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, February 14, 2012

See BibleWorks 9 in Action - YouTube

I've been using Bibleworks 9 for awhile now. It took me awhile to get used to how the browse window and the analysis window works but after I got the hang of it I would never go back to using other Bible software. I use Bibleworks 9 on a regular basis because of the speed of response and ease of use. Logos 4 is a bulky program to use and has a significant lag time when working. Even the hover over feature in Logos 4 lag. But with Bibleworks 9 I can parse and research without delays or waiting. That is important when a project deadline is coming up and you need to finish your research quickly. Also, Bibleworks 9 comes with all the basic features and resources necessary for doing exegetical work whether it is basic exegesis for sermons or formal exegetical papers for college or seminary level work. This is the program of choice for busy pastors and seminarians and at a reasonable price, too. After you watch the video below, visit the YouTube site for more videos demonstrating how Bibleworks 9 performs under pressure.

Check out this demonstration:

See BibleWorks 9 in Action - YouTube

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mike Horton: A Response to John Frame’s The Escondido Theology - White Horse Inn Blog

It would seem that Dr. Michael Horton has a similar response to Dr. John Frame that Dr. R. Scott Clark had a few years ago when he was still writing the Heidelblog. Although this sort of a polemical disagreement within the Reformed camp is regrettable, it is also absolutely necessary. John Frame is leading countless people in the Reformed tradition in the direction of Rome, heterodoxy and even outright heresy. Frame's defense of Joel Osteen is reprehensible. Although I disagree with Van Til's theology of Scripture as "analogy", I must say that otherwise I find Horton's no holds barred response refreshing. It's about time someone stood up for the Law/Gospel distinction. Dr. Horton's article appears on the White Horse Inn blog. Here is the lead in:

I’ve been reluctant to respond to Professor Frame’s The Escondido Theology, published recently by Whitefield Media. Since the book focuses its critique on Westminster Seminary California, where I teach, I’d encourage readers to visit the Seminary website for a brief response from our president, W. Robert Godfrey. It would be of no edifying value to anyone to go into the details of John Frame’s departure from WSC. Suffice it to say that there are two sides to every story and if you’ve read The Escondido Theology, you have only heard one side whose details many of us would dispute. None of this matters in any case for the general good of the church and the Great Commission, so I will not raise it here.

There are a lot of criticisms in the book directed at my writing, so I’ll say a brief word about it. Having read the book recently, my reluctance is due primarily to the fact that I don’t know quite where to begin and to respond point by point may not contribute much to the cause.

The bottom line for me is this. Whether intentionally misleading or merely sloppy, this book represents a new low in intra-Reformed polemics. I’m encouraged to hear that various Reformed companies declined to publish the book. It is so replete with caricatures, misrepresentations, and straw opponents that a healthy debate on important issues is aborted at the outset. If I held some of the views John attributes to me, I would be alarmed as well. Old grudges appear to cloud his judgment, even to the point of defending Joel Osteen, for example, against my critique (which, again, he caricatures). I hope readers of John’s book will also consult the books that he attacks rather than take his word for it that they say what he claims.

Click here to read the entire article: A Response to John Frame’s The Escondido Theology - White Horse Inn Blog

Click here to read my critical review of Mike Horton's systematic theology:  Pilgrims on the Way

The Doctrines of Grace in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer

The collect for the second Sunday before Lent should be noted carefully.  (See Wikipedia:  Collect).  The emphasis is not on what we do but on God's mercy.  The Lordship salvation crowd, like the Arminians, love to focus on what we do and on our good works rather than on Christ and what He did for us on the cross.  The collect says:

O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Most people literally cannot appreciate anything that is absolutely free.  The principle applies to giving children a gift rather than having them earn the money to buy what they want.  For example, if a parent buys a new car for a teenage son, he will not take as much care of the car than if the son had worked a part time job to pay for the car himself.  Most people cannot understand that a free gift is not necessarily "cheap grace".  It may have cost the parent a significant amount of money to purchase the new car for the son.  The same principle applies to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all the elect in the whole world and since the foundation of the world to the end of the world.  He shed His precious blood to redeem the elect from all their sins of the past, the present and the future.  (1 Peter 1:18, 19, 20; Ephesians 1:3-11).  Therefore, the idea that salvation is a free gift apart from our obedience, merits, good works, or progression in sanctification or consecration to God is not cheap grace.  It cost our Savior everything.  (Galatians 6:14, 15, 16).

Unfortunately the idea that we must earn our own way is wrongly applied to salvation by most religions of the world.  (Romans 4:4).  Even in Christianity this idea has crept in.  The semi-pelagianism of Rome, Eastern Orthodoxy, and of the Arminians says that man must "do" his part and then God does His part in man's salvation.  Unfortunately this is impossible for two reasons:  1)  The debt we all owe God on an individual basis is greater than we could ever repay. (Matthew 18:23-27). 2)  All mankind is fallen in Adam and is totally unable do anything whatsoever to obey God or please God.  (Romans 5:12-14; Romans 3:10-20, 23; Romans 8:8).  The Gospel, however, naturally follows from the moral law of God.  The moral law is impossible for sinners to fulfill.  Why?  God requires absolute obedience from cradle to grave.  (Matthew 5:17-21; Romans 10:1-5;   The only man who was sinless is Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:15). The 39 Articles of Religion reflect this biblical teaching in Article XV:

CHRIST in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which He was clearly void, both in His flesh and in His spirit. He came to be the lamb without spot, Who by sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world: and sin, as S. John saith, was not in Him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things: and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  (Hebrews 2:14, 17;Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12, 26; John 1:29; 1 John 3:5; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8).

It is easy to see the hand of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in this collect and in the 39 Articles of Religion, which Archbishop Matthew Parker edited from 42 Articles penned by Cranmer .  Cranmer sought to teach the doctrines of grace and justification by faith alone through the liturgy of the English church.  He reformed the Roman Catholic liturgy and made it completely Protestant.  Even more radically, the Bible and the English liturgy were now available in English translation.  In the fifteenth century the official language of the English government was French and Latin and the language of the English church was Latin.

The idea that there is a via media between Rome and the English Reformation is simply a propaganda device used by Anglo-Catholics and Tractarians to lead Protestants back to Rome.  The King James Bible in conjunction with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its earlier editions, beginning with the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, the least reformed edition, revolutionized English society in that it now made religion available to all the people from the plow boy to the king.  With the advent of a new respectability for the English language, the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, and the liturgy being both in English and revised in accordance with the English Bible there was a widespread literacy in both reading and religion.  With a new emphasis on a proper reading of the church fathers in line with the apostolic teaching of the New Testament the English reformers sought to correct centuries of superstition and man-made traditions that were not supported by the Bible.

