Friday, November 23, 2007

Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society

I am back from the 59th Annul Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. I had such a great time. Before I discuss the content of the meeting, I would like to thank some people that made it possible for me to be at this meeting: Dr. Derek Thomas, Dr. Miles Van Pelt, Young Bok Kim, and Jon Cochran.

Now to the content, there were three papers that I heard that are worth mentioning. The first paper I heard was by Preston Sprinkle (great last name for a Presbyterian). He spoke on Justified by Faith—But Whose? Another Option for the Pistis Christou Debate. In this debate there are two main options: 1) are we justified by faith in Christ or 2) are we justified by the faith of Christ. These to options have carried the day in the academy. Sprinkle wanted to set forth a third option—namely, that the Greek phrase Pistis Christou should be understood as the content of the gospel. Without getting into the merits of any of these positions, I would like to say that this paper was well done and very informative. Sprinkle did his research completely and presented his points very clearly.

The second paper that is worth mentioning is one that was given by Bruce Ware. Fully God, Fully Man: Revisiting the Impeccability, Temptations, and Sinlessness of Christ was the topic of Ware's paper. His paper covered the theological difficulty with the idea that Christ could not sin (impeccability) and that Christ was genuinely tempted. Ware offered a great analogy that did not answer all of the questions regarding this topic, but it did help shine light into this area of theology.

The third paper that I am going to mention was done by John Piper. His paper was on Justification and the Diminishing Work of Christ. This paper can be heard here. His topic was a condensed version of his new book The Future of Justification. The heart of his paper was the doctrine of double imputation. That is the concept that at the heart of the cross is the transaction of the sinner's sins to Christ and Christ's righteousness to the sinner. Further, he argued for that Christ's righteousness has two distinct aspects—his passive and active obedience. This passive obedience is Christ's death on the cross and this active obedience is Christ's life of perfect obedience to the law of God. Without getting into all that is at hand here, it is important to see that this doctrine is under attack on two fronts—those who say that Christ's righteousness has only one aspect, his passive obedience and those who say that we are not imputed with Christ's righteousness at all. Piper did a wonderful job of showing the doctrine of double imputation to be extremely biblical. Further, he, in normal Piper fashion, showed the pastoral importance of this doctrine.

After Piper's paper, I was invited by Dr. Miles Van Pelt, to a round table discussion on Pipers presentation. This round table included: Dr. John Piper, Dr. William Mounce, Dr. Michael Horton, Dr. Bruce Ware, Dr. R. Scott Clark and Dr. Michael Bird, to name most of the theologians present. In addition to these theologians, there were about 20 students present. This discussion lasted 3 hours, until midnight. After the round table was over I was able to have a conversation with Piper, then Dr. Horton and finally, Dr. Clark.

I talked to Piper about his new book and had him sign the free copy he gave out after his paper. I also talked to Horton and Clark about the Federal Vision controversy that is sweeping through all the Presbyterian denominations. They had many great, insightful things to say about this topic.

All and all, I had a wonderful time at ETS. I hope to go next year and I also have the aspiration of presenting a paper next year at the 60th annual meeting in Rhode Island.

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