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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Re: Church authority and Scripture

Spencer,

The Reformed Confessions function as THE authoritative doctrinal statements of the church in Reformed circles.  Anyone who denies the confession is excommunicated.  The difference is that we are HONEST about our church and confession by saying that they "may" have errors in them and are therefore subject to correction by the entire church, NOT by individuals.  Anyone who denies the trinity is excommunicated.  So how is that different from Rome?  They have no power to make people believe.  They can only excommunicate those who do not believe.  How does Rome guarantee orthodoxy?  It cannot since individuals believe what they will regardless.  There is only one who can convert the soul and regenerate a lost sinner--God Almighty!  (Titus 3:5-7; John 3:3-8; John 6:39-40, 44, 65).

But let me ask you a question.  IF Rome "claims" to be an infallible interpreter of the Bible, how does that help YOU as an individual?  You are still fallible and so if someone "claims" to be infallible you have no way of interpreting what they say any more than you can interpret the Bible for yourself.  So what does it solve if you have an infinite line of infallible interpreters upon infallible interpreters to the nth degree?  That does not solve your dilemma as an individual because you have no way to infallibly determine whether they are in fact infallible or not.  All you have is their bare assertion of that.  You might be deceived!  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8 ESV)

Notice it does not say Noah was righteous in and of himself.  It says, "But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord."  Noah and his sons were sinners and as soon as the flood was over sin again takes over the world and Noah and his family sinned just as before--despite the fact that God calls Noah "righteous."  (See Genesis 6:9-22; Genesis 9:20-29).  So how did Noah find favor and why is Noah "righteous"?  It is by faith alone!  (Romans 1:16).

Getting back to your original test of orthodoxy, the real issue is what we can know for sure about the teaching of Jesus and the original apostles.  Oral traditions can be corrupted over time, particularly when sinful men revise and re-interpret them over time.  But what is written down is inspired of God and recorded so that all men  may hear or read and be without excuse.  The Catholic Church for all practical purposes negates Scripture and invents religion as they go along.  God's Word NEVER changes.  It is forever settled in the heavens.  

 Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89 ESV)

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40 ESV)
Subjectivism is still a problem even if you become a Roman Catholic only now you have more to keep up with instead of just the Bible and the church's confession of faith.  Now you have to read the Roman Catholic Catechism, the various Papal Bulls, the exhaustive teaching of the RCC wherever you find it.  On the other hand, to be saved all you need to do is to believe the Bible and find a Gospel preaching church where there is a solid confesson of faith.  Either way, you're on your own.  The bottom line is this, however:  which church is faithful to Scripture?  By its own admission Rome is NOT faithful to Scripture but rather to their own leaders who falsely claim to be in apostolic succession and inspired of God.   There is no way to verify any allleged succession except to believe it by faith on their word.  I would rather trust God than to trust men.

Now, the bottom line here is I cannot elect, regenerate or call you or justify you.  Only God can do that.  However, when you stand before God and you are condemned because you went over to a false church with an antichrist leading it, do not complain to God that you did not know.   You have been warned.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19 ESV)

 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (Isaiah 8:20 ESV)

 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:15 ESV)
The only way to spot a counterfeit is to study the real thing.  (Acts 17:11).  In fact, the reason you're asking this question in the first place is that you have forsaken God's word and "opened" yourself up to be deceived.  The only way to know the truth is to know God's word, which is sufficient to save and the only way you can know God's will.  Everything else, including Rome, is subject to correction.

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20 ESV)


Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie


Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

On 7/20/2010 12:39 PM, Spencer Hall wrote:
Hello Charlie,

I am a Protestant currently considering converting to either the Catholic or Orthodox Church. I have been a reader and commenter at Called to Communion for some time now, and found your blog after you started commenting there a few days ago. I am trying to communicate with both Catholics and Protestants before making a decision, to ensure that I have heard both sides fairly and can judge well between them, and had a question for you pertaining to Church authority and Scripture.

I have looked around on your blog a little bit and am aware that you are a Reformed Anglican, and thus have a confessionalist view of Scripture and the Church. Confessionalism seems to me to be the best form of Protestantism, but it seems to present a difficult dilemma for those who, like yourself, insist on sola scriptura: How would you respond to someone who was a member of your church and began teaching that the Trinity was an unbiblical doctrine, and was just as much a borrowing from Greek philosophy as you believe transubstantiation to be? If you tell him that he is reading Scripture contrary to the Reformed Anglican church's confessional understanding of it, and that he should revise his interpretation so that it fits with that, then how is that different from Rome's demand for doctrinal conformity regardless of one's own reading of Scripture? And since you cannot consider your confessions to be invested with any intrinsic authority, but only to have authority insofar as they conform with Scripture, and since this man is saying that they do not conform with Scripture on this point, then you cannot really appeal to the confessions as having some sort of authority that should regulate his reading of Scripture. But if you tell him that he has a right to private judgment and should come to his own interpretation of Scripture, then you have essentially legitimatized any opinion someone forms based on their reading of Scripture, and that destroys all foundation for orthodoxy. So what would you tell him? How can you insist on confessionalism and yet insist on sola scriptura as well?

Thanks for your time. Pax Christi,

Spencer

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