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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, August 30, 2010

Old Life Theological Society » Blog Archive » Desert Island Texts

Old Life Theological Society » Blog Archive » Desert Island Texts

Church Society - Churchman - Recovering Confessional Anglicanism

Church Society - Churchman - Recovering Confessional Anglicanism

Excerpt from Mike Horton's Interview with Roman Catholic Apologist Robert Sungenis

[To read the entire article you have to sign up for a 30 day free trial of Modern Reformation magazine.  I'm not allowed to post the entire article here due to copyrights.  Click on Modern Reformation to view the site where the article may be accessed.  Horton's questions are in bold and Sungenis' responses are in plain text.]

What is the classic formulation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification today?

If you say "classic," then that would be from the Tridentine doctrine, and that was the last dogmatic council we had on justification. Vatican II and its aftermath doesn't claim to have any dogmatic statement on justification. All it does is reiterate what the Council of Trent said, and you can tell that by the footnotes in the Catechism when you read it.

Could you summarize that understanding of justification for us?

There are 32 canons in the Council of Trent. On the one hand, as I said, the first canon says that by no works of the law or any work done by man in his moral disposition can he attain justification. Justification is given by the grace of God. Faith is the beginning of the justification, and that's in chapter eight of Trent. That is, that's the root of all justification. That's where it starts. In order to get into the grace of God, you have to have faith in God. Once you have the faith-and the Roman Catholic Church says that's a gift of the Holy Spirit as well-it's not something that you alone generate by yourself; it's you cooperating with God that allows you to have faith. That is, you have faith and works that are under God's grace, and both of those are looked at by God as things that he requires you to do, and he blesses those. As long as you remain in the faith and keep doing the works, then you remain in the justification. The Catholic church also believes that if you do not do the works, that is, you sin, then you can lose your justification. And you can regain your justification if you repent of your sin and come back into the grace of God.
So, would that hold for individual sins? If I committed a sin at one o'clock, would I be unjustified until I had opportunity to confess it to a priest?

Depends on the seriousness of the sin. I like to use the example that Paul uses in Romans 4 where he talks about David. He says that David was a man who was justified by his faith without doing works, but if you look at the life of David, what we find is that David was a man of God long before he had committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murder with Uriah the Hittite. So if David is saying that he repented of his sin, and thereby was justified at that point in time, that means he had been justified prior to that and lost his justification, and now because he's repented of his sins (murder and adultery), he has regained his justification. So, in your example, the sin at one o'clock would be David's sins of adultery and murder, and then as he repents, he gets his justification restored to him.

What is the state of the debate these days in Roman Catholic circles in interpreting justification in the Greek, dikaioo/dikaiosis, and the Latin, iustificare? I'm thinking here of Joseph Fitzmyer, who says that clearly this is a legal, forensic term in the Greek, and the Latin, iustificar-, "to make righteous" is actually a misunderstanding and mistranslation of the Greek "to declare righteous." Where is the debate now in biblical scholarship in Catholic circles?

We cover that in Appendix 2 of the book, starting on page 615. We deal with Fitzmyer's assertion. Basically, Fitzmyer doesn't speak for the Catholic Church because there's been no official statement from the Catholic Church despite opinions from what we would call liberal theologians in the Catholic Church, and Fitzmyer would be one of them. Raymond Brown would be another, and there is a whole cadre of these individuals.

Is it your view, then, that the word always means "to make upright" rather than "to declare upright"?

