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Author: Steven M. Schlissel
ISBN13: 978-0967831749
Title: The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. Bahnsen
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Language: English
Publisher: Covenant Media Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2002)
Pages: 358

The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. Bahnsen by Steven M. Schlissel

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November marked the publication of The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. Bahnsen. This is a book appearing seven years too late. Tugging at the heart of each contributor is the sadness that Greg L. Bahnsen did not live to receive this as a thank-you gift from our hands. Still, we are gratified to present this volume to the Christian community in honor of Greg’s memory. And though it’s been seven years since we’ve laid Greg’s body to rest, it may only be with the appearance of this festschrift that some misunderstandings and misconceptions about Greg will also be put to rest.

Bahnsen, Greg L. honoree. com Product Description (ISBN 0967831741, Hardcover). Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen, one of the most effective Christian apologists of the 20th century, consistently underscored the abiding authority of the word of God and the requirement to apply it to all of life. In addition to apologetics, his seminal work, "Theonomy in Christian Ethics", is still challenging the church to honor all of God's word as the only perfect standard of righteousness.

Steven M. Schlissel, e. The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. Bahnsen (Nacogdoches: Covenant Media Press, 2002). Bahnsen, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith". Robert R. Booth, ed. (Nacogdoches: Covenant Media Press, 1996). John M. Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1994). Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1987).

Greg L. Bahnsen was one of the most effective Christian apologists and teachers of apologetics of the twentieth century. In addition to his powerful work in the area of apologetics, His seminal book, Theonomy in Christian Ethics is still challenging the church to honor all of Gods word as the only perfect standard of righteousness. We are all richer for such faithful warriors. Bearing the standard of Gods word as the only inerrant and authoritative rule by which men must live, Bahnsen stood fast and firm in a day of ethical relativism and ecclesiastical compromise. This festschrift seeks to acknowledge the enormous contribution Dr. Bahnsen made to the Christian church; a contribution that has and will continue to provide a positive influence in the kingdom of God for many, many years to come.

Presuppositional Apologetics Stated and Defended. Those further interested in Bahnsen’s personal life, character, work, and influence will find substantial and encouraging mate-rial in The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. 7 This important work offers a biography written by Greg’s son David, as well as essays contributed by Michael Butler, Robert Booth, Jeffrey Ventrella, and many others, all exhibiting the Van Til-Bahnsen.


The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. An extraordinary chapter includes Steve R. Scrivener's cogent essay contrasting and intermingling of Frame's and Van Til's apologetic while utilizing insights from Greg Bahnsen: fresh, perceptive, remarkable, stupendous, and profoundly contemplative. Scrivener makes use of the work of Frame, Van Til, and Bahnsen as he issues a powerful defense of TAG. He then reformulates the classical arguments in a TA formulation.

His student, Greg Bahnsen, aided in some of the later developments of Van Tillian Presuppositionalism, and the Bahnsen Theological Seminary continues to promote presuppositional apologetics in its curriculum. John Frame, another student of Van Til, also continues to advocate a presuppositional approach, although he is generally more critical of Van Til's thought than Bahnsen was. Bahnsen's protégé, Michael R. Butler, has also been active in advancing the field  . In Schlissel, Steven M. Nacogdoches: Covenant. Carnell, Edward John (1948). Bahnsen (ISBN 678317-4-1). Due to his lifelong medical problems, Bahnsen had to undergo a third aortic valve implant surgery on December 5, 1995. After the completion of the operation, serious complications developed within twenty-four hours. He then became comatose for several days and died on December 11, 1995 at the age of forty-seven.

Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen, one of the most effective Christian apologists of the 20th century, consistently underscored the abiding authority of the word of God and the requirement to apply it to all of life. In addition to apologetics, his seminal work, "Theonomy in Christian Ethics", is still challenging the church to honor all of God's word as the only perfect standard of righteousness. Known for his rigorous logic and theological depth, Dr. Bahnsen's scholarship and teaching always delivered sixteen ounces to the pound. His intellectual gifts and debating skills won many devoted friends - andfoes. The hard work of theological precision is rarely accomplished without controversy. Nevertheless, Bahnsen's love for Christ and His church enabled him to press on through the inevitable battles. Bearing the stanrd of God's word as the only inerrant rule by which men must live, Bahnsen stood fast and firm in a day of ethical relativism and ecclesiastical compromise. Each of the contributors to this volume owes a debt of love and gratitude to Dr. Bahnsen not only for the labor and instruction he provided but also for his friendship and affection.
Reviews: 3
Greg L. Bahnsen (1948-1995) was a Calvinist philosopher, apologist, Christian Reconstructionist, and skilled debater. He was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a full time Scholar in Residence for the Southern California Center for Christian Studies. His books include Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith,Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended,Van Til's Apologetic: Readings and Analysis,By This Standard: The Authority of God's Law Today,Theonomy in Christian Ethics,No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics,Victory in Jesus: The Bright Hope of Postmillennialism, etc.

