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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Belgic Confession: Article 24: Of Sanctification and of Good Works

 [Click on the title below to see the context in the Belgic Confession.  Charlie.]

Article 24: Of Sanctification and of Good Works

We believe that this true faith, worked in man by the hearing of God's Word and by the operation of the Holy Spirit,[1] regenerates him and makes him a new man.[2] It makes him live a new life and frees him from the slavery of sin.[3] Therefore it is not true that this justifying faith makes man indifferent to living a good and holy life.[4] On the contrary, without it no one would ever do anything out of love for God,[5] but only out of self-love or fear of being condemned. It is therefore impossible for this holy faith to be inactive in man, for we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls faith working through love (Gal 5:6). This faith induces man to apply himself to those works which God has commanded in His Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, since they are all sanctified by His grace. Nevertheless, they do not count toward our justification. For through faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do any good works.[6] Otherwise they could not be good any more than the fruit of a tree can be good unless the tree itself is good.[7]

Therefore we do good works, but not for merit. For what could we merit? We are indebted to God, rather than He to us, for the good works we do,[8] since it is He who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Let us keep in mind what is written: So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Luke 17:10)." Meanwhile we do not deny that God rewards good works,[9] but it is by His grace that He crowns His gifts.

Furthermore, although we do good works, we do not base our salvation on them. We cannot do a single work that is not defiled by our flesh and does not deserve punishment.[10] Even if we could show one good work, the remembrance of one sin is enough to make God reject it.[11] We would then always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be constantly tormented, if they did not rely on the merit of the death and passion of our Saviour.[12]

[1] Acts 16:14; Rom 10:17; 1 Cor 12:3. [2] Ezek 36:26, 27; Jn 1:12, 13; Jn 3:5; Eph 2:4-6; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:23. [3] Jn 5:24; Jn 8:36; Rom 6:4-6; 1 Jn 3:9. [4] Gal 5:22; Tit 2:12. [5] Jn 15:5; Rom 14:23; 1 Tim 1:5; Heb 11:4, 6. [6] Rom 4:5. [7] Mt 7:17. [8] 1 Cor 1:30, 31; 1 Cor 4:7; Eph 2:10. [9] Rom 2:6, 7; 1 Cor 3:14; 2 Jn 8; Rev 2:23. [10] Rom 7:21. [11] Jas 2:10. [12] Hab 2:4; Mt 11:28; Rom 10:11.

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

Counterfeit Gospels, Tullian Tchividjian

Repenting of Good Works, Tullian Tchividjian

What Is a Judge? You Might Be Surprised

H. L. Menchen: "A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers." My, don't we all like to grade our own level of holiness. I give myself an A+. The question is what grade does an omni-holy God give me? How do I measure up to Him? F-.

"Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. ( Matthew 7:1-2, 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

YouTube - Half a Gospel is no Gospel at all - Alistair Begg

YouTube - Half a Gospel is no Gospel at all - Alistair Begg

The purpose of the law is to reveal that Jew and Gentile are both alike condemned by their own violation of the law of God. Even the most saintly Christian deserves hell as much as any "good" atheist. This is the part that Reformed Christians, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Arminians, and various other "self-righteous" humans do not get. The only assurance the Christian can have is in grace, not personal holiness since personal holiness always falls short of the mark (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-9). Grace is not a license to sin. But the problem with legalism is that it looks for loopholes instead of admitting that no one keeps God's law well enough to deserve anything at all from God. All of the glory must go to God. All that is necessary to church membership is a credible profession of faith, not a super spiritual level of sanctification. All sanctification in comparison with God's holiness is merely a superficial righteousness that falls way short of God's absolute holiness. The sort of thinking that tends to exalt self is just semi-pelagianism masquerading as "Reformed" teaching. "We're not really that bad. After all, we don't fornicate, commit adultery, rob, steal or kill." But are you selfish? What is the disease? Are you focusing on the symptoms or on the disease? Listen to this sermon by Alistair Begg!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Regeneration.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)

Regeneration.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)

Click on the title to hear this lecture by Gordon H. Clark on the biblical term, "regeneration". It is particularly interesting that Clark mentions the issue of Pentecostal theology, their approval by liberal theologians, and how Pentecostals misread Titus 3:5.

