Roman Inquisition's Success

David Kertzer concludes by observing that Edgardo Mortara’s story has fallen through the cracks of history thanks to its embarrassing features for both Roman Catholics and Jews. The difficulty Mortara presents to Rome is relatively easy to see, but one website captures the change in Vatican policy well:

One of the reasons the Church ordinarily restricts the administration of baptism to priests and deacons (while allowing for laity and others to do so when someone is at the point of death and a priest or deacon is unavailable) is to prevent precisely the kind of confusion your mother-in-law has created by taking it upon herself to baptize her granddaughter without the parents’ permission.

1. There is such a thing as conditional baptism, but it is a baptism given when the validity of the original baptism is in question or when there is doubt as to whether a baptism occurred. In this case, the baptism your mother-in-law performed — assuming she did it correctly — would be the original baptism. Should her granddaughter’s parents choose to return to their Catholic faith and raise their daughter as a Catholic, a priest or deacon would perform a conditional baptism both to make sure it is done correctly and to start a sacramental record.

2. Since her granddaughter presumably was not at the point of death when your mother-in-law baptized her, the baptism she performed is presumably valid but illicit. That means that your mother-in-law should go to confession to confess having performed an illicit baptism.

3. I can only recommend that your mother-in-law admit to the child’s parents what she has done. They need to know so that they will know that the child needs conditional baptism, not unconditional baptism, should they decide to raise her Catholic or should the child eventually decide to become Catholic herself. Even were the child baptized when she was in extremis, the parents would still need to know about the baptism once it was clear she would survive. The only difference is that your mother-in-law should apologize for an illicit baptism. If the child was baptized while in extremis, an apology is not necessary. If such an admission is not made, and the parents or the child decide eventually for baptism, then the child may receive an unconditional baptism — which would be objective sacrilege since baptism cannot be unconditionally repeated.

4. No, the child does not now need to be raised Catholic either by her parents or her grandmother, particularly if her parents continue to remain opposed to it. The Church now recognizes that it is not necessary to impose a Catholic education on a baptized child who was baptized without the permission of the parents and whose parents are opposed to their child being a Catholic. The Church learned the hard way from the case of Edgardo Mortara that such attempts to do so only cause bitter resentment by the families and by future generations and thereby deepen estrangement from the Church.

The embarrassment to Jews is less obvious until we remember how Edgardo turned out. He became a faithful Roman Catholic, entered the priesthood, and ministered out of a monastery in Belgium for much of his life. As a boy, Edgardo adopted Pius IX as his second father as much as the Pope adopted him as spiritual (and temporal?) son:

At Christmastime each year, Edgardo was called to the Vatican for a visit with the Pope. On these occasions, as Edgardo himself later fondly recalled them, Pius IX “always lavished the most paternal demonstrations of affection on me, gave me wise and useful training and, tenderly blessing me, often repeated that I had cost him much pain and many tears.” When he was still little, he recalled the Pontiff, “like a good father, had fun with me, hiding me under hi grand red cloak, asking jokingly, “Where’s the boy?’ and then, opening the cloak, showing me to the onlookers. . . . The Pope beamed with pride, as, at his prompting, the little convert translated Latin passages for him, to the delight of his visitors. (David I. Kertzer, Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, 255)

Edgardo did have meetings with family members later in life. One came when his brother, Riccardo, was part of Italian freedom-fighter forces to liberate Rome from the Vatican’s rule:

When, however, Riccardo appeared in the doorway of Edgardo’s convent room, wearing the uniform of the Italian light infantry, he was in for a rude welcome. His 19-year-old brother, dressed in an initiate’s robes, placed one hand over his eyes to shield them from the sacrilegious sight and raised the other in front of him, signaling Riccardo to stop where he was. “Get back, Satan!” Edgardo shouted. But, the crestfallen Riccardo replied, “I am your brother.” To this Edgardo responded, “Before you get any closer to me, take off that assassin’s uniform.” (263)

Edgardo also met his mother once he had been ordained:

In 1878, Mariana Mortara, now widowed and with all of her nine children grown, heard that Edgardo was preachign in Perpignan, in southwestern France. Accompanied by a family friend, she went to see him. It had been twenty years since she had last laid eyes on her son. It was a poignant reunion, for Edgardo felt great affection for his mother. But try as he might to turn her onto the path of eternal blessing and happiness, he could not gt her to agree to enter the Catechumens and convert.

From that moment Edgardo, remained in touch with his family and, as he aged, sought out family members when he found himself in Italy. But while his mother made peace with him, not all of his siblings were so kindly disposed. (298)

That is why Edgardo Mortara never became a cause celebre for Jews:

For Italy’s Jews, it is not the pain of the Mortara memories that has made its discussion uncomfortable, but the embarrassment. The battle between the Jews and the Church was played out in a struggle over a 6-year-old boy. For the Jews, the Church’s claim that Edgardo could not remain with his Jewish parents because he had been supernaturally transformed by baptism was doubly insulting. Not only did it demonstrate their vulnerability to the Church’s political power, but it also asserted a Catholic claim to possession of the true religion, to a privilege relationship with the Almighty, and to the dismissal of Judaism as error, if not worse. When the Church began to publicize reports that Edgardo was showing signs of his supernatural transformation, the discovery of what, in fact, the little boy actually believed, and whether he truly preferred to stay in the Church rather than to return home to the Judaism of his ancestors, became a kind of public test of the relative merits of the two religions. It was a test the Jews lost.

Of course, Italian Jews were well aware of the psychological pressures exerted on the small boy and had no trouble coming up with a secular explanation of his ultimate decision to abandon his family and Judaism and embrace the Church, but this did not make his transformation any more palatable. That he followed the long – and, for the Jews, vile – tradition of such converts and dedicated himself to trying to convert his own family, and indeed Jews everywhere, meant that Edgardo came to be viewed with horror: he was a changeling. The child who had once been portrayed in the most glowing terms, the object of Jewish compassion, became a man who was disdained, whose character had to be discredited. He could not be happy he could not even be fully saine, for were he happy and sane, it wold reflect poorly on the religion of the Jews. It was best not to talk of him at all. (302)

All the more reason we need Javier Bardem to play Edgardo’s father, maybe Franka Potenta as his mother.

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274 thoughts on “Roman Inquisition's Success

  1. “but one website captures the change in Vatican policy well”
    You mean development in Vatican policy, right?

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  2. Out of curiosity, did any Protestants similarly take children away from Roman Catholics? A month ago I received a newsletter from Acton, which I threw away, that possibly mentioned the taking away of Roman Catholic children in colonial times.

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  3. I went on their website and found the article. It does say this under “Charles Carroll of Carrollton.” It also mentions other unpleasant things before this section.

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  4. But “we” the Reformed are not embarrassed even now that “we” turn anabaptists over to the “secular arm” when these concerts refuse to water their infants with Roman or Reformed grace, because “we” know that their resistance was not merely to our sectarian (no monopoly here!, because we have spheres) interpretations of religion but also a resistance to society and good order and the legitimate monopoly on violence by the local magistrates.

    Scott Clark: “We also understand that God administers his sovereign control over all things in different spheres. The church does not administer civil law or justice and the state does not administer the means of grace. We understood that during the Reformation, even under the influence of Constantinianism.”

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  5. I tried to get some Catholics to take my kids, but no dice. The Jewish folks down the street wouldn’t take ’em either. I kept them, but am considering a nice Hindu couple a few blocks over.

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  6. the taking away of Roman Catholic children in colonial times.

    Alberto
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
    I went on their website and found the article. It does say this under “Charles Carroll of Carrollton.” It also mentions other unpleasant things before this section.

    I’d be interested in a link. I can’t find what Alberto’s talking about here. Not that I read much into it, but few folks know that “Catholic” Maryland was taken over by Virginia Protestants, and passed a bunch of anti-Catholic legislation.

    Thx, Darryl, for posting the full Edgardo Mortara story. In those times, God was still seen as an immanent reality, and the miraculous survival of the child as well as his choice to remain with the Catlicks must have been seen as proof of God’s will and providence, and proof of Rome’s divine sanction.

    Since the Pope did have temporal power in the Papal Legations [formerly “papal states”] and governed them according to canon law, I’m not seeing the difference between this episode and Calvin’s Geneva burning up Michael Servetus. And mind you, I’m not using Servetus as a cudgel against the Reformed–my point is that both his execution and the “kidnapping” of Edgardo Mortara were licit and valid under both prevailing law and prevailing theology.

    In fact, it seems a reasonable argument that Geneva’s Council of 25 and the Pope were obliged legally, ethically and religiously to enforce the existing laws in re Servetus and Montara.

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  7. TVD, you must know that Calvin didn’t personally flick the Bic on Servetus (not just burned, “burning up”?) and he argued unsucessfully for a more humane form of execution. And from what I’ve read, magistrates across Europe were queuing up to burn him (up).

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  8. TVD, you must know that Calvin didn’t personally flick the Bic on Servetus (not just burned, “burning up”?) and he argued unsucessfully for a more humane form of execution.

    Of course, Mr. Weakly, acknowledged infra. The Little Council of 25 was the actual governing authority. And the charitable reader will note I’m not condemning anyone via 21st century standards either. “Presentism” is bad history.

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  9. Uh, Tom, Edgardo Mortara was born in 1851. Servetus died in 1553. That’s 300 years apart. Have you heard of the Englightenment? Next you’ll tell us Abraham Lincoln represented Bridget Bishop at the Salem Witch Trials.

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  10. Good catch, E-man. If my math is right they should have been 2/3 more enlightened in 1851 than in 1553, assuming we are now at the greatest level of enlightenment.

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  11. The Enlightenment? That’s part of Calvinism? It’s not really part of Catholicism*. You guys need to hit the books.

    The real reasons Protestantism had to learn to tolerate heresy are less theological than practical. With the rapid proliferation of sects and doctrines, there was no way to enforce orthodoxy–or even define it!
    __________________
    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Enlightenment

    Now, there’s an interesting argument that the Enlightenment was sparked by Protestantism’s rejection of the Roman church’s magisterium, that freedom of religious thought begat freedom of all thought–scientific, philosophical, moral, socio-political— a genie let out of the bottle that could not be put back in. The “Enlightenment” [outside England and Scotland] then became the father of “liberal theology” as well as the godless modernity of utilitarianism, relativism and nihilism. None of which the early Reformationists would have approved of.

    But this cannot be discussed at grenade-toss level.

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  12. C.W.,

    We’re in an age where our standard bearer, D.G., is doing the cooking so yes, I would say we have arrived at total enlightenment. My nose hear trimmer also attests to our state.

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  13. Tom,

    I’m pretty happy overall with the enlightenment, although I do wish my four remotes could be combined into one. I’m not yet enlightened enough to figure out how to do that.

    My favorite remains the local woman, who when I dared to disagree with Doug Wilson, called me a “child of the enlightenment”.

    Oh, and the modern plumbing is nice.

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  14. I’m pretty happy overall with the enlightenment

    I was speaking of the Enlightenment, capital E. I don’t know what you’re speaking of. Obviously we’re on two different planes.

    My favorite remains the local woman, who when I dared to disagree with Doug Wilson, called me a “child of the enlightenment”.

    I’m not up on that particular intramural battle but it looks pretty entertaining.

    http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/WilsonCalvinist.htm

    It’s still the same problem of magisterium*—or as we’ve come to call it in the Reformed context, Whose Calvinism is it, anyway?

    As for your being a “child of the Enlightenment,” that might not be a good thing, for reasons given above.

    ___________
    *Like any Protestant church, synod, convention or confession, the RCC
    “magisterium” is really more like a verb than a noun, a process of
    consensus–and, it is hoped and prayed–believed—to be a
    consensus formed not by men, but by the Holy Spirit.

    This is what is meant by the Reformation “kicking the can of
    ‘magisterium’ down the road.” How “magisterial”–authoritative,
    non-errant–is Calvin’s Institutes? Who wrote the Westminster
    Confession? Moreover, who had the chutzpah to amend it?
    [That takes guts.]

    In the end, the various Confessions–or the ecclesiastical courts that
    drum out a J. Gresham Machen or a Norman Shepherd or a Doug Wilson
    –are indeed “magisterial”: They believe they’re doing God’s work, the Holy
    Spirit’s work, in clarifying and maintaining theological purity, i.e.,
    God’s truth.

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  15. MTX,
    “Are you thinking it is against Catholic teaching to have changes in policies and practices?” Not at all. However, I remain unconvinced that doctrinal “developments” aren’t really just changes.The post hoc rationalizations aren’t anymore convincing than concordist attempts to make Genesis compatible with scientific accounts of origins.

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  16. Tom,

    Why stop at, “whose calvinism is it,” and instead, let’s get to the heart of it. Whose Christianity is it, anyway, is what I want to know? From my perspective, the RCC is just one grouping in Christianity among many. It also happens to have the most members. Big deal. Here in the bay area, Brad Pitt starred in a movie about our cross bay rivals, and how exciting it is that a team with a small budget and some brains can achieve a lot. Sure, my SF Giants are the superior team, but the A’s got a movie and Brad Pitt. That’s worth writing about in a combox.

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  17. sdb
    I think I see your concern, but not all “policy” changes entail doctrinal changes. I can see how there could be some “developments” clearly show not development but change. BUt, if someone doesn’t believe the Holy Spirit’s guaranteed protection in the midst of the Church, then what does it matter. It could be wrong since the beginning and have never been the truth to begin with.
    But, the one Hart is talking about here has nothing to do with a dogmatic change just a pragmatic change in how the Church might best react to that dogmatic reality in certain situations. ie. Baptism is truly transformative and unites us to Christ. How the members of the Church should react to that reality may be different in different ages with different situations. That is not development that is just seeing better how an unchangeable reality reacts to changing reality best.
    Somewhat understandable?

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  18. AB: Tom,
    Why stop at, “whose Calvinism is it,” and instead, let’s get to the heart of it. Whose Christianity is it, anyway, is what I want to know?

    Exactly. But we have to do this together or it’s just grenade tossing, and everybody dies.

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  19. Tom, the difference is that Geneva’s city council was “running things” and Calvin was a city bureaucrat. In Rome the pope ran everything. That’s why the Company of pastors in Geneva did not have a Secretary of State (which Rome still does). Hows that two swords mojo working for you now?

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  20. AB,
    “Whose Christianity is it, anyway?” That is what is at the very heart of the Catholic’s faith. It is not ours or the Pope’s or the Bishop’s or the collected people of any area at any time; it is Christ’s. He builds His Church. It is for Him by Him and through Him. We don’t add a jot or take away a tidle. We can’t read the Scriptures and figure out how to make it. Like the “I am” Himself, His Church just is. But we “are” because of Him. We are either with Him and His work or we are against Him. If we are with Him it is by His grace, if we are against Him it is sin and we need to repent. If we feel the need to turn to God from our rebellion it is the Spirit. If we do repent it is the work of the Spirit. If we remain it is the work of the Spirit. If we sin we hear the Word call us out of our selfmade darkness into His marvelous light and “He is faithful land just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrightiousness.”
    His word is true. Obedience is the hing on which the next step is revealed.
    Jesus’s first teaching words still ring to us all.
    “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

    AB, the demons cause us to say “we are legion for we are many”, while Christ alone can make many be one and sit at His feet in our right mind listening to the One Teacher of all, Christ.

    He still teaches the same as He always has.
    “If you do not believe I am who I am you will die in your sins.”
    “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”
    “Be you therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
    “Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
    “He who hear you hears Me.”
    “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
    “Who ever believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
    -“Bless are you when men persecute you…”
    “You are the light of the world”
    “A new command I give you , love one another as I have loved you.”

    His teachers teach the same as he did. The Apostles and now the Church.
    VII’s Lumen Gentium(light of the world)
    -“All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.”
    -” All men are called to belong to the new people of God.”
    -“Bishops, as successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord, to whom was given all power in heaven and on earth, the mission to teach all nations and to preach the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain to salvation by faith, baptism and the fulfillment of the commandments.”
    -“Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land.”
    -“Let them follow the example of Christ, who by His obedience even unto death, opened to all men the blessed way of the liberty of the children of God. Nor should they omit to pray for those placed over them, for they keep watch as having to render an account of their souls, so that they may do this with joy and not with grief.”
    -” The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of His disciples of every condition. He Himself stands as the author and consumator of this holiness of life: “Be you therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
    – “God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in Him”.But, God pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us;thus the first and most necessary gift is love, by which we love God above all things and our neighbor because of God. ”
    -“It is charity which guides us to our final end. It is the love of God and the love of one’s neighbor which points out the true disciple of Christ.”
    -“The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love.”
    -“Let all then have care that they guide aright their own deepest sentiments of soul. Let neither the use of the things of this world nor attachment to riches, which is against the spirit of evangelical poverty, hinder them in their quest for perfect love. Let them heed the admonition of the Apostle to those who use this world; let them not come to terms with this world; for this world, as we see it, is passing away.”

    AB, I know I have gone way past your three liner, but I hope some time you get a chance to read some true teaching from this “one grouping in Christianity among many.” The Church speaks with a different tongue and I don’t believe it to be the tongue of a serpent, but the echo of our Lord’s voice ringing through the ages among His people.

    Peace,
    MichaelTX

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  21. Tom, while you’re pontificating about Calvinism, consider the Netherlands, which was one of the most tolerant places on planet earth — so tolerant they (these Dutch Calvinists) took Menonites, Descartes, and Spinoza. I’m not saying that the strict Calvinists were happy about it. But Amsterdam was no Geneva.

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  22. Tom, the difference is that Geneva’s city council was “running things” and Calvin was a city bureaucrat. In Rome the pope ran everything.

    A difference in civics, in structure. Both were lawful.

    Hows that two swords mojo working for you now?

    That’s your undifferentiated attack on the Roman church, Darryl, not mine. I’m more a student of history and political philosophy. Religion and state were intertwined from the Sumerians to the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Roman empire. “Constantinism” [c. 306 CE] just replaced the rather flabby church-state pantheon with one that reflected the actual religious beliefs of the majority of the people by that time, Christianity.