Bahnsen’s son, David, wrote an introductory section [“The Life of Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen”] to this 2002 tribute, which does not “shy away” from the “uncomfortable” issues; e.g., “In early 1984, my parents went through a marital complication that very well could have ended their marriage. Witnessing my mom violate the marriage covenant was something that tore my dad apart emotionally, but he did not refuse to forgive her. For the sake of his children, and because of his intense love for his wife, he worked to restore the marriage, despite the pain he felt from his wife’s infidelities.” (Pg. 19) “In January of 1989, my dad discovered some painful and personal marital infidelities between his wife and a young member of our church… For the second time in their complicated marriage, my dad forgave Cathie for these infidelities and worked toward the restoration of their relationship. However, Cathie was not as intent on achieving reconciliation as my father was. On June 13, 1989, my dad came home from a day at the office to find an empty closet and a missing car. Cathie had left home with this young man… My father was now on his own, without a helpmeet, to co-pastor a church of over 120 people, serve as dean of the Christian school program, and father four children.” (Pg. 21-22)

David continues, “my dad had to face yet another traumatic experience: the Christian school was facing financial difficulties… The school at which my dad had taught for eleven years was no more. I always believed that the disappointment that my dad felt over this incident was as distressing as any disappointment he felt in his life. After investing his heart and soul into that school … my father was forced to watch the closing of the program he so deeply believed in. Over 100 students were left without a school to attend, and all of Orange County was left without an academic stronghold with Reformed sympathies for high-school students.” (Pg. 22)

In Michael Butler’s chapter, he notes, “It… fell to Van Til’s successors to fill the gaps in his seminal and programmatic apologetic system. Unfortunately… most either have … contented themselves with merely regurgitating Van Til’s slogans or… have so fundamentally departed from their mentor that their apologetic methodology only bears superficial resemblance to Van Til’s approach. Of Van Til’s disciples who remained in basic agreement with him, only two can rightly be considered to have further refined and elaborated his apologetic outlook: Greg L. Bahnsen and John M. Frame… As a student of Van Til. Bahnsen understood from Van Til himself what the fundamental difficulties and gaps were with his apologetic system. Much of Bahnsen’s career was devoted to firming up the foundation that Van Til had so carefully laid.” (Pg. 66-67) He adds, “Bahnsen recognized this lack of practical apologetics in Van Til. ‘I … wish that Van Til had given more attention to making practical applications of his presuppositional method---to actually defending the faith against the enemy, rather than debating methodology so much within the family of faith.’” (Pg. 68)

He also notes, “[Edward John] Carnell quotes his apologetic mentor [Van Til] only once in his book on apologetics, and that in a footnote… [Francis] Schaeffer never published any acknowledgement of his dependence on Van Til.” (Pg. 67)

Butler concludes, “despite the fact that Bahnsen both clarified [the Transcendental Argument for God, or TAG] and defended it from common criticisms, his defense is programmatic rather than exhaustive. He offers a basic outline of how it works and how it is to be defended against stock criticisms, but he leaves a few questions unanswered. Particularly, he leaves questions as to whether TAG contains a uniqueness proof of the Christian worldview, whether TAG provides the necessary and not merely sufficient conditions of human experience, and whether TAG establishes the necessity of God’s existence or merely the necessity of believing that God exists.” (Pg. 89-90)

