Development of Loophole?

While Jason and the Callers continue to lay it on thick with the Protestantism-equals-individualism-and-anarchy-and-Roman-Catholicism-represents-everything-that-is-glorious-and-certain meme, the history of Roman Catholicism continues to yield considerations that render Jason and the Callers virtually gnostic in their quest for a visible church. Today’s stroll into things to which Jason and Callers don’t pay attention is John Henry Cardinal Newman, the Blessed John Henry Newman by the Callers’ reckoning.

It turns out that Newman was not so keen on Pius IX’s efforts to raise the stature and authority of the papacy. He gave the “audacity of the papacy” a whole new meaning. Look, for instance, at his comments on the Syllabus of Errors:

What does the word “Syllabus” mean? A collection; the French translation calls it a “Resumé;”—a Collection of what? I have already said, of propositions,—propositions which the Pope in his various Allocutions, Encyclicals, and like documents, since he has been Pope, has pronounced to be Errors. Who gathered the propositions out of these Papal documents, and put them together in one? We do not know; all we know is that, by the Pope’s command, this Collection of Errors was sent by his Foreign Minister to the Bishops. He, {277} Cardinal Antonelli, sent to them at the same time the Encyclical of December, 1864, which is a document of dogmatic authority. The Cardinal says, in his circular to them, that the Pope ordered him to do so. The Pope thought, he says, that perhaps the Bishops had not seen some of his Allocutions, and other authoritative letters and speeches of past years; in consequence the Pope had had the Errors which, at one time or other he had therein noted, brought together into one, and that for the use of the Bishops.

Such is the Syllabus and its object. There is not a word in it of the Pope’s own writing; there is nothing in it at all but the Erroneous Propositions themselves—that is, except the heading “A Syllabus, containing the principal Errors of our times, which are noted in the Consistorial Allocutions, in the Encyclicals, and in other Apostolical Letters of our most Holy Lord, Pope Pius IX.” There is one other addition—viz., after each Error a reference is given to the Allocution, Encyclical, or other document in which it is proscribed.

The Syllabus, then, is to be received with profound submission, as having been sent by the Pope’s authority to the Bishops of the world. It certainly comes to them with his indirect extrinsic sanction; but intrinsically, and viewed in itself, it is nothing more than a digest of certain Errors made by an anonymous writer. There would be nothing on the face of it, to show that the Pope had ever seen it, page by page, unless the “Imprimatur” implied in the Cardinal’s letter had been an evidence of this. It has no mark or seal put upon it which gives it a direct relation to the Pope. {278} Who is its author? Some select theologian or high official doubtless; can it be Cardinal Antonelli himself? No surely: anyhow it is not the Pope, and I do not see my way to accept it for what it is not. I do not speak as if I had any difficulty in recognizing and condemning the Errors which it catalogues, did the Pope himself bid me; but he has not as yet done so, and he cannot delegate his Magisterium to another. I wish with St. Jerome to “speak with the Successor of the Fisherman and the Disciple of the Cross.” I assent to that which the Pope propounds in faith and morals, but it must be he speaking officially, personally, and immediately, and not any one else, who has a hold over me. The Syllabus is not an official act, because it is not signed, for instance, with “Datum Romæ, Pius P.P. IX.,” or “sub annulo Piscatoris,” or in some other way; it is not a personal, for he does not address his Venerabiles Fratres,” or “Dilecto Filio,” or speak as “Pius Episcopus;” it is not an immediate, for it comes to the Bishops only through the Cardinal Minister of State.

Development of doctrine, indeed, with a splash of Jesuitical casuistry?

I am not competent to know what Newman was up against in England, nor do I know the workings of canon law regarding a Cardinal who dissents from his pope. I don’t have the right paradigm (even if I do have the right chromosomes). But Newman hardly seems like the model of conservative Roman Catholicism, even if he does serve as a model of Roman Catholic reasonableness in the face of the Vatican’s attempt to double-down on its supremacy. In fact, Ian Ker’s biography of Newman gives much more evidence that the Cardinal was hardly the font of conservatism that some contemporary Roman Catholics assert. Just after Vatican I, Newman was figuring out how to reconcile himself to the doctrine of infallibility. According to Ker:

Privately, [Newman] confided to Ambrose St John that he would not know what to say to anxious enquirers if the Pope did in fact take advantage of what was “a precedent and a suggestion to use his power without necessity, when ever he will, when not called on to do so.” He was so concerned, [Newman] admitted, at the danger of an attempt to extend the definition, that “we must hope, for one is obliged to hope it,that the Pope will be driven from Rome, and will not continue the Council, or that there will be another Pope.” (656)

Ker adds that Newman’s hope was that things would get so bad they could not get any worse. In Newman’s own words:

We have come to the climax of tyranny. It is not good for a Pope to live 20 years. It is anomaly and bears no good fruit; he becomes a god, has no one to contract him, does not know facts, and does cruel things without meaning it. For years years past my only consolation personally has been in our Lord’s Presence in the Tabernacle. I turn from the sternness of external authority to Him who can immeasurably compensate trials which after all are not real. . . (659)

Some have tried to explain Newman’s views, though Jason and the Callers are not among them. It does make you wonder if the development of doctrine notion is really a way to explain away aspects of papal teaching that converts find troubling (a version of Protestantism within the Roman Catholic fold). It also raises questions about whether Newman really is a model for Protestant converts to Rome since you don’t find any of Newman’s reservations about the papacy among the Callers. And then we have the matter of Protestant “interpretation” and Roman Catholic “reception” of infallible teaching. If Jason and the Callers followed Newman’s example, they might be questioning the magisterium as much as Cumberland Presbyterians dissent from the Westminster Assembly.

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138 thoughts on “Development of Loophole?

  1. They do enjoy these inter-webs. They do seem quite happy, together, in their own way. I will know to steer clear when the te comes to dig into Roman Catholicism. Thanks DG for providing signposts.

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  2. Jason – Despite having become something of a douche in the past 15 years or so, any honest and knowledgable music fan must admit that one of the best, most talented, and most musically diverse singer/songwriters of the 1980′s was (wait for it, wait for it) . . . Sting, whose Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985) and Nothing Like the Sun (1987) were nothing short of brilliant.

    Erik – I almost stopped reading at this point. Who extols Sting’s solo work over the work of The Police? Hey, let’s talk about “Wings”. Who cares about “The Beatles”.

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  3. Jason – This is why the Catholic approach to this issue is superior. For the Catholic, belief in apostolic succession is neither a-historical and irrational, nor is it mere assent to empirical facts. Rather, it is a matter of faith in the authoritative claims of the Church that Christ founded.

    Erik – Is it just me or is this reasoning circular? We believe in apostolic succession because the Church that Christ founded claims it, and we believe the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded because of apostolic succession. I thought circular reasoning was a no-no for these guys.

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  4. Newman’s article: The True Notion of Papal Infallibility

    http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/vatican2/newman.html

    Yes, he has concerns and as a faithful Catholic he voices them boldly, but he trusts himself to Christ and leaves Christ to guide and protect His Church.

    To be a true Catholic a man must have a generous loyalty towards ecclesiastical authority, and accept what is taught him with what is called the pietas fidei, and only such a tone of mind has a claim, and it certainly has a claim, to be met and to be handled with a wise and gentle minimism. Still the fact remains, that there has been of late years a fierce and intolerant temper abroad, which scorns and virtually tramples on the little ones of Christ.

    He has the trust in Christ which comes from resting firmly in His holy hands, while even fearing Christ may call him to his death to speak the heart Christ has given him. May we live as Newman did speaking and living the convictions of Christ crucified.

    Peace,
    MichaelTX

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  5. Michael here is the sum total of the principled reason for Roman Catholicism;

    “Wouldn’t it have made sense for God to leave us an visible infallible church we can recognize as such”

    Rome can make neither an exegetical case nor a historical case to substantiate it’s claims; ‘Tradition and the Lexicon’, a hermenuetic of continuity and coherence when reading ecclesial documents AND when reading the historical record. It effectively amounts to a variation of Freud’s wish fulfillment or Kantian noumenal truth, take your pick.

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  6. Oh yeah, Sean. Well I really want to believe that Catholicism is true and I know it’s true apart from my senses. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

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  7. Eric,

    “Is it just me or is this reasoning circular? We believe in apostolic succession because the Church that Christ founded claims it, and we believe the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded because of apostolic succession.”

    Nope. Not just you. Substitute the following: We believe the Bible because the Church Christ founded proclaims it, and we believe the Church is the Church that Christ founded because of the Bible.

    Despite all the red faced appeals to the “reasonableness” of their “paradigm” the Called to Communion folks do not get around the fideistic problem they find so problematic in Protestantism.

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  8. wjw,

    They try to get around fideism by pointing to the objectivity of their historical claims. Then when you point how muddled their historical claims are they say the historical record ain’t no big thang — like Jason does in his piece.