Yes, we can prove that. We do it by a proof of, say, James 2, when James is quoting Genesis 15:6 where it says that Abraham believed and God justified him. He's quoting the same passage that St. Paul is quoting in Romans 4:3, so that means that James and Paul have to have the same understanding of the Greek word dikaiosune, because they're quoting from the same passage, Genesis 15:6. And here's where the Protestants try to change the meaning of dikaiosune—or dikaioo in James 2—because they say it means "demonstrated to be righteous" as opposed to "declaring to be righteous." So they have a dichotomy in their own thinking on the definitions of these words. And we go through it meticulously in chapter two of the book to show that it is impossible to arrive at that position where you make a dichotomy between "demonstrated" righteousness and "declared" righteousness on the one hand, and we also show in the book that the preponderant use of dikaioo in the Greek is not a declared righteousness—and the same would be true for the Greek word logizomai which is used in the King James Bible, for example, when it translates as "imputation." We show that the Greek word logizomai preponderantly means in the Greek that there is a reality to the thing that someone is viewing; it's not a fiction. It's not something that we label, not a label that we put on something, even though we know that the label is not saying that this thing is a reality of the label. We show that the Greek word logizomai actually means in the Greek that the label means what it is signifying. We go through all the uses of logizomai in the New Testament to show that.
So dikaioo and that word group never means "to declare righteous"?

No, there's no passage we can point to that says definitively that the only meaning that can be applied here is "declared righteous." There's no passage we have found in the New Testament that teaches that.

So it's always a "making" righteous?

Always, yes.

As in Romans 3:4, when God is said to be "justified" when he speaks?

Well, when we're talking about a soteriological context, then we're talking about that. We're not talking about passages that apply the word dikaioo to God himself.
OK, so the word itself, then, is more elastic than "to make righteous."

Yes, but it's not elastic in its soteriological sense. That's what I would say.

That would be a dogmatic claim, though, not a linguistic claim, right?

No, that would be both.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Standard Bearer: Common Grace Leads to Theistic Evolution

The Standard Bearer

Iustitia Imputata Christi: Alien or Proper to Luther's Doctrine of Justification? by R. Scott Clark

Iustitia Imputata Christi: Alien or Proper to Luther's Doctrine of Justification? By R. Scott Clark. Vol. 70:3/4, July/October 2006, Concordia Theological Quarterly.


THE NEW PERSPECTIVE ON CALVIN: RESPONDING TO RECENT CALVIN INTERPRETATIONS, by Thomas L. Wenger. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. JETS 50/2 (June 2007) 311–28.

The Blueprint for the Gospel? - by Todd Wilken

The Blueprint for the Gospel? - by Todd Wilken

The apostle says: "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." 24 The JDDJ has laid a foundation other than Jesus Christ. By defining Justification, grace and faith in contradictory ways, and thereby leaving the door open for human cooperation in and contribution to Justification, the JDDJ obscures the work of Jesus Christ for sinners. If my Justification depends on my moral improvement throughout life, if grace is a power God gives me to cooperate in my salvation, if faith includes my works, then the work of Jesus Christ is insufficient to save me. The Lutheran reformers wrote:

"This teaching about the righteousness of faith dare not be neglected in the church of Christ; without it the work of Christ cannot be understood, and what is left of the doctrine of Justification is nothing more than the teaching of the law." 25

It's this simple: if you get Justification wrong, you get the Gospel wrong. And a wrong Gospel can't save sinners. This was the whole reason for the Reformation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Clark Pinnock Dies at Age 73; Was God Surprised? « Heidelblog

Clark Pinnock Dies at Age 73; Was God Surprised? « Heidelblog

R. Scott Clark rightly points out that the recently deceased Clark Pinnock should not be remembered as contributing anything useful to Christian theology. Rather Pinnock should be seen as a relativist who shifted with every wind of doctrine, including the Mormon doctrine that God has a body. Clark's eulogy is not approving of Pinnock's legacy and I agree. Particularly heretical was Pinnock's doctrine of Open Theism which essentially anthropomorphized God to the point of making God less than God. Reminds me of the song, "What If God Were One of Us?"

See also: Christianity Today: Clark Pinnock Dies at 73.