In his chapter, Kevin L. Clauson argues, “The implication of Bahnsen’s political and legal theory is that a theonomic regime would have to recognize, acknowledge, and favor a form of PROTESTANTISM. This recognition would be certainly implicit as the underlying foundation for society and probably also explicit also… If, for example, the Non-Establishment clause were interpreted so broadly as to create a pluralism that included Roman Catholicism, how would the civil law punish certain acts of idolatry?... a pluralism that allowed for a variety of Protestant groups would generally not have such problems. For example, Reformed Presbyterians, Reformed Episcopalians, Reformed Baptists, and independent Reformed groups would still fit within a framework of Reformed Protestant. Could it tolerate non-Reformed Baptists, Lutherans, and Methodists? To what extent?... Bahnsen would argue, I believe, that a state could and should practice a Protestant pluralism in terms of religious liberty… So, the real issue is where to draw the line. Once a legal line is drawn, a form of establishmentarianism is in view.” (Pg. 131-132) Later, he adds, “Was Greg Bahnsen opposed to democratic procedures, as sometimes accused? No, he was not. Did Bahnsen have great confidence that democratic procedures would bring about legitimate political reform in the absence of religious reformation? The answer to this question is also no.” (Pg. 138)

Lonn Oswalt notes in his chapter, “Never did Bahnsen indicate that he believed in any concept other than ‘separation of church and state.’ Yet it would be foolish simply to state that as fact and assume that anything significant had been accomplished… Bahnsen supplied his understanding of the uses of the phrase in an address… He initially stressed that the ideal church-state arrangement was ‘a free church within a free state, where freedom has been properly defined for both.’ Bahnsen then proceeded to delineate three possible meanings of the concept of church-state separation… The use of the phrase ‘separation of church and state’
… is often not much more than a shibboleth to promote the concept of a totally secular state---that is, an attempt to employ a historic and much-revered American principle (that church and state are two distinct and separate institutions) to legitimize efforts to remove all vestiges of religion from the government.” (Pg. 271-273)

Later, he argues, “Bahnsen was thus mainstream, or orthodox, in the Christian community at large in that he saw as clearly as anyone did the ravages of secularism upon governmental theory… He was mainstream in the Reformed Christian community in that he was most notably a product of Dr. Cornelius Van Til and the presuppositionalism that made great inroads into Reformed thinking… He was mainstream in that he was invited to return to Westminster as a lecturer… He was mainstream in that the ‘Westminster Theological Journal printed his reply to Meredith Kline in the early days of the controversy surrounding theonomy… He was mainstream in that he was a member in good standing of the orthodox Presbyterian Church until his death… Any misgivings that Bahnsen’s views were novel and/or heretical and that they deserved to be ignored because they represent only the far-fringe of Christian thought should be quickly abandoned in the light of the circles in which he lived and read, ministered and died.” (Pg. 299)

Jeffrey J. Ventrella also pointed out that ‘Though Dr. Bahnsen served the OPC for over two decades, that denomination did not dictate the bounds of fellowship he enjoyed and pursued. As God granted opportunity, Dr. Bahnsen regularly tutored, instructed, and served great varieties---both Reformed and non-Reformed---of God’s people. Again and again, these encounters displayed Dr. Bahnsen’s great desire not to create personal sycophants or devotees but, rather, to see God’s people gain greater confidence in and obedience to His Word. He taught them to never fear obeying God.” (Pg. 404)

This book will be “must reading” for anyone seriously interested in the life and work of Bahnsen.
This is a fitting festschrift for Greg Bahnsen. The essay's in this book are absolutely phenomenal scholarly pieces pertaining to a whole host of issues that were dear to Greg Bahnsen's heart. Studies relating to the covenant, eschatology, John Calvin and Theonomy make this collection absolutely essential to those interested in the theory and application of theonomic principles. Contained herein are some of the best thoughts and reflections on theonomy outside of the writings of Bahnsen himself.

The first essay, "The Life of Dr.Greg L. Bahnsen" by David L. Bahnsen is the perfect essay to start off this book. This essay is much different from all the other essays in the volume. The author is Greg Bahnsen's son. Breaking from the typical academic style of these essays, this essay takes a look at the man and father Greg Bahnsen, not just the scholar Greg Bahnsen. This is a really very touching essay about the life of Greg and all the difficulties he went through. For those of you like me, that count Greg Bahnsen as one of the greatest influences in your life, to the point where you feel like you know him personally, this essay will touch you. Really excellent.