    These guys would make excellent boxers they way they are constantly bobbing and weaving. I just can’t for the life of me figure out why guys like Cross and Stellman honestly think they are in a better place now than they were when they were Protestants. Maybe in their solitary, quiet moments they realize it, but their pride won’t allow them to go public. It’s all just very weird. As Sean always points out, their reasons for becoming Catholic were really bad reasons.

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  9. sean,
    I’m no philosopher over here. You may even be right, though I think the Scriptures and history reasonably witness against you. But what comes to my mind is I don’t think Augustine was affected by them, and probably without the labor of Augustine for the Kingdom the Catholic Church would not have been what it is. Christ uses His people for His work. He live 1000 or more years before any of those guys, and He makes many of the same arguments for the Church that Catholics today make.

    “I would not believe the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not compel me.”

    “Whosoever shall have separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how praiseworthy such a person may fancy his life has been, yet for that one crime of having cut himself off from the unity of Christ he shall not have eternal life, but the wrath of God shall abide with him for ever.” (“Letter 141,” c. early 5th century)

    “The Catholic Church is the work of Divine Providence, achieved through the prophecies of the prophets, through the Incarnation and the teaching of Christ, through the journeys of the Apostles, through the suffering, the crosses, the blood and death of the martyrs, through the admirable lives of the saints…. When, then, we see so much help on God’s part, so much progress and so much fruit, shall we hesitate to bury ourselves in the bosom of that Church? For starting from the apostolic chair down through successions of bishops, even unto the open confession of all mankind, it has possessed the crown of teaching authority.” (Augustine, “The Advantage of Believing 35…392 A.D.)

    He was a bit of a stickler for there being one authoritative Church of Christ. I suppose he could be wrong too. I wasn’t there in the beginning, so I will be trusting some account of history and I will have some understanding formed by the Scriptures. I have found the Catholic account most reasonably true, so I am now Catholic. Each man must deal with ideas only with what God gives him and draws him to and then he must rest on God alone. We abandon ourselves to God by His guiding hand of grace so as to not be on the shifting sand on our own opinions but wholly in Him who is the rock of our salvation.
    Could we be wrong? Yes, but we are fools for Christ’s sake. We rest on His promises. Only He is our hope and our salvation.

    Peace sean,
    MichaelTX

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  10. Erik – are you suggesting that Michael should wind up head down in a wood chipper as did Buscemi’s character in “Fargo?”

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  11. Why do these “Caller” types always sign off with the Pax Vobsicum at the end of their blog comments? Seems like a thread of insincerity (pun intended).

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  12. Why is it that whenever I see the term “Callers” used in these threads I’m reminded of a well known contest that occurs every Summer at Midwestern state fairs?

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  13. Michael, for what it’s worth, the reformation laid at the feet of the medieval church a departure from Augustine. Not to mention the anachronistic attempt to read Tridentine RC into Augustinian ‘Catholicism’. It’s interesting the reasonableness charge, every time we get to the nitty gritty of exegeting a text like Gal 1:8 at the ground of apostolic authority, we get the interpretation of Tradition; ‘Tradition and the Lexicon’ and an appeal to a gnostic apostolic tradition not in the canon and at very obvious points contrary to canonical tradition-Marian dogma, Apostolic authority that per the elevation of Tradition is allowed to be at odds with canonical tradition, contrary to Gal 1:8, justified on account of development of the deposit, all per, as it oddly turns out, a liberal protestant historic-critical hermenuetic unearthed at Vat II.

    As regards the historical record, well, it again has to be buttressed by noumenal faith claims. Reconciling Pope Pius IX with Vat II strains the credulity of even someone like JHN. Perspicuity is a much more reasonable ground to defend. That councils and synods may and do err, is much more reasonable given the historical record. In this way I’m only required to attest to the supernatural claims of Christ and the canonical apostolic authority while regarding the visible churchly authority as necessary but secondary and subordinate, not to mention granting room back to the Holy Spirit and illumination of the sacred text.

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  14. Michael,

    Buy a six-pack, Rent “The Big Lebowski”, and call me in the morning.

    George,

    No – Michael will not meet Carl Showalter’s fate. Donny’s passing was much more peaceful.

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  15. “Fargo”, the Coen’s masterpiece and maybe one of the ten best movies ever made, can be read as a meditation on pietism. Behind a facade of pietism and “niceness” could be lurking a heinous heart full of sin, or a good heart.

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  16. Eric,

    Yep. If you stare at Protestant history too long your eyes will eventually cross (no pun intended). But the same holds true for the history of Roman Catholicism. The problem is history teaches us a great deal but resolves absolutely nothing in our quest for normative certainty. Roman Catholics have no more of a cornered market on certainty via history than Protestants. They may even have less than Eastern Orthodoxy. History will not yield a visible infallible church no matter how hard you squeeze it.

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  17. By the way. If someone counters history may not yield a visible infallible church but Scripture does, they have slipped back into a variation of Protestantism.

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  18. sean,
    I am just one who believes. We can all believe something and it be wrong. I include myself in that charge, but by God’s grace my faith hope and love is where it is. I am not able to speak for you, only myself. God is good he can take care of us both in His own ways. One difference we have with Paul in Gal1:8 is that I do not think it is against the Gospel I profess, yet you do. So you think what I believe is against Christ and the Gospel Paul presented and I do not. Yet being I have not heard your presentation of the Gospel. I am willing to think it is possible you have as much as is possible for you right. Can you tell me what you believe, so we could talk about it?

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  19. Erik,
    Sounds like fun, but I doubt I’d be able to get to it anytime soon. Father of four over here. I bearly get as much time with my wife as I’d like. I stay behind in the tv and movie world. Though, I do enjoy a good movie when I can. Internet and phone connections are the only things I keep going at our house.

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  20. “Caller” also reminds me of the zombie “walker.” Imagine a bunch of Callers coming out of the woods toward your house. (That’s not very nice, is it?)

    What do you call Brian Cross robbing a bank?
    White Caller crime.

    Yeah, they always grant us peace yadda yadda but, to be fair, there is also Presbyterian-speak. I have to use it once in a while when representing the church. It makes me wince.

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  21. MTX quoting Augustine: “I would not believe the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not compel me.”

    RS: You might want to consider that the Catholic Church during the time of Augustine was not the same thing that we think of as ROMAN Catholicism. A lot more has been claimed by ROMAN Catholicism than by Catholicism. Remember, historic Protestants claim that ROMAN Catholicism stopped being the true Church and Protestantism continue the line of true Catholicism.

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  22. Michael, it’s summarily represented in the WCF(Westminster confession of faith), but for ease of reference and polemical purposes; sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus christus, soli deo gloria.

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  23. wjw: Eric, Yep. If you stare at Protestant history too long your eyes will eventually cross (no pun intended). But the same holds true for the history of Roman Catholicism. The problem is history teaches us a great deal but resolves absolutely nothing in our quest for normative certainty. Roman Catholics have no more of a cornered market on certainty via history than Protestants. They may even have less than Eastern Orthodoxy. History will not yield a visible infallible church no matter how hard you squeeze it.

    RS: Which is why the basic fundamentals of what the Reformers set out goes back to Scripture and the Creeds point to Scripture as the real authority as well. The Creeds are very important, but when they are followed blindly one is following the same principles of Roman Catholicism. History cannot determine what is true, but only what certain people believed at a particular time or what happened at a certain time. But then again, historians (licensed or not) are like athiests and theologians (as do all human beings) in that they have a weakness in wanting to see/prove/demonstrate what they believe already.

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  24. About the “Callers,”
    I find it a useless term, myself. But hey use it for people if one wishes. I’m not involved with the site and have only read a handful of articles on there, and yes I found them useful; but they are not me and I am not them. I haven’t even talked with any of the guys on there in blogs. To lump a pile of people and make there them accountable for the others seems pointless to me. Each person is accountable and will be treated individually by Christ; therefore, I believe we are called to do the same.

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  25. MichaelTX: About the “Callers,”
    I find it a useless term, myself. But hey use it for people if one wishes. I’m not involved with the site and have only read a handful of articles on there, and yes I found them useful; but they are not me and I am not them. I haven’t even talked with any of the guys on there in blogs. To lump a pile of people and make there them accountable for the others seems pointless to me. Each person is accountable and will be treated individually by Christ; therefore, I believe we are called to do the same.

    RS: Another point of agreement.

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  26. Michael,

    OK, I think I understand the sentiment, but the statement is nonsensical particularly when the solas of the reformation broadly constitute the gospel as propounded by the reformers. A gospel that Trent anathematized. You might even be a spirit of Vat II kind of RC, but reconciling the solas with Rome is a bit of a reach not to mention a historical. You might want to reconsider your road to Rome.

