What Protestant Converts May Be Giving Up

First, they may exchange ecclesiastical deism for purgatorial deism. So explains Peter Leithart:

Some years ago, Jacques Le Goff argued in The Birth of Purgatory that the notion of Purgatory as a place distinct from heaven and hell emerged only in the late twelfth century. Notions of purgation after death appear much earlier, but Le Goff claimed that the linguistic evidence pointed to a later development. Purgatorium replaced purgatorius ignis and purgatoriis locis between 1160 and 1180.

Le Goff’s book ignited a fiery battle among medievalists, but more recently Megan McLaughlin (Consorting with Saints: Prayer for the Dead in Early Medieval France, 18-19) has defended Le Goff. While admitted that he may have overstated his thesis, she thinks Le Goff “essentially correct.” She adds, “While individual early medieval writers (notably the Venerable Bede) may have described something like Purgatory in their works, there was certainly no shared notion of a single place of purgation in the next world before the twelfth century.”

They may also leave behind a culture where Bible reading and study is the norm (even if in decline, thanks to all those enthusiastic ways of accessing the Spirit). Here is one reader’s response to an appeal for Roman Catholics to read the Bible regularly:

The personality and intellectual type that would read the Bible cover to cover and remember pivotal passages as Aquinas did… is rarely present in Catholicism. That’s why you’ll come across Popes urging Catholics to read the Bible for the past 150 years to no avail. The type person is gone from Catholicism. Aquinas was the last famous Catholic who exhibited an encyclopedic memorization of Scripture. His equals before him were Jerome and Augustine. After Aquinas some saints like St. John of the Cross know a lot of scripture but not nearly as much as Aquinas. The vast reading and memorization of Jerome, Aquinas and Augustine of the Bible later passes into some Protestant sects instead of continuing within Catholicism. You can find fundamentalist truck drivers from say “Holiness” church who have read and memorized hundreds of verses just as Aquinas did. The mystery is why did the Aquinas/ Jerome/ Augustine Bible habit stop within Catholicism and reappear in some…not all…Protestant sects. Read Aquinas’ Summa Theologica end to end and you’ll see him on average quote pivotal passages of scripture perhaps 5 times a page for several thousand pages of five volumes in some editions. If Aquinas suddenly returned to earth, he would enjoy more, a week of conversing with a Billy Graham type than he would conversing with a Catholic with a Masters in Theology but who had not yet read even 20% of the Bible…nor memorized much of that. Why did the Bible habit exist in Aquinas but later pass into Protestant sects instead of remaining in Catholicism? We all know the switch involved the Reformation and the emphasis on the Council of Trent as corrective of lone Bible reading. But how did the flight from scripture become so thorough?

Why do the Callers at Called to Communion obscure these realities?

144 thoughts on “What Protestant Converts May Be Giving Up

  1. “But how did the flight from scripture become so thorough?”

    Rome frankly (1) doesn’t want the competition, and (2) doesn’t want people comparing the Bible to Church teachings.

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  2. I SINNED yet again— some OLT fans seem to touch from time to time on Alexian elder Bob’s less scrappy, more helpful ideas and have read my Elaine’s word for my visiting Darryl & fans’. I find 6 great books blinking alternately at me: (1) ” A Secular Faith”, subtitle: “Why Christianity Separates Church and State”. If I, my friend, Pete Lillback (“The Wall of Misconception”) and a few others haven’t been convincing that that wall is a Low one, and not a High one, a la ACLU, what more can Old Bob say? Well, maybe y’all might review my old attempts in my OLT comments. What more profit could we have than to discuss the many “walls” we find between binarary issues of life and faith? (2) “Seeking a Better Country”. I haven’t read it, but title suggests views of DGH’s foes— Transformationalists! (3) “Fighting The Good Fight”. Written with co-author who was several times a guest in our house. This title, also, sounds like our battles with Creator Jesus’s earthly enemies. On the cover I see old friends, one of which was my even older friend, 99? and former boss, John Paton (sp?) Galbraith, dressed in his familiar bright white suit. (4) “Between the Times” I think I asked Darryl for a complementary copy. I think he and better half (so true) 🙂 may be living “highher on the hog” —-(frequent expression of WWII-Great Depression, age folks) —–than Bob and Elaine, so he could be more generous since I understand he mentions me briefly in the book. Positively? I have my doubts. (5) “Defending the Faith” re. greater author: ” What IS Faith?” (6) “Reverence and Awe” No comment for a change. ”Nuff said? Love, AeB

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  3. Since Cross likes to talk about the ‘family hermenuetic’ , this is an in-house fight over culture and cradle catholics waving off the cage-stage prot-catholics. Anyone who’s spent anytime in Rome KNOWS that the bible is superfluous, and often an impediment to RC practice, from the mass, to the rosary, to the praying to saints, to purgatory, to birth control(what do those celibates know about sex), to seniority and time put in. You’ve got recent converts TEACHING the faith within weeks of reception. How’s that? Cradles don’t read the bible or the catechism. WHY? Because it’s not part of the liturgical expression of the mass and Rome, and they resent the H-E_double hockey sticks out of these freshly minted converts telling them about a faith they’ve practiced for 20 30 40 70 years. Plus, they get it wrong. They still got a lot more protestant than Rome in ’em.

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  4. Sean, I suspect you are right. I also suspect that Reformed converts go to an OPC congregation after listening to White Horse Inn and wonder where the treasures of the Reformation are being hid. Triumphalism of any kind sets expectations unnaturally high. The difference, I guess, is that only the neo-Cals (as opposed to the rest of the Christian world) think Reformed Protestantism is, in Charlie Sheen’s words, “WINNING.”

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  5. Erik, I’m not so sure about number two. It almost suggests that upon opening the Bible everyone will figure out the foibles of Rome and clarity of Geneva (and Wittenburg), which sounds a little like how some Prots of the neo inclination tell us that special revelation makes natural revelation clear, all of which seems to gloss over the abiding sin that obscures all reading. After all, some Biblicists read nothing but the Bible and can’t seem to figure out the foibles of the anxious bench.

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  6. The postmodern refuse to accept; nor can they–the reality that they themselves are barely in Christ. Looking for him they find the deceiver. Tempted they subjoin; now at least in some sort of supernatural embrace. Those that receive a confirmation without baptism–as in a transferred conversion; will not receive the mark of Satan. So if that, then to what is their spiritual place? As well as those Roman Catholics that have came to Protestant denominations; are unhidden spiritually to those that see.

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  7. Darryl, I certainly think you’re onto something. To the extent reformed protestantism presents itself as an contemporary answer to societial and contemporary personal ills(Keller, CTS), as opposed to a faith that concerns itself with eternal(biblical) questions much less historical considerations, we trade on the same false and modern hopes that modern evangelicalism capitalizes upon; ‘your best life now’. It’s the theology of Glory vs. the theology of the cross, to say nothing of the particular questions scripture concerns itself (redemptive historical) against the felt-needs and contextualization of modern reformed hermenuetics. At least white horse Inn points them to a tradition that concerns itself with the questions that scripture promises to answer, regardless of what the reformed churches that purport to uphold that tradition have traded that richness for.

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  8. Eric,

    Perhaps neo-cals/transformationalists have more in common with their Roman Catholic ‘brothers’ than they realize, ie. a similar ‘flight from scripture.’ IMO the “remedial Bible/Bible 101” offered in many of their churches INTENTIONALLY leaves members ill-equipped to question much of the extra-Biblical baggage that passes for the Gospel. If members really knew what Christ and the apostles taught as revealed in scripture, the sheep would be asking some tough questions of their ‘leaders.’

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  9. Montani – Good point. Some dilligent attempts by a pastor to teach/preach through the Three Forms also makes one realize how little the Neocal project is related to the core of Reformed theology. The first thing I encountered upon attending a URC was a Sunday School class led by my pastor that went through the Heidelberg. It was great.

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  10. One point my pastor makes to me (he stays off the internet and recommends that I be careful how much time I spent on it — which I have not heeded very well) is that the vast majority of ministers are not paying attention to these Neocalvinist ideas. They just preach, teach, pray, visit the sick, tend to their congregations — all of the things that 2K commends. It is mostly academics and former ministers doing tangential things that are all fired up about Neocalvinism.

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  11. Darryl, Is it that something like WHI sets the bar too high or is it the preaching, outside the CTS hermenuetic-keller which wants to re-think speaking to a ‘postmodern’ audience-white angst, is just that poor. I keep seeing both. What I wouldn’t give for RH over armchair psychology and warmed over Larry Crabb from the pulpit.

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  12. D.G. – Before you give the White Horse Inn too much of a hard time you need to comment on the Reformed Forum’s new program on Jonathan Edwards.

    I’ll take WHI over 99% of Christian radio/podcasts. Two URC guys, a solid Reformed Baptist, and a solid Missouri Synod Lutheran. And hey, they got Robert Schuller to walk out of the studio.

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  13. Montani Semper Liberi. Greetings to a fellow West Virginian.

    I think you’re generally correct. However, there are those among the broad group of transformationalists who have an impressive knowledge of Scripture and have read widely. Interestingly, though, they have a tendency to always be trying to pull this theologian or that major theologian into their manner of thinking as their main proofs. They tend, like a child who hears their parent utter a single curse word out of a thousand edifying words, to latch onto a line of thought that was idiosyncratic of the authors’ times and then proceed to beat that drum with all their might. So loudly do they rattle that they drown out the Scriptures from their own ears and they begin to interpret all things by that teaching. They can come across the clearest passage of Scripture that commands them to let loose of their drum and they nod their heads and say, “Beat louder? Okay!”

    I think this is the same sort of thing that Rome does. It grasps hold of the commentators and lifts them up above the Scriptures. Rather than reading them as ones who have the light of God’s revelation shining into their darkness, they read them as if their darkness were the light shining upon God’s revelation. In this way, their minds are further darkened and they do not really look in faith to God, but put their confidence in the flesh.

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  14. Sean, some of both but it is also a function of a cage-mentality hitting cradle confessionalists, not to mention that life within a congregation is ordinary (not necessarily inspiring) and sometimes even dispiriting.

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  15. Darryl, it’s why former evangies converted by WHI to the Reformation need a good dose of OLTS/NTJ before finding an actual congregation.

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  16. Darryl,

    The purpose of Tom’s post is not to address either the history of the doctrine of purgatory or the percentage of Catholics who privately study and memorize Scripture. So it cannot “obscure” those particular points because it neither addresses them nor is intended to address them. That’s why accusing his article of “obscuring” them is unfair and uncharitable, just as it would be unfair and uncharitable for me to claim that your articles “obscure” issues these articles do not address and do not attempt to address.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  17. Darryl,

    …life within a congregation is ordinary (not necessarily inspiring) and sometimes even dispiriting

    This is something that I think everyone who makes the move to confessional churches needs to heed, even the best congregations are far from perfect, and over time they just might come to understand that the real power of confessional churches might be demonstrated in how very ordinary they are. It’s a refreshing corrective to some of the triumphal excesses of transformationalist, all the way to hard-line Reconstructionist rhetoric.

    I noticed something recently while reading out of Ephesians, something that seems to fly in the face of the insistence that the church in general, or individual Christians are charged with the enormous task of reshaping the foundations of society:

    8] To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, [9] and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, [10] so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. [11] This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, [12] in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. – Ephesians 3:8-12

    It seems that God’s supreme wisdom is being mainfest through the formation of the church, by which he is making both Jew and Gentile co-heirs to the promises realized in Christ. And, yet, as Paul elaborates earlier in the letter, and in his following remarks this wisdom is manifest through bringing undeserving sinners to salvation by his grace. And, these saints, through whom God’s great wisdom and power is being made known, are not charged by Paul in Ephesians (or any of his other writings) with bringing sweeping changes to the power structures (e.g. political and economic institutions) of their cultures. Instead they participate in the power of God’s wisdom by striving to be godly spouses, parents, children, servants, and masters – in other words by being faithful in the most basic callings which are shared by all people in all places. It would even seem that Paul’s account on spiritual warfare, is that Christians would be spiritually prepared for the opposition they will face in carrying out these most basic callings. Is it any wonder why he wouldn’t lay upon them the immense burden of having not only to be faithful in the very basic domains of their daily lives, but also charge them with the task of having to re-shape the world around them? To this day, I have not heard a satisfying account for how Paul has structured his own arguments on Christian living by either neo-Calvinists or Theonomists, especially since his charges for the godly life seem to be preeminently geared towards the rigors of day-to-day living.