    It’s really an interesting story. 50 years later, when Emperor Julian, “Julian the Apostate,” tried to restore the Greek-Roman gods, he failed. The people weren’t buying.

    http://www.thenagain.info/classes/sources/julian.html

    The fifth part of these I order to be expended on the poor who serve the priests, and the rest must be distributed from me to strangers and beggars. For it is disgraceful when no Jew is a beggar and the impious Galileans [the name given by Julian to Christians] support our poor in addition to their own; everyone is able to see that our coreligionists are in want of aid from us.

    &c.

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  23. Thanks for that, Mike and Tom. My sign off to you all here is the same as it was before when I was learning about RCism with all you fellow inter-webers. Specifically, this is not my area of expertise. But my response is kind (to especially Michael, with all the reading material, thanks, dude), is this, with the respective links.

    http://www.opc.org/icr.html

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  24. Tom,

    If we were saying good things about Catholicism and bad things about Calvinism would your responses be reversed? Is your gig to just be a contrarian? The only problem with that approach is sometimes you cavalierly dismiss a good point from the other guy which makes you lose credibility a la Richard Smith, who liked to disagree with statements like “the sky is blue some days” just to be a thorn in everyone’s flesh. It’s no coincidence that he is no longer around.

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  25. Erik, the reason I ask, is you say, “It’s no coincidence that he is no longer around.”

    Your words seem to imply that this decision was made apart from Richard Smith, no?

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  26. Tom, If we were saying good things about Catholicism and bad things about Calvinism would your responses be reversed? Is your gig to just be a contrarian? The only problem with that approach is sometimes you cavalierly dismiss a good point from the other guy

    You’re lecturing me about dismissing good points? Heh. As for the rest, I’m interested in truth, so yes, I certainly would say good things about Calvinism were it attacked–indeed my original interest in it was and is its historical role in developing “natural rights” and political liberty. [Unfortunately, that’s what 2Kers seem to like least about their own church history, but that’s not my problem.]

    At this very moment I’m listening to a podcast with Mark David Hall about this. Great stuff.

    http://www.researchonreligion.org/historical-topics/hall-on-religion-the-founding-fathers

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  27. Sorry, but one more comment for you old life combox readers. If I were Roman Catholic, I might be tempted to be a little peeved at what I read here at this website by the resident blogmesiter. But doesn’t his reading and writing indicate he cares? One may think he is lobbing theological hand grenades. But that’s an opinion. On the surface, he is writing a lot about your church, you RCers. Maybe be a little thankful for the opinions the dude here. He could write about one of the many other Christian groups. That’s it. Later.

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  28. Tom, while you’re pontificating about Calvinism, consider the Netherlands, which was one of the most tolerant places on planet earth — so tolerant they (these Dutch Calvinists) took Menonites, Descartes, and Spinoza. I’m not saying that the strict Calvinists were happy about it. But Amsterdam was no Geneva.

    Calvinist Holland’s role in developing religious liberty as a Christian and natural law principle is fascinating–in fact the period you refer to is when the great natural law theorist Hugo Grotius is a magistrate there, and he has to deal with the influx of so many religious refugees. John Locke himself spends several years in self-imposed exile there, and comes back to Britain to write the famous “Letter Concerning Toleration.” [With the ingenious argument that your government can’t get you into heaven.]

    Eventually, in 1772, uber-Calvinist samuel Adams comes to write

    In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practised, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society.

    *http://www.world-religion-watch.org/index.php/book-reviews-on-relevant-religious-and-cultural-issues/187-john-lockes-qletter-on-tolerationq

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  29. Tom,

    When you make good points I’m happy to recognize them, but as long as you remain personally rootless it is hard for you to do more than grouse. Anyone can be against everything. What are you for? other than “America, love her or leave her”. Oh, and Sarah Palin. Are these your folks?

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  30. A good comment on my blog on Van der Molen & I:

    Erik,
    Enjoying your comments over at Dr. Kloosterman’s blog. Just a thought on one of your points. You say above and something similar at Kloosterman’s blog ” And why did Dutch Reformed people come here seeking to practice their religion if they knew that these were the “ground rules” in the U.S.?”. I think this point is less relevant than we commonly think, due to a false understanding many of us are afforded of U.S. history.

    Here is some text from historian Thomas Woods in his book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History”. pg 3 Under the topic of ‘Colonial quarrels gave birth to religious freedom’. “The First Amendment to the Constitution reflected this attitude: The federal government was prohibited from meddling in the religious affairs of the states. The First Amendment’s declaration that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” was intended, according to historian David Hackett Fischer, to preserve religious freedom in Virginia and Pennsylvania and to guarantee that the religious establishments that existed in Massachusetts and elsewhere would be safe from outside interference.”

    There were no strictures on the religious laws in the states and thus, states like Massachusetts and New England retained such laws after the constitution was formed. So, depending on what time frame of dutch immigration you are talking of, the opposite argument could be made … maybe the ability to form state laws regarding religion was attractive to immigrants coming in the mid 1800s??

    My response:

    Rich,

    How many states were still making laws favoring one Christian sect over another in the 1850s? My point is that I don’t think the Dutch came here with the expectation that the Magistrate was going to be enforcing both tables of the law (all 10 commandments) in the manner that the Belgic Confession has in mind. Whenever the Belgic talks about the antichrist it is referring to the Pope, for goodness sake. The Belgic also “detests the error of the anabaptists”. By the 1850s Catholics were flowing into America, The Mormon church and the Oneida Community were underway, and the Shakers had come and gone. This was not a country that was going to enforce both tables a la The Belgic Confession. Thanks for commenting on the post, though.

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  31. Erik, I have decided to do more reading than pontificating, especially on subjects I am not sure about. When it comes to the RC debate, I mostly listening. While I side with the reformers, it’s my hope to see the whole body of Christ come back together in the true knowledge of Him in unity.

    I will say this, the CTC boys put *us* to shame, when it comes to polite discourse. Now I say this to my shame, since I tend to rude at times. Plus they are almost never snarky, ala the king of snark our own DG. Plus, *they* (CTC boys) show a love for Christ, that is hard to deny.

    I have a question for you Erik, do you consider MichaelTX your brother in Christ, like say your buddie DGH? How about Bryan Cross? Will you see him in heaven? Now, I am not saying you have to know for a positive fact, but do you consider them Christians? Real question.

    Do you think that because Jason (Stellman?) swam the Tiber, he lost his salvation? Or was he never saved? Or, is he just confused on the ordo, like all of us are in some ways?

    Just some honest questions……..

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  32. Doug,

    I don’t attempt to judge whether others are saved or not. I’m not Richard.

    Bryan is the most haughty guy I’ve ever encountered at Old Life. What are you talking about?

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  33. Some more good Q&A on Belgic 36:

    Q: Determining the meaning of a text before applying that text is a fundamental principle of exegesis—whether interpretation of Scripture or a Confession.
    Your unwillingness to agree with BC 36 that “The magistrate is called to contribute to a God-pleasing society,” involves the nature and meaning of confessional subscription. Such a statement is objectively true or false, apart from the details of it’s application.
    So let me ask: How do you understand the teaching of BC 36 that “The magistrate is called to contribute to a God-pleasing society”? Or do you deny that teaching of BC 36?

    A: I think the burden is on you (and Mark) to flesh out how it applies today in light of the revision. You both say you agree that Belgic 36 no longer means executing heretics, but it does mean some kind of generic upholding of the Law of God in some “outward” sense. I say either it applies or it doesn’t and once the CRC shrunk back from the full implications of the Article the whole ballgame changed. That’s why I say you need to fully develop the implications before I agree with your premise.

    It’s like me asking you, “Do you agree in principle that signing contracts is valid?” and then putting the signature line of a contract in front of you and asking you to sign it without reading it. No way would you do it.

    I do think the whole notion of writing a Confession that puts duties on a Magistrate who is not assenting to the Confession nor subscribing to it is a bit odd. It has an “Unam Sanctam” feel to it and is more a vestige of Constantinianism than anything else. I ask again, if Belgic 36 is valid, why has the URCNA been derelict in their duties to hold the Magistrate accountable at every level?

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  34. I would also be extremely interested to hear, (Sean, David R, and Todd), answer to those questions as well.

    Personally, I am just about snarked out of snark.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t have strong opinions; I still do.

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  35. @DGH, do you believe that since Jason swam the Tiber, that this proves he’s NOT a born again Christian, or that he never was?

    Can a person believe RC dogma and still be saved?

    Honest question……

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  36. Doug: I will say this, the CTC boys put *us* to shame, when it comes to polite discourse.

    You are gonna have to define “us” there Doug, I am definitely not a part of your team.

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  37. Hi Doug,

    Sorry for butting in. But I think it gives me a chance to quote one of my favorite authors. His name is J Gresham Machen. Check it:

    “But the point that we
    are now making is that such requirements ought clearly
    to be recognized as provisional; they do not determine
    a man’s standing before God, but they only determine,
    with the best judgment that God has given to feeble
    and ignorant men, a man’s standing in the visible
    Church. That is one reason why we must refuse to
    answer, in any definite and formal way, the question
    as to the minimum doctrinal requirements that are
    necessary in order that a man may be a Christian.

    There is, however, also another reason. The other
    reason is that the very asking of the question often be-
    tokens an unfortunate attitude with regard to Christian
    truth. For our part We have not much sympathy with
    the present widespread desire of finding some greatest
    common denominator which shall unite men of dif-
    ferent Christian bodies; for such a greatest common
    denominator is often found to be very small indeed.
    Some men seem to devote most of their energies to the
    task of seeing just how little of Christian truth they
    can get along with. For our part, we regard it as a
    perilous business; we prefer, instead of seeing how little
    of Christian truth we can get along with, to see just

    160 WHAT IS FAITH?

    how much of Christian truth we can obtain. We
    ought to search the Scriptures reverently and thought-
    fully and pray God that he may lead us into an ever
    fuller understanding of the truth that can make us wise
    unto salvation. There is no virtue whatever in ignor-
    ance, but much virtue in a knowledge of what God has
    revealed. ”

    http://archive.org/stream/MN41619ucmf_6/MN41619ucmf_6_djvu.txt

    Doug,

    Have you heard of this author? He founded the church I am a part of.

    This may also help your study:

    http://opc.org/qa.html?question_id=435

    Gotta run. In the peace of old-life,
    AB

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  38. DGH, thanks so much for this series on the Mortara debacle. You’ve covered Kertzner’s book so thoroughly I no longer feel a need to read it, but I eagerly await the movie. Chgrh will be amazing!

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  39. Doug, you might say he’s saved in spite of the pernicious papist errors he now postulates. You might say he has fallen into idolatry (as many Israelites did, about every 45 minutes, it seemed) but may still believe better than he thinks he knows, you know?

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  40. Doug, why don’t you tell us what you think? You have never been squeamish.

    Do you think I am saved? Remember, you think I am a threat to the church (sort of the way Luther thought about the pope).

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  41. Good find, Andrew. I’m not o.k. with it when my tee-ballers just show up and play in the dirt. If I’m going to take the time to be there I’m going to try to make them into baseball players. People who are satisfied with little almost always get it.

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  42. Tom,

    Your “both were lawful” makes you look like a relativist. Hitler’s election was lawful. If all you care about is a religion being lawful why are you down on Calvinism & Calvinists? We’re law abiding and our theology in as internally consistent as any other. Jihad is lawful in certain times and places. Take a stand for something, brother.

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  43. Doug, the question might better be put to the CtC crowd regarding those professing Christians who consciously choose not to go into the Roman Catholic Church, are they saved? Given that according to their teachings there is no true and valid church except Rome…

    Explanatory notes regarding Pope Francis’ homily:
    171. What is the meaning of the affirmation “Outside the Church there is no salvation”?

    This means that all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his Church, those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation.

    http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/explanatory-note-on-the-meaning-of-salvation-in-francis-daily-homily-of-may-22

    Salvation outside of Rome? Well, if you’re an atheist and try to do good and cooperate with grace, though you’re outside Rome’s walls, there is redemption! Maybe Francis was indeed making that point…

    In a nutshell – salvation for unbelievers without the gospel and ignorantly outside of Rome and no salvation for professing believers who have the gospel but are consciously outside Rome.

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  44. More Belgic 36 Q&A:

    Q: But then, how do/would you wish to see those clear statements of BC 36 applied today?

    A: I’m happy with the current state of affairs in the U.S. We are free to practice our religion, as are those with whom we disagree. The magistrate is not forbidding us to gather to worship just like he is not forbidding Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Mainline Protestants, Unitarians, or anyone else. He doesn’t even wake the atheistic sluggard up on Sunday morning and make him go to church somewhere. The result is that the people I worship with genuinely want to be there (or at least their parents do). It’s the best relationship between the Magistrate and the church ever devised by man and it’s lasted for several hundred years now.

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  45. Nice summary, Jack.

    Two of my tee-ballers who don’t normally step up made nice plays in the field today and now two non-Old Life regulars have come through with solid posts. It’s been a good day and it’s only half over.

    That and my boy hit home runs from both sides of the plate.

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  46. Tom, Your “both were lawful” makes you look like a relativist. Hitler’s election was lawful.

    So you’re condemning Jean Calvin and Geneva’s Little Council of 25 for burning up Michael Servetus after all. In serving as “expert witness” for the prosecution, Calvin is still implicated. He could have declined, as all men can and must do if they are required to act “against God,” even under your “radical*” Two Kingdoms theology.

    ____
    *”Radical” is used by some of your critics, as in R2K. Indeed, they have some basis in making that distinction, for it’s far from clear that it was ever normative Reformed theology. You have your church, they have theirs. All theologies have a 2K component: the Papal States were ruled by canon law, not by the Pope’s will, nor by the Bible itself.

    The whole idea of ecclesiastical courts–in Calvin’s Geneva, the “Consistory” under the Ecclesiastical Ordinances–is where R2K elides history. The second table of the 10 Commandments–“public” morality such as adultery, drunkenness–was indeed in the church sphere, not necessarily the state’s. “Society” is that tertium quid I suggested, between church and state. [I’m likely over your head here, but this discussion has been at least useful as a proving ground. I’d hoped to learn some Calvinism history, but y’all seem more concerned with rubbing Roman Catholicism’s nose in the dirt of its own, as though that makes your own church any more true or licit.]

    Here’s some stuff on Calvin’s Geneva and the Consistory. Calvin himself wrote the Ecclesiastical Ordinances. Nobody here seems very interested in your history, but I am, so I pass along things I run into for the lurkers.

    http://tinyurl.com/l2lb58s

    “Any action or word that transgressed the Ten Commandments given to Moses at Sinai were within the purview of the elders…”

    So if your “R2K” is to refudiate John Calvin himself, that’s fine. Just be clear and honest about it. Whose Calvinism is it, anyway?

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  47. Tom:”Radical” is used by some of your critics, as in R2K.

    When i see that term used it gives me the same chills as someone insisting on the NASV translation.

    Red Flags a’poppin’ beeeeeeeeeeeeee….

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  48. Tom:”Radical” is used by some of your critics, as in R2K.

    When I see that term used it gives me the same chills as someone insisting on the NASV translation.

    The formal problem is that if you’re permitted to self-designate as “2K” without objection, you almost already win the argument without arguing, by arrogating the mantle of Augustine. Your opponents are then opponents of Augustine, and every Christian digs Augustine, so you win without a shot being fired.

    So it’s understandable your opponents refuse to cede you that ground, and designate you “R2K”. The tactic is surprisingly sophisticated, you know, for them. 😉

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  49. Doug, if I could remove from my RC friends all the RC “T” tradition obfuscations and obscurations; Mary, priestcraft, mediatorial substitutes, sacramentalism, superstition, justification per ontological change, God unwilling to justify the ungodly, illicit doctrines on marriage, sex, and procreation. Purgatory, eclipsing of the mediatorial and intercessory work of Christ, misunderstanding of the nature of sin, righteousness and the law, overly platonic understanding of metaphysical realities, the rosary, mediation of the saints, worship of Mary, lighting candles and giving money to be heard by same, higher-critical hermeneutic of scripture, a good chunk of all the monastic orders, hierarchy of piety amongst the faithful, works-righteousness(spirit inspired, grace infused or otherwise), salvation by buying favor and that’s all I can think of right off the cuff.

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  50. Tom,

    I don’t really condemn any Constantinian clergy or magistrate for acting like Constantinians when Constantinianism was in force just like I don’t condemn slave owners for owning slaves when it was legal. To do so is to sit on one’s high horse looking back in time. I do condemn the Catholic church for keeping the gospel hidden from people, though, then as now. I am glad that the era of Constantine has ended, however, and I argue with other Reformed men about that often — even today, in fact, on Belgic 36.

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  51. Tom,

    Our Anti-2K opponents want to act like 1789 didn’t happen. It did.

    My biggest beef with you is that you seem to hold Calvinists to a higher standard than everyone else for some reason (Catholics, especially). Did a Calvinist pee in your cheerios at some point and tell you it was Mountain Dew? When we try to discuss substantive theological issues with you, though, you say you won’t go there on the internet. At some point, what’s the point in talking with you?

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  52. Tom – The second table of the 10 Commandments–”public” morality such as adultery, drunkenness–was indeed in the church sphere, not necessarily the state’s.

    Erik – It still is today. That’s why we practice church discipline. My church excommunicated a woman a few months ago for deserting her husband. We would discipline for disobeying the first table as well if needed.

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  53. Tom – I’m likely over your head here, but this discussion has been at least useful as a proving ground

    Erik – Proving that you can be a pompous ass?

    Like

  54. Tom,

    I have no idea why you are talking about Calvin & Geneva. No one here disputes Geneva, no one here is ashamed of it. That being said, no one wishes they were living there, either. Church discipline is sufficient for many of the things that the Magistrate had a hand in punishing then and there. We’ve moved on, we separate church and state, we have freedom of religion (or to have no religion) in America. These are good things. What is your point? You say many things that I am not sure what you want and I got a 30 on my ACT and second in the state of Iowa on the CPA exam. In spite of your wishing to think so, I’m not stupid, even though I’ve never been on a game show.

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  55. Tom – The second table of the 10 Commandments–”public” morality such as adultery, drunkenness–was indeed in the church sphere, not necessarily the state’s.