The teaching of the collect from Sexagesima is a reflection of the teaching from Titus 3:5:

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NKJ)

The other doctrine taught in this collect is that God is sovereign over every adversity we face in life.  This doctrine is as hard to accept as the doctrine of grace alone as the basis for our salvation.  The pride of men will not allow them to acknowledge that even their very life depends on God allowing them to live.  (Acts 17:28; Genesis 2:7; Job 12:10).  God controls all the adversities we face in life.  (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6; Lamentations 3:38).  In fact, why would we pray if God cannot actually control nature and adversity in our lives?  (Philippians 4:6, 7).  Furthermore, why pray for the conversion of the lost if God cannot actually soften hardened hearts or open the eyes of rebellious sinners in bondage to sin?  (Romans 9:15, 16; Acts 16:14; Daniel 4:34; Ephesians 1:18).

Although it is hard to accept, God is sovereign in the salvation of His elect and in the damnation of the lost.  Romans 9:18, 19, 20, 21).  He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.  The pelagian tendency to human self-righteousness (Romans 10:1, 2, 3) is inherent in the human nature.  But we must face the fact that God brought us into the world and He will take us out of it at His own good pleasure and in His time.  (Psalm 115:3; Hebrews 9:27; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11; 1 Timothy 6:7).

May the peace of God be yours,

Charlie  (Romans 5:1, 2)

(See also:  The Story of the Book of Common Prayer and Celebrating 350 Years of the Book of Common Prayer.  Even the idea that we should read and mark our Bibles was advised by the Book of Common Prayer:  Second Sunday in Advent).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Calvin on James 2:18-26: Justification by Faith Manifests Works

Calvin's Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 17
11. But they say that we have a still more serious business with James, who in express terms opposes us. For he asks, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works?” and adds “You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only,” ( [James 2:21, 24] ). What then? Will they engage Paul in a quarrel with James? If they hold James to be a servant of Christ, his sentiments must be understood as not dissenting from Christ speaking by the mouth of Paul. By the mouth of Paul the Spirit declares that Abraham obtained justification by faith, not by works; we also teach that all are justified by faith without the works of the law. By James the same Spirit declares that both Abraham’s justification and ours consists of works, and not of faith only. It is certain that the Spirit cannot be at variance with himself. Where, then, will be the agreement? It is enough for our opponents, provided they can tear up that justification by faith which we regard as fixed by the deepest roots:45  to restore peace to the conscience is to them a matter of no great concern. Hence you may see, that though they indeed carp at the doctrine of justification by faith, they meanwhile point out no goal of righteousness at which the conscience may rest. Let them triumph then as they will, so long as the only victory they can boast of is, that they have deprived righteousness of all its certainty. This miserable victory they will indeed obtain when the light of truth is extinguished, and the Lord permits them to darken it with their lies. But wherever the truth of God stands they cannot prevail. I deny, then, that the passage of James which they are constantly holding up before us as if it were the shield of Achilles, gives them the slightest countenance. To make this plain, let us first attend to the scope of the Apostle, and then show wherein their hallucination consists. As at that time (and the evil has existed in the Church ever since) there were many who, while they gave manifest proof of their infidelity, by neglecting and omitting all the works peculiar to believers, ceased not falsely to glory in the name of faith, James here dissipates their vain confidence. His intention therefore is, not to derogate in any degree from the power of true faith, but to show how absurdly these triflers laid claim only to the empty name, and resting satisfied with it, felt secure in unrestrained indulgence in vice. This state of matters being understood, it will be easy to see where the error of our opponents lies. They fall into a double paralogism, the one in the term [faith] , the other in the term [justifying] . The Apostle, in giving the name of [faith] to an empty opinion altogether differing from true faith, makes a concession which derogates in no respect from his case. This he demonstrates at the outset by the words, “What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he has faith, and have not works?” ( [James 2:14] ). He says not, “If a man [have] faith without works,” but “if he say that he has.” This becomes still clearer when a little after he derides this faith as worse than that of devils, and at last when he calls it “dead.” You may easily ascertain his meaning by the explanation, “Thou believest that there is one God.” Surely if all which is contained in that faith is a belief in the existence of God, there is no wonder that it does not justify. The denial of such a power to it cannot be supposed to derogate in any degree from Christian faith, which is of a very different description. For how does true faith justify unless by uniting us to Christ, so that being made one with him, we may be admitted to a participation in his righteousness? It does not justify because it forms an idea of the divine existence, but because it reclines with confidence on the divine mercy.

See also, section 12:

Calvin's Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 17
12. We have not made good our point until we dispose of the other paralogism: since James places a part of justification in works. If you would make James consistent with the other Scriptures and with himself, you must give the word [justify] , as used by him, a different meaning from what it has with Paul. In the sense of Paul we are said to be justified when the remembrance of our unrighteousness is obliterated and we are counted righteous. Had James had the same meaning it would have been absurd for him to quote the words of Moses, “Abraham believed God,” &c. The context runs thus: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” If it is absurd to say that the effect was prior to its cause, either Moses falsely declares in that passage that Abraham’s faith was imputed for righteousness or Abraham, by his obedience in offering up Isaac, did not merit righteousness. Before the existence of Ishmael, who was a grown youth at the birth of Isaac, Abraham was justified by his faith. How then can we say that he obtained justification by an obedience which followed long after? Wherefore, either James erroneously inverts the proper order (this it were impious to suppose), or he meant not to say that he was justified, as if he deserved to be deemed just. What then? It appears certain that he is speaking of the manifestation, not of the imputation of righteousness, as if he had said, Those who are justified by true faith prove their justification by obedience and good works, not by a bare and imaginary semblance of faith. In one word, he is not discussing the mode of justification, but requiring that the justification of believers shall be operative. And as Paul contends that men are justified without the aid of works, so James will not allow any to be regarded as justified who are destitute of good works. Due attention to the scope will thus disentangle every doubt; for the error of our opponents lies chiefly in this, that they think James is defining the mode of justification, whereas his only object is to destroy the depraved security of those who vainly pretended faith as an excuse for their contempt of good works. Therefore, let them twist the words of James as they may, they will never extract out of them more than the two propositions: That an empty phantom of faith does not justify, and that the believer, not contented with such an imagination, manifests his justification by good works.

[51 451 French, “Il suffit à nos adversaires s’ils peuvent deraciner la justice de foy, laquelle nous voulons estre plantee au profond du cœur.”—It is enough for our opponents if they can root up justification by faith, which we desire to be planted at the bottom of the heart.]