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  27. Richard: RS: Which is why the basic fundamentals of what the Reformers set out goes back to Scripture and the Creeds point to Scripture as the real authority as well. The Creeds are very important, but when they are followed blindly one is following the same principles of Roman Catholicism. History cannot determine what is true, but only what certain people believed at a particular time or what happened at a certain time. But then again, historians (licensed or not) are like athiests and theologians (as do all human beings) in that they have a weakness in wanting to see/prove/demonstrate what they believe already.

    Erik – Thank heavens we have Richard to cut through all that bull and give us his private interpretation on each and every issue.

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  28. Sean: Michael, it’s summarily represented in the WCF(Westminster confession of faith), but for ease of reference and polemical purposes; sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus christus, soli deo gloria.

    MichaelTX: Cool sean, All those solas lead me to the Church.

    RS: Michael, you may use the same words as Sean, but you must mean two very different things about them if he holds to the WCF while you are ROMAN Catholic. If you believed in the five solas as Sean (would) and the WCF set them out, you could not possibly be aligned with a group that declared those things anathema.

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  29. Erik – Thank heavens we have Richard to cut through all that bull and give us his private interpretation on each and every issue.

    RS: No, Eric, I did not lay a blade on you. Nevertheless, I see that you did not deal with the real issue once again. It is far easier just to make a point (about something) or attack the person rather than deal with a position.

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  30. Michael,

    I’m slow, you may have meant that in a polemical manner. Which is fine, but where’s the justification for going beyond canonical apostolic authority, much less the canon? Where’s the ground for arguing the leading of the Holy Spirit apart from the sacred text?

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  31. Richard,
    I know I do not agree with the WCF on every point, but nor do I believe it to be authoritative for me to submit to by Christ or I would. So, the authority found in Scripture has made me part with the Westminister Confession of Faith. We must also remember not all things found in the WCF are anathema to Catholics, or I would not be Catholic because there the WCF has right.

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  32. I do feel for Richard, though. He is in maybe the toughest spot in all of American Christianity. To have Reformed convictions but to not be able to fully embrace the Reformed confessions (as expressed in Reformed churches) makes one a minority of a minority. It’s tough to find a home.

    I worship with a man who is a pietist and is “family centered”. He doesn’t fit in well with us, which leaves him with the option of either keeping quiet about much of what he believes, or, starting a family-centered church that might attract like-minded evangelicals (who are not Reformed). When you are a “subset” of Reformed your circle becomes very small indeed.

    I’m not sure why Richard is not thriving in a Reformed Baptist Church, though. Maybe he is now.

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  33. Erik Charter: It does tend to make his church feel pretty roomy on Sunday morning, though…

    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. 7:14 “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.”

    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 14:33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

    Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    Hebrews 12:14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

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  34. Erik Charter: Richard, Since I’ve never met you and only respond to what you write, it is hard for me to make Ad Hominem attacks on you (thanks, Bryan).

    RS: I don’t think that Bryan really believes that, but even if so it is a logical fallacy that does not require people to have met to be guilty of any more than a sniper has to meet one in order to attack him from a distance.

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  35. That’s what’s odd about the PCA’s (lack of) handling of the Federal Vision. In their efforts to apparently keep the peace and maintain a big tent, they don’t seem to realize that they are nursing a theology that could really split and marginalize them if it’s not dealt with early on. There are a lot of odd, countercultural things that tend to go along with the Federal Vision that they may not have taken note of.

    I know, Richard. I know.

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  36. Erik Charter: I do feel for Richard, though. He is in maybe the toughest spot in all of American Christianity. To have Reformed convictions but to not be able to fully embrace the Reformed confessions (as expressed in Reformed churches) makes one a minority of a minority. It’s tough to find a home.

    RS: How many people believed Noah just before God shut the doors? Did God choose Israel because they were greater in number and had more power than the surrounding nations? How many disciples did Jesus have as opposed to the Pharisees? How many Roman Catholics are there compared to those who hold to confessionalism of the Reformed type? How many evangelicals are there as compared to Reformed types? Even if we set the logical fallacy that you are operating on to the side, if your argument against me in this post is right, then your theological position is wrong.

    Erik: I worship with a man who is a pietist and is “family centered”. He doesn’t fit in well with us, which leaves him with the option of either keeping quiet about much of what he believes, or, starting a family-centered church that might attract like-minded evangelicals (who are not Reformed). When you are a “subset” of Reformed your circle becomes very small indeed.

    RS: But your points here have nothing to do with the truth of what the man may or may not hold. Jesus did not fit in very well with the religious people of His day on earth either. Athanasius did not fit in very well for much of his life either. How well did Luther fit in among the religious elite of his day?

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  37. sean,
    We will probably start running into our difference of languages, but bear with me.
    As I see it, apart from the Covenant People of God, such as the Apostles and the leaders of the Church and all the baptized members of Christ through the ages we don’t have anybody forming, carrying, and defending of the Scriptures and Gospel we all love. It is the people of God, the Church, who love and proclaim the living Word and His care over us, and they have been doing it since the beginning. The Scriptures are formed within the people of God, by God’s Spirit and the authors; then protected by those same covenant people. To take the Scriptures from their habitat will always point back to their home in that unified Covenant People. This is the basic desire that a lover of Christ comes to when they see the disunity and strife among Christians. The Scriptures apart from the protected people of God are like a fish out of water. We can most easily see this in non-believing and liberal Christians and especially those among them who are exegetes or researchers of religion. Now many may disagree with me, but the true spirit of the Protestant is a unified Covenant spirit which only finds it home in the single universal covenant people of God. I believe this to be the Catholic Church. Some disagree, some do not. It doesn’t change that it is either true of false. It does mean each man must decide, it just depends whether one will decide by looking, listening and praying or decide without any of those.
    I’m going to be out of here for a while, but I will be back to try and help explain further.
    Peace,
    Mike

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  38. Erik: I worship with a man who is a pietist

    Ralph Erskine: “This morning, after reading, I went to prayer, under a sense of my nothingness and naughtiness, vileness and corruption, and acknowledged myself ‘a beast before God.”‘ He could nevertheless add, “Yet looking to God as an infinite, eternal and unchangeable Spirit, who from everlasting to everlasting is God, and always the same, and who manifests Himself in Christ . . . I think He allowed me some communion with Him in a way of believing, and I was made to cry with tears, ‘Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief.’ I was led, in some suitable manner, under a view of my nothingness, and of God’s all-sufficiency to renounce all confidence in the flesh, and to betake myself solely to the name of the Lord, and there to rest and repose myself

    RS: Was Erskine a pietiest?

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  39. John,

    Who?

    Richard,

    O.K. Never mind, I don’t fell bad for you lone wolves. Enjoy your loan wolfdom. Maybe even eat some locusts and wild honey or sit on a pole for the sake of solidarity with the loan wolves of the past.

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  40. Richard,

    No. He was a Swedish architect:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Erskine_(architect)

    Oh, wait, the other Ralph Erskine:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Erskine_(preacher)

    I would say he was a Pietist and a bit of a drama queen.

    The question is, how did he treat his wife when she burnt his toast the next morning? I am mostly interested in how pietists and revivalists do when they have to confront the real world like the rest of us.

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  41. When will you realize that while reading the Puritans gives you a tingly sensation, It pretty much leaves Old Lifers cold. Our faith is not centered in the emotions.

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  42. Triumphalism against “subsets” does not fit confessional Reformed folks, Eric, who are surely a “subset” as well. Just listen to this Lutheran (from a subset!) patronizingly explain how Reformed people cannot be “catholic”.

    “Ultimately, of course, the Mercersburg theologians were on the losing side of the debate. While Nevin’s historical work regarding the Eucharist far outweighed Hodge’s for a purely symbolic understanding, it was ultimately the Princeton tradition which would define Reformed theology in America.

    I find it fascinating that there was (and remains) a movement toward catholicity within the Reformed tradition. I find this encouraging, but ultimately I don’t believe that Reformed theology can solve the desire for catholicity. Nevin’s emphasis on the incarnation as the paradigm for church life is correct, but ultimately cannot be sustained on Reformed principles. The Zwinglian principle that “the finite is not capable of the infinite” negates the possibility of a true Reformed catholicity.

    An incarnation-centric theology like that of Nevin and Schaff ultimately cannot stand within the Reformed tradition. To do so is to deny the central principle which divided the Lutheran and Reformed branches against one another. If you deny this principle, can you still be said to remain Reformed? I don’t think so. It is not surprising to me that the Puritanical/ Princeton type of Reformed theology has been predominant. Attempts such as the Mercersburg movement and the Federal Vision movement to strike a balance between the two positions is impossible. Consistency ultimately must lean one toward Lutheranism or Princeton & Puritan theology. Either the finite is capable of the infinite or it isn’t.

    http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/search/label/Calvinism%20vs.%20Lutheranism

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  43. Erik, does the tolerant way that the OPC “handled” Gaffin and Shepherd show that they too still have a “big tent”? Leaving Machen and other dead guys out, name me five OPC pastors who can and do preach effective atonement on a frequent basis.