    Erik – It still is today. That’s why we practice church discipline. My church excommunicated a woman a few months ago for deserting her husband. We would discipline for disobeying the first table as well if needed.</i.

    And certain cases were turned over to the civil authorities. You're not getting it yet. The structure is exactly the same as The Inquisition. King Ferdinand started the Spanish Inquisition, you know, not the Church.

    And please try to behave yourself. You keep asking for personal details, but clearly only to use as a weapon. Whenever you get in over your head, when the historical facts don't fit your received narrative–which is often–you resort to personal attack. If you want to discuss, then read the links I provide, and comment on them, not me. Every time you insult me, you admit you have no intelligent and principled response, and that's why this is a proving ground.

    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2008/vanhove_inquisitions_apr08.asp

    The Inquisitions of History: The Mythology and the Reality | Reverend Brian Van Hove, S.J. | Ignatius Insight

    An ecclesiastical inquisition in Europe was a court system adapted from Roman law. It was an institutional tribunal charged with protecting orthodox religious doctrine and church discipline. From 1414-1418 (Constance) and 1438 (Basle), the church was shaped by lawyers who were consulted for the councils. Canonists were needed for church order and to make crucial distinctions.

    Jurists keep good records, clean records and abundant records. Curialists write neatly. Scribes are taught to be legible. Because of this legal infrastructure, we can today study the inquisitions, unlike some other institutions which are lost to us due to a lack of quality documentation. Fortuitously, inquisition material survived European wars. We should also use the plural and speak of “inquisitions” since there were a number of them in different times and places. We now use the capital letter “I” to refer to a specific historical inquisition, such as the Venetian or Spanish, or even the earliest one during the Albigensian era in southern France. For the Inquisition and its procedures in Italy during Galileo’s time, we have John Tedeschi’s The Prosecution of Heresy: Collected Studies on the Inquisition in Early Modern Italy (1991).

    Due to the work of newer historians, such as Edward Peters in his Inquisition (1988), we use The Inquisition to speak of the mythology surrounding these institutions. Such mythology passed down to us as folklore, the result largely of successful Protestant anti-Roman propaganda, particularly coming from the Spanish Netherlands.

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  56. That’s right Erik, other than that we’re solid. Though I have to say the whole papal infallibility, the magisterium is the bomb fetish is a Trad. Thing anymore. As the Vat II sisters would say; ‘the magisterium isn’t the church’

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  57. Tom,

    You make the mistake of many who have come and gone from here is presuming that people have all day to read everything you post. You need to run on your own steam. This is like a discussion at a bar. YOU need to read what you want to read, digest it, get it into your mental DNA, and be able to converse on/with it. Sean is a good example of that, as is Zrim, as is D.G., as is Mikelmann. The regulars have figured it out.

    Anyone who comes here and tells me honestly what he believes and why I will respect. I respect Jeremy Tate from CTC (even though I will try to beat him up intellectually every time he comes here). I don’t respect Bryan Cross with his pitiful little logical obfuscation games. I respect Richard Smith and Doug Sowers even though they drive me nuts. You are still on the fence, Tom, but you’re not beyond hope which is why I keep going back-and-forth with you.

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  58. Doug Sowers: @DGH, do you believe that since Jason swam the Tiber, that this proves he’s NOT a born again Christian, or that he never was?

    Can a person believe RC dogma and still be saved?

    Honest question……

    DGH: Doug, why don’t you tell us what you think? You have never been squeamish.

    Now THIS had the possibility of being interesting, a break in the fog, a direct answer, but that ain’t gonna happen.

    However, as the Straussians say, the light is conspicuous by its absence.

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  59. When you can just have a conversation I might be in over my head. I hope I am, because I might learn something new. Consider this, if you really are smarter than all of us, shouldn’t you have the capacity to make yourself understood by simplifying whatever it is you think you’re doing? That’s what good teachers do. Hart is a brilliant teacher who I have learned a lot from because he makes himself understandable to his audience while maintaining a high level of scholarship. If this is just mental masturbation for you I would think you could find more productive ways to use your time.

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  60. Tom – Now THIS had the possibility of being interesting, a break in the fog, a direct answer, but that ain’t gonna happen.

    Erik – AB addressed the question with his Machen quote.

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  61. If you’re interested in holding up your end, Erik, read the links and cut out the ad homs. The links are mostly about your own church history and theology, with an occasional mythbusting about what you have been told about Roman Catholic or American history.

    Otherwise, you’re just that guy at the bar who butts into every conversation whether he knows anything about it or not. As for my end, if y’all had contrary facts, your warrior selves would let me hear all about ’em, so there’s a forward momentum regardless.

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  62. The point is, Tom, we’re not big on opining about the state of men’s souls. Call me selfish, but it’s my own skin that I seem to care most about, when I am honest. The atheists have accused me, as a Christian, as necessarily being overly self interested, as theist. Whether I am, or not, is irrelevant to whether God exists. You don’t need to declare religious affiliation or anything more about yourself, obviously, here in a public forum. But you shouldn’t think that just because we don’t correct every comment, that even obvious errors here or in other places go uncorrected. Basically, so many errors, so few comments…but we’re in a theology blog. I’ve got problems about blogging theology, period. But such is life. Just so you are aware, I’ve talked with smarties who don’t buy U and L in Tulip.Smarties also who don’t agree with my high view of Scripture. We’re not here to discuss just any old theological challenge to reformed theology. If you have true questions, and want to find out more, you need check out the resources in your ares, like you local church. At CtoC, they cut you off, or block comments that are off topic. I’m not saying yours are yet, but we’re just guys who chat. And we like the openness to do so. Thus, my rheotrical flourish for now. I really need to be going away now.

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  63. Tom,

    O.K. Fair enough. If others take the time to read all your links and respond, more power to them (and you). If not, your presence here will be of no more consequence than a fart in the wind, you’ll get frustrated, and leave. If you ever just want to converse I’ll be waiting.

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  64. Tom: The formal problem is that if you’re permitted to self-designate as “2K” without objection, you almost already win the argument without arguing, by arrogating the mantle of Augustine. Your opponents are then opponents of Augustine, and every Christian digs Augustine, so you win without a shot being fired.So it’s understandable your opponents refuse to cede you that ground, and designate you “R2K”. The tactic is surprisingly sophisticated, you know, for them.

    Our opponents have zero understanding of basic Reformed theology or practice. The mere game of adding another 1 to 15 letters in front of 2K lets me know I’m probably dealing with the mind of a sand flea.

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  65. Tom – . As for my end, if y’all had contrary facts, your warrior selves would let me hear all about ‘em, so there’s a forward momentum regardless

    Erik – You don’t believe me, but I don’t think anyone knows the point you are trying to make or what you want. That’s why I’ve asked you to clarify that about 25 times now.

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  66. TVD, when did the 2kers here ever say we didn’t disagree with Calvin or any of a number of the reformers on their erastian sensibilities? As for the RC ‘attacks’, it’s on two fronts; one, the trads, prot-Catholics have under taken aggressive proselytizing efforts our direction and two, we’re poking holes in the whole ‘the pope and the magisterium is the bomb’ polemic. I personally engage the whole ‘you catch more than you learn angle’ being I’ve caught more than they’ve learned. As for the history angle of it all, I’m gonna give more ground to the to be soon published YUP author than those not so decorated.

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  67. AB” The point is, Tom, we’re not big on opining about the state of men’s souls.

    Perhaps, but you’re quite obsessed with opining on the state of other people’s churches, the Called to Communion people, the Roman church, the Baylys. Billy Graham’s theology, Sarah Palin’s. I seem to talk about your church more than you do. ;-P
    __
    Kent: Our opponents have zero understanding of basic Reformed theology or practice.

    Well, my point all along has been–since Erik doesn’t seem to see it–is that it appears that each sect [or sub-sect] believes they have God’s truth. As an outsider, I read their arguments at each other, and think both sides sound reasonable, that their Biblical arguments are each valid. This certainly explains why there are hundreds or thousands of “sola scriptura” sects that claim they’re not doing theology, but merely reading the Bible plainly. Yet they disagree!

    Take Romans 13.

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

    2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

    OK, fine. No revolutions. Submit to all temporal powers.

    then it goes on

    3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.

    Well, what if the rulers become the ones doing the evil? Then certainly [some reasonably argue], the conditions necessary for verses 1 and 2 no longer apply.

    Such as John Knox, who may reasonably called the founder of the Presbyterian Church, at least in Scotland, which is the Presbyterianism brought to America. Your church.

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

    So if John Knox is out, where that leaves “radical” 2K, I don’t know, because Knox was 180 degrees from it. Your opponents argue that “R2K” has no real history in your church, and I’ve yet to see you present arguments to the contrary. If you have them, I want to read them, hence my continued presence here. At this point I’m beginning to believe you don’t really know [or care] about your theological history, and are re-inventing “Reformed theology” on the fly.

    Which is fine, believe me. I don’t even give Mormons a hard time about Planet Kolub; I’m a pluralist that way. My interest is in understanding you as you understand yourselves, like any good Straussian. But if your theology is based on faulty history, then that’s part of the analysis too.

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  68. Tom, if you like us,come visit one of our churches, and let us know what you think. I’ve got a great church. It’s where I should focus. Instead of on the inter-web. I see this as mostly banter. The blog posts I dig, by and large. Later.

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  69. Sean, you missed the gist of my question; do you consider a man like Jason (Stellman?) still a christian after swimming the Tiber? Do you consider Jason a brother in Christ?

    FWIW, none of us has perfect knowledge, “I get that”, God hasn’t allowed me to peek in the Lamb’s book of life; regardless, there are plenty of men I consider my brothers.

    Sean, this is a yes/no question: Do you consider Jason a Christian brother?

    Same question goes for DGH, Erik, David R. and Todd B.

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  70. Oh, I’m getting my answers just fine, AB, whether by admission, omission or elision. Thx.

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  71. Doug, although your question isn’t directed to me, let me give you my answer. I consider Jason a brother who has gone to a “church” that, at best, hides and covers over the gospel of salvation with any number of man-instituted doctrines and practices… and at worst denies the gospel. To embrace Rome’s doctrines is to move away from God’s free offer of salvation to sinners – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. To go to Rome is to move in a direction that denies that good news. I have and will continue to appeal to Jason as a brother, but one whose soul is in serious jeopardy. Paul didn’t write the letter to the Galatians for no small reason.

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  72. Tom,

    As a gay man Allan Bloom didn’t have a huge problem with your bête noire, “America as a whorehouse”. Have you not read Bellow’s “Ravelstein”?

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  73. TVD, as for the confessional history, our antagonistic bros are on the wrong side of the Erastian divide; see the 1788 revision. See Erik’s links. Btw, our infallible standard is the scriptures not history. We’re willing to diverge from tradition when necessary. We ding the RCs on occassion for their romantic view of their own.

    Doug, I don’t play God, even on the interweb. See Jack’s response. My own rule of thumb is the more faithful one becomes to the scriptures the poorer RC one makes.

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  74. What a cop out, Sean!

    Are you implying you haven’t the foggiest idea who your brothers in Christ really are? Can anyone take you seriously?

    Is it playing God to comprehend your brethren, are really your brethren? Does a change in understanding the “ordo” remove one from the list?

    How is *perceiving* your brethren, playing God? Doesn’t history prove these things out in real time even if we’re wrong for a season?

    1 John 2:19

    “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

    Last I checked Jason hasn’t denied the Christ. He has some very technical disagreements with the reformation. Personally, I think Jason is just muddled, but I still consider him my brother in Christ.

    Thanks Jack Miller! Your straight forward answer is refreshing here at Old Life. (And I tend to agree with much that you had to say.) But sadly, I can’t get the same *clear* forthright answer from DG, or Sean. Just sophistry and obfuscation.

    Been there, done that 😦

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  75. DGH asks: “Do you think I”m saved”?

    Me: Yes I do, and I think you’re a better man than me, although I take umbrage to your radical two kingdom theology.

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  76. Doug, don’t get mad at me because you’re realizing your own view of salvation is tracking closely with the RC formulation. Plus, I referred to Jack’s response as largely representative of my own. I don’t know people’s hearts, I don’t even trust my own but I can track the words coming out their mouth/keyboard and Jason’s statements put him at odds with what I understand to be the biblical gospel. That’s widely considered in our circles to be perilous ground. Doug, have another drink or quit altogether cuz this isn’t a good look. You’re somewhere between I forgot to take my Ritalin and put the poor thing down.

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  77. Doug: “radical two kingdom theology.”

    See Tom? You can’t have a conversation with anyone who has the childish tendency to put some prefix on 2K…

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  78. But, Tom, the command to obey and submit were written by one whose magistrate would likely be deemed “doing evil” by modern standards, yet no loopholes that undo anything even hinted at by the author. Others my reasonably argue that there is a place for rebellion, but there is yet a biblical case to be made for it. Probably because there is none.

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  79. Doug, why are you asking questions that are out of bounds for limited creatures? You might as well be proffering future events. But have you ever heard of the distinction between the militant (earthly) and triumphant (heavenly) church? We know who are members of the former, but not the latter, and the right hand of fellowship is extended the former, all the while knowing there are sheep without and hypocrites within. That should be sufficient.

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  80. Just once I would like to ask someone who talks about “Radical 2K” what plain old vanilla 2K is.

    Good night. No, literally, good night. I’m going to bed.

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  81. Looks like you boys have been at it a bit. I’ve been dealing with my carpet today. It’s wrapped up and done, but now the fun of putting my house back together.

    Sean,
    I’ll be getting with you by email, but it may be Monday or so.
    Peace fellas and blessings on your Lord’s day,
    Mike,

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  82. Kent, even Pastor Douglas Wilson describes himself as 2K. We all do. You (R2K lads) don’t get to hog, the term 2K, to your own *radical* fancies.

    And why do I call you “radical”?!

    Let’s get down to the nitty gritty; When *you* say, the Bible doesn’t norm the civil realm, you are on shaky ethical ground. Everyone is looking at you, with squinty eyes, wondering if you’re really sane. Let’s put it this way, you haven’t proven your case!

    Ethics (Right and wrong) are (What God says is right and wrong. Our standard for ethics are defined in all 66 books of the Bible. And to call what God calls evil, okay in the civil realm, is folly! In any, and every realm!!!

    You are mucking around in ethical, philosophical, *contradictory* quicksand. Of course the Bible norms all norms, because the Bible is God’s Word! Only God’s Word is incontrovertible! We are protestants, amen?

    “Man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

    To deprecate or deride God’s law as either cruel, or *morally” outdated is to say, “I know better than God”, or “Our society knows better than God”, Or, Boy was God lame back then.”

    “May it never be! Or, God forbid!

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  83. Tom – Your opponents argue that “R2K” has no real history in your church, and I’ve yet to see you present arguments to the contrary.

    http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Law-Two-Kingdoms-Development/dp/0802864430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370134854&sr=8-1&keywords=natural+law+and+the+two+kingdoms

    We could talk about the book, but then you’ll demur and say you don’t talk theology online. We can’t win.

    To stay on the subject, Beza and Knox–contemporaries, friends and successors of John Calvin–represented normative Reformed theology, not you. Unless you want to argue differently. “Radical” 2K is what you’re charged with—a [slavishly?] literal cleaving to Romans 13 that Beza and Knox didn’t share, and arguably not even Jean Calvin.

    Anything short of theocracy is 2K in some fashion, give to Caesar what’s Caesar’s. And Henry VIII as head of the C of E or John Calvin’s real-life influence over the government of Geneva is pretty close to theocracy–as were Papal State governments. [Oliver Cromwell, anyone?] And indeed, what I’ve learned from Darryl here is just how problematic Pius IX’s last gasp for the ancien regime of Rome’s autocratic ways is for his modern successors–for instance the infallibility bit, which if you actually have read what I’ve written, was everything but refudiated by John XXIII and Benedict XVI.

    As for VanDrunen and natural law, I prefer the genuine article of Aquinas, Suarez, Grotius, Anglican bishop Richard Hooker, John Locke, William Blackstone, Alexander Hamilton, etc. But if y’d like to say something substantive in your own words, I will read them.

    So far, although I’m not intrigued enough by your substance to enter your tall weeds of “R2K”, I do find your battles there interesting, even entertaining, as you beat the nasty living crap out of each other. Zero of this has anything to do with l’il ole moi. I’m just the observer, the correspondent for the rest of us, the outsiders.

    https://oldlife.org/2012/06/locating-the-source-of-2k-objections-aside-from-theonomy-and-neo-calvinism/

    If not, how can he offer a proper Straussian critique of 2K?

    I read you and Darryl. I understand Yale is publishing his book on Calvinism. Why should I muck around with the minor leaguers?

    The floor has always been yours.

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  84. Tom – Your opponents argue that “R2K” has no real history in your church, and I’ve yet to see you present arguments to the contrary.

    [Link to VanDrunen’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought]

    We could talk about the book, but then you’ll demur and say you don’t talk theology online. We can’t win.

    To stay on the subject, Beza and Knox–contemporaries, friends and successors of John Calvin–represented normative Reformed theology, not you. Unless you want to argue differently. “Radical” 2K is what you’re charged with—a [slavishly?] literal cleaving to Romans 13 that Beza and Knox didn’t share, and arguably not even Jean Calvin.

    Anything short of theocracy is 2K in some fashion, give to Caesar what’s Caesar’s. And Henry VIII as head of the C of E or John Calvin’s real-life influence over the government of Geneva is pretty close to theocracy–as were Papal State governments. [Oliver Cromwell, anyone? Calvinist.] And indeed, what I’ve learned from Darryl here is just how problematic Pius IX’s last gasp for the ancien regime of Rome’s autocratic ways is for his modern successors–for instance the infallibility bit, which if you actually have read what I’ve written, was everything but refudiated by John XXIII and Benedict XVI.

    As for VanDrunen and natural law, I prefer the genuine article of Aquinas, Suarez, Grotius, Anglican bishop Richard Hooker, John Locke, William Blackstone, Alexander Hamilton, etc. But if y’d like to say something substantive in your own words, I will read them.