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, February 09, 2012

The Law Coalition

Darryl Hart speaks out against the Manhattan Declaration: Click here: The Law Coalition

Episcopal Church in sharp decline: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2012 p 6. « Conger

Episcopal Church in sharp decline: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2012 p 6. « Conger

Anglicans Ablaze: The Anglican Church in North America: An Alternative Episcopal Church

This is the latest article by Robin Jordan over at Anglicans Ablaze:

The fundamental declarations of the Anglican Church in North America, the doctrinal provisions of its canons, its Ordinal, and the two reports of its Prayerbook and Common Liturgy Taskforce clearly show that the Anglican Church in North America is following in the footsteps of the Episcopal Church. As I noted in my last article in the series on the ACNA theological lens and the guiding principles behind its proposed Prayer Book, the Anglican Church in North America may be described as an alternative Episcopal Church in which two groups are putting their ideas of ecclesiastical governance, church order, worship, and the like into practice.

These two groups represent two movements that influenced Episcopalianism in the twentieth century. The first movement is the Anglo-Catholic movement. Its origin may be traced to the Tractarian and Ritualist movements of the nineteenth century. The second movement is the Ancient-Future, or Convergence, movement. . . .

Click here to read the rest of the article: Anglicans Ablaze: The Anglican Church in North America: An Alternative Episcopal Church

The Two Kingdoms Theology and Ecumenical Contradictions

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." (John 18:36 NKJV)

The Two Kingdoms Theology and Ecumenical Contradictions

At the risk of being considered an isolationist, a fundamentalist, and a divisionist I have decided to write this article to discuss what I consider to be self-contradictory in regards to the two kingdoms theology of Michael Horton and others. While these theologians make strong statements about the separation of church and state and the two kingdoms, namely the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world, these same men continually make ambiguous statements about what the kingdom of God actually is and who belongs to that kingdom.

The real issue comes down to this: who is in and who is out? Mike Horton did an entire campaign a couple of years ago about Christless Christianity and said that much of Evangelicalism is essentially pelagian due to the influence of Charles Finney. I applauded his efforts. But when Horton came under fire for his views by the wider Evangelical community he backed off that statement and said that Arminians are not really semi-pelagians or pelagian. In fact, Horton has had William Willimon, an Arminian, on the White Horse Inn and he has had David Virtue of VirtueOnline on the program as well. Virtue is an open advocate for Anglo-Catholicism, though he pretends to be an “Evangelical”. If Evangelicalism includes Anglo-Papists, the Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholics in addition to the semi-pelagian Arminians, then for all practical purposes the term “Evangelical” is meaningless. The great Anglican Reformed minister, Augustus Toplady called Arminianism, The Road to Rome. If the syncretism of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement with Christian Science, the prosperity gospel, Word of Faith movement, oneness Pentecostalism, and charismatic Roman Catholicism is part of Evangelicalism, then we are in a world of trouble (2 Corinthians 4:4). Some theologians in the Reformed tradition claim to be non-cessationists. Unfortunately most of them compromise with the errors mentioned above in some way or another. (See Mike Horton: Reformed and Charismatic?).

In light of what I just pointed out above, I am wondering how Horton could appeal to a village green or a big tent if he really believes in the two kingdoms theology? Who actually belongs to the kingdom of God? According to Horton to belong to the village green or the big tent all you need to believe is that the Bible is inspired of God and that it is inerrant and that God is three persons in one divine nature, the statement of faith of the Evangelical Theological Society. (See Doctrinal Basis). Is Horton equating Evangelicalism, the village green, and the big tent with “the kingdom of God”? If so, what is his justification for universalizing what should be particularized by a systematic confessional theology based on a wholistic biblical theology? If all “Evangelical” religion leads to God and Evangelicalism is so heterodox as a whole, then how can it be anything other than a secularizing movement in the church, as Edmund P. Clowney put it in his article, The Politics of the Kingdom?

But this sort of reductionism on the part of Horton and other advocates of the 2k view is troubling. If he thinks that there are two kingdoms, would not the kingdom of God be defined by a systematic confession of what Scripture teaches as a whole? Horton's view of the village green reminds me of the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888. That statement was drafted by the Anglo-Catholics and reduced essential doctrine to four main points:

1. The Holy Scriptures, as containing all things necessary to salvation;
2. The Creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), as the sufficient statement of Christian faith;
4. The historic episcopate, locally adapted.

Obviously the Protestant Reformers, being committed to the Scriptures as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice, would not have reduced the principle for fellowship and communion to the two utilized by Horton and the Evangelical Theological Society. Most Evangelicals reject apostolic succession and any sacerdotal interpretation of the two Gospel sacraments. The Tractarians, however, accept all seven of the papist sacraments whole hog. Evangelical and Reformed Anglicans totally reject the Anglo-Catholic interpretation of the 39 Articles of Religion, the sacraments or any other Papist spin put on the English Reformation.

Even the National Association of Evangelicals has for all practical purposes become just another liberal ecumenical organization and is dominated by Pentecostals and Charismatics. Practically all the Reformed churches immediately after the separation from Rome formulated detailed confessions of faith, not short, pithy reductions to minimalist requirements. If the Scriptures contain everything a Christian is required to believe, then obviously reducing it all down to “Jesus wept” is unconscionable. (John 11:35).

Some Evangelicals and some Reformed pastors and teachers say that the basis for fellowship should be the ecumenical creeds. But this is simply a reduction of the Lambeth Quadrilateral into a more tolerable form. Although the ecumenical or catholic creeds are essential to saving faith, they are not the only essentials for saving faith. Additionally, a proper understanding of the five solas of the Reformation and the Law/Gospel distinction are absolutely necessary to a proper understanding of soteriology. Calvinism and Arminianism are mutually exclusive of one another and cannot be teaching the same Gospel message since for Arminians man saves himself ultimately by his own efforts to cooperate with God.

It seems to me that the only true basis for fellowship is to adhere to one of the Reformed standards consistently and along with that to affirm the catholic creeds. Everything else leads to either liberalism or to Rome or worse. (Anglican Formularies; Three Forms of Unity; Westminster Standards).