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  18. Jed, I’m with you on the point but not following the point in Ephesians. I can think of my favorite passages for the ordinariness of the Christian life, but this isn’t one of them. Please help.

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  19. Darryl,

    Tom’s article does address purgatory and he fails to address it lack of antiquity.

    After reading your comment here, I went back and read Tom’s article through twice. In no place does this article mention purgatory.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  20. Bryan Cross quoting Darryl, Tom’s article does address purgatory and he fails to address it lack of antiquity.

    Bryan Cross: After reading your comment here, I went back and read Tom’s article through twice. In no place does this article mention purgatory.

    RS: If we take your (Bryan Cross) position as correct, that is, that Tom’s article does not even mention or address purgatory, then Tom’s article and the Bible would have at least one thing in common. There is no need to posit a purgatory if the work of Christ was sufficient on the cross in being a true propitiation for the sins of those that the Father gave Him. Purgatory is just one more thing that has been added to grace alone to make a way for men to contribute a lot to their own salvation. Why would Christ come and go to the cross if there is a way we could burn off our own judgment for sin?

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  21. Darryl,

    Forgive me for not explaining very well, if Paul was speaking like a typical neo-Calvinist, I might expect to see the wisdom of God being manifest in the power of the church to transform societies and cultures. However, throughout the rest of the letter Paul elaborates on how God works in and through the church, it is through the ordinary lives of her members, not in their ability to effect sweeping societal changes.

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  22. Zrim,

    You’re onto something there. Though I think we might need the reformed elders to get a double dose of OLTS and NTJ before they completely obliterate presbyterian polity and ordinariness. We’re already a minority being reformed, now we’re a minority within a minority trying to be confessional in confessional churches. The only time we get redemptive historical is the administration of the Lord’s supper and even then half the time the words of administration are tossed aside for an extra 5 minutes of sermon leftovers. And don’t even start me on the corporate confession, you’d think some mix of Richard and Dr. Phil got hold of it.

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  23. What did I miss? Hart quotes Leithart regarding Purgatory, then Hart quotes a reader’s response to an appeal for Roman Catholics to read the Bible regularly. He then links to “Tom’s post”. At worst Hart should maybe change “these realities” to “this reality” (different opinions on how well Cathlolics read the Bible), but I don’t think his point was Purgatory. That’s why after the Leithart quote he says, “They may also leave behind a culture where Bible reading and study is the norm.” (i.e. “I’m moving onto a different topic now.”) Anyway, man of a thousand feints and tricks, Bryan Cross — why not deal with the substance of Hart’s post?

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  24. Bryan bobs and weaves so well he missed his calling as a welterweight or a politician. You can never land a glove on him that he’ll acknowledge. Only the teenage Mormons could shake his foundation and years of seminary training. He’s left the uncertainty of Protestantism for the certainty of Rome — only it’s not so certain either:

    Recently there has been a dustup in the conservative Presbyterian & Reformed blogosphere over the defection of Reformed minister Jason Stellman to Roman Catholicism and the Called to Communion group of Catholic men who used to be Reformed (many of them Reformed ministers). One of the factors that apparently led to Stellman’s conversion was also a factor that led to the conversion of CTC ringleader Bryan Cross — an inability to defend the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura against attack. At one point Cross apparently had some Mormons come to his door and this interaction and inability to defend the doctrine started him on the road to Rome.

    My intent in this post is not to defend Sola Scriptura, but merely to show that the Roman Catholic solution to the problem is ultimately no more satisfying than the Protestant defense of Sola Scriptura to the mind that demands absolute certainty. In future posts I hope to make the same case regarding atheists who reject theism due to this same quest for absolute certainty.

    My source for my post is pages 38-48 of Michael J. Kruger’s “Canon Revisted – Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books”. Kruger is professor of New Testament and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.

    In the first chapter of his book Kruger explores the idea of the “Canon as Community Determined”. On page 29 Kruger defines this idea as follows: “As a general description, community-determined approaches view the canon as something that is, in some sense, established or constituted by the people – either individually or corporately – who have received these books as Scripture. Canonicity is viewed not as something inherent to any set of books, but as ‘something officially or authoritatively imposed upon certain literature.’ Thus a ‘canon’ does not exist until there is some sort of response from the community. Simply put, it is the result of actions and/or experiences of Christians.” Kruger views the Roman Catholic model as a subset of this idea of “Canon as Community Determined”.

    Kruger begins his description of the Roman Catholic model by saying, “Roman Catholicism denies that ultimate authority exists in the Scriptures alone (sola scriptura) and has consequently adopted the well-known trifold authority structure that includes Scripture, tradition, and the Magisterium (the church’s teaching authority). The key component in this trifold authority is the Magisterium itself, which is the authoritative teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily manifested in the pope and his bishops. Although the Magisterium is presented as only one of three sources of authority, it is distinguished by the fact that it alone has the right to interpret Scripture and tradition, and, more importantly, it has the sole authority to define what writings constitute Scripture and tradition in the first place.”

    He goes on: “The implications of this approach on the question of canon become immediately clear. When faced with the dilemma of how we know which books should be in or out of the canon, the Roman Catholic model claims a quite simple solution. As H.J. Adriaanse observes, ‘Catholic Theology…has solved the canon problem with a plea to the authority of the Church. Thus, the canon is ultimately community determined. The fundamental challenge from Roman Catholicism is that in order to have an infallible Scripture, we need to have an infallible guide (namely the church) to tell us what is, and what is not, Scripture.”

    The footnote for this last sentence is interesting in light of my aims: “This argument is the cornerstone for modern Roman Catholic apologetics. E.G. Scott Hahn and Kimberly Hahn, ‘Rome Sweet Home’, David Currie, ‘Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic’, Patrick Madrid, ed., ‘Surprised by Truth’”.

    Kruger goes on: “As Karl Rahner asserts, ‘[Scripture] exists because the church exists.’ Thus, it is argued, the Protestant claim of sola scriptura is inevitably hollow – you cannot have Scripture as the ultimate authority if you have no certain way of knowing what Scripture is. One needs an external source of authority, outside the Bible, in order to know what should be included in the Bible. Karl Keating declares, ‘The Catholic believes in inspiration because the Church tells him so.’ The sixteenth-century Roman Catholic cardinal Stanislaus Hosius, papal legate to the Council of Trent, put it more bluntly: ‘The Scriptures have only as much force as the fables of Aesop, if destitute of the authority of the Church.’”

    Kruger goes on to give an evaluation of all this in the next section. He begins by conceding that “the Roman Catholic model rightly captures certain aspects of canon. Indeed, the church’s historical reception of these books plays an important role in our conviction that they are from God (though there are differences in how that role is construed). Moreover the willingness of Roman Catholics to acknowledge that the canonical process is not entirely human, but involves divine activity, is a refreshing alternative to the naturalistic approach so common in the historical-critical model (which he has discussed previously). That said, a number of historical and theological concerns about the Roman Catholic model remain, which we will attempt to briefly outline here.”

    Kruger makes several good points in this section, but for now I want to focus on what he describes as “the most fundamental concern, namely, whether the Roman Catholic model, in some sense, makes the Scripture subordinate to the church. The answer to that question is revealed when we ask another question: How does the Roman Catholic Church establish its own infallible authority? If the Roman Catholic Church believes that infallible authorities (like the Scriptures) require external authentication, then to what authority does the church turn to establish the grounds for its own infallible authority? Here is where the Roman Catholic model runs into some difficulties. There are three options for how to answer this question:

    (1) the church could claim that its infallible authority is authenticated by (and derived from) the Scriptures. But this proves to be rather vicious circular reasoning. If the Scriptures cannot be known and authenticated without the authority of the church, then you cannot establish the authority of the church on the basis of the Scriptures. You cannot have it both ways. Moreover, on an exegetical level, one would be hard-pressed to find much scriptural support for an infallible church (but we cannot enter into this question here).

    (2) The church could claim that its infallible authority is authenticated by external evidence from the history of the church: the origins of the church, the character of the church, the progress of the church, and so forth. However, these are not infallible grounds by which the church’s infallibility could be established. In addition, the history of the Roman Church is not a pure one – the abuses, corruption, documented papal errors, and the like do not naturally lead one to conclude that the church is infallible regarding ‘faith and morals.’

    (3) It seems that the only option left to the Catholic model is to declare that the church’s authority is self-authenticating and needs no external authority to validate it. Or, more bluntly put, we ought to believe in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic church because it says so. The Catholic Church, then, finds itself in the awkward place of having chided the Reformers for having a self-authenticating authority (sola scriptura), when all the while it has engaged in the very same activity by setting itself up as the self-authenticating authority (sola ecclesia). On the Catholic model, the Scripture’s own claims should not be received on their own authority, but apparently the church’s own claims should be received on their own authority. The Roman Catholic Church, functionally speaking, is committed to sola ecclesia.”

    It seems that Stellman and Cross are in no more of a secure position than they were in before their conversions.

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  25. Another thought on Cross that has been percolating since his last interactions here: One of the reasons Protestants move to Rome the antiquity of the Roman church — the hegemony they enjoyed for 1,500 years. The factor that allowed that, however, was the same factor that comes up so often in our debates here, whether with theonomists or Necalvinists — The Constantinian Paradigm. Rome was the only show in town for 1,500 years because if you went against them you were put to death. This is the kind of “glory” that exists in North Korea today. Strip away the sword and it’s not so unified or glorious anymore.

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  26. Sean – “And don’t even start me on the corporate confession, you’d think some mix of Richard and Dr. Phil got hold of it.”

    Erik – Funny you mention that. Yesterday when Richard was at the peak of his Edwardianism I was going to suggest he go on Oprah.

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  27. I wish Bryan could come here and have a spirited conversation like Richard or Doug Sowers. All he does is throw out some Latin and refer people to 10,000 word essays. As D.G. says, “Thanks for the non-conversation”.

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  28. Erik,

    I wish Bryan could come here and have a spirited conversation

    You’re always welcome to enter into a dialogue with me at CTC, if you truly wish to have a conversation with me. We don’t allow ad hominems there, however, so you’d have to refrain from all the personal attacks. But if you were willing to do that, and focus only on the evidence, I’d be glad to discuss things with you.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  29. Erik,

    What argument is there to have at CTC? The whole premise is you can be your best covenant theologian-protestant in Rome, with philosophical claims of certainty and THE church that Jesus Christ founded. In fact, if you converted, you could start teaching right away because Cradle’s don’t engage their faith via a word-paradigm, which the newly converted prot’s have yet to shake, then as the scriptural verification and foundation becomes scarce; Marian doctrine, the whole Tradition, Magisterium(ex-cathedra declarations on Mary) and practice of the community of the faithful starts to come into prominence and within a few years you’re going to mass, partaking in the sacraments, praying the rosary, lighting candles and ‘believing what The Church believes’. No need for argumentation outside of just getting you in the door, then it’s over, unless you’re looking to make a living on the RC apologist’s circuit.

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  30. Sean, getting wound up doesn’t work. All one can do when asked by the chair of the Education committee to approve a experimental Calvinism devotional on religious affections for the women’s group is humbly suggest something like “Reverence and Awe” instead. And then hope it makes the revivalist hymnbooks disappear.

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  31. Zrim, that’s good. I’m plotting infiltration through the kids sunday school curriculum and let the kids take their parents to task in the car ride home or over sunday lunch. Of course, that probably just ends up with me disappearing.

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  32. Darryl,

    I appreciate your linking to what I wrote at Called to Communion. I have to admit that I am not sure what you are accusing me of obscuring. The teaching of the Church as regards Bible reading? Do you not believe the words of Leo XIII, Benedict XV, and Pius XII encouraging and challenging all Catholics to read the Bible? Certainly you do not believe that their words about the importance of Bible reading is a holdover from their Protestant days considering they were cradle to grave Catholics. It appears you think that any Catholic appeal to Bible reading is disingenuous (it definitely seems as if most of the commenters here think such a thing). If the Church really does not love the Bible and hold it with the deepest of affection, they have done a poor job of communicating that, as my article makes clear. Why not just take the Church at her word that she loves the Bible every bit as much and may I dare say more so, as any Evangelically minded person, Reformed or otherwise.

