Between Whitefield and the Vatican

A winsome Oldlifer reminded me yesterday of how troubling the First Great Pretty Good Awakening was and is. He was referring specifically to George Whitefield’s sermon on Romans 14:17, “The Kingdom of God.” There Whitefield does exactly what John Williamson Nevin detected when he experienced a revival, namely, the outlook of revivalists that the church and her ordinances “are more a bar than a help to the process” of becoming a Christian.

Here are three points that Whitefield makes:

The kingdom of God, or true and undefiled religion, does not consist in being of this or that particular sect or communion.

. . . neither does [the kingdom of God] consist in being baptized when you were young. . .

. . . neither does it consist in being orthodox in our notions, or being able to talk fluently of the doctrines of the Gospel.

These are sentiments that explain why Whitefield can express the sort of disregard for denominational differences that would become common among Protestants in the so-called ecumenical movement and continue to afflict The Gospel Coalition (and which by the way would make mid-twentieth-century mainline historians and ecumenistsfans of the First Great Pretty Good Awakening):

. . . there are Christians among other sects that may differe from us in the outward worship of God. Therefore, my dear friends, learn to be more catholic, more unconfined in your notions; for if you place the kingdom of God merely in a sect, you place it in that in which it does not consist.

Whitefield is arguably one of the biggest problems facing confessional Protestants because his effort to do justice to the Spirit winds up doing an injustice to the Word and the ordinances the Bible prescribes. Consequently, when confessional Protestants become sticklers about worship or church government or even doctrine (as we tend to do with Gospel Coalition types), then followers of Whitefield construe us as as being liberal Protestants (only protecting the order of the church) or even Roman Catholic (having too high a view of the church).

Seeing support for Whitefield among conservative Presbyterians (Iain Murray, for instance, but the vast majority of Presbyterians in the U.S.A. after the Plan of Union, 1758) who subscribe the Westminster Standards, is equally frustrating since the evangelist took dead aim at the confession’s teaching (whether he knew it or not):

2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto. (ch. 25)

So the line confessional Protestants walk is the real via media, between the enthusiasts who justify what they do by appealing to the Spirit (without the Word) and the Romanists (who rarely let the Spirit get in the way of the magisterium). The Reformation was about Word and Spirit, about ordinances and godliness, about a churchly pattern of piety. It is too formal for Whitefield and too loose for Rome. But that’s where we are — in the moderate middle, plain, vanilla, simple, buttoned-down (but never perfect).

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90 Comments

  1. Posted January 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Darryl, with all due respect to your concerns about Whitfield’s lack of ecclesiastical emphasis, it should be noted that Whitfield made the remarks listed above in a sermon on a text of Scripture–which is itself an ordinance of God and the cheif means of grace. You really think that he’s saying that the means of grace are irrelavant? Wouldn’t you agree that just because someone is baptized, just because they’ve grown up in a particular denomination and just because they know orthodox propositional truth doesn’t mean that they’re born of God’s Spirit and that they know Jesus savingly? It seems to me that that’s all Whitfield is trying to emphasize in his sermon. After all Jesus did give the regeneration discourse to one of the foremost pastors in the church He established and he told Nicodemus that he should’ve known these things. We wouldn’t criticize Jesus for explaining that just because you’re in a Christian church and baptized doesn’t mean that you’re in God’s kingdom savingly, right?

  2. Posted January 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    “Moderate middle, plain, vanilla, simple, buttoned-down (but never perfect).”

    We walk upon the narrow way with error to the right and error to the left. Prone to wander, Lord, we feel it, prone to leave the God we love, thus to God we give our hearts, promptly and sincerely; knowing that His grace, like a fetter bind’s our wandering hearts in Christ who leads His sheep upon the Way, the path of His righteousness through faith, through the valley of the shadow of death, unto life eternal. As we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, we know it is holy and acceptable to God as spiritual worship because we are found in Christ according to the Holy Spirit who has sealed our hearts as a guarantee of our inheritance. Knowing that we are not now perfect, we look in faith to the work of Christ that has, even now, guaranteed our perfection in the Age to Come when we shall bask in the light of the glory of God, and the light of its lamp; the Lamb.

    Christ, having cleansed His bride by the washing of water with the word, will indeed present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. She is not now perfect, nor will she be perfect until even the heavens and the earth die by fire, but when the New Heavens and the New Earth are formed, so too shall the resurrected Bride of Christ be visibly manifest as perfect.

    All this to say (as my mother always tells me), never say never.

    Thanks for the post Dr. Hart. I enjoyed it and I do realize that you used the word “never” in the context of the visible church before Judgment Day, so I may be splitting hairs by this post. If that is the case, don’t worry. They have shampoo for taking care of such things.

  3. Posted January 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Nick, if that is all Whitefield is doing, then why does he argue for a form of Catholicity that makes a shipwreck of something jure divino Presbyterianism or even infant baptism? And why did the Erskines not support Whitefield after he expressed views like this?

    And I do think what Christ was doing was different from Whitefield, unless you want to claim (as I do) that a new Protestant order was emerging from an old one. In other words, it is hard to find Whitefield’s views in Calvin or Luther. If we want to reject the ecclesial character of the Reformation, it is a free country. But Whitefield (and his defenders) raise the stakes on the way we appropriate our Reformation heritage.

  4. Posted January 31, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Luke,

    It was actually J.B. that said that.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z5-P9v3F8w

    The remake of one of the formative movies of my teen years, “The Karate Kid”, was not bad. When I saw the original in 1984 with my cousin it was the summer before 9th grade. I knew nothing about it going in and was blown away. And a young Elisabeth Shue, wow.

  5. Posted January 31, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    There’s an interesting piece in the Nicotine Theological Journal about why conservative P & R churches stay small as opposed to broadly evangelical churches that touches on the topic of this post and is worth reading. Whitefield, while not devoid of good theological content, was the first to mass market Christianity in a way that is questionable biblically and that has had vast repurcussions. Without the First Awakening would there have been a Second, which was much more dubious theologically? Hart & Muether on Finney:

    “In 1835 the revivalist began work as a professor of moral philosophy at Oberlin College, and did so with an expression of good riddance to his former Presbyterian peers. In the same year that he took up residence in Ohio, he said, ‘No doubt there is a jubilee in hell every year, about the time of the meeting of the General Assembly.'”

