What Good Do Church Statements Do?

I noticed today at Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley’s blog a statement by the Massachusetts’s bishops on opiate abuse:

The abuse and misuse of opioids has become a national and local epidemic that has increasingly been felt in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in recent years. On average, four people lose their lives each day in this state, due to illegal and legal drug overdoses. It is a disturbing trend that must be stopped. In this year of Divine Mercy in the Catholic Church, we, the four Bishops of Massachusetts join health care professionals, law enforcement, first responders, elected officials and countless others affected by this epidemic in calling for a comprehensive plan to address this growing crisis.

Given the scope of the problem, we feel some degree of urgency to find a solution to this public health and policy crisis that has reached dangerous levels. The lives negatively impacted by this disaster represent all economic, age, gender or racial categories. The impact is far reaching, leading to the eventual breakdown of families, friendships, neighborhoods and communities.

The solution to this tragic problem is not easy to define; it will be even more difficult to implement. The enormity of the problem, however, calls for an immediate and sweeping response. As that response is crafted, we must be mindful that on one hand, medical professionals must continue to care for their patients by prescribing these powerful drugs for long and short term pain management. On the other hand, overuse by the patient, along with access to vast quantities of opioids by unintended users, often leads to abuse, addiction and death. We exhort health care providers to demand improved education within their own professional groups about the appropriate indications, prescriptions and use of opioid medications.

We must offer help, support and comfort to those who have formed an addiction to prescription pain killers, as well as to those individuals who have formed an addiction to illegal drugs. While new legislation alone will not solve the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, it is a critical step that must be taken soon. We urge the Governor and the legislature to continue their work on this legislation and to provide the necessary resources, human and fiscal, to implement comprehensive education and treatment services to address and correct this ever-growing crisis.

We encourage our sisters and brothers who are suffering addiction or the addiction of loved ones to turn to their faith community for support, counsel and compassion, and we pray that those most affected will receive the physical, emotional and spiritual help that they need.

How different is something as unspecified as this call to action from the sorts of complaints that students have been bringing against university administrations, such as the Black Students Union at Johns Hopkins University?

1. We demand a public address to be held by the administration (including but not limited to President Ron Daniels, Provost Lieberman, Provost Shollenberger, and the Board of Trustees) to The Johns Hopkins community in which President Ron Daniels will announce an explicit plan of action detailing how the following demands will be instated.

2. We demand that The Johns Hopkins University creates and enforces mandatory cultural competency in the form of a semester long class requirement for undergraduate students as well as training for faculty and administration.

3. We demand that the Center for Africana Studies be recognized as a Department.

4. We demand an increase in the number of full-time Black faculty members, both in the Center for Africana Studies and throughout other departments within the institution. Moreover, we demands equal representation of self-identifying men, women, and non-binary Black individuals within these positions.

5. We call on The Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts & Sciences to support the hiring of faculty concerned with the history, culture, and political position of peoples of African descent. Calls for diversifying faculty are important, but equally crucial is attracting faculty whose work creates a scholarly community dedicated to Africana studies.

6. We demand accountability for peers, faculty, and staff who target Black students both inside of and outside of the classroom. Attending to such situations must transition from a passive email sent to the student body, to an active stance taken against racial intolerance by the administration. Perpetrators that aim to make Black students uncomfortable or unsafe for racial reasons must complete additional diversity training and face impactful repercussions for their actions.

7. We demand a transparent five year plan from The Johns Hopkins University Office of Undergraduate Admissions regarding the welcoming of and retention of Black students. We demand black bodies be removed from diversity marketing campaigns until Hopkins addresses the low quality of life here that many Black students experience and the problems with retaining Black students all four undergraduate years and then takes the necessary steps to resolve them.

8. We demand more Black professors within the Women, Gender and Sexuality program to add a new dimension to the Department on intersectionality and inclusivity that is currently being neglected and ignored.

Actually, in most cases the students’ demands are much more specific than the bishops’ statement. If Massachusetts were a Roman Catholic state, the call by church officials to governmental officers to look into a certain matter might make sense. Or, if the bishops sent a memo to the administrators and public health officials at Roman Catholic hospitals and medical schools and asked for policy recommendations, they might have more to say even while not exactly ministering God’s word. But at the end of the day is a statement like this from the church anything more than an indication that bishops care? Didn’t church members already know that?

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337 thoughts on “What Good Do Church Statements Do?

  1. John Frame about an hour ago of Facebook:

    “If dissent against any proposition in a confessional statement destroys the dissenter’s good standing in the church, then the confession becomes irreformable, unamendable, and, for all practical purposes, canonical. And when the confession becomes canonical, the authority of the Bible is threatened, not protected.”

    I guess the good standing of FV dissenters should remain intact. Is Frame implying that those who have lost their good standing due to advocating FV, contra the confession, should be reinstated without question? Or am I missing something here?

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  2. Greg, how does that harmonize with WCF 31.5:

    Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

    I don’t recall SCOTUS petitioning the Session of South Austin for advice. And careful playing the “cases extraordinary” clause.

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  3. You consider that a clear and fatal violation of WCF XXXI:V Zrim? I’m curious what Darryl thinks. I was just about to maybe take off again for a little while, but then this post and I couldn’t resist an opportunity to be helpful.

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  4. The Kevin Swanson wannabes at the South Austin Presbyterian Church don’t even have their premise right.

    The Supreme Court did not find that there is a right to same-sex marriage. States are still free to stop issuing marriage licenses. Of course, if a state elects to confer certain rights onto the parties to a marriage contract, then it cannot discriminate on the basis of the parties’ sex in doing so. Marriage licensure is largely a creation of the last 100 years, instituted primarily to put a stop to interracial marriage. Thus, it’s hard to conclude that Scripture has much to say about marriage licensure, even putting the most recent kerfuffle aside. If anything, Scripture likely favors the abolition of marriage licensure altogether.

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  5. No, I’m not surprised. Voting against it isn’t the same as viewing it as a violation of WCF XXXI:V though. Which was the question. If I had been in the position, I would have done it like South Austin did. It’s not meddling, it’s a declaration of God’s truth into a situation of open public moral decline unprecedented at least in modern western history for certain. Sure it’s symbolic and doesn’t actually accomplish anything except to address the conscience trying to be faithful and making clear the stance, but that’s enough.

    Let’s not forget the original version of XXIII:III either:

    III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.

    I’m pretty sure whoever wrote that wouldn’t have balked at South Austin’s rebuke of a clearly failing magistrate that now seeks to enforce perversion uopn the people. Though of course the OPC has Americanized that section, and for good reason. (yes, I realize that section was about the magistrate and not the church, but that doesn’t nullify the point. )

    In my view, voting it against it, though I disagree, is also a lawful choice. This actually is an area where room exists for good faith differences. Of course you know I brought this because you have more than casual dealings with Cassidy and yes, I wanted to see what you would say.

    Time for church.

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  6. @ Paul: part of what you’re missing is the authority of the presbytery to declare whether dissents are out of bounds, and also the authority of the GA to make declarations and clarifications concerning faith and practice.

    Frame is correct in a literal sense. If dissent from the Confession is *automatically* wrong, then all dissenters are *automatically* out of bounds. This entails the infallibility of the Confession, which is ruled out by the Confession itself.

    In practice, I wonder what Frame is speaking of. Is he speaking generally (OK), or his he trying to defend a particular dissenting position.

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  7. Greg,

    I don’t see where the Obergefell decision forced anything upon anyone. A lesbian couple lives next to me. I have no idea whether their mutual commitment enjoys the legal benefits of state licensure or not. And I fail to see how either scenario affects me one way or the other. Nothing in Obergefall limits the church’s freedom to refuse to marry people when the church deems that certain religious qualifications for Christian marriage (as opposed to the property-law principle of civil marriage) have been met. If what you’re saying is true (and it isn’t), then the same principle would be implicated by the state’s issuance of civil marriage licenses to people who divorce and remarry, and divorce and remarry again, and again, and again, and…. We’re five decades or more into that would-be attack on the institution of Christian marriage. Where were the esteemed elders of the South Austin Presbyterian Church at that time?

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  8. Greg, how is the statement both “not meddling in civil affairs” and “a rebuke of a clearly failing magistrate”? One must necessarily meddle in order to rebuke. But if it’s not an example of meddling, what would be? Perhaps a commentary on a political issue in a direction you don’t like? But 2k is a set of principles that are to apply across the board, which means that even if a political statement issued to the magistrate contains a moral code one affirms, he still must oppose the political statement as a form of obnoxious meddling.

    But you say it is this: “…a declaration of God’s truth into a situation of open public moral decline unprecedented at least in modern western history for certain. Sure it’s symbolic and doesn’t actually accomplish anything except to address the conscience trying to be faithful and making clear the stance, but that’s enough.”

    So you’re playing the “extraordinary clause” card. And you’re sure this isn’t a cleverly disguised way of saying that the 2k principles of WCF don’t count and the rules don’t apply when it comes to your own politics? Are you aware that it’s possible to oppose homosexual marriage both morally and politically AND ecclesiastical statements like this? Do you see how your reasoning sounds liberal inasmuch as the liberals justified their meddling by saying that “the world sets the churches agenda”? From where some of us sit, sure looks like the world (and the headlines) are leading the Session of South Austin around by the nose.

    Sure it’s symbolic and doesn’t actually accomplish anything except to address the conscience trying to be faithful and making clear the stance, but that’s enough.

    So who’s the target, whose conscience? If the state, how is it not meddling? If the faithful, are you suggesting that otherwise faithful churches haven’t been maintaining clear teaching on sexuality and must play opportunists by meddling in places they ought not meddle in order to convey something to their own?

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  9. Jeff,

    Cochran was fired before same-sex marriage had even come to Georgia, so it’s impossible that there’s any cognizable nexus between Obergefell and Cochran’s dismissal.

    Further, let’s put Cochran’s actions in context. He wrote a book in which he suggested that homosexuality is morally equivalent to bestiality and pedophilia, and then proceeded to foist the book on his subordinates while they (and he) were on the job. In short, Cochran is not some hapless guy who’s just being punished for his Christian beliefs. Rather, he’s an anti-gay bully who sought to use his power to foster a workplace that was hostile to those who held to religious views that were different from his own, even to the point of implying that certain people were no better than pedophiles.

    I’m quite comfortable living in a world where the law precludes Christian bosses from bullying non-Christian employees at work, especially where the workplace is a unit of the local government.

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  10. @ Evan: who are you relying on for your fact base?

    But you missed the point. Obergefell doesn’t merely permit gays to use the legal term “marriage.”

    It also establishes the legal equivalence of dissent from gay marriage and anti-gay bigotry. It was not merely a ruling, but a legal theory.

    Cochran’s case was a manifestation of that legal theory, which Obergrfell enshrined.

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  11. Jeff,

    Obergefell enshrined nothing of the sort. You’re spending too much time on right-wing news sites that are exaggerating the implications of the decision. I suspect that many will continue to believe that same-sex marriage is an unwise institution, just as many continue to believe that interracial marriage is an unwise institution. Heck, there are all kinds of things that I view as unwise. But that doesn’t mean I should set them forth in a self-published book and pass it out to my subordinates at work. Sometimes we’re just better off minding our own business., or at least by demonstrating Christ’s love by some means besides directly proselytizing people.

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  12. “who, Good point, DG. One can only have one ‘who’ – try to have two? one of them is hated. Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

    sdb, e.g overly strict adherence to ‘obnoxious-meddling-avoidance’ principle, leaving no room for ‘declaration of God’s truth into a situation of open public moral decline’ were one so compelled by the heart-kingdom Ruler.

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  13. Zrim are you telling us that the men at Westminster would have had nothing to say if a major world power at the time would have normalized homosexuality and called it “marriage”? With major players in the Anglican Communion and some calling themselves Presbyterians and claiming their standards as their own leading the way? We wouldn’t have extant writings from them addressing that?

    Heck, if it were happening then, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a section in chapter XXIV of the confession itself dedicated directly to it.

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  14. Greg, are you playing the anachronism card now? I fold.

    But how about saying what you think intermeddling looks like if not this letter from South Austin Pres?

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  15. @ ZRIM
    I don’t KNOW this to be the case because I haven’t studied this exact angle, but I suspect that most of them would have considered campaigning for anything not a violation or affirmation of God’s law to be meddling. An example might be demanding that the magistrate fund a building project or something, OR promoting a sinful economic model like socialism would be meddling.

    For the record, I don’t believe that it’s wrong to seek justice from the secular state if it’s in service to the gospel. Paul and Silas played their Roman green card after all.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but where there is clear biblical moral principle, I just can’t see them condemning the declaration of God’s truth in the face a magistrate openly defying it in such a clear and “extraordinary” fashion. What if someone were to legalize murder for instance as an extreme example? Oh wait, we already did that to the tune of 60 million barbarically butchered children. I want you to tell me that the divines would have called “meddling” upon the public condemnation of such evil and using biblically lawful citizen influence if available, in Jesus name to oppose it.

    I reiterate too. I’m not calling it a command. To decline from such a declaration in the public arena, while I disagree, is not something I can point to “good and necessary consequence” for in the scriptures as a mandate. I’m not saying that any church that didn’t publicly do so is in sin. I will say that if asked, it is a horrible dereliction of Christian duty to refuse to answer.

    To further reiterate, I don’t really care if I’m called 2K or not. All I care about is the truth of my position. I was asking Darryl what he thought because I was curious is all. To yet further reiterate, I have no problem with labels. If there’s an existing accurate label for something I believe, fine. I own it. Put it on T-Shirt. But I never reach conclusions in a quest to match any label either.

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  16. You guys really do gotta get outta this idiotic anachronism thing. There will never ever be an area or aspect of life that is not morally neutral where the eternal omniscient God, who works all things according to the counsel of His own will, has left us without binding instruction in His word. You are not free to make up your own mind where issues of morality are concerned. Until the last trump. If Jesus doesn’t return for 10 million more years, EVERYTHING we will ever need to know for God’s own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is found in some principle or other clearly discerned by a godly mind in the ancient Christian scriptures.

    Gordon’s retarded assertion that the divines were referring to church life only is the stoopidest thing I’ve ever heard Evan. Really LOL! That doesn’t pass the snicker test.

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  17. Greg, so a church demanding a political arrangement you don’t like (socialism) would be meddling, but demanding one of which you do approve (assume capitalism) is kosher? You don’t see how that’s a rigged set of rules?

    You don’t think there is any difference between an apostle appealing to his right as a citizen and a church sticking its nose in political affairs that have little to no consequence or relevance for the church? You don’t see how the church speaking in response to any political phenomenon that has a moral dimension will break the back of the church and keep her from her simple charge to baptize and discipline her own since most political phenomenon has a moral dimension? But let me guess, the only ones that register for you are those that have to do with the trifecta of abortion, gay marriage and “religious liberty”? You don’t see how you’re using the principles of Protestant liberalism to prop up a rightist social gospel (because social gospel is only bad when it’s leftist)?

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  18. Those are good questions Zrim that I’m not going to be able to answer now. BUT:
    “so a church demanding a political arrangement you don’t like (socialism) would be meddling, but demanding one of which you do approve (assume capitalism) is kosher? “
    No. I didn’t say anything like that.

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  19. I think God says it’s immoral to murder. I also think God says it’s immoral to smoke with your kids in the car. I would only support legislation against one (maybe), and I don’t think God supports legislation against either of them.

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  20. Greg, I’ll get out the anachronism thing when you do. You think — you say — that Americans should have revised the Confession on the Civil Magistrate.

    Well, isn’t that owing to a change in times that allowed presbyters to see the historical blinders of 1640s London?

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  21. Yes Darryl, but these are again, not analogous with public sexual performances and open cinematic blasphemy. The divines would probably agree with the way their confession has been revised in light of the different system of government we have. Especially since that system, at least as originally conceived, fully allowed for a free and godly life.

    They would have never in one billion years agreed with your stance on television and movies or their or their loved one’s doing such performances themselves. We established that already. YOU established that already. Look, it will never matter how many ways you try this. You are wrong… period. You can either continue to live wrong or repent. The one thing you will never be able to do is go on like this with a clear conscience. God forbid the day ever arrives when you can.

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  22. For the record, this wasn’t the direction I meant to go. The last anachronism alert you sent me Darryl, was about how since there was no television or movies in the 17th century, the standards can’t speak to those areas of modern life.

    There is no such thing as anachronistic morality. Right and wrong are based in God’s very nature which He has revealed in His word, as recognized by the assembly to pertain to all of moral life forever.

    There is absolutely nothing different now than there’s ever been. It’s just comes in different packages.

    Is my point.

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  23. Greg, you admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about since you don’t watch television and movies.

    Plus, you hang around with Erik who watches all the stuff I do. Are you telling him to repent?

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  24. Greg, it’s an implication of what you said.

    I don’t KNOW this to be the case because I haven’t studied this exact angle, but I suspect that most of them would have considered campaigning for anything not a violation or affirmation of God’s law to be meddling. An example might be demanding that the magistrate fund a building project or something, OR promoting a sinful economic model like socialism would be meddling.

    It’s not clear you’re following the line of questioning though. I’m not asking you to speculate on what the divines would have thought or done if something that is happening today popped up in their context (anachronism alert). I’m simply asking for an example of what meddling in civil affairs would look like today (if not South Austin Pres’s appeal).

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  25. @ Evan: I am sure that you would not wish to hang someone out to dry based on hearsay. What is your source for your opinion that [Cochran] wrote a book in which he suggested that homosexuality is morally equivalent to bestiality and pedophilia, and then proceeded to foist the book on his subordinates while they (and he) were on the job. In short, Cochran is not some hapless guy who’s just being punished for his Christian beliefs. Rather, he’s an anti-gay bully who sought to use his power to foster a workplace that was hostile to those who held to religious views that were different from his own, even to the point of implying that certain people were no better than pedophiles.?

    That’s pretty strong. You are in essence saying that he fully deserved what he got, which is a strong moral judgment requiring substantial confidence in the evidence.

    So: Have you read the book? The court documents? Do you know which subordinates he gave the book to, and under what circumstances?

    Some of those answers are here:

    Ruling on Motion to Dismiss.

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  26. if you revise out certain things that no longer pertain now that the Westminster Assembly parachurch has discontinued its business, could we say that the Westminster Confession of faith does some good, even if it doesn’t insist on Christians not killing people?

    Mark Jones—“The Westminster Assembly was charged by Parliament with Reforming the Church of England. Parliament desired that the divines at Westminster propose corrections that needed to be made to the national Church’s structures, worship, and teaching. As far as Westminster is concerned, it was work being done by the church as the church. Approval (or lack thereof) of its documents isn’t necessarily required to make the process a church activity. It was in fact adopted by the Church of England (1648)….Confessions in the mid-seventeenth century were meant to counterbalance and complete a national church settlement. Today, this type of Confession would be somewhat irrelevant because of the separation of church and state,” http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2016/03/westminster-assembly-a-parachu.php

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  27. This is a non-sarcastic and respectful conversation we’re having here Darryl. I promise you are hearing in error if you hear anything else. I must respond to these statements. Surely that is reasonable.
    Dr. Hart says: “Greg, you admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about since you don’t watch television and movies.”
    Put yourself in my position for a moment please. What is one to think when a man of your obvious powers and stature posits so nonsensical a statement as the immediately above? Do you actually mean to propose by this that a person is precluded out of hand from expressing a view or conviction on something unless they have direct hands on experience of that thing? And this, in the Internet age? When our all wise God has put at the fingertips of the church, a comprehensive deluge of useful information provided by the pagans themselves, describing the exact blasphemous and barbaric and pornographic content of pretty much every production in the history of the industry worldwide?

    Think with me please sir. Do you need to personally view kiddie porn for instance, to know what it is and that it’s bad? Or can you know both of those things by it’s description? See, THIS is pornography and blasphemy. If we resurrected every member of the assembly, they would to a man agree that it is, and that no heart surrendered to the indwelling Christ could possibly think otherwise. Wouldn’t they?

    No anachronism here. Unlike the particulars of government, that’s an abomination in any century. Do you feel that you could persuade the men who wrote the WLC that an artistic and profound enough story sanctifies that in the eyes of the Lord? And that it would be a righteous thing for their parishioners to contribute their performances as well? (No need to respond. We both know the answer. ) Unless you are prepared to overthrow what I have just said, I stand by my anachronism statement.

    Dr. Hart says: “Plus, you hang around with Erik who watches all the stuff I do. Are you telling him to repent?”
    I hang around you too, but actually yes I do tell him to repent and that he lacks credibility, among other things. I grabbed the following real quick for instance, which is from his site 6 days ago:

    Erik says; “BUT if there was no substance to my complaints about things he is writing NOW my criticism would have no weight.”

    I responded with this:

    “There’s two problems here. Please hear me my brother. It makes no difference to him how accurate what you say may be, because he can tell you’re doing it out of anger and not conviction. Certainly not primarily conviction.

    Going right along with that is number two. Which is, you are not above reproach in the areas we’re talking about my friend. He’s right. Here you are blasting him for something you openly admit you’re still involved in yourself.”

    I am far from perfect Darryl and you may one day catch me in an inconsistency of some sort. You will have my sincere thanks for making me better if you do, but today is not that day. I am going to keep saying it. I am NOT out to hang you. I’m not.

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  28. Any argument you may give me next Darryl, please imagine yourself with a TV playing that content on the floor at the Abbey in say, 1642. Tell them what you are telling me and I’ll do the same about the magistrate. Who do think has the better chance of making their case to them?

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  29. Jeff,

    I’m disinclined to give much weight to a self-serving press release from Cochran’s attorneys. Mind you, surviving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion isn’t exactly a big hurdle for a lawsuit. As long as the suit wasn’t barred by the applicable statute of limitations, it’s generally going to survive.

    The facts of Cochran’s case are all over the internet. Moreover, I can’t imagine handing out religious materials of any kind at work, especially to subordinates. In most workplaces, unsolicited religious proselytization is cause for immediate termination. When a manager uses his managerial position to subject subordinates to such proselytization, there’s no way to construe that except as a form bullying. This guy wasn’t fired because he’s a good Christian. Rather, he’s being fired because he’s a bully and an a%&hole.

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  30. Greg, the problem is that you don’t have a reference for what I watch but simply declare it wicked without even seeing it.

    That’s not exactly just.

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  31. Do blog statements do more or less good than church statements?

    Scott Clark– “Baptists continue to share with the Anabaptists this fundamental conviction—that however valid infant circumcision was prior to the incarnation, the New Covenant is such that there is no place for infant baptism as a proper recognition that the children of believers are members of the covenant of grace j This rejection of the status of Christian children as such introduced (and continues to perpetuate) a principle of radical discontinuity between Abraham and the Christian. This denial of the fundamental unity of the covenant of grace as symbolized in the administration of the sign and seal of the covenant of grace to covenant children, is serious enough to warrant saying that any congregation that will not practice infant baptism)into the administration of the covenant of grace is not a church. ..Denial of infant initiation is a denial of the catholicity of the church stretching back to Abraham.”

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/04/on-churchless-evangelicals-pt-3/

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  32. You have my word when I say that my non-sarcastic and constructive tone continues here Darryl. I say that to preface the fact that I am compelled to declare the almost unbelievable bullheadedness you are displaying here. Regardless of what you may believe, I DO very much appreciate your time and attention though and do not feel it owed to me.
    Dr. Hart says: “Greg, the problem is that you don’t have a reference for what I watch but simply declare it wicked without even seeing it.
    That’s not exactly just.”