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  33. Tom, I’ll poll the cradles I know and you poll the cradles you know and let’s put money on it. I’ll give you 3-1 odds.

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  34. From David Carlin-Catholicity;

    “Of course, there is an old tradition among lay Catholics of not reading the Bible. Prior to the Protestant Reformation, this non-reading was a natural byproduct of the fact that the vast majority of lay Catholics were illiterate. Besides, such Bibles as were available were written in Latin, not the vernacular languages. And then, once the Reformation took place, Bible-reading took on the color of being a distinctively Protestant thing, therefore something faithful Catholics should avoid. Protestants, after all, appealed to the authority of the Bible to challenge the authority of the pope and the bishops, and when they read the Bible they came to certain theological conclusions that conflicted with Catholic doctrine. Reading the Bible was dangerous for Catholics.

    In the long period from the Council of Trent to Vatican II, a period of approximately four centuries, the Catholic Church adopted a highly defensive mode of being. There were two great intellectual dangers to the Faith – first the Protestant danger and then the secularist danger that stemmed from the Enlightenment. The Index of Prohibited Books was created to defend Catholics against these dangers. Of course, it was impossible to put the Bible on the Index, since the Bible, according to Catholic teaching, was the inspired Word of God. But if the Bible couldn’t be banned, at least Catholics could be effectively discouraged from reading it. There were several ways of doing this:

    A strong emphasis on Natural Religion had the effect of depreciating the value of Revelation generally.
    A strong emphasis on Tradition as a second source of Divine Revelation had the effect of depreciating the value of the Bible.
    Secondhand narrations of biblical stories, instead of moving Catholics to consult the original sources (the Bible itself), more often gave them the impression that it was not necessary to examine the Bible.
    Catholics were told that they must not read Protestant translations of the Bible (e.g., the Authorized Version); if they insisted on reading the Bible, they must read properly annotated Catholic translations.
    Some gentle ridicule directed at the Biblicism of our “separated brethren” taught Catholics to shy away from the Bible.
    In general, Catholics were seldom seriously encouraged by their priests and nuns to search the Scriptures.
    All this changed, officially at least, at Vatican II, which dropped the Church’s 400-year-old “defensive mode of being.” Lay Catholics were now at long last given the green light to read the Bible; indeed, they were encouraged to read it. Yet today, nearly a half-century later, 44 percent of American Catholics “rarely or never” read the Bible, and only 7 percent read it on a daily basis. How can this be?

    Part of the answer, of course, is inertia. Four centuries of a certain policy cannot be changed immediately overnight – any more than an aircraft carrier at sea can make a turn of 180 degrees on a dime. ANOTHER PART OF THE ANSWER IS THE SACRAMENTALISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: TO SAVE YOUR SOUL, IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SACRAMENTS THAN TO READ THE BIBLE. But a third part of the answer is, alas, that the leadership of the Church (I mean its bishops and priests) have not stressed the importance of Bible-reading for shaping the Christian mind and heart.

    The leadership of the Church in the United States has been guilty of many failures in recent times – the sex-abuse scandal, a failure to resist the sexual revolution, a failure to mobilize Catholics effectively as an anti-abortion cultural force. Add to these failures the failure to persuade Catholics to become a Bible-reading people.

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  35. The combox historical survey quoted here makes a rather strange historical argument, don’t you think? Moving from Thomas Aquinas (major theologian at most important university in Christendom) to post-Tridentine laymen seems rather odd. It seems that the point of comparison would be other leading theologians in Roman Catholic circles after Trent (1600, 1700, etc.) Those fellows knew their Bibles and had benefited from the scholarly techniques developed in the decades (centuries?) between Aquinas and themselves…

    And I’d be surprised if you could compare the Biblical literacy of a Catholic layperson in 1250 and 1570 and find the latter looking substantially worse, all things being equal. Now, Erasmus, Cajetan, and others wanted more Biblical literacy, and there was in fact resistance to this from some Counter-Reformers, but it’s not too difficult to explain their concerns…

    And we shouldn’t be excessively optimistic about the Biblical literacy of the Protestant layman in the early-modern period, especially outside the towns…

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  36. Sean:
    A strong emphasis on Natural Religion had the effect of depreciating the value of Revelation generally.

    RS: I would wonder if an emphasis on natural law and revelation is doing the same.

    Sean: A strong emphasis on Tradition as a second source of Divine Revelation had the effect of depreciating the value of the Bible.

    RS: Which can also be applied to Confessions when they are applied very strongly.

    Sean: Some gentle ridicule directed at the Biblicism of our “separated brethren” taught Catholics to shy away from the Bible.

    RS: Which is what some on the confessional side do to those who want to orient the discussions toward the Bible. This could be a warning/teaching moment for some.

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  37. Bryan – “You’re always welcome to enter into a dialogue with me at CTC”

    Erik – Thanks for the invite, but I have to keep my day job. Maybe someday if I get more time. One man’s ad-hominem is another man’s humor. We dish it out here but we take it, too. Most theological discussion sites act like the goal is to put everyone to sleep.

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  38. D.G. – “Erik, thanks for that. Do you have a link? Everyone has their circles. But I’m not sure the CTC guys will ever admit theirs.”

    I wrote it on my blog (click on my name). You can type “Bryan Cross” or “Jason Stellman” in the search box.

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  39. Sean – I will never to convert to Rome. I am a Reformed theological minimalist (which is why 2K appeals to me). Way too many irreconcilable strands with Rome. Too many funny hats, too.

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  40. (1) Who woke the Rip Van Called-to-Communion guys up from their months long slumber?

    (2) Why am I not surprised that Richard found a way to turn this into an attack on Reformed confessionalism?

    (3) When will Doug chime in with the Theonomic implications of this discussion?

    This is like the neighbor coming over to discuss how your dog has been pooping in his yard and having your drunk uncle crash through the living room window with a lampshade on his head while you’re talking on the front stoop. Richard, – behave!

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  41. Richard,

    I’m quoting David Carlin who is a lot more Roman Catholic than the CTCers imagine themselves to be. Your paralleling what you deem the formalism of confessionalism with roman catholicism does little more than reveal your petty bias’ and ignorance of roman catholicism paired with an obvious misunderstanding of confessional protestantism.

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  42. We can be proud that Revivalistic Edwardsians (and presumably Neocalvinists & Theonomists) now consider 2K Confessionalists a greater threat to the faith than Roman Catholicism. We have truly arrived on 12/12/12.

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  43. Tom, you do take the church at its word. That’s what you have to do. But if you look through the comments at that post, and listen to Roman Catholics, the popes’ words aren’t getting through. Now either that’s a problem from what previous popes and councils said. Or the popes don’t have all the authority that CTCers think. At that point, the Bible actually has more authority.

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  44. Bryan Cross quoitng Erik: I wish Bryan could come here and have a spirited conversation

    Bryan Cross: You’re always welcome to enter into a dialogue with me at CTC, if you truly wish to have a conversation with me. We don’t allow ad hominems there, however, so you’d have to refrain from all the personal attacks. But if you were willing to do that, and focus only on the evidence, I’d be glad to discuss things with you.

    RS: Erik, learn from Bryan on this. Ad hominems are ad hominems whether you think they are humerous or not. It is only when all involved see the humor that you can truly claim humor. One can laugh as they slander others, but that is not true humor.

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  45. sean: Richard, I’m quoting David Carlin who is a lot more Roman Catholic than the CTCers imagine themselves to be. Your paralleling what you deem the formalism of confessionalism with roman catholicism does little more than reveal your petty bias’ and ignorance of roman catholicism paired with an obvious misunderstanding of confessional protestantism.

    RS: Sean, I know that you were quoting. But you were the one quoting and the one posting. You can argue petty bias and ignorance, but at some point you are going to have to come to grips with the fact that not all confessional protestants are the same. Like it or not your post (yes, quoting another) was a very accurate description of many who follow their version of confessional protestantism. I might also add that since things tend to go down, people who are confessional and not as your post described should take warning. I would also point out that if, as others and I think you have said, that Rome does not speak in a unified voice on all things. In other words, ignorance of Roman Catholicism is widespread if no one really knows what it is. If one only shoots at the air then one will hit it every time. If one fires at Rome it is also hard to miss.

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  46. Erik Charter: Sean – I will never to convert to Rome. I am a Reformed theological minimalist (which is why 2K appeals to me).

    RS: Be careful, one is kept from falling into the pit and Rome by the restraining hand of God and not our own strength and desire to be free of contradiction. Remember Nebuchadnezzar.

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  47. Erik Charter: (2) Why am I not surprised that Richard found a way to turn this into an attack on Reformed confessionalism?

    RS: But I didn’t attack anyone and I especially didn’t attack “Reformed confessionalsim.” Some here have wondered how anyone could draw such lines from Roman Catholicism to confessional thinking. Surely anyone looking at it can see the dangers of it as well as why some think the lines are tighter than others do.

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  48. Erik Charter: We can be proud that Revivalistic Edwardsians (and presumably Neocalvinists & Theonomists) now consider 2K Confessionalists a greater threat to the faith than Roman Catholicism. We have truly arrived on 12/12/12.

    RS: Where in the world did you ever come up with such an absurd idea? You really do need to listen to Bryan Cross in at least two things. 1. Follow the evidence which involves only making careful deductions. 2. Ad hominems are bad enough, but one after another is really, really bad. At some point faulty deductions drive the person making them over the line of the ninth commandment.

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  49. Richard,

    Your assumption that inward, Edwardsian christianity is to be preferred to confessional protestantism., has already been born out in american evangelicalism and shown to be lacking, and in need of a more objective, historical and confessional piety. Your pursuit of a more ‘true’ ‘pure’ confession renders you little more than an overwrought individualistic evangelical, susceptible to the very arguments of solo scriptura by which CTC traps unwitting protestants. We must finally reconcile to the biblical truth that we ultimately tolerate false and deluded confessors in the visible church for the sake of not uprooting the wheat.

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  50. sean: Richard, Your assumption that inward, Edwardsian christianity is to be preferred to confessional protestantism., has already been born out in american evangelicalism and shown to be lacking, and in need of a more objective, historical and confessional piety.

    RS: I am not assuming that biblical Christianity has to do with the inward parts, that is, of the heart. That is not an assumption, that is simply biblical. Regardless of how much you or others think that it is shown to be lacking, if you apply that same argument or method to the Bible it will be shown to be lacking. The question is to what does the Bible teach and not necessarily the results. You sound rather pragmatic in that regard. Have you been hiding in a closet and reading Tim Keller?

    As to being in “need of a more objective, historical and confessional piety,” that is your assumption. I would argue that since the Reformation the historical and confessional types have sooner or later become formalism and went into liberalism. If pragmatics is the evidence needed to prove something, then we certainly don’t need more of that.

    Sean: Your pursuit of a more ‘true’ ‘pure’ confession renders you little more than an overwrought individualistic evangelical, susceptible to the very arguments of solo scriptura by which CTC traps unwitting protestants.

    RS: No, the pursuit of helping people to see if they are truly converted is simply biblical. The pursuit of true conversion does not make one susceptible to the arguments put out by false teachers any more than anyone else. Helping people be confident in their false conversions is more problematic in my view.

    SEan: We must finally reconcile to the biblical truth that we ultimately tolerate false and deluded confessors in the visible church for the sake of not uprooting the wheat.

    RS: I have not argued that there will be a perfect church if you help people to see if they are truly converted as Paul teaches. But it will cut down on sin in the local church which certainly can grieve the Spirit. It can cut down on the terrible influences that false and deluded people will have on true believers. It will help take the bad apples out so that their rotting will not start on the others. Once again, when Jesus interprets that parable He says that the field is the world.

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  51. Richard – “Ad hominems are ad hominems whether you think they are humerous or not. It is only when all involved see the humor that you can truly claim humor.”