Will the Royal Wedding Include the Marriage Service from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer?

[The following is from EVNews at evangelicals.org, a news outlet for Church Society.  I like this article because it again points out how the 1662 Book of Common Prayer teaches sound biblical doctrine while the 1979/1980 books of alternative services are essentially pelagian and theologically liberal.  Any true Anglican church will throw out the false "prayer book" and use the 1662 Book of Common Prayer instead.  I would include the Australian "prayer book" in that analysis.  Click here to read the service for The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in the 1662 BCP.  One calls to remembrance that Charles and Carmilla had their civil wedding recognized by the Church of England using the traditional liturgy from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  In ignorance some of the media misconstrued the prayer service as being specifically for the sins of Charles and Carmilla rather than a general prayer for all in the church.  The Confession of Sin in the Service of the Lord's Supper reads: 

ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the following article enlighten you as to why the 1662 Book of Common Prayer ought to be in common use in EVERY province of the Anglican Communion.   Charlie].

Boost for Christian Truth if Royal Couple get Prayer Book

Cranmer's Curate has outlined some of the beneficial consequences of using the Anglican liturgy at the Royal wedding:

"Even if William and Catherine have the Church of England’s Common Worship liturgy at their marriage service, counter-cultural (in the UK at any rate) Christian truth would get a much-needed public airing. But if they get the Book of Common Prayer, some serious punches for biblical Christianity could be landed.

Here is why the high priests of establishment political correctness could find themselves squirming in the Abbey:

• Right from the start, the Prayer Book's 'Form of Solemnization of Matrimony' insists that marriage is between a man and a woman: ‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony’.

• It insists that marriage has a transcendent, spiritual purpose that is uniquely Christian: ‘holy Matrimony (is) an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifiying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church’.

• It insists that sex before or outside heterosexual marriage is morally wrong: ‘It (Matrimony) was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body’.

• It insists that there is a final day of judgement on which the whole of mankind will appear before the Christian God. The officiating minister declares: ‘I require and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgement, when the secrets of all hearts will be disclosed'.

• It insists on the complementary differences between the sexes. The form of vows is different for the man and the woman. The woman promises to ‘obey’ her husband, reflecting his God-given duty to provide loving leadership in the marriage.

• It insists that it is not God's moral will for the marriage that He has made to end in divorce. Before the congregation who have just witnessed the solemn vows (in this case the nation), the minister joins their right hands together and says: ‘Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.’

All the above emphases are gross sins against the cult of secular permissiveness that has held the English-speaking world in a grip of self-obsessed superstition since the 1960s. The devil will no doubt be actively scheming to ensure that the Christian emphases at the Royal Wedding are downplayed.

But it is unlikely that he will succeed altogether. By God's grace, the couple have already chosen to get married in a building consecrated for the purposes of Christian worship.

Even in a national Church seriously debilitated by theological liberalism, it would be impossible for the Name of Jesus Christ not to be uttered in public in a positive light.

God willing, William and Catherine will get the historic liturgy of the Church of England as the form of words in which publicly to express their understanding of the God-given institution of heterosexual marriage which they have chosen to enter.

May God the Holy Trinity bless them."

Click here for the article originally posted at Cranmer's Curate.

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, November 27, 2010

Declaration of Principles (Page 3)

Declaration of Principles (Page 3)

This is the original understanding of the Anglican tradition from a Reformed and Protestant perspective of the English Reformation. Unfortunately, the Reformed Episcopal Church allowed Armyraldianism, Arminianism, and Evangelicalism to lead it in a more "ecumenical" direction. I blame both Dispensationalism and Theonomy as contributing factors as well. However, the end result is that the Reformed Episcopal Church has become Anglo-Catholic, high church, Tractarian, and apostate. Click on the title link to see the Declaration of Principles.

Herman Hoeksema: What Is Pelagianism?

