Will We Have Bibles in Heaven?

Another version of the 1k critique of 2k, this time a review of a book about John Frame’s theology:

Frame implicitly rejects a separation of the world into sacred and secular realms. If theology is the application of Scripture by persons to every area of life, then it follows that no area of life is exempt from Scripture’s authoritative claims. In other words, nothing is “secular.” Barber ties this to Frame’s non-traditional understanding of RPW, which rests on the distinction between the elements of worship (those things explicitly commanded in Scripture, such as prayers and sacraments) and the circumstances of worship (those things left up to personal discretion, such as the time of the worship service; cf. WCF 1.6). Although many Reformed traditionalists have understood this distinction as justification for a division between sacred and secular realms of life, Frame argues that even the circumstances of worship are holy and spiritual (143). This has a twofold effect in Frame’s theology: it allows for greater Christian freedom inside the church, and it gives greater voice to Scripture outside the church. For the Christian, all of life is sacred, and thus all of life is to be guided by the light of Scripture, but not regulated beyond what Scripture itself requires. Or as Frame states, “The regulative principle for worship is no different from the regulative principle for the rest of life” (144).

I sure wish the critics of 2k would for once do justice to the word, “secular.” It does not mean profane or the denial of God or unbelief or something apart from God. It means temporal, of an age, a period of time. That is, in the West “secular” is impossible to understand apart from Christian eschatology and a distinction between what is eternal and abiding and what is temporary and impermanent. And with that sort of distinction in mind, we can say that the Bible itself is secular. In the new heavens and new earth, the permanent time to come as opposed to the period (saeculum) between Christ’s advents or between the fall and consummation, believers will not need prophets, apostles or sacred books because they will be in the presence of Christ. The need for the Bible is a provisional arrangement. I guess that even means the church is secular.

To say that all of life is sacred sounds uplifting. But to think that my book, A Secular Faith, is sacred is not only ironic but also wrongheaded. Some things will indeed pass away, as Paul wrote:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18)

In other words, the things that are secular are transient. Those include our bodies, marriages, vocations, magistrates, favorite composer. To sacralize these things is to immanentize the eschaton, like identifying Jerusalem, Rome, Amsterdam or Wittenberg with the heavenly Jerusalem.

Which is why I would have expected more Vossians to be 2k.

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58 thoughts on “Will We Have Bibles in Heaven?

  1. John Calvin: “And when Christ commended His spirit to the Father and Stephen his to Christ, they meant only that when the soul is freed from the prison house of the body, God is its perpetual guardian.” Institutes 1:15-2

    John 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.

    Acts 2:34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens

    I Corinthians 15: 7 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished… 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ.

    Our resurrection is what will happen when the age to come arrives. Revelation 21: 2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

    An ascent directly into heaven from the cross without a resurrection would be Plato’s pagan idea of death as the release of an immortal soul. Going to heaven is not resurrection. The spirituality of gnostics teaches the viability of going to heaven without resurrection. Some of these gnostics are preterists, but most of them simply do not think straight about the need for the second coming of Christ.

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  2. But don’t we know the grass withers and flowers fade but the word of God lasts forever? Insofar as the bible is God’s word doesn’t it make sense to expect it to persist? After all we’ll be singing Psalms not Fanny Crosby!

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  3. “Which is why I would have expected more Vossians to be 2k.”

    Me, too, DGH. Every time I think some of them are coming around, it seems they pull back with an over-correction of their course. Do you have any idea why that is so?

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  4. DG: For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18)In other words, the things that are secular are transient. Those include our bodies, marriages, vocations, magistrates, favorite composer.

    well, though, the partial will be done away with when the perfect comes, still the partial is very purposeful and ‘sacred’ now; there is work that remains (1 Cor 3:14) there are ones who are our hope or joy or crown of exultation, even [each other], in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming, [ Each other] our glory and joy. (1 Thess 2 19-20 ), every man presented complete in Christ. Col 1:28

    and re: Bibles in heaven? We do know the sum of the Lord’s word is truth and endures forever; and that every one of His righteous ordinances is everlasting. (1 Peter 1:25, Ps 119:160).
    Sure, right now, we know in part and see in a mirror dimly, but then it will be face to face, knowing fully (1 Cor 13:9,12)
    And sure, we know some ‘knowing’ of all mysteries, all knowledge, all faith, is just noisy profit-less nothing-ness (1 Cor 13:1-3)

    and so therefor back to that which remains or not – 1 Cor 13:13

    and bodies are transient? believers have been born again of seed which is imperishable (1 Pet 1:23); permanent….one day also raised an imperishable body (1 Cor 15:42)

    And back to what remains again – vocations are transient? What about invested talents (Matt 25:14-30) and resulting further vocation (Luke 19:17; 1 Cor 6:3)

    And ‘secular’ arena for a believer who is in training 24/7 now for 24/7 later? How can that be, when everywhere we go, holiness is right there (1 Cor 6:19)

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  5. Darryl, when I read the Tweet about this post with my blurry vision, I read “Will we have babies in heaven?” I wondered what 1k-er would be crazy enough to go that far.