    Erik – What if everyone but you thinks it’s funny? You said yesterday that laughing and humor weren’t valuable (since we have no record of Jesus laughing) and that lots of funny people have committed suicide so I don’t think you get a vote.

    Bryan wears big boy pants so I’m sure he can handle it.

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  52. Richard,

    Once again you insist that your displacing of the Holy Spirit is nothing more than biblical pastoring. It reads like self-aggrandizement and an inflated sense of ability. You long ago stopped listening to the arguments or even topics being discussed, and like someone with NPD, simply use every post no matter how disconnected to reassert your brand of neurotic introspection relabeled as pastoral duty. What you fail to render is that the willingness and ability to be self-introspective much less imagine the internal work of the Holy Spirit has more in common with RC piety and anabaptist autonomy than a biblical protestantism. As the discussion moves along you modify your assertions as to characterize your polemic as simply refinement of a shared consensus but you’re consistent antagonism toward confessionalism reveals not only an adversarial disposition but a thinly veiled condescension of other’s considered piety and consecration. All that is fine, as far as it goes, but don’t start lying to yourself about your unique claim to a biblical piety counter the confessionalist’s on this site. If you need a reminder, go back to your undressing on 1 John.

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  53. Richard – “I would argue that since the Reformation the historical and confessional types have sooner or later become formalism and went into liberalism”

    Erik – I can trace Presbyterianism in the U.S. from 1706 to the OPC today. I can trace conservative Dutch Reformed churches from the start of the CRC in 1857 to the URC today. Where are Edwards’ New England Congregationalist churches today? Unitarian Universalist Fellowships? My goodness…

    It’s not confessionalism that tends to go awry, it’s “religion of the heart” which dismisses confessionalism.

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  54. Sean – This is the cross we bear to spare an actual congregation from Richard. Can you imagine this twice on Sunday plus midweek Bible study and Sunday School? We can at least step away from the computer.

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  55. Richard knows the Scriptures, that’s why it’s such a shame he is off on this tangent. Proclaim Christ and His righteousness. Present the gospel. When people respond in faith feed them with Word & Sacrament. Let the Spirit work. It’s pretty simple and powerful and doesn’t require the pastor’s obesssive micromanagement.

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  56. sean: Richard, Once again you insist that your displacing of the Holy Spirit is nothing more than biblical pastoring. It reads like self-aggrandizement and an inflated sense of ability.

    RS: I cannot argue what it sounds like or does not, but since you want to get personal I would argue that to argue against the body of Christ looking after itself like this sounds more like the self-centered and self-focused individualistic American brand of Christianity.

    SEan: You long ago stopped listening to the arguments or even topics being discussed, and like someone with NPD, simply use every post no matter how disconnected to reassert your brand of neurotic introspection relabeled as pastoral duty.

    RS: No, Sean, you are badly and sadly mistaken. It is what Scripture commands for people who are truly interested in the objective work of God.

    Sean: What you fail to render is that the willingness and ability to be self-introspective much less imagine the internal work of the Holy Spirit has more in common with RC piety and anabaptist autonomy than a biblical protestantism.

    RS: Or what you think is biblical protestantism. I would argue that I am quite in line with the WCF. In fact, my favorite writers on this genre were some of the writers of the WCF.

    SEan: As the discussion moves along you modify your assertions as to characterize your polemic as simply refinement of a shared consensus but you’re consistent antagonism toward confessionalism reveals not only an adversarial disposition but a thinly veiled condescension of other’s considered piety and consecration.

    RS: Call it what you will, but your own adversarial disposition is put far more strongly than mine. Jesus was rather adversarial at times as was Paul. Again, you can call things what you want, but the point is to discuss issues (or so I thought) rather than going on the attack with the ad hominems.

    Sean: All that is fine, as far as it goes, but don’t start lying to yourself about your unique claim to a biblical piety counter the confessionalist’s on this site. If you need a reminder, go back to your undressing on 1 John.

    RS: Sean, there was no undressing, I simply didn’t have time to deal with what you wrote at that time. Nor did I see it as a real challenge to the position. However, as long as the Word of God stands you will not be able to explain away the arguments in I John that he wrote the book so that people could know if they had eternal life. Not one time did he tell them to look to a confession or go to the sacraments. He told them to look for Christ and/or His Spirit in them who is eternal life. In other words, the true objective way of looking for Christ is to look for His work in the human soul. The truly subjective way is to do something and think that something is supposed to happen because you think it must.

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  57. Erik Charter
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink
    Richard – “I would argue that since the Reformation the historical and confessional types have sooner or later become formalism and went into liberalism”

    Erik – I can trace Presbyterianism in the U.S. from 1706 to the OPC today.

    RS: Indeed you can trace Presbyterianism, but can you trace Christianity? Is Christianity in the PCUSA?

    Erik: I can trace conservative Dutch Reformed churches from the start of the CRC in 1857 to the URC today.

    RS: Following churches is not the issue.

    Erik: Where are Edwards’ New England Congregationalist churches today? Unitarian Universalist Fellowships? My goodness…

    RS: You have no goodness because Jesus said no one was good. However, you are making a huge mistake in thinking that the true Christianity of Edwards can be traced with Congregationalist churches.

    Erik: It’s not confessionalism that tends to go awry, it’s “religion of the heart” which dismisses confessionalism.

    RS: So when confessionalism dismisses religion of the heart, it dismisses true Christianity. Thankfully, God has some confessionalist that don’t do that. There is no need to drive a wedge between all confessionalist and all those who say they believe in the religion of the heart. Where does the Holy Spirit dwell, Erik? Where does the Spirit work the fruit of the Spirit in people? Where did Christ pray that He would dwell, Erik? Where did God say He would abide, Erik? The answer is in the heart of in His people. So if God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit dwell in the hearts of His people, then were is He to be found and where do we see the evidence of His works? You cannot have Christianity apart from a Christianity of the heart.

    1 Cor 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

    Ephesians 6:6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

    John 17: 25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;
    26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

    I John 4: 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
    16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

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  58. Erik Charter: Richard knows the Scriptures, that’s why it’s such a shame he is off on this tangent.

    RS: Then use Scripture to show me where I am wrong, Erik. Why should you be the judge that I am off on a tangent when you simply say so?

    Erik Charter: Proclaim Christ and His righteousness.

    RS: Have you ever done that on here, Erik? No, I don’t think so. Mark McCulley is the one that fixes on the imputed righteousness of Christ and the Gospel. I have had many discussions with Him on that. I don’t think you have hardly mentioned that at all. However, Christ in His people is very closely related to Christ and His righteousness.

    Erik: Present the gospel.

    RS: The Gospel, according to Paul, is that of Christ in you the hope of glory. Is that subjectivism? Call it what you will, but the great mystery of the Gospel which was hidden from the ages was then being preached by Paul and it was made known through him. It was that Christ is in you, the hope of glory. The Gospel is all about Christ being in His people.

    Erik: When people respond in faith feed them with Word & Sacrament.

    RS: Ah, yes, of course. But how do you know if they respond in true faith or like the vast majority of people in the Gospel of John that had some kind of belief but sought Jesus only for free food or whatever?

    Erik: Let the Spirit work.

    RS: Indeed, but where does He work when He works. He works in the hearts of His people.

    Erik: It’s pretty simple and powerful and doesn’t require the pastor’s obesssive micromanagement.

    RS: Erik, simple (uncompounded) is not the same thing as simplistic (simple-minded). You will note that your continued slander and violation of the ninth-commandment is getting quite old. What I have and am saying is not obsessive micromangement. You are making false deductions and they are leading you into false testimony.

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  59. Richard,

    Nobody got personal, just relaying the facts. But thanks for your permission to call things as they are. Your plural pronoun argument of 1 John as ground for pastoral intrusion and playing Holy Spirit was routed by John’s own assessment of the role of the Holy Spirit as testifier to the soul. Again the role of Holy Spirit and Lord of the conscience is already filled. However Rome does promote the kind of priestly mediation you seem to attribute to your pastoral role.

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  60. Richard, you wrote: “Some here have wondered how anyone could draw such lines from Roman Catholicism to confessional thinking. Surely anyone looking at it can see the dangers of it as well as why some think the lines are tighter than others do.”

    What are you saying or implying?

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  61. Richard – “The Gospel, according to Paul, is that of Christ in you the hope of glory”

    Erik – Actually, Richard, that is not the gospel. The gospel is outside of us. It is something that went on between the Father and the Son. It is objective. Now the Westminster speaks of effectual calling, which takes place when someone hears and responds to the gospel, but that is not the same as the gospel itself. This is why I think you are dangerously out of balance and potentially leading people astray.

    Once again, the gospel from Heidelberg 60:

    Question 60. How are thou righteous before God?

    Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; (a) so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, (b) and am still inclined to all evil; (c) notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, (d) but only of mere grace, (e) grants and imputes to me, (f) the perfect satisfaction, (g) righteousness and holiness of Christ; (h) even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; (i) inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart. (j)

    That’s some imputation my friend (which you say I never talk about — although I think this is at least the 3rd time I have presented Heidelberg 60 to you).

    You accuse me (and perhaps others here) of being libertines, but one someone truly understands (1) the gospel, and (2) Christian liberty, they will always be subject to that accusation by people who don’t truly understand what the gospel is: A free gift.

    When the thief on the cross professed faith in Christ and Jesus told him that he would be in paradise with Jesus that day, where do you see anything taking place but that man’s profession of faith?

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  62. Paul discusses the gospel in the paragraph prior to the paragraph you cite. This is the stuff that I never hear YOU talking about. You take this stuff for granted and only want to talk about “the heart”, as if no one here understands that profession of faith means more than mere head knowledge. You have a self-appointed ministry to turn confessionalists into revivalists but true confessionalism does just fine without revivalism. Revivalism does not do just fine without confessionalism, however (see the Second Great Awakening and its effects which plague us up to the present).

    From Colossians 1

    The Supremacy of Christ

    15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18A nd he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because off your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

    Paul’s Labor for the Church

    24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

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  63. Who woke the Rip Van Called-to-Communion guys up from their months long slumber?

    I just took a peek at the latest CtC article: Three Frameworks for Interpreting the Church Fathers”. I’m glad that after 4 years of mostly ducking the issue they are dealing with historical analysis. As someone who is in the Modern Critical Framework camp, though I’d say the article conflates MCF and something like the Mormon theory of an immediate apostasy. MCF doesn’t argue that there was a 2nd century divergences from the apostolic faith, but rather that there was no unified apostolic faith. The faith in an MCF view became unified under Catholicism, it didn’t originated as a unified faith.

    In theory one could say that for Catholic / Reformed dialogue this doesn’t matter since both sides reject the idea that Christianity evolved rather than came into being from a series of events in Palestine 30-50 CE. The thing is that many Reformed who do argue against the Catholic position make use of history written from an MCF framework. Conservative Reformed Protestantism doesn’t depend crucially upon the the unity of the church during the first few centuries, since their arguments are mostly from the bible. Catholic apologetics however do depend on this crucial historical point.

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  64. Richard,

    You should stop whining about being slandered and the 9th Commandment. When the whole conversation is here to see people can evaluate these things for themselves. The name of this site is “Oldlife”. “Old” means “Old School Presbyterian”. When you come here as a New School Presbyterian (Reformed Baptist, actually) and poke your finger in everyone’s eye day after day after day you are going to get a response (which is what you obviously want). No one is stopping you from starting Newschool.org or hanging out with like-minded Reformed Baptists or Revivalists online, so either man up or move on as far as I’m concerned.

    If I go to the Iowa Democratic Party website and belittle liberalism, Obama, and labor unions day after day after day I will probably elicit a strong response as well. I did this for awhile but quickly realized I was being a jerk so I stopped.

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  65. CD – “Catholic apologetics however do depend on this crucial historical point.”

    Erik – I’ll say. They depend on a direct line from Jesus to Peter to Benedict. QIRC.

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  66. sean: Richard, Nobody got personal, just relaying the facts. But thanks for your permission to call things as they are. Your plural pronoun argument of 1 John as ground for pastoral intrusion and playing Holy Spirit was routed by John’s own assessment of the role of the Holy Spirit as testifier to the soul.