[The following is an excerpt from Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1, by Herman Hoeksema.  Hoeksema was one of the ministers who was defrocked by the Christian Reformed Church for refusing to accept the doctrine of the Three Points of Common Grace.  It is well that the ministers and churches of the Protestant Reformed Church in America stood their ground.  Currently the Christian Reformed Church is a mix of Amyraldianism and broad Evangelicalism at best and outright theological liberalism and modernism at worst.  The problem of pelagianism has troubled the American Evangelical movement since the revivalism of Charles Finney in the 19th century.  But exactly what is pelagianism?  I found the following explanation by the late Professor Herman Hoeksema to be a succinct and perspicuous accounting of pelagianism.  I hope you will agree.  Charlie.]

"The fundamental error of Pelagianism in all its forms is always that it denies any other righteousness and holiness than that which is the result of the choice and act of the will of man."  Herman Hoeksema.

By these three spiritual virtues that originally adorned the nature of man, the rectitude of his whole being in relation to God and all things is denoted.  By holiness is  meant not any acquired purity, but that original rectitude of his nature according to which he was consecrated to God in love with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Adam's whole soul yearned after the living God and had its delight in his favor and fellowship.  Man's righteousness was not an imputed righteousness, nor was it acquired.  Rather,  man's righteousness was the virtue of his whole nature by which, according to the judgment of God, he was wholly in harmony with the will of God; he was fully capable of doing the will of God, and doing God's will was his delight.  Man's knowledge of God was not a mere intellectual or natural knowledge of the Most High so that he knew who and what God is, nor was it a ready-made system of theology or dogmatics with which Adam was endowed from the beginning.  Instead, man's knowledge of God was that original rectitude of his mind by virtue of which he immediately and spontaneously knew God, both through the revelation of all the works of God round about him and through the direct word of God addressed to him in paradise.  Through this positive knowledge of God, Adam had a living contact with the Most High, the fellowship of friendship that was his life.

In one word, Adam was good.  He was so made that he was quite capable of serving the Lord his creator, of being his representative in all the world--his prophet, to know and to glorify him; his priest, to consecrate himself in all things unto him; his servant-king, to rule in righteousness over the works of God's hand--and of living in perfect fellowship with the Most High.

In this respect the truth differs radically from the Pelagian error.  According to the Canons of Dordt, the Pelagians teach:

. . . that the spiritual gifts, or the good qualities and virtues such as goodness, holiness, righteousness, could not belong to the will of man when he was first created, and that these, therefore, could not have been separated therefrom in the fall.
. . . that in spiritual death the spiritual gifts are not separate from the will of man, since the will in itself has never been corrupted, but only hindered through the darkness of the understanding and the irregularity of the affections; and that, these hindrances having been removed, the will can then bring into operation its native powers, that is, that the will is itself able to will and to choose, or not to will and not to choose, all manner of good which may be presented to it.(8)

The fundamental error of Pelagianism in all its forms is always that it denies any other righteousness and holiness than that which is the result of the choice and act of the will of man.  Hence righteousness and holiness cannot be virtues with which the nature of man was originally endowed.  Man could be either righteous or unrighteous, holy or unholy, according as he chose to be.  Only the deed of righteousness makes a man righteous.  According to the same fundamental principle, man could never become corrupt in nature.  It may have become more difficult for him to choose for righteousness and holiness because of the fall; but essentially he is the same as he was before the fall, a beingg who can either be righteous or unrighteous by the choice of his own free will.  Grace may "give him a lift" in his efforts to be righteous after the fall, but never is it a radical change of his nature.  Over and against this Pelagian corruption, which is as superficial as it is pernicious, stands the plain truth of the word of God that God created man after his own image, in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.

[From Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1, 2nd Edition, by Herman Hoeksema.  (Grandville:  Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2004), pp. 298-300. For more information about the doctrine of common grace see, The Myth of Common Grace, by Garrett P. Johnson.]

8.  Canons of Dordt, 3 & 4, Rejection of Errors, 2, 3 in The Psalter with Doctrinal Standards, Liturgy, Church Order, and added Chorale Section, Reprinted and revised edition of the 1912 United Presbyterian Psalter (PRC) (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1995), 70.

