equipped with superabundant evidence of the action of the sovereign speech of the divine communicative Person, and
b) as a basis for extending the massive and grinding force of item 7 above (Ch. 8).
9)To show, thereon, Biblical Prophecy in more scope - its security, amplitude, precision and mastery:
a) in pointed and verificatory contrast to the common confusion and frustration which the World finds with 'intractable' history, and unmanageable human nature. This contrast also exhibits and provides the meaning of this intractability, and of the chronic failure of man in life.
b) in verification of the specific divine claim which Biblical prophecy makes for its origin, one which confers on it a startling status, one eminently testable (esp. pp. 375 ff. infra).
c) as illustration of the meaning of a divine sovereignty which not only is stopped by nothing, and can begin to act where it pleases, but which is also personal, spiritual and moral in dimension (Chapter 9).
10)To provide some indication of what the Bible in fact teaches, in some of its system, both in future coverage and in relation to the past, in one unified stream. This is done partly for convenience, as apologetics is NOT an isolated segment of Christianity or of theology; and partly for sheer verificatory delight at such an exquisite system, the sort of thing which is seen in categorically lesser degree, in some of the experimentally and theoretically blended thought of man, when put to the test in practice (Ch. 7).
11)To exhibit and ponder, in negatively directed verification (as was done earlier with organic evolution and the philosophies of assault, as one phase) the hopeless logical inadequacy of common religious substitutes for the truth: and as further verification, to look at the Biblical analysis, which even shows how and why even brilliant minds may be inveigled by such trifling irrationality as is provided by substitute systems (Chapters 10, 3, 4).
In the process, the myth is destroyed that there are really any competitive religions of rational charm and warrant at all; or any competitive approaches outside the Bible, rationally, whatever. Thus provided is a system both positively and negatively directed, to construct and to destroy - but not the same things! and to direct to the Bible by reason, for the obtaining of (authentic and explicit, divine) revelation.
In Chapter one, with some brevity there is presented the simplicity and severity of reason which constrains the just and rational thinker to the concept of one God, and thereafter to that of one duly identified, authoritative revelation from Him. Susceptible to much expansion, this chapter is kept relatively crisp in open defiance of the deviousness and obscurity of philosophy, often itself a trapeze act of avoidance of the obvious (cf. Romans 1:18-20).
With THE FIRST EXTENSION, on THE WONDER OF THE WORD OF GOD, ITS WORK AND ITS WITNESS, there follows a more extensive treatment of areas of logic, thought and language, an area which has become a veritable swamp of muddy thinking for so long now; and with that in mind, dialogue precedes this Extension, to brighten the task.
The dramatic dialogue format is intended to stimulate or facilitate thought beyond the philosophic conditioning processes that may in fact tend to bind or to blind.
In Chapter two, the survey is made of the vital scene - physical life- and in directness, reason and evidence is considered. This requires us rationally to dismiss the hypothesis of organic evolution as an erratic creation in substantial violation of scientific method, its bizarre and banal 'creativity' the only place at which it reaches any substantial connection with its field... Certainly, the facility for such a droll work of imagination is, inadvertently, a good testimony to the sheer exuberance of creativity conferred on the created mind of man.
In Chapter three, we look at some of the efforts to ESCAPE the obvious - and it is accordingly called LAIRS OF IRRATIONALISM. We there inspect places where desperate efforts are made to preserve human autonomy in our generously framed, and yet limited situation; we look at the forced marches to preserve blindness in the place of sight, evasion in the place of light. These could have been considered at the first, but this would have been to weary some readers with what battle reports might call 'a few skirmishes', with no real substance except to confuse issues which are in fact clear.
Here we dispense logically with the concern these may seek to evoke. It is not that these lairs lack some attraction for the anti-God desperado, perhaps psychologically, certainly spiritually at times; but that is a different and purely personal question. Our concern here is logic, our motivation truth.
Chapter four is intended to provide help, by way of application, to students in sociology, economics and psychology, in several places where the plane of Christianity intersects with the plane of humanism: it is intended to expose the belittling begging of questions by which so many for so long have so much harassed so many students with grounds so irrational, with no more substance than vacuum.
In the same chapter, an allied excursion and application is made where the planes of physics, logic and theology meet, so that the lively mind can enjoy this aspect of the scope of Christian virtue, vigour and vision, and see that the path is clear.
In Chapter five, it is time to examine the many arresting and stimulating solutions which the blessed Biblical perspective in fact provides. It is like removing a car window handle with the proper tool - incredibly simple, once you approach it rightly, being properly prepared, and willing to learn. Or what is it like ? it is like picking strawberries on a farm: they fall into the hand, yielding and delicious. It is merely a question of being in the right place, doing what is fitting: obviously it is very difficult trying to pick strawberries from arid desert sand, and that is why, in the general run, the philosophers have so hard a time of it.