    RS: But I fail to see that as a sound argument against my real position, though it may be devastating to one that some perceive that I hold. Indeed the Holy Spirit is the One that testifies in and to the soul, but that is part of my whole position. When one takes that and puts it with other passages in the New Testament as to the duties of elders, it would at the very least seem helpful to people to have elders who should be experienced in “trying the spirits” to assist them in this matter.

    Sean: Again the role of Holy Spirit and Lord of the conscience is already filled. However Rome does promote the kind of priestly mediation you seem to attribute to your pastoral role.

    RS: I am not sure how a pastoral or elder examination (perhaps the word gives a bad connotation to some, though Paul uses it) of the people of the flock makes them Lord of the conscience. There is no priestly mediation in the pastoral role that is like Rome, but instead it is to be a help to the people and a help to the church. For genuine believers it can be a help to them in gaining a solid foundation for assurance, while for others who have arrived at assurance too quickly it may help them in a different direction. But the benefit for the church is it will help (help, not perfectly do so) keep unbelievers from having voting rights and will in some way protect against wolves. As you know, wolves don’t announce themselves as wolves but come in sheep’s clothing.

    Acts 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
    29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
    30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
    31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
    32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

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  67. D. G. Hart: Richard, you wrote: “Some here have wondered how anyone could draw such lines from Roman Catholicism to confessional thinking. Surely anyone looking at it can see the dangers of it as well as why some think the lines are tighter than others do.”

    What are you saying or implying?

    RS: A poster from a few months ago (Ted, maybe?) was drawing some lines to Rome on a few things. Someone or more than one took exception at that. When I read what Sean posted (yes, quoted), I remembered that. Hence, the “some have wondered” part of my statement. I am not arguing that all confessionalists are one step to Rome. What I would argue, however, is that there is a line at some point (I don’t know the line) that one can cross. Yes, there is a line with what you, Dr Hart, and others call Edwardseanism that people can cross and go into all sorts of crazy things as well.

    Not all confessionalist are even close to the same in theology and practice. Not all that come under the title of Edwardsean are the same either. I find some of the teachings and practices of John Piper simply horrid and he will use Edwards to justify them. To give one more, I have found some of the stuff by Sam Storms rather nauseating. So my post was intended (as far as I know my heart, which is certainly not perfect) to simply show that there are lines and that is why people point them out on occasion.

    Here is the second part of the quote again: “Surely anyone looking at it can see the dangers of it as well as why some think the lines are tighter than others.” I can see why you might be a bit uptight over that. Here is what I mean by that. Some confessionalists are mighty close to Rome, while others are far, far from Rome. As I have said before, I would consider myself a confessionalists, though certainly not in the way you are (I simply love reading and reflecting over the WCF and the Belgic and they give me religoius affections). So in light of Sean’s post (quote), understand why some who are far from being a confessionalist think of all confessionalists as being alike and so think of what you do as being nearly Roman. But I don’t see the line drawn that tight.

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  68. Erik Charter quoting Richard – “The Gospel, according to Paul, is that of Christ in you the hope of glory”

    Erik – Actually, Richard, that is not the gospel. The gospel is outside of us. It is something that went on between the Father and the Son. It is objective. Now the Westminster speaks of effectual calling, which takes place when someone hears and responds to the gospel, but that is not the same as the gospel itself. This is why I think you are dangerously out of balance and potentially leading people astray.

    RS: Erik, learn to read the Scripture and then take one Scripture in its own context and then the context of the Bible as a whole.

    Col 1:25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
    26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,
    27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

    RS: What is preaching the word of God (v. 25) apart from preaching the Gospel? Paul is speaking of the great mystery that has been hidden from the past ages and generations. It is this great mystery that has now been manifested to His saints. It is that mystery that God makes know the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles. Now what is that mystery? It is Christ in you which is the hope of glory.

    Now go to Ephesians 3: 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
    5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
    6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
    7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
    8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,
    9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;
    10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
    11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord

    RS: Why did Christ suffer the wrath of God and in doing so propitiate the wrath of the Father? Why did Christ give a perfect righteousness to His people? He did so that God may dwell among His people (yes, there are other reasons). I John 4:7-10 shows us that Christ was a propitiation so that the love of God would dwell in the people of God. I am not sure it is possible to show how the Gospel is apart from Christ in His people and His people being in Christ. That union with Christ means that Christ is in His people and so the people are cleansed of heart and delivered from the dominion of the evil one.

    But as to my being dangerous because I emphasize with Westminster the effectual calling, that may show that you are out of balance yourself. If God does not call the person, then they come in a way that is not by grace alone. If God regenerates a person for any other reason than His own grace, then salvation is not by grace alone. Perhaps you want to locate the Gospel as to a historical message about what happened in history along with Michael Horton, but if what Christ did in history is not applied in our hearts now it is of no benefit. Jesus Christ was resurrected and as such is the living Christ today and will be forever. He was not bound in history at all, but instead He purchased the Holy Spirit for His people and He gives them the Spirit in the modern day.

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  69. Richard,

    All this would make some sense if Roman was confessionalist, but as Sean continually points out, it’s not really a word based religion — it’s the Mass. When your catechism is over 2000 entries long no one can accuse you of being “tight” and “well-defined” (i.e. confessional) on doctrine.

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  70. Erik Charter:
    Once again, the gospel from Heidelberg 60: Question 60. How are thou righteous before God?

    Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; (a) so that, though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, (b) and am still inclined to all evil; (c) notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, (d) but only of mere grace, (e) grants and imputes to me, (f) the perfect satisfaction, (g) righteousness and holiness of Christ; (h) even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; (i) inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart. (j)

    That’s some imputation my friend (which you say I never talk about — although I think this is at least the 3rd time I have presented Heidelberg 60 to you).

    RS: Yes, you quote the Heidelberg every now and then between your ad hominems and false deductions that you take as fact. But quoting the Heidelberg is not the same thing as talking about it as a basis for your positions.

    Erik: You accuse me (and perhaps others here) of being libertines, but one someone truly understands (1) the gospel, and (2) Christian liberty, they will always be subject to that accusation by people who don’t truly understand what the gospel is: A free gift.

    RS: Or someone that doesn’t understand the nature of the Gospel and of what Christian liberty is will always think they are being charged falsely. Like I said before, you prefer to talk of all the things of the world and the loves of the world to the things of God.

    Erik Charter: When the thief on the cross professed faith in Christ and Jesus told him that he would be in paradise with Jesus that day, where do you see anything taking place but that man’s profession of faith?

    RS: There is a lot more there than perhaps you realize. However, let us take it according to your assumption. The man was regenerated and was converted and given a believing heart man at point A. He had that faith and demonstrated that faith until he died. He rebuked the other thief is one thing that he did. For those regenerated and given believing hearts now, as children of the living God and held up by His grace they will persevere in life from point A (regeneration) until they die (point B). For some the distance between point A and point B will be shorter than others, but the point is that a heart of faith will be faithful. The following is from the Belgic Confession. Notice this from the third paragrpah: “So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being.”

    Article 24: The Sanctification of Sinners

    We believe that this true faith, produced in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes him a “new man,”^57 causing him to live the “new life”^58 and freeing him from the slavery of sin.

    Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.

    So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls “faith working through love,”^59 which leads a man to do by himself the works that God has commanded in his Word.

    These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by his grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification– for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place.

    So then, we do good works, but nor for merit– for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who “works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure” ^60– thus keeping in mind what is written: “When you have done all that is commanded you, then you shall say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.’ “^61

    Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works– but it is by his grace that he crowns his gifts.

    Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work.

    So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.

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  71. Erik Charter: Paul discusses the gospel in the paragraph prior to the paragraph you cite. This is the stuff that I never hear YOU talking about. You take this stuff for granted and only want to talk about “the heart”, as if no one here understands that profession of faith means more than mere head knowledge.

    RS: What can I say, Erik, but I don’t say no one here understands that. I would argue that I have spent far more time discussing unity with Christ, imputed righteousness, the cross, and regenaration more than the heart. However, it is difficult to talk about the truth of those things without talking about the heart.

    Erik: You have a self-appointed ministry to turn confessionalists into revivalists but true confessionalism does just fine without revivalism.

    RS: There you go again with your false deductions and charges. I have no self-appointed ministry. I will leave the other points alone.

    Erik: Revivalism does not do just fine without confessionalism, however (see the Second Great Awakening and its effects which plague us up to the present).

    RS: The plague of the bad part of the Second Great Awakening was from Pelagianism. Finney was a Pelagian, Erik, and as such cannot be linked in a meaningful way to the biblical aspects of the Awakening. Asahel Nettleton opposed Finney and his new measures with a lot of energy and predicted what it would do to the church in the coming centuries if adopted. By the way, Nettleton was what some would call an Edwardsean. Edward Griffin was also opposed to the measures of Finney and yet is thought of as a great preacher during that time, but he was also an Edwardsean. The Church is plagued by many things and some of them are misguided and misapplied forms of confessionalism and some of them are misguided and misapplied forms of what some call Edwardseanism. The Church is also plagued by those who take polarizing sides on isses that only work well when they work together. The Church is plagued by (as R.C. Sproul calls it) The Pelagian Captivity of the Church. There are many wolves in the Reformed ranks (in name) who are practical Pelagians in their hearts. Apart from dealing with people from their hearts (as Geoff pointed out that he does), that will be very destructive in the coming days.

    You can continue your mad rant against Edwardseanism as you please, though I think it is without understanding of what it really is, but the mega-churches and the church-growth pragmatists are in your ranks too. There are charismatics in your ranks too. Despite your ranting above, you did hit at one point that can be drawn out. Edwardseanism apart from a version of confessionalism will be misguided, but perhaps a realization on your side is needed that confessionalism apart from a solid Edwardseanism is also misguided. It will lead to things like the PCUSA.

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  72. Richard,

    So you object to confessionalists practicing confessionalism….by citing the confessions? What exactly is your beef again? You read the confessions to stir up “religious affections”. We read them as well and they move us. Why the agenda?

    Erik

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  73. Richard – “The plague of the bad part of the Second Great Awakening was from Pelagianism”

    Erik – No, that was only part of it. The other plague was the focus on the primacy of religious experience. People at the awakenings barked like dogs. They fell down on the ground. They carried on in the bushes. I think it was Beecher who said more new life was created in the bushes than through the preaching. Now I don’t say the 2nd awakening was equivalent to the 1st, but Pelagianism was not the only problem.

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  74. Richard – I sense an attempt at peacemaking in your final two paragraphs, but you need top realize that you are the one with the apparent axe to grind here, not me. You brought this up in a discussion about Rome. You were off-topic, in spite of your attempt to say otherwise. When you stop bringing your hobby horse into every conversation I’ll back off.

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  75. Richard – You can continue your mad rant against Edwardseanism as you please, though I think it is without understanding of what it really is, but the mega-churches and the church-growth pragmatists are in your ranks too. There are charismatics in your ranks too. Despite your ranting above, you did hit at one point that can be drawn out. Edwardseanism apart from a version of confessionalism will be misguided, but perhaps a realization on your side is needed that confessionalism apart from a solid Edwardseanism is also misguided. It will lead to things like the PCUSA.

    Erik – I am in the URC. Not seeing mega-churches, church-growth pragmatists, and charismatics in our ranks.

    Confessionalism did not lead to the PCUSA. Modernism and the social gospel led to the PCA. Edwards would not/did not save Presbyterians from what happened to the PCUSA. If anything, the people who Machen opposed would have saluted a “Christianity of the heart”. What doomed the PCA was too many ministers ceasing to actually believe the Confessions.

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  76. Erik – “Modernism and the social gospel led to the PCA”

    Correction: Modernism and the social gospel led to the downfall of the PCUSA.

    I am hoping I am not a prophet with that misstatement.

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  77. I would suggest the same rapprochement on revivalism that we seem to have on baptism. I don’t harasss Reformed Baptists on baptism any more because I respect that they have a principled position that can be deduced from Scripture. There is some ambiguity there. What if on every topic I changed the discussion to complain about Baptists and poke at them? That would get old for you. Similarly, you taking shots at Confessionalists gets old. Now if Hart writes a post criticizing Edwards or religion of the heart, then by all means defend yourself. Just don’t turn every discussion into it.