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

Friday, November 26, 2010

Between Donatism and Liberalism: Trueman on Losing the Plot « Heidelblog

Between Donatism and Liberalism: Trueman on Losing the Plot « Heidelblog

Finally we see R. Scott Clark say something sensible. Evangelicalism, and by implication, Arminianism, does lead to theological liberalism. Those committed to the magisterial and Protestant Reformation need to remain faithful to Scripture first and their Reformed confessions of faith as secondary authority summarizing what we believe the Scriptures teach. Even so, the temptation to cave in to tolerance and liberalism is a great one.

The Anglo-Reformed Movement - Anglicans in the Wilderness

The Anglo-Reformed Movement - Anglicans in the Wilderness

YouTube - Debate: Does the Universe have a purpose?

YouTube - Debate: Does the Universe have a purpose? A debate between Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. Richard Dawkins

This debate is a case in point that classical apologetics from below via the method of Thomas Aquinas is a dismal failure. Any apologetics from below is doomed since God can only be known personally through special revelation, not natural revelation or general revelation. Natural revelation leads "naturally" to atheism or agnosticism.

The Liberal and Relativistic Theology of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer Leads to Apostasy

[The following excerpt is from an article which appeared in The Churchman.  The article is based on a book by Samuel Leuenberger which outlines the history and the revivalistic theology of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer which is preserved in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, still the official prayer book of the Church of England.  Leuenberger's criticism of the 1980 alternative services book in England applies with equal repercussions for the American 1979 book of alternative services which is also known as the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, although it bears little resemblance to the official 1662 prayer book.  The article is called Archbishop Cranmer’s Immortal Bequest:  The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England:  An Evangelistic Liturgy.  It appeared in Churchman 106/1 1992.  Leuenberger's critique of the theology of the 1979 "prayer book" is prophetic here.  The intention of the 1979 book is to lead people away from God's revelation of Himself in Holy Scripture and toward a more this worldly theological liberalism and relativism.  We can see the results of that sort of thinking in the current state of apostasy of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion at large.  Even GAFCON is infected with this liberal version of the prayer book since it can be found in wide use in the new Anglican Church in North America.  Liberalism is at work through the Anglo-Catholic elements of GAFCON, which mistakenly claims to be  faithful to the Anglican Formularies, being the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.  The reality, however, is that GAFCON perpetuates the same compromises which will eventually lead to the same outright apostasy the organization  is supposed to be prophetically challenging.  You can read Leuenberger's entire article by clicking on the title or here:  Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's Immortal Bequest.]

5. The Alternative Service Book 1980 in the service of Pluralism and Ecumenism

The last chapter of my study is concerned with The Alternative Service Book 67 which has been in use since 1980. Since 1966 experimental liturgies have been preparing the English people for its introduction, and in the last decade these have had such an influence that the old prayer book has largely fallen out of use, although it is still the official prayer book of the Church of England. Unfortunately the Anglo-Catholic movement of the last century, with its vehement denial of the principle of Sola Scriptura,68 has had a major influence on this new prayer book. Once the principle of Sola Scriptura is out of the way the door is wide open to heretical doctrine. The twentieth century attack which resulted in this attempted liturgical revolution has been led by men such as Bishop John Robinson (1919-1983) whose series of books had a marked effect upon the laity.69 The greatest failing of The Alternative Service Book 1980 is that it lacks the Reformation character. Man is no longer seen as being born in trespasses and sin: therefore the confessions are much shorter. The main emphasis is man’s guilt with respect to his neighbour: the old prayer book stresses man’s guilt with respect to God. The exhortations have been done away with and thereby the revivalistic flavour has also been excised. The possibility of damnation is not mentioned, as it was in the old prayer book, and God is not understood as a judge. Universalistic tendencies70 become obvious, while the difference between being a believer and an unbeliever is totally obscured.  From a formal point of view one has to notice that the sequence of the liturgical elements in The Order for Holy Communion is almost identical with present day Roman Mass. The canon has been restored, the epiclesis reintroduced.71 Also there are many alternatives for certain liturgical elements, and these many alternatives smuggle in pluralism. There are different confessions of sin72 and absolutions to choose from: the one confession of sin reflects a more conservative biblical theology while the other reveals a modernistic conception. These many alternatives as representative of different theological ideas express a relativistic notion of truth.  It is very difficult for the churchgoer to develop roots in such a prayer book, and this is probably deliberate. The people are being trained for an unlimited openness, in preparation for acceptance of the new world church, without resistance.  It seems to me that the strong adaptation of the eucharistic liturgy and of other formulas to the form of the Roman church has to be understood as a liturgical preparation for the planned Super-church. The highest principle will be unity and not truth. In that cause anything that legitimately and Biblically could cause separation has been avoided. However the proclamation of Biblical doctrine does always, both rightly and inevitably, differentiate believer from unbeliever, and truth from error, while The Alternative Service Book 1980 is masterful in avoiding any such scandal. This new liturgical book is therefore a very serious sign of apostasy within the Church of England.