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

George Conger Raises David Virtue's Dander

I do not generally read VirtueOnline because of its blatantly Anglo-Catholic bias.  However, I was amused by this piece that David Virtue posted attacking George Conger's articles on the current situation with the Anglican Mission in America and the Rwandan house of bishops.  Ironically, George Conger is an "orthodox" and "conservative" Anglo-Catholic who chose to remain within The Episcopal Church and work for reform.  As most readers of my blog know, I do not consider Anglo-Catholics to be truly converted to the Christian faith.  That would include "orthodox" Anglo-Catholics.  I was banned from posting comments at VirtueOnline for stating my position in a polemical manner.  Polemics seems to be the only way that these papist ecumenicalists get the message.  (Jude 1:3-4)

Robin Jordan of the Anglicans Ablaze blog attended, Moving Forward Together, the recent meeting between the Rwanda bishops, conservative AMiA congregational leaders, and the archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, Robert Duncan, who is also an avowed Anglo-Catholic.  Robin hoped to persuade the more Evangelical and Reformed members of the AMiA to consider joining together in a new Reformed and Evangelical association of Anglicans.  Whether or not that happens is unclear, although Robin said that the Reformed leaning Anglicans he spoke with at the conference were not convinced that there is no place for them in the Anglican Church in North America.  The naivete of Evangelicals is truly astounding.  They do not seem to realize that the borg mentality of Anglo-Papists is that they are welcome so long as they keep the Gospel under wraps and go along with the false gospel of the Anglo-Papists.  That is assuming, of course, that these Evangelical Anglicans actually do understand the Gospel.  The irony here is that Duncan was there to persuade the AMiA to go with the ACNA, while Archbishop Rwaje of the Anglican Church in Rwanda was there to try to bring about reconciliation between the AMiA and the Rwandan house of bishops.

I am unsure of exactly how Reformed and Evangelical the Rwanda Anglicans are.  However, it would appear that they are not nearly as high church as the ACNA.  Robin Jordan has been blogging for some time now about how Anglo-Catholic the doctrine and canons of the ACNA are.  Most recently his critique of the new prayer book to be produced by the ACNA has been most insightful:  ACNA:  Theological Guiding Lens

David Virtue seems to think that Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers of the AMiA will be able work out a deal where the AMiA can join with the ACNA by this June.  The more the merrier I suppose.

Click here to see the original article at VirtueOnline:  George Conger Raises David Virtue's Dander

Addendum:  Robin Jordan corrected my comment above.  He said that it was never his intention to proselytize anyone but rather was there to report on the situation and see what kinds of responses he would get from the more Evangelical side of the aisle.
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

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Horton and Tipton Talk: Justification and Union with Christ - Reformed Forum

This is a further discussion on the issue of justification by faith alone as the focus of the Gospel, versus the doctrine of union with Christ as the focus of Reformed theology as Tipton contends. However, Tipton overlooks the fact that union with Christ is by the means or instrument of faith, which faith is a living faith by which imputed justification is applied by God Himself to His elect. Dr. Horton participates by phone in this program.

Click here to see the Reformed Forum site and hear the episode: Justification and Union with Christ - Reformed Forum

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Politics of the Kingdom, by Edmund P. Clowney

Darryl G. Hart kindly provided this link to an article published in the Westminster Theological Journal in 1979. It is an article by Edmund P. Clowney which outlines briefly the doctrine of the two kingdoms, namely the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. The introduction points to the main concern. What is the church to do about environmental, political and social problems?

“THE PROBLEM THAT IS POSED for us today (in the relation of theology and politics) comes from the fact that theology does not appear to be comprehensive any longer. Starting with theology it becomes difficult to construct any theory of society whatever.”1 The remark with which Laënnec Hurbon introduces his study of the work of Ernst Bloch has immediate appeal. Has not Christian theology limited itself to a private religion of personal devotion? What meaning can such religion have for a world sweeping to destruction in a flood of catastrophic social and environmental problems?

Perhaps that rhetorical question might receive a surprising answer from places where the flood has struck. Personal religion gains new meaning in the Gulag Archipelago.

The read the rest of the article in PDF format, click here: The Politics of the Kingdom

Darryl Hart: Escondido Theology Before Escondido

Darryl Hart has posted an article about John Frame's new book. Here is the lead in:

In his new book, John Frame argues that two-kingdom theologians represent a novel development in the history of Reformed theology. In his introduction, he goes out of his way to explain that Escondido theologians reject Christendom. But this rejection creates a problem for 2k because the theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries taught that the magistrate had a duty to enforce the entire Decalague [sic]. “The two kingdoms view,” Frame writes, “goes beyond the Reformation theology in important ways. Indeed, except for the law/gospel dichotomy, its distinctive positions are American, not European.” (Frame also acknowledges that the roots of two kingdom theology are in Augustine’s City of God and Luther’s On Civil Authority. Go figure.) In fact, Frame goes out of his way to locate Meredith Kline as the source of these views.

To read the rest of the article click here: Escondido Theology Before Escondido

David Van Drunen Rejoinder

In a response to a negative review of his book, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, David Van Drunen said:

The first is that though Scripture provides guidance for thinking and acting in all areas of life, for most academic subjects Scripture provides only general guidance. The Bible sets certain parameters for approaching the various disciplines, but it does not give us specific or exhaustive information about, say, chemistry or literature or economics. To delve deeply into these subjects requires investigation of the world around us (natural revelation) and a measure of wisdom and good judgment. I imagine that Dordt College professors would agree with this claim, and implement it in their classrooms all the time. My writing on education is not a screed against Christian education, as Zylstra suggests, but wrestles with the implications of facts like this. It is something that every Christian teacher and scholar must take into account.

If only some of the Anabaptist fanatics who "claim" to be Clarkian could understand this. Gordon H. Clark himself said that the Westminster Confession is the best expression of the Christian faith in systematic form. (Christian Philosophy, p. 122). The Bible is not an exhaustive commentary on music, the arts, science, mathematics or even modern judicial law. It is a textbook on God's revealed will and dogmatic doctrine that is specific to saving faith and other issues. Scripture only indirectly speaks to matters of general revelation or natural revelation and "natural" law. Inferring more than the Bible actually says about formal logic and other philosophical issues falls as much into the category of general or natural revelation as does science. If only Baptists and non-cessationists were more logical they would be confessionally reformed and covenantal.

As much as I agree with Clark's Scripturalism, it seems to me that some Clarkians have forgotten the distinction between special revelation and general revelation. Scripture is indeed a set of propositional truth claims set forth in logical form. However, logic, strictly speaking, is a philosophical concept and therefore falls into the category of natural revelation, as does the many inferences drawn from Scripture by Clarkians in the areas of government, politics, and the sciences. Clark himself debunked the various secular theories of philosophy and said that only presupposing Scripture gives philosophy any credibility whatsoever.

One Baptist who "claims" to be "Clarkian" or Scripturalist recently said that a man can infallibly know all the logical propositions in the Scriptures. That must be a tall order. I cannot even remember all of the commandments, much less all the promises in Scripture--and I sure do not claim to know even a majority of the doctrinal propositions in the Scriptures. I do hope I have a firm grasp on the essential propositions, though. Jesus Christ is both God and man in one person. That much I know Scripture teaches. (John 1:1, 18; 2 John 1:7-11).