    This is a bare repeat of what you said above, phrased in a slightly different way. Therefore I am going to copy and paste what I said above because it still applies. The following was a dern good response professor, praise God, as evinced by your total inability to address it beyond simply repeating yourself.
    ===================================================
    Do you actually mean to propose by this that a person is precluded out of hand from expressing a view or conviction on something unless they have direct hands on experience of that thing? And this, in the Internet age? When our all wise God has put at the fingertips of the church, a comprehensive deluge of useful information provided by the pagans themselves, describing the exact blasphemous and barbaric and pornographic content of pretty much every production in the history of the industry worldwide?

    Think with me please sir. Do you need to personally view kiddie porn for instance, to know what it is and that it’s bad? Or can you know both of those things by it’s description? See, THIS is pornography and blasphemy. If we resurrected every member of the assembly, they would to a man agree that it is, and that no heart surrendered to the indwelling Christ could possibly think otherwise. Wouldn’t they?

    No anachronism here. Unlike the particulars of government, that’s an abomination in any century. Do you feel that you could persuade the men who wrote the WLC that an artistic and profound enough story sanctifies that in the eyes of the Lord? And that it would be a righteous thing for their parishioners to contribute their performances as well? (No need to respond. We both know the answer. ) Unless you are prepared to overthrow what I have just said, I stand by my anachronism statement.
    =================================================
    You’ve asked me the same thing twice and that answer stands both times.

    Dr. Hart says: “Greg, did the divines have flat-screens? Roku? Amazon Fire? Wifi?”
    There is no way I can believe you really don’t get this. Everything you have named above are morally indifferent objects and technologies. They are merely upgraded packages and vehicles for sin if used for that purpose.

    Sin knows no season or century. Every single sin committed in the production of these shows and films has been committed by sinful fallen man from the antediluvian age. The difference now is, that sinful fallen man can commit those sins in front a camera and preserve them to be displayed and participated in over and over again for the rest of history. Oh how ingenious and efficient Satan is. Wrap it in a story and people will call it “art.” The best part for the father of lies, is that he gets the well earned bonus of watching those claiming to represent the spotlessly pure Lamb of God among the most enthusiastic champions of such monumental perversion. Not only that, but in cases like yours, he gets the gold medal satisfaction of knowing that three and a half centuries ago some faithful men of God set forth the biblical principles for the expressed purpose of avoiding this trap and you’re in it anyway. 😦 You’re givin the old serpent a big head my friend.

    Listen Darryl, unless you really want to go on now, I don’t know what else can be said at the moment. I did not plan on getting into this in this thread. You threw the anachronism thing at me again is what set this off. I understand. I really do. Media entertainment is the cultural air we breathe these days and the lingua franca of the industrialized world. The very reasons the church is not supposed to have her face in it. I say again. You get this. I KNOW you do.

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  33. Greg, you are treating morality like an engineering manual. You don’t think wisdom may be required when eating meat offered to idols. For you it’s either black or white. And since you have no experience with a society where Christians regularly eat meat offered to idols, you condemn any association with idolatry as idolatry.

    Sorry, but this isn’t a conversation. This is a courtroom where you are judge and jury.

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  34. yes, blogs do more good. Also, blog comments can be revised to reflect the new context. Just like the statements of the para-church we now know as “the Westminster Assembly”. Scott Clark has a tricky argument—–1. them baptists don’t care about churches. 2. they don’t do babies and thus they don’t have true churches. 3. but we are more generous than them baptists because at least we count their water as God’s baptism.

    The question gets tricky. Since he counts them watered he would let them baptists into the Supper of his true church, but why would he want to go to their supper or complain about not being allowed in to their supper because (unlike the lutherans) them baptists don’t count his “true church” water as baptism?

    Luke 16: 15, 16 : “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous…”

    Sasse is the senator from creation not from redemption who knows that more Burke will restrain sin because the law always decreases sin. But how is his statement on the floor of the Senate different in kind from statements at the Westminster Assembly? Sometimes serving two kingdoms is not about God’s glory, nor is it about Christ as creator being different from Christ redeemer. Serving two kingdoms is about Jerry Falwell wanting more money and power, and saying that “we are not here to elect a Christian”.

    sure, Jesus is Lord, but perhaps we can spare a few pinches of incense for Caesar also?

    http://spectator.org/articles/40033/playing-national-anthem-mennonite-college

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  35. DG: This is a courtroom where you are judge and jury.

    no-fair-zies ; it seems still the market place (Acts 17:17)
    Greg’s reasoning together from the Scriptures? – judge rightly; and be God imitators, not participating in, but even exposing unfruitful deeds of darkness; and saying “Awake and arise from the dead, any of you who are sleepers.” Eph 5 :1-15

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  36. That is what really got those who opposed the Gospel in the New Testament angry and even violent against both Jesus and Paul.

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  37. Hey John Y , hope you are well! And thanks –yep -whole counsel – and most importantly as always, praise be the Lord – how much more has the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleansed our consciences from dead works….. to serve the living God! Heb 9:14

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  38. Saul was so deceived and blind to his own sin at one point in his life that he thought his agreeing to stone Stephan and drag Christians to jail was a moral deed and worthy of God’s blessing.

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  39. I’m OK, Ali. Hangin in there- only 8 weeks left to finish school. Enjoying my spring break this week. The weather in TN is supposed to be in the mid 70’s all week.

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  40. johnyeazel says: Saul was so deceived and blind to his own sin at one point in his life that he thought his agreeing to stone Stephan and drag Christians to jail was a moral deed and worthy of God’s blessing.

    Yep. same for all of us- and you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,indulging the desires of the flesh and of the [e]mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Eph : 1:1-3

    But praise be to God, alone, as always….but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Eph 1:4-10

    johnyeazel says: I’m OK, Ali. Hangin in there- only 8 weeks left to finish school.

    then what for you?

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  41. I’m going to try to find a job with a company that I think will be a good fit for what I think I do the best and one that will allow me to develop my skills. I’m going to try to hold out until I find that but there is no guarantee that I will. I might have to settle for less for awhile. I am planning to relocate somewhere in TN- preferably Chattanooga, the Knoxville area or Nashville.

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  42. One of my sons lives in Atlanta so I really want to go to Chattanooga- only about 90 miles to Atlanta from there.

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  43. Dr. Hart says: “And since you have no experience with a society where Christians regularly eat meat offered to idols, you condemn any association with idolatry as idolatry.”
    You are certainly under no obligation, but clearly you couldn’t have paid attention to a single comment that occurred between Jeff, sdb and myself in the thread you closed Darryl. OR, you can’t read. I’m going with the former.

    Unless you explicitly tell me that you want to see my previous thorough handling of exactly the (quite frankly) preposterous point I have here cited from you, I’m going to leave this alone for now. You aren’t paying attention. That’s ok. You can tune me out, but if what I’m telling is God’s truth like the men who penned your own communion’s standards also believed it was, you cannot hide from the Lord. HE is judge and jury and He always gets His way.

    How much ya wanna bet your friend Albert Mohler sides with me on this too? Ask him.

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  44. Greg, I admit I didn’t savor every comment you, Jeff, or sdb left. But I could say the same for you. I’ve tried to explain how something you think is wicked is not. I’m not forcing you to watch it. Your having no knowledge of something doesn’t prevent you from condemning it.

    How is that fair? And you can’t even see the connection to eating meat offered to idols.

    So the conversation is pointless.

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  45. I admit I didn’t savor every comment you, Jeff, or sdb left.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa… hold it right there smokey. Are you saying you don’t hang on my every comment? I need to re-evaluate the purpose of my life….

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  46. Spunky Ali,
    Define “whole counsel” for me more clearly. I hear that expression all the time and I’m not sure exactly what it means. Does it mean that you have to quit spending so much time arguing about and defending the Gospel? Get past justification and get busy with and more concerned about your progressive sanctification? Enlighten me, please. Do you got moxie too? From what I could gather from others who used that phrase all the time is that they meant that you really need to start conflating Law and Gospel more. In other words, it is usually used as an accusation, threat or warning. However, I certainly could be wrong. I believe Paul used that expression somewhere in the book of Acts.

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  47. @ Greg:

    With regard to DGH and movies, you have two logical options.

    (1) All movies are morally impermissible.
    (2) Some or all movies are morally permissible.

    If you want to claim (1), then you have to avoid the little Revolutionary war films at national parks and stuff, not to mention the in-flight instructions on United.

    If you want to claim (2), then the next obvious question is “Which movies are permissible?” The obvious and practically tautological answer is, “Those movies that do not lead me into sin are permissible for me.”

    I think you want to claim that certain types of movies automatically lead all people into sin. If so, then you really have to establish two points, none of which you have done yet. First, that there is a well-defined class of movie that you’re talking about. Believe it or don’t, but “naked people doing sexual things” is actually vague. You think that it’s clear because you imagine the worst possible case, then pull out that case to argue for seemingly a larger class.

    Second, you have to establish that this well-defined class automatically causes all people to sin.

    Third, you have to explain why, if there is such a class and it does automatically cause all people to sin, why there should be an exception for anyone — such as law enforcement.

    If you can do that from Scripture, then you will have established a good and necessary inference from Scripture, and you have grounds to overture the GA and so on.

    If you can’t, then you’re actually smuggling in a man-made rule through the back door, even if unintentionally. That’s why (I’ll bet a virtual beer) you are getting such pushback and flack from DGH. It’s not, as you imagine, a desire to cover for sin. Rather, it is a kind of move that forces you to clarify your thoughts, which are still fuzzy at least in expression.

    So I say all this in an open manner. Maybe you have a case. Certainly, I would agree with you that watching porn is wrong.

    Lay it all out clearly.

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  48. Yes, it is found in the book of Acts: 20:22-28- “22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” 36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

    John Y: Sounds to me that the whole counsel of God was mostly concerned with the Gospel of grace and warnings that others were going to concentrate on “twisted” things that would draw the sheep away for their gain.

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  49. “It’s not, as you imagine, a desire to cover for sin.”
    It’s good old fashioned idolatry. Plain and simple.
    Take this somewhere else Jeff. The host shut it down right in the middle last time and that thread was far more suited to this discussion than this one. He needs a break.

    Not only that,I’m eyeing this antinoimian, johnyeazel here. Boy, they are everywhere these days.

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  50. johnyeazel says: Spunky Ali,Define “whole counsel”

    Dear spunkier john, what’s with ‘you guys’ who are always suspicious ‘whole counsel’ is code word for not proclaiming the gospel.
    I think that word counsel is used in the ESV, but in the NASB it is (Acts 20:27). For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Whole purpose speaks well to what you’re asking. It’s pretty important to know God’s whole purpose.

    Sure, ‘you guys’ love to bask in being made right with God and escaping the penalty of death then living just as you please 🙂 , but the gospel is God’s deliverance from the penalty, the power, and the presence of sin and His whole plan for those whom He predestined is to become conformed to the image of His Son.

    Sure, even then, it could sound like it’s ‘all about me’, which ‘you guys’ seem to like to highlight, but if you consider the ‘whole counsel’ of God, you will realize it is not ‘all about me’ at all.

    Ps. I see Tennessee is one of the top states for projected job growth in 2016, so that should be encouraging for you.

    Jeff – in your reasoning, did you consider also this primary consideration of the Lord’s – ALL the ways not to be a stumbling block to brothers and to be a witness to non-believers

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  51. Ali says: “Sure, ‘you guys’ love to bask in being made right with God and escaping the penalty of death then living just as you please 🙂 “
    And it’s Ali with the bullseye! They’ll deny that, but that’s exactly what it is. I bet I could save this man some trouble and write his answer for him. (but that would be rude)

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  52. @ Ali: Jeff – in your reasoning, did you consider also this primary consideration of the Lord’s – ALL the ways not to be a stumbling block to brothers and to be a witness to non-believers

    Absolutely. The point of Christian liberty is not the freedom to be selfish, but to love as not under compulsion.

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  53. Jeff says: “The point of Christian liberty is not the freedom to be selfish, but to love as not under compulsion.”
    And Jeff gets the next bullseye. Compulsion is not love. I will add too, that participating in and or abstaining from anything does not effect one’s justification at all either. Striving for obedience is because we love Him. Not because we’re afraid He’ll damn us if we don’t.

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  54. So Greg, John Yeazel makes a few comments and you feel it appropriate to label him an antinomian? Then you high-five Ali after a comment that indicates you both think the contributors here take grace for granted, cheapening it through continued sinful lifestyles. Can you not reflect for a moment and think, “hey, maybe I’m a little over the top?”

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  55. D.G.,
    Perhaps those who struggle with addiction will see more benefit from the message of the bishops than you will. How we hear messages partially depends on our won personal context. So I am puzzled why you are making an issue of this.

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  56. johnyeazel says: Sounds to me that the whole counsel of God was mostly concerned with the Gospel of grace and warnings that others were going to concentrate on “twisted” things that would draw the sheep away for their gain.

    Mrbefree: a comment that indicates you both think the contributors here take grace for granted, cheapening it through continued sinful lifestyles.

    cw l’unificateur: Maybe Turbs and Alikins see mental movies of others actions (rated ???) à la Mark Driscoll. How else could they know so much so accurately? Not a chance of misstep or overreach here. Not a chance.

    Loved this this am: “On a third note, may I humbly request that we stop making charges of ninth commandment violations every time someone writes something that we don’t like or agree with?” Rick Phillips
    !!!!!!

    Mrbefree, ‘you guys’ was to whoever felt convicted they were a you-guy, not all contributors here

    cw, ‘splain, please? You gonna make me weep again about a pastor I had highly supported, yet do now forgive? Love, Alikins

    John-the-spunkier, please read the whole Bible for the whole counsel of warnings, including what you are saying AND e.g what Jesus’s own half brother’s James and Jude focused on.

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  57. Greg, good conversation is difficult when one of the people feels like the rodent in whack-a-mole. Try engaging with the individuals thoughts and perspective, see where it leads.

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  58. mrbfree, it’s even more hampered when one of them thinks his opinion always aligns with not only every single WCF divine but also the host of heaven and needs to be shoved down the other’s throat. Then again, if one relishes irony, it’s fantastic.

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  59. and speaking of whack-a-mole (WAM), mrbefree – everything is just not…. ‘legalism’

    the ‘youguys’ might be those charging that speaking His whole word is … WAM… ‘legalism’ (even though the whole word is what the Lord says the Spirit uses to transform us); or ‘youguys’ might be those advising eliminating the word ‘ submit’ because ….WAM ‘legalism’ (even though the Lord says, in that case, the devil will flee); or ‘youguys’ might be those who refuse to follow Paul’s pattern of ‘ therefores’ because – WAM…‘legalism’; or ‘youguys’ could be those who love to spend time dividing, defending one’s own gospel-proclaiming better than WAM.. all those many inept, legalism-only-proclaimers; or ‘youguys’ might be ear-ticklers using ever more clever, newer, upbeat ways to proclaim ‘ no strings attached’ freedom

    mrbefree – be free ….therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose
    1 Pet 4:1

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  60. CW, I stand corrected. One would feel like an insectivore in whack-a-mole. Or maybe the game should be whack-a-shrew?

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  61. I keep trying to leave this alone for now Darryl, I really do, but your boys keep drawing me back in. I do not wish for my third sowering after you have been so gracious as to lift it twice.
    Chortles says: “one of them thinks his opinion always aligns with not only every single WCF divine but also the host of heaven”
    My views on modern cinematic entertainment absolutely do. This is the blog of a thoroughly qualified and capable church historian. 2 years I’ve been around here, and nobody, including him, has so much as even attempted to overthrow my assertion that the whole of historic reformed orthodoxy, including every single Westminster Divine, would have been aghast and appalled at the very suggestion that the God of the bible considers THIS as anything less than an abomination in His holy sight. No matter HOW profound and artistic we think it is.

    See, I keep after HIM because he is not just the average pew dweller. He has a mountain of historical knowledge and having pickled himself in the mindset of Presbyterian and Reformed history, he KNOWS that those men would have marked him and anybody else who promoted such things as a moral heretic, in bondage to the world and to be avoided as such. Other people possibly not so much, but HE absolutely KNOWS that. Don’t ya Darryl? He himself calls participation in these productions a violation of the 7th commandment (we still have barely touched the 3rd) in light of the catechism and then proclaims his righteous liberty to do it anyway. No other force in the history of the planet has the power to intellectually contort a brilliant man like this does.

    All any of you has to do is document where I’m wrong and you could shut me up forever. Instead I get:
    “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, so there!!!”

    Nobody ever even tries to make the case that I’m wrong about the historic reformed church and for sure Darryl never EVER will. We will never see it on this screen. Instead he will simply continue on as a living breathing contradiction.

    I refuse to believe that the Lord of glory will leave him like this. My very fervent prayer is that he be delivered from this snare and begin to use His generous gifts, ESPECIALLY his knowledge of reformed history, to restore the truth about crippling worldliness and carnality in media to 21st century Presbyterianism. You only laugh because you have not seen God do in people what I’ve seen Him do. Including myself.

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  62. Greg, that was me. Good thing I’m not Erik or that minor discrepancy would be blown completely out of proportion (inside jab for Erik who I’m sure is a-lurking). From whack-a-mole to mountains-out-of-molehills.

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  63. JRC: “The point of Christian liberty is not the freedom to be selfish, but to love as not under compulsion.”

    GtG: …bullseye. Compulsion is not love.

    OK. So the next step is to recognize that we as shepherds have several responsibilities in order to create the environment for loving-as-not-under-compulsion.

    First, we have to uphold genuine Christian liberty, which goes hand-in-hand with the Regulative Principle. We do not create man-made rules for others to follow. Scripture citations will readily come to mind, but Col 2.9 is one of the strongest.

    Second, we also refrain from judging (a) matters outside the commands of God (Rom 14.3 – 4), or (b) individuals outside our jurisdiction (1 Cor 5.12-13).

    This raises an obvious problem, since there will be questions and controversies as to whether some matter — say, watching “The Wire” — constitutes a violation of Scripture.

    There is an appropriate body tasked with answering that question, which is the Session for members and Presbytery for TEs.


    As a side point an online forum, say the Old Life Theological Society, is not that appropriate body. We can discuss right or wrong in principle, but moving beyond that to declaring someone to be sinning is not our business unless they are sinning against ourselves.

    The colloquial phrase is, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

    In light of that, I find the whole line of discussion here to be really problematic. If watching The Wire is a sin, the DGH’s session or presbytery needs to know. If it isn’t, what are we yelling about?

    I’ve put forward what I believe to be the Scriptural principle. If a movie causes me to sin, I shouldn’t watch it; otherwise, I may.

    That principle of course extends under charity: If a movie would cause Greg to sin, I shouldn’t watch it with him or encourage him to see it.

    Can anyone give a good reason to sharpen this principle further?

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  64. Jeff, I think the principle you’ve described is sound. Can I also suggest Christian brothers and sisters should charitably approach each other if they think one might be in sin? This before getting the session involved. We are to pray for and exhort each other.

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  65. (We really should take this somewhere else Jeff. Even though we are all equally participating, I’ll be the one blamed)
    The same Godly minds who wrote WCF XX also wrote WLC 91 through the ten commandments Jeff. They did not see ALLLLL those boundaries as man made contradictions of a biblical understanding of “liberty of conscience” like you do at all. Sound perty dern dogmatic and unbending to me. I agree with them. Why don’t you?
    ==============================================
    Question 97: What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate

    Answer: Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them: How much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.
    =============================================
    See? It’s not that anybody should obey them in order to be right with God (an impossibility), nor even primarily to save others from stumbling. But out of thankfulness for His grace in saving them from the curse of disobedience. If you love him that’s what you fight the Romans 7 war toward. Those who aren’t fighting that war, but have made peace with the enemy are deceiving themselves. They are what the apostle of love called, “practitioners of sin”. Those for whom flagrant open disobedience is the settled norm. (1st John 3) He tells us not to let anyone deceive us. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious. (verse 10)

    There’s only one circus brother. All the monkeys belong to the same Jesus and therefore one another. My authority comes not from me, but from His word and in the case of Presbyterians, the standards as well. I have no pope sir and I assume you don’t ether. So, here we are again. Shut me up for good and prove me wrong or repent. OR, kick me out and do whatever you want. Your problem is not with me. I’m just the messenger. The fact is I’m standing on your foundation and you’re not. Somebody showing me that would p1$$ me off too. One of the reasons I try so hard never let myself get in that position.

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  66. Greg, huh? Nobody has ever disagreed that obedience is borne out of gratitude and never from self-justification.

    How does that translate into watching something like “The Wire” is plainly sinful? We get it, you have a visceral pious opinion about a certain worldly amusement and it sends you into orbit. But you talk about film the way Baptists talk about beer–at first it sounds like something substantive is there, but all it ends up being is the ranting of a glorified moralist over a thing indifferent.

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  67. @ Greg: I have no objection to the Westminster Standards, except for an accepted dissent on the mode of Sabbath observance.

    I do object to an additional “Challies test.”

    I object to a blanket test for lasciviousness based on body parts shown.

    I also, as a matter of opinion, think this is the wrong venue for charges of idolatry.

    The Internet is a weird medium: instant yet permanent. Would you carve a monument inscribed “Darryl Hart is an idolater”? Yet such is the ‘Net.

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  68. You are a substantive conversationalist Jeff. Good points to talk about. I have to be pretty much offline for several hours again. You don’t have somewhere else to talk about this? I fear he’s going to toss me if I continue to speak plainly here, especially in this thread, which is not about this topic. It’s important to me that he (and you) believe that I am not trying to take this man down. I was when I first got here in early 14, but I have since reconsidered.

    He would understand much better if I could get him to email me ( tiribulus@yahoo.com ), but he won’t do it. I understand that I suppose.

    Oh yeah. I was preemptively repelling the charge of justification by rule keeping. Not saying that YOU believed that.

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  69. Sorry for not replying back sooner and defending the antinomian accusation from Greg- I was on my way out the door yesterday with that last comment and just got back. I think everyone is under obligation to obey every commandment and law that God gives in the Scriptures- although I now believe Old Testament Law has been replaced with New Testament Law in the New Covenant. How many are really obeying the sermon on the mount? Obligation does not assume ability. Anyone who thinks they are obeying every command and law from God is delusional and is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. I think the main thrust of Paul’s “whole counsel (or purpose) of God” phrase was the Gospel of grace that those who opposed Paul were not accurately proclaiming and teaching- nor did they understand it. Paul was given the ministry, revelation and deepest understanding of the Gospel and was then commissioned to proclaim it to the nations. Again, those who were opposing Paul were not teaching, proclaiming or fully understanding the Gospel and therefore were not proclaiming the whole counsel or purpose of God. They were “twisting” the Gospel and Paul would have nothing to do with them.

    The Law is not the Gospel and subtly bringing others “under the Law” again is not good news. When my focus turns to obeying commandments and laws my sin increases. I think that is a common human experience unless you want to suppress that truth in unrighteousness. Righteousness that is pleasing to God can only be found “in Christ.” If this makes me an antinomian then so be it. I still can’t obey the sermon the mount fully but I have a better chance of obeying it when my focus is on the Gospel and not on the Law that the Sermon is proclaiming and teaching.

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  70. Reality won’t let you do as you please We sinners still try but we don’t get very far with it without lots of destruction and harm taking place.