    Of course, you are right about the original meaning of the word secular. But, the meaning of words change over time, literally. I doubt that you’ll get it back. You have to admit, however, that there remains a difference when using the original definition. Your “this present age” (secular) / “age to come” distinction differs. We would say that there are more continuities. The “this present age” that is temporary is not the modern day “secular”, but the present, sinful, rebellious age. God’s original plan for creation will continue, including much that we experience now (excepting marriage, babies, disease, human death, etc.)

    Happy New Year!

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  6. Ali, bodies are now perishable and will be raised imperishable. My point.

    Why would you think holiness and secularity are at odds. Did you read the post? You’re using secular as profane or anti-religious. Your argument is secular because it is “of this age.”

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  7. Already/Not yet–Mark 1:15–Besides, we’re not talking about places–2 Kings 6:16–The eyes of faith see the beginnings of the eschaton in the here and now. And, please, no comments about immanentizing the eschaton. We all know that there’s more to come and that the fullness doesn’t arrive until Jesus returns and there are some changes (especially a purging of sin and its effects). It’s the “already” that’s the unique contribution of amillennielists. Without it, it seems to me, you’re back to historic premillennialism with everything in the not yet.

    In some ways we do flee, even when we participate in the common. We live as strangers and aliens by a different principle (24/7/365 devotion to God and His ways) even when we do that which on the surface seems the same as those who live by the principles of this present age.

    By the way, I can’t wait to see A Secular Faith refined by the purging fires of the Parousia. It will be a glorious work to behold.

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  8. And with that sort of distinction in mind, we can say that the Bible itself is secular. In the new heavens and new earth, the permanent time to come as opposed to the period (saeculum) between Christ’s advents or between the fall and consummation, believers will not need prophets, apostles or sacred books because they will be in the presence of Christ. The need for the Bible is a provisional arrangement. I guess that even means the church is secular.

    I believe that’s Barth’s position, 180 degrees from Augustine’s. In Protestantism, a church is ad hoc and pro tem. To Augustine, it is the continuing work of the Living God, the Holy Spirit. And of course, there’s the Communion of Saints thing.

    ARTICLE 9
    “I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH”

    * Paragraph 5. The Communion of Saints

    946 After confessing “the holy catholic Church,” the Apostles’ Creed adds “the communion of saints.” In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?”479 The communion of saints is the Church.

    947 “Since all the faithful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others. . . . We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since he is the head. . . . Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments.”480 “As this Church is governed by one and the same Spirit, all the goods she has received necessarily become a common fund.”481

    948 The term “communion of saints” therefore has two closely linked meanings: communion in holy things (sancta)” and “among holy persons (sancti).”

    Sancta sanctis! (“God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people”) is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ’s holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.

    960 The Church is a “communion of saints”: this expression refers first to the “holy things” (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which “the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about” (LG 3).

    961 The term “communion of saints” refers also to the communion of “holy persons” (sancti) in Christ who “died for all,” so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.

    962 “We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers” (Paul VI, CPG § 30).

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p5.htm

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  9. “… Michigan is its own kind of Mars …”

    DGH – since you’re not all that far away from the Irish Hills I’d say you have good reason to say that.

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  10. In the true spirit of engagement. Philip Johnson (Darwin on Trial) once called my views vacuous. Which do you think is best–vacuous or incoherent?

    As for your specific example–it depends on the UPS driver and the furniture. Perhaps in your view there’s no furniture in the NHNE. UPS will always be on time and their truck emissions won’t contribute to air pollution or global warming.

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  11. Heaven is now, and Jesus is there already now, in His humanity absent from earth. And the earth in the age to come will be new, and Jesus will come down and give His elect the life of the age to come.

    But this will happen after the resurrection, not after evolutionary continuity.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-foolish-theism-of-government-enthusiasts/2015/12/25/5c623b4c-aa64-11e5-bff5-905b92f5f94b_story.html

    George Will—“Morality evolves. Religious and other moral instructors base their moral codes on the way people who are considered moral behave — people who are deemed moral because they exemplify rules conducive to human prospering. Legal systems evolve: The common-law basis of the system under which Americans live had no inspired lawgiver.”

    mcmark–We need to stop saying “heaven” when we mean “the age to come”. We don’t need extras when the presence of Jesus with us will be our reward.