    The Spirit works as He wills through the ordinary means of Word & Sacrament. Once the focus shifts to the work of the Spirit apart from those normal means, the consequence is usually disdain for those ordinary means.

  6. Richard Smith
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Nick Batzig: Darryl, with all due respect to your concerns about Whitfield’s lack of ecclesiastical emphasis, it should be noted that Whitfield made the remarks listed above in a sermon on a text of Scripture–which is itself an ordinance of God and the cheif means of grace. You really think that he’s saying that the means of grace are irrelavant?

    D. G. Hart: Nick, if that is all Whitefield is doing, then why does he argue for a form of Catholicity that makes a shipwreck of something jure divino Presbyterianism or even infant baptism? And why did the Erskines not support Whitefield after he expressed views like this?

    RS: Why do you think that he is making a shipwreck of something jure divino Presbyterianism?

    D.G. Hart: And I do think what Christ was doing was different from Whitefield, unless you want to claim (as I do) that a new Protestant order was emerging from an old one. In other words, it is hard to find Whitefield’s views in Calvin or Luther. If we want to reject the ecclesial character of the Reformation, it is a free country. But Whitefield (and his defenders) raise the stakes on the way we appropriate our Reformation heritage.

    RS: I would argue that Whitefield is not raising the stakes on the way we appropriate our Reformation heritage, but is instead building on it. The Reformers worked on the basis of Sola Scriptura and Whitefield is trying to do the same thing. The Reformers made an effort to get back to Scripture over the traditions of their time and Whitefield tried to do the same thing. He stressed the need for a true conversion which Luther stressed as well. In reading the whole sermon he is trying to get at the issues that people should not trust in all the externals but Christ Himself. He did not attack the local church at all. He urged the people for divisions to be healed and not to be divided on the outward things that were not of the essentials.

    “First and foremost you must remember, Whitefield preached a singularly pure gospel. Few men ever gave their hearers so much wheat and so little chaff. He did not get into his pulpit to talk about his party, his cause, his interest, or his office. He was perpetually telling you about your sins, your heart, and Jesus Christ, in the way that the Bible speaks of them. Oh, the righteousness of Jesus Christ! he would frequently say.” J.C. Ryle

  7. Posted February 1, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Richard, because GW would have called jure divino Presbyterianism sectarian. It is something not essential to the faith. So let’s all get along and join the Gospel Coalition. But I believe the Bible teaches JDP. So GW is disregarding the Bible, which is always what happens when folks look to form coalitions. How much Bible do we need to agree as opposed to what does the Bible require?

    Like I’m supposed to be impressed a quote from Ryle?

    This is why you are a neo-Protestant, Richard. You somehow think it is the form of the Reformers that matters, going back to the Bible instead of following tradition, though you likely think that forms don’t matter when it comes to what we do in worship, as long as the content of the sermon is fine. But paleo-Protestants take the form and content of the Reformers not because the Reformers said so but because they saw correctly what Scripture teaches.

    So there.

  8. Zrim
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Richard, speaking of forms, I’d urge some Harry Stout on you, as in “The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism.” In it, he says this:

    “Before Whitefield, everybody knew the difference between preaching and acting. With Whitefield’s preaching it was no longer clear what was church and what was theater. More than any of his peers or predecessors, he turned his back on the academy and traditional homiletical manuals and adopted the assumptions of the actor. Passion would be key to his preaching, and his body would be enlisted in raising passions in his audience to embrace traditional Protestant truths.

    Contained in this theater-driven preaching was an implicit model of human psychology and homiletics that saw humankind less as rational and intellectual than as emotive and impassioned. In eighteenth century actors’ manuals, the individual psyche was divided into a triad of feelings, intellect, and will in which feelings reigned supreme. An unfeeling person is a nonperson, a mere machine with highly sophisticated mental functions. It is the passions that harmonize and coordinate intellect and will. In fact, they control and direct all the faculties.”

    It’s a fair enough point to say GW was wanting to stress true conversion over against pious externalism (though that charge is easily reversed on even the semi-revivalist who is just as prone to pious externalism). Everybody agrees that true inward piety beats false pious externalism. But when you say that he “did not attack the local church at all,” it reveals a rather slanted and naïve read of the god-father of open-air preaching. In form, he deliberately adopted the ways of the theatre over against the ways of the church.

    So brilliant was Whitefield at acting instead of preaching that later Stout writes about the close relationship between Whitefield and deist Benjamin Franklin. He describes Whitefield as so absolutely masterful at his itinerant tasks and theatrics that Franklin paid good money in order to meet the felt need, as Tina Fey might say, “to want to go to there.” What makes this remarkable is that Franklin did not believe one word of what the otherwise Calvinist Whitefield preached. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would hope that if I were to ever have the weighty charge of preaching God’s gospel it would give me great pause to know that a perfect pagan wanted to hear me as much as he didn’t believe me. It would suggest to me that what I was doing had more to do with me than my appointed task or he to whom I meant to point.

  9. Richard Smith
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, because GW would have called jure divino Presbyterianism sectarian. It is something not essential to the faith. So let’s all get along and join the Gospel Coalition.

    RS: I would hope people could get along without joining the Gospel Coalition. I am still not sure what is wrong with calling people to stop fighting over things that are non-essentials without saying that they are not important and in some way stand together for the essentials. Surely that could be done without joining the Gospel Coalition.

    D.G. Hart: But I believe the Bible teaches JDP.

    RS: So show from the Bible that it is true. Has anyone really shown that it is a doctrine that must be believed?

    D.G. Hart: So GW is disregarding the Bible, which is always what happens when folks look to form coalitions. How much Bible do we need to agree as opposed to what does the Bible require?

    RS: Was he looking to form a coalition or trying to get people to quit fighting over external and secondary matters?

    D.G. Hart: Like I’m supposed to be impressed a quote from Ryle?

    RS: I am not sure it was intended to impress you in that sense, but simply that some churchmen did not see him as so opposed to the Church.

    D.G. Hart: This is why you are a neo-Protestant, Richard. You somehow think it is the form of the Reformers that matters, going back to the Bible instead of following tradition, though you likely think that forms don’t matter when it comes to what we do in worship, as long as the content of the sermon is fine.