Tertullian: A Lecture by Gerald Bray


Thursday, August 26, 2010

‘African bishops say Anglicans in West strayed from God’ : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia

‘African bishops say Anglicans in West strayed from God’ : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia

Facebook Shutting Down Conservatives? Identities Being Deleted Without Notice

Facebook Shutting Down Conservatives? Identities Being Deleted Without Notice

Bear Grylls Christian campaign draws inquiries | News stories | Sydneyanglicans.net

Bear Grylls Christian campaign draws inquiries | News stories | Sydneyanglicans.net

Looks like celebrity gimmicks rather than confronting people with the Law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the focus of the Sydney Anglicans. Amyraldianism, like Arminianism, has more in common with theology from below than with God's revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Why would the church need to resort to celebrity appeal to get sinners interested in the Gospel? (Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7; Romans 3:1-8)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Johannes Weslianus: Letter to the Friends of the Reformed Faith concerning the Errors of Norman Shepherd

Johannes Weslianus: Letter to the Friends of the Reformed Faith concerning the Errors of Norman Shepherd

YouTube - R. Scott Clark's Attack On Reformed Theology

YouTube - R. Scott Clark's Attack On Reformed Theology

In this video Monty Collier points out a problem with R. Scott Clark's over-emphasis on the ordinary means of grace, being of course administered through the local church. Although there are only two sacraments (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:18-20; , the Reformed position places the preaching of the Gospel at the center of the service, not the administration of the Lord's Supper. That would include Reformed Anglican theology since Archbishop Thomas Cranmer emphasized the reading of Scripture as a means of grace. (See Ashley Null comments on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's contribution to the English Reformation). While I agree with Collier that Scott is over-stating the case, it is true that Reformed churches and congregations are marked by church discipline. God can and does work outside the ordinary means of grace in saving the elect. However, if we go too far in the other direction, there is the problem raised by universalism. If God does not use the means of grace to effectually call the elect (John 6:37-39, 44, 65), then it follows that we do not need to send out missionaries to the unconverted people groups all around the globe (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

I ran across this position in reading Zwingli's article on eternal election. Some theologians like the late Philip Schaff and the still living Roger Nicole have said that God saves the elect apart from the means of grace such as unbaptized infants of non-Christian parents around the world. Others, like Billy Graham, have proposed that some individuals believe in Jesus Christ in some unconscious capacity and are therefore "saved" by Arminian standards. There are examples in Scripture such as Abraham where God does save His elect by a direct call. But the appointed means of grace today is revealed through Holy Scripture, of which Abraham had no access. (See 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Romans 1:16-17).

In this case I have to agree with R. Scott Clark that the ordinary or appointed means of grace are mediated through the local congregation. Otherwise we wind up with lay persons who go solo and invent their own doctrinal standards, often leading to the formation of cults. Sola Scriptura does not mean that Christians are free to roam about without joining a local church.

On the other hand, I agree with Monty Collier's point as well. What does one do when there is no local church with which one can in good conscience join in mission? Frequently local churches do not properly administer the two sacraments, follow a Reformed confession of faith, preach the doctrines of grace faithfully, or properly distinguish between law and Gospel. In such cases the Reformed believer is left in a quandary.

The Reformed Anglican position is that the preaching of the Gospel is the normative way God effectually calls and saves His elect:

Article XVIII

Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ

They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

We ought to remember that the majority of the Reformed confessions do uphold the idea that the local congregation is the means or instrument through which God mediates His graces to His elect:

Article XIX

Of the Church

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.

The Westminster Confession and the Belgic Confession have similar articles: WCF, Chapter 25, Of the Church. BC, Article 27, Of the Catholic Church. The short answer is that Monty Collier makes a valid point that God is not limited to the ordinary means of grace. However, Collier seems to misrepresent R. Scott Clark by taking his comments out of the context of the Reformed confessions.

Collier is a Clarkian in his Reformed theology and apologetics and therefore places less emphasis on faithfulness to the secondary authority of the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Gordon H. Clark has been accused of denying the doctrine of the one person of Christ in his final book, The Incarnation. Ironically, Clark's Scripturalism has been misused as a form of anti-intellectualism and irrationalism among his modern day followers, a fact that probably would have appalled Clark himself. While The Trinity Foundation makes many valid criticisms of modern Reformed theology, Trinity itself is promoting a rebellion against the Reformed confessions on the point of the incarnation since all of them uphold the Definition of Chalcedon 451 A.D.