    So far, although I’m not intrigued enough by your substance to enter your tall weeds of “R2K”, I do find your battles there interesting, even entertaining, as you beat the nasty living crap out of each other. Zero of this has anything to do with l’il ole moi.

    https://oldlife.org/2012/06/locating-the-source-of-2k-objections-aside-from-theonomy-and-neo-calvinism/

    If not, how can he offer a proper Straussian critique of 2K?

    I read you and Darryl. I understand Yale is publishing his book on Calvinism. Why should I muck around with the minor leaguers?

    The floor has always been yours. If you want to keep your religion and R2K theology locked inside your church and community like the Amish–the way the Kingdom of man would love to see Christianity as a whole, quiet and inert, fine.

    But when you start lecturing other Christians to do the same–other Calvinists!–you’ve already stepped outside of the confines of your church, Darryl, et al., and so you are indeed combatants in the Culture War just like everybody else.

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  85. But, Tom, the command to obey and submit were written by one whose magistrate would likely be deemed “doing evil” by modern standards, yet no loopholes that undo anything even hinted at by the author. Others may reasonably argue that there is a place for rebellion, but there is yet a biblical case to be made for it. Probably because there is none.

    Thank you, Mr. Zrim. The counterargument is that there were no “magistrates” to appeal to under Emperor Nero. By contrast, the Continental Congress was a duly appointed legal entity [magistrates] to oppose the “evil” of King George. The colonists gave this stuff much theological worry, as did the Presbyterians during the English civil wars of the 1600s.

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  86. Tom, believe it or not, we Reformed Protestants still have ecclesiastical courts. Check out any denomination’s book of church order. The question is whether those courts have temporal power. Today they don’t. In Calvin’s Geneva they had much more since they were part of the city government, the way a school board is part of a city government. Now, our church courts are no longer part of the government. They are spiritual.

    You think you’re teaching us something we don’t know? Where the papal states differed, from Unam Sanctam down to Edgardo Mortara, was that the pope, an ecclesiastical office, as in the chief pastor, was also mayor of Rome, Governor of the papal states, and a prince of European politics. No Reformed pastor ever had that power or that confusion of powers — spiritual and temporal.

    Unless you look at Zurich, which was much more Erastian, like the Church of England, with the magistrate as the head of the church. And that’s why Calvin’s Geneva is much more of a model for 2k than Erastianism. As convoluted as Geneva was, Calvin was trying to make excommunication a spiritual offense, with execution a temporal offense.

    As for convolutions still going, a confusion of the spiritual and temporal may be a reason for thinking that marriage is only between a man and woman. Christians think that marriage must be Christian — as if Protestants and Roman Catholics agree on the nature of marriage — whether it’s a sacrament or a civil ordinance. But just because a law has a Christian pedigree, are we to lose the law to keep the spheres temporal and spiritual separate? Do we legalize murder because Christians opposed it?

    It’s not like 2kers aren’t thinking about questions that have no easy answers. Your M O of thinking you’re smarter than the rest of the class is not really necessary.

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  87. Tom, your mythbusting quote about the Inquisition hardly does justice to Edgardo Mortara and the Jews in Italy. But whatever gets YOU through the night.

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  88. Tom, “each sect sounds reasonable?” Then why did you diss Calvinists by saying the whole world is Arminian? Why didn’t you respond as if double-predestination sounds reasonable? You reveal more than you know.

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  89. Doug, we’ve been around these questions and who answers first moments before at Green Baggins. Why don’t you lay your cards on the table, even in a tentative as opposed to a cocky way. And why don’t you think about whether the folks you call the greatest threat to the church (VanDrunen) are still Christian?

    Answer, then ask. Or quote Meredith Kline.

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  90. Doug, you answered, so here’s mine. Jason is in a church I believe to be in serious error. It is not good for his soul. And from recent things he has written, I don’t believe he is trusting in Christ alone. All of that adds up to he is no longer in fellowship with the Reformed-according-to-the-word churches. If he wants to be in fellowship with us, he will need to make a profession of faith, as in starting from scratch.

    As for the state of his soul or the place of his name in the lamb’s book of like, I don’t know and it is not my duty to know.

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  91. Doug, and Doug Wilson also pines for Christendom where the pope held two swords and delegated one to the kings and emperor. Wilson is not reliable on 2k.

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  92. Tom, where you do not understand Reformed Protestantism is when you claim that Calvin, Knox etc. represent “normative Reformed theology.” Huh? Have you ever noticed how much those guys disagreed? It’s like reading the popes.

    What is normative in Reformed churches is what the churches confess — the Reformed confessions. We don’t confess Calvin.

    If you understood that, you might be as smart as you think you are.

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  93. Good boy DGH!

    At least you came out with an opinion. And one, I don’t totally disagree with, either! Yea!!

    Ahhhhh, inner peace at last.

    Keep pressing on!

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  94. Tom, “each sect sounds reasonable?” Then why did you diss Calvinists by saying the whole world is Arminian? Why didn’t you respond as if double-predestination sounds reasonable? You reveal more than you know.

    Ooops, I think it was in one of those post trapped in your moderation filter, Darryl, or one you didn’t read.

    I do understand the problem, which iirc Aquinas identified as well–how could an omnipotent God NOT know who will be saved and who won’t–regardless of your soteriological scheme, conversion or election?

    I think it all sounds reasonable, except, you’re into a tautology–the Saved = the Elect. Free will, to choose or reject God’s love, mercy, to choose faith in Christ? Completely non-operative concepts in the Calvinist scheme of Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement.

    And I understand that you attempt to deal with it by ignore those concepts in your everyday life. the next fellow may be saves/elect, may be destined for the cosmic toilet. But if the word ever got out that that’s what you believe, I wouldn’t want to be you.

    Mum’s the word, bro. ;-}

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  95. Tom, where you do not understand Reformed Protestantism is when you claim that Calvin, Knox etc. represent “normative Reformed theology.” Huh?

    Yes, we’re starting to peel back the onion on this, Darryl. “Reformed theology” is whatever YOU say it is. Or Van Til, or Machen, or anybody you agree with. Not just my analysis, but your critics’ as well.

    On both sides of the Tiber.

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  96. What is normative in Reformed churches is what the churches confess — the Reformed confessions.

    I don’t know what you mean by “church” at this point. Yours, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, has but 30,000 people in it. The “liberal” Presbyterian Church of America cast you & yours out, but has nominally millions of members. Then there are these “neo-Calvinists” who are No True Scotsmen either. And you want to amend certain articles of the Belgic confession, yes? And who amended the Westminster Confession back in the day? By what authority?

    And who was that URCNA pastor your droogs chased away the other day? [Him I’d have liked to hear more from.] Are they [URCNA} in or out? My scorecard has so many scratchouts, but yours is no doubt pristine. I just want a copy of yours for posterity.

    And as “Sean” noted, you’re the one with a book coming out called “Calvinism.” Published by the Yale Press! Moi ain’t spit. You control the horizontal, you control the vertical, you control all that mankind will see and hear when it comes to John Calvin. That makes you Ground Zero, bro, so here I am, where the action is.

    I do seem to be the only one outside your sect who’s bothering with you much. Take it a compliment. You have the floor, D. You have always had the floor. Rock on.

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  97. Tom, how is that a counterargument to there being no biblical case for rebellion? It’s just more historical reasoning, which is fine as far as it goes, but to those who confess sola scriptura and get their ethics about how to live from the Bible it earns a collective yawn.

    But if you want to enlist Calvinism for rebellion, maybe you should consider how while Calvin himself exhorts Christians that they must “with ready minds prove our obedience to them, whether in complying with edicts, or in paying tribute, or in undertaking public offices and burdens, which relate to the common defense, or in executing any other orders,” [ICR 4.20.23] he also makes clear that this applies to bad rulers as well as good: “But if we have respect to the Word of God, it will lead us farther, and make us subject not only to the authority of those princes who honestly and faithfully perform their duty toward us, but all princes, by whatever means they have so become, although there is nothing they less perform than the duty of princes.” [ICR 4.20.25]. “The only thing remaining for you will be to receive their commands, and be obedient to their words.” [ICR 4.20.26].

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  98. Tom,

    Those of us in the OPC don’t like to flaunt our numbers as much as you seem to. It is interesting if our church of relative smaller size has, even you, continuing to wonder, just who we are. I guess I post here because it’d be cool to see that number at 30,001. But I’m not big on numbers. Golf is more my thing, and I say there’s always room for one more on this course. Adios.

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  99. DGH says: “What is normative in Reformed churches is what the churches confess — the Reformed confessions. We don’t confess Calvin.”

    Me: But certainly Calvin did not contradict our confessions!

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  100. Tom,

    Also, do you remember someone else was once asked, “by what authority?” But I think his answer was, shall I say, snarky?

    I could point you to the Paul Tillich sermons addressing yourquestion about authority. But as you point out, those moderners already have us vastly outnumbered, and we don’t want to lose anymore. I could email you the link. The short answer here though, is that the OPC adopted the Westminster confession as secondary standards at the time of our founding in the 30’s. We had a right to change them at that time, and still do. But that would be a big freakin’ deal. Do you really think we don’t have the authority to change our constitution where we see fit? Nor to interpret them as they need to be, in day to day life? This is the real world we live in. It’s not a bad question, just don’t expect an easy combox answer to satisfy your curiousity of us.

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  101. And, Tom, get over the fact that we protestants sometimes break away. Sometimes a “reboot” is necessary. Although I would argue the last two Star Trek movies were not canonical, clearly the people thought otherwise, even if “into darkness” disappointed at the box office. Since US history is your thing, by what authority did we USAers declare our independence. Give protestants a break, dude, that was just what the cool people were doing in the 18th century. We inherit the situation as we find. How do find ways to out psalm 133 into practice? Despite all their happiness, CtoC is wrong about the how, here. If Dr. Hart wants to criticize other bloggers, it seems, as a blogger, he is well within his rights. I’m just a comboxer. We kvetch, and so we are..

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  102. D.G. – What is normative in Reformed churches is what the churches confess — the Reformed confessions. We don’t confess Calvin.

    Erik – Indeed. If Tom really wants to get under our skin he would read our Confessions, go to the Bible, and convince us that our Confessions are not biblical. Anything less we can shrug off.

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  103. Tom – But if the word ever got out that that’s what you believe, I wouldn’t want to be you.

    Mum’s the word, bro. ;-}

    Erik – Actually, we spell out what we believe about these matters in our Confessions. Nothing is hidden. Many people actually come to our churches because of these doctrines. They find them refreshing and comforting after years of wandering in the Roman Catholic or evangelical wilderness, We even get some atheists like you, Tom, who become conscious of their sin.

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  104. Tom – Reformed theology” is whatever YOU say it is.

    D.G. – What is normative in Reformed churches is what the churches confess — the Reformed confessions. We don’t confess Calvin.

    Erik – I though you Straussians were close readers, Tom? What you accuse D.G. of is clearly not what he wrote.

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  105. Tom – I don’t know what you mean by “church” at this point. Yours, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, has but 30,000 people in it. The “liberal” Presbyterian Church of America cast you & yours out, but has nominally millions of members. Then there are these “neo-Calvinists” who are No True Scotsmen either. And you want to amend certain articles of the Belgic confession, yes? And who amended the Westminster Confession back in the day? By what authority?

    And who was that URCNA pastor your droogs chased away the other day? [Him I’d have liked to hear more from.] Are they [URCNA} in or out? My scorecard has so many scratchouts, but yours is no doubt pristine. I just want a copy of yours for posterity.

    Erik – You act like people can’t disagree on anything and remain in the same church. And you laud the Catholics? We have church rolls and keep track of our members. We commune regularly with those in good standing. These intramural arguments don’t preclude our fellowship.

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  106. Q: Why does Tom appear to have some affinity for Catholicism but not for Reformed churches?

    A: “This (Straussian) analysis of the crisis of the twentieth century comported well with the spiritual stance of many other conservatives during the Cold War years – perhaps particularly with that of conservative Roman Catholics, who soon recognized in Strauss someone from outside their own faith community who nonetheless seemed to advance something very like a traditional Catholic critique of modern philosophy and the modern world.”

    “They (East Coast Straussians) have interpreted Strauss’s account of the relationship between reason and revelation, or Athens and Jerusalem, in such a way as to become dismissive of revealed religion.”

    – “Straussianism” by Mark C. Henrie – 5/5/11 – First Principles ISI Web Journal

    Interpretation: If religious people can help advance Tom’s politics he tolerates them. If they in any way stand in opposition to his politics, he opposes them. If you recall, politics is what brought Tom here. He has moved from politics to a critique of Reformed theology once it became apparent that we were not going to fall in line.

    Tom is an atheist (maybe a lapsed Christian?) but won’t state it because he does not want to shift the debate to having to defend his atheism.

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  107. Tom, and how do you deal with total depravity in your daily life, or the notion that God hated Esau? What emoticon do I use with that?

    No Calvinist says that life is easy or that faith doesn’t have its moments. So why the condescension?

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  108. Tom, sorry, that doesn’t work either. Is the United States whatever you say it is? Republicanism? Institutions and formal declarations matter. Why, I’ve even seen you cite the Declaration of Independence? Or is American Freedom whatever you and Beza say it is?

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  109. Tom, so it’s just about numbers? You know what Roman Catholicism is because it’s has a billion members? Do you poll them? Do you look at the Magisterium? Do you go to the Catholic Encyclopedia?

    I don’t know particularly why you feel you can identify the Calvinism that defined the American revolution but then go all agnostic when conservative Reformed Protestants claim it?

    This is a game and it’s not fun anymore.

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  110. mark: I am trying to understand this, not argue with it….

    dgh: As for convolutions still going, a confusion of the spiritual and temporal may be a reason for thinking that marriage is only between a man and woman. Christians think that marriage must be Christian whether it’s a sacrament or a civil ordinance.

    mark: You are not saying that the marriage of two non-Christians to each other is “Christian”, are you?
    Rather, such a marriage isnatural or legal or something??? I think I missed something….

    I know it’s not a “sacrament”. A “sacrament” is something God does, which God can kill you for…

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  111. Tom Van Dyke said…
    The reason Strauss’ classroom was “full of priests” was for his strong refutation of modernity.

    Further, we must remember that Christianity [especially Thomism] lays claim to classical philosophy, “Christianizing” and correcting it. Strauss is helpful in the understanding and arguing the primacy of the “ancients.”

    For Christianity [or Catholicism, Thomism, whathaveyou] not to make this claim on Aristotle, Cicero, etc. is to abandon the playing field to fideism

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06068b.htm

    either Strauss’ agnoticism [which on a practical level, is a “functional atheism”], the moderns who are similarly “functionally atheistic,” or to the fideism of the more fundamentalist Christians who argue that faith must reject rationality.

    Natural law, therefore, is the prime argument against fideism, whether Strauss’, the moderns, or the fundamentalists. Therefore all three tend to reject natural law, which argues that both the existence of God and some level of “what is good” can be known through [God-given] reason.

    Since Christianity, especially Thomism, subsumed classical philosophy, it stands to reason that these classrooms full of priests would seek to subsume Strauss as well, “correcting” his work via Christianity, about which he wrote little. In fact, Thomism must accept the challenge of Strauss and fideism, or it loses the war, and the moderns win on one side and the fundamentalists win on the other: philosophy becomes a sterile study of materialism and theology becomes no more than a code, an arbitrary law, a roster of arbitrary beliefs.
    August 4, 2010 at 1:25 PM

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  112. As Reformed men (maybe even “fundamentalists – gasp!) who embrace the idea of Natural Law we must be throwing a wrench into Tom’s Straussian paradigm.

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  113. Tom, and how do you deal with total depravity in your daily life, or the notion that God hated Esau? What emoticon do I use with that?

    But that’s in conflict with the semi-Pelagianism of Romans 2–and the Biblical foundation of natural law theory

    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

    15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

    16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

    So there’s that. When your droog Erik asks whether your Confessions are contradicted by the Bible, he skips over my main point about dueling Bible interpretations, that both can be reasonable and valid, even if only one [or neither] are true.

    Missing in this whole explanation of how you do theology–although you often dny you’re doing theology–is the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding your church. and this is where the “numbers game” about church size is arguably relevant, that the Holy Spirit would not want the mass majority of Christians to toil in error through no fault of their own.

    Again, none of this is to say you’re wrong, only that you might not be.

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  114. DGH: Tom, sorry, that doesn’t work either. Is the United States whatever you say it is? Republicanism? Institutions and formal declarations matter. Why, I’ve even seen you cite the Declaration of Independence? Or is American Freedom whatever you and Beza say it is?

    I don’t know particularly why you feel you can identify the Calvinism that defined the American revolution but then go all agnostic when conservative Reformed Protestants claim it?

    Oh, I think your claim to the Calvinist resistance theory and theory of natural rights that helped found America is unsupportable, since you baldly refudiate it. Which is fine, it’s your religion. But y’all really should give Mark David Hall’s lecture on America and Calvinism a listen.

    http://www.researchonreligion.org/historical-topics/hall-on-religion-the-founding-fathers

    Many or most Calvinists dig it. Hall notes that the majority of America at the time was of the Reformed persuasion, not Anglican.

    Why, I’ve even seen you cite the Declaration of Independence?

    Sure. Congress added an appeal to “The Supreme Judge of the world” to Jefferson’s text: “supreme judge” and “judge of the world” appear in the Westminster Confession. This is no coincidence. And FTR, Hall’s thesis matches what I came up with independently as a result of my own study of the revolution. I had no idea Calvinism figured so prominently at first. In fact, King George III called it a “Presbyterian revolution.”

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  115. As Reformed men (maybe even “fundamentalists – gasp!) who embrace the idea of Natural Law we must be throwing a wrench into Tom’s Straussian paradigm.

    I know you only read the first sentence of whatever I write, Erik, but I have spoken very well of

    http://solascripturaministriesinternational.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/protestant-scholasticism/

    In fact, if the choice is between Leo Strauss and Thomas Aquinas, it’s not even a choice. I can’t believe you called me an atheist! [Actually I can–you’re really really off, brother, I don’t care what you got on your ACTs.]