    RS: But the Reformers also said that we were to be constantly reforming. The issue is going back to the Bible to check the traditions over and over. That, by the way, is precisely what the Confessions teach as well. The Bible is the standard and not the traditions. Remember, Rome followed traditions and set them up beside Scripture as equal (more or less) in terms of authority. The Reformers fought that. In that sense you stand with Rome (only in making tradition more authoritative as it should be, at least in practice) and I stand with the Reformers. So perhaps I am not really a neo-Prot but one that is really following that tradition of the Reformers.

    D.G. Hart: But paleo-Protestants take the form and content of the Reformers not because the Reformers said so but because they saw correctly what Scripture teaches.

    RS: But perhaps they were not inerrant and some of us see that.

    D.G. Hart: So there.

    RS: Indeed

  10. Richard Smith
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, speaking of forms, I’d urge some Harry Stout on you, as in “The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism.” In it, he says this:

    RS: With apologies to some historians, I find Stout’s book more in the fiction genre than history. When reading solid Christians from history they were convinced that Whitefield was a man of God. Historians of Stout’s line need to realize that they cannot psycholgize motives back into history any more than they can watch the grass grow a few hundred years ago. I would listen to J.C. Ryle far more than I would Stout. I will listen to the ministers (yes, like Edwards) who were around him and thought of him as a godly man rather than an actor.

  11. Posted February 1, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Franklin and his non-Christian friends were so impressed with Whitefield that they didn’t want to take any money with them when they went to hear him because they knew they would be compelled to give it to him in spite of not wanting to.

  12. Zrim
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Richard, so in other words, read only positive and affirming accounts of your favorite figures in order to buttress your already positive and affirming view of the same? That sounds like fictitious reading, the sort that most eeeevangelicals do. But have you considered that distance is an advantage in interpreting? I wonder if you’d say the same thing of contemporaneous critics of full-on revivalists who wipe away the criticisms in much the same pious ways to do Stout of semi-revivalists.

  13. Posted February 1, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Hart & Muether have some good stuff on JDP (The belief that Presbyterianism is required, not just permitted, in Scripture) in “Seeking a Better Country”.

  14. Posted February 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Richard, Here’s what you pasted from Ryle: “First and foremost you must remember, Whitefield preached a singularly pure gospel. Few men ever gave their hearers so much wheat and so little chaff. He did not get into his pulpit to talk about his party, his cause, his interest, or his office. He was perpetually telling you about your sins, your heart, and Jesus Christ, in the way that the Bible speaks of them. Oh, the righteousness of Jesus Christ! he would frequently say.”

    I don’t see church. You do. Could it be because you have abandoned the Bible?

    For a good and succinct exposition of JDP, see Stuart Robinson’s The Church of God: An Essential Element of the Gospel.

    Where did the Reformers ever say be constantly reforming? That’s one of those lines that hardly ever does anyone check?

    Indeed yourself.

  15. Richard Smith
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, so in other words, read only positive and affirming accounts of your favorite figures in order to buttress your already positive and affirming view of the same?

    RS: No, not the point. However, you have said many times that we cannot know the hearts of others and we should not judge the hearts of others. Why do you think that Stout can do that across the span of a few centuries and it is okay?

    Zrim: That sounds like fictitious reading, the sort that most eeeevangelicals do.

    RS: Yes, reading Stout did give me the impression of fictitious reading.

    Zrim: But have you considered that distance is an advantage in interpreting?

    RS: I have considered that it is much harder to judge that a person is faking his preaching from centuries away than it is for all the godly people who were with the man and listened to his preaching over and over again.

    Zrim: I wonder if you’d say the same thing of contemporaneous critics of full-on revivalists who wipe away the criticisms in much the same pious ways to do Stout of semi-revivalists.

    RS: Simply saying that if you are going to assert that it is wrong to judge the hearts of others now then you should be very careful of judging the hearts of others from centuries ago. That is especially true when there are scores and scores of godly people who think that Whitefield was as sincere as one can get and a truly great preacher as well. Modern revivalists seem to have a way of getting rich. Whitefield had a way of giving away money to the poor.

  16. Richard Smith
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Here’s what you pasted from Ryle: “First and foremost you must remember, Whitefield preached a singularly pure gospel. Few men ever gave their hearers so much wheat and so little chaff. He did not get into his pulpit to talk about his party, his cause, his interest, or his office. He was perpetually telling you about your sins, your heart, and Jesus Christ, in the way that the Bible speaks of them. Oh, the righteousness of Jesus Christ! he would frequently say.”

    DGHart: I don’t see church. You do. Could it be because you have abandoned the Bible?

    RS: You don’t see the institutional church, but… Read more of the sermons of Whitefield and you will see more about the church if you like. One paragraph is not enough to make a judgment about a person’s theology concerning a church. No, I have not abandoned the Bible at all. I still try to read the Confessions through the lenses of Scripture just like the Confessions themselves say and read the Reformers knowing that they would have people go to the Scriptures themselves.

    DG Hart: For a good and succinct exposition of JDP, see Stuart Robinson’s The Church of God: An Essential Element of the Gospel.

    RS: Interesting.

    DG. Hart: Where did the Reformers ever say be constantly reforming? That’s one of those lines that hardly ever does anyone check?

    RS: The heart of it (though perhaps not the phrase) is in Calvin’s Reforming the Church. I have read Horton say that it was not used until the late 1600’s as to the actual Latin phrase, though.

    DG. Hart: Indeed yourself.

    RS: Indeed

  17. Zrim
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Richard, criticism like Stout’s isn’t about judging hearts, it’s about assessing tactics and wondering about the assumptions that seem to naturally underlie them. That you think it’s about the former is just more hyper-o-sity and over-reading. Plus, sincerity is way over-rated, but nobody is questioning anybody’s sincerity or even faith. Tactics and their assumptions are another matter.

  18. Richard Smith
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, criticism like Stout’s isn’t about judging hearts, it’s about assessing tactics and wondering about the assumptions that seem to naturally underlie them. That you think it’s about the former is just more hyper-o-sity and over-reading. Plus, sincerity is way over-rated, but nobody is questioning anybody’s sincerity or even faith. Tactics and their assumptions are another matter.