Unfortunately, Gordon H. Clark insisted at the end of his life that Jesus was two persons. That sort of irrational reasoning is self-contradictory in my opinion. (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Timothy 3:16; John 1:1,14,18; Titus 2:13; John 20:28; Matthew 16:16). Not even Clark infallibly knew all the propositions God knows. Nor did Clark know all the propositions of the Scriptures. Obviously Clark thought he erred earlier in his career when he affirmed the Reformed confessional view that Christ is one person and two beings/natures, one being divine and the other being human, perfectly united but not mixed or confused or separated. Some Clarkians love to pretend that the noetic effects of sin do not affect the intellect. But that is not what Clark taught either. What he said was that knowledge itself is objective and one does not need to be a regenerate Christian to understand a particular proposition made by Scripture, such as David was the king of Israel. How that translates to an infallible knowledge of all the propositions of the Scriptures I have no idea.

Article II, Of the Word, or Son of God, which was made very man

The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

To read Dr. Van Drunen's rejoinder, click here: Westminster Seminary California

Dr. Robert Godfrey Responds to John Frame's Book: The Escondido Theology

[The following is from the Westminster Theological Seminary, California website.  I trust that you will read John Frame's book along with the writings listed by Dr. Godfrey below.   Charlie.]

Click here to see the original post:  Westminster Seminary California Faculty Response to John Frame

W. Robert Godfrey
All of us on the faculty of Westminster Seminary California are shocked and saddened by John Frame’s book, The Escondido Theology.  Several of us were colleagues with John and several had been his students.  We have appreciated particularly over the years his teaching of the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, his critique of open theism, and his strong defense of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.  (The statement of Andrew Sandlin on p. xxxi of this book claiming that John had been a polemicist against inerrancy is surely a mistake.)  We are very troubled, then, to find John so utterly misrepresenting and misstating our views.  We do not wish to engage in a protracted discussion of these things with John, but we do find it necessary to set the record straight.

Perhaps the simplest way to do that is to refer to the thirty-two bullet points with which John has summarized our views at the beginning of the book (pp. xxxvii-xxxix).  He introduces these bullet points by claiming: “Below are some assertions typical of, and widely accepted among, Escondido theologians.  Not all of them make all of these assertions, but all of them regard them with some sympathy” (p,xxxvii).  In response all of us on the WSC faculty wish to state clearly that we reject all of these thirty-two points as a fair or accurate presentation of our views.  We have the most sympathy with the bullet point which says “There is no difference between being biblical and being Reformed” (p. xxxviii). Yet we would state it differently: we are Reformed because we believe that the Bible is most faithfully understood and taught in Reformed Christianity.  In relation to most of John’s bullet points we believe and teach the very opposite of what is attributed to us.  We hope that those interested in our work will read some of the many works written by our faculty and see for themselves the inaccuracy of John’s book.

To see our commitment to applying the Bible in preaching and to a wide range of contemporary issues, we list below a few faculty books which illustrate this commitment:

Dennis Johnson, Him We Proclaim
W. Robert Godfrey, Pleasing God in our Worship
Michael Horton, Law of Perfect Freedom
R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession (with chapters on the application of the second and fourth commandments)
J. V. Fesko, The Fruit of the Spirit Is and The Rule of Love
David VanDrunen, Bioethics and the Christian Life
Audio recordings of the faculty conference on “The Law of God and the Christian” and our most recent conference on "The Unfolding Mystery: Reading and Applying the Bible."

In light of the potential for this book to confuse our friends and the general public, we wish to restate our Doctrinal Commitment (as is stated in our Catalogue), “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, breathed out by the Spirit of God through human authors, are the very Word of God written—the only infallible and inerrant authority for faith and life. The doctrines of the Christian faith, held by orthodox churches throughout the ages, express the central truths concerning the triune God and his works of creation and redemption, particularly as they confess the saving work of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture. The Reformed confessions (Westminster Confession and Catechisms, Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort) are the fullest and most accurate summary of the system of doctrine revealed in Holy Scripture.”

Westminster California has been and remains a confessional school. As a whole our faculty supports and promotes the consensus views of the Reformed community as summarized in the Reformed confessions. These confessions express most precisely our theology.   

If you have questions about this matter, please contact Westminster Seminary California.

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

The Inspiration of the Bible Is a Sovereign Act of God

The Inspiration of the Bible Is a Sovereign Act of God

Eric Holmberg: I Will Never Vote for a Mormon for President

Although I do not endorse the apologetics ministry that sponsored this video statement, I fully agree with what Eric Holmberg has to say. The Apologeticsgroup.com is a continuationist or charismatic ministry, although they are Reformed in their confession of faith. See: About.

Is God Evil? Carl Beisner

The Reformed answer of Luther, Calvin, the Westminster Divines, and others also denies proposition 3, but on different grounds. They argue that although it would not have been logically impossible for God to create only moral creatures that would never sin, He in fact created a moral world with creatures whose evil He foreordained for His own good purposes—to display His justice in punishing some (Prov. 16:4) and His grace in redeeming and pardoning others (Eph. 1:5–6; 2:7).
Does this mean God justifies His means by His ends? Yes. Is that wicked? No. An end-justifies-the-means ethic is fallacious and therefore wicked for finite men (who can neither control nor know all the results of their choices), but it is perfectly fitting for the infinite God (who both controls and knows all the results of His choices)–and, after all, God being supreme need not justify His choices to anyone:
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? (Rom. 9:15–21).
Does the reality of evil make the existence of the Christian God impossible? No. For good reasons, God created a world that contained evil. For those same reasons, as we have seen, the Christian position does not self-contradict.

From:  How Christians Should Approach the Problem of Evil

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

Anglicans Ablaze: The ACNA Theological Lens: The Guiding Principles Behind the Proposed ACNA Prayer Book—Part 7

Robin Jordan has done an excellent job of revealing the modern Tractarian biases of the Anglican Church in North America's new prayer book revision committee. Unfortunately, the direction of the ACNA continues to flow against the English Reformation and Biblical Christianity. The misuse of the Anglican Formularies to justify the false religion of Anglo-Catholicism continues to prevail in the ACNA from all appearances. Anglo-Catholicism, like Rome, teaches that tradition is equal to the revelation is Scripture and includes faith plus works for justification and all the idolatries of the Roman Catholics and the Papists. Click here to read Robin Jordan's complete article: Anglicans Ablaze: The ACNA Theological Lens: The Guiding Principles Behind the Proposed ACNA Prayer Book—Part 7

Monday, February 06, 2012

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 « Johannes Weslianus

Dr. Michael Horton - For or Against Calvinism, Part 1 - Listen to Free Online White Horse Inn Christian Radio Broadcasts

Two episodes of The White Horse Inn are absolutely necessary for every Calvinist and Arminian to hear. Part one is Roger Olson's presentation. In this part, Olson admits that if Scripture says something he disagrees with, then it is OK to reinterpret the plain meaning of the text to fit with his rational presuppositions. Passages like Romans 9, Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 1 Peter 2:8 cannot possibly support the Calvinist view. Why? Because Olson has presupposed that Scripture cannot possibly teach what it "plainly" teaches!