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

"Common Grace Considered": Further reflection on the "knowledge of God." - (46)

"Common Grace Considered": Further reflection on the "knowledge of God." - (46)

Professor Emeritus Herman Hanko critiques R. Scott Clark's doctrinal distinction between ectypes and archetypes. You will not want to miss this article.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What_is_Apologetics.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)

What_is_Apologetics.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)

Gordon H. Clark's discussion of and definition of apologetics is given in this lecture. The question and answer session at the end of the lecture is extremely interesting, particularly when Clark refutes empiricism and the idea that the five senses can be trusted as a reliable source of propositional truth. His example of the judicial/legal system as being frequently wrong stands out here. If the judicial system can be so often wrong, the implications for empirical science and the philosophy of science are astounding. Thomas Kuhn's book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, comes to mind here. Science, according to true believers, is self-correcting. However, as paradigms are continually shifting based on changing empirical evidences, it seems that science along with the legal system is frequently wrong. So what is a reliable source of propositional truth and revelation? Good question! Dr. Clark's lecture will force you to rethink your doctrine of general or natural revelation. Click on the title of this article or click here to listen to this lecture: What is Apologetics?

Mathaytes: The Invisible Giant: Gordon H. Clark

Mathaytes: The Invisible Giant: Gordon H. Clark

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination: An Excerpt from the Introduction

Lorraine Boettner:

"The doctrine of Predestination receives comparatively little attention in our day and it is very imperfectly understood even by those who are supposed to hold it most loyally. It is a doctrine, however, which is contained in the creeds of most evangelical churches and which has had a remarkable influence both in Church and State. The official standards of the various branches of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Europe and America are thoroughly Calvinistic. The Baptist and Congregational Churches, although they have no formulated creeds, have in the main been Calvinistic if we may judge from the writings and teachings of their representative theologians. The great free church of Holland and almost all the churches of Scotland are Calvinistic. The Established Church of England and her daughter, the Episcopal Church of America, have a Calvinistic creed in the Thirty-nine Articles. The Whitefield Methodists in Wales to this day bear the name of "Calvinistic Methodists." Among the past and present advocates of this doctrine are to be found some of the world's greatest and wisest men. It was taught not only by Calvin, but by Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon (although Melanchthon later retreated toward the Semi-Pelagian position), by Bullinger, Bucer, and all of the outstanding leaders in the Reformation. While differing on some other points they agreed on this doctrine of Predestination and taught it with emphasis. Luther's chief work, "The Bondage of the Will," shows that he went into the doctrine as heartily as did Calvin himself. He even asserted it with more warmth and proceeded to much harsher lengths in defending it than Calvin ever did. And the Lutheran Church today as judged by the Formula of Concord holds the doctrine of Predestination in a modified form."

From:  The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, by Lorraine Boettner.

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

Friday, November 19, 2010

Birth or Not

Birth or Not

Vote to keep the parents of this child from killing their unborn child. Let the nation know that we care.