    Zrim quoting Stout: So brilliant was Whitefield at acting instead of preaching that later Stout writes about the close relationship between Whitefield and deist Benjamin Franklin.

    RS: If Whitefield was acting instead of preaching, then that is a clear judgment on the heart of Whitefield. The word “acting”, as you know, has some common roots with the word “hypocrite” and to say that one was acting rather than preaching is to say that one is in some way being a hypocrite instead of a true preacher of the Word of God. But again, godly men who knew Whitefield in his own time thought he had the Spirit and was not a fake but instead preached the Word with power. I am not sure that we can look at underlying assumptions and conclude that one is an actor rather than a preacher without judging the heart.

  19. Zrim
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Richard, thou doth protest too much (get it? Hyper?). Stout isn’t calling GW a hypocrite. He’s simply bringing serious criticism to bear on adding the ways of the world (acting) to the ways of the church (preaching). Could it be that in doing so GW was revealing a little Greek-i-osity that thought of preaching as foolish as compared to the oratory of the theater? Cross versus glory? Paul admitted he wasn’t silver tongued, something almost sinful to good actors.

  20. Richard Smith
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, thou doth protest too much (get it? Hyper?). Stout isn’t calling GW a hypocrite. He’s simply bringing serious criticism to bear on adding the ways of the world (acting) to the ways of the church (preaching). Could it be that in doing so GW was revealing a little Greek-i-osity that thought of preaching as foolish as compared to the oratory of the theater? Cross versus glory? Paul admitted he wasn’t silver tongued, something almost sinful to good actors.

    RS: I don’t think so. It sounds to me like Stout was protesting too much when he wrote his book. To accuse Whitefield of acting instead of preaching is virtually the same thing as being a hypocrite. A man preaching in something more than a monotone and with some animation is not the same thing as acting.

  21. Posted February 2, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Richard, Whitefield was a priest in the Church of England. If you are right about his doctrine of the church, he should have renounced his ordination and been his own guy. Otherwise, he was not following the vows that he had taken. Maybe ecclesiology is not part of the Ten Commandments. Honesty is.

    Indeed indeed.

  22. todd
    Posted February 2, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Stout never accused Whitefield of being a hypocrite. He did question his self-promotion, marketing strategies, and dramatic preaching techniques, which all were well-known at the time. As one writer noted,

    “With his flare for performance, Whitefield developed a new form of preaching–more dramatic and visual, appealing to the emotions rather than to the mind. He frequently took on the persona of a Bible character. He laughed. He wept. He climbed trees. Whitefield became his message and transformed preaching into a dramatic event.”

    Stout ends his book with a negative view of his techniques but a positive view of his motives: “If Whitefield was a modern promoter with a shameless ego, he was also a spirit-filled, caring minister who directed his work first at the soul and second at charity, and never one without the other.”

    Whitefield did mellow out and mature toward the end of his ministry, though his loveless and somewhat cruel marriage may be the low point of his Christian life.

  23. Posted February 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    In the local paper this morning I see St. Thomas Aquinas Church is offering “Catholicism 101: An Inquiry into the Catholic Faith” for six weeks. Cost is $10. $10? Maybe Called to Communion should put their stuff behind a paywall.

  24. Jason Loh
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Amen, Dr Hart!

  25. Richard Smith
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Whitefield was a priest in the Church of England. If you are right about his doctrine of the church, he should have renounced his ordination and been his own guy. Otherwise, he was not following the vows that he had taken. Maybe ecclesiology is not part of the Ten Commandments. Honesty is.

    Indeed indeed.

    RS: Or perhaps he thought he was taking vows primarily to God and he had to preach the Gospel , and with Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:16 said “woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” I have never heard anyone argue that the Church of England was truly preaching the Gospel in the time of Whitefield. Instead, they were lax in all things spiritual and Christian. It is of no surprise, then, that a few of them thought that their vows to God required them to preach the Gospel. Whitefield was not going against His vows, but instead he was keeping them.

    Acts 5:27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
    29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

    A nice truine “indeed” to you.

  26. Posted February 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Richard, nice try but our “vows” to God don’t trump our vows to wives, as in we may desert them for the sake of the gospel. So why would Whitefield not renounce his vows to the CofE?

    Indeed perpetually.

  27. Richard Smith
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, nice try but our “vows” to God don’t trump our vows to wives, as in we may desert them for the sake of the gospel. So why would Whitefield not renounce his vows to the CofE?

    RS: But why would he renounce his vows to the C of E? Did Whitefield desert his wife or was he gone for longer periods of time than some would like? As I have read it that while she was not always excited about him being gone this was something that they had talked about before marriage.

    D.G. Hart: Indeed perpetually.

    RS: But your pertual indeed is a thin indeed. My trinitarian indeed is infinite in all ways.

  28. Posted February 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Richard, if the C.ofE. was “lax in all things spiritual and Christian,” why would Whitefield ever take a vow to that communion?

    I think you painted yourself into a corner, indeed.

  29. Richard Smith
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, if the C.ofE. was “lax in all things spiritual and Christian,” why would Whitefield ever take a vow to that communion?

    I think you painted yourself into a corner, indeed.

    RS: So taking a vow as quite a young man is something he could never see the error of? If you recall, though you may doubt what he says of his conversion, he was not converted but a short time before he took his vows. Surely you would allow time for him to grow and become more spiritually discerning.

  30. Posted February 3, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Richard, so why didn’t he leave the C.ofE.? You’re still in the corner.

  31. Richard Smith
    Posted February 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, so why didn’t he leave the C.ofE.? You’re still in the corner.

    RS: Nor corner or coroner here. He thought he could reach more people by staying in. There were several others who stayed in for the purpose of trying to change things and have a wider audience to preach the Gospel.

  32. Posted February 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Read this morning (in Hart’s P&R dictionary) that Charles Hodge married Benjamin Franklin’s great granddaughter. Interesting.

  33. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    D.G. Hart: Here are three points that Whitefield makes:

    [1.] The kingdom of God, or true and undefiled religion, does not consist in being of this or that particular sect or communion.

    RS: Is the kingdom of God located only with one particular sect? Does the kingdom of God consists of those of the OPC only?