I should add that Collier seems to be ignorant of the Dutch Reformed confession of faith called the Belgic Confession.  Article 28, Of the Communion of the Saints in the True Church says:

We believe, since this holy assembly and congregation is the assembly of the redeemed and there is no salvation outside of it,[1] that no one ought to withdraw from it, content to be by himself, no matter what his status or standing may be. But all and everyone are obliged to join it and unite with it,[2] maintaining the unity of the church. They must submit themselves to its instruction and discipline,[3] bend their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ,[4] and serve the edification of the brothers and sisters,[5] according to the talents which God has given them as members of the same body.[6]
To observe this more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to the Word of God, to separate from those who do not belong to the church[7] and to join this assembly[8] wherever God has established it. They should do so even though the rulers and edicts of princes were against it, and death or physical punishment might follow.[9]
All therefore who draw away from the church or fail to join it act contrary to the ordinance of God.

[1] Mt 16:18, 19; Acts 2:47; Gal 4:26; Eph 5:25-27; Heb 2:11, 12; Heb 12:23. [2] 2 Chron 30:8; Jn 17:21; Col 3:15. [3] Heb 13:17. [4] Mt 11:28-30. [5] Eph 4:12. [6] 1 Cor 12:7, 27; Eph 4:16. [7] Num 16:23-26; Is 52:11, 12; Acts 2:40; Rom 16:17; Rev 18:4. [8] Ps 122:1; Is 2:3; Heb 10:25. [9] Acts 4:19, 20.

The short of it is that Monty Collier seems to be ignorant of Reformed theology in the bigger picture.  The Westminster Confession of Faith says the same thing as the Belgic Confession:

The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. (WCF 25:2 WCS)

May the peace of God be with all who confess faith in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in Holy Scripture.

 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Romans 16:20 ESV)

[R. Scott Clark is not advocating Roman Catholic doctrine when he says that salvation only comes through the local church that is true to the Gospel.  The Roman doctrine is that Rome is the only true church and that Rome is the seat of authority over all the Roman Catholic churches and is the only universal and true church.  Obviously that is wrong.]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stellman to PCA: Gut Check Time « Heidelblog

Stellman to PCA: Gut Check Time « Heidelblog

Anglicans Ablaze: Historic Anglicanism Today: A Faith of Many Expressions?

Anglicans Ablaze: Historic Anglicanism Today: A Faith of Many Expressions?

Is God Willing for Anyone to Perish? 2 Peter 3:9

The following is from Not Willing That Any Should Perish. You might want to read the entire article by clicking on the title.

It would be foolhardy for anyone to pick up a letter not written to them and walk away thinking that every reference in that letter to ‘you’ is speaking about them. If John wrote a letter to Jim, would it not plumb the depths of utter stupidity and ignorance for Joe to come along, read the letter, and presume that every ‘you’ in the letter is referring to him! However silly this may sound, it is precisely what occurs when so many read 2 Peter 3 and presume that the ‘us’ and ‘any’ referred to in verse 9 is speaking of every individual ever born and that it is they whom God does not want to perish. The first thing we need to look at and confirm, if we are to be fair to ourselves and in order to arrive at a proper biblical understanding of what this verse is saying, is to ask ourselves to whom is it written. This will go a long way to finding out just who it is that God does not want to perish, and will leave the reader without room for doubt or uncertainty as to who it is Peter is referring to by his use of the word ‘us’. Open your Bibles and take a look at 2 Peter 3. Read verse 9 and then cast your eyes back to verse 1 and you will quickly discover to whom the letter has been specifically written and who is being spoken about in verse 9. Peter writes: "This second epistle, BELOVED, I now write unto YOU..." The term beloved here is a reference to fellow believers. Whenever beloved is used in the New Testament it is either referring to Christ as loved by God (see Matt. 3:17, 12:18, 17:5; Mk. 1:11, 9:7; Lk. 3:22, 9:35; 2 Pet. 1:17) or of believers (Rom. 1:7)—often as a form of address "wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry" (1 Cor. 10:14). The term ‘Dearly beloved’ is also used in Rom. 12:19; 2 Cor. 7:1, 12:19; Phil. 4:1; 2 Tim. 1:2; Philemon 1; 1 Pet. 2:11. In John’s first Letter he refers to fellow believers as "little children", "brethren", "beloved" (see 1 Jn. 2:1,7,12). In 1 John 3:2 one quickly discovers who the beloved are: "BELOVED, now ARE we THE SONS OF GOD..." In the New Testament the term beloved is used when describing those who love the Lord, meaning faithful disciples or followers of the True God, or those loved by the person using the word ‘beloved’ (see Eph. 6:24; Js. 1:12, 2:5). The term is "Spoken only of Christians as united with God or with each other in the bonds of holy love" (see 1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 6:21; Phil. 4:1; Col. 4:7). The beloved of God are those chosen by Him to salvation (Rom. 1:7, 11:28; Eph. 5:1).