Basically libertarian free will is a compromise with the semi-pelagianism of the Papists and the Eastern Orthodox. Scripture, for the Reformed position, is the final authority, not reason exalted above Scripture. God is absolutely sovereign. Psalm 115:3.

Click here to hear Part 1: Dr. Michael Horton - For or Against Calvinism, Part 1 - Listen to Free Online White Horse Inn Christian Radio Broadcasts

And here to hear Part 2: Dr. Michael Horton - For or Against Calvinism, Part 2 - Listen to Free Online White Horse Inn Christian Radio Broadcasts

Anglicanism and How Many Points?

  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17 ESV)

Recently in reconsidering several issues regarding what constitutes the so-called Reformed center, a term which attempts to reify exactly what Reformed theology is in actuality, I revisited the Riddleblog, a blog owned by Kim Riddlebarger of The White Horse Inn.  Kim is an expert on the issue of eschatology and amillennialism.  I happen to agree with amillennialism since it appears to be the best explanation of the apocalyptic material in the book of Revelation.  However, what particularly caught my attention was Dr. Riddlebarger's refutation of Dr. John MacArthur's dispensational attack on the Reformed faith while at the same time claiming to be a "five point Calvinist".  Dr. Riddlebarger rightly points out that Calvinism is way more than simply the five points of Calvinism.  (See, A Reply to John MacArthur).  Essentially, Dr. Riddlebarger says that Baptists are not Reformed, despite the fact that they may adhere to the five points of Calvinism.  Anyone familiar with the Canons of Dort knows that it is part of the Three Forms of Unity, which would include the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession, both of which flatly reject MacArthur's Baptist view of the sacraments, his rejection of covenantal theology, and his premillennial dispensationalism.

Unfortunately,  particular Baptists get many other things wrong as well,  They are particularly prone to associate with Arminian Baptists since being Baptist trumps the Canons of Dort.  So on this aspect Baptists are not really in full agreement with the so-called five points of Calvinism either.  I might add that the Sydney Anglicans are inconsistent here as well since the Synod of Dort equally condemned the view that the atonement is in any sense all universal rather than particular to the elect.

This raises other issues as well.  I should point out here that the so-called "Clarkian apologetics" crowd is not a unified group either.  Many of them are non-cessationists or particular Baptists and outright reject confessional theology, something Gordon H. Clark with which Clark himself would have never agreed.  (See: Scripturalism).  They make this huge leap in logic based on the fact that in Clark's last book, The Incarnation, he repudiated his earlier affirmation of the Westminster Confession's view that Christ is one person but two.  (See: Was Clark a Nestorian?) From that one point many in the so-called "Clarkian" crowd jump to premature Anabaptist conclusions that therefore all confessional theology is up for grabs.  Question everything in creeds and confessions they say.

But that was not the position taken by Clark.  His view was thoroughly confessional and presupposed that the Westminster Standards were the best representation of biblical Christianity.  Although Clark, like all Reformed theologians, affirmed that Scripture is the final authority and that creeds and confessions possibly err, he did not adopt the sort of skepticism toward the creeds and Reformed standards which we see the particular Baptists and non-cessationists taking, particularly those who claim to be Scripturalists in the line of Gordon H. Clark.

In short, it is my contention that non-cessationists, particular Baptists, and others in sympathy with subjective and ecstatic leadings of the Spirit common to the Anabaptist tradition, are not truly Scripturalists at all.  They are a curious offshoot of Clark's Scripturalism.  Furthermore, the principle of Sola Scriptura is not subject to solipsism or hyper-individualism or a rejection of confessional Reformed theology.  (See:  How Many Points?, by Richard Muller).

There are many divisions in the wider Reformed and Protestant tradition.  Theonomy and reconstruction adopt a post millennial view that exalts the law above the Gospel and social transformation above the doctrines of grace.  Baptists reject creeds and confessions and adopt views very similar to the Anabaptists, including a legalistic view of "Lordship salvation".  Ironically, some so-called "Clarkians" like Kenneth Talbot are both Van Tilian and theonomic and Clarkian--as if the two go together???

The Anglican tradition suffers from a similar form of schizophrenic disjunction with the Anglican Formularies.  Ango-Catholicism, Tractarianism, and high church Arminianism are heretical perversions of the English Reformation.  But it is my contention that theonomy, dispensationalism, the Lordship salvation controversy, non-cessationism, future vindication, and assorted other theological errors could be avoided were more pastors, theologians and plow boys familiar with the Reformed standards.  My study of both Scripture and the various Reformed confessions of faith and catechisms has greatly enriched my understanding of theology and the Bible.

While I have a great appreciation for the Scripturalism of Gordon H. Clark and for the work of The Trinity Foundation regarding their stand for the doctrine of justification by faith alone, I do not and cannot adopt an Anabaptist attitude toward the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, or the Anglican Formularies.  Unfortunately, the advocates of Clark's Scripturalism these days have little to do with Clark's rejection of the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit or with Clark's own position that the Westminster Standards best represent biblical Christianity:

Definition of Christianity
It is essential therefore to define Christianity more exactly by a specific doctrinal system.  Romanism is not what is meant.  By Christianity we shall mean, to use common names, what is called Calvinism.  Or, to be most specific, the definition of Christianity shall be the articles of the Westminster Confession.   With such a definite basis, it will no longer be necessary to spin dizzily in a whirlpool of equivocal disputation.  Now we can look at what we are talking about.  ["Is Christianity a Religion? in Christian Philosophy, volume 4, The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark, (Unicoi:  Trinity Foundation, 2004), p. 122.]

I would contend that if Anglicans actually believed what the Anglican Formularies teach then there would be much less disputation.  This is also true regarding the those who "claim" to follow the apologetics of Dr. Clark.  If they were confessional presbyterians there would be much less confusion and disputation.  Unfortunately even Sean Gerety is much more willing to compromise confessional Calvinism as it is expressed in the Westminster Standards--for the sake of a facade of unity among Clarkians on other issues like the neo-nestorianism of Clark's final book--than to stand for what Clark himself defined as biblical Christianity:  the articles of The Westminster Confession.