    D.G. Hart: . . . [2]neither does [the kingdom of God] consist in being baptized when you were young. . .

    RS: Are all those baptized when young members of the kingdom of God?

    D.G. Hart: . . .[3] neither does it consist in being orthodox in our notions, or being able to talk fluently of the doctrines of the Gospel.

    RS: Do all who are orthodox and fluent of the doctrines of the Gospel necessarily members of the kingdom of God?

    D.G. Hart: These are sentiments that explain why Whitefield can express the sort of disregard for denominational differences that would become common among Protestants in the so-called ecumenical movement and continue to afflict The Gospel Coalition

    RS: The text he used was Romans 14:17, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Again, his point is not to set out against the local church, but it is to awaken people to see what the kingdom of God consists of. It is one thing to say that people must be born again to enter the kingdom and manifest righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit than it is to disregard denominational differences. Regardless of the denomination a person must be born again to be part of the kingdom of God, but that does not disregard denominational differencs or make one ecumenical in the modern sense. It just means that Whitefield was trying to awaken dead sinners who trusted in the wrong things for assurance that they were in the kingdom.

  34. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Richard, I could reach more people by becoming pope. Are you really going to appeal to utility? From a holiness guy?

  35. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Richard, so why didn’t he leave the CoE? If church doesn’t matter, he could stay or go, no difference, which is a long way from the Reformers talking about how to find the true church. You find it by doing something only God can do — looking into the heart. I do it by looking at a church’s statement of faith and worship.

  36. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, I could reach more people by becoming pope.

    RS: But not with the truth.

    D.G. Hart: Are you really going to appeal to utility? From a holiness guy?

    RS: I answered from what I remember Whitefield saying in his bio. In this day there were not so many options if you had a burning desire to preach the Gospel. You would have to admit that with the C of E, especially at the time, he had a lot more pulpits opened to him because of staying in.

  37. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, so why didn’t he leave the CoE? If church doesn’t matter, he could stay or go, no difference, which is a long way from the Reformers talking about how to find the true church. You find it by doing something only God can do — looking into the heart. I do it by looking at a church’s statement of faith and worship.

    RS: But one can have a perfect statement of faith and have a perfect worship and still be unconverted (not speaking about you personally, but the theory of it). The devil has great theology in terms of knowing the information, but he uses it to deceive people.

    Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’

    Luke 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’

    1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
    2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
    3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

  38. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Richard, this is what the semi-revivalist so often misses. On the one hand, you talk about a “burning desire to preach the gospel” as a justification to act extra-ecclesial. On the other, you remind us that unimpeachable doctrine can be deceptive. True enough. But what you never seem to connect is that sentimentalism (“burning desire”) is every bit as vulnerable to deception as any confession. You speak of gospel sentiment as if it justifies almost anything. That’s the unexamined premise of semi-revivalism. And what confessionalism wants to say is that pietism and ritualism are simply two sides of the same skewed coin.

  39. Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    This one goes out to you:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-oHYYaw9jA

  40. Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    If you start with that number and then go from song to song on the right of the screen you can hear some of the most annoying songs in the history of pop music.

    Check out “Alone Again” by Gilbert O’Sullivan. Does anyone have an iron to tame that hair?

  41. Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    When I look at D.G.’s Wikipedia page it is reported that he was born “circa 1950s”. He might have been grooving to some of this stuff at his senior prom.

  42. Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    My hopes of a productive morning completely dashed…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CX83EQA8dc

  43. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, this is what the semi-revivalist so often misses. On the one hand, you talk about a “burning desire to preach the gospel” as a justification to act extra-ecclesial.

    RS: I was not aware that I did that. Whitefield had a burning desire to preach the Gospel and so he was ordained in the C of E.

    Zrim: On the other, you remind us that unimpeachable doctrine can be deceptive. True enough. But what you never seem to connect is that sentimentalism (“burning desire”) is every bit as vulnerable to deception as any confession.

    RS: But I do understand that burning desires are very vulnerable to deception, but I also know that Paul was a man that burned with desire to preach the Gospel.

    Zrim: You speak of gospel sentiment as if it justifies almost anything.

    RS: No, I don’t. You may understand me that way, but that is not the intent. The desires can be nothing but fleshly desires and many are led astray by desires. But the context of Whitefield was that he was a churchman.

    Zrim: That’s the unexamined premise of semi-revivalism.

    RS: No, it is examined and it is understood by many.

    Zrim: And what confessionalism wants to say is that pietism and ritualism are simply two sides of the same skewed coin.

    RS: You can call it what you like but Paul was the man used by God to pen most of the NT letters which dealt with the Church. Paul had a zeal in his heart and he also went to places to preach in the open air or wherever he could find a place to preach. It is inaccurate to think of all strong desires to preach the Gospel as a false form of piety. The Bible has plenty of instances of this type of thing.

    Acts 4:20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

    Acts 17:16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.

    Rom 1:15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

    1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

    2 Corinthians 10:16 so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another.

    Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

    Jeremiah 20:9 But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

  44. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Erik, thanks, but if Darryl can admit being a weeper, I can admit a strong sentimentalist streak. The sounds of O’Sullivan and Carpenter conjure fond memories of suburban Detroit neighborhoods and families (and some in northern lower Michigan).

  45. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Richard, Paul may have burned but not only did he advise other men who did so to institutionalize it by marrying, he also counseled self-discipline and control. He also planted churches, which was the end game of his preaching. So I’ll take Paul’s sense of the church over GW’s.

  46. Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Reading “Seeking a Better Country”. Interesting that revivalism was divisive within Presbyterianism in both the 18th & 19th century, but really not after the Civil War. During the war itself Presbyterians divided on regional and political lines. After the war the push was toward ecumenism in order to fight the culture war of that time (against alcohol, Catholicism, urbanization, etc.). In Machen’s day the fight was over modernism and liberalism. No one really fights about revivalism anymore within Presbyterianism. If anything the fight over 2K is similar to 19th century concerns over ecumenism. Do we broaden to join with other Christians to “save the culture” or do we stay narrow to protect orthodoxy, the Spirituality of the Church, and the Regulative Principle of Worship?

  47. Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Erik, the theme song of my senior prom (how Bob Jones grads ever let me go) was “We Will Never Pass this Way-ay-ay Again.” Whenever the song came on, I said, “let’s hope so.”