Take the revelation of the word of God, and you are in an environment of peace and abundance, glorious and unique rationality, yet not stunted by rationalism. That is what this section is designed to show, by selecting cardinal examples of the Biblical power to resolve chronic and, ostensibly at least, complex intellectual problems. This the Bible does with all the facility and felicity of truth. It is like living in a house, when once accustomed to a mere tent; it is like hearing a good orchestra when habituated to the screeches of an unskilled mob of untaught musicians.
Chapter six confirms what we have found in the form of the Bible as the word of God, in a particular and uniquely important area. It is that of Jesus Christ Himself. Here regarded in history from incarnation to resurrection, He provides a testimony, evidentially mighty in its own right, to His own identity and to the nature of God. Further, we see that here the Bible and the life of Christ mutually reinforce. As far as unbelief is concerned, this assemblage, Christ in history and the Bible in hand, is like two hydrogen bombs destroying a hillock. When what has to be done, is done, the hillock... is not there. There is only the hole where it was, the pit.
Chapter seven, is simply a summary of Biblical teaching, meeting the natural and logical need for the reader to ask: What then is in this Bible ? What are its main teachings ? Now since we are in a fast-moving Age, we turn here also to part two of this summary, providing an outline of what the Bible in fact has to say about this, our Age, and about what awaits us... the future!
This leads on naturally to a section in Chapters seven and eight, on BIBLICAL PROPHECY. Here we study this an an independent, but intimately appropriate aspect of the word of God. He has not left us to guess, but confirms His word (Isaiah 44:26, Joel 2:11). He has said that He will do so, has done so and challenges us to check! This we do. All this appears in this section.
For that, there is a little preliminary work on perspective, to assist understanding, where such rich food is used. To avoid bewilderment and to aid clarity, we first then briefly look at predestination. This is treated at just and due length in my PREDESTINATION AND FREEWILL (75, 000 word M.A. Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1964, available from its Baillieu Library, from Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis U.S.A. and from Concordia Seminary in the same city).
Here merely enough is given to see how it could be that God either could or would make precise, factual predictions, duly accurately fulfilled. This is intended to remove intellectual tensions in territory which may be new to some readers. It thus helps (like prac. work in a science course) in enabling one to see in detail, something of the amazing wonders of performance, feats of functionality, of the acute accomplishments of the Almighty God who "alone does great wonders" (Psalm 136:4).
In Chapter eight, we proceed to a treatment of prophecy which - though rather intensive - is taken relatively briefly: basically in terms of what Jesus Christ predicted, when on earth. This is evidentially related closely to what has in fact happened, in order to fulfil the task of verification: what He said: what it (history) did. Perfect correlation is seen. It is this task which one must be prepared to perform, if thoughtfully inclined, honest and sincere.
There follows in Chapter nine, an extensive coverage of a broad scope of Biblical prophecy, with emphasis on recent times: and this, in view of the fact that we appear now to be the most fortunate generation since Jesus Christ on earth: in the following respect. More prophecies from the Bible are being fulfilled before our eyes than ever before since Christ, since the actual time here of Jesus Christ, when He Himself was fulfilling them multitudinously, in Person, on earth. If conditions are in some ways harder for Christians now, because we are further from His blessed day on earth, yet in one way, it is easier now than almost ever before in this Age (of almost 2000 years): because of these super-abundant prophetic fulfilments.
These, as Peter indicates (II Peter 1:19), are for re- assurance in no small part: as the day of the Lord draws near, it showers us with preliminary and marvellous episodes of fulfilment. They do provide this re-assurance with a certain style and panache, in these increasingly perilous and aggravated times. Yet surrounded by such power of prophecy, and personal company in the Lord - as when a child accompanies a father: the worse the trials, the more is seen the skill and prudence of the parent. In this, we are extraordinarily blessed, needing merely eyes to see, eyes that are open.
All this allows us to feel at home in our Age, seeing it from divine perspective, in that God has made it clear in advance; and thus equipped, we may penetrate its way and meaning with power and peace. Indeed, it helps us to see that the Age is proceeding in some ways like a disease syndrome, with highly particular elements prominent, as forecast. There can be no doubt that the extent of what was predicted, and what has happened in complete conformity with it, is amazing, overwhelmingly delightful and powerfully penetrating: easily seen if we are but awake.
Touched with wonder, we proceed to Chapter ten. Logical deficiencies in the empirical field of competing religions now show, by negative means, further verification that the Bible, the sole logical option, is the word of God. In this Chapter is seen the confirmatory quality of divinely given expression; and this is contrasted with misled human effort. That effort is such that God is by many told who He is or what He is... as if He did not know, and we did not need... to be told by Him!
With mingled presumption and confusion, this often rushes past the obvious threshold of His works. It would indeed insert words into the divine mouth and then have them echo back to earth, either directing with fearless effrontery or suppressing with witless strivings. Some would even do a jaw operation, or strike deeper to render the 'beyond' conveniently mute, as an alternative to performing spiritual ventriloquism; shutting 'God' up or doing His work 'for' Him. Such 'strivings of the people' constitute no lack in enterprise; merely in truth (cf. Psalm 2). Yet without truth, we are nothing.