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  78. Yawn, despite the requisite Richard interlude, the original point was that CTC continues to make it up as they go along and quite frankly are about 3/4 protestant to a 1/4 roman. The longer they stay in, the less protestant they will hopefully become, if they’re serious about the historic nature of their faith and not just pushing the tent pegs out a little farther. Again from Carlin;

    “And then, once the Reformation took place, Bible-reading took on the color of being a distinctively Protestant thing, therefore something faithful Catholics should avoid. Protestants, after all, appealed to the authority of the Bible to challenge the authority of the pope and the bishops, and when they read the Bible they came to certain theological conclusions that conflicted with Catholic doctrine. Reading the Bible was dangerous for Catholics.”

    And one more:

    “…ANOTHER PART OF THE ANSWER IS THE SACRAMENTALISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: TO SAVE YOUR SOUL, IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SACRAMENTS THAN TO READ THE BIBLE”

    Jeremy Tate’s effusive praise for the Eucharist is the most reflective, of the CTCers, of a convert learning to embrace the way of Rome.

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  79. Erik Charter: Richard, You should stop whining about being slandered and the 9th Commandment.

    RS: You might consider the fact that I was not whining and instead consider the commandments of God and how they apply to our discussions. When you violate the ninth commandment in what you are saying about others, then you should be concerned enough to stop doing it. Instead, you think I am whining.

    Erik: When the whole conversation is here to see people can evaluate these things for themselves. The name of this site is “Oldlife”. “Old” means “Old School Presbyterian”. When you come here as a New School Presbyterian (Reformed Baptist, actually) and poke your finger in everyone’s eye day after day after day you are going to get a response (which is what you obviously want).

    RS: Erik, you have made another false deduction and false statement. I am not trying to poke my finger in people’s eye in order to get a response, especially if you mean a negative response. You might want to consider, however, that one has to ask questions and make points to get at what people really believe. You can go along on the surface is you wish, but that is not the way to grow in true understanding.

    Erik: No one is stopping you from starting Newschool.org or hanging out with like-minded Reformed Baptists or Revivalists online, so either man up or move on as far as I’m concerned.

    RS: There is no excuse for the number and degree of ad hominems and misrepresentations that you are guilty of.

    Erik: If I go to the Iowa Democratic Party website and belittle liberalism, Obama, and labor unions day after day after day I will probably elicit a strong response as well.

    RS: But I am not here to belittle anyone or anything. Another false accusation on your part.

    Erik: I did this for awhile but quickly realized I was being a jerk so I stopped.

    RS: So you have stopped. So stop.

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  80. Erik Charter: Richard, So you object to confessionalists practicing confessionalism….by citing the confessions?

    RS: No, but if you recall some have said that when I quite Scripture I should give and exposition of the text. So citing a confession in some ways is not doing much if you don’t actually deal with what it is saying and then use that in other postings.

    Erik: What exactly is your beef again?
    You read the confessions to stir up “religious affections”. We read them as well and they move us. Why the agenda?

    RS: Once again, I was not aware that I had an agenda. I am here to learn and interact. My pint about reading the Belgic and it stirring my “relgious affections” was dry humor that Dr. Hart most likely picked up on.

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  81. Erik Charter: Richard – “The plague of the bad part of the Second Great Awakening was from Pelagianism”

    Erik – No, that was only part of it. The other plague was the focus on the primacy of religious experience. People at the awakenings barked like dogs. They fell down on the ground. They carried on in the bushes.

    RS: But once things went that far, you do understand that you have moved into Pelagianism.

    Erik: I think it was Beecher who said more new life was created in the bushes than through the preaching. Now I don’t say the 2nd awakening was equivalent to the 1st, but Pelagianism was not the only problem.

    RS: Again it appears that you are confusing religious experience with fanatical experiences. If person A never experiences joy, then person A never had joy. An experimental Calvinist in the day would say that you must really have joy, but the focus was still on God and His sovereign hand over that joy as well as that joy coming from Him. The person you are describing are those that let thier feeling of joy drive them and as such that is no longer Christian joy. Jonathan Edwards described those excesses quite well in his Religious Affections.

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  82. Erik Charter – I am in the URC. Not seeing mega-churches, church-growth pragmatists, and charismatics in our ranks.

    RS: Confessionalist ranks.

    Erik Charter: Confessionalism did not lead to the PCUSA.

    RS: But they were confessional.

    Erik Charter: Modernism and the social gospel led to the PCA.

    RS: But how can a confessional group move that way? It is only when they leave the Scriptures as their final authority and without Christ as their life. Confessionalism in and of itself did not drive them there, but it also did not save them. So clearly confessionalism has a place, even a large place, but it is not the whole answer.

    Erik Charter: Edwards would not/did not save Presbyterians from what happened to the PCUSA.

    RS: I would argue that a true confessionalism combined with a true Edwardseanism would have changed things.

    Erik Charter: If anything, the people who Machen opposed would have saluted a “Christianity of the heart”.

    RS: As do many who mean something totally different than Edwards did.

    Erik Charter: What doomed the PCA was too many ministers ceasing to actually believe the Confessions.

    RS: But why did they stop believing the Confessions? When you answer that question, you might begin to see what I have been saying (that is, really saying).

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  83. Erik Charter: – What if everyone but you thinks it’s funny? You said yesterday that laughing and humor weren’t valuable (since we have no record of Jesus laughing) and that lots of funny people have committed suicide so I don’t think you get a vote.

    RS: Another instance of a false deduction. I never said that laughing or humor were not valuable. Context, context, context.

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  84. Erik Charter: Richard, All this would make some sense if Roman was confessionalist, but as Sean continually points out, it’s not really a word based religion — it’s the Mass. When your catechism is over 2000 entries long no one can accuse you of being “tight” and “well-defined” (i.e. confessional) on doctrine.

    RS: So the catechism and Trent (a confession) are not binding on Roman Catholics? Did Schaff make a mistake in including Trent in his The Creeds of Christendom? While Rome may not be confessional in your tight sense of the word, try arguing with certain priests about Trent and about their catechism. Of course the Mass is the center of what they do, but they do that because of what their confession (Trent) and their catechism says it means. But how can you fail to miss the line of connection between SOME confessionalists (self-professed) who are drifting from a Word based service to more of a focus on the Table?

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  85. Erik Charter: Richard – I sense an attempt at peacemaking in your final two paragraphs, but you need top realize that you are the one with the apparent axe to grind here, not me. You brought this up in a discussion about Rome. You were off-topic, in spite of your attempt to say otherwise. When you stop bringing your hobby horse into every conversation I’ll back off.

    RS: I have no ax to grind that I am aware of. While I did not intend to start a discussion about this, but instead was trying to point out something that was posted a few months ago, it happened. I have no hobby horse and I don’t bring it into every conversation. By the way, I have noticed a peculiar tendency here. People tend to get off topic. While I didn’t intend to get off topic on this, it happened. But it is not like that is a crime here or that it never happens.

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  86. Erik Charter: How many of Hart’s books have you actually read?

    RS: I am not sure. A few to several years ago I bought four, but I have obtained a few since then. He actually autographed a couple for me, though I am sure he doesn’t remember me. I was very impressed with his opposition to modern Evangelicalism. To be sure that does not answer your question. I am not sure how many I have read cover to cover, but I can say that a few he edited I only read his articles. By the way, I bought them all brand new.

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  87. Richard – But why did they stop believing the Confessions? When you answer that question, you might begin to see what I have been saying (that is, really saying).

    Erik – Modernism, which was an extension of the Enlightenment which also ruined Edwards Congregationalist churches.

    I have asked you this before, but what churches today are really practicing the kind of Christianity that you advocate. I can point to the URC (and the OPC and other faithful P&R churches). You said you don’t like (at least some of) Piper. Who do you like? Or are you a church of one? I try to avoid churches of one.

    And I shouldn’t have to try that hard to discern what you are “truly” saying. You’ve said an awful lot.

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  88. RS; Of course the Mass is the center of what they do, but they do that because of what their confession (Trent) and their catechism says it means. But how can you fail to miss the line of connection between SOME confessionalists (self-professed) who are drifting from a Word based service to more of a focus on the Table?

    Richard,

    You couldn’t find 1 priest who knows everything Rome confesses and maybe 1 in 50k who know half of it, and the one’s who do immediately start making distinction about what’s important, what’s essential and what’s just leftovers from the ‘old guard’. As Rome is practiced in the pews, and daily, and on the hour is rank pelagian sacramentalism. It’s so far removed from confessional protestantism as to be illegible as a comparable religious expression, more like opposite ends of the integer line. Your concern about ‘table focus’, or romish trap, where many only practice the Lord’s supper once a week to say nothing of those who practice the lord’s supper once a month or even seasonally is just inane. It doesn’t translate.

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  89. Just read that the University of Iowa is now the 2nd University in the country (first public institution) to ask people on the application if they are LGBTQ. Of course I immediately thought of this:

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  90. Erik Charter: Richard, So you object to confessionalists practicing confessionalism….by citing the confessions? What exactly is your beef again? You read the confessions to stir up “religious affections”. We read them as well and they move us. Why the agenda?

    RS: Erik, you might also consider that there is a thick three-volume set out on Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation. In the first two volumes alone there are 68 confessions of some type. Volume three, which I just ordered, assuming that it is close in number to the other two, will push the number of confessions dealt with to around 100. I still say that to say that one is confessional is not to narrow the field down a lot as to what one really believes. In volume One there is The Ten Theses of Bern. Here is the second theses: “The Church of Christ establishes no laws or statutes beyond the Word of God. Thus all traditions of men, which are called by us precepts of the Church, bind our consciences only insofar as they are founded aor have been commanded in the Word of God.”

    The Bern Synod to the termporal magistrate: Gracious, beloved lords, it is certainly not possible for the common ministers and servants of the Word of the eternal God to commence and maintain fruitfully an external order without the co-operation and help of the temporal authorities. The human heart is quite mangled, and perverted to its own inventions, both among the priests and the common people, on account of there being so little of the spirit and power of God in our hearts. It is fitting that the magistrate who desires to maintain a Christian rule and a pious government should diligently apply his authority as God’s maidservant; preserving the external aspects of the doctrine and life of the gospel among their subjects. You will be required to answer for these things at the strict tribunal in which God will pass sentence and judge the world through Jesus Christ.”

    RS: Perhaps your thinking of what it means to be confessional is a bit too narrow. I could quote from what falls under Reformed confessions that would disagree with you on many places. Which is the right confession? Why do you follow the ones you follow?

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  91. Richard – “I still say that to say that one is confessional is not to narrow the field down a lot as to what one really believes.”

    Erik – I would guess that 90% of the men here either hold to the Three Forms or The Westminster Standards. The presence of many Confessions may trouble you as you seem to want to pick and choose from many different traditions, but I am not troubled by it. Reformed people have been using the Three Forms for hundreds of years and that is good enough for me. I think they are a faithful summary of the important points of Scripture.

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  92. If we are going to use that line of reasoning lets have a discussion about all of the different varieties of Baptists, shall we? I imagine all of them are on vivid display there in Kansas.

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  93. sean quoting RS; Of course the Mass is the center of what they do, but they do that because of what their confession (Trent) and their catechism says it means. But how can you fail to miss the line of connection between SOME confessionalists (self-professed) who are drifting from a Word based service to more of a focus on the Table?

    Sean: Richard, You couldn’t find 1 priest who knows everything Rome confesses and maybe 1 in 50k who know half of it, and the one’s who do immediately start making distinction about what’s important, what’s essential and what’s just leftovers from the ‘old guard’. As Rome is practiced in the pews, and daily, and on the hour is rank pelagian sacramentalism. It’s so far removed from confessional protestantism as to be illegible as a comparable religious expression, more like opposite ends of the integer line.

    RS: There are priests out there who know more than you think. Of course it is far removed from true Protestantism of the confessional variety, but why are you refusing to recognize that there are others who claim to be confessional and Protestant that are are also involved in pelagian sacramentalism? I am not arguing that you are or that Dr. Hart and so on are that way, but the word “confessional” is not a word that gets you much accuracy.

    Sean: Your concern about ‘table focus’, or romish trap, where many only practice the Lord’s supper once a week to say nothing of those who practice the lord’s supper once a month or even seasonally is just inane. It doesn’t translate.