    Like

  44. Michael:

    ‘The Scriptures are formed within the people of God, by God’s Spirit and the authors; then protected by those same covenant people. To take the Scriptures from their habitat will always point back to their home in that unified Covenant People’

    Me: It’s a little difficult for me to track with you, but let me offer a different premise by which to view the canon and the community. The community exists because the canon births the community. IOW, following the idea of ‘God-breathed’ inspiration (1 tim 3:16); God speaks forth and it is so. God creates ex-nihilo, by the words of his mouth-see Genesis. This God-breathed community is normed by this same canon, better, the community is normed by God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit illumining the word of God. Following this premise, the scriptures are perspicuous. They are readily understood as concerns God, faith and life. That understanding is not detached from the God-ordained offices of a visible church, much less the Holy Spirit’s illumination, but just as there are false confessors there are false churches. Paul argues per Gal. 1:8, that we can know this apostolic truth and we are to reject all others including potentially Paul himself or an Angel of God. So, where a church deviates from this original apostolic tradition(canon) it loses it’s mantle of authority. The touchstone is always the Word of God. If you can’t substantiate your dogma per the word of God and it alone, you aren’t propounding the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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  45. Mark,

    I’ll leave that to the OPC guys to answer.

    I too am a bit mystified by Shepherd. I don’t know the makeup of his Presbytery. He was fired from Westminster, wasn’t he?

    Like

  46. Mark,

    It’s not triumphalism so much as looking at the practical realities of organizing and sustaining a Reformed church. You can only split so many hairs before you lose the ability to remain viable. Many of our churches are barely viable as it is.

    Like

  47. Shepherd was never found guilty of anything either by the seminary or the opc. He was dismissed from the seminary for business reasons (controversy not good for Clowney’s evangelical project). Shepherd left quietly for the Christian Reformed, and his books are endorsed by at least two Westminster professors.

    Erik, the more you talk about “practical realities”, the more I think of George Bush gearing up for pre-emptive wars. No time for theories, when they have wmd….

    There are at least three “viable” different “Reformed Baptist” associations in the usa. I am not sure of the exact numbers of congregations in each association, but I do know that these churches tend to have many more seriously commited Calvinist “ruling elders” than congregations in the PCA.

    I myself am glad that several Reformed “subsets” have not bowed to “practical realities” and hooked up with the PCA.

    Like

  48. sean,
    I can understand that it is hard to track me. I see exactly what you are saying, though. You are saying that the convictions coming from the Scriptures by the Spirit of God lead to the gathering of the covenant people.

    In your words, The community exists because the canon births the community.

    If I follow you properly, then I agree. There is more to this picture though. Not only does the Spirit gather the covenant people with the conviction of the Word from the outside of the covenant people, He also keeps the gathered within the covenant people, too. One important aspect which is inherent in this is that this has been happening since before the Scriptures were written and scattered among God’s covenant people who alone have the means to know Him and His Word. His sheep know His voice and they follow Him. The Scriptures are the fruit and seed of the covenant people. IOW, the Word is the beginning and the end of the gathered people of God. The Scriptures come from the body of Christ and draw to the body of Christ. But it is the glorification of one body of Christ that is there purpose and goal. Christ and the Scriptures work as one, He and they seek the lost sheep to gather them not for there fellowship with each other, but for fellowship with Him. Though, in fellowship with Him they will have fellowship with each other.
    Now a problem will inevitably occur if the Scriptures birthed in that Holy Spirit indwelt body of the covenant people are used contrary to Christ’s purpose. The cause of Christ is gathering and if the Scriptures are used to scatter His people, then they are no longer used in accord with the will of God. They are then used against Him. I think we can all look in the Scriptures to see how well that worked out for people who sought to use the written Word against the living Word made flesh.

    So, to your thought. God does create and gather the people of God ex-nihilo, with the written Word, but they are created for fellowship with those created ex-nihilo by the living Word who spoke to the Apostles and dwells with His Church by the gift of His Spirit until the end of the age. This fellowship with Christ goes to the begin and it is in this fellowship bound and protected by the Spirit which brought forth the written Word born of the Spirit in union with the writers and beloved us who recognize the Scriptures as born of God. The Scriptures are both born and eternal. Like Christ is both born and eternal. He was born into the people of Israel in which we are reborn and ingrafted.

    Peace,
    Mike

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  49. Mark,

    I think you also missed my point a bit on the PCA being a “big tent”. If the goal is to be hip, and happening, and all about ministering to the city (since that’s what God is all about), then a band of Muscovite culture warriors wearing beards and holding conferences on the glories of the Confederacy may not be the direction you want to head. I’m not even saying I am totally opposed to the latter (I’ve enjoyed some of their history conferences). I’m just saying they’re contradictory.

    I know the Muscovite wing of the Federal Vision is in the CREC, I’m just saying the Federal Visionaries in the PCA may not fall far from the tree.

    Like

  50. Mark,

    If baptism were the only issue we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I even wondered aloud why Richard hadn’t found a Reformed Baptist church to his liking.

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  51. Mark – Shepherd was never found guilty of anything either by the seminary or the opc. He was dismissed from the seminary for business reasons (controversy not good for Clowney’s evangelical project).

    Erik – I’ll check my history of Westminster West on the Kindle tonight, but I don’t think that’s the way Hart spun it…

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  52. Michael before this gets any more esoteric, and to use your own reference, at what points do you differ with the WCF? As succinctly as possible, if possible. Thanks

    Like

  53. Michael, I should add, and since you seem to agree that the scriptures birth and norm the community, in your points of disagreement with the WCF what are your scriptural grounds for disagreement?

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  54. sean,
    that is a pretty tall order. I am cooking right over here in TX, so I may have to get back with you on a bit of details there. Most of my disagreements will shine brightest in the rejection of a the historic authoritative authority of the Catholic Church. Though that I would assume would be obvious. I see it having no right apart from its agreements with Scripture and the Church to bind my conscience. I’ll see What I can sketch out for you there.
    Til later,
    Mike

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  55. sean,
    Keep your eye out in here. I will get back to you, but it will probably be tomorrow. Pray for me that I might have clear thoughts and wording to help us understand each other as best is possible.
    MichaelTX

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  56. Michael, that’s fine. It’s a conversation not an exam. I’m just trying to understand you.

    Like

  57. Cool. But all conversations are exams. “every idle word will come to account”
    I’ll do what I can. I understand my language above my seem a bit esoteric, but it is all biblical language. I speak often in a Pauline and Johnanine dialect.
    Peace brother,
    MichaelTX

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  58. Shepherd was never at Westminster California, Erik. That was not the seminary I was talking about. Indeed, many of those who went to California had great concerns about Shepherd (with the exception of Frame and perhaps Strimple). On the other hand, Westminster California has made a certain kind of peace with Gaffin.

    If you don’t, you end up in Mark Karlberg land….

    or with David Gordon, or DG Hart…..

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  59. Erik and Mark, Mark’s rendering is largely correct. The seminary and church never found Shepherd guilty of error. In the presbytery it was a fifty-fifty vote. The seminary was more favorable to NS but the hope for a merger of the PCA and OPC made Shepherd a problem.

    Like

  60. D.G. – but the hope for a merger of the PCA and OPC made Shepherd a problem.

    Erik – Thus the irony of the Federal Vision now being a problem in the PCA but not in the OPC.

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  61. mark mcculley: Erik, does the tolerant way that the OPC “handled” Gaffin and Shepherd show that they too still have a “big tent”? Leaving Machen and other dead guys out, name me five OPC pastors who can and do preach effective atonement on a frequent basis.

    RS: Mark, I have noted you asking questions like that or making comments in accordance with that question in the past. Underneath that question are some powerful doctrines that you are presupposing and perhaps a very powerful conclusion that needs to be stated. Would you mind putting flesh on the bones of your question, that is, say why that question is so important with its corresponding presuppositions and then draw a conclusion of the ramifications if people are not preaching an effective atonement?

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  62. Erik Charter: Mark, It’s not triumphalism so much as looking at the practical realities of organizing and sustaining a Reformed church. You can only split so many hairs before you lose the ability to remain viable. Many of our churches are barely viable as it is.

    RS: But perhaps churches are barely viable for reasons other than the splitting of hairs. Perhaps they are barely viable because they are not preaching an effective atonement and as such they have to split hairs to keep some semblance of being Reformed.

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  63. Erik Charter: When will you realize that while reading the Puritans gives you a tingly sensation,

    RS: How would you know what reading the Puritans does for me?

    Erik Charter: It pretty much leaves Old Lifers cold.

    RS: If it leaves you cold, it found you cold and simply did not change that. So now you admit that you are cold.

    Erik: Our faith is not centered in the emotions.