  48. Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Richard, how is it conceivable that a person could have a perfect statement of his faith and a perfect way of worshiping his God and not be converted? This makes no sense of the doctrine of total depravity. And it is the most cynical rendering of all professions of faith or acts of worship — as if we cannot trust anyone or anything they say.

    But when interacting with you, such cynicism is tempting.

  49. Posted February 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Seals & Crofts was not bad, though. When do we get the Hart memoir? I want to hear the story of the young Fundamentalist boy becoming the man we all know and love today. These things become easier to talk about publicly once one’s parents have passed on. As a model I recommend Terry Teachout’s “City Limits”.

  50. Posted February 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Erik, I am too young to write memoirs. I was born in 1976.

    But thanks for the tip on Teachout. I think his biography of Mencken is the best.

  51. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, Paul may have burned but not only did he advise other men who did so to institutionalize it by marrying, he also counseled self-discipline and control. He also planted churches, which was the end game of his preaching. So I’ll take Paul’s sense of the church over GW’s.

    RS: What was Paul’s sense of the church over GW’s? As with the verses given, Paul had a great desire (burning) to preach the Gospel. Indeed Paul preached and churches were started, but Whitefield preached and churches were filled as a result of His preaching.

  52. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, how is it conceivable that a person could have a perfect statement of his faith and a perfect way of worshiping his God and not be converted?

    RS: Sorry if that caused a backfire with you, but the point is that one can have the outward things in line as far as they can take them and not have true conversion. If all one looks at is a statement of faith and it was a perfect one, then they would be looking at the things the devil thinks are true (but hates). Since worship (external forms) according to the Regulative Principle is simple, it would not be so hard to think of prayer, singing, preaching, and the sacraments being done in a proper order.

    D.G. Hart: This makes no sense of the doctrine of total depravity.

    RS: But of course it does. No one has any ability to worship and love God apart from regeneration and the work of Christ in his or her soul. Man can do all the outward things and still not have love for God in his soul. So it does make sense of the doctrine of total depravity and inability.

    D.G. Hart: And it is the most cynical rendering of all professions of faith or acts of worship — as if we cannot trust anyone or anything they say.

    RS: Well, you may think of it as cynical, but I simply see it as what total depravity and inability really teaches. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (spiritual) that is acceptable.

    D.G. Hart: But when interacting with you, such cynicism is tempting.

    RS: Take a gander at a few things from Westminster. Notice all that talk about the heart and love and things like that. True worship is of the inner man and not just the externals.

    WLC Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

    A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

    Chapter XXI Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
    I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.[2]

    II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone;[3] not to angels, saints, or any other creature:[4] and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.

    III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,[6] is by God required of all men:[7] and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,[8] by the help of His Spirit,[9] according to His will,[10] with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance;[11] and, if vocal, in a known tongue.[12]

    IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;[13] and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:[14] but not for the dead,[15] nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.[16]

    V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching[18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

    VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed:[27] but God is to be worshipped everywhere,[28] in spirit and truth;[29] as, in private families[30] daily,[31] and in secret, each one by himself;[32] so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.[33]

  53. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Take a look yourself:

    WLC Q. 25. Wherein consisteth the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

    A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

    Chapter XXI Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
    I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.[2]

    II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone;[3] not to angels, saints, or any other creature:[4] and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.

    III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,[6] is by God required of all men:[7] and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,[8] by the help of His Spirit,[9] according to His will,[10] with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance;[11] and, if vocal, in a known tongue.[12]

    IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;[13] and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:[14] but not for the dead,[15] nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.[16]

    V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching[18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

    VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed:[27] but God is to be worshipped everywhere,[28] in spirit and truth;[29] as, in private families[30] daily,[31] and in secret, each one by himself;[32] so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.[33]

    How could anyone who hates God come up with a perfect profession of faith or pray, read Scripture, and take the Lord’s Supper? Why would they? As you say: “No one has any ability to worship and love God apart from regeneration and the work of Christ in his or her soul. Man can do all the outward things and still not have love for God in his soul.” So your Edwardseanism has your brain cramping again.

  54. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Mortimer Adler wrote two several years apart. The first is pretty good. I haven’t read the second.

    Another couple of guys I think you would like a lot are Joseph Epstein and his older friend, the sociologist Edward Shils. Shils “Portraits – A Gallery of Intellectuals” is one of the better books I have read. Milton & Rose Friedman’s “Two Lucky People” is another great memoir.

    “The American Scholar” during the years that Epstein edited it is one of the best publications around.

  55. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Richard, Paul’s was the kind of sense that made him seek to be affirmed by the other apostles even after an unmediated calling. But are you now esteeming GW’s ministry (filled churches) over Paul’s (only started)? More semi-revivalist virtues: numbers and results.

  56. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    D.G. Hart: How could anyone who hates God come up with a perfect profession of faith or pray, read Scripture, and take the Lord’s Supper?

    RS: I didn’t say that they could come up with it, but they could certainly ascribe to a document that it was what the Bible taught. The demons believe that God exists and because of the truth of the things they know they tremble. The demons knew who Christ was as well. Judas knew a lot of truth and was sent out to preach.

    D.G. Hart: Why would they? As you say: “No one has any ability to worship and love God apart from regeneration and the work of Christ in his or her soul. Man can do all the outward things and still not have love for God in his soul.”

    RS: One can have a statement of faith and not know what it teaches or one can have one and simply have an intellectual agreement with it.

    D.G. Hart: So your Edwardseanism has your brain cramping again.

    RS: Nah, not at all. How is your headache doing?

  57. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, Paul’s was the kind of sense that made him seek to be affirmed by the other apostles even after an unmediated calling.

    RS: But not at first. That took a few years. Don’t forget that GW was ordained.

    Zrim: But are you now esteeming GW’s ministry (filled churches) over Paul’s (only started)? More semi-revivalist virtues: numbers and results.

    RS: I am not sure why you make such false deduction and ascribe them to me. I was simply saying that because GW was not exactly like Paul is no reason to knock him. GW was a firm believer in the Church, though perhaps in a different way than you. In no way did I say or imply that I esteem GW’s ministry over Paul’s. Sigh, what are they teaching in schools and on the internet these days.