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  71. Dr Hart asks: “Greg, the Divines disapproved of Shakespeare. Should I repent of having taking two courses as an undergrad on the Bard?”
    I don’t know. I don’t know much about Shakespeare. I tried to read something years ago, because ya know, smart sophisticated people read Shakespeare right? I wanted to be smart and sophisticated. I don’t think I made it an hour. I was bored silly and determined that if reading this waste of time is what smart sophisticated people did, I’d just have to be an ignorant philistine. (I bet you think it worked 😀 ) I went back to reading theology books.

    I’d have to know some things first and only scripture is inerrant and infallible. Of course I recognize that.

    Was this disapproval only of attending the plays, or of reading them as well? Was disapproval in the case of Shakespeare the same as sin? Did it matter to them what the purpose was? As has been noted, law enforcement must at times view child pornography in the course of pursuing and arresting deviant criminals. This is far different than the motivation of the criminals.

    Does Shakespeare qualify as sinful under their exposition of the commandments in the catechism?

    One of the most important considerations in my view is whether people were required to commit blasphemy and or immorality in the production and performance of these plays? Of course none were in the written versions. There is a vast difference between literature and true to life cinematic realism produced with living people? Of course anything that induces one to think sinfully is sin for them. Which is not the same as saying that if it does not induce them to think sinfully, then it is ipso facto therefore NOT sin for them.

    I’m not trying to rub this in your face. I mean that. The one time you actually explicitly conceded that watching sexual content was a violation of the 7th commandment, you didn’t even mention the standards.

    I thought that moment of clarity was heartening and that, along with a couple other things, softened my heart toward you. The standards aren’t even needed to know this stuff is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. They do provide me an exrtra weapon with Presbyterians though, and are sincerely in my view the best non theopnuestos statement of the Christian faith there will likely ever be.

    You’ll notice I did not say a word last June when you posted that. Despite the fact that my inbox was burning up with demands that I do. I didn’t jump on you then and I’m not jumping on you now. I would have loved to carry on this conversation in private, but you will not email me. I tell you before our Lord Darryl. I mean this as no jab. The reason you are engaging me on this now, despite my explicit attempts to move on, is because your conscience is bothering you. You can deny that all you want, but yes it is. Your parents were far righter than you want to give them credit for.

    As Paul told the saints at Corinth (in principle). These modern media “performances” are of such a nature as was unheard of even among the unchurched pagans of Shakespeare’s England. There is just no way that you can go to your knees in prayer and tell the blindingly holy God of the reformation, who dwells in approachable light, that He approves of this. Just no possible way and you know that.

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  72. Greg, lots of questions that lead to all sorts of qualifications. But when I disagree with the Divines by watching a movie of which you disapprove, I am guilty of violating my ordination vows and leading the OPC down the path of destruction.

    Your point was that the Divines would not approve nudity in movies. Full stop.

    I say they disapprove Shakespeare. You take your foot off the brake and raise all sorts of qualifying questions.

    You don’t see some inconsistency? Or, you don’t see that applying religious truths might be more complicated than Tim Challies’ silly test?

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  73. Dr. Hart says: “[You say] I am… leading the OPC down the path of destruction.”
    I did not say that anywhere here Darryl. You won’t find it. You’re not leading the OPC anywhere. You’re a symptom of her last few decades of permissive drift from her moral roots. You COULD be leading her, which IS my point.

    There are otherwise solid young pastors I get in my feed everyday who love the Lord, but are already ensnared in the confused and conflated categories of false “liberty” that is one of the hallmarks of this site. You could be a glorious instrument in the hands of the Lord in leading the way back to the power and purity of Westminster. You are gifted, educated AND experienced exactly to this task. It would be my abundant tearful joy to see this happen.

    Dr. Hart says: “Your point was that the Divines would not approve nudity in movies. Full stop.”
    Yes, but this is also far more than just nudity Darryl. We’re not talking about some medieval painting.

    Dr. Hart says: “I say they disapprove Shakespeare. You take your foot off the brake and raise all sorts of qualifying questions. You don’t see some inconsistency?”
    No, because the standards are the standard. The product of a long pursued and well considered consensus. The boundaries they set in the catechism are right and good and thoroughly consistent with the instincts and intuitions we find exemplified by the saints of the bible. How well or consistently they applied them as individuals in their own lives is another story. That’s why I asked:

    “Does Shakespeare qualify as sinful under their exposition of the commandments in the catechism?”

    Modern Television and movies clearly do. Any dispute of that fact doesn’t even pass the snicker test. I mean not even you question that. You simply declare them wrong. Except when you don’t, like in the screenshot above. Your ordination vows are to the standards. If Shakespeare violates those standards then yes, you need to repent of violating your vows.

    Let’s talk about “slam dunks” for a minute. See, you pull out Shakespeare because you believe that his works are of such unquestionable importance and universal reverence that they overpower any and every other consideration in a discussion like this. The standard then becomes, not scripture or even your ordination vows to uphold the confession and catechisms, but art and culture. This is the leading version of idolatry in our day and you are only one in an innumerably vast multitude of modern professing Christians who is practicing it. Susan is too as a matter of fact.

    Perhaps the clearest example of this is when somebody, chest out and chin high, confidently sends Michelangelo’s David after me in the defense of artistic nudity. Now, whether that specific piece, or nudity in general is sinful or not, is not the point. The point is that the very mention of it is treated as a triumphant “slam dunk” from which all right thinking folk are obligated to retreat. Hence, art and culture have usurped the scriptures and reformed orthodoxy as the standard by which such determinations are made. Michelangelo (or Shakespeare or _________) is thereby made the first principle to which even the Lord our God is made to bow. The very definition of idolatry.

    Dr. Hart says: “Or, you don’t see that applying religious truths might be more complicated than Tim Challies’ silly test?”
    Challies test is nothing more than the second great commandment applied to this specific area of modern life Darryl. If it would be sin for myself or my loved ones to do it (whatever IT may be, in this case sexual performances), then it IS sin for me to pay my neighbor, whom I am commanded to love as myself, to do it for me. It really IS just that simple.

    Your convoluted attempts at creating a complex infinitely “nuanced” ethical conundrum out of what actually IS a plain “slam dunk”, is a self justifying escape mechanism. There is no way I can believe that you don’t know that. Have you ever even once thought to ask God himself in prayer to give you His wisdom in this area? Ever? Once? You should. He promises. (James 1:5) Or are you simply certain out of hand that you don’t need His wisdom because the “slam dunk” of art and culture has already given you all the answers you need?

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  74. Lately i’ve taken up playing Qbert online, but there’s some problems in keeping my righteous walk straight; he says something that might be cursing when he dies, and I’ve kind of made him commit suicide about 35,000 times (by deliberately jumping into the abyss) just to get to the end of a game gone back too early.

    Please advise

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  75. If the catechism forbids Shakespeare (which I don’t know if it does or not), you are in sin for violating your vows and for violating whatever commandment the catechism is addressing in that instance. You are operating under the assumption that the catechism faithfully represents God’s mind in the scriptures on that commandment or why would you take such vows?

    If sin was committed (according to the catechism) in the course of performing the play, then it is sin for anybody to encourage and facilitate it by watching (here it comes 😉 ). If no specific sin was committed (according to the catechism) in the course of performing the play, but some content or other induces YOU to sin (whatever that might be, just allowing for the possibility), then it is sin for YOU to participate in it. Because if no sin was committed in the course of the performance (according to the catechism), it is morally indifferent and therefore left to the liberty of the individual conscience.

    A quick and easy conscience check (for those with a conscience), is the Challies test. If I know it would be sin for myself or my loved ones to do it (whatever IT may be), then it IS sin for me to encourage and facilitate it in my neighbor, whom I am commanded to love as myself. (*according to WLC Q99) It really IS just that simple.

    *WLC 99 “… What God forbids, is at no time to be done;: What he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto. That: What is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places. That in: What is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in: What is forbidden them. “

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  76. Greg, you don’t let me bring up historical anachronisms but this is precisely where your critique fails epicly. You judge me for departing from the divines on the films I watch.

    But by that standard, you and I stand condemned on a host of fronts because the Divines would oppose far more of the modern world than nudity if movies. Are you willing to go there?

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  77. The films you watch are themselves a symptom Darryl. If all you did was stop watching them, you may be worse off than you are now.

    I’m not perfect and I don’t know everything, but I’m willing to go anywhere. Please proceed.

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  78. johnyeazel, I wrote the following for a Facebook confrontation a few months ago:
    ===============================
    One can never be more justified than the moment God declares him so. He is also then positionally sanctified in the sense of being irreversibly set apart and sealed against the day of final redemption. This external reality is ALWAYS accompanied by regeneration and a living faith. Which is the internal reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and new life in Christ.

    Personal sanctification is the inevitable lifelong though usually uneven progress of this internal reality working itself outward in word, thought and deed.

    Conversion would be this whole process that begins at justification and ends at the resurrection. (in a nutshell)

    Lazarus is the perfect illustration. He played absolutely NO part in raising himself from death to life. However, once raised, he DID walk outta that tomb. Had he laid there stiff and stinking with no heartbeat or respiration, NObody would have believed he had been raised and quite rightly so. There are certain universally present characteristics among the living. That this goes for new life in Christ just as well, is everywhere proclaimed in scripture.

    I do NOT preach works righteousness and neither do I lay undue, anti-gospel, legalistic burdens on anybody.
    My heartbreak is the false, Satanic, anti-Christian assurance being handed to multitudes that will have them shocked at the judgement seat when they find out some libertine anti (third use) nomian heretic told them they were justified despite the utter non existence of any biblical support for that claim.

    Ya’ll do what you want. You can bring me one thousand Dr. who and so seminary professors and you will never EVER overthrow what I have just said from Scripture. One more time. The Roman’s 7 war is the greatest evidence that one’s faith is living and true. A person not engaged in that war, yet with the name of Jesus on their lips is a liar and anyone aiding and abetting that lie will pay for their lies just like they will.

    1 Cor 5 absolutely COMMANDS this kind of judgement. For the good of the individual, the church and the reputation of the risen Christ. A person waging the Romans 7 war evinces new life in Christ. A man who tells me to f***off in Jesus name if I tell him that his affair with his secretary is sin is a false convert. At least he is to be treated as such at present or 1 Cor. 5 is a lie. I humbly challenge you to read THIS

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  79. Greg,

    Why the implication that I would tell you to f*** off in Jesus name if you confronted me with a sin like that? I would need something more like a Divine intervention than just a human confrontation if that occurred. I do believe that someone who has been elect before the foundations of the world may commit a sin like that and still be given the gift repentance. I just wanted to make that clear before trying to deal with your other concerns. I thought I already did that in my last comment. Why not make the comment more direct and personally aimed than just copying and pasting a facebook comment that might have been aimed towards someone else?

    I have no problems with your first paragraph. I think I would probably disagree with the intent and implications of your second paragraph. I probably understand sanctification differently than you do. I definitely disagree with your third paragraph because there is the implication that there is a justification based on final works that results in conversion. How is that any different than what the Catholics believe?

    In regards to Lazarus, who is claiming that there is no life given with justification? The Spirit is life because of righteousness imputed.

    You say, “I do NOT preach works righteousness and neither do I lay undue, anti-gospel, legalistic burdens on anybody.” I don’t know anyone who does lay legalistic burdens on others admits that they do so.

    It is possible to have a false assurance based on a lot of things other than the complete and perfect work of Christ for His elect? I think that you are trying to base assurance on your works. I feel your “heartbreak” in that regard but I think God can handle calling His elect to Himself. He really does not need your help. Those who are elect will not have a false assurance.

    You seem to be in battle mode 24/7/365. Do you ever lighten up a bit? I have to admit I can relate with that and I often need others to tell me to lighten up some. I once read John Owen’s, MORTIFICATION OF SIN, and got in battle mode for almost 2 years straight. It only made my sin worse because I did not know the Gospel then even though I thought I did.

    I will take up the challenge to read your link later- have to go for now.

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  80. Is there such a thing as a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person whose thoughts words and deeds remain unchanged from before they were a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person John?

    Can a man be raised from death in sin in the first man Adam, into new eternal life in the last, be given the mind of the exalted Christ and be made a partaker of the very divine nature itself, and nobody can tell?

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  81. Greg, I did not say anything close to what you are accusing me of saying. A lot changes when God effectually calls His elect by the Gospel and declares a person justified. A major change that occurs is that the person is brought to a genuine Gospel repentance and quits trying to establish his own righteousness. Nor does he continue to look down upon and condescend towards those whose righteousness is as lacking as his own anymore. He no longer pretends or sits on high as judge and jury over others thoughts, words and deeds. His sinful pride has been crushed. He truly believes that he is helpless in regards to producing a righteousness by anything he does or anything that is done in him that will measure up to the righteous standard that God’s Holy Law commands. Only Christ’s atoning work for His elect can measure up to this standard and God reckons and accounts Christ’s work to His elect when He places that individual into Christ’s death. That person has then truly died and been crucified with Christ. He truly repents of his own meager righteousness that his sin has deceived him into believing is enough to merit God’s justifying him. He is no longer enamored by his own internal righteousness and it becomes a secondary issue. He no longer goes around and pinpoints where others are lacking. What that person who has experienced Gospel repentance does begin to see more clearly are those who think their internal righteousness is enough or who continue want to make it the sole focus. That’s a huge change and the most major one too.

    I know you are still going to want to press the issue of the conduct changes but until Gospel repentance has occurred that is a mute point. Conduct changes can occur by the power of the flesh. And those who want to continually go there are controlled by their flesh. It is not the obvious sins that cause the most problems- it is the subtle and self-righteous sins that do. I don’t know how anyone can make any sense of many of the Gospel stories, parables, etc. without having the insight into this essential Gospel truth.

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  82. Don’t hear me saying that morality done in the flesh does not have some value in getting ahead in this life either. It is highly regarded and that is how we judge others for the most part. That’s just the way it is. There are too many variables as to why some are more moral than others. Peoples internal lives are highly complicated and to think you understand why someone acts the way they do after a few blog comments is not living in reality. It is also not living in reality to think that some deeply ingrained behavioral patterns are going to change right after the effectual call by the Gospel either. A lot depends on what has happened to the person in his life and what happens after- again, lots of variable here. I’d rather err on the side of mercy and not be so quick to bring condemnation- do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.

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  83. I could make some improvements on what I have said in my last two comments. I’m sure if the dialog continues that the problems with some of my comments will be exposed. It is probably better if I just wait until further comments are made by anyone else. I’m sure I probably have my own blind spots and things I need to be corrected about also. So, I am all ears to any constructive and valid criticism. Perhaps God will be gracious to me and give me ears to hear.

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  84. GtG: Is there such a thing as a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person whose thoughts words and deeds remain unchanged from before they were a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person John?

    And the answer is of course No.

    The real question is how you could tease that implication out of anything that has been said.

    Did anyone say “Sin is A-OK”? Cause I’ve been around these parts for a really long time, and I have never once heard anyone say that.

    Here is a list of things that do not mean “It is OK to sin”

    * We are worse than we think we are.
    * No good thing resides in the flesh.
    * We cannot use law-keeping to increase our sanctification
    * We need to continually fall back on our justification in Christ’s imputed righteousness because we sin daily in thought, word, and deed.
    * X rule for righteousness is not found in Scripture.

    So if you encounter any of those statements and are tempted to say, “Aha! Those folk think that it’s OK to sin!”, please remember that those statements do not mean that.

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  85. I didn’t tease any implications or accuse. I asked a question Jeff. You answered it correctly. This is the question:
    Is there such a thing as a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person whose thoughts words and deeds remain unchanged from before they were a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person John?

    Can a man be raised from death in sin in the first man Adam, into new eternal life in the last, be given the mind of the exalted Christ and be made a partaker of the very divine nature itself, and nobody can tell?

    It’s a simple question. With a simple answer Jeff. Thank God you also saw it as simple AND “obvious”. The biblical 2 letter answer is “no”. YOU WIN!!! 😀

    Now. Compare that with johnyeazel’s 4 responses consisting of 632 words, but no answer. Trust me. I’ve been through this with these guys at least a hundred times. I am not going to get him to say that new instincts and sensibilities shown by a desire to think, live and talk in a way that is pleasing to God is the evidence of justification.

    He is in with a crew that has taught him hyper Lutheran, forensic positional justification only. Which in their thoroughly antinomian view, is possible with no discernible change to one’s life whatsoever. Which of course is everywhere rejected in scripture. They’ll say they affirm the third use out of one side of their mouth and deny it by everything else they say out of the other.

    Their claim is that ANY affirmation of personal sanctification as showing your faith by your works is Galatian judaizing . They say (in a nutshell) that since FULL obedience to the law is the requirement for justification under it, that therefore, obedience plays NO part whatsoever in the New Covenant beyond being a pretty good option. A preposterous anti-biblical non-sequitur. If he says he doesn’t believe any of this, he will have my sincere and public repentance and apology.

    Let’s see what he says.

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  86. I want to know the crew you think I am in with. I already stated that changes occur with a person who has been justified and sanctified by the Gospel. Yeah, others will be able to tell the difference. He won’t be constantly on the watch for how others are progressing in their sanctification. He knows that only growth in grace is caused by an increasing knowledge of the Gospel and a constant reminder of what the Gospel is and what it accomplished. The power is in the Gospel. Obedience stems from gratitude for what Christ has done for His elect- namely, the continual guarantee for the forgiveness of the elects sins. Me’s thinks that you see what you want to see and disregard the rest.

    Galatian judaizing occurs when the sinner wants to continue establishing his own righteousness. He may even give credit to the enablement of the Spirit. That is evidence for lack of belief in the work that Christ won at the cross. The elect can only boast in the cross of Christ. You want to take my focus off the cross of Christ and put it on a transformed life. I refuse to do that. You want me to say what you want me to say in a way you want me to say it. I am purposely not saying it in the way you want me to say it.

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  87. johnyeazel says: “I already stated that changes occur with a person who has been justified and sanctified by the Gospel. Yeah, others will be able to tell the difference. “
    Excellent!! This isn’t perfect, but it’s enough. I do hereby most joyously repent and ask your forgiveness.
    Now, go tell Scott Price, Christos Maranatha (especially him) and David A-Man Hobson this and see what happens. Because, I know for a fact that all three of them relentlessly proclaim everything I said above. You use VERY similar, in fact pretty much identical language to them, and there they are at the top of your friends list.

    “The power is in the Gospel. Obedience stems from gratitude for what Christ has done for His elect- namely, the continual guarantee for the forgiveness of the elects sins.”
    I couldn’t agree more. I have no doubt whatsoever of my blood bought security in Christ. Not because I strive to obey and please Him. (that’s how others know) Oh no sir, I strive to obey and please Him out of adoring gratitude that is inexpressible any other way.

    “Galatian judaizing occurs when the sinner wants to continue establishing his own righteousness. He may even give credit to the enablement of the Spirit. That is evidence for lack of belief in the work that Christ won at the cross. The elect can only boast in the cross of Christ.”
    Galatian judaizing occurs when any work or ritual is seen as a requirement in addition to the cross without which justification will not be granted. I believe that’s what you’re saying so yes, I agree here too 🙂

    That’s tremendous, but those guys will disagree with both of us. Btw. David Bishop? You practically must know that name. He’s one of their most notorious (and obnoxious) champions.

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  88. Bingo, Greg. You’re right, I do know all the names you mentioned. You must have a different name when you comment on any of their sites. Or, they are frequenting a site that I don’t go to very often- that is a possibility. I really don’t frequent many blog sites. I do read a lot of the posts at oldlife. McCulley has taught me the most. I do draw a lot from him but I can’t say he would agree with everything I say. Nor would I blame him for any errors I may have in my theological beliefs. You failed to use the hyper word. That is the most commonly used objection to where I am coming from. I appreciate the graciousness of your repentance.

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  89. Ok, but do know this John. If you agree with me, unless he has totally revised his theology, then McCulley disagrees with both of us too. (Mcmark LOL! That one’s kinda funny Darryl)

    MCMARK, ya need to straighten out yer boy here. He has gone on record saying that an improved personal life is the inevitable result when a person has been justified and sanctified by the Gospel, AND (GASP!!) that others will (eventually) be able to tell the difference too! This is an entirely unacceptable state of affairs. Ya need to get on this before he starts goin around caring about how well he represents Christ before a dying world n stuff like that. After all you’ve done to prevent this?!?!?!?! It won’t do.

    I think I was wrong about you John. At least I hope so. Which I’d much rather be the case than having been right. I mean this with all the heartfelt sincerity there is. You are trying to have one foot on each side of this fence brother. Or it sure does look like it. I understand and the line CAN be fine. It is just as fatal to attach any kind or degree of performance to the cross for justification as it is to declare that justification can exist without the life of Christ and it’s vital signs.

    The illustration of Lazarus remains perfect. (Mcmark will regrettably not agree though)

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  90. You’re putting words in my mouth, Greg. I was very careful in the way I worded my comment. You might want to read it again. I never said an improved personal life. That really is no guarantee or promise from believing the Gospel. I said people will notice the change from someone who was once thinking that some form of his own righteousness (inherent or infused) was an integral part of his justification before God instead of the work of Christ won at the cross. Internal righteousness can never be in competition with the righteousness of Christ. Only Christ’s righteousness is acceptable to a Holy God. Growth in grace occurs as that bond of the gift of faith in the object of the work of Christ gets stronger. I think others noticed when Paul quit trying to stone and drag Christians to prison. Something drastic happened to him.

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  91. I should have said, something drastic happened to him that made him totally change his mind about how one gets justified before God. You could say it was a complete paradigm shift- how’s that?

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  92. Ok John. I take everything back. My initial assessment was correct after all. You’re an antinomian heretic like Mcmark and the rest of em. Glad we finally got that cleared up, but it does bum me out.
    ===========================================
    Dr Hart says: “Greg, you don’t let me bring up historical anachronisms but this is precisely where your critique fails epicly. You judge me for departing from the divines on the films I watch.

    But by that standard, you and I stand condemned on a host of fronts because the Divines would oppose far more of the modern world than nudity if movies. Are you willing to go there?

    The films you watch are themselves a symptom Darryl. If all you did was stop watching them, you may be worse off than you are now.

    I’m not perfect and I don’t know everything, but I’m willing to go anywhere. Please proceed.

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  93. That’s a slang expression, Greg. I can’t dis my misfit gang either. They’re the only ones who did not give up on me.

    David at the Cave of Adullam
    1 David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him.

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  94. johnyeazel says: “I said people will notice the change from someone who was once thinking that some form of his own righteousness (inherent or infused) was an integral part of his justification before God instead of the work of Christ won at the cross.”
    What will be different about them that people will notice this?

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  95. Greg, You’ll bear fruit by abiding in the vine. “Were the Elder Brother and the Prodigal Brothers really brothers? Those who assume that all humans are brothers like to focus on the elder brother’s refusal to say that the one who came home was his brother. My question: WERE they brothers? If the elder brother goes on never repenting of his legalism, is he in the family of God?
    Though Cain and Abel are brothers in the flesh, both creatures of God, made in the image of God, both are not saved from God’s wrath for their sins.”

    As Christ’s righteousness is the only merit that can exalt us to the presence and to the kingdom of God; so that doctrine alone is to be considered as evangelical which depresses the righteousness of man, and exalts the righteousness of Christ: leading us to trust, not on what we do, but singly on what He has done and suffered for us.
    The business of the Law is to knock us down from the pedestal of self-confidence, and to grind us small; as Moses ground to powder, and dispersed, the materials of the Israelitish idol. The business of Grace is to lift us from the dust, to settle us upon Christ the rock of ages, to put a new song of free salvation into our mouths.