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  12. Which do you think is best–vacuous or incoherent?

    it has to be one of those?

    DG: I guess that even means the church is secular.

    ‘church’ is temporary? Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready

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  13. Darryl,

    In other words, the things that are secular are transient. Those include our bodies, marriages, vocations, magistrates, favorite composer. To sacralize these things is to immanentize the eschaton, like identifying Jerusalem, Rome, Amsterdam or Wittenberg with the heavenly Jerusalem.

    I wonder if you are perhaps pressing some of this too far. No doubt marriage is transient. Jesus says we won’t be given in marriage in the new earth. Ditto for magistrates, for Jesus will be Lord of all.

    But bodies? We’ll have resurrected bodies, which means they will have continuity with our present bodies. Composers? How do we know we won’t be singing “A Mighty Fortress” in the New Heavens and Earth?

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  14. sola biblicist

    I Corinthians 15: 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. 41 There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differs from another star in splendor. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead:

    Sown in corruption, raised in in corruption;
    43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory;
    sown in weakness, raised in power;
    44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.
    If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.

    47 The first man was from the earth
    and made of dust;
    the second man is from heaven.
    48 Like the man made of dust,
    so are those who are made of dust;
    like the heavenly man,
    so are those who are heavenly.
    49 And just as we have borne
    the image of the man made of dust,
    we will also bear
    the image of the heavenly man.

    Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is the lasting life of the age to come in Christ Jesus our Lord

    Hebrews 11: Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection, 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. 39 All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

    Acts 2: 29 “Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay. 32 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens…

    I Corinthians 15: We will not all fall asleep,
    but we will all be changed,
    52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye,
    AT THE LAST TRUMPET
    For the trumpet will sound,
    and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
    and we will be changed.
    53 For this corruptible must be clothed
    with incorruptibility,
    and this mortal must be clothed
    with immortality.
    54 When this corruptible is clothed
    with incorruptibility,
    and this mortal is clothed
    with immortality,
    THEN the saying that is written WILL TAKE PLACE
    Death has been swallowed up in victory.

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  15. I know at least one person who claims that marriages will be carried with us into heaven. Reading between the lines of Jesus’ statement that “… in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven [Matt. 22:30 ESV, as well as Luke and Mark] …” he claims this statement does not negate the continuation of earthly marriages. Talk about sola biblicist.

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  16. D. G. Hart:Ali, you mean I’ll have to take session minutes in heaven? I didn’t sign up for that.

    hope you’re asking rhetorically DG- you think I’m the pope or something- anyway though, in my biblically informed opinion, I would say the job you have will be perfectly suited and satisfying so whatever job is assigned will be a ‘get’ to; don’t know what recording there will be- possibly we may will communicate without written or oral words, also have faultless memories?; re: demoninational session – probably won’t be any’ denominational’, but guessing there may be perpetual ‘session’

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  17. Darryl, you need to cross the bridge to find the Mars of Michigan.

    Ali and Robert, if no eye has seen, no ear has heard and especially if no mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those that love him, then perhaps some of this speculation is futile. But the point seems simple enough: This world is good but passing away, enjoy but don’t hang on to too tight, look for better and eternal things to come, etc.

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  18. I Corinthians 7 is not directly talking about heaven or even the age to come. It’s talking about the gospel of the crucified and risen from the dead Christ.

    “On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written:What eye did not see and ear did not hear,and what never entered the human mind— God prepared this for those who love Him.”

    Which is not to say that the age to come is not good news, and the result of what Christ’s death accomplished. God brings the dead to life. Those who sleep have a future. Death the last enemy will be abolished because it will be put under Christ’s feet. The destruction of death includes the second death of some of those who have died the first death. But the justified elect will be clothed with immortality.

    II Corinthians 5: We desire to put on our dwelling FROM heaven, 3 since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality is swallowed up by life.

    https://mikewittmer.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/going-to-heaven/

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  19. TVD quoting the CCC:
    Sancta sanctis! (“God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people”) is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ’s holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.>>>>>

    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full, full of your glory. Hosannah. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosannah in the highest.

    Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
    Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
    Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua.
    Hosanna in excelsis.
    Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
    Hosanna in excelsis.

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  20. Zrim: But the point seems simple enough: This world is good but passing away, enjoy but don’t hang on to too tight, look for better and eternal things to come, etc.

    ..with further whole counsel ‘simple enough’…and while we look and wait … live by faith, cause by faith stuff happens, & without faith it is impossible to please the Lord (Heb 11) ; and since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought-we-be ? (2 Pet 3:11-18)

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  21. Walton, sometimes it’s just a mattress and a job. Why isn’t that enough for some? Talk about hating the mundane and ordinary.