  58. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Richard, how could you possibly agree intellectually with the Westminster Standards and not have some kind of regenerate soul? Do you know of anyone who agrees intellectually with all of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms? (You’re sober, right?)

  59. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I was born in 1976.

    That got a belly laugh out of me – not many toddlers graduate from Temple’s film department, but then again, the Dude has always had a stroke of brilliance in him. It kind of makes me feel like I should be taking the short bus to the University of Phoenix to finish my undergrad before I am 40.

  60. Posted February 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Jed, that’s when I first heard the good news of Reformed Protestantism.

  61. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Richard, I never forget GW was ordained, because that’s the point: ordained but not behaving in accordance with it.

  62. Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Since D.G.’s vanity (and good hair) causes him to tell everyone he is perpetually 39 I decided not to rain on his parade…

  63. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, how could you possibly agree intellectually with the Westminster Standards and not have some kind of regenerate soul? Do you know of anyone who agrees intellectually with all of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms? (You’re sober, right?)

    RS: I Cor 13:2 ” If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

  64. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, I never forget GW was ordained, because that’s the point: ordained but not behaving in accordance with it.

    RS: But of course he behaved in accordance with being ordained.

    Matthew 22:9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’

    Mat 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

    Luke 14:23 “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.

    2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

    2 Timothy 4:5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

  65. Jed Paschall
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Why not run with it? After all, it would make for a much more compelling memoir. I can see it now…

    “Even from a very young age the Dude showed an affinity not only for overpriced cigars, and a contrarian’s eye for history, but also a love for cinema. However, dissatisfied with the paltry level of notoriety that filmmaking could bring him, not to mention the lack of money in the film industry, the Dude opted for a rewarding career in Academia where his talents would be truly appreciated…

    I can see landing a reading in Oprah’s book club. Besides, everyone knows memoirs are somewhat embellished. I mean, mine will most certainly make mention of how I reluctantly set aside my former passion of super-hero work for the far more rewarding career of waiting tables.

  66. Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Jed – I hear DTM is willing to ghost-write your memoir cheap…

  67. Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Indeed Paul preached and churches were started, but Whitefield preached and churches were filled as a result of His preaching.

    Yes, the revivals did have the temporary effect of filling churches, but even according to the revivalists such as Edwards, once the revivals waned, some of these churches that were once full had waned. By the end of the Revolutionary War, America’s spiritual state was much the same as it was pre-revival. It would seem to me that the slow and steady approach advocated by more churchly expressions of Protestantism were far more suited to sustaining the spiritual health of their churches than the volatile and short lived revivals. While there was some definite good that came from the revivals, the fallout is something that has defined them as much as the spiritual fervor that typified them at the time.

  68. Posted February 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Right after he finishes Dr.K’s authorized biography “The Cosmic Eye is On the Sparrow – NDK and the Neocalvinist Resurgence in Post-Falwellian America”.

  69. Posted February 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    To echo Jed’s point, I’ll take the OPC as the current expression of Old School Presbyterianism over the PC-USA, which is much more the successor or New School Presbyterianism. I realize it’s not quite that simple, but I would stand by it in a general sense.

  70. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Richard, he was not sent and overseen by the church in which he was ordained. This is what makes semi-revivalism semi.

  71. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Richard, that’s not an answer. Plus, Paul was nothing anyway. To live is Christ, to die is gain. How can someone who is in rebellion against God believe the Westminster Confession. Sobering, isn’t it.

  72. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Richard, you have no clue about ecclesiology. Being ordained in the C.ofE. means being subject to a bishop. You’re drinking again.

  73. Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Jed, who says that an Arturo Fuente Chateau at $4 is overpriced? What kind of tips do you receive?

  74. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Jed Paschall quoting RS: Indeed Paul preached and churches were started, but Whitefield preached and churches were filled as a result of His preaching.

    Jed Paschall: Yes, the revivals did have the temporary effect of filling churches, but even according to the revivalists such as Edwards, once the revivals waned, some of these churches that were once full had waned.

    RS: But there were still a lot of conversions during these times despite the fact that there was some waning later on.

    Jed Paschall: By the end of the Revolutionary War, America’s spiritual state was much the same as it was pre-revival. It would seem to me that the slow and steady approach advocated by more churchly expressions of Protestantism were far more suited to sustaining the spiritual health of their churches than the volatile and short lived revivals. While there was some definite good that came from the revivals, the fallout is something that has defined them as much as the spiritual fervor that typified them at the time.

    RS: But I am not sure why you seem to think that revivals and the life of the local church are so contrary to each other. Revival starts with the churches and ends with the churches, but in between people are brought into the church. The marks of true revival include solid doctrinal preaching as opposed to the new measures and excesses of those like Finney.

  75. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, he was not sent and overseen by the church in which he was ordained. This is what makes semi-revivalism semi.

    RS: Do we see from the NT that each evangelist must be sent by a local church?

  76. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, that’s not an answer.

    RS: But of course it is and it is a God-breathed and infallible answer.

    D.G. Hart: Plus, Paul was nothing anyway. To live is Christ, to die is gain. How can someone who is in rebellion against God believe the Westminster Confession. Sobering, isn’t it.

    RS: But again, one can believe the intellectual part of things and one can believe it out of self-love for what one can gain by believing it. Intellectual truth is intellectual truth. Esau sought repentance with tears and it was not granted to him, but he knew the truth about it.

  77. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, you have no clue about ecclesiology. Being ordained in the C.ofE. means being subject to a bishop. You’re drinking again.

    RS: Interesting how you think that when a person does not agree with you that means that s/he is drinking. Of course it means that at the time when one is ordained, but people do change and realize that the chief Shepherd is Christ Himself and He overrules drunken bishops.

  78. Zrim
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Richard, are you serious? Where do we see in the NT circuit riders?

  79. Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Richard, Paul was not talking about professing a confession of faith. It was no answer.

    And you’re really going to go to Esau for support? Did they teach you in seminary how to interpret the Bible?

  80. Posted February 4, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Richard, then a man of integrity — your holy revivalist — would renounce his drunken bishop. I’d have more respect for you if you actually conceded Whitefield was off on this. As it stands, you’re reminding me of Bryan Cross. Infallible pope, infallible Great Pretty Good Awakening.