    Augustus Toplady

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  96. It’s not that anything you just said is not true John. The trouble is the denial of the inescapable, in your face biblical truth that what you just said never happens without the trajectory of a person’s moral life radically changing directions from the inside out.

    Imagine if Zacheus (Luke 19) had said: “Well thank you Jesus. I’ll keep in mind the fact that I don’t have my own righteousness as I continue so screw my fellow Jews out of Roman tax money.”

    Do you think Matthew would have also been allowed to continue as a crooked tax collector as he became an apostle? (Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17 and Luke 5:27-28)

    Why didn’t he tell the rich young ruler that he could keep all his riches as long as he believed he couldn’t bring God his own righteousness? (Matthew 19:16–30, Mark 10:17–31 and Luke 18:18–30)

    What if the 7 demons had remained in Mary Magdalene and she went about her immorality, joyfully proclaiming that it made no difference because she had now had a change of heart about her self righteousness as a hooker? (Luke 8:2) (for examples)

    Is the following the kind of conversation I should be envisioning?:
    ———————————————————-
    The subject of religion comes up between old friends Sam and Bill.

    Sam) I don’t believe all that God crap. Good grief. I wanna do what I wanna do.

    Bill) I do, I’m a Christian.

    Sam) Really? When did this happen?

    Bill) Maybe 10 years ago or so.

    Sam) Ok, but wasn’t it you who showed me how to scam the cable company and get free channels? And wasn’t it you who linked me to all the best porn sites? And who who goes with me to see all these movies that are practically porn too? And isn’t that you out drinking and cursing and picking up girls with me while Sally is at home with the kids none the wiser, because you tell her you were at business parties? Now you’re telling you converted to Christianity 10 years ago? I had no idea. How does that work?

    Bill) Yeah, but you’re thinking of that false legalistic kind of Christianity. True followers of Jesus are those who know that they could never have their own righteousness and are assured of their place in heaven no what matter what they say or do. So you see, that fact that you couldn’t tell that I’d been born again from death in sin to new life in Christ has nothing to do with anything. I simply trust Jesus for my acceptance with God. Don’t forget to call Tony and make sure he has our dope for tonight with whats’ er name and what’s er name.
    —————————————————————-
    Help me understand how this is not what your guys brand of soteriology amounts to please.

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  97. Adultery, drugs, porn, drinking and cursing. But, where’s the rock and roll? Gotta have the Rock and Roll. And what about dancing?! Gotta have the dancing. And what about girls who chew?! Gotta have girls that chew?! And then you left out your calling card, R-rated movies! Gotta really have that! you’re slipping, Greg. You’ve been around here too long. We’re getting to you. Your hypotheticals are getting lax. You need to repent and forever flee the deleterious effects this site is having on you. If you don’t then I will never believe your repentance is sincere, no matter how much bolding and adjectives and adverbs you bring to bear on the subject. It will all register as false. Btw, Baylor needs you. They’re all dancers now and they have college minds of mush, think of the impact you could have! You’re ignoring your real calling, Waco Texas.

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  98. Greg, because you completely misconstrue what an emphasis on grace really means, and whatever it means it doesn’t include an absence of obedience.

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  99. Sean,

    If I say I’m feeling your love will you go all agape on me? There is really, from the perspective I have experienced in my life, a telling tale in all this dialog- one that I have been pushing for many years. How come the borderline self-righteous, who are totally oblivious to their self-righteousness, never get the severe discipline that the obvious sinners do? There are a few instances in the New Testament where Paul has to come down hard on the obvious sinner. However, one of the most beautiful passages in 2 Corinthians is when Paul accepts the obvious sinner back into fellowship. I have heard many commentators claim that this is not the same guy that was disciplined in the first letter to the Corinthians – go figure. You can’t read the New Testament and notice the severe anger of Jesus and Paul towards those who were causing havoc among the brethren due to their legalism that they continuously denied They have long and discombobulated arguments as to why they are not legalistic too. They seem to be on the constant lookout for anyone exhibiting libertine types of behavior, i.e., the antimonians. I’m fully aware of what happened to Billy Graham’s relative (I avoid trying to spell his name) but I have never seen the same thing happen to a legalistic chap and it made into such a dramatic affair. When are they going to lose their jobs, lose all their money and lose all their means to support themselves? Not to say anything about their reputations and trying to regain some kind of dignity again.

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  100. John, no worries(no homo). Greg is certain he’s got everyone’s number. More reason to question certainty. But, yes, I live in part of the bible belt, I’ve seen a fundy or two or eighteen thousand in my life.

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  101. There is not the slightest whiff of legalism in anything I’ve said John. It is what was once straight down the line, unremarkable reformation thought. Anytime you’re ready to make an actual biblical case, I’m all ears.

    The man in 2nd Corinthians (I un-dogmatically agree that it’s the same man) was accepted back when he and that whole church repented of YOUR libertine antinomian theology, which was on full display in 1ST CORINTHIANS 5.

    Yes, that’s exactly what happened. Instead of you guys having a juvenile passive/aggressive conversation with one another in front of my back, why don’t you try actually engaging something I say in light of the text please? 🙂

    You have me all wrong John. Ya really do.

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  102. Greg, you don’t have conversations so we pursue it with others. And since you seem to enjoy being cartoonish and a caricature of an overwrought fundy, you might end up as a prop in another conversation. But, you sound like every other aberrant I’ve run across, “You have me all wrong”. Yea, O.K. Too clever for moi, then.

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  103. Sean,

    The go agape reference was to Greg’s response when I told him I was feeling his love. He told me that love was not a feeling.

    Greg, I had about 5 direct comments pointed directly at you. You accused me of being an antinomian heretic. Others tried to get you to reconsider. You did not like my responses back and still pegged me an antinomian. I’m countering by saying a denial of a cloaked self-righteousness is a more serious error. When it starts distorting the Gospel you are treading on very dangerous ground. A ground that Paul judged very severely- more severely than the antinomians in my opinion.

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  104. Zrim says: “Greg, I’m not sure of the distinction you’re making but see the entire third section of the HC.”
    The third use of the moral law is for the ordering of the Christian life. (1st is to convince us of sin and lead us to Christ and the second is for the governing of civil society) How is it that you are commending to me section III of the HC when you act like you believe anything but, just about all the time? That’s an honest question Zrim. (as are all my questions)

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  105. Greg, no it’s not, it’s a loaded question. Because of an emphasis on grace (and liberty), you accuse of antinomianism. It’s denied and obedience is affirmed. You ask what is meant by obedience. I say the law of God. You play dumb and scrutinize what is “the law of God”? I point you to a Reformed treatise on law and you conjure something up about everything I say is a denial of said treatise. I’ve taken membership vows to affirm it without any exception. I deny your man-made laws about film for sure, but what exactly have I said “all the time” that suggests to you I deny obedience to the law of God? Bear in mind your laws and God’s aren’t the same.

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  106. Zrim the term “antinomianism” is a fancy way of saying what amounts to the false fundamentalist Baptist doctrine of “eternal security”, or the “carnal Christian” doctrine, or what is sometimes referred to as “easy believe-ism.” The idea that the answer to this question…
    Is there such a thing as a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person whose thoughts words and deeds remain unchanged from before they were a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted Christian person?

    Can a man be raised from death in sin in the first man Adam, into new eternal life in the last, be given the mind of the exalted Christ and be made a partaker of the very divine nature itself, and nobody can tell? …can be yes.
    If somebody answers “yes” to that question, then they’re an antinomian. If their answer, like Jeff, is an instant eye rolling “no”, then they are not an antinomian.

    Salvation, new eternal life in Christ, is all of grace with not a particle’s admixture of law whatsoever. Just like life in the first place is all of grace, in the sense of us playing no part whatsoever in our having it. However, also just like physical life in Adam, eternal life in Christ has vital signs, No vital signs, no life.

    From not a few conversations with you in the past Zrim, you have really sounded like somebody who would answer that question in the affirmative and say that eternal life indeed can exist without vital signs. In some conversations you have gone with me to the mat in what sure did look like an unwavering campaign of antinomianism.

    You deny that it’s so. A bare denial will not convince me, but of course convincing me should not be the goal of anybody’s life. If you by any chance are interested in convincing me however, a simple “no” in answer to the above question like Jeff, will do it until evidence to the contrary forces me to then be re-unconvinced.

    OR, you can tell me to go play in the freeway.

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  107. The freeway’s looking packed, since Metro will be shutting down emergently at midnight for two days.

    Zrim and I went over this ground in or around 2009. He’s not antinomian, but he is willing to push really hard against tendencies he sees as legalistic.

    I have to say that I’m somewhat sympathetic. You seem to be judging people based upon whether they agree with your standard. And while you claim that yours is the same as the Westminster Divines’, I don’t see where they judged lasciviousness based upon body parts shown or not shown.

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  108. Greg, what about invisible-visible distinctions? And I’d bet decent money that Zrim would question the veracity of someone’s confession who felt free to regularly forsake the assembly and or not submit to membership vows(or maybe he’d encourage them to revisit their claim in light of catechetical instruction). How is your membership in the cult these days? Are you part of a ‘true church’? Obviously, submission to a local body doesn’t trip the switch when you read it, but maybe therein lies part of the problem with how you conceive obedience.

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  109. @ Greg:

    My comment came out more sharply than I intended. I was NOT trying to say “You are a legalist”, but rather to say that the judgment based on a particular standard was a legalist tendency in your argument.

    Sorry if I offended.

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  110. Let’s turn the question around. Can a genuinely believing Christian continue to fall into patterns of sin 20 years out?

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  111. sean asks: “How is your membership in the cult these days? Are you part of a ‘true church’?”
    That’s a fair question Sean. Above is a pic of the electronic media room I work in on Sunday mornings at my church. My workstation is in the front right with the jar of water on the desk. I run the projection screen from that computer (which I set up) which displays worship lyrics, announcements and scripture. I am also the computer guy who setup every other piece of digital equipment in the church as well. I am a covenant member of Evangel Ministries in central Detroit. I have missed one half of one service in almost 6 years of worship there because I went home sick. The leadership is quite Calvinistic, though I have sometimes significant differences in some areas. All my friends are from there. We spend far more than just Sunday morning together.

    Jeff says: “Sorry if I offended.”
    Though I believe wrong on some stuff, you’re a straight up guy who engages in good faith Jeff. No, you didn’t offend me in the least and no apology necessary.

    Jeff asks: “Can a genuinely believing Christian continue to fall into patterns of sin 20 years out?”
    This is what I’m talkin about Jeff. That is an excellent question and the answer is absolutely yes. The great apostle who wrote the epistle to the Romans had been saved 20 years plus when he told us about the war of chapter 7. (There’s no way he was talking about before his salvation). It was still WAR all those years later.

    John lived the longest and was probably the only one not to be martyred. In his same first epistle, he told us in chapter 1 that we deceive ourselves if we say we HAVE no sin (present active indicative), AND that if we PRACTICE sin as a settled norm we are children of the devil (chapter 3) and that’s the point. You should hear Mcmark and those guys try n get outta this. 😦

    A person sold all the way out to Jesus will ever war with sin while in this flesh. Some specific especially tenacious propensities may, and probably will plague them until death. What a genuinely believing Christian will not continue to do, is call good that which the holy God has clearly condemned as evil. There is no such thing as a pro-choice or “gay affirming” Christian for instance. Or at least they certainly should be treated as wicked persons (according to 1st Corinthians 5) while they persist in flagrantly ant-biblical views with a practically universal history of rejection among the orthodox saints.

    I’ve used this example and I’ll use it again. There is a man in our church who is in bloody bruising battle with same sex bondage. Only 2 of us aside from himself even knows. He falls sometimes, but I see the love of Jesus in his in him and the mortal hatred of his sin and perversion in his eyes. He yearns to be free for good and not dishonor his beloved Lord and master who will one day accomplish exactly that forever. He’s a scarred and fighting warrior and my brother. I will walk with him while there is breath in my lungs.

    What I have no tolerance for is snooty, snobby, world loving church mice who attempt to marry the spotlessly pure Lamb of the living God with what would have been instantly denounced as the satanically blasphemous and pornographic filth that it is, by the whole of the historic reformed church before the last 40 or 50 years.

    The difference is in the instincts and intuitions. My sodomy struggling brother utterly REFUSES to make peace with what offends his God. Because he has the indwelling love of Christ in him fueling that hatred for what God hates. He has a far more credible testimony and will, even years from now, than world worshiping idolators who have snuggled up under the devil’s covers with an industry that exists to promote all that is an abomination to the God they claim to love. It’s one thing to war with even the most heinous of sins. It’s quite another altogether to declare that evil is good right in God’s face.

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  112. Greg, I didn’t ask for your hyper pious impressions. I asked for exact examples of whatever I’ve said “all the time” that suggests to you I deny obedience to the law of God.

    But if a simple “no” to your questions will suffice then you have it.

    Still, wiser men than you have been able to walk and chew gum at the same time:

    Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

    And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

    They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

    To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

    Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

    From A Letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)

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  113. So, Greg, I’ma take a WAG and say your church doesn’t subscribe a confession, is a touch Pentecostal and holds to believer’s baptism only. If we utilize your grid, what are the chances the Westminster Divines find that you attend a true church? The word rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered.

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  114. Zrim says: “I asked for exact examples of whatever I’ve said “all the time” that suggests to you I deny obedience to the law of God.”
    Impressions grow over time and I don’t reach or report them lightly. Next time you do it, if you do, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’ll tentatively assume my own error and thank you for the answer of “no.” It is not possible that a man be raised from death in sin in the first man Adam, into new eternal life in the last, be given the mind of the exalted Christ and be made a partaker of the very divine nature itself, and nobody can tell?

    Popes can get some things right sometimes too btw.
    =============================================================
    sean says: “So, Greg, I’ma take a WAG and say your church doesn’t subscribe a confession,”
    Nope. A thing I’d really like to see change. Especially in some specific individuals.

    sean says: “…is a touch Pentecostal…”
    Let’s just say, not cessationist, but you’d barely ever be able to tell anyway.

    sean says: “believer’s baptism only…”
    Yep. The last major doctrine after all these years, I just cannot seem to make up my mind about. Every time I think I have… I haven’t. The meaning and manner of baptism has a centuries long history of controversy among solid godly champions of the faith though. I lean somewhat substantially toward paedobaptism, but not decisively enough to break communion with those who hold to believers only.

    sean says: “…If we utilize your grid, what are the chances the Westminster Divines find that you attend a true church? The word rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered…”
    If allowed conversation with most of them, they may declare my church not as duly ordained as they’d like, and maybe even my reasons for being there, but they would not deny my testimony. Their morality and biblical definitions of worldliness and carnality, blasphemy and adultery would have them far more sympathetic to me than to you if you invited them over for cable and movie night. If anything the LBC 1689 Baptists, were even more strict (or definitely at least as) and a far larger percentage of them are faithful to that historical standard today than are Presbyterians to theirs.

    The parts of the standards under dispute in my dialogs here go right to the core of the Decalogue regarding the blaspheming of God’s holy person through His name, and faithfulness and reverence to His ancient covenant of marriage and standards of sexual purity. Not to mention other scriptural commands not explicitly addressed in the 10. Or expanded upon elsewhere in scripture.

    A biblically reasonable, non fatally heretical case can be made, and has been, for believer’s baptism and depending on how we define it, I have real trouble with STRICT cessation-ism myself. I could never attend an Arminian church under any circumstances. Or one that denied inerrancy. Or one that tolerated evolution, or had a female pastor. Or one so worldly and compromised and confused as to preach blasphemy and pornography as actually Christian liberties.

    The scribes and pharisees had near perfect doctrine. It was their hypocritical lives and legalistic practice that bought them the seven woes of Matthew 23. Paul went after the toleration of immorality in Corinth with at least as much aggression as he did the denial of the resurrection. John denounced those who practice sin and those who don’t love their brother in the same breath.

    On the whole, this church is at least as true as any other one I could find around here anyway. I have to say. The Reformed Baptists I know are the most faithful to their historical confessional roots of any group on earth today.

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  115. sean says: your church doesn’t subscribe a confession, is a touch Pentecostal and holds to believer’s baptism only. If we utilize your grid, what are the chances the Westminster Divines find that you attend a true church?

    interesting, or should I say sheesh.

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  116. So, Greg, you’re gonna apply the strictest most anachronistic standards of what you imagine the Westminster Divines may have determined about some folks entertainment pursuits and find them guilty of transgressions that casts doubt on the safety of their very soul but when it actually comes to what we know they determined about the nature of a true church you’re gonna give yourself all sorts of liberty and imagine they’d embrace you in your error cuz you’re you and you really really mean it. Interesting. Talk about uncharitable and self-indulgent.

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  117. Greg, the answer is no, but what about the warning not to practice your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them? Do you make any room for humility, the kind that might invite the scorn of your religious muscularity as being cowardly, weak, and compromised?

    ps to be Reformed is to be paedo in faith and practice. Reform up and seek communion with those who do.

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  118. zrim: ps to be Reformed is to be paedo in faith and practice. Reform up …

    and humble down?

    “So what does this all mean? To be Reformed is to adhere to the purist teachings of the Bible – to affirm the doctrine taught by Jesus, Paul and the apostles. Scripture is considered the ultimate authority in matters of life and faith and all Reformed doctrine is founded on the Bible. I am convinced that Reformed doctrine is nothing more than the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and the totality of the Scriptures. Were it not for human sin we would have to make no distinction between biblical Christianity and the Reformed faith.”
    http://www.challies.com/articles/what-it-means-to-be-reformed

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  119. Thanks for the link, Zrim, ‘beats’? though, didn’t know it was a contest. (try saying that at the dinner table and see what the Lord says to you)

    I do believe (I think) we both agree with Jesus, that He has all authority in heaven and earth, and that He commands to us to go make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He commanded us (Matt 28:19-20)

    It seems obviously, though, that we must have different convictions on secondary matters about this; and we pursue (I think), in accordance with those convictions (I think)….. lo, He is with us always, even to the end of the age!

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  120. …though….’course… it is NOT a secondary matter that we must teach all disciples to observe all that He commanded us

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  121. Ali, the point is that the sacraments matter and not secondarily. Jesus even says so in your quote. So why so much latitudinarianism (even form Mr. Terrible Certainty Exclamation Points)?

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  122. No Sean, there is no anachronism, no debate and no liberty. The thoroughly biblical standards of holiness and separation from the world, and jealousy for the Lord’s precious name found in the catechism, apply enhundredfold to what is embraced by today’s church compared to the theater that Christians have denounced as worldly garbage from the 1st century. (yes, I know about the etymology of the word “hypocrite”)

    Holiness and true morality, which are reflections of the very nature of God Himself, are eternal. That an intelligent man such as yourself would attempt to call anachronism here, is an inescapable indicator of just how far the spirit of the age has succeeded in infiltrating your heart and mind.

    I have taken no vows to anything apart from the bible, though I hold the mind and spirit of the reformed standards, (including LBC 1689,) in very high reverence. Much higher than most of the presbys I know. As important as it is, a person can get baptism wrong (the thief on the cross wasn’t baptized at all) based on honest exegesis and exposition and not imperil either their soul or ministry. The same cannot be said for those who finance the damnation of their neighbors by willfully participating in the their blasphemy and immorality as a matter declared to be God blessed liberty. Those in whom dwell the Spirit of the living God will not forever languish in such deluded apostasy. It will frankly not surprise me if you can’t see the difference.
    ====================================
    Zrim says: “Greg, the answer is no,..”
    Praise the Lord! I will make a concerted effort to view everything you say in light of this declaration from now on Zrim.

    Zrim says: “but what about the warning not to practice your righteousness before others in order to be seen by them?”
    You’ve been asking some decent questions lately Zrim. Jesus declarations from Matthew 6 are a condemnation of public self exaltation. You have steered us into another whole area. What I do cannot even be accidentally mistaken for what He is talking about there if the bible is the standard. First and foremost, while a blog like this is public, it is also within the visible church and I’m addressing church people. I’m not out on the corner of Woodward and 8 mile with blinking signs and news crews trying to draw attention to ME. In order to address charges like this, I’ve occasionally had to talk about about some of my offline ministry activities and probably will again in the future. You must see the difference.

    There would be nothing in the least remarkable, weird or “fundamentalist” about me if this were 200 years ago. That’s the point. On the issues I bring here, including also the fall into post modern epistemological uncertainty (Jed bailed on me), I’m the one standing on the shoulders of YOUR forefathers. Vows or no vows. Ya’ll are the ones who have lazily and comfortably drifted into the arms of the world. I’ll ask again. What if that’s true?

    Zrim says: “Do you make any room for humility, the kind that might invite the scorn of your religious muscularity as being cowardly, weak, and compromised?”
    I reject that charge on it’s face as wholly without biblical merit. I welcome you however, to make your case and promise I will listen attentively.

    Zrim says: ” “ps to be Reformed is to be paedo in faith and practice.”
    Then I invite you to refrain from calling me reformed. I can live without that label. I cannot live as an open practitioner of sin whom John the apostle and revelator says is a child of the devil.

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  123. Greg, much like my porn collection would render my claims to being chaste in all ways incredible, so, your claims to ‘holding the mind and spirit of the reformed confessions in very high reverence” but not actually taking vows affirming such nor attending and submitting to a church which confesses the same all the while claiming to uphold the intention and trajectory of the West. divines over those who actually confess and submit to the later, is, well, unconvincing. Rubber and roads and all that jazz.

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  124. Actually, Greg, considering our churchly affiliations and your lack of equivalent membership, vows or confession, mine is a credible judgement. Whereas yours is merely a spurious claim.

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  125. “I reject that charge on it’s face as wholly without biblical merit. I welcome you however, to make your case and promise I will listen attentively.”

    “I’m the one standing on the shoulders of YOUR forefathers. Vows or no vows. Ya’ll are the ones who have lazily and comfortably drifted into the arms of the world.”

    Thanks for making my case. Physician, you know the drill.

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  126. “Actually, Greg, considering our churchly affiliations and your lack of equivalent membership, vows or confession, mine is a credible judgement. Whereas yours is merely a spurious claim.”
    That is a truly idiotic and sophomoric non-sequitur Sean. This is what I’m talkin about. Love of the world and the thing therein has reduced an impressively capable man to such nit-wittery as the immediately above.

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  127. SEAN, SEAN, TURBS IS A ONE-MAN ARMY. TURBS MAKES IT DO WHAT IT DO. TURBS IS THE ONLY REFORMED DUDE IN MOTOR CITY. ANY CHURCH WITH TURBS IS BETTER BECAUSE TURBS IS THERE. DON’T TALK CHURCH TO TURBS — DUDE IS PROPHET AND DON’T KNOCK IT. OUT.

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  128. “Idiotic and sophomoric”……..says you. Whereas I see it as tight with a judicious use of vocabulary to keep down the wordiness. But, Greg, it’s really just an astute application of behavior(vows and membership) as evidence to buttress my point and refute or diminish yours. Or, IOW, to show you for what you are.

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  129. Please forgive me for not using any exclamation points. Greg, I respect the fact that you are involved in your church and that you attend the best local church you can find. But you lecturing on confessional Reformed church stuff is like a Mexican (who lives in Mexico NEAR THE BORDER…can even see El Paso from his porch) lecturing a Detroit city councilman on what to do about your garbage pickup. Oh, wait — it’s 2016 and everyone’s grievance and opinion matters and we have to hear everyone out, so maybe not a good analogy. Forget it.