    RS: When you say “those who practice the lord’s supper” I am assuming you mean yourself. But surely you realize that what I was saying is not against those who practice the Supper as you sya you do. I wrote the word SOME in caps for a purpose. You read the word confessional and think that I am arguing against all confessionalists, but you are making the same mistake that others do about confessionalists when they read about one of the SOME and think it means all. But again, there are so many Protestants today (including many Lutherans) who are in virtual lock-step with Rome except for the Pope. Do you not see how some would see that as a line?

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  94. Erik Charter quoting Richard – But why did they stop believing the Confessions? When you answer that question, you might begin to see what I have been saying (that is, really saying).

    Erik – Modernism, which was an extension of the Enlightenment which also ruined Edwards Congregationalist churches.

    RS: But how did modernism of any kind get in? That is what I am trying to get at. Edwards was a Congregationalist, yes, but he was fighting against the things going on there. Indeed many of those went into other things as did many Presbyterians. But again, one has to stop believing one thing in order to arrive at another or vice versa.

    Erik: I have asked you this before, but what churches today are really practicing the kind of Christianity that you advocate. I can point to the URC (and the OPC and other faithful P&R churches). You said you don’t like (at least some of) Piper. Who do you like? Or are you a church of one? I try to avoid churches of one.

    RS: My honest answer to this would do nothing but bring your derision. I will only say that I don’t think true Christianity is not found in a lot of places at the moment. I am not, however, a church of one.

    Erik Charter: And I shouldn’t have to try that hard to discern what you are “truly” saying. You’ve said an awful lot.

    RS: Perhaps, but you have said an awful lot more. I can only hope that you read the Bible and the confessions with more care and attentiveness to the context than you do my words.

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  95. RS; You read the word confessional and think that I am arguing against all confessionalists, but you are making the same mistake that others do about confessionalists when they read about one of the SOME and think it means all. But again, there are so many Protestants today (including many Lutherans) who are in virtual lock-step with Rome except for the Pope. Do you not see how some would see that as a line?

    Me: Richard outside liberal protestantism, I think you’re straining at gnats. Even in Lutheranism, the problem isn’t from too much sacramental focus but a moving away from their historic confessionalism (missouri synod) and toward the ‘heart’, ‘liver-shiver’ (rosenblatt) focus of american evangelicalism. This is just more of you trying too hard. Your Edwardsian, I get it, and so does everyone else. Why you feel the need to pursue it in every post reminds me of someone with an involuntary tick. I also think your point about heart-religion can hit the target at times but your lack of seasoned discrimination regarding when, and at what you take aim does little to further your point.

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  96. Erik Charter quoting Richard – “I still say that to say that one is confessional is not to narrow the field down a lot as to what one really believes.”

    Erik – I would guess that 90% of the men here either hold to the Three Forms or The Westminster Standards. The presence of many Confessions may trouble you as you seem to want to pick and choose from many different traditions, but I am not troubled by it. Reformed people have been using the Three Forms for hundreds of years and that is good enough for me. I think they are a faithful summary of the important points of Scripture.

    RS: Okay, so 90% of the men here believe that. How many men actually post here and how many read here that don’t post and how many are there out there that call themselves confessional that don’t come on this site? I am not troubled by the differen versions of it at all, but I am trying to get you to see that what you are is not the standard of what it means to be Reformed and not the standard of what it means to be confessional.

    Erik Charter: If we are going to use that line of reasoning lets have a discussion about all of the different varieties of Baptists, shall we? I imagine all of them are on vivid display there in Kansas.

    RS: Without wondering what Kansas has to do with it, what line of reasoning do you think I am using? It may be that you have made another deduction which was based on your reading of my heart which you say is impossible. My line of reasoning was nothing more than an attempt to show you that there are many, many confessionalists out there. If you want to confine the term to what 90% of the men here believe, then you have what total percent of confessionalists? Do all the 90% agree with each other? So at least understand when I use the word “confessional” or “confessionalist” that I am not trying to slam people here. When you assume that, as you often do, you are assuming something you cannot know.

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  97. Richard – “My honest answer to this would do nothing but bring your derision. I will only say that I don’t think true Christianity is not found in a lot of places at the moment. I am not, however, a church of one.”

    Erik: Uh-oh. With that I’ll sign off

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  98. sean quoting RS; You read the word confessional and think that I am arguing against all confessionalists, but you are making the same mistake that others do about confessionalists when they read about one of the SOME and think it means all. But again, there are so many Protestants today (including many Lutherans) who are in virtual lock-step with Rome except for the Pope. Do you not see how some would see that as a line?

    Sean: Richard outside liberal protestantism, I think you’re straining at gnats. Even in Lutheranism, the problem isn’t from too much sacramental focus but a moving away from their historic confessionalism (missouri synod) and toward the ‘heart’, ‘liver-shiver’ (rosenblatt) focus of american evangelicalism. This is just more of you trying too hard. Your Edwardsian, I get it, and so does everyone else.

    RS: I guess we can disagree about problems with Lutheranism and others. However, if what you say about me is what you think Edwardsean theology is, all I can say is that you are mistaken about what it really is.

    Sean: Why you feel the need to pursue it in every post reminds me of someone with an involuntary tick. I also think your point about heart-religion can hit the target at times but your lack of seasoned discrimination regarding when, and at what you take aim does little to further your point.

    RS: Like I said, I don’t think you really get Edwardsean theology as it truly is. That is not a slam, just stating the matter. I think that is skewing your view of my points. But, life goes on.

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  99. Erik Charter quoting Richard – “My honest answer to this would do nothing but bring your derision. I will only say that I don’t think true Christianity is not found in a lot of places at the moment. I am not, however, a church of one.”

    Erik: Uh-oh. With that I’ll sign off

    Scripture:
    Luke 13:23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

    Luke 18:8 “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

    Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

    Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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  100. Thanks for the warnings, Richard. I’m glad I’m looking to Christ and His righteousness and not my own or anything inside me for salvation. That is true assurance – the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

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  101. Sean,
    You wrote: “the original point was that CTC continues to make it up as they go along and quite frankly are about 3/4 protestant to a 1/4 roman.”

    If your comment is in reference to the piece I wrote that Darryl linked to, how could you say that what I wrote was making it up as I go along? What I wrote contained reference after reference to the various Papal Magisteriums, most especially Leo XIII, Benedict XV, and Pius XII. It appears that no matter what the Church proposes toward the faith as it regards the Bible and the importance of Bible reading, you will not accept her word for it. You can accuse me and others at CtC of making up our own version of Catholicism, but if anyone cares to read the link Darryl provided to what I wrote, I think they would be able to see that the whole article was built upon the mind of the Church, especially three Papal Magisteriums. Furthermore, if anyone would like they can check out the articles there on a variety of topics and see for themselves if what you say is true.

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  102. Tom,

    If you don’t like hearing it from me you can always read Carlin on it. Bible reading is relatively unimportant to the private or public religious practice of roman catholics, and the more honest of you, much less the statistics back that up. I give credit where credit is due. Jeremy Tate seems to be getting it better than the rest of you. Your particular group’s emphasis on the word and truth propositions owes much more to your protestant background than Roman practice. You guys do the mass and pageantry and sacerdotalism, stop selling that propositional truth grounded. It isn’t for most and hasn’t been for a long time and for good reason. The Deposit is a lot to try to make cohere much less defend. Nevermind it’s being devel….I mean discovered, in mature form, as the church reflects more and more upon it and takes copious notes of the practice of the faithful.

    From David Carlin-Catholicity;

    “Of course, there is an old tradition among lay Catholics of not reading the Bible. Prior to the Protestant Reformation, this non-reading was a natural byproduct of the fact that the vast majority of lay Catholics were illiterate. Besides, such Bibles as were available were written in Latin, not the vernacular languages. And then, once the Reformation took place, Bible-reading took on the color of being a distinctively Protestant thing, therefore something faithful Catholics should avoid. Protestants, after all, appealed to the authority of the Bible to challenge the authority of the pope and the bishops, and when they read the Bible they came to certain theological conclusions that conflicted with Catholic doctrine. Reading the Bible was dangerous for Catholics.

    In the long period from the Council of Trent to Vatican II, a period of approximately four centuries, the Catholic Church adopted a highly defensive mode of being. There were two great intellectual dangers to the Faith – first the Protestant danger and then the secularist danger that stemmed from the Enlightenment. The Index of Prohibited Books was created to defend Catholics against these dangers. Of course, it was impossible to put the Bible on the Index, since the Bible, according to Catholic teaching, was the inspired Word of God. But if the Bible couldn’t be banned, at least Catholics could be effectively discouraged from reading it. There were several ways of doing this:

    A strong emphasis on Natural Religion had the effect of depreciating the value of Revelation generally.
    A strong emphasis on Tradition as a second source of Divine Revelation had the effect of depreciating the value of the Bible.
    Secondhand narrations of biblical stories, instead of moving Catholics to consult the original sources (the Bible itself), more often gave them the impression that it was not necessary to examine the Bible.
    Catholics were told that they must not read Protestant translations of the Bible (e.g., the Authorized Version); if they insisted on reading the Bible, they must read properly annotated Catholic translations.
    Some gentle ridicule directed at the Biblicism of our “separated brethren” taught Catholics to shy away from the Bible.
    In general, Catholics were seldom seriously encouraged by their priests and nuns to search the Scriptures.
    All this changed, officially at least, at Vatican II, which dropped the Church’s 400-year-old “defensive mode of being.” Lay Catholics were now at long last given the green light to read the Bible; indeed, they were encouraged to read it. Yet today, nearly a half-century later, 44 percent of American Catholics “rarely or never” read the Bible, and only 7 percent read it on a daily basis. How can this be?

    Part of the answer, of course, is inertia. Four centuries of a certain policy cannot be changed immediately overnight – any more than an aircraft carrier at sea can make a turn of 180 degrees on a dime. ANOTHER PART OF THE ANSWER IS THE SACRAMENTALISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: TO SAVE YOUR SOUL, IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SACRAMENTS THAN TO READ THE BIBLE. But a third part of the answer is, alas, that the leadership of the Church (I mean its bishops and priests) have not stressed the importance of Bible-reading for shaping the Christian mind and heart.

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  103. Erik Charter: Thanks for the warnings, Richard. I’m glad I’m looking to Christ and His righteousness and not my own or anything inside me for salvation.

    RS: Where is Christ? Where is the Spirit? Is Christ in His temple? Where is His temple? If you are not looking to anything inside of you, then you are not looking for Christ in you. If you are not looking for anything inside of you, then you are not looking for the Spirit inside of you. So how is it that you are not looking for Christ where He tells us He is to dwell?

    Erik C: That is true assurance – the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

    RS: But of course, but one needs to be united to Christ to have that rather than just work up some belief that it is out there somewhere. Paul commands us to examine ourselves to see if Christ is in us. John tells us that we can know this by the Spirit and love in us. But you don’t look there. So you cannot have true assurance.

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  104. Sean,

    It really has nothing to do with not liking to hear it from you. I have no problem saying that just as there are Protestants (and even Presbyterians) who don’t spend time reading their Bibles, there are Catholics who also don’t read from the Bible. That is irrelevant to the discussion. What Darryl and you are arguing is that CtC Catholics as you might label us, have constructed a version of the Catholic Church that exists in our own little world. If I may summarize in my own words what I hear you saying, it might go something like this: “Those guys at CtC have embraced a version of Catholicism that is based on their Protestant background. They might be Catholic in a formal sense, but fundamentally they are Protestants in their thinking and when they realize this they will come to a cross-roads and either scrap their Protestant ways and really embrace real Catholicism or they will leave the Catholic Church.”