    RS: First, the Puritans spoke of the affections as opposed to the emotions. It is an important thing to make a distinction between the two. Second, just because one teaches on the affections and even thinks that they are important does not mean that his faith is centered in the affections much less the emotions. Third, the Great Commandment (first and foremost) is to love God with all of the your heart, soul, and mind. If you think that you can love God by actions without joy and desire, then you should realize that you are in direct opposition to I Corinthians 13:1-3. Tell your wife that you love her with action but your heart is cold. See how that goes over.

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  64. To answer the Rs question about my question about confessional clergynot preaching effective atonement, the rest of you can continue to ignore the elephant in the room….

    The ultimate way we can tell people that the gospel is “outside of you” is to tell them that the gospel they MUST believe excludes even this believing as the condition of salvation. The only condition of
    salvation for the elect is Christ’s death for the elect.

    No debated language about the objectivity of “covenants” or “sacraments” should be allowed to obscure this gospel truth. Unless you preach that Christ died only for the elect, no matter how
    confessional you are, you will end up encouraging people to make faith into that little something that makes the difference between life and death!

    I am not looking for another discussion about Calvin and Luther on the extent of the atonement. I am also looking for something ambiguous enough for influential people to sign in some “alliance” or “coalition”.. I am asking us if we believe that the glory of God in the gospel means that all for whom Christ died will certainly be saved. Or has this doctrine become too “rationalistic” for us?

    Would that doctrine perhaps take the grace of God out of the hands of those who hand out the “means of grace” and locate grace with the Father who has chosen a people and given them to Christ? (Romans 11:4-6) Would the doctrine of effective atonement take the starch out of those who thank God for how much changed their “hearts and souls” are?

    I want more sermons about God’s love being found in the propitiation accomplished by Christ. Out there, back then!

    Election is God’s love. When the Bible talks about God’s love, it talks about propitiation. I John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” If all we only stipulate that the appeasement of wrath will not work without our faith, then it’s not enough to add on that God sent His son to purchase our faith. The nature of the cross as a propitiation will not be proclaimed. Instead a James Boice (sermons on Psalm 22) will turn the gospel into law, and tell sinners that the atonement was for them but they “ruined” it for themselves.

    A propitiation for the elect which is also the same and enough for the non-elect, amounts to nothing. Does the Neo-Calvinist love the gospel of election, or does he hate the doctrine and suppress it? Yes, Christ loved the church, but is the church the Norman Shepherd church of elect who become the non-elect? The Shepherd gospel is not first of all about future justification by works. It starts with the idea of talking about “covenant” instead of “election”, about water baptism instead of regeneration.

    The Neo-Calvinist does not talk about Christ not dying for the non-elect. He won’t even talk about Christ not dying for those who don’t put their trust in Him. The Neo-Calvinist wants you to give yourself to Christ without knowing anything about election.

    The Neo-Calvinist will even defend this non-election gospel as being the only perspective possible to us. We have to know we believe, before we can know if we are elect. I agree that knowing our election before we believe is impossible. Knowing our election is NOT our warrant to believe. (See Abraham Booth’s wonderful book against preparationism– Glad Tidings).

    But this is no excuse for leaving the Bible doctrine of election out of the doctrine of propitiation by Christ’s death there and then on the cross. We can and should teach the doctrine of election. The Bible doctrine of election does not teach unbelievers that they are elect, nor does the Bible doctrine of election teach unbelievers that they can find out if they are elect without or before believing,

    The glory of God does not depend on human decisions, and the gospel must not become a hostage to collaborations with evangelicals who in the name of universal atonement condition salvation on what God does in the sinner.

    This is what I do, to mimic Ginobli. You’ve heard it before, rs.

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  65. The case of ruling elder John Kinnaird from Bethany OPC in Oxford, Pennsylvania, revolved around what it means that, at the final judgment, our Lord will judge his people according to their works and openly acknowledge and acquit them (see Confession of Faith XXXIII, Larger Catechism 90, Shorter Catechism 38). He had been accused of teaching that God justifies sinners not through faith alone, but through faith and works, and his session had found him guilty. He appealed to his presbytery, which upheld the verdict. And so he appealed to the General Assembly. Again, the case provoked considerable debate. He contended that he did not teach justification through faith and works but was only concerned to emphasize that salvation involves not only justification but also includes sanctification and glorification.

    Again, there was considerable divergence over whether the debate was over the doctrine itself or over the way that doctrine was stated. Some were persuaded that Mr. Kinnaird intended to teach orthodoxy, but that the way he actually taught was culpably confusing. Others argued that, even if at points he expressed his views in a way that confused some, his actual views are nevertheless orthodox. In this case, the General Assembly determined that the session and presbytery had erred in convicting him. This means that it reversed the original verdict.

    The Assembly insisted on maintaining both a free justification (the primary concern of the accusers) and a full salvation (the concern expressed in the teaching the accusers were challenging). In other words, the Assembly did not determine that what Mr. Kinnaird was accused of teaching is legitimate in the OPC; it determined that Mr. Kinnaird was not guilty of teaching what he was accused of teaching.

    http://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=85

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  66. Richard, it’s no successful strategy to tell your wife you love her with heat and fail to pick up the milk on the way home from session. Affections are not the cure.

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  67. Bavinck:“…When the covenant of grace is separated from election, it ceases to be a covenant of grace and becomes again a covenant of works. Election implies that God grants man freely and out of grace the salvation which man can never again achieve in his own strength. But if this salvation is not the sheer gift of grace but in some way depends upon the conduct of men, then the covenant of grace is converted into a covenant of works. Man must then satisfy some condition in order to inherit eternal life.

    “So far from election and the covenant of grace forming a contrast of opposites, the election is the basis and guarantee, the heart and core, of the covenant of grace. And it is so indispensably important to cling to this close relationship because the least weakening of it not merely robs one of the true insight into the achieving and application of salvation, but also robs the believers of their only and sure comfort in the practice of their spiritual life.”

    Notice how far reaching this is – reformulating the reformation truth of the covenants leads to a messed up view of election (saying there are different degrees of election), justification (injecting our works there where they do not belong), and sanctification (making justification dependent on sanctification). It also throws our salvation back into stormy waters, teaching that only those who make it to the life raft will get out of the seas of death. Who can be truly pious when their salvation depends on something they do?

    Our Reasonable Faith (260-269)

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  68. Richard, and if you think you can love God with all your faculties you’ve missed the whole point, which isn’t to pit actions with affections. It’s to pit the holiness of God with the depravity of man.

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  69. Richard – But perhaps churches are barely viable for reasons other than the splitting of hairs. Perhaps they are barely viable because they are not preaching an effective atonement and as such they have to split hairs to keep some semblance of being Reformed.

    Erik – Perhaps, but not likely. Roll into pretty much any evangelical church this Sunday and compare the experience to pretty much any conservative Presbyterian & Reformed Church and therein lies the answer. Not many are clamoring for what Erik wants or what Richard wants.

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  70. Richard – : If it leaves you cold, it found you cold and simply did not change that. So now you admit that you are cold.

    Erik – I’m pretty warm for Reformed doctrine found in the Three Forms & The Westminster. Not so warm for later innovations.

    Later innovations are half baked, but Reformed doctrine as developed during the Reformation is completely baked:

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  71. Richard – First, the Puritans spoke of the affections as opposed to the emotions.

    Erik – Well that just clears everything up.

    Richard – Third, the Great Commandment (first and foremost) is to love God with all of the your heart, soul, and mind. If you think that you can love God by actions without joy and desire, then you should realize that you are in direct opposition to I Corinthians 13:1-3

    Erik – I don’t love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind — that’s why I need a savior whose righteousness is imputed to me.

    Richard – Tell your wife that you love her with action but your heart is cold. See how that goes over.

    Erik – It would actually go over pretty well. Deeds count for way more than feelings in most area of life. Liberals are full of good intentions, but what they produce is generally crap.

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  72. Mark,

    No problems with election here. We’re going through the Canons of Dort (again) on Sunday nights.

    Are you demanding, like Richard, that your pet theme is front and center in each and every sermon, no matter the text being preached on? If so, that seems clunky and not the answer.

    http://www.providencerc,org

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  73. McMark, I’m trying to track with you. So, you want to make sure neonomianism is eradicated and election taught in a pastoral way as to grant comfort and assurance to the conscience? I think this is what you’re saying you want. I would argue that most confessionalists are going to be side with the Marrow men historically, so neonomianism has no hold and as regards Kinnaird he benefited from having Gaffin argue his case/position for him so as to pull him out of the ditch. There are politics everywhere, even in the church. The union reordering of the ordo which entails ironing out final justification is being actively resisted.

    Like

  74. D. G. Hart: Richard, it’s no successful strategy to tell your wife you love her with heat and fail to pick up the milk on the way home from session. Affections are not the cure.