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  116. Tom, where’s the Holy Spirit in your lonely interpretation of the Bible, church history, theology, and the American Revolution. How large is the church, federation, republic, or community of Van Dyke. Puh-leeze. Plus, how can I possibly answer your theology or biblical interpretation when you don’t claim to be doing it but then correct everyone else who does.

    Please go annoy the Baylys.

    And you really should be more respectful of Erik. Target’s mine.

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  117. Tom, in case you didn’t notice in your mastery of political theory, resistance arguments were developed by Roman Catholics and Lutherans before Calvinists. Resistance theory is not particular to Calvinists even if Presbyterians and Congregationalists outnumbered Lutherans and Roman Catholics in support for the revolution. There you go with letting numbers do your intellectual hard work.

    I’ll have more to say about Hall soon.

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  118. Tom,

    How is Romans 2 semi-pelagian? If you follow Paul’s argument in Romans, people have enough knowledge of God and of right and wrong from nature for them to be rightly condemned as lawbreakers, not to save themselves from God’s wrath.

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  119. Tom – (Erik) skips over my main point about dueling Bible interpretations, that both can be reasonable and valid, even if only one [or neither] are true.

    Erik – This whole line of argument from you is getting tedious. You’re a conservative. There are lots of liberals out there who look at the same facts you look at and come up with interpretations that are 180 degrees apart from yours. Should you stop being a conservative because of that?

    You need to argue against our theology in a substantive way, not just say that other people have different theologies therefore we might very well be wrong. That’s just intellectually lazy, childish, and pointless no matter how many times you repeat it. It’s relativistic, which is the kind of argument that liberals make.

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  120. Tom – that the Holy Spirit would not want the mass majority of Christians to toil in error through no fault of their own.

    Erik – (1) How would you know what the Holy Spirit wants? (2) Have you considered that the starting point of Reformed theology (Christian theology if you read Genesis) is that all are born dead in sin as the result of Adam’s fall?

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  121. Tom,

    You’ve made no profession of faith here or identified yourself with any visible church so your atheism is a reasonable hypothesis given your Straussianism. Feel free to correct me, but deism is not much better than atheism.

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  122. Tom, in case you didn’t notice in your mastery of political theory, resistance arguments were developed by Roman Catholics and Lutherans before Calvinists.

    Oh, I know, but I didn’t want to get your Catholicism motor going on this. =:-O

    But where the Catholics talked about it, Calvinists put boots on the ground.

    Plus, how can I possibly answer your theology or biblical interpretation when you don’t claim to be doing it but then correct everyone else who does.

    Oh, it’s all theologizing. The problem is when sola scripturists deny they’re doing theology and insist they’re reading what the Bible plainly says. Then when you have 100s of sects disputing what the Bible “plainly” says, well, why not just admit you’re doing theology? The “Protestant scholastics” were at least honest about it.

    I’ll have more to say about Hall soon.

    That should be intriguing.

    Please go annoy the Baylys.

    If that’s a ban or a kissoff, I will comply, Darryl. I been thrown out of better joints than this. I’m getting my questions answered regardless. The silences are gold.

    And you really should be more respectful of Erik. Target’s mine.

    Hm. You should at least invest in a leash. Why you prefer #OccupyOldLife to run off folks like Rev. Casey Freswick remains a mystery to me.

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  123. Tom, How is Romans 2 semi-pelagian? If you follow Paul’s argument in Romans, people have enough knowledge of God and of right and wrong from nature for them to be rightly condemned as lawbreakers, not to save themselves from God’s wrath.

    Oh, I was just skipping over this controversy

    http://www.inhabitatiodei.com/2007/06/22/notes-on-aquinas-and-how-hes-not-a-semi-pelagian/

    and stipulating “semi-Pelagianism.” Bad move, sorry. What I should have said is that before God meets Abram in the desert, before Sinai and the giving of the Law–before “special revelation” and the scriptures, there is that “natural” sense of right and wrong. Abram is kind to the strangers in the desert–and according to at least the Jewish interpretation of their scriptures, that’s why G-d takes a shine to him. [Gen 18:1-8]

    Jewish tradition could hardly agree that Abram was “totally depraved.” I suppose Reformed theology would argue there’s predestination at work, and that’s fine. My only point would be that the competing views would each seem reasonable and valid.

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  124. Tom – The problem is when sola scripturists deny they’re doing theology and insist they’re reading what the Bible plainly says.

    Erik – Who has been doing that with you here? I think I’ve given you one verse from Romans 3 and don’t recall many (any?) others doing it. Richard Smith would have laid 100 on you by now but he’s gone and doesn’t really fit into the Old School.

    Like

  125. Tom – The silences are gold

    Erik – Such as? Who do you think you’re stumping and on what? You must have arms like a gorilla as much as you pat yourself on the back.

    Like

  126. Tom – Why you prefer #OccupyOldLife to run off folks like Rev. Casey Freswick remains a mystery to me.

    Erik – No one “ran him off”. He split. Not everyone can handle polemics. He said he rarely read blogs when he came here. He’s welcome back.

    Tom, be honest and admit you can’t handle anyone sucking as much air out of the room as you do. If I outlasted Richard Smith and have Doug on the ropes you’re no match at all.

    Like

  127. Tom,

    Jewish tradition? What’s next, the Bhagavad Gita? Focus man, focus.

    Re: Abraham, how about Genesis 15:6 – ” And (Abraham) believed the Lord, and (God) counted it to him as righteousness.”

    Righteousness on account of faith way back in Genesis!

    Like

  128. Tom,

    If you’re taking up for Casey, does that mean you’ll be professing faith in a United Reformed Church soon? He’s a URCNA minister. If so, that’s good news.

    Like

  129. Tom – The problem is when sola scripturists deny they’re doing theology and insist they’re reading what the Bible plainly says.

    Erik – Who has been doing that with you here? I think I’ve given you one verse from Romans 3 and don’t recall many (any?) others doing it. Richard Smith would have laid 100 on you by now but he’s gone and doesn’t really fit into the Old School.

    I’m not getting personal @ you–it’s germane to the magisterium argument. And yes, many sola scripturists do indeed deny they’re theologizing. But for the rest of us:

    DGH: “The chief deficiency of Protestantism, according to Jason and the Callers, is that we only have a Bible that needs to be interpreted while they — Roman Catholics — have a pope who is the final word on interpretation. In other words, Protestants have multiple opinions about the Bible’s meaning while Roman Catholics have one…”

    Well, that’s a mostly accurate statement, although it reflects Protestantism’s sectarian atomization more than anything. You have to admit that once the Reformation is in place and the Counter-Reformation cleans up Rome a bit, Roman Catholicism doesn’t really atomize any more. That’s a Protestant phenomenon. Function meets form. My further reply is:

    Like any Protestant church, synod, convention or confession, the RCC
    “magisterium” is really more like a verb than a noun, a process of
    consensus–and, it is hoped and prayed–believed—to be a
    consensus formed not by men, but by the Holy Spirit.

    RCC’s claim is of a “living church,” of an active Holy Spirit that guides not just Biblical interpretation but a tradition that is also God’s will. And the Westminster Confession makes the same claim

    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 in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

    In the end, your church, the Presbyterian sub-denominations you left behind, the other Protestant denominations that left you behind [Anabaptists, Wesleyans, whathaveyou] are all making the same claims of HS sanction, and are vulnerable to the same criticisms you render upon others. Your Confession[s] are your magisterium, is all, and those you have referred to often in your discussions of theological truth.

    If you’re beginning to notice, I’m more interested in what Christian sects have in common. IMO, this grace/justification argument that’s been going on for centuries is mostly academic–it held center stage back when 99% of the people were Christian, but with the onset of godless modernity, it all seems rather trivial.

    Like

  130. Tom – You have to admit that once the Reformation is in place and the Counter-Reformation cleans up Rome a bit, Roman Catholicism doesn’t really atomize any more

    Erik – As if.

    Like

  131. Tom,

    Rome has a bunch of “unified” men who have held unwarranted power over gullible people for hundreds of years and have passed that power on to other men. You and the callers call that a virtue. We call it a vice.

    They hide the gospel from people and tell them that that their eternal salvation is dependent on their membership in this one, particular church which bears the marks of corruption that Sean writes about week after week…and you applaud.

    Like

  132. Tom,

    You need to learn the difference between ministerial authority and magisterial authority. We claim one, Rome claims the other.

    Tom – but with the onset of godless modernity, it all seems rather trivial.

    Erik – Which begs the question of why you are here.

    It also makes one ask why so many Americans are churchgoing. Even though you don’t care about soteriology many people do. What will come of all of your efforts online when you are lying in a box in the ground in a few more decades, if you’re lucky? What will Leo Strauss & Allan Bloom be doing for you then?

    Like

  133. Tom,

    You and your Catholic friends in polemical mode are the only ones troubled by the proliferation of Protestant sects. I think the freedom of religion we have in America is a great thing. No one should have to violate their conscience in worshipping God and the “free market” we have for religion here is a wonderful idea. Each sect has to stand on its own merits and only those who wish to be in a sect are there. Do you think this is what Rome would have in place if it were up to them?

    Add to that the fact that we all peacefully coexist and what’s the problem?

    Like

  134. Erik – No one “ran him off”. He split. Not everyone can handle polemics.

    Is the Good News polemical?

    I won’t wait for another obfuscation. The answer is no. That’s one problem with your style, and why I don’t require honest or direct answers from you. You’re more obsessed with the errors of others than the actual truth, whatever it may be, that much is clear to the observer–and indeed, you just admitted it yourself.

    There’s mostly no point in polemics when it comes to God’s Word–the affirmative argument is superior. Your interpretation and theology of the Abraham story seems fine, internally coherent, valid. Is it the only possibly true interpretation? That’s above my pay grade, and yours, unless one of us speaks for the Holy Spirit. I’m not ready to make that claim, and if you are, well, get in line.

    The Westminster Confession values the OT highly in the original Hebrew. I would think rabbinical Jews could be of some help.

    http://betterbibles.com/2010/08/11/smoking-furnace-burning-lamp/

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  135. Tom,

    Rome has a bunch of “unified” men who have held unwarranted power over gullible people for hundreds of years and have passed that power on to other men.

    They hide the gospel from people and tell them that that their eternal salvation is dependent on their membership in this one, particular church which bears the marks of corruption that Sean writes about week after week…and you applaud.

    That’s just ugly ad hom. Frankly, if the general public were aware of the depth and viciousness of your anti-Catholicism, you would be shunned. And if Darryl’s having you do his dirty work, I could see why. This stuff would ruin his career. [The silences are disconcerting.]

    Like

  136. Tom,

    This is a blog, not church, not the workplace. There are different modes of communication depending on the setting. I think I’ve raised my voice with someone in church one time in the last 7 years. I raise my voice here most everyday. If no one raises their voice here we all go to sleep or go away.

    Like

  137. Erik:If I outlasted Richard Smith and have Doug on the ropes you’re no match at all.

    [trembling at the realization of this…]

    Like

  138. Tom,

    Re. Catholicism. Our Confessions call the Pope the antichrist for goodness sake. As far as “the general public” goes, we all interact with Catholics every day and have no problems because we are doing common tasks together. Theology rarely comes up. When it does come up here it is amongst people who choose to be here. Likewise with the Callers. They know what they are getting themselves into when they poke us in the eye. They used to be us.

    Like

  139. Tom,

    How can you go from one post saying soteriology is rather trivial in light of “godless modernity” to saying “anti-Catholicism” could ruin D.G.’s career? Which is it? Catholic schools have pro-choice commencement speakers so I think your prior statement is closer to the truth. Also, have you heard of freedom of speech and academic freedom? And since when is being anti-any religion a handicap in the academic world. Get real.

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  140. Tom,

    And I’ll await your biblical defense of how Rome presents the gospel to people. No article links, just you and Scripture. I know, that’s my paradigm, but I dare you to try.

    Like

  141. “Our Confessions call the Pope the antichrist for goodness sake.”

    Erik, the revised WCF no longer does that. Just FYI.

    Tom makes me yearn for the return of CD-Host. CD was no theological friend but he actually did understand some important things about the Reformed perspective and the particular OL perspective. And he didn’t fantasize that, if said something and no one responded, he had intellectually slain 2k’s by the thousands.

    Maybe CD is still reading and can help Tom.

    Like

  142. I last spotted CD amongst the Stellmanites.

    If it’s true your coming to norcal for GA, I hope you have good weather, m&m, and that it makes you jealous.

    Like

  143. There’s apparently an evening worship service at GA next week. I’m thinking, I’m so there. Only the first time GA in norcal EVER. Might be the one time in my lifetime I get to see the sausage grinder. Wouldn’t miss it! See you all at St Mary’s college 🙂

    Like

  144. AB, I’ve grown to like the central Iowa drama of which river is flooding, which bridges are swamped, and what parts of the bike trail are closed after a period of heavy rain. Like the trail on which my wife and I take a walk was closed last week, but now open. My favorite bike trail might still be closed. But then the 72 mile loop was entirely open this weekend with great views of the flooding. Back in the 90’s a flood swamped our water supply so the locals adapted for a week – “If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow.” And I took a shower under a missing down spout – brrrr!

    But, yeah, I’ll be there Wednesday.

    Like

  145. Excellent, mikelmann. Safe travels to you, and thank you for your labors in Christ’s church. I hope to be there Sunday evening, if my small children allow me. Later, AB

    Like

  146. michael m, does that mean you would rather be neoCal than learn anything from the Protestant Reformed or the Gordon Clark people who end up writing for Trinity? I can relate, because when the pope says the sky is blue, I suspect that he is a North Carolina fan….and that’s bad….

    But please remember that I am not Reformed but a sectarian “five pointer”. So when I post from Engelsma or Robert Reymond, that does not come from me being a partisan of all their views. But I have read them,as I have also read Mouw’s defense of Mormonism and Stellman’s critique of the Iraq war.

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=248

    I don’t think Machen worried that some people might think he was a fundy….

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  147. Mark, I don’t trust them to properly sift through and relate facts or theology. I’m sure they say some true things but then I’d have to check several other resources to see what’s true and what’s not. So then it’s not worth it and I ignore them.

    I can read and profit from other points of view. The fact that someone is Catholic, for example, does not make me discredit them and diminish what he says. Same for atheists, actually. But unreliable Catholics, Protestants, and car salesmen don’t make the cut.

    Like

  148. MM,

    You’re right. My bad. “Antichrist” is in the part that has been removed from Belgic 36 (that I have been debating on all week). Of course the RCA still maintains the original language in their museum case version of the Belgic. And there is Belgic 29 which refers to “the false church” (you know who) and several other passages in the Heidelberg and the Belgic that obviously have Rome in mind. For instance, Heidelberg 80 refers to the “Pope’s Mass” as “an accursed idolatry”.

    Like

  149. True, Erik, confessions tend to highlight the controversies of the day, and the RCC is the foil of the WCF more than any other perspective.

    Like

  150. Indeed. Thanks to the Callers for keeping the controversy fresh. I hadn’t thought much about Catholicism at all in the last 20 years until I met those guys here. I had known one guy who grew up Catholic, became Baptist, married a Baptist girl, went back to Catholicism and took her with him. He wrote a few letters to Baptists trying to win them over, got nowhere, and gave up. The only other Catholics I’d ever known were cradles who never talked about their faith. The Callers are a different breed.

    Like

  151. Tom, Rome doesn’t atomize after Trent? Are you kidding? Have you heard of the Gallicanists? Have you heard of the Jansenists? Have you heard of the ultramontanists? Have you ever considered the differences between Pius IX and Francis? Have you heard of the American Roman Catholic Church and Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae?

    Smart guy, smarten up.

    Like

  152. Tom, Rome doesn’t atomize after Trent? Are you kidding? Have you heard of the Gallicanists? Have you heard of the Jansenists? Have you heard of the ultramontanists? Have you ever considered the differences between Pius IX and Francis? Have you heard of the American Roman Catholic Church and Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae?

    Smart guy, smarten up.

    You’re grasping at straws, Darryl. None of those compare to the atomization of the Reformation with its virtually 1000s of sects, and neither are they even around today.

    And BTW, you owe me an acknowledgement about Turkey’s growing Islamization, which has resulted in riots as we speak. You were just there, and you don’t seem to have seen it coming. The smart guy did, and you gave him the back of your hand for it.

    As for Erik’s challenge, that debate was held nearly 500 years ago between Matthew Tyndale and Sir/St. Thomas More. I think More still gets the better of it. In the end, most people are going to be at the mercy of a biblical interpreter or translator, be it the Magisterium or their pastor, a synod or Confession. This actually touches on the C2C argument, as well as the one I’ve been making, that appeals to some ecclesiastical or theological authority are unavoidable.

    http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/moretyndale.pdf

    It is only in the last treatise, the Confutation of Tyndale’s Answer, that More comes to the
    strongest part of his case against Tyndale, in the impracticality of Tyndale’s vision for ordinary
    people. They cannot be the “spiritual man” demanded by the reformer, as they have lives to live,
    and may not be very educated anyway. More creates a fictional dialogue between two ordinary
    women and Tyndale’s fellow reformer Robert Barnes. They ask him a series of questions about
    the significance of his program for them. Since they are not learned people, and since they
    cannot spend all their time scrutinizing the Scripture, how are they to know truth from falsehood?
    At the outset, the first woman claims to trust Barnes, but wants to know how she is to stay on the
    right path once he is gone. The second woman, who is illiterate, is more hostile. The standard
    Protestant answer to their question, which Barnes gives, would be that a good preacher will give
    them doctrine that is consistent with the scripture. In the Obedience, Tyndale had recommended
    a program of teaching to enable them to make good judgements. More’s women point out that
    this will not do—and here More’s understanding of language comes into play in a way that
    conflicts strongly with Tyndale’s. More does not believe that certain knowledge can arise from a
    text, analyzed by philological means or not. His women are not only the unlearned, but all
    humanity. At the same time, the inferiority of their femaleness serves to disgrace Protestants:
    even women can confute the reformers.

    As for Lk 14:26, Darryl, dueling Bible verses isn’t gonna get it done.