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  130. Sean says: “But, Greg, it’s really just an astute application of behavior(vows and membership) as evidence to buttress my point and refute or diminish yours. Or, IOW, to show you for what you are.”
    I do not believe in direct apostolic succession. I’m betting my (vows and membership) play a much greater role in my life than yours do in yours. This is simply a thinly veiled ad hominem assertion. What I say can’t be true because I’m in the wrong church for it to be true. Neither my vows and communion in a confessional church (which I’d REALLY like to be in), nor my special anointing as “prophet,” are required for the full force of my positions to remain. They stand or fall in direct proportion to their conformity to the scriptures. The standards are a grand bonus.

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  131. Greg, it’s really simple, when you roll in proclaiming to be a par exemplar of the West. Divines, in your behavior and ‘mind’, and attack others who’ve actually taken vows in solidarity with those West. divines, which you have not and do not, but still you have the temerity to declare them or not so subtly insinuate that they are false claimants and possibly even false confessors of the Christian faith, besides making you a tool it also makes you a con man. That’s at least part of my point in dealing with you, but I have others as well.

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  132. Sean says: “Greg, it’s really simple, when you roll in proclaiming to be a [reverent disciple] of the West. Divines, (as they followed Christ) in your behavior and ‘mind’, and attack others who’ve actually taken vows in solidarity with those West. divines, [, but yet live their lives in direct disregard and defiance of those divines and their standards],…” (accurate revision mine)
    … Greg shows himself, without the need of vows, to me more consistent and loyal to the heart of their Westminster religion than those who have actually taken them. You’re right it IS simple.

    Suppose for a moment Sean, that this entire time I actually WAS an avowed member of an OPC church in good standing. Humor me and pretend that for a minute if you would please. Would you then seriously consider what I say as possibly being the scriptural and historical truth? Is that the pivotal and deciding factor for you?

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  133. Zrim: latitudinarianism

    ! funny …or should I say, seriously?
    I think you might be confirming partly what Greg is getting at. We do not have freedom to choose how to act or what to do when the Spirit is most-fully-in-charge; …well, I mean ‘we’, the fleshly nature, doesn’t, not the true ‘we’, the inner man/mind (Romans 7:22). My conscience is clear about my baptism ~8 years ago now, since that is what I believe I was told to do and by His word, confirmed, after the Lord nabbed me. Guess He’ll let me know otherwise, if I ought think something different.

    If you don’t like some of the things I believe, persuade away, but that can’t include persuasion in the form of ‘ you are stupid’, ‘you are a girl’, etc. all the other ways ‘ you guys’ love, and of course it goes without saying, proof texts please

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  134. Greg, your revision is inaccurate but your lack of vows, membership and submission to the confession is a tell. I take you seriously it just doesn’t require much wrangling. Is it just that you want to see how much you can get away with saying without actually doing or being?

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  135. Zrim says: “…the sacraments matter and not secondarily.”
    Of course they do Zrim. I’ve never said otherwise. What I have said is that there is not a clear enough case to be made for peado-baptism over against credo so as to call a legitimate anathema on those holding either. There just isn’t. My church administers the sacraments. Pastor Chris even refers to them as sacraments as opposed to ordinances.

    The sacrament of baptism has driven me nuts for 30 years even after (repeatedly) hearing the most formidable proponents of each view. All of them however would have been aghast at the suggestion that God’s truth was anything other than axiomatically certain in the most eternally self evident manner possible. They would have been equally aghast at the suggestion that real uncovenanted sexual contact and open blasphemy be considered objects of biblical Christian liberty. All of em. Once again. These are not debatable in the least. Baptism and other very important areas of doctrine are simply not in that same class though.

    I’m being forced into touching on this again even though I said I wouldn’t unless Darryl wanted to pick it up where he left off.

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  136. Sean says: “Greg, your revision is inaccurate but your lack of vows, membership and submission to the confession is a tell.”
    No it’s not and no it’s not.

    Sean says: “I take you seriously it just doesn’t require much wrangling. “
    You should not take me or anyone else any more seriously than the scriptural and historical soundness of what I or they say may merit. I don’t want anybody taking ME seriously. I could be anyone. The power is in the Word. Paul rejoiced that the true Christ and His gospel were being preached even by those doing it out of envy and strife. (Phil. 1:12-18)

    Sean asks: “Is it just that you want to see how much you can get away with saying without actually doing or being?”
    I honestly don’t understand what you’re asking with this.

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  137. Greg, as you say to Sean, you’re welcome to your (latitudinarian) view. But since aligning with the older Westminster divines is your litmus test, you don’t align at all and are completely out of step. Where’s all your chest thumping now?

    Nobody has suggested that illicit sexual contact and open blasphemy are objects of biblical Christian liberty. What in the world are you talking about?

    “Baptism and other very important areas of doctrine are simply not in that same class though.” As in a distinction between doctrine and life? No doubt, but you say that as if immorality trumps heterodoxy. Gong. They are both instances deserving of discipline. Man up, chest thumper.

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  138. Credo-baptism is not heterodoxy Zrim. The denial of the solas, as per NT Wright is heterodoxy. (for instance)
    No. For our purposes, not a distinction between doctrine and life. A distinction between an important doctrine that we both practice, but manifestly disputable in the particulars, and the open affirmation of blasphemy and pornography as an a profound and entertaining art form.

    Paul attacks both mortally bad doctrine (the denial of the resurrection in 1 Cor. 15 for instance) and mortally bad practice (1 Cor. 6 for instance). John attacks both mortally bad doctrine (the denial of the incarnation in 2 John 1:7 for instance) and mortally bad practice (1 John 3 for instance). They warn us not to be deceived by those claiming otherwise with regard to practice too. (1st John 3:7 and 1 Corinthians 6:9) All just for instances. There’s plenty more.

    The idea that they are telling us, not about how Christian’s strive to live their lives, but only about being positionally justified and sanctified in Christ is a bold and insolent imposition upon the text. (Sorry Mcmark and judaizing works righteousness is not in any way the only alternative)

    Attempting to discredit me because of non-fatal, disputable areas of doctrine we both embrace is a losing strategy, but you’re welcome to continue trying. Time for my 3rd commandment image again.

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  139. “Credo-baptism is not heterodoxy”
    Yes it is. Insofar as baptism is the new covenant manifestation of circumcision, scripture is quite clear that to neglect this ordinance is to be cut off from the people of God and to break his covenant (cf. for example, Gen. 17:14). This is why the WCF notes that to neglect this ordinance (by withholding it from the believer’s children for example) is a “great sin”. Neglect of the 3rd commandment (and all the others as well) is indeed sin. I don’t many believers who would argue that blasphemy is OK. I know of many who seem to think that the Lord’s Day is at best the Lord’s morning, but if you feel like squeezing in church some other time, that’s fine too. Many others that think we should be able to worship how ever we want to…a little AC/DC on Easter Sunday at the local (SBC megachurch) is how you stay relevant to the lost right?

    I also find that the majority opinion among conservative protestants is to hold paedobaptism in contempt (even so far as to deny church membership or insist on a blasphemous second baptism of all things!). Is it any surprise that those who cannot imagine giving up worldly amusements for a day or sacrificing their kid’s shot at soccer greatness for regular Sunday worship are so easily able to compromise elsewhere? You seem to think that it all starts and stops with R-rated movies. If only… keep in mind something like 80% of 18-35 year old men were viewing actual porn in the last month (perhaps the other 20% were blind, amish, or in jail). Perhaps heterodox views on the sacraments, antinomian views on a pattern of rest and worship embedded in creation itself, and worshiping God the way he commands us to worship (as opposed to what we think will put butts in the seats, goosebumps on the neck, or a stirring in the bosom) aren’t all beside the point.

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  140. sdb says: “Yes it is. Insofar as baptism is the new covenant manifestation of circumcision,”
    And that is THE big “IF”, isn’t it. Though I lean in that direction, this is not crystal clear like immorality and blasphemy are.

    As for the rest of your comment? I have a friend watching right now falling off their chair!! Oh boy, do you have me ALLL wrong. Email me brother. Won’t you please? tiribulus@yahoo.com I don’t bite. Honest. Or drop me a FACEBOOK message so we don’t clutter up Darryl’s site.

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  141. sdb:a blasphemous second baptism

    interesting, or should I say, sheesh?
    anyway, I do think we may agree (I think) that it is only the Lord Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16); as Peter said: “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” so then those who had received his word were baptized (Acts 2:38,41). And we agree (I think maybe) that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death; (Rom 6:3) and we agree (I think maybe) all of us who are baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ. (Gal 3:27).
    (I think maybe) we agree that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit and (I think maybe) we agree to each one by one Spirit baptized into one body, is given the manifestation of the Spirit also for the common good. (1 Cor 12)

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  142. ….and… then…. (I think) we agree (I think) to be ‘clothed with Christ’ pictures our union with Christ, having by faith trusted in who Jesus is and what He has done for us, and it pictures our status as chosen, loved, kept by God and pictures the character and qualities of that true identity.

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  143. …and then ( I think) we agree that, having been ‘baptized into His death’, having ‘died with Christ’, we are free …
    free to become what God designed us to be, as He lives in us to live His life through us – we agreeing (I think) then that we are always saying to each other “Are we so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are we now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3). Answer: nope.

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  144. @gtt I don’t see any if there.
    “not crystal clear like immorality and blasphemy are” I wish that were true, but the revealed (habitual) preferences of conservative prots suggests that there is a larger consensus on covenant baptism than on the unlawfulness of viewing R-rated fare. While truth isn’t dependent on consensus, whether something is disputable or not depends on what the confession explicitly states in my should be more humble opinion. There was a reason Calvin’s reaction to the anabaptists was so violent (not that his murder of the dunkers was justified) – I think it speaks to the understanding of the reformers of the importance of a covenantal understanding of baptism. I understand why the OPC and PCA are lax on paedobaptism – individualism is the air we breathe – but I think it is a terrible mistake (in my non-ordained, non-officer opinion).

    Regarding email, I don’t correspond electronically with people I don’t know. I like to keep my digital footprint minimized.

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  145. And how is the Spirit conferred?

    The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.

    The sacrament of Baptism is efficacious and there is one Baptism (not two, or three when you really, really mean it). Or as the Belgic confession puts it,

    We believe and confess that Jesus Christ,in whom the law is fulfilled, has by his shed blood put an end to every other shedding of blood, which anyone might do or wish to do in order to atone or satisfy for sins. Having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, Christ established in its place the sacrament of baptism.

    By it we are received into God’s church and set apart from all other people and alien religions, that we may wholly belong to him whose mark and sign we bear. Baptism also witnesses to us that God, being our gracious Father, will be our God forever. Therefore Christ has commanded that all those who belong to him be baptized with pure water “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” In this way God signifies to us that just as water washes away the dirt of the body when it is poured on us and also is seen on the bodies of those who are baptized when it is sprinkled on them, so too the blood of Christ does the same thing internally, in the soul, by the Holy Spirit. It washes and cleanses it from its sins and transforms us from being the children of wrath into the children of God.

    This does not happen by the physical water but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God, who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, who is the devil, and to enter the spiritual land of Canaan. So ministers, as far as their work is concerned, give us the sacrament and what is visible,
    but our Lord gives what the sacrament signifies— namely the invisible gifts and graces; washing, purifying, and cleansing our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving us true assurance of his fatherly goodness; clothing us with the “new self” and stripping off the “old self with its practices.”

    For this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it— for we cannot be born twice. Yet this baptism is profitable not only when the water is on us and when we receive it but throughout our entire lives. For that reason we reject the error of the Anabaptists who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers. We believe our children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as little children were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises made to our children. And truly, Christ has shed his blood no less for washing the little children of believers than he did for adults. Therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of what Christ has done for them, just as the Lord commanded in the law that by offering a lamb for them the sacrament of the suffering and death of Christ would be granted them shortly after their birth. This was the sacrament of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, baptism does for our children what circumcision did for the Jewish people. That is why Paul calls baptism the “circumcision of Christ.”

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  146. sdb reference: for this reason we believe that anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it— for we cannot be born twice.

    I think this is saying then that baptized infants are born again?

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  147. Greg, to someone who doesn’t confess the Reformed faith it may not be, but to those that do it sure is. You’re taking cues from Wright? Holy moly. But Muller to the rescue: there are more than five points (or solas) to the Reformed faith. Baptism is not negotiable per the Reformed faith. It is essential.

    My guess is you’re also the type to affirm trinitarianism as essential full stop no exceptions, but somehow you go soft on baptism because it’s “just so complex,” thus the latitude. But trinitarianism is arguably more complex, so why so soft on a much clearer doctrine? Because, frankly, modern paedobaptists have wanted a bigger tent and more influence and have contributed to the latitudinarianism, giving folks like you the impression it’s non-essential. If it helps, it’s our own fault.

    sdb, Greg may not bite but he sure can claw. And howl.

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  148. and .. re ‘blasphemy’ , I do think we probably agree we hate it – to speak with contempt about God or to be defiantly irreverent in character. *“Every time we do or say something that gives others a false representation of the glory, holiness, authority, and character of God, we commit blasphemy. Every time we misrepresent our position as children of God, we are damaging His reputation. Followers of God are also responsible to make sure their behavior doesn’t incite others to blaspheme God. Fortunately, Jesus forgives even the sin of blasphemy” (*quote)
    [except the special type of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit— which I think we probably agree is unbelief, the rejecting of Jesus.]

    have a good day.

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  149. I am well aware of the P&R view of baptism sdb.

    sdb says: “that there is a larger consensus on covenant baptism than on the unlawfulness of viewing R-rated fare. “
    And this is the moral tragedy of today’s largely backslidden and degenerate “conservative” Presbyterian church. There IS a larger consensus on a clearly debatable area like the particulars of baptism, than on the utterly crystal clear areas of blasphemy and immorality. You’re making my point. The fact that this is even a discussion is itself a glaring symptom of a once glorious and now self castrated, crippled and limping tradition. Polluted and neutralized by self willed theological arrogance and a resultant heartbreaking selling out to a debased and debauched culture.

    You’re right. The tolerance for Baptist thought is motivated, not out of honest godly conviction that there can exist plausible disagreement, but out of the same self interested worldliness that has turned the Lord’s instrument of salvation to the lost, His church, into an instrument that actively promotes their damnation instead. You are the very quintessential definition of the jot and tittle, oh so correct pharisees. Straining at the (comparative) gnats and choking to death on the camels. This goes far more so for the PCA.

    And btw, the SBC is a thousand times worse, on a host of levels. This is an apostasy we’re in here folks. That’s a falling away. When long held boundaries and convictions give way to carnality, compromise and outright damnable heresy. I’m not sure what you were implying about myself and Wright sdb, but I CANNOT STAND the guy. He makes me nauseous.

    Darryl, I don’t care what you try n tell me. You of all people know better than this. I really believe you could make a difference. That’s why I still come around here. I think I’m gonna need a break again soon though.

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  150. Oops ,that was Zrim about Wright. Sorry sdb. Honest mistake.
    ————————————————————————————-
    Yes Zrim. When both testaments are allowed to speak for themselves, the tirune being and nature of the one true God is inescapable.
    The scriptures everywhere proclaim that there is one and only one true and living God. Those same scriptures ascribe the unique and incommunicable attributes of this one true and living God, to three clearly distinct entities, best described in English as “persons.”
    Therefore:
    “In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.”

    You find this unpersuasive?

    If this God was as concerned about the particulars of baptism as He was about His own ontology, he would have made those particulars just as clear in His word. Additionally, the equal ultimacy of this God’s one-ness and many-ness, quite appropriately solves the great philosophical conundrums extant since the days of the ancient Greeks. This reality also accounts, just as it should, for the inescapable certainty ya’ll groovy and stylish post moderns love to deny.

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  151. Dude.

    “I am well aware…unlawfulness of viewing R-rated fare…moral tragedy…backslidden and degenerate “conservative” Presbyterian church…utterly crystal clear areas of blasphemy and immorality…glaring symptom of a once glorious and now self castrated, crippled and limping tradition. Polluted and neutralized by self willed theological arrogance and a resultant heartbreaking selling out to a debased and debauched culture…the SBC is a thousand times worse, on a host of levels. This is an apostasy we’re in here folks. That’s a falling away. When long held boundaries and convictions give way to carnality, compromise and outright damnable heresy…I CANNOT STAND the guy. He makes me nauseous…I think I’m gonna need a break again soon though.”

    The last part, yes.

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  152. Greg, God has made baptism clear. That you don’t grasp it doesn’t mean it’s not. You’re talking about baptism the way 3-point Calminians talk about grace.

    As you say, “when both testaments are allowed to speak for themselves,” the baptism of covenant children is inescapable. How’s that medicine taste?

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  153. Zrim says: ” You’re talking about baptism the way 3-point Calminians talk about grace.”
    I am doing absolutely no such thing 🙂 That sir is an unmitigrated frabrication (to quote Daffy Duck)

    Zrim says: ” As you say, “when both testaments are allowed to speak for themselves,” the baptism of covenant children is inescapable.”
    See now this is what I’m talkin about. You need more time in bible study and less in front of your television Zrim. The God of the Christan Scriptures is the alone foundation of all being, in whose sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain.

    To make a direct analogy from the singular nature and being of the eternal Godhead, to the progressive temporal revelation of His covenants and their signs, is a monumentally inept confusion of categories. The entire book of Hebrews is a hermeneutics manual on the Old Testament. There is a list of features of theocratic earthly Israel that have been superseded by completion of purpose and fulfillment in Christ. No such state of affairs does, or even COULD pertain to the being and nature of God Himself.

    Don’t you dare try to pin dispensationalism on me either. I’m talking straight up covenants here. There is no comparison whatsoever with God’s unfolding providence in history and His immutable essential nature. Try again please.

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  154. Chortles says: “The last part, yes.”
    Through I’m certainty not going out of my way to be, there is no inoffensive manner in which I can say this.
    This blog drains me like few other online places do.

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  155. Greg, oh, well, when you put it that way now I see. To baptize children of believers, gee, who really knows and the Bible will never really help clarify it. Everybody, pack it up, let’s go to the EV Free where Greg’s latitudinarianism is formalized.

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  156. SDB: …a blasphemous second baptism

    Ali: interesting, or should I say, sheesh?

    Not as “sheesh” as it may seem at first glance. What does baptism say?

    The baptist views baptism as a profession of the believer to the outside world: “I have come to faith.”

    The presbyterian views baptism as a sign from God to the sinner: “You are washed by the Spirit.” This parallels the understanding of Communion: “The body and blood of Christ, given for you.”

    Seen in this way, a second baptism is blasphemous because it says that the washing of the Spirit might be ineffective a first time and need to be repeated. That is, second baptism undermines the perseverance of the saints.

    Further, it wrests the sign away from a sign from God to us to a sign from us to the world (or to God): “This time, I’m really saved.”

    So I agree with sdb that 2nd baptism tends towards blasphemy, although not intended by those who are rebaptized.

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  157. I favor infant baptism Jeff. I would never re-baptize a person who was baptized in a solid Presbyterian church as an infant if it were up to me. I also tend to agree that it coincides with circumcision. It is not clear enough however to call anathema on those who disagree. There ARE issues that ARE clear enough. This is simply not among them.

    To use the names of God and His Christ as profanity IS clearly blasphemous. See my meme above please.
    ==================================
    That’s not an argument Zrim.

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  158. Vinyl continues to be so so. They are doing character development and it’s got great production. I don’t know, it doesn’t have the broad appeal( though broads are present and accounted for) of even early Mad Men. From what I’ve read about the era and industry it is accurate however, which is to it’s credit. I need a few more R-rated episodes before I conclude. These series sometimes start off slow but really start peaking in season two and three and sometimes beyond.

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  159. Greg, no, you’re right, it’s a comment. But neither is anything you say an argument but a series of bald assertions.

    Would you never re-baptize for the same reasons sdb and Jeff provide? If not, more mere pious opinion (barked). If so, that suggests you think the question rises to essential, in which case why is it essential with regard to a professing believer but not with regard to a professing believer’s children? Good Baptists know this. Good Reformed know this. Why don’t you get it?

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  160. Make your case Zrim.. Don’t link me to somebody else’s. Make YOUR exegetical/expositional case that the Presbyterian view of baptism is as clear and actionable as immorality and blasphemy. I’m asking Zrim please. He doesn’t need anybody’s help.

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  161. Greg, I’m not as interested in showing off as you seem to be. I’m content to let better equipped men speak whenever they can. I’ve always thought Riddlebarger makes a top flight case in this instance. If he can’t help, you might re-consider your teachability (which you seem to think is impeccable).

    http://www.christreformed.org/sacraments/

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  162. I’ve heard and read centuries of defense of this position Zrim. I’ve also studied it thoroughly n my own. I’m not asking about peado-baptism. I’m asking how much investment YOU have personally made in your rock ribbed, steel jawed view of baptism, beyond taking your magesterium’s view on it. It also occurs to me how eager you are to declare them the very mouthpiece of God on baptism, but dismiss them as anachronistic legalists on commandments 3 and 7 in the catechism. You’ve taken vows to all of it. I haven’t.

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  163. Greg, so it’s about me making the case to pass your muster? Sorry, not biting. As you keep saying, it’s about being in line with a tradition one claims. You claim Presbyterianism, but you’re out of line. You keep speculating wildly and decisively what the divines would say about a thing indifferent and a matter of conscience, film. Yet you also want latitude on what they clearly saw as an essential. You’re confused. Confident, but confused.

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  164. Thank you for that explanation in a respectful way Jeff.

    But Jeff said: “This time, I’m really saved.” ? I’m not sure what to think of that. This time? When I was baptized as an infant was I really saved then?

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  165. “I would never re-baptize a person who was baptized in a solid Presbyterian church as an infant if it were up to me.”

    Greg, would you restate this without the adjective “solid?” Apologies if my question is off track and too late, been working out of town and just catching up.

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  166. @Ali:

    Ali: I’m not sure what to think of that. This time? When I was baptized as an infant was I really saved then?

    JRC: Further, it wrests the sign away from a sign from God to us to a sign from us to the world (or to God): “This time, I’m really saved.”

    That was confusing wording on my part. What I meant was that when a baptist gets rebaptized, she does so because she believes that the first baptism was not valid on the ground that she was not really saved at the time of the first baptism, whereas she really is saved now.

    The presbyterian looks at that situation and sees a confused understanding of what baptism says. The first time, it was a sign from God of His promise to wash with the Spirit.

    Giving the sign the second time, as if God didn’t mean it the first time, doesn’t make the promise any more valid.

    No, we don’t believe that baptizing the infant saves the infant. The efficacy of the promise is not tied to the moment of the sign, just as the efficacy of God’s promise to Abraham was not tied to the moment of circumcision.

    We would say that what is promised in baptism does save the infant, so that the sacrament is united to the thing signified, received by faith. The sign points to the reality and is united with it in that way.

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  167. mrbfree says: “Apologies if my question is off track and too late, been working out of town and just catching up.”
    No apologies necessary on my account, but were you working in the inner Congo or something where there’s no internet 🙂 Jist ribbin ya. I’m just getting caught up from earlier myself.

