Dissertation Proposal Short Form

It has been almost 2.5 years since I begun my doctoral studies at Columbia Evangelical Seminary. I am in my final class of ten classes. I have produced the first version of my proposal. Here is the short version:

Problem Statement: The 21st Century church has incorrectly defined God”s essence.

Aims:

  1. The first aim of this dissertation, using a planned and deliberate methodology, defines essence and review how an attribute differs from essence.
  2. The second aim of this dissertation uses reasoning principles to assist in defining God’s essence.
  3. The third aim of this dissertation, reviews and determine what theory of truth used by groups that support a particular definition of God’s essence.
  4. The fourth aim of this dissertation uses the Bible to define God’s essence.

Goal:

The aims of this dissertation are to use systematic theology and the many tools available to determine what definitions of God’s essence are worthy of consideration. Therefore, it is the goal of this dissertation to define God’s essence and then apply that to the twenty-first century church.

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Summary of Chafer’s Christology

Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952) came from a poor family that witnessed his father die at a rather young age. Chafer’s mother worked numerous jobs to send him to schools capable of preparing him for a Christian career. By adulthood, Chafer was an accomplished musician, singer, and choir director. He had the opportunity to work with many of the great men of Christianity such as Moody, Torrey, and Scofield. Aspects of his theology traced to Moody, Torrey, Scofield, and many from the Kennewick Movement.

Chafer’s eight-volume magnus opus is entitled, Systematic Theology, was the first to define and organize dispensational theology. Chafer’s theology comprised of dispensationalism, premillennialism, and certain parts of Calvinism. Chafer saw the single most important element of his theology the grace of God. This deep respect for God’s grace never wavered in Chafer’s life.

Chafer saw the most important category of his theology was Christology. Chafer believed this to be the central point of all his theology. The idea God would leave his throne in Heaven, take on human form, and die for man’s salvation moved Chafer beyond description. Chafer felt the interpretation of the three major discourses of Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, the Olivet Discourse, and the Upper Room Discourse provided much insight toward a theologian’s Christology.

Chafer first details his interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. The target group, according to Chafer, is not the church. Chafer believes the Sermon on the Mount is a precross discourse describing the behavior that will be expected of the Jews during the establishment of Christ’s kingdom following Christ’s return. Because of the target group the dictates of the Sermon on the Mount are not in effect for the church. He does believe lessons can be learned from this discourse. Scholars such as Reuther and Van Drunan acknowledge this as Chafer’s position; but does not support such a position.

Chafer continued his discussion by next reviewing the Olivet Discourse. Chafer also sees this as being directed at the Kingdom Age Jews. Also, Chafer believes the generation mentioned in this discourse does not refer to the Jews of the First Century. Chafer’s dispensational premillennial viewpoints come to bear on his interpretation. The most prominent scholar that does not support this viewpoint is R. C. Sproul. Chafer considers himself to be a futurist and does not support the preterist position in any way.

The final discourse reviewed by Chafer is the Upper Room Discourse. Even though this discourse followed the Olivet Discourse by only two days, Chafer sees many differences. Chafer believed there were seven differences between this discourse and the other two. These differences include inspiration of the Scriptures, the revelation of the Trinity, angels, man and his sin, salvation, the doctrine of one body, and the first announcement of the Rapture, all found in these chapters (John 13-17). Christ went from talking to precross Jews to talking to eleven men redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Chafer was a man deeply committed to Christ and his plan for mankind. Whether leading a choir, preaching, or teaching he sought to give his all to God’s plan. His many experiences eventually led to the creation of Dallas Theological Seminary. Through this institution, many have gone on to point thousands to the saving gift made possible by Christ’s vicarious sacrifice on the cross. Chafer never veered from his commitment to and respect for the role of the grace of God.

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Summary of Paper on Chafer’s Theological Emphases

Here is a summary from my latest paper:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Chafer would have agreed completely with this passage. Chafer considered the grace of God to be the greatest of all God’s attributes. Chafer further believed the grace of God was appropriated by belief and belief alone.

Chafer had a problem with those who tried to make repentance and belief two separate acts. Chafer affirms, “Therefore, it is as dogmatically stated as language can declare, that repentance is essential to salvation and that none could be saved apart from repentance, but it is included in believing and could not be separated from it.”[1] If repentance truly means, a changing of one’s mind, how could anyone believe without having a change of mind?

Chafer lived during a time when many of the great teachers and preachers of the nineteenth and twentieth were ministering. Chafer worked with many of these individuals such as D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey, and Ira D. Sankey. Of all the people Chafer collaborated with none was more influential than C. I. Scofield. At one point, Scofield and Chafer were considered to be father and son in the ministries. It is probable much of Chafer’s theology came as a result of his association with Scofield. To understand Chafer’s theology an understanding of this association was imperative.

Chafer was premillennial and dispensational. His eight-volume set, Systematic Theology, was the first attempt to systematize dispensational viewpoint. Chafer saw a connection between the covenants made between God and man and the way God chose to govern and communicate with mankind. As with Chafer’s theology, in general, much of his dispensationalism came from his association with Scofield. Chafer’s founding of Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924 gave him a platform to teach his dispensationalism to many generations. He served as the president of Dallas Theological Seminary until his death in 1952.