    [More] challenges the rationality of Tyndale’s trust in sola scriptura, “the scripture
    alone.” More’s position is that the only way he or Tyndale can know that the scripture is the
    scripture is from the authority of the church, and that the church therefore has logical precedence.
    It has the authority to interpret the Bible just has it has the authority to say what the Bible is. He
    repeatedly quotes Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you all the days to the world’s end,” to show
    that Jesus is still guiding the church.1

    There are other arguments in the link, I mention the better ones. It’s worth a read, and Tyndale gets his innings in. I’d read about this famous but now forgotten exchange awhile back, but you and your posse made me go back and look at it with new eyes. Thank you.

    Plus ça change.

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  153. Erik,

    What happened with Richard?
    “Richard Smith… he’s gone and doesn’t really fit into the Old School.”
    Guess I might have a gossip streak in me… I will miss his perspective if he is.

    Like

  154. mikelmann,

    I did some chattin with CD-host over at Stellman’s a couple of weeks back. He seemed like a good guy to chat with too. Like you, he was is not my “theological friend” but does help bring things into the light either way.

    Like

  155. MM: “I don’t think Machen worried that some people might think he was a fundy….”

    JGM:
    ” “Do you suppose that I do not regret my being called, by a term I greatly dislike, a ‘Fundamentalist’? Most certainly I do.” “I never call myself a “Fundamentalist.”. . . But after all, what I prefer to call myself is not a “Fundamentalist” but a “Calvinist”—that is, an adherent of the Reformed Faith. As such I regard myself as standing in the great central current of the Church’s life—the current which flows down from the Word of God through Augustine and Calvin, and which has found noteworthy expression in America in the great tradition represented by Charles Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield and the other representatives of the “Princeton School.”

    http://presbyterianblues.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/was-machen-a-fundamentalist-are-his-heirs-evangelicals/

    Like

  156. Tom, how is it, you’re running circles around our own DGH when it comes to salient historical facts? Who’s the history major here?

    Moreover, when DG applies his usual snark, you out snark him and make *him* look trite. Plus, you got a *boo*, out of him.

    Very impressive!

    Like

  157. I am reminded of the incivility shown to Hart and Machen ( warrior children”) by John Frame. It’s interesting how “not nice” people can be to folks who they accuse of not “playing nice”. Frame has no problem calling himself “evangelical” despite the Arminian majority. Where Machen makes a distinction between himself and fundies on the basis of the Reformed 5 points (which are antithesis), Machen is not worried about fundy failure to be “civil” in the way that the status quo wants you to be civil.

    Of course mean people like John Frame can always say that all polemic is an impolite result of ignorance and thoughtlessness. Except of course when the “moderate center” says mean things about Robert Reymond or David Engelsma.

    http://reformedforum.org/podcasts/ctc156/

    Romanism (even as endorsed by those who believe in the supernatural) is not Christianity, and Christianity is not Romanism.

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  158. Tom, of course dueling Bible verses succeed. I believe the Bible. You believe Tom.

    BTW, you’re wrong about Islam in Turkey so you overrate your intelligence once again. Building a mall in a park is hardly a sign of devotion to Allah or Mohammed. And get this, the rioters are taking to the streets with posters of Ataturk and then compare Erdogan to Assad. As if Ataturk or the Kemalists were not oppressive.

    And why doesn’t the disunity of Rome count since they claim to be one (without error).

    If this were baseball, you’d not only be out but you’d be benched. You’re not producing.

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  159. Michael,

    Richard returned to the planet Lovetron.

    Either that or he morphed into Tom Van Dyke or that fake Catholic woman.

    Honestly I have no idea.

    My conspiracy theory is he was really the guy at my church who I got into an argument with over legalism & pietism recently but I can’t prove it.

    Like

  160. Erik, I can understand the theonomist (Doug) experimental Calvinist (Richard) connection, but Calvinist (Doug – maybe) Arminian (Tom), that’s a puzzle.

    Like

  161. mark: I had been calling myself a lutheran baptist for a long time, but that was only so people wouldn’t mistake me for a “reformed” baptist. Really it was to say that I agreed with the Lutheran view of “sanctification” and rejected the puritan interpretation of the WCF on assurance …

    But I have since I met some Presbyterians who also reject the “practical syllogism”. And not all of them were Protestant Reformed or Heidelberg C folks–some of them were WCF only…..

    I stopped calling myself “Lutheran Baptist” when Mike Horton got the alliance to include Lutheranism in”Reformation Theology” and stopped talking about particular atonement for the elect.

    David Layman
    June 1st, 2013 | 12:45 pm
    The short answer is that Mercersburg Theology (John Nevin and Philip Schaff) correctly understood Calvin and the Reformed confessions on the sacraments, and Princeton had the decrees. Due to the overwhelming influence of Hodge, the Princetonian version of the decrees became the normative doctrine of “Calvinism.”

    Gerhart, in an especially acute analysis (“The Efficacy of Baptism,” Mercersburg Review, 1858), shows that the Presbyterians of his day cannot figure out how to bring together the decrees and baptism. If a baby is predestined to salvation, then what does baptism do? Is the baby part of the visible church or invisible? By virtue of birth or baptism? It is especially amusing to watch him argue that, according to one of his interlocutors, the efficacy of baptism is…to have no efficacy.

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  162. for purposes of review,
    you can go credobaptist-lutheran-reformed
    or credobaptist-reformed-lutheran
    or credobaptist-reformed-lutheran-romanist
    or credobaptist-romanist-reformed-lutheran

    and so on, but just remember
    the trajectory away from ignorance
    never ends up at Zwingli or water baptism as something sinners do….

    https://oldlife.org/2009/12/why-not-lutheran-baptist/

    Like

  163. Paul McCain’s blog: “The Christ that Calvinism presents is a different Christ than Scripture presents. If the divine nature does not communicate to the human nature, there is no atonement. Thus in trying to keep Christ’s divine and human natures apart, Calvin cuts out the heart of the Gospel. Despite the fact that Dr. Riddlebarger is on the White Horse Inn, we should not ignore the fact that sitting at that table are two hugely different views of who Christ is.”

    http://cyberbrethren.com/2009/11/25/lutheranism-and-calvinism-what-and-that-v-how-and-why/comment-page-1/#comment-9562

    Triabalogue then quotes:
    hart: “Could it be the objections to Lutherans run along ethnic lines…”

    t objects: Interesting to see Hart play the race card. Is he vying to be the Al Sharpton of Old Side Presbyterians?

    Like

  164. sean, if this is too short, I can take more time, but my objection to Marrow is

    1. The “christ is dead for you” language.
    2. I understand that the enemy of Marrow is the preparationist neonomianism of folks like Richard Baxter, and so I appreciate any return to Sibbes (Cotton, Crisp, etc). But being the enemy of my enemy is not enough, especially when the gospel gets described as “for you”. The assumption behind that has to be that any idea of election (of perhaps not for you) comes out of a refusal to preach the gospel to every sinner. And Sean, this is not so! There are more than two parties.

    3. I don’t know if you have read Stoddard’s Righteousness the Only Safety…There are many excellent and good things in it, but in the end of the day, there is this “dead for you” language, So what? This convinces me that, whether you are a preparationist or a “come to the means before and without conversion”, in either case, the gospel of the nature (not only the efficacy) of the atonement is not being proclaimed.

    4. I probably have too much shorthand here for you to make much sense of it, Sean, but one more thing….Even if I were to think that “the marrow on sanctification” was close enough to being right about legal positional sanctification and anti-synergism, I would still be a credobaptist and a pacifist.
    So there would still be no hope for me being Reformed or Lutheran—I am sure that’s no great loss to your side, and feel free to interrogate the short hand….

    5. which would be better, to be with Lutherans, who really believe in the efficacy of the water, or to be with Reformed, who I suspect mostly don’t know or believe what their confessions say about the efficacy of water….Yes, I know you are not supposed to say water. You are supposed to say baptism, and think water….

    Like

  165. D.G.,

    Doug would laud the theology of the transvestite crack addict on the corner if he pulled our chains on Doug’s behalf.

    Kudos to the OPC for never, ever making Doug an officer.

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  166. Mark, cafeteria Protestantism is a problem, but too bad the doctrinalists (Hodge) and the liturgicals (Nevin) could never combine the way the culturalists (Doug) and pietists (Richard) have in Reformeddom.

    PS baptism and communion are bookends, the former marking outward membership and the latter affirming inward. Speaking of Nevin:

    “What I mean, will appear at once, when I state, that the old Presbyterian faith, into which I was born, was based throughout on the idea of covenant family religion, church membership by God’s holy act in baptism, and following this a regular catechetical training of the young, with direct reference to their coming to the Lord’s table.”

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  167. If I had to choose between Norman Shepherd (or NT Wright) and Lutherans (or Marrow), I would choose Lutherans every time. Shepherd teaches that You can’t be justified just the one time, because you need to keep being “sanctified” to be justified in the future. And Shepherd is not the only Reformed clergyman who teaches that.

    But of course I don’t have to choose between them.

    https://oldlife.org/2011/12/the-grandaddy-of-reformed-anti-lutheranism/comment-page-1/#comments

    Like

  168. Sean (and Zrim, and others), have you read any of Philip Cary. Even though he’s Anglican, his theology is very Lutheran. This essay on faith as assurance in particular almost makes me want to be Lutheran. Not that I think that Lutheran Christology and sacraments are the solutions, but the problems Cary seems to understand. Do you think, Sean, that Marrow would fix anything for his concerns?

    https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#search/christianity+today/13efb69ee3933c9b

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  169. McMark, thanks. I’ll need to marinate on that awhile. As far as which is better to be in, you and I would agree the neonomians are right out. Expound on this; “The assumption behind that has to be that any idea of election (of perhaps not for you) comes out of a refusal to preach the gospel to every sinner. And Sean, this is not so! There are more than two parties.”

    I’m lost here at first glance; universal atonement?, covenant of redemption?, universal efficacy but not calling? both but still some aren’t saved?(lutheran)

    Like

  170. Why does Marrow say, “Christ is dead for you”, and then give fine print which says “dead for you in one sense but not in another” or says “dead for you to offer you on condition of faith”? Marrow says that in response to a ‘steps to salvation” notion of conversion which assumes that people can find out if they are elect or regenerate or prepared before and without believing the gospel.

    And I am against that “steps to salvation” idea. But it’s wrong to associate that idea with folks who teach particular effectual atonement. Yes, some folks who teach definite atonement do teach the introspective approach. But it’s not inherent in definite atonement.

    The key question is: what’s the gospel? Is election good news? or is election itself not the gospel? Since I think election is gospel news, and that the effectiveness of Christ’s death is good news, than I want to tell that news to everybody to whom I talk. I can do that without adding a false statement about God wanting the non-elect to be saved, or about Christ being dead to offer the non-elect something God has no intention to give them.

    Another short way to say this, Sean, is that I believe that regeneration/effectual call is not apart from the gospel. I don’t have another previous category for a “regeneration of disposition apart from the power of the gospel” The gospel is to be proclaimed to everybody.

    Abraham Booth, Glad Tidings

    p238 “According to fatalism, the word of truth having no influence, is of no use in regeneration, the salutary and important change being produced entirely without it..It is too hastily assumed that the mind is prepared to receive the light of spiritual knowledge before the truth have any influence on it.”

    p247 “Now the question is: Do the Scriptures lead us to conclude that the mind and the conscience are brought into the new state by an immediate divine energy, without the medium of either the law or the gospel? I think not. It is written: by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    p249 “For an ‘awakened sinner’ to be persuaded that regeneration is effected without the instrumentality of divine truth, is to give an injurious direction to his prayers and expectations.

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  171. MTX: Tom, I’ll have to make a read through the Tyndale/More exchange. Thanks for the heads up.

    More’s choice of two women to illustrate his point was pure genius, that few people have the intellect, education and time to master the Bible, let alone in its original languages. Looking at numerous websites like this one, I can’t recall ever seeing a woman fussing with this rabbinical-like Christianity. Seems it’s a male thing, parsing the crap out of texts and fighting over meaningless details. No doubt Judaism and Islam have the same male obsession, scripture as bloodsport. Feh.

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  172. Tom, how is it, you’re running circles around our own DGH when it comes to salient historical facts?

    Yes, Doug, it’s been disappointing. If my “performance” is low, these fellows don’t even take the field, preferring to snipe from the sidelines.

    Frankly, I’d expected more from the church of J. Gresham Machen, who saw himself “standing in the great central current of the Church’s life.” But he lost that church, and the church he started holds only a thimbleful of that great central current. Believe it or not, I’m sorry he did lose out to liberal theology, but I’m beginning to see why.

    I did hope for more than the same old anti-Catholic sophistries and slanders, but I’ve learned what I came to learn, to hear the best give their best show, If high-fiving each other on their theological tautologies is their idea of “winning,” so be it, but anyone can play Immovable Object. Prove me wrong, he says, and use my rules!

    “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them…he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”

    And that’s what we saw happen here. Of course John Stuart Mill was an atheist, and had little good to say about Roman Catholicism or the Reformists, who he thought just appended their block of errors onto the existing block of Catholic error. But he’s quite right. Perhaps the Machenists will give a better and fairer account of themselves [and their opponents] next time there’s a dissonant voice in the echo chamber. They have done neither their opponents nor themselves justice this time around.

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  173. Don’t trip on your victory lap, Tom. And watch for poison ivy entwined in that laurel wreath.

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  174. @MacMark, the author of Hebrews says the good new (gospel) came to us, just like it came to them. The problem was they didn’t mix it with faith, (which is a gift from God) nothing we can boast about.

    Mark, that is straight from the Bible.

    Paul then goes on to warn them to walk in fear, that they don’t fall short like that faithless generation did. Why do you never address those scriptures?

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  175. Tom,

    You’re accepting Doug’s congratulations? You haven’t been around here as long as you claim, brother.

    ” But he lost that church, and the church he started holds only a thimbleful of that great central current. Believe it or not, I’m sorry he did lose out to liberal theology, but I’m beginning to see why.”

    Yeah, theological liberalism is thriving. That’s what the Mainline Presbyterians have lost members for the last 40 years. Next time you go to a Mainline service don’t create a breeze or half the congregation might fall over and break their hips. Good grief.

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  176. Tom – but I’ve learned what I came to learn,

    Erik – Does that mean you’ll be leaving soon. You’re like the mother-in-law that might have to cut her visit short. “No, don’t go mother!”…

    Doug’s lost all his other allies. He needs you.

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  177. Tom,

    A day after you’re gone you’ll be forgotten because you haven’t made an affirmative case for anything. Hey, let’s all join Tom is celebrating a vague form of Catholicism, some type of American exceptionalism, Leo Strauss, haughtiness, and self-congratulation. It’s an appealing stew.

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  178. Erik: “A day after you’re gone you’ll be forgotten because you haven’t made an affirmative case for anything. Hey, let’s all join Tom is celebrating a vague form of Catholicism, some type of American exceptionalism, Leo Strauss, haughtiness, and self-congratulation. It’s an appealing stew.”

    Not to say it hasn’t been amusing at times. But it isn’t going to move anyone grounded in Scripture, Creed/Confession, and membership in a truly Reformed entity.

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  179. I find your anti-Catholic bigotry disgusting, Erik. and want nothing to do with it. You seldom argue anything but ad hom, and I’ve had my fill. I put the links to facts and history out there for those interested, to explore for themselves. The end.

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  180. Tom,

    You think you’re the first guy to argue on Rome’s behalf here? As Hart would say, puh-leeze. We do battle with the Callers on a regular basis. I have no beef with the average Catholic in the pews. He’s a victim and is free to practice his religion as he sees fit. The hierarchy and the Callers, who target Reformed people? That’s another matter.

    People who marvel at the longevity of the Roman system need to look at what it is. A bunch of real estate, a bunch of money, and a bunch of (allegedly) celibate men & women serving as pope, bishops, priests, monks, and nuns. It’s like a government program and is about as easy to end. What do all of those people do, who have no training and have been in “the system” since high school (ask Sean), if the system were to change or end? They have no spouses, no kids, no support system beyond the church. The system is set up to foster dependency not only on the part of the members (their eternal salvation depends on it), but on the part of “the management”.

    As the guy in the beer commercial would say — Brilliant!

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  181. Erik, please don’t put words in my mouth, okay?

    I didn’t endorse anyone! I just noticed that Tom more than stood up for himself, “eye for and eye” , “tooth for tooth”.. Much of these arguments are WAY out of my area of expertise.

    Even though I strongly take exception to any notion of universal salvation.

    I stand with DGH on particular atonement!

    But I do *know* one thing Erik; “Man shall live by every word, that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Jesus quoted that from the law verbatim. And that wasn’t even one of the ten commandments.

    Man, in this sense, means all men, as in nations. That means all nations should look to all the words the proceed from all 66 books in the Bible!

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  182. Erik: So can I assume we won’t be hearing from you until, say, this time tomorrow?

    I wager 600 Quatloos they can’t stay away that long.

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  183. Kent – Not to say it hasn’t been amusing at times. But it isn’t going to move anyone grounded in Scripture, Creed/Confession, and membership in a truly Reformed entity.

    Erik – I too am conflicted. I’ve had a giddy glee the last few weeks. I’ll kind of miss Tom (if he actually leaves – I don’t think he will).

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  184. @TVD I know you don’t care what I have to say (I’m I rarely commenting lurker around here), but I have to say that among all those who drop in, you really are a bizarre character. I really can’t figure out what point you are trying to make or what it is you are trying to learn. Your comments have enough substance to show that you’ve read a few books, but ultimately they are incoherent. Here are a few examples from the end of this thread:

    “The problem is when sola scripturists deny they’re doing theology and insist they’re reading what the Bible plainly says. Then when you have 100s of sects disputing what the Bible “plainly” says, well, why not just admit you’re doing theology? The “Protestant scholastics” were at least honest about it.”

    Which reformed christians deny they do theology? This is a really bizarre charge. Perhaps you are confusing the reformed with the restorationists (both have sects that avoid instruments in sunday worship after all). But those who advocate(d) Sola Scriptura did/do not suggest theology was unimportant.