Contra Mundum: Augustine on "Free-Will"

Contra Mundum: Augustine on "Free-Will"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Earthquake in Anglo-Catholicism: Bishop of Fulham to convert to Rome; Forward in Faith 'not part of Church of England' – Telegraph Blogs

Earthquake in Anglo-Catholicism: Bishop of Fulham to convert to Rome; Forward in Faith 'not part of Church of England' – Telegraph Blogs

YouTube - Oprah Winfrey: Jesus Did Not Come To Die On The Cross

YouTube - Oprah Winfrey: Jesus Did Not Come To Die On The Cross

Those who preach that Jesus is our example or that Jesus shows us how to live have more in common with Oprah's theology of self justification than with the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. Jesus is objectively our salvation because His active and passive obedience is imputed to us. He lived a perfect life in our place and He died for our sins on the cross in our place. He died specifically for His elect, His sheep (John 10:11; 1 John 3:16). Those who confuse sanctification with justification are preaching salvation by congruent works, which is really no different from what Rome preaches.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Common Grace Considered"

"Common Grace Considered" A discussion of R. Scott Clark's view of common grace.

Touching the Third Rail! – Why Are Reformed Christians in the U.S. Obsessed With Politics?

Touching the Third Rail! – Why Are Reformed Christians in the U.S. Obsessed With Politics? [Click on the title to see the commentary at the Aquila Report].

I'm appalled at Brits who pretend to understand American Christianity, particularly Carl Trueman and Paul Levy. First off, neither of them understands the American Revolution and the fierce American opposition to governmental interference in private matters like free speech, freedom of religion, and individual freedom. As the federal government continues to usurp the rights of state governments to manage their own affairs, so the cultural divide widens. That is particularly true in the South where the wounds remaining from the American Civil War are still festering and slowly healing. What Trueman and Levy do not get is that Christians from the Bible belt feel the heat of government intrusions into matters of religious freedom. The Democratic Party's platform is essentially atheistic and relativistic and seeks to promote homosexuality, abortion, premarital and extramarital sex via its morally irresponsible cultural and social policies.

Trueman and Levy want Christians to shut up and stay out of politics because they are essentially liberals on both the political and the theological level. It is simply ludicrous to suppose that Christian churches should not be involved in politics, particularly when the government is increasingly curtailing the rights of Christians and Christian churches to voice their opinions on issues like abortion, homosexual/transgender issues, and sexual morality and ethics. For example it is now a "hate crime" for anyone to openly condemn homosexuality as a "sin" in Canada and from the looks of it the same sort of political interference in the individual's freedom of speech and freedom of religion will become law in the United States.

Furthermore, every American citizen was at one time required to take classes educating them about the dangers of atheistic materialism inherent in the communist and socialist worldview. The Democratic Party is increasingly opposed to Christianity and instead has adopted a form of socialism and secularism that is every bit as dangerous as the socialism espoused by the communists of the early 20th century. If Europe and Australia is our example, godlessness and atheism are the result of Trueman and Levy's point of view. Their celebration of hedonism in government simply reveals their true motives are not Christian but secular and materialistic. The Christian and the Christian church are not neutral but actively promoting the kingdom of God by focusing not only on the temporal and earthly extension of the kingdom but by preaching the Gospel and furthering the eternal kingdom which is unseen.

Moreover, Trueman and Levy are naive if they believe that the separation of church and state means that the state gets to dominate the Christian and the Christian church. It is true that Christians have been martyred over the centuries but that does not mean that Christians were beaten into submissive silence on moral issues and on theological issues. Trueman and Levy seem to have forgotten that John the Baptist was beheaded for daring to criticize Herod for marrying his brother Philip's wife, Herodias, which John the Baptist said was "unlawful". (Mark 16:17-29). I guess John should have taken the advice of Trueman and Levy? If individual Christians are members of the Christian church, then it follows naturally that both individual Christians and Christian churches should speak out against immoral government policies. What if William Wilberforce and John Newton had taken the position that Christian churches should not be involved in politics? Do you really believe the slave trade would have been ended in 19th century England? I suppose by Trueman and Levy's view Wilberforce should have simply acted alone and hoped for the best? But the English and the American abolitionist movement was promoted by Christian individuals supported by their churches. As the preacher of Ecclesiastes puts it:

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him--a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 ESV)

I am not a theonomist nor am I a reconstructionist. That does not mean, however, that Christians or churches should hide in a corner somewhere and pretend the world is not an enemy of the Gospel. If the Protestant Reformation is any example then we as Christians cannot afford to sit back and hope that the enemies of the Gospel will simply leave us be. As I write this article Christians are being martyred all over the world. Does Trueman and Levy think this will not happen in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia? Christians and churches should stand together and unite against those who hate the Gospel, that much is clear.