The second essay, "Covenental Antithesis" by Randy Booth is a very good and (at the time) groundbreaking essay. This essay deals with the objectivity of the covenant and anticipated a lot of the discussions that would come later. It is by no means exuastive, much more could have been said and clarified, but it's a great introduction to the subject.

The third essay, "The Transcendental Argument for God's Existence" by Michael R. Butler is perhaps the weakest essay in this volume, mostly because I struggled to understand much of it. The essay starts of well, nothing the contributes and specific peculiarities of Van Til and Bahnsen's contribution to apologetics. But later, he gets so steeped into philosophical jargon that it's hard to understand a thing he says. It's perhaps harder to read than even Van Til himself!

The fourth essay, "Ruler of the Nations" by Kevin L. Clauson deals with a variety of issues related to the formation of theonomic political theory. The author does a superb job building on the contributions of Bahnsen and applying theonomic ethics to real life. This is an absolutely essential essay to read for those who enjoy study of theonomy. This essay does have a large and glaring weakness, however. A weakness the does undermine the thesis. He insists that possibly only reformed Christians would be citizens under theonomy. I view that attitude as actually, autonomous rather than theonomic, because human beings are made judge over God's covenant. God's covenant is objective, as Randy Booth said. Otherwise however, this is a very good essay.

The fifth essay, "Theonomy and Confession" by Kenneth L. Gentry is an amazing study of the theonomic theology behind the framers of the Westminster Confession of Fatih. This essay taught me a lot I didn't know! This is a first rate historical study. If you think theonomy is a realitvly new invention, think again. This essay will convince those willing to listen, that the Westminster confession was very theonomic. Excellent and very valuable historical study.

The sixth essay, "A Revelation of The Revelation" by Kenneth L. Gentry is a magnificent study of the book of Revelations context and meaning. It's first rate and I doubt there is anything to compare to it. It is first rate scholorship and is one of the best intro's to the book of revelation I have ever read. Kenneth Gentry's essay's in this book are worth the price of the book for them alone. This is first rate stuff. This essay is a must read for hose serious about the book of revelation, along with Ken Gentry's other works.

The seventh essay, "Bahnsen's View of Church and State: Tangential of Mainstream?" by Lonn Oswalt is another superb essay. This one is both an essay on political theory and also a historical study. It really explains theonomic views on Church and state and shows the backing for this view in Church History. One of the biggest contrabutions is to rescue the southern Presbyterians and show them to be in true agreement with the theonomic thesis. Another must read essay for those who study theonomy.

The eighth essay, "Faith Versus Ideology" by P. Andrew Sandlin is the shortest essay in the book. It is written against those who seek to make Christianity just a set of dotrines to be assented to and discussed rather than a covenantal saving relationship with the awe inspiring sovereign God of the universe.It's a humbling and needed essay. Very good.

The ninth essay, "Theonomic Precedent in the Theology of John Calvin" by Christopher B. Strevel is perhaps one of the most valuable essays in the book. This is top rate John Calvin scholarship and deserves to be read and studied by all those who study John Calvin. This essay challenges many popularly heald notions about Calvin's theology and shows him to be in agreement with modern theonomists 95% of the time. The highlight is the work in exposition of Calvin's views in the Institutes. It was so persuasive it even changed my mind. This is essential reading about Calvin.

The tenth essay, "Putting Contexts in Their Place: God's Transcendence in Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book One" by James J. Tyne is a brief study of Calvin and the Bibles conception of God. It is a very awe inspiring and awakening reminder of what an awesome Lord we serve.

The eleventh essay, "Ecclesiastic Consequences of Theonomic Presuppositionalism" by Jeffery J. Ventrella shows Greg Bahnsen's great love and care for the Church and how it was absolutely essential to his theology. He expounds Bahnsen's view on a variety of Church related issues. He also issues a much needed rebuke to many theonomic inclined individuals who sideline the Church. Bahnsen did no such thing, he started with the Church and ended with the Church.

The twelfth and final essay is "A Study in Apologetic Preaching" by Roger Wagner is a analysis of the apostle Paul's method of apolegetics and a call for pastors to evangelize and defend the faith biblically.

This volume contains unmatched scholorship on a variety of issues. If you were interested in the work of Greg Bahnsen, then I cannot recommend this volume highly enough. This is a one of a kind book that expounds on so many crucial topics. This deserves a place on the bookshelves of reformed Christians for many years to come. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.