    “Greg, would you restate this without the adjective “solid?”
    I don’t believe I would.
    I could not recognize baptisms performed by the average PCUSA church (for instance) because that communion is so apostate and degenerate, both morally and theologically, as to have become no Church of Christ, but a synagogue of Satan. (WCF XXV:V)

    While I understand and agree that: “. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.”(WCF XXVII:III)

    I also understand and agree however, that “… the party is to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a minister of the gospel, lawfully called thereunto.

    The same biblical standards used in judging individual professors, should be used in judging which bodies and minsters are fit to perform lawful baptisms. For instance, in 1 Cor. 5, Paul tells us not even to eat with “immoral people, the covetous and swindlers, idolaters, revilers and drunkards.”

    Unless somebody wants to make the case that we should be baptized by people, and regard them as “lawfully called” as long we don’t eat with them, then the above list precludes any person or denomination openly displaying or embracing those heresies from performing lawful baptisms. In verse 13 he says of those practicing such things, to “remove the wicked man from your midst.” Are we to excommunicate them right after we make sure they baptize our families first?

    Unlike individuals, who can sometimes hide undetected by well crafted false profession and practice as tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30), denominations cannot do this as denominations. Therefore, we can know whether a body or church is lawfully ordained and called by examining their stated doctrine and positions. Even then however, an apparently lawfully called minister, within a duly ordained body, may still be a cleverly disguised false professor and therefore also false minister. Hence WCF XXVII:III above.

    God will honor that baptism. Because despite the greatest righteous care in seeing that only true, lawfully called individuals be placed in that office, the fallibility of even the godliest of men in this life, cannot but occasionally allow them to be legitimately deceived.

    Unless we are willing to say that open public homosexuals, egalitarian women, universalists and those who deny a host of other true orthodox biblical doctrines and moral standards, including in many cases the Trinity and deity of Christ, are lawfully called ministers of the gospel, then according to the Catechism, in faithfulness to the scriptures, baptisms performed by them should not be embraced as valid.

    Persons baptized in such synagogues of Satan, but now delivered, would be best re-baptized in a church and by a lawfully called minister preaching the saving gospel and calling sinners from their darkness in sin and into God’s marvelous light, rather than affirming them in it. In short, when the immoral and apostate nature of the “minster” and or body is known, a lawful baptism cannot be, or have been performed by them.

    So the answer is no. I couldn’t make that statement in an unqualified manner. In other words I pretty much disagree with the OPC’s “latitudinarian” stance on this for the reasons given above.

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  168. Thanks for the reply Greg. I drive a lot in my work, so I would be a menace on the road if I opened up my iPad on I-40. Although I did pass a guy once who had his Bible open across the steering wheel.

    I wouldn’t ask anyone to be re-baptized any more than I would ask a fellow Jew in 500 BC to get re-circumcised. Because it would be impossible. The sign is administered by a man, but it is an act of God. Consider the number of people who were baptized by a man later found to be a serial adulterer. Or a church denomination that, over time, allows teachings and beliefs that eventually move them into an apostate condition. At what point did the baptisms stop being legitimate? There’s kind of a gray spectrum there, if that makes sense.

    You clearly have a strong opinion on this matter, and others, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to confuse our strong feelings about an issue with a mandate to require others to comply. Everything isn’t black and white. Sometimes we have to make a judgment for ourselves regarding those gray areas to settle our own conscience. However that doesn’t translate into imposing that same requirement on others.

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  169. Jeff, thank you again ; this wording too from sdb “anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it— for we cannot be born twice.” Is also confusing. Anyway,no response necessary.

    Let us keep teaching our children well ‘cause we love them. I am sure many may presume they are Christians because they were infant baptized, because they were raised in the church, and because it seems justification is often preached as if an entitled presumption. No wonder, for example, some have a form of godliness but deny it power. They don’t have it and therefore don’t know it.

    “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12

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  170. Greg, you understand that most P&R recognize even RC baptisms? Your opinion comes across as an improvement on what God has said.

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  171. “I am sure many may presume they are Christians because they were infant baptized, because they were raised in the church, and because it seems justification is often preached as if an entitled presumption.”

    That’s a common anti-paedo sentiment. But paedobaptists are also credo-communionists, Ali. The baptized don’t get to join at the table until they credibly profess. What you’re so sure about isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as you think, and one could say the same about credos–they think because they wait until being able to profess guarantees that baptism saves. But charity actually teaches that it comes down to a fundamental difference between seeing baptism as efficacious because of what God says (paedo) as opposed to what the creature possesses, i.e. faith (credo).

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  172. mrbfree says:…I don’t think it’s a good idea to confuse our strong feelings…”
    I have much more than strong feelings friend and I covered your scenarios above. I said if the minister’s lack of lawful calling were known at the time of being baptized it would be invalid and that if it were not known, then God would honor the baptism. Of course nobody could be re-circumcised and women obviously weren’t even circumcised at all. Abraham was justified before he was circumcised anyway. (Romans 4:11) It was a sign of the covenant, not the covenant itself. Which is the point. While I disagree with the majority view, like the particulars of baptism itself (paedo or credo, sprinkling or immersion), I wouldn’t break fellowship over it because it is not essential to the faith. To be clear, baptism IS essential to the faith (with rare exceptions also recognized in WCF XXIII:V), The particulars are not.

    mrbfree says: “Everything isn’t black and white. Sometimes we have to make a judgment for ourselves regarding those gray areas to settle our own conscience. “
    Everything that is not morally indifferent IS black and white. Everything that IS morally indifferent, in other words an actually grey area, is left to the conscience. I say yet again. We know that the divines got this because they did not see all those stringent rules and principles beginning in question 91 of the catechism as in any way conflicting with their exposition “Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience” in the ch. XX of the confession. Things NOT indifferent have universally binding biblical principles attached to them in every case.

    The notion that the eternal God did not include the modern era in His self revelation in scripture, smacks of inadvertent open theism. Everything we deal with today, has been faced by every human being since Genesis 3. The only difference is the packaging and delivery system. I say this yet again too, for the thousandth time. The confusion and conflation of these categories has taken a monstrous toll on a once glorious and powerful tradition. A spectacularly successful satanic strategy.

    This diversionary off topic campaign of ad hominem discreditation of me, has only been indulged because if I expect to see answers to the questions I ask, then I must be prepared to answer those sent my way as well. Within reason. Unlike many of my interlocutors, I have never failed even once to do so in over 2 years on this site. Therefore nobody can ever accuse me of not doing what I ask of others.

    Absolutely nothing has yet been advanced to overthrow what I have brought here in Jesus name. The reason we are off on baptism now is because of this very fact.

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  173. Zrim says: That’s a common anti-paedo sentiment
    just an experiential sentiment, Zrim; course ‘sentiment’ does not determine theology

    Zrim: credos–they think because they wait until being able to profess guarantees that baptism saves.
    an uncharitable misrepresentation, Zrim

    Zrim: But charity actually teaches
    good point, charity does teach…. and if any of us has not been ‘charitable’ in this discussion…..let us be reminded …if these qualities (forementioned) are ours and are increasing, they render us neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins;
    May grace and peace be multiplied to us in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1)

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  174. Zrim says: “Greg, you understand that most P&R recognize even RC baptisms? Your opinion comes across as an improvement on what God has said.”
    No Zrim, it is an improvement over what most P&R recognize. Yes, I can do that. And so can you. Or else we should just join the RCC and check our brains with the pontiff and college of bishops.

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  175. Greg, the impression you leave, whether intentional or not, is that your judgment prevails. On the issue of theater and media, the Divines were rock solid. However with regard to baptism, improvement is needed and you have offered why you think that is so. Likewise you want to judge the called and ordained man who administers baptism to determine validity. I can tell you in advance, he’s a sinner.

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  176. @Ali
    “this wording too from sdb “anyone who aspires to reach eternal life ought to be baptized only once without ever repeating it— for we cannot be born twice.””

    Hi Ali,
    Just to clarify, those aren’t my words (though I do agree with them). That is a quote from the confession.

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  177. Greg, I know I can, which is why I’m critical of the common Presbyterian practice of making credos members. It doesn’t square, not the way accepting orthodox baptism does. What I don’t do is bluster self-righteously.

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  178. mrbfree says: “Greg, the impression you leave…is that your judgment prevails.”
    The same impression that everybody else her leaves, except they have shown no substantive basis upon which to do so. I also have taken no vows. My subscription is because I do truly believe the God they proclaimed greatly blessed their work, though leaving it, as in any case except the canonical books, mixed with some human frailty. They VERY rarely missed it, and never on the clearest, most important things.

    mrbfree says: “I can tell you in advance, he’s a sinner.”
    Everybody’s a sinner. The question is whether somebody openly practices unrepentant sin or maintains damnable heresies. In which case they have no credible testimony and are to be treated as an unbeliever. To say nothing of baptizing anyone. THIS is where your problem really is. I may be wrong, but that antinomian aroma is drifting over here again.

    I believe our host may be wearying of this conversation. I could be wrong about that too, but he has been conspicuously absent the last several days. In any case, your patience has been greatly appreciated Darryl.

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  179. Greg, yes you are wrong. Since you pulled out the “a” word on me based on just a few comments, I’ll save DGH the hassle and end our conversation here, at least my part in it.

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  180. Zrin says: “Greg, I know I can, which is why I’m critical of the common Presbyterian practice of making credos members. It doesn’t square, not the way accepting orthodox baptism does.”
    You know what Zrim? I agree with you. I would have more respect for Presbyterian bodies if they lived their supposed convictions and denied membership to credo-baptists. I really would. Denying communal membership is not however the same as denying fellowship, and yes, that raises other issues.

    Zrim says: “What I don’t do is bluster self-righteously.”
    YOU DON’T!?!?!?! Well bless your heart!! That’s very righteous of you. 😀

    It is true though that principled, unwavering conviction does look like arrogance and self righteousness in today’s feminized, whimpering, limp wristed AND uncertain American church.

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  181. mrbfree says: “Greg, yes you are wrong. Since you pulled out the “a” word on me based on just a few comments, I’ll save DGH the hassle and end our conversation here, at least my part in it.”
    I think I said I could be wrong. A few telling comments is usually all it takes though. I’ve never met a flaming antinomian yet who declares:

    “YES!!, a a matter of fact, I AM an antinomian!! What of it!?”

    Just doesn’t happen. Instead they proclaim their antinomianism with the pretended dogmatic authority of Jehovah God delivering the commandments to Moses, WHILE denying that that’s what they’re doing. I’ll be happy to know that that’s not you.

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  182. ” I am sure many may presume they are Christians because they were infant baptized, because they were raised in the church, and because it seems justification is often preached as if an entitled presumption.”

    I’ve heard that a lot, but it doesn’t ring true to my experience. Having spent much of my time in SBC circles and much in P&R, I find that “nominal Christianity” (or Christian in name only) is at least as common among credos. Walking the aisle or raising the hand after repeating the sinners prayer “with every head bowed and every eye closed” and *really* meaning it this time and thinking that therefore I am saved, and no matter what I do I will always be saved (i.e., decisionsal regeneration) leads to an “entitled presumption” for many – especially when weddings, funerals, charity, or counseling a rebellious teen is requested by a “member” who hadn’t darkened the doors of the church since youth group days.

    “justification is often preached as if an entitled presumption” I have never heard that. Do you have particular sermons in mind you could point to?

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  183. I am loathe to appear at odds with dear Ali,(which I’m not) but I must say there is something to what sdb is saying. I find the attitude of once baptized, always saved more prevalent among Catholics too.

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  184. @gtt knock it off. You’re making me blush!

    “I find the attitude of once baptized, always saved more prevalent among Catholics too.” Not so sure about that. “Saved” isn’t something I hear from RCs much. Many have the idea of being good (or at least not being Hitler) and winning heaven…but then more than a few RCs see communion as purely symbolic and the difference with prots being that we don’t do communion at all.

    I’m not sure any of have much to toot our horns about when it comes to describing the job we do passing our faith on to the next generation…I wonder if we think that getting the rocks to cry out is something to aspire to? I kid…sorta.

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  185. I just mean when you ask people why they think God should let them into heaven, I don’t know how many people have told me, because they were baptized in the RCC and yes, are basically good people.

    I was putting our vernacular in their mouths with their content for the sake of making the point.

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  186. “Denying communal membership is not however the same as denying fellowship…”

    Which is why RC and mainline baptisms are accepted and Reformed tables are fenced (not closed).

    ps legalists don’t admit to legalism either, Greg. They tell people their pious opinion on a thing indifferent is law. Sound familiar?

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  187. An outrageous implication!!! I’ll have you know sir that I have perfect 20/20 hearing.

    Come on Zrim. This ain’t gittin us anywhere. Too bad you live on the other side of the state. We could get together for prayer and bible study.

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  188. @ Ali: I am sure many may presume they are Christians because they were infant baptized, because they were raised in the church, and because it seems justification is often preached as if an entitled presumption.

    Is that common in Presbyterian preaching? Our sermon last week from Hebrews 3 was actually the opposite of that.

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  189. @ Ali: Also, I frankly have given up on trying to connect the dots between what is preached and what is heard and believed. I’m exaggerating, of course, but many is the time when some college student comes to faith and returns to say, “Why didn’t I hear the gospel before?” Then you pull out the sermon tape …

    The moral is that there is a hardness of hearing that comes from hardness of heart, remedied only by the Spirit. That’s why MacArthur’s broadside against paedobaptism being the cause of nominal believers in pews rings hollow.

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  190. Jeff,

    I agree that baptism alone cannot save. Then again, towing the ideological line on points of theology doesn’t save any more effectively than baptism. Thus, I see no particular merit to the evangelical emphasis on agreeing to a statement of faith at the expense of a life that reflects the grace of Christ.

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  191. Jeff Cagle Is that common in Presbyterian preaching? Our sermon last week from Hebrews 3 was actually the opposite of that.

    morning Jeff; I love that chapter, though a difficult one and love the whole book of Hebrews –maybe my favorite.

    My statement was pretty generic, not really speaking of any denomination necessarily, though one corner of your denomination caused great anguish for a time – airwaves reach and influence so many– but the LORD is faithful, even if people aren’t. His patience always looks so spectacular. It is good to know everyone will be held accountable for everything they ought to be and also that there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed…though… since that includes all of us,.. definitely convicting.

    Anyway, I agree – His word will accomplish what He desires and succeed in the matter for which He sent it,His timing ,too- perfect –all a great encouragement to be faithful to teach His whole word, leaving the results to Him.

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  192. Evan says: “…a statement of faith at the expense of a life that reflects the grace of Christ.”
    Why must these be mutually exclusive? A biblically faithful and communally affirmed statement of faith can be a tremendous help to a life that reflects both the grace and holiness of Christ. My problem is when either side of this coin is either neglected or unbiblically overemphasized at the expense of the other.

    Great doctrine will make you the best theologian in hell if that’s all you have. The demons have correct belief. On the other hand, a great life will make you the best eagle scout in hell without the right Jesus and the right gospel.

    Correct belief does come first though. God doesn’t care how many poor people you feed if His son doesn’t get the glory.

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  193. Greg, so a tract with every loaf of bread? But the Protestant liberals gave Jesus plenty of glory for their social efforts. Careful of those pious sound bites, they’re like rakes in the yard.

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  194. How bout:
    Matt. 5:
    14-“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15-nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16-“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

    Very busy today. Sorry.

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  195. Greg, which is actually a 2k point: don’t obscure the gospel with the social and political interests of (even religious) men.

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  196. Zrim says: “Greg, which is actually a 2k point: don’t obscure the gospel with the social and political interests of (even religious) men.”
    Zrim, what has this to do with anything I’ve been talking about? Do you have a hat over there full of cards with various topics you’ve written on them, that you reach into and just pull something out at random when you run out of stuff to say? I have not so much as even tangentially hinted at social justice or politics.

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  197. Greg, this thread has gone hither and yon. Then you toss out Mt 5 for some reason. But you were the one who kicked it off with wanting to discuss the political SCOTUS statement from the South Austin OPC. Remember?

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  198. Zrim: this thread has gone hither and yon…..

    in that case, returning to the question…. “Didn’t church members already know that?”
    not sure? maybe, maybe not, anyway, always keep forgetting -so Matt 5 always needs ‘tossed out’- what else should be tossed out?
    … if salt becomes tasteless, it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men; so in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we are the ones to appear as lights in the world holding fast the word of life

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  199. Zrim 🙂 The title of this thread is “What Good Do Church Statements Do?”
    The Austin OPC screen is a church statement. And one given by a personal friend of Darryl’s. See? Exactly what this thread is about. From there, anybody who cares to look, which will probably be nobody, can see that all I did was answer other people’s questions. Due to the fact that I ask a lot of questions myself, I always try my best to answer the questions put to me by others. That’s only fair AND it denies them the weapon of inconsistency on my part.

    What usually happens, and certainly not just here, is I answer everybody else’s questions and they answer none of mine. But that’s ok. My job is to preach the word, the results are God’s problem. In your case, you actually did answer one of my main questions. I’m thankful for that.

    Matthew 5:14 and following is in direct response to your assertion that I must be advocating “a tract with every loaf of bread”. Meaning that every interaction with sinners necessitates an in your face explicit proclamation of the gospel. I say, in response and in agreement with Jesus (I’ve found it to be a fine policy to be in agreement with Jesus), that our interaction with the pagans starts with the credibility building step of letting them see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. That way when the opportunity presents itself to confront them with the law of God and their need of grace, they can’t dismiss us due to our having shown ourselves to be no different than they are. Sinners are lost, but they’re not stupid. They can spot a phony hypocritical religious snow job a mile away.

    God hasn’t called us from all eternity to rot in front of television set, financing the damnation of the very people He’s sent us to show Himself to. He calls us to be a living witness of His mercy and love, and holiness and judgment. We do that first by living the regenerate life of Christ before their eyes. They can see us mess up, which we WILL do, as long as they also see us repent. Especially to them if need be.

    I really believe that until Dr. Hart begins to see that the good and godly things he says he wants will never happen, at least not through him while he persists in dismissing as “pietism” this other side of the old life coin, he will never have the peace that passes understanding and the joy of the Lord in his life.

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  200. Greg, your job is to preach? I didn’t know you were ordained. But even if you were, you don’t speak like a man under authority and accountability to other ordained men. You speak as one who is a priori convinced he’s right (“policy to be in agreement with Jesus” as if it’s a cake walk) and it’s God’s job to get everyone who listens to get in line–aren’t you just so glad it’s not your job to get everyone to agree with you and God? Phew, what a load off, huh?

    But on top of an every-member-ministry influence, you also seem to promote that old bait-and-switch method of witness where unbelievers are mere targets to be shrewdly picked off and used as an audience for which one performs.

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  201. Vinyl, was just asi-asi last night. I never have appreciated the music subculture, talk about extended adolescence. How much development can you tease out of unstable, drug assisted or otherwise. The music is great, however, which would be their pushback to me. So, even?

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  202. Look ZRIM, it really is this simple. Every Christian is called to portray Christ to a dying world. It’s the decreed and “ordained” means by which the Holy Spirit moves all those eternally given to the Son by the Father, to then irresistibly come to Him. (hey that was some trinitarianism there 😀 )

    For the hundredth time. If what somebody says is the biblical truth, then the authority is in that truth and is therefore God’s own authority. Yes, the hearers are obligated by God Himself to obey it. Even from the lips of a child. If it is not God’s biblical truth, then the preacher is guilty of mishandling holy writ and attempting to bind a man’s conscience unlawfully. Knowing the difference is a terrifying, awesome and humbling duty and responsibility. This is why I spend everything I am and everything I have, learning to walk in His grace and truth so that I can speak boldly with confidence that I am not misrepresenting or dishonoring the King of Creation.

    I take that duty and responsibility with trembling hands before Him, which gives me unshakeable confidence before men. Everywhere I go, I ask the same thing. “Will you believe whatever that bible says, no matter WHO or WHAT it costs you?” Everybody says yes, very few actually mean it. 95% of em, just like the rich young ruler, have some idol or other that holds their heart captive. All anybody has to do to shut me up, is actually show me where I’m wrong. Please note how that’s never happened here. Not on anything major.

    Instead we go round and round like this.

    Hear the apostle in 1st Corinthians 1: (caps as per the Lockman translation crew indicating a quotation from the OT)
    18-For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

    19-For it is written,
    “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
    AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

    20-Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21-For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22-For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23-but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24-but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25-Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

    26-For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27-but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28-and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29-so that no man may boast before God. 30-But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31-so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

    I stand on His word Steve. It’s a very VERY safe and secure place to be. No pathetic pop culture idol could possibly compare. Neither academic achievement nor formal ordination, though both righteous if used properly, are guarantees of a man’s qualifications either.

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  203. Greg, it’s Shteffffe(spit it). And Greg, I think you need to lay down that burden. The reason you struggle with it is that you’ve co-opted it inappropriately. God gifts for the churchly roles-eph 4 and you, by your own admission-not ordained, haven’t been called or recognized as one of the ‘gifted ones’. Running a blog or sound room doesn’t qualify either. Don’t worry about it though, most of us aren’t called in that manner. Start with taking vows and submitting and see where it goes from there.

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  204. <i<If what somebody says is the biblical truth, then the authority is in that truth and is therefore God’s own authority.

    Greg, your Baptist is showing. It’s true that to utter a biblical truth is to speak God’s words after him, but that hardly qualifies the speaker to have any spiritual authority. You might publish some dime-a-dozen blog where you say true things in spots, but you don’t wield the keys of the kingdom such that you can keep me from the sacraments. Get that kind of authority and convince your fellow elders that I should be disciplined for watching The Wire and then maybe you’ll have a point. But from where I sit, you’re a million miles away from that.

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  205. Without apostolic succession, every claim to the keys of the kingdom is based ultimately on the scriptures alone. Just as it should be anyway.

    I’m not trying to enforce discipline upon you Zrim. I’m just telling you (and anyone else reading this) the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. What you do with it is between you and God. No elderboard can relieve you of that responsibility. The fact that they are not the ones doing it, tells me that they are engaging is a gross dereliction of biblical duty. Their man creds do NOT impress me when the scriptures, the standards and history are being ignored.

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  206. Greg, that’s not the only instance, even in churchly situations. And without going back and scouring every post, you’ve thrown quite a bit of shade as regards a few people’s eternal destiny just at OL. Or at least have felt free to speculate out loud.

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  207. I actually don’t believe you’re lying Sean, I just don’t think you pay any attention when I speak. There’s a vast difference between biblically judging the present credibility of someone’s claim upon the saving work of Jesus Christ, and declaring their damnation as a future certainty, which would be “passing judgment.”

    I trust that clarification lays the matter to rest. If however you persist in maintaining that I have said the latter, I defy you to show where I have or retract your accusation.

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  208. Oy vey, Terrible. But then there’s visible-invisible consideration of the subject-no salvation outside the church(membership, vows, lawful ordination-true church stuff) ordinarily considered. And your ‘biblical consideration’ of credibility(no lawful ordination, no true church) doesn’t get to equate to churchly consideration of credible confession. So, you’re just left with you playing god. So, if you want to defy yourself on the issue, please do.

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  209. See what I mean? You don’t pay attention when I speak Sean. Which of course is fine. You’re under no obligation to do so. it’s just that it becomes rather helpful later on, if you’re going to square off with somebody, to have some idea of what they’ve actually said already so they don’t copy and paste their past statements thus showing that you speak before you hear. (Proverbs 18:13)

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  210. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God. [WCF Chapter I IV.]