    RS: But if you do pick up the milk and bring it back with a heart that is as cold as the milk, that is not a cure either. The Great Command is to love God with all of the heart, mind, and soul. That includes the affections. If you put the affections to the side, then the command is simply to do things for God.

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  75. RS, have you read Robert Roberts’ books on emotions? Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues or Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology. The construal that emotions matter is also an emotion, and the difference between affection and emotion is like—the difference between “spiritual” exile and “secular” exile….

    Like

  76. Zrim: Richard, and if you think you can love God with all your faculties you’ve missed the whole point, which isn’t to pit actions with affections. It’s to pit the holiness of God with the depravity of man.

    RS: But neither of your points is the main point. Of course I am not arguing that a person can love God with all the faculties, but in fact I would argue that we have zero ability to love with any of our faculties. There are several points 1. Set out the unchanging standard of God 2. Show men that not only can they not do this, they have no ability to love God at all. 3. It is also to declare the absolute need for the cross of Christ. 4. It is to drive us in helplessness to the real source of love so that we may love God at all. God does not give us commands in order to show us what we have the ability to do, but to show us what we should do. Then we must come to Him in order to have our sins propitiated and for Him to work love in our hearts. After all, there is no source and origin of true love apart from Him.

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  77. mark mcculley: RS, have you read Robert Roberts’ books on emotions? Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues or Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology. The construal that emotions matter is also an emotion, and the difference between affection and emotion is like—the difference between “spiritual” exile and “secular” exile….

    RS: No, I have not. The word “emotion” as used today is a terribly confused term that takes the affections and the passions and confuses them. The term (emotion) is normally addressed in phsychological ways rather than in biblical ways, which then confuses the biblical issues that are involved.

    Philippians 1:8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

    Galatians 5:24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

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  78. Erik: No problems with election here. We’re going through the Canons of Dort (again) on Sunday nights.

    RS: Which, of course, is an absolute guarantee that the people will understand the doctrine of election?

    Erik: Are you demanding, like Richard, that your pet theme is front and center in each and every sermon, no matter the text being preached on? If so, that seems clunky and not the answer.

    RS: What is Richard’s pet theme that I demand to be put front and center each sermon?

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  79. Erik Charter quoting Richard – : If it leaves you cold, it found you cold and simply did not change that. So now you admit that you are cold.

    Erik – I’m pretty warm for Reformed doctrine found in the Three Forms & The Westminster. Not so warm for later innovations.

    Later innovations are half baked, but Reformed doctrine as developed during the Reformation is completely baked:

    RS: Which is actually quite a dangerous position. It seems to imply that that the Reformation was a time when all doctrines were perfected as never before and any slight deviation from them is a deviation. I would argue that your position is itself an innovation. We had 1500 years of teaching before the Reformation (round figures from NT times) and there were solid men before the Reformation, and in fact there were men who paved the way for Luther and Calvin. God was still on the throne after the Reformation and Christ was and is still the Prophet of His people and the Holy Spirit still illuminated His Word. It is an entirely unbiblical idea that the Reformation is the standard of the truth of God rather than a time where the Bible was pointed to as the standard.

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  80. McMark: The Neo-Calvinist does not talk about Christ not dying for the non-elect. He won’t even talk about Christ not dying for those who don’t put their trust in Him. The Neo-Calvinist wants you to give yourself to Christ without knowing anything about election.

    RS: Which is to bring yourself to Christ rather than the effectual call bringing you.

    McMark: The Neo-Calvinist will even defend this non-election gospel as being the only perspective possible to us. We have to know we believe, before we can know if we are elect. I agree that knowing our election before we believe is impossible. Knowing our election is NOT our warrant to believe. (See Abraham Booth’s wonderful book against preparationism– Glad Tidings).

    But this is no excuse for leaving the Bible doctrine of election out of the doctrine of propitiation by Christ’s death there and then on the cross. We can and should teach the doctrine of election. The Bible doctrine of election does not teach unbelievers that they are elect, nor does the Bible doctrine of election teach unbelievers that they can find out if they are elect without or before believing,

    The glory of God does not depend on human decisions, and the gospel must not become a hostage to collaborations with evangelicals who in the name of universal atonement condition salvation on what God does in the sinner.

    This is what I do, to mimic Ginobli. You’ve heard it before, rs.

    RS: Yes, but like good music (not the garbage that Erik listens to that fire up his passions) one wants to listen to it again. Plus, how many are there out there today who will talk about the atonement beyond mentioning the word much less talk about the definite and effectual nature of the atonement? Reading someone on the effectual nature of the atonement is far more important than virtually any other subject.

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  81. Sean: So, you want to make sure neonomianism is eradicated and election taught in a pastoral way as to grant comfort and assurance to the conscience?

    mark: My pet theme is this one little thing, the nature and efficacy of the cross. So yes, I want to eliminate neonomianism, and the “perspectivism” which confuses law and gospel. But I am not sure what you mean by ‘teach election in a pastoral way”. If you mean to teach it exegetically, often, patiently not assuming that any of us understand and believe it as we should, yes.

    But if “teach it pastorally” means that we assume that all who hear or take the sacrament are elect, I don’t agree with that “pastoral” notion. Given our desperate depravity and guilt, election is our only comfort. But election is not only comforting, and pastors don’t need to teach it only that way. We can say that the church is for Christians (not for evangelism only) without also telling everybody at church that they are elect.

    Sean, I would be glad to hear more from you about what you mean by “pastoral” here. To me, the question always is: what is the gospel? Is election the gospel, or is election only the part which explains how people believe the gospel. To me, election is good news, and this good news is also always for Christians.

    Sean: I would argue that most confessionalists are going to be side with the Marrow men historically,

    mark: well, I think this two party thinking is part of the problem (like the two party, liberal vs evangelical, that we confessionalists secede from). As much as I hate Baxterianism (neonomianism, Shephardism), I don’t think the solution to that is Marrow’s “Christ is dead for you”. The difference between “Christ died as propitiation for your sins” and “Christ died to make you an offer” is way too nuanced to be heard, and will always get translated into something neonomian (and usually Arminian).

    sean: Kinnaird benefited from having Gaffin argue his case/position for him so as to pull him out of the ditch. There are politics everywhere, even in the church. The union reordering of the ordo which entails ironing out final justification is being actively resisted.

    mark: I think we agree on what we want to see happen here, Sean, and you are in a better position to see. But the “is being actively resisted” sounds way too anonymous (passive voice) for me. What I see is Tipton and Gaffin winning battles because they are more politically careful than Shepherd….

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  82. Our local left-wing columnist celebrates dissident nuns in the Church That Jesus Christ Himself Founded (TM):

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130508/BASU/305080051/Basu-Catholic-nuns-increasingly-becoming-new-face-of-resistance?Frontpage&nclick_check=1

    On Friday, opponents of deportations will rally in Cedar Rapids to commemorate the five-year anniversary of what they call the unjust immigration sweep of 389 people in Postville.

    Last July, three people breached security and entered a nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., housing highly enriched uranium. Protesting nuclear weapons, they spilled blood at the site before being arrested.

    Last June, 14 women traveled by bus to selected states to denounce a House Republican budget they said hurt poor people.

    These protests were not waged by members of the now defunct Occupy movement, or single-issue activists. The protests were waged by Catholic nuns who are, increasingly, the new face of resistance. Whether against war or poverty, for the environment, immigration reforms or in opposition to the death penalty, a “Band of Sisters” is often in the vanguard.

    Their activism is spotlighted in a documentary of that name screened at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Des Moines on Sunday.

    At one level, it’s a natural fit. Because nuns minister to people who are struggling, they see first-hand the effects of poverty, hunger, homelessness and degradation of the environment. They learn the back stories and institutional causes, and have responded both with political protests and by opening schools, health centers and organic farms and providing 40,000 affordable housing units for women.

    Yet church political activism is more commonly associated these days with images of fundamentalist ministers preaching against gay rights or abortion.

    Churches that tell people who to vote for can be violating their tax-exempt status. But preaching love and manifesting that by supporting the dignity of all people is the true work of churches.

    One group of nuns goes weekly to an immigrant detention center in Illinois where they rally, pray, talk to families, accompany deportees to the airport and, after lobbying the state legislature, won permission to minister to them inside the facility.

    “We do this peacefully and respectfully,” says one nun. “But we never take no for an answer.”

    Another group established a 140-acre farm in New Jersey where it educates people about the environment and runs a community supported agriculture program.

    Observes one nun, “The seemingly insatiable materialistic consumerism has not made us happier.”

    And one group demonstrates — and sometimes gets arrested — outside the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., where the U.S. military trains Latin American military leaders, often to attack their own people. The nuns hold the school indirectly responsible for the killing of three U.S. Jesuit nuns in El Salvador in 1980, on orders from the military command in that nation.