    “You have to admit that once the Reformation is in place and the Counter-Reformation cleans up Rome a bit, Roman Catholicism doesn’t really atomize any more. That’s a Protestant phenomenon. ”

    This is nonsense. RC church is basically in free fall in Europe and N America (what stabilization exists is due to immigration, and the signs there aren’t too promising). What exactly is the difference between believers leaving presbyterian churches and forming the precursors to charismatic churches in the 19th century and south americans leaving the catholic church and forming pentecostal churches today (you have to add up every independent bible/holiness church to get the number of protestant sects commonly claimed)? You can blame it on the reformation. I think you’d have more standing to blame it on religious freedom and democracy. Of course the cooperation among evangelicals makes the number of denominations among them more like movements within RC (one needn’t convert to move membership within them). Most will allow you to the table without renouncing your other membership, etc…

    “The Westminster Confession values the OT highly in the original Hebrew. I would think rabbinical Jews could be of some help.”

    The WCF refers to the original language of the OT? Do we even know the original Hebrew?

    “Your Confession[s] are your magisterium, is all, and those you have referred to often in your discussions of theological truth.”

    We don’t claim that our confessions are infallible. Indeed, they continue to be revised.

    “If you’re beginning to notice, I’m more interested in what Christian sects have in common. IMO, this grace/justification argument that’s been going on for centuries is mostly academic–it held center stage back when 99% of the people were Christian, but with the onset of godless modernity, it all seems rather trivial.”

    Tell that to Piper and N.T. Wright. I agree that your average congregant probably doesn’t care about the minutia, but isn’t that basically true about everything? What’s your point?

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  185. At some point I am going to need a Hart & Muether bibliography. At this point I have enough of their books I haven’t read that I can wait on the more obscure stuff. I would like to get a copy of the (expensive) holy grail, “Recovering Mother Kirk”. It is down to $19 on Amazon used, which is the lowest I have ever seen it.

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  186. The WCF refers to the original language of the OT?

    Yes.

    http://www.opc.org/wcf.html

    8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them.

    Do we even know the original Hebrew?

    Yes. Although translation is still an obstacle. Certain learned Jews might be of help, as they may be more fluent in nuance, idiom, and of course, structure. The honest man would use all available resources to seek the truth.

    I agree that your average congregant probably doesn’t care about the minutia, but isn’t that basically true about everything? What’s your point?

    The same as Thomas More’s–the average congregant is going to be trusting somebody’s word. The problem of magisterium remains. In the end, it’s about the authority not of men, but of Holy Spirit.

    You may argue there was no church for 1000 years, between Constantine and Luther, but the biblical justification for that is debatable. Thomas More

    repeatedly quotes Matthew 28:20, “Lo, I am with you all the days to the world’s end,” to show that Jesus is still guiding the church.

    so I rather see an impasse. At this point, I’m not very interested in hearing the same old anti-Catholic polemics, so I’ll keep an eye on your TULIP via the Baptists, 1/5 of whom are Calvinist, at least 1/5 are anti-Calvinist, and the rest sit cheek-by-jowl with each other regardless, because it seems more a theoretical discussion than anything.

    As for the Presbyterians, I have no crystal ball. 2006:

    What we experienced at this last GA was an advancement of a trajectory that shows no sign of abating. It’s not about the “liberal groups,” whose true effectiveness is, honestly, unknown. Rather, the actions of the San Jose Assembly reflect the power of western culture generally to shape the ethos of a denomination that does not have a clear sense of its mission to the culture. Unchecked and unchallenged, the “default” pattern of the PC(USA) will be to continue moving along with the prevailing spirituality of western culture (“moralistic therapeutic deism,” as it has been dubbed recently), and with its embrace of the culture’s obsession with variant forms of sexual expression.

    If you might know me well enough by now, I certainly do not cheer the triumph of liberal theology in Presbyterianism. And perhaps the remnant, the OPC, will one day lead to the resurgance of Calvinism. But this observer thinks you’re way too crabby. Pace Lk 12:49, the Good News is not a polemic.

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  187. Not “no church”:

    From the Belgic:

    Article 27: The Holy Catholic Church

    We believe and confess one single catholic or universal church– a holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers, awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

    This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will last until the end, as appears from the fact that Christ is eternal King who cannot be without subjects.

    And this holy church is preserved by God against the rage of the whole world, even though for a time it may appear very small in the eyes of men– as though it were snuffed out.

    For example, during the very dangerous time of Ahab the Lord preserved for himself seven thousand men who did not bend their knees to Baal.^74

    And so this holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain persons. But it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world, though still joined and united in heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith.

    ^74 1 Kings 19:18

    And…

    Article 29: The Marks of the True Church

    We believe that we ought to discern diligently and very carefully, by the Word of God, what is the true church– for all sects in the world today claim for themselves the name of “the church.”
    We are not speaking here of the company of hypocrites who are mixed among the good in the church and who nonetheless are not part of it, even though they are physically there. But we are speaking of distinguishing the body and fellowship of the true church from all sects that call themselves “the church.”

    The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it.

    As for those who can belong to the church, we can recognize them by the distinguishing marks of Christians: namely by faith, and by their fleeing from sin and pursuing righteousness, once they have received the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. They love the true God and their neighbors, without turning to the right or left, and they crucify the flesh and its works.

    Though great weakness remains in them, they fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their lives, appealing constantly to the blood, suffering, death, and obedience of the Lord Jesus, in whom they have forgiveness of their sins, through faith in him.

    As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God; it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ; it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word; it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases; it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ; it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry.

    These two churches are easy to recognize and thus to distinguish from each other.

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  188. Confessional Outhouse. Heh heh, I enjoyed that, Mr. Zrim. First, the name of the blog is a hoot, and yes, that good ole political anti-Catholicism that I know so well from my studies of history. And indeed my interest in and praise for

    Charles Hodge in an 1855 lecture on the nature of Presbyterianism:

    “It is the combination of the principles of liberty and order in the Presbyterian system, the union of the rights of the people with subjection to legitimate authority, that has made it the parent and guardian of civil liberty in every part of the world.”

    Roman Catholicism, although opposing the Divine Right of Kings, didn’t arrive at these principles of liberty until fairly recently.

    However,

    “The challenge for Protestants today is to recover older and better arguments against Rome than the ones American Protestants have so often used. A good form of anti-Catholicism exists.

    I think this is nonsense, and the More-Tyndale debate shows it. William Tyndale continually has to resort to the Roman Church’s worldly corruption–a polemic–rather than affirmative theological argument, of which More gets the better. Tyndale and the Reformers had a strong bill of indictment for corruption back in the day, but polemic doesn’t make an affirmative case. Neither is the Roman church as corrupt today, or even if it is, the Reformation has built a body of history that’s not terribly defensible either, starting with Michael Servetus and of course the slaughter of the German Anabaptists with Luther’s approval, etc.

    http://www.cogwriter.com/news/church-history/protestant-persecutions-luther/

    Pure devilry is urging on the peasants…Therefore let all who are able, mow them down, slaughter and stab them, openly or in secret, and remember that there is nothing more poisonous, noxious and utterly devilish than a rebel. You must kill him as you would a mad dog…

    Oy. That sort of thing, and there’s more. This doesn’t mean the Reformation’s fruits are poisoned [“by their fruits ye shall know them” was the “proof” offered by both sides], but it does mean it doesn’t have the advantage of no ugly record of its own to defend, as Tyndale had in the 1500s.

    You write:

    then the only thing that explains the Protestant spitting and cursing about a distant cousin marrying a Roman Catholic is the bad kind of anti-Catholicism. But religious bigotry is not befitting those who would that a better Protestantism prevail.

    Very wise. FTR, so that Erik Charter can use it to assault me personally, I’m the product of such a mixed marriage. 😉

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  189. Erik, it’s published out of Little Geneva so you have to be Dutch to get a subscription. Tom can probably help you out.

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  190. “Yes.”
    Huh…who knew? I guess you! I’m surprised the Westminster divines were insistent on appealing to Hebrew translations of the OT text. My understanding is that the oldest translations available at the time were Greek. I’ve never understood the appeal to “original” manuscripts by the inerrantists. They don’t exist – what difference does it make whether they were originally inspired if the translations we have today aren’t inspired? And if the text has evolved and the current version we have now is inspired, what does it say about the old drafts? But I digress…

    “Certain learned Jews might be of help, as they may be more fluent in nuance, idiom, and of course, structure. The honest man would use all available resources to seek the truth.”

    Even now, the oldest manuscripts are from something like 100BCE as I recall – I am skeptical that the language of these texts bears any resemblance to the the language of 1000BCE given how language evolves. Look at how much English has evolved in the age of the printing press! I’m not sure why a modern day Jewish scholar would have any particular leg up on a learned Gentile OT scholar any more than why a modern day Englishman would have a leg up over a Chilean medieval scholar in the study of Beowulf in its “original language”. It seems to me that the cultural gap between Britain in 900AD and today is much larger than the cultural gap between Chile and the UK. But what do I know? Obviously not that the WCF appeals to “original languages”.

    “The same as Thomas More’s–the average congregant is going to be trusting somebody’s word. The problem of magisterium remains. In the end, it’s about the authority not of men, but of Holy Spirit. You may argue there was no church for 1000 years, between Constantine and Luther, but the biblical justification for that is debatable.”

    Well, yes. In my denominational home (the PCA), one of our membership vows is “Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?” Authority is given to elders and congregants are commanded to submit to their elders. But at the same time the congregant can test what the elders say against scripture. If the answer from the elders is, “don’t worry about what the Bible says” or “the bible is just wrong here”, the congregant has a problem. If the elder attempts to over step his authority by say requiring you to fast on a certain day, avoid certain beverages, or vote a particular way, then I think there is a problem (this is why I was so taken aback by TGCs reference to libertarians as analogous to Wiccans!). If the congregant doesn’t buy the interpretation of scripture, it’s a free country. You move on if you feel you need to. Of course this is the pathway to MTD and much of the religious nonsense we see in our nation.

    I don’t know anyone in reformed circles who would say that the church ceased to exist (though perhaps I missed that part of the WCF too!) – again I think you are mixing up the restorationists (e.g. Churches of Christ – established 33 A.D., not to be confused with the UCC) with the reformers.

    But I still don’t see how appeal to a developing, unchanging, infallible Magesterium helps. It still has to be interpreted and folks still have to decide to follow it. I spent the better part of a decade at ND and got to know several learned RCs (priests, scholarly laity,and fellow grad students). My time there shattered any illusion I had about a uniform Catholic belief. That world is as fractured as protestantism. As far as I could tell the tenuous bond such as it was, was really a pride in their history.

    Are you looking for a positive case for why one should leave Rome for Reformed Christianity? The primary issue in my mind is the “priesthood of the believer”. Much of the corruption within the Roman church is tied to getting this wrong. The reformed doctrine of man and the doctrines of grace are more compelling to me as well. I’m not a very good protestant (I certainly couldn’t be an elder in my denomination)- I deny Biblical inerrancy for example. But I find the RC institution untenable.

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  191. Zrim – . Tom can probably help you out.

    Erik – Good catch, Zrim. How did we miss this when it was right in front of us the whole time? So Cal has a lot of Reformed churches. Maybe Tom grew up in one.

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  192. Tom,

    Have you heard that the Reformation continued to develop after Tyndale? Maybe he would have been able to develop his arguments if More hadn’t had a hand in his death.

    “In total there were six burned at the stake for heresy during More’s chancellorship: Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham. More’s influential role in the burning of Tyndale is reported by Moynahan.” (Wikipedia)

    Tom – but polemic doesn’t make an affirmative case

    Erik – Yes, you are a living, breathing example of that the last few weeks.

    Tom – Neither is the Roman church as corrupt today

    Ahem, “L.A. archdiocese to pay $10M in priest abuse cases”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/12/los-angeles-archdiocese-priest-abuse-settlement/1983345/

    Tom – so that Erik Charter can use it to assault me personally

    Erik – So you’re at the stage you’re resorting to demagoguery and self-pity? Is that part of robust Straussian analysis?

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  193. Tom,

    You’re in good company. When Bryan Cross was here trying (unsuccessfully) to defend the “Motives of Credibility” of not being circular he eventually had to resort to the “you’re not being charitable” card. You can’t come in like a lion and leave like a lamb. If you just tap out we’ll be merciful, though.

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  194. Tom,

    You need to grow up. “Assaulting” someone because of their parents’ religion is ridiculous and no one is doing that here. Vigorously defending one’s beliefs against an attacker (you, Called to Communion) is another matter. If you are resorting to blurring these things you really should do yourself and us a favor and go. You’re embarassing yourself.

    Darrell Todd Maurina did the same thing recently when he tried to accuse me of being pro-slavery. It just reeks of desperation.

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  195. SDB: Of course this is the pathway to MTD and much of the religious nonsense we see in our nation.

    MTD = Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

    SDB, I think we should all start there as our common polemical ground. First things first! Barney the Christosaur. Beatitudism. Oy.

    As for the rest of yr note, it was straight from the shoulder, and straight from the heart. No man can ever do better.

    “Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?”

    If you really wanted to get a laugh at Notre Dame, that would have done it. When somebody quizzes me on Roman Catholicism, I say go ask a Jesuit. They know more about it and believe it less. They’re like, whatever. Such a formulation would put them in stitches.

    As for there being no “Church” for the 1000 years between Constantine and Luther, I’m not inclined to litigate it. William Tyndale and Thomas More fought over the NT meaning of ekklesia but philologia wears me out. I thought Tyndale got the better of the philology, but whatever “church” means, that the Holy Spirit would leave Christianity in grave error for 1000 years awaiting Luther and Calvin is just a little too big a claim to swallow.

    [Especially Luther. Dude was wack. If forced to defend, I’d rather take Pius IX’s brief over Martin Luther’s. Although it’s easier to prosecute.]

    [Good stuff, bro.]

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  196. Erik, they have no clue how deep the base is for any believer who has been through a due diligence and deemed acceptable to join as a member of a serious and truly Reformed church.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

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  197. Mr. Weakly inquires: Tom, would you describe this [OPC] crabbiness as “temperamentally defective”?

    Well, yes and no. Permit me to explain.

    I recently exchanged with Corey Robin, a professor at Brooklyn College and author of the well-received polemic [well-received by leftist academics]

    The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

    Heh heh. There was another book comes to mind

    From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism

    You know, it honestly didn’t occur to me until just this moment that the authors used the same whipping boys [girl]. FTR, I hope Sarah Palin goes away, and mostly I think she will. She has cashed in for enough millions to leave this stupid and ugly world and live in style with her hunky husband, multitude of kids and grandkids, and Downs Syndrome child she declined to abort.

    Not what I intended to write you, Chortles, but come to think of it, better.

    Oh yeah, yr question, is the OPC “temperamentally defective.” Corey Robin thinks the right-wing “Reactionary Mind” is blahblahblah whatever. What a fraud. But recent socio-psych research indicates we’re somewhat wired from birth or early childhood to be apologists or polemicists, to accept or attack. I hate when ‘social psychology’ is used as a weapon against one’s ideological enemies—how many “studies” come out of Berkeley that “conservatives” are afraid of change and I dunno, beat their hamsters?

    So yeah. I think there could be a psychological attraction, an affinity, for a religious sect that’s polemical and crabby.

    Chatting with the women of their church would be far more probative than debating their theology.

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  198. Tom,

    I’m sure you can find protestants who believe there was no church for a 1,000 years, but that’s not the standard Reformed or Lutheran line (Maybe that’s what Tyndale argued, but that is not representative). The marks of the church were faint, but it was not non-existent. Calvin I think said there were “vestiges” of the church here and there. Most Reformed and Lutherans say Rome became a false or anti-church at Trent when it went on record condemning the gospel.

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  199. Tom,

    I know you aren’t much for answering personal questions, but I’m not sure you’ve been asked the simple question of whether you currently attend a church, or are a member? I’m not asking which one, I’m just asking whether you are currently acting in any affirmative way on these questions.

    Related, do you confess Christ? I mean, you speak from a broadly christian perspective, but the question of faith is always the matter of whether you believe Christ died for you.

    I’m not trying to offend with these questions, or slandering you as an atheist. I honestly haven’t seen a clear answer to these questions heretofore (granted, I’m in and out). And I just don’t know how we can have an honest conversation — even at a comm box level — unless you accepts some level personal ownership of the words that you say.

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  200. Tom, I know you aren’t much for answering personal questions, but I’m not sure you’ve been asked the simple question of whether you currently attend a church, or are a member? I’m not asking which one, I’m just asking whether you are currently acting in any affirmative way on these questions.

    Related, do you confess Christ? I mean, you speak from a broadly christian perspective, but the question of faith is always the matter of whether you believe Christ died for you. I’m not trying to offend with these questions, or slandering you as an atheist. I honestly haven’t seen a clear answer to these questions heretofore (granted, I’m in and out). And I just don’t know how we can have an honest conversation — even at a comm box level — unless you accepts some level personal ownership of the words that you say.

    Brian, that is kind, and it is properly pastoral.

    Thx for asking–your aim is true. I am in mid-answer, as it were. And if I said I’m more worried about those here gathered than about myself, that would sound arrogant. But in for a penny in for a pound—David was the man after God’s own heart, not Peter. Or Paul.

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  201. Very good, Tom. “temperamentally defective” was the argument of the libs and mushy middle against Machen

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  202. “As a means of testing party strength, they chose to contest the promotion of Dr. Machen to the Chair of Christian Ethics; or, ate one delegate stated in a speech Wednesday, “selected Dr. Machen as a scapegoat for sacrifice.” The overwhelming majority which the Modernists returned for ordering an investigation and report on the appointment would seem to indicate that they will have immediate control of the Theological Seminary this year. In an endeavor to conceal party motives some of those present offered theological and personal reasons for taking stand against Dr. Machen. These variously vilified him as “temperamentally defective, bitter and harsh in his judgment of others, and implacable in hostility to brethren who did not agree with him,” and also condemned him for an anti-Prohibition attitude he took in a recent vote at New Brunswick (Presbytery).

    http://libserv23.princeton.edu/princetonperiodicals/cgi-bin/princetonperiodicals?a=d&d=Princetonian19260607-01.2.2&e=——-en-20–1–txt-IN—–#

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  203. Tom,

    Thanks. This isn’t church, but it is life. I don’t see how being evasive (or unduly deliberative or clever or roundabout) on those questions can either advance your quest for truth or be faithful to Jesus.