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  22. If our rest on the mattresses is representative of our rest in Christ, shouldn’t they be firm (like the True Foundation) yet soft (to identify with our weaknesses)? Hey, maybe I could write for TGC!

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  23. DG, why can Bethany (and all Christians apparently!) take advice from this pagan Osteen/Oprah empowerer?

    When psychologist Shawn Achor was studying happiness at Harvard,

    One practice that’s helped my heart grow in humility is something Achor does with his patients. He asks them to write down three new gratitudes each day. For Christians, I believe this can be even more powerful because we know the One to thank.

    Oh yeah, cause she can redeem it. Clutch. Cause all truth is God’s truth. I just hope Achor’s “truth” (after being baptized by Bethany) doesn’t turn out to be false.

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  24. “…on earth as it is in heaven…”

    Another one that slips through the cracks of all this fancy theologizing. Your call, Ali. Why you seek the approval of these people, I do not know. Mt 11:25

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  25. Darryl,

    Why mock an exhortation to humility, patience, and empathy for others? Dont be so triumphalistic remember.

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  26. I liked both TGC articles. Both show how Christian faith influences our daily lives. Thanks for the links. I don’t quite get the objections.

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  27. TVD “…on earth as it is in heaven…”Another one that slips through the cracks of all this fancy theologizing. Your call, Ali. Why you seek the approval of these people, I do not know. Mt 11:25

    I know, am I deceived (1 Cor 15:33), TVD?
    It’s just that it’s such a school and there is so much material to wonder over. So, TVD ,”on earth as it is in heaven”.. a couple things are somehow brought to mind –there, there will be no mocking (1 Cor 6:9); only ‘piety’ and ‘humility’ (2 Pet 3:13)

    D. G. Hart James Young, you think mocking is triumphalism?
    D. G. Hart Mermaid, you really are a pietist.
    (A different) DanTLM,https://youtu.be/QCsNunGnqE0

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  28. Ali
    Posted December 31, 2015 at 8:15 am | Permalink
    TVD “…on earth as it is in heaven…”Another one that slips through the cracks of all this fancy theologizing. Your call, Ali. Why you seek the approval of these people, I do not know. Mt 11:25

    I know, am I deceived (1 Cor 15:33), TVD?
    It’s just that it’s such a school and there is so much material to wonder over. So, TVD ,”on earth as it is in heaven”.. a couple things are somehow brought to mind –there, there will be no mocking (1 Cor 6:9); only ‘piety’ and ‘humility’ (2 Pet 3:13)

    D. G. Hart James Young, you think mocking is triumphalism?
    D. G. Hart Mermaid, you really are a pietist.
    (A different) DanTLM,https://youtu.be/QCsNunGnqE0>>>>>

    I don’t quite get it, either, Sister Ali. It seems like they want to prove some point. Not sure what it is.

    Not sure they are proving the point that they want to prove. Hey, you enjoy your day out there. Happy New Year!

    It is a school, Ali. It is that. You and I are here for a purpose. What is that?

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  29. cw: $150,000 bonus check
    D.G. Hart: to annoy men and do so obliviously.

    ooops, thanks for the reminder guys, almost forgot……

    🙂

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  30. James Young, so your New Year’s resolution is to be a gnat?

    Because Bethany did it at one of the most piously showboating websites imaginable.

    Do you even know how to get a clue? Cool.

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  31. CvD, have you read DGH’s Lost Soul of American Protestantism? That he has serious issues with Evangelical Revivalist Piety, so prominently on display at TGC and similar sites, should come as no surprise to even a casual reader of that book. I read a library copy and then purchased the Kindle version, which is about as high a recommendation as I can give.

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  32. Darryl,

    What was showboating about Bethanys article? If the same article was written under a psuedonym on some other neutral site, would it have merited mockery?

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  33. Does the Benedict option have to be used in this present age? Any “church” that accepts Roman Catholic water as “good enough because at least it was Trinitarian” is never going to be biblicist or separatist enough to be a sect

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/dark-side-benedict-option-mennonite-anabaptist/

    Robert Gundry: Jesus the Word according to John the Sectarian,

    1) Jesus is the Word to the world in spite of the world

    2) The Gospel of John is primarily for the elect, and all the elect will believe the gospel.(no anonymous or invisible Christians)

    3) The love of God is not universal. John’s vision of the Christian community flows from a view of Christ that is separatist toward the world. The Fourth Gospel is unalterably sectarian, not hybrid-friendly, not two cultures at once but rather commanding an alternative culture….

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