Walvoord believed the greatest contribution by Chafer was his work in soteriology. Soteriology is the area that the most controversy surrounds Chafer’s theology. The Keswick Movement (1875-1920) had a profound effect on Chafer. While working with D. L. Moody in Northfield, Massachusetts, Chafer most likely heard many of the speakers from the Keswick Movement, as Moody invited many of them to speak during his meetings. It is from this influence Chafer developed his dual milestone picture of soteriology.

Chafer saw the need to make Jesus Savior, but then also a specific time a believer needed to make Jesus Lord. He believed many new converts would do both at the same time. There were those, according to Chafer, who needed to make a commitment to living a life satisfying God and bringing glory to God. Warfield was one of the most outspoken opponents of Chafer’s beliefs. Chafer’s most definitive work in this area was, He That Is Spiritual, published in 1918. Warfield issued a rebuttal to Chafer’s position in 1919. Warfield thought it was nothing more than another example of Arminianism. Despite this, Chafer’s work has affected many generations with foundational training for the ministry.

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, “The Saving Work of the Triune God,” Bibliotheca Sacra Vol 107 (1950): p. 391.

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A Few Words concerning the Half Way Point

Here I am at the half way point. Two years are done and two years are ahead. I have three papers to write. Then on to achieving approval for my dissertation thesis. Finally, researching and writing the dissertation. I learned last week up to a third of my dissertation can come from previous work done during my doctoral studies. For instance a 200 page dissertation can contain up to 67 pages from early work completed as part of this program. A small change instituted by CES…all dissertations submitted must be in electronic form only, no printed forms.

There is something I go through on every degree, the half way blues. It is when you are too far into the program to back out and too much work yet to do to start getting excited about the end. I call them the half way blues. I am officially in the half way blues. It goes away but really sucks while experiencing them. One good part, this is the last time Ii  will have to go through the half way blues.

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Introduction ot a Review of Norman Geisler’s Soteriology

Norman Geisler is a theologian with over fifty years of experience. A prolific writer, Geisler has had numerous articles, essays, journal articles, and books published, among them the four-volume set, Systematic Theology. In Volume Three, he details his position on Humanity/Sin and Soteriology and identifies himself as a moderate Calvinist. Geisler states, “As the foregoing and following analysis shows, the biblical, theological, and historical evidence favors the moderate Calvinist view.” Geisler’s soteriology includes a defense against extreme Calvinism and extreme Arminianism, plus support for his moderate Calvinism.
Over the years, an impressive number of scholars have stated they do not support Geisler’s positions. These include, but are not limited to, James White, Craig Blomberg, and Michael Liconia. Geisler seeks to answer the objections of other scholars and details his positions on origins of salvation, theories of salvation, assurance of salvation, extent of salvation, universalism, and pluralism. Further, he details the differences between his moderate Calvinism and the traditional extreme Calvinism.
This author has chosen to review Norman Geisler’s Soteriology found in Volume Three of his Systematic Theology. The critique will include Free Will versus Predestination, Theory of Atonement, and Perseverance of the Saints.

The rest of this essay can be found at academia.edu.

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The Relevancy of Proverbs 29:18

It has been a while since I posted anything. I am currently working on a paper entitled, “A Review of Norman Geisler’s Soteriology.” This post does not directly pertain to that project. One of the major arguments against Christianity and particularly the Bible is neither is relevant for the 21st Century. Proverbs 29:18 KJV states, “Without a vision the people perish.” The NASB puts it this way, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” Finally the ESV puts it this way, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.”

With the news of Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlin Jenner it seems some people have definitely cast off restraint. Many people in our society clearly have no divine vision and are casting off restraint. Then there is the idea of ESPN giving Jenner an award for bravery is just simply crazy. The reaction by social media to anyone who disagrees is horrendous. Man does not determine what is right or wrong, but rather that comes from God. Last time I checked God is still omnibenevolent and unchanging.

We need to return to a divinely inspired vision for our planet, our country, and our lives……….

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Norman Geisler’s Presuppositions to Theology Critique

Starting another paper. Here is my introduction.

Norman Geisler has written over eighty different books. During the years of 2000-2005 he released a four volume set entitled, Systematic Theology. In Volume One Geisler reveals his Prolegomena to include nine different presuppositions required to conduct theology. Prolegomena consists of two Greek words, Pro meaning before or toward and legomena meaning to speak. Simply put, Prolegomena is the before section prior to an author detailing the different aspects of the scholar’s theology.

Geisler lists nine different presuppositions needed prior to beginning the details of his theology. Rudolf Bultman determined, “There can be no exegesis without presupposition.” Therefore, before one begins to detail the different elements of one’s theology, it is important to determine the presuppositions those elements are based on. Geisler’s presuppositions include: metaphysical, supernatural, revelational, rational, semantical, epistemological, oppositional, linguistical, hermeneutical, historical, and methodological.

This author has selected three of Geisler’s presuppositions to critique. These three include metaphysics (the study of being), epistemology (the study of knowledge to include defining truth), and linguistics (the study of language).

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