I disagree with ecumenicalism on the Evangelical side of things and on the liberal mainline side of things. As Michael Horton has pointed out, many Evangelical churches are simply preaching a form of neo-pelagianism. But that does not mean that we as Christians cannot operate on a level of co-belligerence that refuses to confuse the Gospel with a social gospel or a civil religious compromise with false churches which promote a false gospel of good works or a false gospel of theological relativism. Conservative Christians should unite against the intrusion of the government into private affairs of the Christian churches and the freedom of religion. If the UK, Canada and Australia are any indication it is imperative that churches be involved in the political process. Otherwise we wind up with a nation with no conscience and genocide is the result. Never forget what happened when Christians did nothing to stop the genocide of the Jews in Nazi Germany. What if American Christian churches had done nothing to end Jim Crow laws and racial segregation? Would the American Civil Rights laws have been passed giving black Americans equal rights? I think not. Simply put Trueman and Levy are naive at best and dissimulators with a hidden agenda at worst.

Finally, it seems to me that many churches are already involved in political issues. If conservative Christian churches do not speak out against immorality, then the liberal left version of theonomy--which is basically sanctified godlessness and atheism--then the cultural war is lost by default. Albeit the Gospel is not to be confused with the moral law or with cultural transformation (the error of both theonomists and liberals), it does not follow that churches which preach the true Gospel are to shut up and stay out of politics. No thank-you, Trueman. Maybe you should move back across the pond. We Americans do not need your gutless accommodation to the world.

One has to wonder why Trueman wrote a book on political issues if he really believes that Christian churches should stay in their corner or holed up in solitude? It seems to me that Trueman is irrational if he thinks there is some sort of dichotomy between the individual Christian and the unity of Christians we call a congregation or a church. We all stand together or we all fall together. Church history seems to indicate that well enough.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1 ESV)

The peace of God be with you,

Charlie J. Ray

New Federal Rules Worry Christian Colleges

New Federal Rules Worry Christian Colleges

Friday, November 05, 2010

Prayer of Humble Access

The Prayer of Humble Access

Then shall the Priest, kneeling down at the Lord's Table, say in the name of all them that shall receive the Communion this Prayer following.

WE do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

The Prayer of Humble Access comes from the service of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This is one of my favorite prayers in the liturgy for a variety of reasons. First of all, the biblical allusions relate directly to the passages of Scripture which emphasize our standing before God as sinful and ungodly people who do not deserve God's mercy (Titus 3:5-7; Romans 10:1-4). If we were to stand before God in our own righteousness we would surely be lost since God commands what we are unable to deliver: absolute sinless perfection (Matthew 5:17-21, 48).

Rather than giving the historical setting for Cranmer's work in the 1552 edition of the prayer book, which the 1662 edition preserves almost unaltered, I want to instead show the Scriptures to which the prayer alludes and to then reflect theologically on the meaning of these passages in the context of the prayer and in the larger context of Protestant and Reformed theology. First of all, notice that we are not to “presume” anything. (See Matthew Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30; Luke 16:19-31). The first thing you will notice is that three New Testament passages to which Cranmer alludes have to do with two outcasts from both the religious and the social society of Jesus' day. Matthew 15 and Mark 7 both allude to a foreign woman from the area of Tyre and Sidon, which also happens to be the same area where the Phoenicians originated. Although the area had been Hellenized, the long history of animosity between the Hebrews and the Canaanites of the area made the conversation between Jesus and these two foreign women even more amazing (1 Kings 16:31). In Luke 16:19ff we see the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, who was apparently a beggar. Lazarus and the Syro-Phoenician woman, as Cranmer rightly saw, reveals our true standing before God.