Saturday, August 21, 2010



Homey Wears a Bishop's Mitre: Jack Iker

Although Jack Iker and St. Vincent's Cathedral does not have a doctrinal statement posted online, they at least did take a stand against a lesbian couple who wanted their daughter to attend the religious school called St. Vincent's Episcopal School.  Apparently the two ladies confused the Anglican Church in North America with The Episcopal Church, the morally and theologically liberal side of Anglicanism in the United States.  Judging from the bishop's mitre and other regalia, St. Vincent's is also high church Anglo-Catholic.  This would present a theological problem for Bible believing Evangelicals, confessing Evangelicals, Reformed Anglicans and various other Protestants who uphold the five solas of the Protestant Reformation.  For the life of me I cannot understand why Anglo-Catholics do not simply join up with the Roman Catholic Church.  Maybe it is because they have invalid orders of ordination?

In case the reader is unaware, conservative Anglo-Catholics split from the liberal Anglo-Catholics and started their own competing "province" in North America called the Anglican Church in North America.  The morally and theologically liberal Anglo-Catholics are The Episcopal Church.  Ironically both deny the Protestant Reformation and "claim" to be "catholic".  In my opinion, however, any church which denies the five solas of the Protestant Reformation is in fact a false church, including the Anglican Church in North America.  The five solas or "five onlies" of the Reformation are 1) Scripture alone, 2) Christ alone, 3) Grace alone, 4) Faith alone, 5) To God alone be all the glory.  (Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli gloria Deo).

The fact that St. Vincent's Cathedral nowhere posts a doctrinal statement of any kind, most especially the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, proves that doctrine is not a high priority for congregations and ministers in the ACNA.  The Anglican doctrinal formularies are the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal included in the 1662 BCP.  Most likely St. Vincent's Cathedral continues to use the 1979 revised book of services which is Anglo-Catholic and extremely liberal, particularly in the catechism which is outright pelagian.

As the above photo demonstrates, wolves can be deceptive in appearance.   (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Acts 20:29-31).

[I borrowed the photo of Iker from The Deacon.  See also Texas School Rejects Lesbian Couple's Daughter].

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

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Johannes Weslianus: Siouxlands Update: Christ Church Manakato's Allega...

Johannes Weslianus: Siouxlands Update: Christ Church Manakato's Allega...: "I have decided that the best way to report on my investigation is simply to include all relevant materials that were available to the Pre..."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

R. Scott Clark: For Evangelicals Tempted by N. T. Wright's Revision of Paul


For Evangelicals Tempted by N. T. Wright's Revision of Paul


There seems to be a cadre of biblicist, evangelicals, who don't know much about the medieval church (and who think it might even be cool to get back there in some ways), who don't know much about the Reformation (except that it had an uncool, legal, fictional doctrine of justification), and who don't know much about earlier versions of evangelicalism (an "evangelical" is someone who loves Jesus, right?), who like the doctrine of predestination (God is sovereign, so why does it matter what one says about justification, it comes out in the wash, right?), who have no real connection to Reformed churches ("Dude! We like couches, coffee, and candles"), who are tempted by N T Wright's ("Man! He is so cool!) revision of Paul. It's grounded in the first century, and that has to be good, right? It's different. It's hip and it's socially relevant (after all, NTW has a plan to transform society and that has to be good, right?).