Says Isaiah in 44:8 -
Do not fear, nor be afraid. Have I not told you from that time, and declared it ? You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me ? Indeed there is no other rock; I know not one (cf.Isaiah 43:21-25).
David, in his delightful praise to his delivering God (II Samuel 22:2,32,47), gives a rising crescendo of lively recognition of this unique power, peace and wonder of God:
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
The God of my strength, in Him I will trust...
For who is God except the Lord ?
And who is a rock, except our God...
The Lord lives!
Blessed be my rock!
Let God be exalted,
The Rock of my salvation!
In Isaiah 2:22, God goes further, saying, "Cease from Man, whose breath is in his nostrils: For of what account is he ?"
Those who visit and abide in the only spiritually relevant Rock find - and this too verifies the Rock - that not merely does the shadow attest it: the looming rock itself provides refreshing shade, coolness, stability and Godly refuge, itself a place of defence. As it is written, "Upon all the glory shall be a defence," and again, "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation: The fear of the Lord is his treasure," (Isaiah 4:5,33:6). Indeed, Psalm 91:2 expresses the finding of practical Christian experience:
He who dwells in the secret place of the most high
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
God is like rock, reliable, reinforcing, robust and covering with defence. Man is justly fragile, easily misled: only in the Rock is the strength relevant to such a creation to be found. Psalm 62:2 says of this God:
He only is my rock and my salvation, reminding one of Psalm 18:31, which says:
For who is God, save the Lord ?
and who is a rock, besides our God ?
This resounds keenly with Isaiah 44:8 -
You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me ? Indeed there is no other rock; I know not one.
Only God , He it is who is the eternal refuge. As Hosea puts it, You shall know no God but Me, for there is no Saviour besides Me - 13:4.
Moses attests with David the identity of the only Rock, in his words in Deuteronomy (32:4-5): For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice. A God of truth and without injustice: righteous and upright is He.
How, Moses asks a much helped people, could ... One chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had surrendered them ? For their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges!
It is He and He alone who rescues, judges, resurrects, brings peace perfected (Isaiah 26:3-4,13,19,20,14):
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee. Trust in the Lord for ever: For in the Lord Jehovah is Rock of Ages ( Lit. Hebrew ...26:3-4.)
It is this Rock which has presented Himself, as Isaiah 48:16 indicates and indeed as the book constantly affirms, in the Messiah, the Christ; and it is that Christ who said of Himself, the rejected cornerstone:
Whoever falls on this stone will be broken: but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder ... Matthew 21:44.
Of Him, says Peter (1 Peter 2:6, quoting Isaiah 28:16):
Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame.
As Paul puts it:
For they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them,
and that Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4), and again:
Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).
I recall as a child the wonder of a vast rocky mass constituting a headland, thrusting into the ocean. The side we ordinarily viewed was exposed, sun-smitten and less remarkable. On the far side, however, there were jutting overhangs and a small beach often in a deep, cool shade because of the shadow of that mighty rock; and in it one could find recesses near the water. It was quiet except for the resources of the ocean, and so amazingly cool as to provide almost instant refreshing when the heat struck upon a weary land beyond. There then is an excellent provision in that nature which God made, to illustrate the unmade and eternal nature of God: a sublimity made available in the recesses of that vast, foundational Rock (Isaiah 28:16, 1 Corinthians 3:11), Jesus Christ, in whom alone one can hide without retreat, in the full face of the ocean of events, celestial and terrestrial.
As Moses sheltered in the rock, so that he might safely see what God revealed of His splendour (Exodus 33:18-23), so in Christ does the Christian in safety and strength find "He who has seen Me, has seen the Father" (John 14:9). As Moses on occasion, struck the rock and life-giving water flowed, so does Christ, the Rock who gave Himself and was stricken as divinely planned (Isaiah 53:10, Psalm 40:1-3), provide refreshment of waters that never cease (John 4:14, Acts 3:19). Stricken on a day (Zecharaiah 3:9-10), He always provides refreshment from His unmatchable splendour. His faithfulness is profound, His reliability total. As David saw that the one "Who dwells in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1), so does the Christian find in Christ, "His refuge is the impregnable rock, his bread will be given him, his waters are sure" - Isaiah 33:16 NASV). Indeed, it is this Lord who is ''the Rock of my heart'' (Psalm 73:26). This is that Jesus Christ, the Lord, the "I am!", the only Saviour (Acts 4:11-12).
It is to His honour this book is named; it is to evidence His truth that it is written; it is that He may be found, honoured and glorified, and people may find their bearings. Accordingly, as we identify scripture, the word of God, we READ it methodically, to find, to discover, to ascertain what God has said; but the spirit of man also must visit this Rock; and the feet that do not err will be upon it. Jesus in John 5:39 makes it eminently clear.
Robert E. Donaldson, as Minister Australian Presbyterian Bible Church Inc.
Valley View S.A.