    Deliberately defying orders, breaking laws and challenging the government doesn’t fit the old stereotype of habit-wearing religious women deferential to authority that producer/director Mary Fishman set out to defy. Things began to change in the 1960s with Vatican II calls for the church to modernize. Along with the shedding of habits, says Margaret Galiardi, a Dominican nun from Amityville, N.Y., came the call “to return to the roots.”

    Nuns began to see, as one put it, “that charity wasn’t enough,” and systems had to change. That led to the founding of Network, the social justice lobby that orchestrated last year’s “Nuns on the Bus” tour.

    But nuns’ continued liberalization has been “much to the dismay of powerful and conservative figures in the church,” say the film notes. Since 2009, U.S. nuns were investigated twice by the Vatican, accused of embracing “radical feminism” and being out of touch with church teachings. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80 percent of American nuns, was sanctioned for spreading “the wrong ideas” about the all-male priesthood, marriage and homosexuality.

    The conflict has caused many American Catholic nuns to leave: In 1966, there were 180,000. Today there are under 70,000.

    After the film, I asked if the nuns also find themselves in direct conflict with bishops and priests. One local nun observed that bishops “have been given the authority to straighten us out.” But she concluded to applause, “We have to be faithful to who we are.”

    A recently retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire was also in Des Moines last week arguing for churches to use the Bible to take a progressive stand on social issues. The openly gay Gene Robinson gave the keynote speech at the Iowa Interfaith Alliance’s award ceremony Friday.

    Suggesting that seven passages from the Bible cited by fundamentalists to condemn homosexuality be viewed in their cultural and historical contexts, he noted the Bible was also used to justify slavery and denigrate women. On the other hand, he said, “When we lay claim to who God made us to be, it’s holy work.” And: “Loving a person more than yourself is a place where God shows up.”

    At Holy Trinity, two men in the audience just wanted the sisters to denounce abortion. But another man rued that “right-wing Catholics” get all the media attention.

    These conflicts are unlikely to be settled within churches anytime soon. But thanks to films and speakers like these, congregations can hear all sides and make up their own minds.

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  83. When I say pastoral, I mean the point on teaching of election is one of preaching comfort to the Christian’s soul; it’s God who has chosen you. I don’t read it outside-in(sacramentally). Not sure what to tell you about the Marrow distinction, they track most closely with the lutherans in understanding the gospel first brings comfort and relief and from that posture we’re sanctified. The neonomian influence is still around in the reformed world from Barth to Murray to Shepherd to theonomy to FV to a much more nuanced but, in my mind, purposefully evasive-Gaffin-union, anachronistic reading of Calvin. I’m reluctant to throw Tipton in with any Shepherd-Gaffin collusion.

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  84. Richard – RS: Which, of course, is an absolute guarantee that the people will understand the doctrine of election?

    Erik – Funny thing about teaching. Did you notice when you were in school that some people in the class got A’s, some got C’s, and some got F’s? Duh.

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  85. At some point most mature Christian men desire to be a churchman and not merely a theoretician sitting in their mother’s basement posting crap on the internet. This usually involves not getting everything in the church that they would have if they were Pope. Heck, even the Pope doesn’t get everything in the church that he would probably like.

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  86. Wow, again. LOL now with nearly 650 comments! Some really nasty! A “few” repeats 🙂 & some all but endless! 🙂 Erik, and several others, do you ever sleep? Work? Serve your a family? Aren’t WE (I include Bob here even though his visits to OLT are rare) Aren’t we sliding into some of the 6, no, 7 things God hates? Will you Reformed expert guys ever have some time and interest for helping OB in his work with other Seniors here in the real world of Alexian Village? Oh well, I try! From time to time I try get DGH interested in things like my ministry and things like the main article in Hillsdale’s latest IMPRIMIS. Love OB.

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  87. Sean,

    I think the foundational part I have problems with in the Westminister Divines’ work is in seeking to establish the canon of Scripture excluding seven OT canonical books as being,not of divine inspiration.[WCFII] As well as, excluding it being God’s will to have the Scriptures themselves being established by the testimony of any man or Church.[WCFIII] This is contrary to what the Divines have just sought to do in sections I, II, and III of Chp 1. In stating the canon they have spoken against their own formula of sola scriptura.

    The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in Scripture.

    [WCF Chp 1 sec X]

    Even with the abundant agreement I have with the WCF in other areas, in working from the formula in section X I find the WCF to bear witness against itself and the Scriptures that are confessed in the WCF.

    1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1John 1

    11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of the testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death. Rev 12

    35He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” John 19

    24This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. John 21

    If what the Westminister Divines have confessed is ultimately true, then John who was a man and part of the Church could not write the Scriptures which are written above. Section III speak against how God has chosen to work. The WCF seeks to separate what God has chosen to have together; the witness and the Word, the flesh and the Spirit. Christ comes in the flesh. This is how John and the Scriptures witness to the Truth. “The Supreme Judge dwells among us and He bears witness and what we write we write that you may believe.” This is how the Church has spoken since its beginning and it still speaks this way now. [Act 15] It sounds just as blasphemous as it did when Jesus spoke it as the True Witness of the Father to the Jews of His day in the flesh. We are now the true witnesses of Christ, and we sound as blasphemous a He did. By Him, the Apostles were sent to preach[Rom 10:14], make disciples and baptize[Matt 28:19, forgive sins[John 20:23] and they were commanded to live as new covenant people and to do this in memory of Me. All these are done in the Name of Christ and this will not change until He comes again and we are all called to be like the Bereans who accepted their message and believed. Their faith made them part of the covenant people, the Church, and we are to do the same when we hear the same authoritative message Paul spoke. Which is reconciliation with God in Christ through Christ’s body.[Gal 3:26-27 ,Rom 6:4] This is a total gracious gift and we are freely given the gift of God, which is His Spirit, by belief and union with Christ by the waters of Baptism. Christ comes still in the fleshy stuff and with power, the Spirit; therefore I believe.

    Sean, I hope that lays out a little bit of stuff for you to work through. Weigh it and measure it. If it is found wanting, then reject it. I’m sure there are some other details and emphases in the WFC I might have trouble with, but the foundational break with my belief is in its failure to live up to its own standard in Chp 1, mainly section X. I hope that helps you understand how Sola Scriptura pointed me to the authoritative witness, the Church. I maybe wrong that the Catholic Church is the true witness sent by God in Christ, but I ask like Peter did, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed”[John 6] I haven’t heard many voices saying, “I am.” Though, I have heard many voices say “Crucify Him!” Therefore, I pick up my cross and follow Him to my own rejection and shame. God is with us and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

    Please let me know if there is anything that I need to clarify.
    MichaelTX

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  88. Michael, I’m in the weeds but I appreciate the response and I’ll digest as able and respond as able. Thanks

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  89. And, Richard, emphasizing affections over actions is just the flip side of your criticism. This is what semi-revivalism does. At best, the idea seems to be to strike a better balance in pleasing God. But Reformation piety wants to say that there is no difference between our affections and actions, they are both depraved, and what we need is Christ’s righteous affections and actions. I know you’ll agree, but the pursuit of affection always comes off as an abiding neo-nomianism that wants to co-exist with alien righteousness.

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  90. Zrim: And, Richard, emphasizing affections over actions is just the flip side of your criticism.

    RS: But to be clear, I am not emphasizing one over the other. I am saying that it takes both and that in reality both are linked. With every action there is an affection, though indeed the affection (including the intent and motive) can be wrong while the action appear good. To use a Thomas Shephard illustration that Edwards also used, if you wife did something nice to you and yet did it out of an affection for another man, would that change your view of what she did? The action in and of itself is not the answer.

    Zrim: This is what semi-revivalism does.

    RS: True, it strives to strike a biblical balance from a focus on the externals alone and the internals alone.

    Zrim: At best, the idea seems to be to strike a better balance in pleasing God. But Reformation piety wants to say that there is no difference between our affections and actions, they are both depraved, and what we need is Christ’s righteous affections and actions.

    RS: But let us not forget the work of the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Christ. Indeed we must have the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to us, but we also need the life of Christ in us by His Spirit to seek the face of God in sanctification. Those who have been justified by grace must learn to walk by grace as well.

    Zrim: I know you’ll agree, but the pursuit of affection always comes off as an abiding neo-nomianism that wants to co-exist with alien righteousness.

    RS: Why do you see it as a pursuit of affection as if that is all it is? It is a pusuit of God Himself who dwells in the hearts of His people and it is a pursuit of Him to shed abroad His love in our hearts so that we can love Him in accordance with His commands. God commands the activity of the inner man as well as the activity of the outward man as well.

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  91. D. G. Hart: Richard, maybe. But at least you’re not in the wife’s dog house.

    RS: Sounds like the voice of experience, but that must really be bad for a man with cats.