    If my above scenario is correct, and I believe it is a fair representation to what I have read here at Old Life, then my response is, you are wrong to say that we have not truly embraced Catholicism. You have not one time responded to the linked article provided by Darryl to demonstrate how we at CtC obscure things. The purpose of my article was to demonstrate that Popes, and in particular Leo XIII, Benedict XV, and Pius XII (and so many others could be put forward), have encouraged Catholics to read from the Bible. You keep recommending that I read Carlin (a writer that I have read numerous times in First Things) to prove that Catholics don’t read the Bible and that we at CtC obscure what real Catholicism is because we take our Protestant love for the Bible and bring that love into the Church, not realizing that our love for the Bible is really a Protestant thing and not a Catholic thing. But, Sean, the problem with your narrative is that it is simply wrong on a factual level, and I dare say, especially for the R2K crowd, a bit conspiratorial in its rebuttal. Again, if you actually read what I wrote, and my sense is that you have not, because you would read quotes not from Protestant converts but Roman Pontiffs, that state, “Our one desire for all the Church’s children is that, being saturated with the Bible, they may arrive at the all surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ” (Spiritus Paraclitus #69), and, “read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, so as to gather thence food for their souls” (Spiritus Paraclitus #43). If you have read it and still maintain, with Darryl, that I obscured real Catholicism by my article, then I must say you are acting quite like those who embrace every theory under the sun about the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Rockefellers as controlling everything that gets done in the world. No matter what evidence is offered contrary to the conspiratorial narrative, the conspiratorial minded continue down the path of elaborate plots. Now, I am not accusing of being a conspiracy minded guy, but the fact that you refuse to accept what the Church, especially Popes, have written and taught on the Bible, at face value, reveals either an ignorance about what the Church teaches or a belief that says, let the facts be damned, I will determine for myself what Catholics really believe!!! I have gathered from your comments that you are a former Catholic, and my experience is that this is typical of former Catholics. Be assured of my prayers for you, most especially at the Mass I will be attending in a about 30 minutes.

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  105. Tom, it’s not a matter of conspiracy. It’s a matter of shifting standards. Protestants are dinged when we are divided because our Bibles tell us we should be one. Then when Popes tell RCs to read their Bibles and the laity don’t, it’s fine. Why? Because the pope is infallible, because of apostolic succession, because of the history of the church? I don’t know. But if Protestants are guilty for failing to live up to their ideals, why are RCs. I call that obscuring reality or a stacked deck.

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  106. Tom,

    When you find yourself part of the 7%, how do you view the unity, fealty and regard for the church that papal authority has caused to cohere? I presume you would blame the rank and file congregant or even rogue or vatican II progressive clergy and religious. I, on the other hand, find blame in the indecipherability and outright contradiction that magisterial leadership has proffered over the centuries which is largely what Carlin puts forth. The very sacramentalism much less ‘strong emphasis, even optimistic or semi-pelagian orientation, of natural theology in Rome in many ways obviates the urgent or salvific need of special revelation. So, the roman pew-sitter gravitates to the ‘essence’ of what Rome offers and is organized for, all the way down to last-rites, sacerdotalism. You find fault in the faithful, I find fault in an over-esteemed and biblically contrary magisterium. Most RC’s have reached the same conclusion and exhibit it through their ‘selective’ participation in the church. I’ll grant CTC it’s place in Rome, but all that communicates to me is Rome is an enormous tent that houses a diversity that rivals protestant liberalism. But as always, I grant Rome one ground of unified orthopraxy, the Mass. Most all go to Mass, and I won’t quibble with you over those who call themselves Roman catholic but only attend on the holidays, we’ve got the same contingent on this side of the fence.

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  107. Darryl,

    I gather your point is that since Rome claims authority for the Magisterium, the Pope is infallible and the laity doesn’t listen to them Rome is in the same boat as Protestantism? With no more claim to authority than the OPC or PCA? Am I reading you right?

    If your argument is: Catholics do not listen to the Church therefore the Church really doesn’t have the authority she thinks she does. I have to respond with: surely you do not think the failure to heed proper authority in any way disproves that the claim to having such authority. Moses had the authority from God, yet many of the people did not listen to him. The Prophets had authority from God, yet the people rejected their words and did not heed their warnings. Paul had authority as an Apostle, but those pesky Corinthians were not so receptive. Jesus had authority, not as God’s Servant, but as God’s own Son, and tragically His message and life was nailed to a Roman Cross. It seems like the Catholic Church is in good company, the authentic authority, divinely given-bearer of the Message and Presence of God, yet, tragically rejected, mocked, and not heeded by many.

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  108. Tom ,

    Can you make a case for the authority of the Pope in a historically verifiable way that does not involve circular reasoning? If you can’t, why should I trust what the Pope says any more than what my Protestant pastor says — on Bible reading or anything else?

    If Catholics are concerned with Bible reading does it follow that they are concerned with grounding Catholic practices in Scripture? Where do you see veneration of Mary, veneration of saints, veneration of relics, selling of indulgences, the concept of purgatory, and other practices that would seem to be in opposition to Scripture? In these cases who wins, Scripture or the Church?

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  109. Tom,

    I think Sean’s point is that CTC needs to at least get fellow Catholics on board before they expand their project to converting Presbyterian & Reformed people. Otherwise you are guilty of false advertising and selling people a product that doesn’t exist in the state you are selling it. It’s as if you sell me a 2013 Chevrolet Corvette and I go to the showroom to pick it up only to discover it’s a 1983 Chevy Citation. I’m going to be a bit disappointed.

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  110. Richard says to Erik: But you don’t look there. So you cannot have true assurance.

    That’s not you’re call Richard! Plus I disagree. The Bible never instructs us to look inside ourselves for God. We are exhorted to look up to Christ author and finisher of our faith. We should have assurance if we’re walking by faith, and its true God inhabits his people, but God also inhabits every living thing.

    “Jehovah speaks and the deer gives birth”

    “In him we move and have our being”.

    That’s true for both believer and unbeliever. The Spirit of God is the driving force of all life on earth. Even unbelievers are dependent of the Spirit of God for every breath they take. Now there is a special indwelling that only someone born of God enjoys when they’re walking in obedience. But there is mystery involved in understanding these distinctions. But you have no right to tell Erik he has no assurance, unless he conforms to your rigid introspective theory. While you have a sliver of truth, you’re simply not taking all of God’s Word into account.

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  111. Tom,

    My point is real simple; Gal. 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

    Any church’s apostolic authority only goes as far as fealty to the original apostolic tradition. There is no infallible ecclesial office only an infallible tradition or testament.

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  112. Doug Sowers: Richard says to Erik: But you don’t look there. So you cannot have true assurance.

    Doug Sowers: That’s not you’re call Richard! Plus I disagree. The Bible never instructs us to look inside ourselves for God. We are exhorted to look up to Christ author and finisher of our faith. We should have assurance if we’re walking by faith, and its true God inhabits his people, but God also inhabits every living thing.

    RS: Fine, but where do you look for Christ? Evidently have you not read the other parts on it. Of course one is to look to Christ, but what does it mean to look to Christ and where does one look for Christ at? The book of I John tells you over and over where to look for Christ and the Spirit.

    Doug Sowers: “Jehovah speaks and the deer gives birth” “In him we move and have our being”.

    That’s true for both believer and unbeliever. The Spirit of God is the driving force of all life on earth. Even unbelievers are dependent of the Spirit of God for every breath they take. Now there is a special indwelling that only someone born of God enjoys when they’re walking in obedience. But there is mystery involved in understanding these distinctions. But you have no right to tell Erik he has no assurance, unless he conforms to your rigid introspective theory. While you have a sliver of truth, you’re simply not taking all of God’s Word into account.

    RS: I have every right to do so, not to mention I should tell him that for his own good. You can continue to speak error and say that I have to have others conform to a rigid introspective theory, but in fact Paul commands people to test themselves and examine themslves. What are they to test and examine themselves for? To see if Christ is in them (II Cor 13:5). Read I John very closely, or at least take the time to read chapter 4 very closely. Where does the love of God dwell? Where does the Spirit of God dwell? How do we know if we are born of God and know God? I would say that I am taking the Word of God into account and that includes the verses that specifically speak to assurance. If Erik (or anyone else) is trying to look for Christ in a way He does not tell them to do so, then they will never have true assurance. King Jesus dwells in the souls He saves by His Spirit and so we should look for Him on His throne.

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  113. From Kevin DeYoung:

    Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person

    Quarrels don’t just happen. People make them happen.

    Of course, there are honest disagreements and agree-to-disagree propositions, but that’s not what the Bible means by quarreling. While studying Proverbs recently I was struck by the fact that most of the advice about conflict is not on how to resolve it, but how to avoid it.

    Quarrels, at least in Proverbs, are unnecessary arguments, the kind that honorable men stay away from (17:14; 20:3). These fights aren’t the product of a loving rebuke or a principled conviction. These quarrels arise because people are quarrelsome. Some Christians have a lifeline to Speedway and love to pour gasoline on every tiny spark of conflict.

    You don’t have to be a card-carrying member of the nice Nazis to believe that quarreling is wrong. You only have to believe the Bible (James 4:1). Hot-headed, divisive Christians are not pleasing to God (Proverbs 6:19). We are told to drive them out (22:10) and avoid such people (Rom. 16:17). This doesn’t mean we only huddle with the people we like. We are not talking about awkward folks or those who disagree with us. We are talking about quarrelsome Christians–habitually disagreeable, divisive, hot-headed church people.

    So what does a quarrelsome person look like? What are his (or her) distinguishing marks?

    1. You defend every conviction with the same degree of intensity. You don’t talk about secondary issues, because there are no secondary issues.

    2. You are quick to speak and slow to listen. You rarely ask questions and when you do it is to accuse or to continue prosecuting your case. You are not looking to learn, you are looking to defend, dominate, and destroy.

    3. Your only model for ministry and faithfulness is the showdown on Mount Carmel. There is a place for sarcasm, but when Elijah with the prophets of Baal is your spiritual hero you may end up mocking people instead of making arguments.

    4. You are incapable of seeing nuances and you do not believe in qualifying statements.

    5. You never give the benefit of the doubt. You do not try to read arguments in context. You put the worst possible construct on other’s motives and the meaning of their words.

    6. You have no unarticulated opinions.

    7. You are unable to sympathize with your opponents.

    8. Your first instinct is to criticize. Your last is to encourage.

    9. You have a small grid and everything fits in it. Everything is a social justice issue; everything relates to the regulative principle, everything is Obama’s fault; everything is wrong because of patriarchy; everything comes down to one thing–my thing.

    10. You derive a sense of satisfaction and spiritual safety in being rejected and marginalized. You are constitutionally unable to be demonstrably fruitful in ministry and you will never affirm those who appear to be. You only know how to relate to God as a remnant.

    11.You are always in the trenches with hand grenades strapped to your chest, never in the mess hall with ice cream and ping pong. Remember G.K. Chesterton: “We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return to at evening.”

    12. You have never changed your mind on an important matter.

    Just some food for thought. I know I choke on my own words at times.

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  114. Tom, but Protestants have authority too. Our people don’t heed it. So you guys jump to Rome, where Christians imitate Protestants. What’s up with that? And how does that make Rome superior? (And please don’t bring up antiquity. The Eastern church is older than Rome. Think Jerusalem.) That’s what you obscure. Makes sense. Who wants to express buyer’s remorse?

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  115. Three nuns were attending a Yankees baseball game…

    Three men were sitting directly behind the three nuns. Because their habits were partially blocking the view, the men decided to badger the nuns hoping that they’d get annoyed enough to move to another area.

    In a very loud voice, the first guy said, “I think I’m going to move to Utah. I hear there are only one-hundred nuns living out there.”

    Then the second guy spoke up and said, “I want to go to Montana. I hear there are only fifty nuns under the Big Sky.”

    The third guy said, “I’m leaving for Idaho. I hear there are only twenty-five nuns there.”

    Mother Superior turned around, looked at the men, and in a very calm, sweet voice said, “I think you should go to hell. I know for a fact there aren’t any nuns there.”

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  116. Is purgatory making a comeback (even in Las Vegas)?

    Is it in bad taste, even insensitive, to speak of purgatory at a funeral?

    Many seem to think so. In my experience, most homilists at funeral Masses report that our loved one is already in heaven, and we should hold onto that thought as we grieve our loss.
    So I was startled this month when the homilist at a recent funeral Mass for an old friend asked the congregation to pray for him in purgatory. The priest added, as if anticipating the shock of some mourners: “It seems to me, any Christian who does not accept purgatory, diminishes God’s love for man, and at the same time devalues the beauty of the human person.”

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