    We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. [WCF Chapter I V]

    By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings,and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace. [WCF Chapter XIV II.]

    The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation. [WCF Chapter XIX V.]

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  211. and ‘course the r2kers motto:
    The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.[WCF Chapter 1:VI]

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  212. Greg, maybe you could do more good as a NAPARC church officer than as Greg The Jeremiah of the Combox. And it’s a Donatist error to say that Darryl, Sean, and Zrim prove your case that church order is sorta not that big a deal. Get right, brother! [bold font]

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  213. Since you biblicists are all fired up about scripture you need to wrassle with Eph 4, in which God particularly gifts those for the building up and knitting together of the body as one. We reject Rome for it’s unfounded claims of exclusivisity(though not so much, if at all, since Vat II) but there is still actual churchly authority as founded upon apostolic tradition-scriptures, and ministered to the body of believers by those whom God has gifted and called to that service; Eph 4, 1 Tim, etc. Lawful ordination is not a self bestowed activity you work up in your basement. So, not even when Greg delivers it, particularly erroneously. However, this all goes back to Greg laying hold of the mantle of West Divines spirit, letter and trajectory, though he himself can’t manage to actually member up, vow and submit to it. There’s lots of things I can make so in my mind and basement.

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  214. sean says: since you biblicists

    ok, sure you may not like the Bible, but this is WCF this am

    sean: need to wrassle with Eph 4, in which God particularly gifts those for the building up and knitting together of the body as one.

    good point, l’uncharitables – we should be wrestling with that truth -gifts given only for building up and not for tearing down… think the Lord will be asking us each about that

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  215. Here you go Ali, got you covered on both sides.

    III. Unto this catholic visible Church Christ has given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and does, by His own presence and Spirit, according to His promise, make them effectual thereunto.[7]

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  216. Chortles says: “Greg, but you’re agnostic/skeptical on the keys and church authority? Has the bible spoken on the church?”
    Of course it has. What I said above was:

    “Without apostolic succession, every claim to the keys of the kingdom is based ultimately on the scriptures alone.”

    How is that not true? The Catholics are actually right in that Presbyterianism sprang forth pretty late in the overall historical game. From an ecclesiastical standpoint that is. We then quite rightly answer back that the keys we’re reclaimed from an utterly apostate Rome based upon the scriptures. And we’re back to my statement above.

    “Without apostolic succession, every claim to the keys of the kingdom is based ultimately on the scriptures alone.”

    I LONG for a confessional, sacramental, “old life” faith. A church that has been beguiled into such deep embrace of the world and hence the moral confusion that comes along with that, as has the OPC (the PCA is 10 times worse, RPCNA has drifted hard too), is incapable, by definition, of consistently and credibly keeping the keys. That can change. She still has a strong enough theological foundation to rebuild upon. There are also still many solid churches and people there.

    Chortles says: “And it’s a Donatist error to say that Darryl, Sean, and Zrim prove your case that church order is sorta not that big a deal.”
    I honestly don’t understand what you’re getting at here. How are you applying donatism in this scenario?

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  217. …..and sure, Sean, there is that consist l’agitator, but, you, sean, desire and have aspired to the fine work and office of overseer and must be a tested man of dignity,above reproach. Don’t forget the reward- for those who have served well as deacons- obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

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  218. Greg, you went donatist back in the rebaptizing part and clergy you considered heretical or apostate or some such flourish even if they were Trinitarian.

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  219. If presbyterianism and the WCF are biblical and one church/form is not as good as another you have a duty to join a presbyterian church if you understand this to be true. Darryl’s movie watching habits or Sean’s tone notwithstanding. It seems you use the presence of assorted baddies or bad behavior of officers in NAPARC churches as justification for not joining them. That’s Donatism — more about the men than the doctrine.

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  220. Chortles says: It seems you use the presence of assorted baddies or bad behavior of officers in NAPARC churches as justification for not joining them.”
    I have never said this and it is not the case. My own church has plenty of things I disagree with as well. I have specific reasons for being there that have nothing to do with the faithfulness or no of any other body. They are a long-ish story, not necessarily dead simple and thoroughly biblical. They also are nothing more than an attempted ad hominem diversionary tactic here.

    The red font means I mixed tags somewhere by accident. That’s what happens when I don’t proofread them at my own blog first.

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  221. Sean,

    “Since you biblicists are all fired up about scripture you need to wrassle with Eph 4, in which God particularly gifts those for the building up and knitting together of the body as one.”

    Does “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.” become no good when someone else following SS disagrees with you? Why are biblicists suddenly not allowed to affirm the perspicuity of scripture by the “lawfully ordained” who get that privilege?

    “We reject Rome for it’s unfounded claims of exclusivisity”

    You need to wrassle with Eph 4 – “one” sounds exclusive.

    “Lawful ordination is not a self bestowed activity you work up in your basement.”

    Calvin missed the memo. Are those ordained in the PCUSA or LCMS or Assemblies of God lawfully ordained with churchly authority? What differentiates lawful from unlawful ordination, or an ordered church from a “disorderly” church?

    Liked by 1 person

  222. Clete, perspicuity has in mind ordinary means which include the gifting of the body in disseminating the word. Reading and careful study(perspicuity) includes attending to the preaching(to include teaching) of the word. Biblicists aren’t allowed to go your Solo caricature. It never was a question of authority or no, but one of subordinate authority. There’s also no escaping any communion’s history-Avignon-Gregorian reforms. And we’re all called to be Berean and reject even an angel of God should he come with a different gospel.-Gal 3. The Apostles and the apostolic tradition are the touchstone and the apostolic tradition doesn’t include a roman oral one, whether concurrent, thirty years after, three hundred years later or even 1965. Part of disorderly does include a discipline that fosters lawlessness and gives safe harbor to deviants and all false teachers whose God is their appetite. But, shorthand, true churches are ones who preach a relatively pure gospel(there’s some waxing and waning-fallen nature being what it is) and right administration of all two sacraments. We’re tough on development over here.

    Liked by 2 people

  223. CW sks: “Clete, what differentiates your pope from the average UU minister?”
    Talk about entertainment? This PONTIFF is pure entertainment. I always get a good laugh envisioning the PR folks at the holy see chugging pepto bismol as they pray that Mary doesn’t let the guy near a microphone.

    I’m quite confident the apostles from which he is alleged to have descended, would never have said some of the things this man has said. Heck, most previous popes would never have said some of the things this man has said.

    Liked by 1 person

  224. oh yeah, I forgot that video. Ugh. He sure is going to have some ‘splaining to do one day….
    since in the ‘year’ of mercy (which doesn’t really expire after 2016 (necessarily, unless one dies or Jesus returns), the loving thing (since all those people in the video ‘believe in love’),the commanded thing, is persuasion to men that they are dead,alienated from God, without hope, (2 Cor 5: 11+) except through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  225. CvD:
    You need to wrassle with Eph 4 – “one” sounds exclusive.>>>>

    Yes, it does.

    Here are some questions that come to mind.

    1. What is the one faith that Paul spoke of?

    2. What is the one baptism that Paul spoke of?

    3. Who is the one Lord that Paul spoke of?

    4. What is the one body that Paul spoke of?

    5. Who is the one Spirit that Paul spoke of?

    6. What is the one hope that Paul spoke of?

    7. Who is the one God and Father of all?

    8. What does it mean that this one God and Father of all is above, through, and in all? All of what?

    I came to the conclusion that the kind of multiplicity of denominations, all making some claim to being a true church of some kind is not really what the Apostle Paul spoke of under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Protestantism in all its parts has a hard time finding itself in Ephesians 4.

    Seems like these statements about oneness are ontological. They go to the essence of what it means to be the body of Christ. Protestants can get some mileage with the idea the the true church is invisible. However, they have a very hard time explaining what the visible church is supposed to look like.

    Arguing the difficulties and even failures of individuals and groups within the Catholic Church is, in reality, a huge diversion. If Protestants want to make the case that the Catholic Church does not nor can she meet the Ephesians 4 criteria, then what church or groups of churches does or do?

    Protestants have a very hard time defining what churches meet the Ephesians 4 criteria. May I kindly suggest that the word “churches” is a problem for Protestants? Try focusing on the word “one” and see if your ontology gets a reboot. Try it.

    Ephesians 4
    I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

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  226. Mermaid, if you’re all about unity, why leave the ONE church of Jerusalem and set up one, worldwide church government (Trilateral Commission anyone?) by following the theology of glory from the empire’s capital?

    That reveling in Yankees’ championships goes way back. Rome is great. See? We are great Christians who’s hq is in Rome.

    THINK.

    Liked by 1 person

  227. Sean,

    “perspicuity has in mind ordinary means which include the gifting of the body in disseminating the word. ”

    So are the PCUSA, LCMS, AoG, Word of Faith churches part of the body being gifted and whose ordained leaders you should heed as having churchly authority?

    “Reading and careful study(perspicuity) includes attending to the preaching(to include teaching) of the word.”

    Greg reads and carefully studies and attends to the preaching/teaching of the word at his church. Is he a biblicist or not? Why cut him off from the perspicuity of Scripture and affirm it for yourself and your church’s ordained leaders?

    ” And we’re all called to be Berean and reject even an angel of God should he come with a different gospel.”

    I fail to see how that differs from Greg’s earlier statement: “Without apostolic succession, every claim to the keys of the kingdom is based ultimately on the scriptures alone. Just as it should be anyway. ”
    You responded to him: “So, you’re just left with you playing god….Lawful ordination is not a self bestowed activity you work up in your basement. So, not even when Greg delivers it, particularly erroneously… The reason you struggle with it is that you’ve co-opted it inappropriately. God gifts for the churchly roles-eph 4 and you, by your own admission-not ordained, haven’t been called or recognized as one of the ‘gifted ones’.”

    So Scripture is perspicuous, except when other SS followers disagree with me, then they need to heed the “lawfully ordained” and the “ordered church”, except that I’m to judge the lawfulness of that ordination and orderliness of that church like a good Berean and the cycle continues. This differs from “playing god” and “self bestowed activity” and fired up biblicists and a solo caricature somehow.

    CW,

    Nothing in the video entails the pope is unitarian or universalist.

    Like

  228. James Young, why is it you don’t answer for all the inconsistencies on Rome’s side but only see problems in Protestantism? It’s not like Rome has it all worked out, you know. Or do you live inside Bryan Cross’ notebook?

    Liked by 1 person

  229. Mermaid,

    Let’s grant ontological oneness and see if Rome’s answers are consistent or better than Protestants:

    1. What is the one faith that Paul spoke of?

    Is the one faith Thomist or Molinist? Rome hasn’t told me.

    2. What is the one baptism that Paul spoke of?

    If ontological unity is so important, then why do denominations that teach heresy, as Rome says ours do, get to administer valid baptism seeing as Rome will accept baptisms that come from denominations that are more anti-Rome than Jack Chick as long as they are done in the right name?

    3. Who is the one Lord that Paul spoke of?

    If it is Jesus, then why is Krishna a-ok for salvation according to Rome.

    4. What is the one body that Paul spoke of?

    How can any church have valid sacraments if it is not ontologically connected to Rome? Yet the East is golden on that count, and there are plenty of RC theologians who say the church subsists in even our tiny Reformed denominations.

    5. Who is the one Spirit that Paul spoke of?

    Would that be the Holy Spirit in the Roman-endorsed charismatic movement who grants those who don’t have Apostolic succession a true bishopric, as Francis recently exclaimed of his brother bishop at a Ken Copeland conference?

    6. What is the one hope that Paul spoke of?

    Is it the one hope that only in the church and in submission to the pope can you be saved (pre-V2) or in the all roads lead to heaven hope of post-V2.

    7. Who is the one God and Father of all?

    Would that be Yahweh (pre-V2) or Yahweh and Allah (post-V2)?

    Us ontologically deficient Protestants want to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  230. Not to jab my mermaid friend, but ya know Robert, this is a dern fine commen right here. Those are some unbelievably spot on and relevant questions for today’s Catholics. Outstanding indeed.

    Like

  231. CVD says” “Greg reads and carefully studies and attends to the preaching/teaching of the word at his church. Is he a biblicist or not? Why cut him off from the perspicuity of Scripture and affirm it for yourself and your church’s ordained leaders? …So Scripture is perspicuous, except when other SS followers disagree with me, then they need to heed the “lawfully ordained” and the “ordered church”, except that I’m to judge the lawfulness of that ordination and orderliness of that church like a good Berean and the cycle continues. This differs from “playing god” and “self bestowed activity” and fired up biblicists and a solo caricature somehow.”
    YEAH!!! What kinda crap is this anyway!!! Tell im Cletus!

    “Without apostolic succession, every claim to the keys of the kingdom is based ultimately on the scriptures alone. Just as it should be anyway. ”
    There’s just no way around that and I have no problem with it.

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  232. Protestants have no answers for their Ephesians 4 ontological dilemma.

    Mockery of Catholicism will not help you, only confirm what I said. I will repeat it.
    Arguing the difficulties and even failures of individuals and groups within the Catholic Church is, in reality, a huge diversion. Robert gave us a whole school of red herrings, and did not even try to explain the meaning of Ephesians 4.

    He fails, as does Brother Hart, as does my dear friend, Greg. Petros thinks its all a joke, evidently. Maybe someday you guys will take Ephesians 4 seriously. Of course, some of your philologist friends make a pretty strong case for a denial of Pauline authorship of the book of Ephesians. So maybe Ephesians 4 doesn’t belong in the Bible at all.

    Protestants can never know for sure what the canon of Scripture really is. So, maybe Ephesians 4 can be ignored on a technicality. Maybe it, along with the pericope adulterae and the end of Mark 16 can be ignored by you. It may as well not be in the Bible for all the importance Protestants give to Ephesians 4.

    The Catholic Church is glad to claim it since you don’t seem to want it.

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  233. sean:.
    Lawful ordination is not a self bestowed activity you work up in your basement. >>>>>

    Who ordained Calvin?

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  234. Mermaid,

    Not red herrings; legitimate counterevidence to your claims. Look, be RC if you want to; just stop whining about our problems when you don’t actually have a solution to them. That’s the problem with the RC apologetic.

    And you have yet to demonstrate that Eph. 4 equals the actual kind of unity Rome has. Maybe it does, but we’re not going to assume RC “exegesis” here. You need to prove it.

    Like

  235. I leave town and the whole world chimes in. Well, three basement dwellers anyway. Clete, you’re conflating my comments to Greg about rendering judgement with my paraphrasing of perspicuity, mashing them together and abracadabra you imagine you’ve uncovered inconsistency. The point about perspicuity was to guard against a caricature of solo scriptura and the point about rendering judgement was to point out to Greg he’s in no position to speculate or make such judgements about the eternal destiny of others, which he claims to not do but I beg to differ with him about that denial. As regards what you fail to see, well, your limitations are like, your problem. When you go hunting for gaps in folks discussions that aren’t engaged tit for tat with your standing polemic, that, again, is your issue. Btw, have you turned up the RC’s infallible commentary of all of holy writ, yet? How about the table of contents for that fabled deposit? Hello?

    Like

  236. Sean says: “the point about rendering judgement was to point out to Greg he’s in no position to speculate or make such judgements about the eternal destiny of others, which he claims to not do but I beg to differ with him about that denial.”
    A single affirming citation will make your point. Never happen. Watch folks. This will just be forgotten. Which is fine.

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  237. mrswebfoot says:”Who ordained Calvin?”
    See, here’s the thing. She actually makes a great point. Didn’t Machen (effectively) ordain himself when he left the PCUSA too? Don’t get me wrong, he SHOULD have done that and thank God he did. Just in time too. The point is, “Without apostolic succession, every claim to the keys of the kingdom is based ultimately on the scriptures alone. Just as it should be anyway.”

    Allow me to clarify further . I do NOT disdain denominational ordination. At all. Its’ a very very good thing. I am FOR it as I am for confessionalism. It’s just that without apostolic succession, it simply cannot be coherently enforced as the only thing. Somebody make me understand how please.

    I also like the idea of apostolic succession. Shoot, I like the idea of a Catholic (big C) church. I’d join in a minute except for the fact that that religion cannot be even accidentally mistaken for the gospel of the ancient Christian scriptures. I do not intend to be hurtful by saying that, but that’s how it is.

    WCF I is absolutely correct. (a statement of faith to be sure) And if it is, then the meat of all the rest is as well. The God of WCF II-III follows magnificently form the scriptures of chapter I. And the scriptures of chapter I are the only kind the God of II-III would, or I would contend COULD ever give us.

    You will say to me than: “Is this not circular reasoning?”

    To which I reply, of course it is. All finite human reason is eventually circular. Faith is the only escape. Everybody has it. It’s only a matter of what in. You Thomists make it very rough on yourselves. No solution there.

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  238. Greg, you’ve made allusions to the desperate state of Darryl’s soul, even rescuing it in your mind(that’s why I’m here) at different points. You’ve accused me, John, and Zrim of damnable heresy and then asked at least two of them to ‘prove’ they’re not as if your vetting counted for something. Quite frankly, in another context, I’d tell you to go F-yourself(influence of rated R movies I’m sure) but in this context I’ll just tell you to take your “I’m jus’ sayin’ you make the connections” farce and shove it. You’ve cast other passive-aggressive and just plain aggressive assertions as well, but I haven’t the inclination to go find them all, I’ll just trade on one of your shortcuts “Impressions grow over time” I’m jus sayin

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  239. sean :…you’ve accused …you’ve cast other passive-aggressive and just plain aggressive assertions as well…“Impressions grow over time”

    good point; and the Lord had so many ‘woes’ for pharisees.

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  240. This is the very last time I will address this with you Sean unless you cite me as declaring the final state of somebody’s soul. Which would be “passing judgement.” In other words, this is the very last time, because you will never be able to do that.

    Christians are commanded to JUDGE others claiming to be Christians according to a specific set of standards. It is a COMMAND that we do our best to weigh a person’s life and words against those standards. Not to pronounce their final state, but to reveal their present credibility as one claiming new life in the risen Christ. Final judgment is for the Lord alone and the thief on the cross teaches us that it is never too late for one of His elect. I will not allow a pathetic, backslidden, spiritually emaciated caricature of the biblical church to dissuade me from obeying that command, even if she utterly refuses to do so herself.

    Flagrant open practitioners, indeed CELEBRATORS of sin, have at best severely diminished that credibility. Degrees and ordination, far from helping, actually aggravate that situation because they greatly increase one’s culpability.

    I stand fully confident and prepared to answer to the God of the scriptures and standards for my attitudes and actions according to His written and living word. Until you can overthrow what I’ve brought here by those scriptures, it is God you are telling to go F-Himself, not me. I say again. I am just the messenger and would have been an unremarkable, dime a dozen Presbyterian 200 yeas ago. YOU are the one who has abandoned your roots.

    Your baseless accusation remains just that. Bring something or shaddup 🙂 In Jesus name.

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  241. Yes, Greg, I already understood you equated yourself with God. My point exactly. Sure, you’re one of those dime a dozen Presbyterians of two hundred years ago that doesn’t subscribe the West confession or attend a rightly ordered church, according to the West. Divines. You bet you are. I did, however, abandon my RC roots, though there might be some Ulster Irish on my dad’s side but don’t tell my mom that.

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  242. Robert says:
    March 23, 2016 at 8:47 pm
    Mermaid,

    Not red herrings; legitimate counterevidence to your claims. Look, be RC if you want to; just stop whining about our problems when you don’t actually have a solution to them. That’s the problem with the RC apologetic.

    And you have yet to demonstrate that Eph. 4 equals the actual kind of unity Rome has. Maybe it does, but we’re not going to assume RC “exegesis” here. You need to prove it.>>>>>

    Robert, I would like to see a Reformed exegesis of this passage that takes into account the word “one” that I count 7 times in Ephesians 4:1-6. Of course you don’t accept the idea that the Catholic Church is correct in her exegesis. That is a given.

    I am asking for yours. Now, if you wish to let the Catholic Church have that passage, we Catholics are glad to take it and use it. She knows what to do with it.

    Like

  243. Greg:I also like the idea of apostolic succession. Shoot, I like the idea of a Catholic (big C) church. I’d join in a minute except for the fact that that religion cannot be even accidentally mistaken for the gospel of the ancient Christian scriptures. I do not intend to be hurtful by saying that, but that’s how it is.>>>>

    It doesn’t hurt at all, Greg. Do you think, – given Ephesians 4:1-6 and John 17 – that Jesus died for the idea of one Catholic Church? How many brides does He have? Now, sdb was offended by my question, but it remains unanswered. Does Jesus have a bride that He is purifying for her wedding day, or a harem?

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  244. Those two passages more than others – Ephesians 4:1-6 and John 17 – brought me up short. There really is only one body of Christ.

    We really are brothers and sisters in Him through baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I pray that all of us will be brought into full communion with His Church – and I know that sounds arrogant and offensive to Protestant ears. That’s fine. I do understand. I really do.

    At least we all know that is the goal Christ has for us, His people, as so clearly expressed in His High Priestly prayer. I don’t think there is disagreement there. Not sure.

    So, I push Eph. 4 and John 17.

    BTW, I always had and still have a great respect for Machen. He was one of the good guys.

    Like

  245. Webfoot,

    I hope you are well. The simplest exegesis I can give of Eph. 4:1–6 is that it is Paul’s assertion that the church is to be both one in faith (including baptism) and one in organization. The question is when that is all going to happen. Since even in the New Testament the Christians were not one in faith or organization, it seems that Paul is speaking of what will be an eschatological reality. Unity in faith and organization is a goal to which we are all supposed to be pressing but which was not achieved then (hence Paul tolerating people with different opinions about meat and idols; not all of them can be right) and may not be achieved until the return of Christ.

    There are two errors: 1. Thinking unity of faith at the expense of unity of organization is a good thing. This is the Protestant tendency, for while Protestants are united on a great many matters of faith there is organizational unity lacking.

    2. Thinking unity of organization at the expense of unity of faith is a good thing. This is the RC tendency, for the fact is that there is no unity on matters of faith among RCs unless we drastically limit our definition of a “true RC.” And even then, significant differences on faith are ignored (i.e., Thomists, Molinists, and Augustinians).

    As someone who has to live in reality the way it is, I have to choose a church. So I can either choose a system in which there is great unity of faith and then work within that system for an organizational unity that doesn’t compromise faith (Protestantism) or I can choose a system in which there is is great unity of organization and work within that organizational unity for unity in faith that doesn’t compromise the organization (Roman Catholicism).

    All of the evidence of history and Scripture shows that option one is better. The liberalism in the mainline denominations tends toward an ecumenism of organizational unity with no doctrine, and frankly, that is where the liberalism in your church is taking it. The downfall in option one is that it can tend to lead to strong personalities splitting churches for no good reason. But better that than affirming non-Christian beliefs (as the mainline and post-V2 has done) in the name of keeping the tent big and broad.

    Liked by 1 person

  246. Robert:
    I hope you are well.>>>>

    We are excellent, here, Robert. I hope the same for you.

    Robert:
    The simplest exegesis I can give of Eph. 4:1–6 is that it is Paul’s assertion that the church is to be both one in faith (including baptism) and one in organization. >>>>

    Agreed.