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  92. Richard, I didn’t say semi-revivalism is solely a pursuit of affection. That’s what the semi- part means. Full-on revivalism would be closer to said pursuit. Rather, what I suggested is that semi-revivalism wants some of the affectionate goodies of revivalism and some of the substance of Reformation.

    But if the analogy is marriage then confessionalists aren’t interested in even a semi-adolescent relationship. We’ll emphasize the legal aspect and keep our adult affections and actions well moderated and comported, thanks. I know, that makes us the frozen chosen, but I prefer my wife’s moniker: steady-Eddie.

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  93. Old Bob – Wow, again. LOL now with nearly 650 comments! Some really nasty!

    Erik – I’m blushing, Old Bob. I’m flattered that you noticed.

    I’ll have plenty of time to sleep in heaven.

    I saw the new “Imprimis”. Freedom of religion issues. Looks interesting. I’m hoping it’s not just a bunch of religious right propaganda about how our religious freedom is being taken away.

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  94. As long as we have a greedy plaintiff’s bar, freedoms will be maintained in America. That’s really the only nice thing I can say about a greedy plaintiff’s bar.

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  95. Zrim: Richard, I didn’t say semi-revivalism is solely a pursuit of affection. That’s what the semi- part means. Full-on revivalism would be closer to said pursuit. Rather, what I suggested is that semi-revivalism wants some of the affectionate goodies of revivalism and some of the substance of Reformation.

    RS: Sigh, so much misunderstanding. Revivalism is about the passions while true revival is about the truth and the affections. I would think that if you would think about what you said for a bit, you would wonder if Luther is Reformed. He was a man with fire and strong affections.

    Zrim: But if the analogy is marriage then confessionalists aren’t interested in even a semi-adolescent relationship. We’ll emphasize the legal aspect and keep our adult affections and actions well moderated and comported, thanks. I know, that makes us the frozen chosen,

    RS: It does, yes.

    Rev 3:15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
    16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
    17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
    18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
    19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

    Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

    1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

    Zrim: but I prefer my wife’s moniker: steady-Eddie.

    RS: I would bet that you are either not telling the whole story or don’t know. Did Christ love the Father without any affection or desire? Did Christ love His bride without any affection or desire?

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  96. Richard – He was a man with fire and strong affections.

    Erik – I got mad at a Pietist on Sunday at church. Does that qualify as affections or do only affections that affirm your theological positions count?

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  97. Richard, Luther wasn’t Reformed. He was Lutheran. But why are you asking if Christ’s love for the Father or his church is devoid of affections? That’s as impossible as love being absent works. You seem to think confessional piety is absent affection. It isn’t. It just wants our affection to be viewed the same as our works: filthy rags.

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  98. Erik – I got mad at a Pietist on Sunday at church. Does that qualify as affections or do only affections that affirm your theological positions count?

    RS: Most likely those were the passions that the Bible speaks of as needing to be crucified.

    Gal 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
    18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
    19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
    20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
    21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
    24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
    25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

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  99. Zrim: Richard, Luther wasn’t Reformed. He was Lutheran.

    RS: So the primary human agent of the Reformation was not Reformed? Luther was far more like Calvin than he was like what is known as Lutheran today.

    Zrim: But why are you asking if Christ’s love for the Father or his church is devoid of affections? That’s as impossible as love being absent works. You seem to think confessional piety is absent affection. It isn’t. It just wants our affection to be viewed the same as our works: filthy rags.

    RS: There are at least two ways to look at works and affections. One, as they are in and of ourselves. For example, if we do something that we think of as righteous and we do it for that then it is as filthy rags. On the other hand, let us not forget that truly good works are the works of Christ in and through us. True affections are also His works in His people. So while what I do is filthy rags, let us not forget that the work of Christ and of His Spirit are not filthy rags.

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  100. Zrim: Richard, Luther wasn’t Reformed. He was Lutheran. But why are you asking if Christ’s love for the Father or his church is devoid of affections? That’s as impossible as love being absent works. You seem to think confessional piety is absent affection. It isn’t. It just wants our affection to be viewed the same as our works: filthy rags.

    RS: All I hear from the confessional side of things is the blasting of piety and anything that might appear to be an affection. It would appear that people are rather proud of being without affection and to some degree of coldness.

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  101. Bob Morris: Wow, again. LOL now with nearly 650 comments!

    RS: But some of the discussion was on some good topics. Plus, it is not as bad as it looks. Erik had 600 of the 650, so it was not that bad,

    BobM: Some really nasty! A “few” repeats & some all but endless!

    RS: Yes, nastiness is an unpleasant thing at times but goes with the territory.

    BobM: Erik, and several others, do you ever sleep? Work? Serve your a family? Aren’t WE (I include Bob here even though his visits to OLT are rare) Aren’t we sliding into some of the 6, no, 7 things God hates?

    RS: I can only speak for myself in this. On most days I don’t spend much time here at all.

    BobM: Will you Reformed expert guys ever have some time and interest for helping OB in his work with other Seniors here in the real world of Alexian Village?

    RS: What type of help are you looking for or do you need?

    BobM: Oh well, I try! From time to time I try get DGH interested in things like my ministry and things like the main article in Hillsdale’s latest IMPRIMIS. Love OB.

    RS: Well, people are busy doing many things. But keep up the good work where you are at and keep dropping by with a few “real life” comments.

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  102. Richard, I understand that semi-revivalism isn’t necessarily revivalism. Why can’t you return the favor and understand that comporting affections isn’t necessarily denying them (why do I get the feeling you also don’t know the difference between introversion and shyness)? It isn’t blasting affection, it’s promoting discipline and sobriety.

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  103. Richard,

    I said that Sheldon’s “In His Steps” wasn’t a great book (it was the first incarnation of WWJD as expressed in melodramatic form). He said it was…because he’s a Pietist. Fireworks ensued. If all “disputes” are out of bounds, what are you doing here?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_His_Steps

    Interesting backstory: I read the book at Northwestern College around 1990. The professor who assigned it got the job that Hart had applied for. If Hart had been my professor instead I likely would have never read the book and would not have known to argue about it. Proof that Hart causes trouble by his absence as well as by his presence.

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  104. Richard,

    Piety and Pietism (when it expresses itself as legalism and looking down one’s nose at others) are two very different things. People with true Christian piety do very little to draw attention to themselves. They do not let their left hand know what their right hand is doing and they do their good deeds in secret so that their Heavenly Father can reward them. We can be a light to the world without being obnoxious and self-righteous about it.

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  105. Richard – Erik had 600 of the 650, so it was not that bad,

    Erik – I was the subject of the post, so my vanity required that I keep things going. I scratch Hart’s back, he scratches mine.

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  106. Zrim: Richard, I understand that semi-revivalism isn’t necessarily revivalism.

    RS: But you do use them in virtually the same way, though indeed you toss semi-revivalism a bone here and there. But I would also argue that Pelagianism and semi-Pelagiaism are both pretty bad, so the use of “semi” is not a great thing.

    Zrim: Why can’t you return the favor and understand that comporting affections isn’t necessarily denying them (why do I get the feeling you also don’t know the difference between introversion and shyness)?

    RS: I understand that people define them differently, but what does that have to do with how you feel about it? So far all I have received is mocking on the affection issue and nothing of real consequence to say that they are important.

    Zrim: It isn’t blasting affection, it’s promoting discipline and sobriety.

    RS: So when have your been a big fan of sobriety or of discipline of the affections?

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  107. EC: Piety and Pietism (when it expresses itself as legalism and looking down one’s nose at others) are two very different things.

    RS: Calvin defined piety as the place where the love of God and the fear of God meet.

    EC: People with true Christian piety do very little to draw attention to themselves.

    RS: Then the Reformers were not truly pious as they drew a lot of attention to themselves.

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  108. Richard, confessionalism is different from any form of revivalism, semi- or full-on. While I’m trying to recognize there are distinctions between the latter, I’m also wanting to maintain that those are distinctions without any real difference versus confessionalism. I understand you don’t like that the upshot is to cast semi-revivalism as unsavory, but that isn’t the same as mocking you. Neither is good-natured ribbing the same as mocking.

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  109. Zrim: Richard, confessionalism is different from any form of revivalism, semi- or full-on.

    RS: Those who seek true biblical revival also differ from any form of revivalism.

    Zrim: While I’m trying to recognize there are distinctions between the latter, I’m also wanting to maintain that those are distinctions without any real difference versus confessionalism.

    RS: But there are enormous differences between them and that also versus confessionalism. Seeking true revival is poles apart from revivalism and there is nothing really the same between the two once one gets byond the surface. Revivalism is the product of Pelagianism.

    Zrim: I understand you don’t like that the upshot is to cast semi-revivalism as unsavory, but that isn’t the same as mocking you. Neither is good-natured ribbing the same as mocking.

    RS: I would have you consider that perhaps you have yet to understand the drastic differences between revivalism and true revival. True enough, however, ribbing is not the same thing as mocking.

    Like

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