  81. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, are you serious? Where do we see in the NT circuit riders?

    Zrim, your original post: Richard, he was not sent and overseen by the church in which he was ordained. This is what makes semi-revivalism semi.

    RS: I asked a simple question. Do we see in the NT what you are advocating in each and every circumstance? Does the NT teach us that each evangelist and each preacher was sent out by an organized church and watched over by an organized church? Are you sure you have not learned the development of doctrine from another group that you criticize?

  82. Richard Smith
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Paul was not talking about professing a confession of faith. It was no answer.

    RS: Yes, it was an answer. You asked if I could imagine a person having a perfect confession and not being converted. I Corinthians 13:1-3 gives us an answer, though indeed I didn’t have to imagine it.

    D.G. Hart: And you’re really going to go to Esau for support? Did they teach you in seminary how to interpret the Bible?

    RS: But of course I will go to Esau for support because it is in the context of the text in Hebrews and it is strong support for my case. Here, let me show you.

    D.G. Hart’s old post: Plus, Paul was nothing anyway. To live is Christ, to die is gain. How can someone who is in rebellion against God believe the Westminster Confession. Sobering, isn’t it.

    RS’ response to D.G. Hart’s old post: : But again, one can believe the intellectual part of things and one can believe it out of self-love for what one can gain by believing it. Intellectual truth is intellectual truth. Esau sought repentance with tears and it was not granted to him, but he knew the truth about it.

    RS: Notice that I am answering your question about how one can believe the intellectual part of the confession and still not be converted. Esau believed in God, believed that he should repent, and he believed what his birthright was. He knew all of those things but he was not converted. So yes, I think Esau was rightly used and I am not yanking him out of context.

    Heb 12:16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

  83. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, then a man of integrity — your holy revivalist — would renounce his drunken bishop. I’d have more respect for you if you actually conceded Whitefield was off on this. As it stands, you’re reminding me of Bryan Cross. Infallible pope, infallible Great Pretty Good Awakening.

    RS: But you have been asking me why Whitefield did or didn’t do what he did or didn’t do. You have never asked me what I thought (or don’t recall your doing so). Of course I think it would have been better for him to have left the C of E, but he didn’t ask me what I thought. So the pope of the radical 2k theology thinks Whitefield was the pope of the Great Awakening? Sorry, I know you think it at best was pretty good, but I couldn’t type that out like that. It would cause my allergies to flare up. The Awakening that God brought in that time was truly great.

  84. Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Richard, Paul wasn’t talking about conversion in 1 Cor. 13. Duh. It’s not an answer.

  85. Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Richard, so you claim to know what Whitefield thought but hesitate to give your own opinion. Wow. You have drunk the kool aid.

  86. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, Paul wasn’t talking about conversion in 1 Cor. 13. Duh. It’s not an answer.

    RS: Of course it was an answer to the question you asked. Perhaps Paul was not speaking of conversion, but he did use the language of “without love.” According to John the person that does not love does not know God. At least in my hermeneutic classes and books the analogy of Scripture is spoken of. But maybe you have a different method.

    I John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

  87. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, so you claim to know what Whitefield thought but hesitate to give your own opinion. Wow. You have drunk the kool aid.

    RS: You asked the question in such a way that I thought you were asking why Whitefield did or did not do something. I have read the two-volume bio by Dallimore, some sermons, and various other things about Whitefield. He did address those things at various times because others asked those questions in his lifetime. But as one that is not a professional historian, I cannot look back in history and say that a person should or should not have done something in many instances. It is not so much that I have drunk the kool aid, but am simply not sure that anyone can make infallible judgments on another regarding things like this at such a distance. Motives are quite hard to discern in the living, but doing it for those from centuries ago it is much harder.

  88. Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    RS, take a look at the opening of 1 Cor. Paul calls the Corinthians, who lack love, saints. I know you like to judge the hearts of others. But you (and Whitefield) go beyond Scripture (I guess because you swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all.)

  89. Richard Smith
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: RS, take a look at the opening of 1 Cor. Paul calls the Corinthians, who lack love, saints.

    RS: So your hermeneutic appears to be that if a book starts off speaking to believers that at no place in the book can Paul make a comment that would not have implications of whether one is a Christian or not. I would still argue that I Cor 5:11-13 will teach us that even if Paul spoke to saints in I Corinthians he did not mean that all of them were converted: 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

    D.G. Hart: I know you like to judge the hearts of others.

    RS: Why do you think I like to?

    D.G. Hart: But you (and Whitefield) go beyond Scripture (I guess because you swallowed the Holy Ghost, feathers and all.)

    RS: But I have not gone beyond Scripture, but instead you have because you are saying that the Holy Spirit has feathers. Are you Charismatic now and think that the dove is a real bird? It may be the case that your ecclesiology has more of that development of doctrine (that you rightly criticize Bryan over) than you realize and so you end up defending your development of doctrine more than the NT. It is in light of your development of doctrine that you think that Whitefield went beyond Scripture when in fact he was obeying Scripture and going out to the people to proclaim the Gospel to them. Your position (not you in reality, so I am not judging your heart) appears to prefer leaving a lot of people in darkness in the days of Whitefield rather than the people having someone go to them to proclaim the Gospel. The NT says go and compel them to come in. Your position appears to say stay and maybe they will trickle in now and then.

  90. Posted March 3, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    We haven’t talked much about revivalism lately, but this nugget from the Canons of Dort was brought to my attention today:

    The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine

    Human Corruption, Conversion to God, and the Way It Occurs

    Article 11: The Holy Spirit’s Work in Conversion

    Moreover, when God carries out this good pleasure in the elect, or works true conversion in them, God not only sees to it that the gospel is proclaimed to them outwardly, and enlightens their minds powerfully by the Holy Spirit so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God, but, by the effective operation of the same regenerating Spirit, God also penetrates into the inmost being, opens the closed heart, softens the hard heart, and circumcises the heart that is uncircumcised. God infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one compliant. God activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.

    Who says that the Dutch Reformed don’t account for the work of the Spirit?

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  • […] at the Old Life website, our friend D.G. Hart has a piece, “Between Whitefield and the Vatican,” which argues that George Whitefield (the greatest evangelist of the eighteenth century, and the […]

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