An introduction

Over the next year or so, I intend to tackle some very important matters. God willing, I’ll continue to present content for the next year and beyond.

I will outline some areas I hope to explore below. The structure is a bit fluid, to allow room for branching topics or areas of importance and intent. I am open to accommodating various pursuits and interests.

What to expect

For starters, this blog will serve as a public journal. Of sorts. Let me not be so candid as to be unrefined. I will be covering topics ranging from writing (fiction and nonfiction), books I am reading or currently studying, theology, philosophy, Christian apologetics, confessions and creeds, biblical studies, research, reading notes, online and off-line resources to include literature, services, podcasts, software, apps or anything else I find helpful in those accomplishing these objectives.

Most of the writing here will fall into the following major categories (with the occasional minor key).

Books

I have a line-up of reading material to go through. Some of these are books that I have read in the past and would like to re-read and make notes of some of their major points and addend them with things that have helped me understand their overarching message or theme.

I keep extensive reading notes for my personal edification, but I hope to also present these notes with  relevant asides, for the building up of the the understanding of those who may read this blog.

Obviously, I do not want to overwhelming. That’d be counter-productive. Somebody inform me if I throw too much out there at one time.

Reading for learning and application takes some time, and the things that are most worth learning are often pretty in-depth. There are some pretty important simple things out there too. Let me not overlook them. But as a general rule, depending on the length of a particular work, I will break the notes up by their respective chapters or sub-topics, or even the more involved examples and sub-points.

For works with volumes to digest (thinking of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, for one), I may break those down into sub-topics, or sub-chapters.

To start off, and to set the foundation for these entries,  I’ll be reading and making note of a smaller (but no less intensive) book. Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended, by Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen.

Beyond that, you can expect to see some of the following:

  • Scripture Alone — James R. White
  • The Book on Leadership — John MacArthur
  • Biblical Logic: In Theory & Practice — Joel McDurmon
  • A Theory of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry — Heath Lambert
  • The Mission of God — Joseph Boot
  • Abortion: A Rational Look at An Emotional Issue — R.C. Sproul

These are just the beginning.

Another range of reading may be necessary to add meat to the otherwise bare bones. Philosophy, science, medicine, psychology and other texts may be used to assist in areas that may not be readily grasped from what a general presentation. Again, anybody is welcome to inform me if I have jumped the gun and introduced too much at once.

Creeds, Confessions & Catechisms

I believe the reader understands what I mean by Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms. Especially those who come from a Reformed understanding of those words. But I am not writing or producing content with the sole intent of reaching readers familiar with such things by constant use, or for whom their meaning is common place.

I will not be exploring these timeless and endearing statements of faith on that assumption that I am speaking to a cult or club of people, but making their proclamations accessible to even the most casual reader. That being the case, I will be working on a glossary to help clarify by definition and/or Scripture reference those terms I tend to use often. You can look for that in the near future.

Which creed and confessions or otherwise? Just to get us off the ground, the following:

  • Scripture1
  • The Apostle’s Creed
  • The Nicene Creed
  • The Westminster Confession of Faith
  • The London Baptist Confession of Faith
  • The Larger Catechism
  • The Shorter Catechism
  • The Synod of Dort2
  • The Chicago Statements on Biblical Inerrancy and Hermeneutics

Again: for starters.

Philosophy

The word we use today, from the Greek words Philo and Sophia (philo-sposhia, “philosophy,” and more specifically meaning “love of” and “wisdom”).

These terms may be Greek to the casual reader, but the love of ontology, epistemology, ethics and morality, aesthetics. But do not let it throw you off. Some people are superstitious of “philosophy”, or anything that seemingly bolsters human knowledge and understanding. But I submit that to be anti-philosophy is itself a philosophy, and the one to denounce and shun it are guilty of the very thing they wish to shun.

You will not find that here. Anti-philosophy or anti-intellectualism is contrary to Christian mandates I hold to be the necessary preconditions of all truth and true knowledge (knowledge that proceeds from God, the truth and author of truth himself), and wisdom.

Let me not just leave this here. I don’t like proof-texting, but there is a time and a place.

This is the time. This is the place.

“…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

At the beginning of Colossians 2 (verses 1 thru 3) Paul, after hearing of the faith of the church in Colossae, writes to express “how great a struggle [he has] for them and for those at Laodicea,” having not met him face-to-face, but that he never the less expresses his desire that they be encouraged, hearts knit together in love, “to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

That is a godly love for wisdom, God’s mystery which is Christ—in whom, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge no less!

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”3.

Notice that Colossians 2:8 does not say all philosophy is empty deceit. Paul, in writing to the church in Colossae, makes the distinction between a philosophy “according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world” and a philosophy that is according to Christ.

While Colossae was known for its heathen traditions in worshiping the sun and the moon and the stars, and perhaps all other types of “elemental spirits of the world”, to which they paid tribute—lest they incur the wrath of the same. Much like philosophy has heathen traditions in Platonism, Aristotelianism, rationalism and empiricism, Kantianism and existentialism, and the much more recently prominent (but hardly original) philosophy of relativism.

I will have much to say to those schools of thought and empty deceit going forward.

May it suffice for now, as an illustration of the type of philosophy you can expect here, and the that philosophy “according to Christ,” and revelational epistemology which I do affirm and endorse fully. And from it all other philosophy which is either consistent with a revelational theory of knowledge, or I deceive myself. (All the better that I am beginning with notes from Bahnsen’s Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended.)

Finally

This introduction has become longer than I expected. This, merely laying the groundwork for what is to follow.

I have only begun to scratch the surface of what can be found within. I will no doubt introduce new topics as they arise. I do intend to say something of the more creative side of writing, fiction and poetry, and literature in general.

Given the urgency of my current ministry, however, I have no immediate plans to launch into those topics. Not yet. Though creative writing has been and is near and dear to my heart. I want to establish the course of this blog in the next few posts, touching-up more in the areas I have painted in broad strokes.

I look forward to ministering to my family, Christ’s church, and the world in general to begin with. I want to remain faithful to God and Scripture in the process of doing so, and not so much to the whims of a creative writer (as I am prone) to start off.

This is just one post. God willing, there will be more in the year ahead. I will do my best to be engaging and try not to let the place read too dry. That said, though, I do not expect everything here will appeal to all readers—it ought to appeal to some of you, some of the time. I can only hope.

 

Soli Deo gloria,

Tom Hoffman
January 4, 2019
Aercastle

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1. Scripture—the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation—being the sole, authoritative, self-attesting and infallible Word of God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, who is the necessary precondition to all revelation, natural or special and to which any creed, confession, catechism, or counsels of men must appeal to determine their validity.

2. Or The Synod of Dordrecht; formally called “The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands”

3. Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV® Permanent Text Edition®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.