    Robert:
    The question is when that is all going to happen. Since even in the New Testament the Christians were not one in faith or organization, it seems that Paul is speaking of what will be an eschatological reality. Unity in faith and organization is a goal to which we are all supposed to be pressing but which was not achieved then (hence Paul tolerating people with different opinions about meat and idols; not all of them can be right) and may not be achieved until the return of Christ.>>>>>

    Why did Paul speak in the present tense if he was talking about something that will only happen in the future? Yes, it is a future reality as well, but why did Paul speak of it in the present?

    He says there IS one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. That is reality right now.

    Ephesians 4
    I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

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  247. Robert:
    As someone who has to live in reality the way it is, I have to choose a church. So I can either choose a system in which there is great unity of faith and then work within that system for an organizational unity that doesn’t compromise faith (Protestantism) or I can choose a system in which there is is great unity of organization and work within that organizational unity for unity in faith that doesn’t compromise the organization (Roman Catholicism).

    All of the evidence of history and Scripture shows that option one is better. >>>>>>

    Robert, I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. Now, you have made your decision and are convinced that is that best option. I understand.

    May I kindly suggest that your did not exegete Ephesians 4.

    You read your own view of reality into the text, which would be eisegesis. As I pointed out yesterday, Paul was speaking in the present tense. From his point of view, the oneness of the body of Christ was present tense, not exclusively future. It is still present tense and will always be present tense.

    If you say that the body of Christ will be one someday, then how can you avoid saying that there will be one Lord, and there will be one God and Father of all. Christ is Lord right now. God is God and our Father right now. So, the body, Spirit, faith, baptism, hope are also right now.

    That is where Protestant ontology seems to fall flat. Paul gives a strong exhortation to do all we can to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It seems to me that your focus on the problems that modernism has caused for all Christians has been used as a kind of escape clause. Because of the great threat that modernistic theology is to Christianity, the exhortation to maintain unity can be set aside if not ignored altogether.

    Remember, though, that unity was not sacrificed to some of the great heretical movements of the past. The Arian heresy, the Pelagian heresy, and even the Donatist controversy were all dealt with in house. Donatism did involve some heretical teachings. It wasn’t all about church discipline.

    May I also suggest to you that the Catholic Church weathered the storm of the Protestant Reformation and came out stronger. Even most Protestant historians recognize that what is called the counter Reformation did bring about necessary changes.

    It seems to me that you are ignoring a third option, then. That is the option many of the great saints and doctors of the Church have taken. Stay within the system and reform from within. Stay within the system and fight for Truth against the error that threatens the body of Christ.

    That is the option that many Catholics have taken in our day as well.

    In fact, no offense meant, but the movements that the original Reformers like Calvin and Luther have largely caved to modernism. You predict that the Catholic Church will follow suit. How do you know that? You base your prediction on what has happened in Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Congregationalism, Episcopalianism, and others. You except Catholicism to follow suit.

    You also predict that modernism will not bring down your own denomination. That prediction may be wrong. If Old Life is any indication, then you may be in trouble.

    Anyway, I do appreciate your kind response. Thank you for taking my concerns seriously. Maybe someone else from the Protestant side will take on the challenge of exegeting Ephesians 4:1-6.

    Kind regards,
    Mrs. Webfoot – or The Little Mermaid, Ariel, Mermaid, Merm and whatever else I am to my Old Life brothers 😉

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  248. May I kindly suggest that your did not exegete Ephesians 4.

    I did not do a thorough exegesis of the text, it is true. Hard to do that in a com box.

    You read your own view of reality into the text, which would be eisegesis. As I pointed out yesterday, Paul was speaking in the present tense. From his point of view, the oneness of the body of Christ was present tense, not exclusively future. It is still present tense and will always be present tense.

    1. The fact that Paul is speaking in the present tense does not mean that oneness is a full, present reality. Tenses just don’t work that way.
    2. “Not exclusively future” you say. Bingo. So you are recognizing that there is a future aspect to the oneness that has not been achieved.
    3. Paul says there is one faith (Eph. 4:5) and yet he says teachers, etc. have been given until we “all attain to the unity of faith” (Eph. 4:13). Unity of faith was not something achieved in Paul’s day. It is something to come for Him, an eschatological reality. May I suggest this is true even in Roman Catholicism. There is not unity of faith between Thomists and Molinists and Augustinians on very significant points.
    4. May I suggest that the lack of unity between Protestants on matters of faith mirrors those differences between Thomists and Molinists and Augustinians—ie, in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and charity. All we lack is organizational unity, which Rome has nominally.

    If you say that the body of Christ will be one someday, then how can you avoid saying that there will be one Lord, and there will be one God and Father of all. Christ is Lord right now. God is God and our Father right now. So, the body, Spirit, faith, baptism, hope are also right now.

    Because there is a difference between Christ and His body. They aren’t equivalent. The unity to which the body of Christ is to strive has been “achieved” (it always was) by the Godhead. The church presses forward to achieve it. It is one in one respect (I would say the invisible church) and not one in another. None of that entails that Christ is not the one Lord now.

    That is where Protestant ontology seems to fall flat. Paul gives a strong exhortation to do all we can to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It seems to me that your focus on the problems that modernism has caused for all Christians has been used as a kind of escape clause. Because of the great threat that modernistic theology is to Christianity, the exhortation to maintain unity can be set aside if not ignored altogether.

    Not an “escape clause.” Again, just pointing out that if you are going to criticize Protestants for lack of unity, you must stop pretending there is unity in Roman Catholicism beyond nominal organizational, we-all-tip-our-hat-to-the-Magisterium-but-most-of-us-do-not-care-in-the-actual-Roman-Church kind of unity. Don’t present Rome as a solution until Rome actually is a solution. Until then, you aren’t really helping us.

    All the Protestants I know personally are doing what they can to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Organizations like NAPARC exist. Parachurch organizations, despite legitimate concerns and failings we should be aware of, bring Protestants from various traditions together. You all seem to think that unity can’t exist without one centralized bureaucracy. I say there is more in common in matters of faith between me, a Presbyterian, and a Reformed Baptist who are both members in good standing in our respective churches than there is between you and Nancy Pelosi, both of you being members in good standing of your church. That’s a problem that none of you actually deal with.

    Remember, though, that unity was not sacrificed to some of the great heretical movements of the past. The Arian heresy, the Pelagian heresy, and even the Donatist controversy were all dealt with in house. Donatism did involve some heretical teachings. It wasn’t all about church discipline.

    Let me suggest that this is a naïve reading of church history, particularly when it came to the Arian heresy. The Magisterium, saved for a few bishops such as Athanasius caved. Pope Liberius signed an Arian confession. The church was following the emperor at this point, not orthodox teaching. Yeah, orthodoxy survived but not because of the church’s indefectibility. It survived because it was true, and truth always prevails over error eventually. The one faith exists prior to the church and is above the church. Protestants can say that. I don’t see how Roman Catholics can.

    May I also suggest to you that the Catholic Church weathered the storm of the Protestant Reformation and came out stronger. Even most Protestant historians recognize that what is called the counter Reformation did bring about necessary changes.

    Sure it brought necessary changes. But it also anathematized the gospel. I don’t call that weathering the storm. That’s the problem.

    It seems to me that you are ignoring a third option, then. That is the option many of the great saints and doctors of the Church have taken. Stay within the system and reform from within. Stay within the system and fight for Truth against the error that threatens the body of Christ.

    I wasn’t born into the system of Rome, so its not an option for me. And the solution for me isn’t to join a corrupt system. A Roman Catholic who was born into the church and wants to stay in and advocate for the true gospel, has my blessing. But I don’t know how many of them there are, and the Roman Church on an organizational level, frankly, is apostate.

    That is the option that many Catholics have taken in our day as well.
    In fact, no offense meant, but the movements that the original Reformers like Calvin and Luther have largely caved to modernism. You predict that the Catholic Church will follow suit. How do you know that? You base your prediction on what has happened in Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Methodism, Congregationalism, Episcopalianism, and others. You except Catholicism to follow suit.

    Pope Francis is a living example of how your church has caved to modernism. That’s how I can say this. The idea that the differences between Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and RCs regarding how we encounter God don’t really matter, that all we need is love, as he affirmed in his recent ecumenical prayer video, is a modernist manifesto. The fact that more than half of communing RCs reject your Magisterium’s teachings on matters related to human sexuality is another evidence Rome has caved. I’m not predicting that Rome has followed suit. I’m saying that it already has.

    You also predict that modernism will not bring down your own denomination. That prediction may be wrong. If Old Life is any indication, then you may be in trouble.

    I don’t recall predicting any such thing. Call me pessimistic, but given human nature, I expect heretics to finally lead all denominations astray. But that is not a problem if the church is not equivalent to any one denomination. The invisible church has priority over the visible. Even Rome must finally affirm this.

    The strength of the church will wax and wane until Christ’s return. Such has always been the case of God’s people, starting with Moses.

    Anyway, I do appreciate your kind response. Thank you for taking my concerns seriously. Maybe someone else from the Protestant side will take on the challenge of exegeting Ephesians 4:1-6.

    Thank you.

    Like

  249. Robert:
    1. The fact that Paul is speaking in the present tense does not mean that oneness is a full, present reality. Tenses just don’t work that way.>>>>>

    In Koiné, the verb tenses indicate the kind of action, not just the time something is happening. Present tense indicates continuous action in the present. That makes it even more definite that the 7 elements mentioned in Ephesians 4:1-6 all exist continually. Sure. Not all are fully actualized, but 3 are – Spirit, Lord, God and Father of all.

    Now there is one body.
    Now there is one Spirit.
    Now there is one Lord.
    Now there is one faith.
    Now there is one baptism.
    Now there is one hope.
    Now there is one God and Father of all.

    You would not say that there will be one Spirit in the future, but not now.
    You would not say that there will be one Lord in the future, but not now.
    You would not say that there will be one faith in the future, but not now.
    You would not say that there will be one baptism in the future, but not now. You would not say that there will be baptism in Heaven, but no baptism now.
    You would not say that there will be one hope in the future, but not now. This one is especially problematic for you if you were to say that we have no hope in Christ right now.
    You would not say that there is one God and Father of all in the future, but not now.

    So why would you say that there will be one body in the future, but not now?

    See the problems created by putting the unity of the body into the future only? You could say that the invisible body made up of all the elect of all time is in view here. However, as you have already pointed out, Paul also had in mind organizational unity. It is both the visible and the invisible Church that is in view here in Ephesians 4.

    Now, you have created a reality for yourself that may work for you somewhat. However, it is not the reality that the Apostle Paul was talking about under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    Like

  250. Of course, the words “there is” are not in the Greek, but are understood. Check out the verbals in the passage. Maybe someone would like to do an analysis of them. It is clear, though, that Paul is talking about a present reality, not only a future one. On the basis of that reality, he appeals to believers to work hard to maintain unity.

    Like

  251. MWF: In Koiné, the verb tenses indicate the kind of action, not just the time something is happening. Present tense indicates continuous action in the present.

    Two problems.

    (1) Present tense only sometimes indicates continuous action in the present. You need additional context to get from “present” to “continuous action”

    (2) There is no present tense in the sentences you refer to:

    σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς εἰρήνης· 4 ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα, καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν· 5 εἷς κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα· 6 εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων, ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν [a]πᾶσιν

    striving to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: one body and one spirit just as also you were called in one hope of your calling…

    There is no “is” here.

    All that said, I agree with you that Paul is describing a present reality. However, there is no indication that the unity is dependent upon a unity of administration.

    There IS one body, consisting of all who have received the one baptism, have the one Spirit.

    That fact is the basis for our maintaining – not creating – the unity of the Spirit, which is not called a unity of administration.

    Peace and Happy Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

  252. Confessions of Faith are public documents which represent the mind of the church before the world, which bear witness to the biblical truth the church confesses, and which thereby witness against error. As such they have ongoing pedagogical, polemical and spiritual-formational value. (In the past some such Confessions of Faith — like the Lutheran Augsburg Confession — were even read before kings and magistrates who had to take them seriously, even if they disagreed with their contents.)

    On the other hand, church statements such as the one above which address specific narrow societal issues, and which do so in such a vague and general way, are pretty much useless except that they make their authors feel good about themselves. Most of these kinds of statements are ignored by secular rulers and by almost everyone else (except perhaps ecclesiastical geeks who like to read such stuff).

    Like

  253. Jeff: Peace and Happy Easter.

    amen

    John 17: 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity

    “ Jesus only asks for one thing here. My friends, if He only asks for one thing, what a shame, what a tragic dire tragedy in our lives that He wouldn’t see it happen. And He’s not talking about an outward oneness, not talking about ecumenical gettin-together, He’s not talking about organizational oneness, He’s not talking about administrative oneness or ecclesiastical unity. He’s talking about an inner oneness.” “How do you know? V 21: “That they all may be one,” how? “… As Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee.” The same kind of oneness that the Father and the Son experience. How can we be one in the same sense that the Father and the Son are one. Well certainly not in divine essence , but the first thing that it says to me is He’s not talking about a superficial organizational, denominational, administrative oneness. He’s talking about something that is inner and something that is spiritual. “

    “He wants from us a unity that in some sense is an analogous to His unity with the Father. And it must transcend the physical and it must transcend the earthy and it must be something divine. And sadly, the cause of Christian oneness has all through history been injured, violated and hindered. You know why? Watch this one, because men have consistently loved their organization more than they’ve loved each other. They have become selfish either in loving themselves or their little organization more than they love others. And that has caused division.” “You see, when men try to get together on an organizational level, it never works. Jesus wants a oneness of love possible only in holiness. The only way we can be one is when we’re all holy. As long as you’re living in the world, as long as you’re crudding up your Christian life with worldly things, you can’t be one with the rest of us. As long as I’m doing that, I can’t be one. The oneness He wants is a holy oneness. Two things are the key to the oneness of the Father and the Son: separate from sin and love.”

    “The kind of oneness analogous to the Father/Son oneness is a oneness of holiness and love … separate from sin and in love with each other. That’s what Jesus prayed for. And as long in your life as you are violating either and if you violate either, you will automatically violate both, if you are not separate from the world and the sin in the world and you are not in love with your brother, you are destroying the oneness for which Jesus prayed. These are the perfect standards that we desire with all our hearts to see in our lives. And I’m telling you, friends, if Jesus only prayed for one thing, only one thing while we’re here on earth, what shame … what a lack of love … what a sick kind of selfishness that we should hinder the one thing that’s all He prayed for and thus His prayer by our will goes unanswered.”

    “Christ wants a loving oneness in holy living, made possible because He gave us common partaking of divine nature and He wants us to act like it that the world may know Christ’s deity, His redemptive mission and the love of God.”
    http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/1568 exerpts

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  254. I said:
    Of course, the words “there is” are not in the Greek, but are understood. Check out the verbals in the passage. Maybe someone would like to do an analysis of them. It is clear, though, that Paul is talking about a present reality, not only a future one. On the basis of that reality, he appeals to believers to work hard to maintain unity.>>>>

    Jeff said:
    There is no “is” here.>>>>

    Did you copy me? I said that first. So, what was your problem with what I said? It’s a problem because I said it? Sheesh, man! 😉

    Jeff said:
    (1) Present tense only sometimes indicates continuous action in the present. You need additional context to get from “present” to “continuous action”>>>>

    Exactly, which is why the translators, following the sense of the context, added “There is…”. It needs to be there in order to make it make sense in English. Every translation I looked at has those words. Are you saying that they are all mistaken or that they don’t understand Greek verb tenses very well?

    Besides, you are only partly correct to say that there are no present tense verbs. Notice that I asked for an analysis of the verbals, which would include participles, but you know that.

    What is σπουδάζοντες in v. 3? A present participle, of course.

    Besides, I included 4:1-6. Why did you leave it out? That is what I have been cutting and pasting all along, and asking for a proper exegesis of that passage. Maybe you didn’t know that.

    It begins with Παρακαλῶ – I urge – which is a present tense verb.

    Paul is urging Christians to do something now. But you know that. You get the idea.

    Jeff:
    That fact is the basis for our maintaining – not creating – the unity of the Spirit, which is not called a unity of administration.>>>>>

    It does not rule out the unity of administration as you call it. You cannot find the denominationalism of Protestantism in the NT. In fact, you cannot find it before the Protestant Reformation.

    Some Baptist groups make a valiant effort to trace their history back to the NT, but some of the groups they claim were heretical.

    The different churches found in the NT were not divided doctrinally, but rather geographically. But you know all that.

    Like I said earlier, I could no longer justify the kind of division seen in Protestantism. If you can, then that’s fine, but you can’t get there through exegesis alone. In fact, Church history is not on your side, either.

    Like it or not, I am still your sister in Christ. I’m happy about that.

    You have a wonderful Easter with family and friends. We colored eggs yesterday and will have a family gathering on Monday. Good time to celebrate. All the best to you and your loved ones.

    Your very best frenemie always,
    Mrs. Webfoot, or MWF

    PS
    Here’s a homily from ancient times about the phrase “He descended into hell.” It’s safe to read because it is from a time when we were all just Catholics. 😉
    http://www.lentreflections.com/holy-saturday-he-descended-into-hell/

    Like

  255. MWF: Did you copy me? I said that first. So, what was your problem with what I said? It’s a problem because I said it?

    No, it was one of those unfortunate Internet things where I was typing my reply to two posts up while you were typing your disclaimer — which I only saw after my reply posted.

    No disparagement intended.

    As to the present verbals, yes: present participles generally indicate action during the time of the main verb. In this case, the main verb is unremarkable:

    Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς … περιπατῆσαι…

    I encourage you therefore … To walk

    The present tense here does not carry an emphasis on ongoing action.

    MWF: It does not rule out the unity of administration as you call it.

    Pause right there. Your argument has been

    (1) A proper exegesis of Eph 4 leads to a belief in the oneness of the church
    (2) which, according to proper exegesis, must include oneness of administration,
    (3) Which only the RCC provides.

    Now it turns out that Eph 4 does not require oneness of administration but only doesn’t disprove such oneness?

    You just surrendered your whole hill with nary a shot fired.

    What’s your case? Why should I read Eph 4 and think “Aha! Catholicism!”?

    For my part, I read Eph 4 and think that, no matter the current fragmented nature of the visible church – Catholic, EO, Protestant – there is an essential unity amongst all those that share the same faith, baptism, and Spirit.

    When you insist on calling me Christian, I suspect that you secretly agree with me.

    Like

  256. Jeff:
    Pause right there. Your argument has been

    (1) A proper exegesis of Eph 4 leads to a belief in the oneness of the church
    (2) which, according to proper exegesis, must include oneness of administration,
    (3) Which only the RCC provides.

    Now it turns out that Eph 4 does not require oneness of administration but only doesn’t disprove such oneness?>>>>

    1. Yes
    2. Yes.
    3. Yes.

    1. I don’t think that you, Robert, or I dispute the fact of the body’s invisible oneness in Christ. We would disagree on some specifics. It’s the visible part we really disagree on. Right?

    2. You said Eph. does not require oneness of administration. What you cannot say is that it disproves such oneness. Robert actually gave it away by admitting that Paul had visible unity in mind as well as invisible. I agree with him on that, but disagree that it is an impossibility before Christ returns.

    3. A. The Creeds

    Both the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed speak of something called the Catholic Church. Organizational unity was strong in both creeds. There was only one Christianity at the time the great ecumenical creeds were drawn up, only one Church called Catholic.

    3. B. Church history

    The Catholic Church was under one administration until the time of the Reformation. It was at least as united as the Catholic Church is today. A kind of Borg-like mentality has never been what Catholic unity has meant, and it doesn’t mean that now. There are key things that unite us, that make us Catholic – the Eucharist, – the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ’s Real Presence – the Pope, the liturgy, the creeds, – especially the Apostles’ and the Nicene – the catechisms, – especially the most recent one, – the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, the Mass, the sacraments, and so forth. I can go anywhere in the world and feel at home in a Catholic Church – and I do.

    The EO is still separated from the Catholic Church, but basically share the same beliefs. As TVD like to point out, the CC and the EO are basically the same religion.

    Protestantism is quite different in many ways, but still Christian.

    3. B. Too much division among Protestants, a lot of it over relatively minor differences of opinion.

    From what I read, the issue in Paul’s day was the unity between Jewish and Gentile believers. Now Protestant disagreements are about all kinds of things, and congregations or whole denominations split and splinter over any number of issues.

    Denominationalism is a fairly new “thing.” It was not known before the Reformation. We know it will not last past Christ’s coming. We have to unite someday. Why not now?

    3. C. NT unity – both invisible-spiritual and visible-organizational

    There was a kind of ecclesiastical, visible unity in the NT. Paul and Barnabas were sent out from the church in Antioch. Paul kept tabs on the new churches that had been planted because of his missionary journeys. He visited them in person, sent people to them, took up collections for the poor and persecuted, wrote letters, and left pastors in charge.

    Then there were the guys in Jerusalem who also had some kind of oversight of churches. Paul took them at least somewhat seriously, though in need of correction at times because of their Judaizing tendencies. Right? He did not blow them off completely, and did submit to their scrutiny at times.

    There was Church discipline, as per the adulterous man in the Church at Corinth, as well as heretics that were identified and dealt with.

    Peter continued to be the leader of the 12 all throughout his lifetime.

    There was a visible unity – though not perfect, of course. You might say it was semi formal, but it was there. There were not thousands of versions of Christianity.

    etc., but that’s enough. I think you get the idea. Not that I expect you to agree on every point, but I hope I have explained somewhat where I am coming from. I am quite certain that I am on the right track. 😉

    I still love my Protestant brothers and sisters.

    Jeff:
    What’s your case? Why should I read Eph 4 and think “Aha! Catholicism!”?>>>>

    See the above explanation if you wish. Maybe you think I am all wrong, and that’s okay. I did my best to explain why I think that a proper exegesis of Ephesians 4 will lead to the Catholic Church. Others do a much better job than I do. Taking a fresh look at Ephesians 4 should at least make us take Paul’s exhortation more seriously. Not sayin’ I am the best example. Don’t get me wrong. I have a long, long way to go before I would hold myself up as an example.

    Jeff:
    For my part, I read Eph 4 and think that, no matter the current fragmented nature of the visible church – Catholic, EO, Protestant – there is an essential unity amongst all those that share the same faith, baptism, and Spirit.

    When you insist on calling me Christian, I suspect that you secretly agree with me.>>>>>

    Yes, I insist on calling you my brother in Christ. At this point in time there are things that separate us. Hope I didn’t freak you out, Jeff. I seem to do that to you. Not my intention at all. I’m actually quite harmless and can be a bit silly at times. I hope this wasn’t one of those times.

    Remember what Erik Metaxas likes to quote?

    “There’s a time for joking around and a time to be serious. This is not one of them.”
    — Anonymous

    Then for Robert. I’m doing this one from memory. I looked the other one up.

    Chesterton told the joke about the little boy who tried to explain the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The little kid said that an optimist checks one’s eyes, and a pessimist one’s feet.

    So, Happy Easter!

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  257. Jeff:As to the present verbals, yes: present participles generally indicate action during the time of the main verb. In this case, the main verb is unremarkable:

    Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς … περιπατῆσαι…

    I encourage you therefore … To walk

    The present tense here does not carry an emphasis on ongoing action.>>>>>

    Just one more thing. You are wrong about this. In fact, I am surprised that you even said such a thing. Why did you do that, as though our walk were not supposed to be a continual, present tense activity? It makes no sense, and I am quite sure you know it.

    The whole thrust of Paul’s exhortation, ending with a kind of creedal statement, is present tense. There is no indication in the context that these things were supposed to stop.

    Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
    4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

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