This society of  fairly uncritical supporters seem to be quite unaware that there are serious, even fatal, flaws in NTW's revision of Paul (and of Reformed theology), beginning with his redefinition of Paul's doctrine of justification and carrying through his entire program of "God's faithfulness." There are good reasons not to be persuaded by NTW's revisionism. Those reasons are not just mere knee-jerk conservatism of the past but are grounded in the text of Holy Scripture, in biblical exegesis that takes account of the Judaic setting of the NT, in a coherent account of the history of redemption, grounded in faithful attempts to correlate passages with one another, including their implications (what we used to call "theology"), and in an attempt to relate our contemporary reading of the Holy Scriptures to that of the church before us (historical theology and the history of exegesis, something that NTW freely admits and regularly demonstrates he little cares about or understands). The pastoral consequences of NTW's program might also be mentioned as reasons for doubting.


Here are some critical resources you should read before inviting Tom Wright into your heart:



Sunday, August 15, 2010

White Horse Inn

White Horse Inn

American Spirituality. Dr. Michael Horton comments, "My greatest concern today is not that Evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal. I think that is happening, too. But my broader concern is that Evangelicalism is becoming theologically vacuous. You don't need to actually preach heresy from the pulpit. You just don't preach truth."

Trusting in Our Own Righteousness?

 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)
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

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Does the Bible Teach "Doctrine"?

Does the Bible Teach “Doctrine”?

Recently I came across a website criticizing Kenneth Copeland Ministries as dishonest, lacking Christian character, and misusing donated funds. Unfortunately, the person criticizing Copeland was essentially calling the kettle black. Why? For starters, the only objection this person had was that Copeland lacked Christian “character”. But is that the only problem with Copeland? For many Pentecostals and Charismatics the word “doctrine” is anathema because they view “doctrine” as something that divides Christians unnecessarily. But is that actually the case and if so is this a good thing? Let's examine this issue closer.

First of all, is it true that the Bible is not concerned about doctrine as is often assumed by Pentecostals and Charismatics? What does the Bible have to say about “doctrine”? If we do a search of the English Standard Version with just about any Bible software or Bible website we get the following results:

Job 11:4; Romans 16:17; Ephesians 4:14; 1 Timothy 1:3,10; 1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1,10; Hebrews 6:1-2

I got those search results by doing a word search for “doctrine.” I am often accused of being too “educated” by Pentecostals and Charismatics. But as anyone can see it does not take a seminary degree to look up terms with a Bible concordance or computer search. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is a good resource for this if one is accustomed to using the King James Version of the Bible.

Exactly what is “doctrine” anyway? The New Testament was originally written in the common Greek trade language of the first century, also called Koine Greek. The word used in the Greek New Testament for “doctrine” in the above verses is “didache” (pronounced did-ahk-ay). The Greek word is διδαχή. (Hebrews 6:2, “instruction”). If we consult any Greek lexicon (or dictionary) we can get information about the term didache like where it occurs in the Bible, what it means in different contexts within the Greek New Testament. Essentially, context is how the word is used in a particular verse of the Bible within that paragraph and passage (pericope).

Many resources are available online. For example, we can use the King James Version to find every occurrence of the word “doctrine” in the KJV and then find the Strong's number for that English word. We then look up the number in the Greek dictionary in the back of the hard copy of the concordance or we can use the online version at most Bible websites, including Bible Gateway. Here are the appropriate links where I have done the work for you: KJV Search Results for “doctrine” at Bible Gateway. Also, we can search Strong's Exhaustive Concordance Online in either the King James Version or the New American Standard Bible. Simply enter the word “doctrine” in the search window and hit “enter”. When the results come up just click on the verse reference and then check the “Strong's numbers” box at the top. When the reference is displayed we will see the key words displayed in blue. Just click on the blue highlighted word “doctrine” and we will then be given the definition of the Greek or Hebrew term for that verse in the lexicon at the back of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. We can also use this for the NASB. In the first reference we are given the reference for Deuteronomy 32:2 and the word “leqach” is in Hebrew because the Old Testament is written in Hebrew. We can also see a word count of how many times that word occurs in the Old Testament and the appropriate verse references. The Greek definition is given for the reference in Matthew 7:28 KJV.