I would contend that for Anglicans biblical Christianity is expressed in the Anglican Formularies, which do teach the five points of Calvinism in incipient form and further developed in the Lambeth Articles of 1595, the Irish Articles, and the Westminster Standards.  While Calvinism is much more than adhering to the five points of Calvinism, Anglicanism is much more than some generic wishy washy Amyraldianism or Arminianism.  It is solidly Augustinian, Reformed, and Calvinist as that is expressed in the Formularies, Lambeth Articles, the Irish Articles, and the Westminster Standards which are drawn from them.

Although it is true that Reformation Anglicans are not Puritans or Presbyterians, it can be said that we have much more in common with the confessional view of Presbyterians or the Dutch Reformed than with particular Baptists--or even with the Clarkian Baptists masquerading under the guise of the "five points".

Sincerely in Christ,


Sunday, February 05, 2012

Is Anglo-Catholicism a Via Media? Charles Pettit McIlvaine

Rev. Charles Pettit McIlvaine, Born Again Episcopalian.
[The following quote is from Oxford Divinity Compared with that of the Romish and Anglican Churches, with a Special View to the Illustration of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, by Charles Pettit McIlvaine.  Click here to see the Google book:  Oxford Divinity Compared.]

"If any  man thirst let him come unto me and drink;" a mode of preaching Christ, that shall ever delight to proclaim to all people a full, perfect and ready salvation to the vilest sinner, whenever, in sickness or health, he turns unto God, truly repenting and believing in Jesus--a salvation which justifies perfectly, and immediately, on the act of a living faith, and which sanctifies perfectly, but progressively, as the necessary fruit of the same faith; a salvation so perfect and free, that, in the words of Hooker, "although in ourselves, we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even that man that is impious in himself, full of iniquity, full of sin, him being found in Christ, through faith, and having his sins remitted through repentance, him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereto by pardoning it, and accepteth him in Jesus Christ, as pefectly righteous as if he had fulfilled all that is commanded him in the Law."  --Charles Pettit McIlvaine.

Chapter II


Professions of Oxford Divines concerning the conformity of their doctrine with that of the Church of England--Their account of Ultra-Protestantism--Their identity of their system with that of Alexander Knox--The condemnation of the latter, as Romish and dangerous, by certain eminent divines, of diverse schools in the Church of England, before its development, at Oxford, had excited special interest.

Before proceeding any further, it is proper to state that the Divinity which we propose to examine, is loudly proclaimed by its advocates to be the middle path, the Via Media, of the Church of England, "distinct from the by-ways of Ultra-Protestantism on the one side, and neither verging towards, nor losing itself in, Romanism on the other."(1)  The formularies of the Church of England, and the writings of her standard Divines are often and confidently appealed to as exhibiting the precise doctrines of the system.  Now it is the simple question how far these pretensions are true, which we propose to institute.  But in order to estimate this Via Media aright, the first thing is to get a view of the opposing sides between which it proposes to pass.  Of the one side, viz. of Romanism, we are to speak particularly hereafter.  Of the other, ULTRA-PROTESTANTISM, a something which occurs with singular frequency in the works of these writers, what shall we say?  What is Ultra-Protestantism?  We have seen no definition.  But according to the use of Dr. Pusey, and others, the name seems to be applied to whatever is in religion, or relating to it, negatively, or positively, for, or against, only excepting Romanism or Oxfordism; embracing of cause and effect, doctrine and inference; from the case of those clergy of the Church of England, who are, "in the main, orthodox and sound, in spite of the natural tendency of their principles," through Lutheranism and Calvinism, and every grade of unromish dissent and heterodoxy, down to what is considered the result of the common tendency, an entire Rationalism, and Socinianism, ut nec pes, nec caput uni reddatur formae.  One would suppose that a coast so undefined would afford but little guidance in keeping the middle way, except when as mariners, under fear of hidden shoals and currents, on an unseen shore, keep as far away as possible.

Some specimens will help us judge how far the Via Media is really a middle way.

Dr. Pusey describes "a large portion" of the clergy of the Church of England as holding "Justification is not a gift of God through His sacraments, but the result of a certain frame of mind, of a going forth of themselves and resting themselves upon their Saviour; that this is the act whereby they think themselves to have been justified; and so as another would revert to his "baptism and engraffing into Christ, and thus his being in Christ, so do they this act whereby they were justified."  "They sever Justification from Baptism, and make it consist in the act of reliance upon the merits of Christ only; sin, according to them, is forgiven, at once, upon each renewal of this act: and in this they virtually substitute this act for Baptism; a man has no more to do with his past sins than he has with those remitted by baptism;" according to them "when men have been been once brought, in repentance to renounce their sins, and seek reconciliation through the free mercy of Christ--then their sins are done away, they are covered, they can appear no more; the handwriting is blotted out." This "apprehension of Christ's merits is to them a full remission of sins, completely effacing them."  "To revert to past sins is to doubt of Christ's mercy; to bear a painful recollection of it is to be under the bondage of the law; to seek to efface it by repentance is weakness of faith; to do acts of mercy or self-denial, or self-abasement, or to fast with reference to it, is to interfere with 'the freeness and the fulness of the Gospel:'  to insist upon them 'is place repentance in the stead of Christ.'" (2)

It is impossible not to see in this strange caricature, which really applies, in all respects, to no class of the clergy of England, that "the large portion" intended is that which is best known in this country by such names as Robinson, Scott, Venn, the two Milners, Simeon; of whose mode of exhibiting the way of salvation, the writings of such living divines as the present Bishop Wilson, of Calcutta, the two Bishops Sumner, the one of Winchester, the other of Chester, the Rev. G. S. Faber, &c. are fair examples.  True indeed the views of this most honourable and useful body of the English Clergy are very singularly overdrawn; one can hardly recognize them under the strained and warped features for which they are made to be accountable; but without doubt, the Ultra-Protestantism referred to in the above extracts, is intended to be understood as being displayed in the general mode which appears in that class of English divines, of representing "the nature and essence of the medicine whereby Christ cureth our disease, the manner of applying it, and the number and the power of the means."

