Friday, October 30, 2015

Lecture Series: Dr David Gooding, "The Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God"

Dr David Gooding's 5-part series on the Gospel--which includes very strong rebuttal of the Calvinist system--has been made available for free download from Myrtlefield House.  These lectures were originally presented at the 1995 "Rise Up and Build" conference.  The links to each part are below.

Dr Gooding is professor emeritus of Old Testament Greek at Queen’s University Belfast. A number of his books, including some which were co-authored with Dr John Lennox, are available for free online at Key Bible Concepts.

About this series

In the first lecture, Dr Gooding states that the major aim and motivation of this series is:
that we may, as we study that glorious gospel, come into deeper understanding of the character of God: His love and His justice; His goodness as well as His holiness and severity [...] so that in the first instance our hearts may well up, and our spirits likewise, in the more fervent and genuine adoration of the wonder that God is in Himself. And that our worship may be deepened, and with it there shall come that same divine compassion and attitude that God has shown to those that are around and as yet are lost. And we ourselves may be the more motivated to carry the gospel to them.   
Our motivation therefore is that as we ourselves, through the study of God's gospel, come into deeper understanding of His character we shall ourselves be saved from holding any views and preaching any ideas that would derogate from the glory of God and misrepresent His character. That, I know, is a very high aim, and not necessarily easily accomplished.

My prayer is that all of us would approach these lectures, and the Calvinism-Arminian debate in general, with that same motivation.

Dr Gooding also cautions, right at the outset, regarding his own presentation, stating:
I am encouraged by the fact that you are to be allowed questions, because not only will your questions contribute to my deeper understanding of these things and a more balanced view than perhaps I shall myself present, but they will allow me in the course of these seminars, myself to be a trifle more dogmatic at places than perhaps I ought to be, because you will have the opportunity to come back at me and to restrain my wilder enthusiasms, and together we shall work towards a better understanding of the truth.

One aspect I especially appreciate about this series is Dr Goodings emphasis on the Lord Jesus. For instance, in the second lecture, before opening to the gospel of John, he states:
We are to think of Christ as the revealer of God [...] We are to study the wonderful wisdom seen in the way our Lord went about approaching men and women. How and by what methods He sought to fulfil His divine commission, being the Word of God, now incarnate, come to make God known to men.   
As He went about His task, what were His presuppositions about the people that He talked to?  For His presuppositions were God's presuppositions, of course. In this, too, He makes manifest the Father.

One criticism I have is that, for the most part, Dr Gooding does not name the doctrines, theories or theological systems for which he advocates or has criticism. He almost never mentions Calvinism by name, usually only referring to it as "That other theory", or variations of this, and though defending Arminian doctrines like prevenient grace he never uses either label. In fairness, this was by design; he says at the beginning of the Q&A:
I didn’t pretend to offer you, in these seminars, a complete and fully worked out system of theology.  What I was simply doing was to call attention to certain Scriptures that seem to me to have very important bearings of this general topic. And important because they pertain to the honour and character of God. It’s our wisdom therefore that whatever system we may hold is constantly to come back to Holy Scripture as written.  And test--and if need be modify--our system according to Scripture.
And later:
Somebody asked me early on in these seminars why I didn't come out and say that it was Calvinism I didn't agree with. Well, one, because there are many grades of Calvinism, and tons of Christians hold views that are common with Calvinists who wouldn't like to be called "Calvinists" because they don't share everything.  
And some Calvinists think me an Arminian, you know.  And they think by putting a label on me that defines exactly what I believe, when I find the label they put on me doesn't describe me fairly at all. In the end we're better without labels aren't we? We mustn't say "I am of Paul", must you? Or, "I am of Apollos"? And you certainly mustn't say "I am of Calvin" or "I am of Arminius". They're all believers. Christians, we must love each other, mustn't we?  God blessed Whitefield; God blessed Wesley. Mighty men of God, that God used for the conversion of thousands.

These comments notwithstanding, I consider him to be consistent with 4-point Arminianism (like my own view; this is also consistent with those in the SBC who prefer the label "Traditionalist" but are 4-point Arminians in substance). On Calvinism, Dr Gooding has said elsewhere (link, at note 16):
For myself, I would have to confess that the strong Calvinist system of theology seems to me to be shot-through with logical fallacies... As far as I am aware, my own attitude to Calvinist doctrine does not come from any particular source, but is my own personal response: first of all to the study of Scripture, and then to the writings of teachers from both sides of the debate.

Here is the series (external links):

Part 1: The Justice of God’s Judgments: AUDIO or VIDEO;

Part 2: Christ, the Revealer of God, the Light of the World, the Creator of Faith, the Giver of Sight: AUDIO or VIDEO;

Part 3: Vessels of Wrath and Vessels of Mercy: AUDIO or VIDEO;

Part 4: The Father’s Gift to the Son, the Father’s Drawing, the Illumination of the Holy Spirit: AUDIO or VIDEO; and

Part 5. Q & A: AUDIO.

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