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: (Matthew 7:28 KJV)

If we click on the blue highlighted word after clicking on the reference for Matthew 7:28 the results for the Greek word “didache” come up. We can click on the “interlinear” box to see a comparison between the KJV and the NIV as well. Noting the definition of the Greek word “didache” we can see that it is almost synonymous with “teaching” or “instruction”.

So do Pentecostals “teach” or “instruct” people? Yes! We can therefore conclude that Pentecostals and Charismatics do in fact teach “doctrine”. It is a bit hypocritical for Pentecostals and Charismatics to criticize other denominations for emphasizing doctrine when they are teaching their own distinctive doctrines like the “baptism with the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the initial physical sign of speaking in tongues.”

The real issue here is not whether or not we should teach and preach “doctrine” but what our doctrine should be. How we interpret and understand the Bible as a harmonious whole and how we interpret the particulars of a given verse or passage in its own particular context and in the context of the Bible as a whole is important. In fact, doctrine is so important that it could determine whether a person spends eternity in heaven or in hell. Some doctrines are non-negotiable. Several of these non-negotiable doctrines are: The trinity, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the substitutionary atonement, the virgin conception of Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, Scripture alone is the final authority, and other doctrines not listed here. The reason Pentecostals and Charismatics wish to vilify other denominations is their triumphalistic emphasis on ecstatic experience above any emphasis on “doctrine”. In this way they can short circuit any intellectual analysis of their own position while at the same time denouncing the doctrines of other denominations. In short, this is highly hypocritical and even an outright deception since they themselves teach “doctrine”. The question is whose doctrine is most biblical?

The Bible itself says that Jesus came teaching and preaching and that He contradicted the “traditions of men” (Mark 7:7). (Also see Matthew 4:23; 7:28-29; 9:35; 13:54; 21:23; 26:55; 28:20; Mark 1:21; 1:39; 11:17-18; Luke 4:15; 23:5; John 18:19-20) So anyone who adds to God's Word is teaching something that has not been divinely revealed as God's very words (2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Isaiah 8:20; Revelation 22:18). If we are not preaching the Bible then we are essentially preaching the “traditions of men”. On this point I would place Pentecostals and Charismatics on the same playing field as Roman Catholics since both want to add new revelations and traditions and ecstatic experiences to God's revealed Word, the Holy Scriptures. All we need to know to be saved is recorded in Holy Scripture and the Scriptures are sufficient to lead anyone to saving faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15; 2:15; Romans 9:33; 10:5-11).

We do not need a pope or an infallible church to tell us what the Bible says. Anyone who can read can know the Bible for themselves. (John 5:38-39; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15; Luke 24:27). In fact, we do not need a super-spiritual Pentecostal or Charismatic preacher to tell us what the Bible says either:

And this is the promise that he made to us--eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie--just as it has taught you, abide in him. (1 John 2:25-27 ESV)

The idea that the preacher or teacher has some inside “revelation knowledge” from God is to add to God's inspired Word and to introduce a form of modern day gnosticism. Any plow boy with a Bible can know everything necessary to salvation. There is no need for “secret” interpretations to be revealed from some preacher or teacher who has a direct phone line to God which we allegedly do not have. Another warning sign of a false preacher or teacher is when there is no doctrinal statement posted online. This is a red flag right away since it means the teacher has something to hide and wants us to blindly follow their teachings or doctrines without questioning the authority from which they are drawn. Any minister who discourages someone from reading and studying the Bible for themselves is probably a false teacher or a false prophet.

May the peace of God be with you! (Romans 15:33).


[See also: Confessions of Faith].

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

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