Moreover, we are foreigners and beggars and have absolutely no claim to citizenship in Israel or the church, the New Israel (Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12, 19). We are outcasts from the kingdom of God. Cranmer's intention here is to refute the Roman Catholic idea that we come to the table worthy of receiving the sacrament on the basis of the merits of our penances or our inherent and infused righteousness in the heart. We do not come to the table based on our own righteousness but based on a foreign righteousness that is credited and imputed to our account:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- (Philippians 3:8-9 ESV)

It is not our level of sanctification or holiness which is infused into our own hearts that makes us worthy to receive the sacrament but rather the objective righteousness of Christ which is outside of us and covers us that makes us worthy of receiving the sacrament. That is not to say that the Reformed Anglican is lawless, however. Most modern prayer books, including the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, delete the reading of the Decalogue at the beginning of the service of the Lord's Supper. Although the 1928 BCP does require the reading of the Decalogue once a month, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer requires the reading of the Decalogue at every service where the Lord's Supper is observed. The rubrics in question read:

¶ Then shall the Priest, turning to the People, rehearse distinctly The Ten Commandments; and the People, still kneeling, shall, after every Commandment, ask God mercy for their transgressions for the time past, and grace to keep the law for the time to come.
¶ And NOTE, That in rehearsing The Ten Commandments, the Priest may omit that part of the Commandment which is inset.
¶ The Decalogue may be omitted, provided it be said at least one Sunday in each month. But NOTE, That whenever it is omitted, the Priest shall say the Summary of the Law, beginning, Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ

Now this omission of weekly readings of the Decalogue is partly due to a change in the frequency of the observance of the Lord's Supper. Anglo-Catholics generally practice weekly communion so the 1928 BCP is in effect a watering down of the emphasis on the moral law which exposes us as “miserable sinners”. While the 1662 BCP reads the Decalogue every time the Lord's Supper is observed, the fact is that communion might have only been administered once or twice a month. But the 1662 BCP does read the Decalogue and the responding prayers at every communion service. Hence, the Anglo-Catholics tend toward a pelagian watering down of human guilt before the tribunal of God's perfect law. It is my contention that this is deliberate on their part and the further pelagianization of the 1928 BCP in the 1979 book of alternate services is simply the result of both Anglo-Catholic theology and theological liberalism to which pelagianism naturally leads.

While Rome and the Anglo-Catholic tradition emphasizes human ability and congruent merits, the Scriptures emphasize man's total inability to please God on the basis of human merits or efforts of any kind whatsoever. The Thirty-nine Articles likewise uphold this view. (See Articles 9-18). It is particularly interesting that the 1662 BCP uses Augustinian prayers at the end of each of the Ten Commandments in the reading of the Decalogue:

People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law. (See Lord's Supper).

Please note the closing prayer of the reading of the Decalogue as well:

People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee. (Ibid.)

I call to mind the conflict between Augustine and Pelagius when Pelagius read Augustine's prayer: “Lord, command what you will and grant what you command.” In other words, these readings mark out clearly the distinction between the Reformed Anglican view established in the 39 Articles and the Anglo-Catholic view, which is essentially pelagianism restated in semi-Roman Catholic language. The Prayer of Humble Access logically follows the reading of the Law since the Law reveals us as the miserable sinners we are (Romans 3:17; 3: 23). Rather than building vain pride in our own righteousness and standing before God (Romans 10:1-4), the Law demolishes all of our righteousness and shows us that only beggars and foreigners can come before a righteous and holy God. That is the standing of all humankind because we are all rebels and aliens and enemies of God unless and until we are born again and are accounted righteous on the basis of another, Jesus Christ. We are clothed with a righteousness that is not our own, a righteousness that is outside ourselves and we are accounted righteous when we are still inherently corrupt to one degree or another.

Those who do not believe that liturgy affects the theological reflection and understanding of the laity reading and praying through such services are naïve indeed. Even the Anglo-Catholic Gregory Dix acknowledges that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's genius was in teaching the doctrines of grace, justification by faith alone, and Reformed theology through his liturgical revisions of English prayer services. Learning and reciting heretical views through Latin rites, Anglo-Catholic perversions of the 1662 Prayer Book, etc., can only lead the people away from Christ and from the teaching of Scripture. The 1979 book of alternate services makes it extremely difficult to find the reading for the Decalogue with the Augustinian prayers or the reading of the Prayer of Humble Access. One has to conclude that this is deliberate rather than coincidental.

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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