Of such views, does Dr. Pusey write as follows:  "This abuse of the doctrine of justification by faith sears men's consciences now, as much as the indulgences of the Romish system did before.  It used to be said that 'the Romish was an easy religion to die in,' but even the Romish, in its corruptions, scarely offered terms so easy, at all events made not a boast of the easiness of its terms."  Then follows an evident preference of the Romish system, on the ground that if only "the stale dregs of the system of the ancient Church," it has the dregs--"something of the bitterness of the ancient medicine;" it still teaches men "to make sacrifices for the good of their souls; to accuse and condemn themselves, that so they might find mercy" through Christ--to be "punished in this world, that their souls might be saved in the Day of the Lord."  We are given distinctly to understand that "a large portion" of the English Clergy, is worse than even these stale dregs of the medicine of the ancient Church; because it stifles continually the strong emotions of terror and amazement which God has wrought upon the soul, and by an artificial wrought-up peace, checks the deep and searching agony, whereby God, as in a furnace, purifies the whole man, by the spirit of judgment and the Spirit of burning."  It is "a spurious system, misapplying the promises of the Gospel, usurping the privileges of baptism which it has not to confer, giving peace which it has not to bestow, and going counter to the whole tenor of Scripture, that every man shall be judged according to his works." (3)

The same singularly extravagant and most painful strain of condemnation is found everywhere in Mr. Newman's Lectures on Justification.  The following is a specimen.  He calls the righteousness of Christ imputed to us for Justification as held by the "large portion" of the English Clergy, above referred to, "an unreal righteousness and a real corruption," "bringing us in bondage to shadows"--"another gospel."  "Away then (he says) with this modern, this private, this arbitrary system, which promises liberty conspires against it; which abolishes sacraments; to introduce dead ordinances; and for the real participation of Christ, and justification through His Spirit, would at the very marriage  feast, feed us on shells and husks, who hunger and thirst after righteousness."(4)

It is not the purpose here to say a word, in argument, concerning all these wonderful and melancholy of morbid mind and spiritual discernment.  Whoever has paid any serious attention to the writings of the Clergy, thus professedly displayed, will need no help in estimating the justness of the condemnation.  But where there is no need of argument, there may be propriety in assertion; and sometimes there is a solemn duty in assertion, if only for the purpose of bearing our solemn testimony, whatever it may be worth, to some precious, but despised and reviled portion of the truth as it is in Jesus.  Such testimony, the present writer feels constrained to give, in this place,  after such an afflicting reprobation of what he most solemnly believes to be nothing else than "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God," our Saviour.  Denying entirely the justice of the draft of doctrine laid to the charge of the class of divines professedly described; but perceiving just enough of truth therein to mark distinctly who compose "the large portion" of Clergy whom our Oxford divines have thus represented as teaching for the way of salvation, "another gospel"--a spurious system--"an unreal righteousness and a real corruption,"--worse even than the system of indulgences in the Church of Rome; the author of these pages does earnestly hope that his name may be counted worthy to take part in their condemnation.  If the way here called another gospel, even that of Justification through the obedience and death of Christ, accounted unto us for righteousness, through the instrumental agency of a living faith, be not the only hope of the sinner, then he, for one, has no hope.  He has learned of no other "anchor of the soul sure and steadfast, which entereth to that within the veil."  He does hope that he may ever be identified with that divinity, that way of preaching Christ Jesus the Lord, which instead of a "reserve" in making known the precious doctrine of Atonement, instead of treating salvation by grace, through faith, as "a great secret," and keeping the secret out of the sight of the ungodly for fear of "an indelicate exposure of the sacred mystery," as these writers urge,(5) shall lift up the voice to the perishing and penitent, like the Master and Lord, when to the great multitudes, on the last day of the feast, He cried, "If any  man thirst let him come unto me and drink;" a mode of preaching Christ, that shall ever delight to proclaim to all people a full, perfect and ready salvation to the vilest sinner, whenever, in sickness or health, he turns unto God, truly repenting and believing in Jesus--a salvation which justifies perfectly, and immediately, on the act of a living faith, and which sanctifies perfectly, but progressively, as the necessary fruit of the same faith; a salvation so perfect and free, that, in the words of Hooker, "although in ourselves, we be altogether sinful and unrighteous, yet even that man that is impious in himself, full of iniquity, full of sin, him being found in Christ, through faith, and having his sins remitted through repentance, him God beholdeth with a gracious eye, putteth away his sin by not imputing it, taketh quite away the punishment due thereto by pardoning it, and accepteth him in Jesus Christ, as pefectly righteous as if he had fulfilled all that is commanded him in the Law.  Let it counted folly, or frenzy, or fury, whatsoever; it is our comfort and our wisdom." (6)  So testifies our admirable Hooker--most suredly an Ultra-Protestant, in the matter of Justification,  as branded, as others, with the hot denunication of these Oxford divines.

Click here to see Chapter II of Charles Pettit McIlvaine's book, Oxford Divinity Compared with that of the Romish and Anglican Churches....

[Addendum:  It would appear that the Lordship Salvation view as well as the view of the neo-legalists would be more in line with the Tractarians than with Canterbury or Geneva or Wittenberg on the issue of justification by faith alone.  The neo-legalists would appear to agree with the Tractarians that some sort of good works must be added to faith.  The Reformed view is that justifying faith is a living faith..   Charlie].


1.  Pusey's Letter, page 14.
2.  Ibid., pp. 74, 8, 54, 5.
3.  Ibid., pp. 56-59.
4.  Lectures on Justification, p. 61.  Extremes meet.  Socinus calls the same doctrine, faeda, execranda, pernitiosa, detestanda.
5.  See No. 80, Tracts for the Times.
6.  Discourse of Justification, Paragraph 6.

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

Last temptation of Castro: Get Religion, February 4, 2012 « Conger

It looks like Fidel Castro was never singled out for excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church. There was a general excommunication of atheistic communists pronounced in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. Fidel renounced his faith and so excommunicated himself. It seems that Fidel in his old age wants to return to the religion taught to him by the Jesuits who raised him. He even attended mass in 1998 when Pope John Paul II visited Cuba but did not receive the eucharist.

George Conger thinks this is a remarkable story because Fidel will be received back into communion. Presumably this means that Fidel Castro will take the eucharist when Pope Benedict XVI visits Cuba in March. Although the law of God is written in all men's hearts and they feel the guilt of breaking that law, only the Lord Jesus Christ Himself could pay the penalty for even one sin. How confessing sins to a priest, who is a false mediator, and taking an idolatrous communion that worships the communion elements as the literal body and blood of Christ can exonerate a terrible sinner is beyond me. The Bible says that there is only one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

The problem today is that due to the influence of Anglo-Catholicism, neo-orthodoxy, and theological liberalism the ecumenical movement has corrupted the Gospel in Evangelical circles. Even Billy Graham, the Baptist evangelist, compromised the Gospel by accepting Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church representatives as genuinely converted Christians. Graham invited representatives of those churches to his crusades so that new converts could be directed to Roman Catholic parishes or Eastern Orthodox parishes.  (See:  Are Billy and Franklin Graham Leading Souls to Heaven or Hell?).

If semi-pelagianism and salvation by merits or works is a false religion--and it is--then Fidel's return to the Catholic Church is not a good thing. It is merely returning from atheism to a false religion. There is only one Gospel and that Gospel was officially condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in the canons of the Council of Trent.

To read the rest of the story at George Conger's blog, click here: Last temptation of Castro: Get Religion, February 4, 2012 « Conger

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