    I’m not getting at your salvation, or the state of your soul. It isn’t so much about concern for you — though I am — as we can’t weigh those matters online (which is why it’s irrelevant as well what you think of the behavior of the others that post here). I’m just getting at your professing status.

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  204. Tom says: “But in for a penny in for a pound—David was the man after God’s own heart, not Peter. Or Paul.”

    Me: Tom, King David was called “a man after God’s own heart” by God himself, but that does not preclude other Saints like Peter or Paul from having the same “heart” attitude as David. Even if they were never called that exact phrase. All three loved God!

    Peter and John thanked God after they were whipped for spreading the news that Jesus had risen and that he was the Christ. I can only imagine what I would be doing! Let’s not forget that both Peter and Paul were executed for daring to say the three most powerful words in the world, “Jesus is Lord.

    Let’s all go, and do likewise.

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  205. Rome: A Synagogue of Satan?

    Dr. D.G. Hart & Mr. J.R. Muether

    Since we have spent the last few installments clearing away some contemporary misconceptions about Roman Catholicism, readers may be wondering what is so objectionable about Rome after all. It would be simple enough to string together a set of ad hominem arguments against the Roman Catholic Church. Popular Protestant hostility to Rome may come from sources like the recent Luther film, which portrays the sixteenth-century papacy engaging in some particularly corrupt practices. For example, the church instituted the sale of indulgences in order to pay for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica.

    But, some may respond, that was then; what about now? Hasn’t the papacy been reformed? Do these abuses of the past render it a false church and justify the division of Christ’s church? Are the concerns of the Reformation that led to scores of Protestant denominations still valid today? Here the recent clergy sex scandals might come to mind as further evidence of Roman Catholicism’s inherent corruption. The problem with citing Rome’s abuse of church office is that this sets the bar at a height that Protestant churches would also have a hard time clearing. If Rome’s jurisdiction is no longer valid because of moral scandals or clerical abuse, would not Protestant churches need to be perfect to be worthy of the status of true church? In point of fact, the Protestant world has too many of its own examples of immorality and clerical misconduct. For objections to Rome to stick, then, the case needs to rest on substantial matters. Here we see that the original protests against Rome involved not simply some corrupt bishops or prelates. Rather the focus was on the ministry of the church.

    Ten Theses of Berne

    The Ten Theses of Berne offer us good place to start in understanding the difference between humanists like Erasmus, who simply wanted to clean up church corruption, and the Reformers, who believed that church abuses stemmed from underlying problems in theology and worship. Under the leadership of Berthold Haller and Franz Kolb, the city of Berne joined Zurich in starting the Reformation in Switzerland. In 1528 the pastors in Berne convened a disputation that produced one of the earliest confessional statements of Protestantism, summarized in a short set of ten propositions. The theses cut to the heart of the Reformation.

    The statement begins by affirming the authority of Scripture: “The holy, Christian Church, whose only Head is Christ, is born of the Word of God, abides in the same, and does not listen to the words of a stranger.” Thus the church may only require Christians to believe what the Bible reveals; it cannot appeal to tradition on matters of conscience.

    The theologians from Berne went on to affirm, on the basis of Scripture, that there was no salvation apart from the work of Christ: His merits are the only that will satisfy. He is the only, and therefore, the true mediator. We do not need the mediatorial work of Mary or any other saint. Moreover, to worship Christ alone is to do so free without the aid of images.

    Finally, the Berne theses condemn the Roman Catholic theology of the Mass, and they reject the doctrine of transubstantiation. For the first Protestants, to call the Mass a sacrifice was the same as saying that Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross was insufficient.

    In less than three hundred words, this confession identifies precisely what was wrong (and still is) with Roman Catholicism, namely, its rejection of the sufficiency of Scripture and the sufficiency of Christ. As prophet, Christ has revealed the grace of God through his inscripturated Word. As priest, he has made the final sacrifice. As king, he is the head of his church, and his Word bears authority over tradition and the papacy. These initial and very basic interests of the Reformers had profound consequences as Protestants defended and propagated the gospel.

    John Calvin and the Necessity of Reform

    No one had a greater role in developing these principles than John Calvin (1509–1564). As the international Reformed community celebrates the 500th anniversary of his birth, it is fitting to give some attention to Calvin’s work and his objections to Rome. Calvin is credited with reshaping western culture in many ways. He was the “constructive revolutionary,” according to one biographer, the architect of a Christian “world-view,” and founder of western principles of education, economic, and politics, according to others. Among his enemies, he is vilified as the cruel theocrat of Geneva. What all of these characterizations overlook is that Calvin was first and foremost a Reformer of the church. Calvin’s passion was the unity and purity of the church. Calvin is best known for his majestic Institutes and his monumental Commentaries. These works bleed with his ecclesiology. He also composed the ecclesiastical ordinances a catechism for the Genevan church.

    Often overlooked in his vast literary output was his defense of the Reformation, The Necessity of Reforming the Church. This 1544 book is a lens in which all of Calvin’s corpus can be comprehended. His successor, Theodore Beza, described this book as among the most vigorous and weighty of anything produced in this era. What is noteworthy in this treatise is how it echoes the Ten Theses of Berne. Calvin addresses four subjects in this book: worship, salvation (both of which were for him the soul of the church), the sacraments, and church government (which for Calvin constituted the body of the church). The Reformation cause, especially in Geneva, focused on these four issues. All “the evils and remedies” of Calvin’s day, the sum and substance of the Reformation’s cause, came down to worship, salvation, sacraments, and church government.

    Worship was Calvin’s first concern. The church worships God properly only when worship is regulated by the Word of God. Contrary to the modern claim that the only criterion for true worship is the zeal of the worshiper, Calvin wrote: “God not only regards as fruitless, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to his worship, if [it is] at variance with His command.” He goes on to ask, “What do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, ‘obedience is better than sacrifice’.” Worship in the Roman Catholic Church had declined to the point where it was “gross idolatry.” For Calvin, idolatry was as serious as works—righteousness in justification, because both replaced divine revelation with human wisdom.

    From here Calvin addressed the chief doctrine in the Christian message of salvation: justification by faith alone. Calvin wrote, “there is no point which is more keenly contested, none in which our adversaries are more inveterate in their opposition, than that of justification, namely, as to whether we obtain it by faith or works.” The Roman Catholic teaching was a deadly wound upon the church. Calvin proclaimed the biblical teaching in the clearest possible language: man “is regarded as righteous before God, simply on the footing of gratuitous mercy, because God, without any respect to works, freely adopts him in Christ, by imputing the righteousness of Christ to him, as if it were his own.”

    Calvin was quick to challenge the Roman Catholic charge that this teaching would encourage sinful licentiousness or antinomianism in the church. It had, in fact, the opposite effect. “By convincing man of his poverty and powerlessness,” he wrote, “we train him more effectually to true humility, leading him to renounce all self-confidence, and throw himself entirely upon God; and that, in like manner, we train him more effectually to gratitude, by leading him to ascribe, as in truth he ought, every good thing which he possesses to the kindness of God.”
    Because believers need to have their faith strengthened to trust in God’s forgiveness, Calvin moved easily from justification to the Lord’s Supper. The Catholic principle of transubstantiation and the worship of the consecrated elements of bread and wine—for Calvin these practices were unbiblical, and they destroy the meaning of the sacrament and the comfort and blessing it is designed to convey. “While the sacrament ought to have been a means of raising pious minds to heaven, the sacred symbols of the Supper were abused [by Rome] to an entirely different purpose and men, contented with gazing upon them and worshiping them, never once thought of Christ.”

    Calvin despaired at the condition of the church and the function of the Christian ministry, the last subject in The Necessity of Reforming the Church. Were he to review ecclesiastical indiscretions in detail, he lamented, “I should never [be finished].” He especially focused on the nature of church office, especially that of the pastor. This in turn required the restoration of the importance of preaching. “None of the churches [in Geneva],” he noted, were “without the ordinary preaching of the Word.”

    Together, these four topics, representing the body and soul of the church, embraced “the whole substance of the Christian religion.” As he addressed them, Calvin labored to be faithful to Scripture and thus prove innocent of the charge of schism.

    Rome’s Response: The Council of Trent

    The Roman Catholic Church responded to the Protestant Reformation by convening the Council of Trent, from 1546 to 1563. Spanning the tenure of two popes, the council sought to institute reform in the church, but it also responded to Protestant arguments by reaffirming Rome’s teaching.
    Trent defended the authority of church tradition. God revealed himself both in written books and in unwritten traditions that came to the apostles from the mouth of Christ himself or to the church through the Holy Spirit in “continuous succession” of apostolic authority. The church must receive and venerate these two forms of revelation “with an equal affection of piety and reverence.”

    On this basis, the Council took up Reformation claims, from Berne to Calvin, and it pronounced the Protestant cause as “anathema” (accursed). Here are some examples:

    • On justification: “If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life—if so be, however, that he depart in grace—and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.”

    • On transubstantiation: “If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.”

    • On the Mass: “If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the Mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema.”

    Has Rome Changed?

    By the terms of the Council of Trent, Protestants still stand condemned. And because Rome claims infallibility for the church’s teaching, the anathemas pronounced by Trent would appear to be forever true. What does Rome now say about Protestants?

    The Roman Catholic Church is far more willing to dialogue with Protestants today than it was five
    hundred years ago. The second Vatican council (1962-1965) ushered in a kinder, gentler Rome. And more recently, Pope John Paul II particularly tried to reach out to Protestants. His 1995 encyclical, Ut unum sint (“That They May All be One”) builds on Vatican II’s potential bonds of unity with “separated brethren.” But there are limits to the ecumenicity of John Paul and his successor, Benedict XVI. For them a true church is one that is in fellowship with the Bishop of Rome.

    More significantly, Roman Catholic Church has never lifted the anathemas of Council of Trent. The Vatican may tend to refer to Protestants as “separated brethren” rather than “heretics.” But Protestantism remains condemned, and Protestant churches are false churches, from Rome’s point of view.

    So is the Roman Catholic Church a “synagogue of Satan” (to cite the language of the Westminster Confession of Faith)? Were the Reformers justified in separating from Rome? That question must be rephrased, because the problem with Rome lies in its separatism. It has abandoned the Word of God. It has “listened to the words of a stranger” and obscured the glory of the saving work of Christ.

    Does that mean that no member of the Roman Catholic Church can be a Christian? Again, that might be asking the wrong question. A better question to ask is this: should Christians be Roman Catholics? Clearly, the answer to that question is no. Genuine Christians within the Roman Catholic communion must possess a greater trust in the merits of Christ than they receive from the official teachings of their church. If this conclusion is anti-Catholic, then at least the basis for such antipathy to Rome concerns not who deserves more credit for the achievement of western civilization or which branch of Christianity is more compatible with American political traditions. Instead, the foundation of anti-Catholicism must always and only be the weighty matter of man’s chief end.

    Dr. D.G. Hart and Mr. John R. Muether are coauthors of several books,
    most recently Seeking a Better Country: 300 Years of American Protestantism (P&R 2007).
    Both are ruling elders in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

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  206. Simply brilliant!

    “Theological disputes are often matters of great moment, even when those outside the dispute cannot track with what is going on. I think it was Gibbon who once displayed his ignorance by saying that the debate over homousia and homoiousia was somehow over the letter i — which is pretty similar to saying the debate between atheists and theists is over the letter a.

    But at the same time, theologians are capable of talking past each other simply because they are used to different terminology, or perhaps because they are worried about the trajectory of those who use that other terminology. Take, for example, the distinction between natural revelation and natural law.

    Now before opening this particular worm can, I want to acknowledge that two positions represented by these phrases can be quite different indeed. But this is a historical fact, not a logical one. I believe the two essential positions can be collapsed into one another with 5 minutes of questions.

    Say you are comfortable with the phrase natural revelation. You believe that the triune God of Scripture revealed Himself through the things that have been made, and that this fact leaves all men everywhere without excuse. It sounds to me like this is an ethical obligation, and another fine word for natural ethical obligation would be natural law. Honoring God as God is not optional, and it is therefore law.

    Say you are comfortable with the phrase natural law. Laws do not arrive by themselves, coming from nowhere in particular, but rather laws come from a lawgiver. And the giving of law is a form of communication, is it not? One might even say that communication reveals things — natural law is therefore a form of natural revelation.

    No, no, no, someone will cry. Cornelius Van Til disagrees with John Locke and Thomas Aquinas. And I cheerfully grant it. This doesn’t mean that the hearts of the two positions are inconsistent. The God who reveals Himself through the things that have been made, and the God who embeds His law in the natural order of things, and even deeper in every human conscience, is the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of The Lord Jesus Christ.

    I mean, the source of natural law is what? The true God or another one? Right, it couldn’t be another one, because he isn’t there — non-existence presents certain barriers. This means that the source of natural law would have to be the true God, there being no other options. This means the world and the Word are not two books from two gods, but rather two books from the one and the same God.

    Now this does not mean that we somehow have to induct Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle into our honorary Christian hall of fame. We know too much about what they taught to put them on the “same page” with us, as some overly charitable Christians have sought to do. But it does mean we have to accept Plato’s cousin, the one who studied with rabbis at Westminster East for a bit. There were plenty of pagans who knew about the Most High God — Jethro, Nebuchadnezzar, Melchizedek, the king of Nineveh, and others, not excluding Plato’s cousin. I called them pagans, but it would be better to call them Gentiles — those for whom God reserved a special place in His Temple. “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

    When special revelation tells us that a hymn to Zeus — declaring that we are all His offspring — is a hymn that is tracking with something good, then special revelation is telling us that natural law, and natural revelation, and special revelation provide us with a three-fold testimony to the triune God. No autonomy anywhere, no neutrality anywhere, and the ghost of Van Til, who haunts my dreams, is perfectly happy with me. So is the ghost of C.S.Lewis, who visits me in my waking hours. Not only that, but those two get along with each other now, and this gives me the chance to say something I have been aching to say for years, which is, “I think we’re all saying the same thing, really.” Of course, you can only say this every once in a while, like every decade or so.

    This is just like the two kingdoms issue. I don’t care how many kingdoms you think there are, I care how many kings you think there are. I don’t care how many forms of “natural” communication you believe have happened, but rather how many gods you think fit under the heading of “Nature’s God.” There is only one — the true God.

    The problem arises when advocates of either position adopt, for whatever reason, a silo mentality — a silo that they will not allow to connect at the top with what every form of creational law or revelation must connect to, the Lord Jesus. Ardent Vantilians can give the raspberry to natural law theorists because of party spirit. And natural law theorists can reject the rigor of Vantilian thought because they imagine a generic Enlightenment God spending eternity humming “Don’t Fence Me In.”

    But it all connects. All of created reality is Christian at the top, and for the consistent Christian, Christian at the bottom. All of created reality is Christian at the top, and for the Gentile, partial at bottom. All this is just another way of saying that natural law is just fine if Jesus is the Lord of it.”

    Douglas Wilson

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  207. Mark,

    I can’t find part 2.

    Doug,

    Wilson is interesting but slippery, and thoroughly Postmillennial. Beware. I’ve eaten supper with him. Nice guy. Went to a conference him & Nancy did on the family several years ago in the Twin Cities .

    Like

  208. Erik, I”m postmillennial as well!

    I do have a question, I have never bee able to get an amillenial man, to answer to my satisfaction. How do you understand the kingdom parables? The smallest seed, that slowly takes over, or the women who puts leaven into the meal, until it’s all leavened. Don’t they teach us God’s kingdom will slowly establish dominion, like leaven, until it’s all leavened? That all nations would serve him? Shouldn’t that be one our our “heart felt” goals, as Christians?

    “May he have dominion from sea t sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth!”

    “May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations serve him!”

    These are a couple verses in Psalms 72 verse 8 and 11 respectively.

    These prayers were on Davids heart, shouldn’t they be on our hearts as well? Erik, can’t you see how this prayer is asking for the fulfillment of the great commission? Aren’t those prophecies just like praying “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”?

    Question Erik; shouldn’t those verses be our hearts desire? Shouldn’t that prayer still be in our hearts?

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  209. David Kertzer wins the Pulitzer Prize for his book on Mussolini and the Pope.

    And here’s an excerpt from Commonweal’s review, a perspective that many converts could likely not write:

    In The Pope and Mussolini, as in his The Popes Against the Jews, Kertzer places a great deal of emphasis on the role of anti-Semitism in shaping Vatican policies. Once again, La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit newspaper published with papal approval, provides the primary source for his argument, although he also cites examples of deeply rooted hostility to Jews among such important figures as Włodzimierz Ledóchowski, the Polish aristocrat who served as superior general of the Jesuits from 1915 until his death in 1942.

    There is no way to view these hate-filled diatribes against Jews as anything but shameful. When they are made part of the prehistory of the Holocaust, which is how Kertzer treats them, their sinister significance is necessarily magnified. It is not certain, however, that the Jewish question was as important to most of the leading men in the Vatican as Kertzer suggests; most of them, including the pope, regarded Jews, together with Communists, Masons, and a variety of other groups, as merely one—and not necessarily the most important—element in a broad and diverse coalition of hostile forces. To raise questions about the salience of Vatican anti-Semitism is not to apologize for the church’s many sins of omission and commission. Although only a handful of leading churchmen espoused the most toxic brand of racial anti-Semitism, many others shared a traditional animosity to Judaism; too few protested attacks on Jews as vigorously and consistently as they should have.

    The Pope and Mussolini deals with one of the darkest chapters in the long, frequently unhappy history of the church’s efforts to determine what belongs to God and what to Caesar. Rarely has God seemed so far away from the world as in the first half of the twentieth century, and rarely have there been so many malevolent and energetic Caesars. Particularly when seen through hindsight’s lucid lens, the church’s response to these challenges often appears tentative and self-serving, too ready to overlook the brutality of its would-be allies and insufficiently alert to the suffering of innocents. But it is always important for historians to remember that we know both more and less than the people we study: we know more because we can see, as they could not, what is going to happen; we know less because we can never fully appreciate what it was like for them to act without this knowledge.

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