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Martyred for the Gospel

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

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

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

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Last Sunday's Sermon at Christ Church, Longwood, Florida



Last Sunday's sermon at Christ Church, Longwood, Florida was certainly a turnabout.  The visiting “priest” was the Rev. J. H. Booker, Jr.  Unfortunately, his answer to the previous rector’s emphasis on the moral law of God was to preach an antinomian sermon on Christian liberty.  Unfortunately, the definition given by Booker for Christian liberty was that the moral law is legalism and that there is no “list” of right and wrong in the Bible.  This was simply amazing, especially since one of the texts read in the service was from Colossians 3:1-11.  



I took it that the minister meant that the ten commandments or the Decalogue no longer applies today.  Of course, the Thirty-nine Articles of religion stringently disagrees with that assessment, as does the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  Article 7 of the 39 Articles of Religion plainly says that Christian men and women are still obligated to obey the moral law:




THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.


The 1662 Book of Common Prayer includes the  reading of the Decalogue in every communion service or the Lord’s Supper:  

Then shall the Priest, turning to the people, rehearse distinctly all the TEN COMMANDMENTS; and the people still kneeling shall, after every Commandment, ask God mercy for their transgression thereof for the time past, and grace to keep the same for the time to come, as followeth.
Minister.
GOD spake these words, and said; I am the Lord thy God: Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shew mercy unto thousands in them that love me, and keep my commandments.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his Name in vain.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, thy cattle, and the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and ail that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Thou shalt do no murder.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Thou shalt not steal.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
    Minister. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.
    People. Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.  (Exodus 20:1-17).


Even worse, the minster in question did not seem to know the law and gospel distinction that is at the heart of the Protestant Reformation, which distinction was affirmed by both Lutherans and Calvinists alike.  He instead asserted that Christian liberty is completely divorced from the law.  He openly stated that following the clearly stated moral laws revealed in Scripture is “easier” than having to figure out complex ethical situations on a case by case basis.  In other words, any idea of revealed moral law in the inspired and infallible Scriptures is to be rejected.  Can you say "relativism"?


Furthermore, the minister said that the reason for the prohibition on adultery in the Old Testament was because women were viewed as property.  This is nothing more than a liberal redefinition of adultery so as to permit extramarital sexual encounters in the name of “Christian liberty.”  The primary reason for the prohibition of adultery, according to Jesus, was that it violated the purpose of God in creation:


The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" 4 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning`made them male and female,' 5 "and said,`For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh '? 6 "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." 7 They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" 8 He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." 10 His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." (Matthew 19:3-10 NKJ)


Mark 10:11-12 shows clearly that if a woman leaves her husband and marries another, an indication that women in the time of Jesus had the right to divorce, then she likewise commits adultery.  The reason for this is that women are not property.  In fact, in the creation Adam and Eve were equal.  God’s purpose in the creation was for one man and one woman to be wed in holy matrimony for life.  Any sex outside of marriage is fornication and adultery.  Amazingly, this liberal minister, Mr. Booker, also redefined fornication from Colossians 3:5 where the Greek word is porneia.  Booker said that this term is restricted to temple prostitution among the Greeks and Romans.  He also conceded that temple prostitution in the Old Testament could be in mind as well.  Unfortunately, anyone who can read Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance can see that fornication is an umbrella term that refers not only to pagan prostitution, idolatry, etc., but the term refers to all illicit sexual activity outside of holy matrimony.  That would include incest (1 Corinthians 5:1), bestiality, premarital sex, et. al.  Therefore, it does not follow that Moses had a different understanding of adultery from what we have today.  Marital unfaithfulness is not being true to the marital covenant or to God’s moral law for marriage revealed in creation.  Fornication, likewise, is any illicit sexual behavior outside of God’s purpose in creation.  (Genesis 2:20-25).


The argument I had in the fellowship hall after the service was over was revealing.  The minister made it clear that “he” thought gay marriage was wrong.  “He” has problems with it.  But he never once said that Scripture forbids it or that God forbids it.  In other words, it’s all relative.  He also said that certain fishermen in a certain part of the world where he had lived “tried out” their  future wives to see if they could bear children before they committed to marriage.  In other words, Mr. Booker approves of sex before marriage.  I thought he most likely approves of sex between homosexuals provided they are not allowed to marry.  He was a devious one and as slippery as an eel to say the least.  In his sermon he never once mentioned the moral law of God or the pedagogical use of God’s law.  He basically said the Decalogue is irrelevant and it is up to you to decide what is best for you.  His definition of Christian “liberty” is therefore lawlessness and antinomianism.  


My problem with my Evangelical friend, David Knox, who lost his job because of the liberals in the congregation, is that he rejects the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Standards as a whole because of his Armyraldianism.  For him, nailing down biblical propositions into systematic statements or creeds is to impose things that he thinks ought to be left to Christian “liberty” as well.  This is also an indicator for neo-orthodoxy, although I am not sure if he knows that is what he is espousing:

Barth asserts that the concepts of theology cannot be systematically connected, a systematic conspectus is an impossibility, and the name of Jesus Christ as used by Paul does not represent a unified thought.  Barth's point is not merely that the Bible is inconsistent.  He indeed holds that it is; he accepts only its main teaching and rejects the doctrine of infallible inspiration.  But here he is talking about theology, his own theology; and  it is his own theology that he now says is illogical, unsystematic, and self-contradictory.  The wording just quoted does not so much refer to the Biblical writers themselves as it refers to what the theologian can do with them.  Not only Paul lacks a unified thought when he uses the name Jesus Christ; this is true of Barth also.  In the name Jesus Christ "Cross and Resurrection are one, but not," Barth significantly adds, "--either for Paul, or for his first readers, or for us either--in what is stated in explanation over and above this name."  In these words, "for his first readers, or for us either," Barth denies that theology can be systematic, logical, and consistent. 

Gordon H. Clark, Karl Barth's Theological Method, 1963, 2nd Edition, (Unicoi: Trinity Foundation, 1997), pp. 63-64.

David, to his credit, does uphold the law of God as the standard for Christian living.  Unfortunately, although he does believe in justification by faith alone, he often blurred the law and gospel distinction.  My other beef with him is that he thinks “conservative” and “orthodox” Anglo-Catholics, namely those who uphold traditional views of Christian morality, are “Christians.”  I would vehemently disagree for the simple reason that Anglo-Catholics are, for all practical purposes, Roman Catholics.  The Anglo-Catholic position allows for faith plus obedience as the means of justification, which is to confuse justification by faith alone as a legal declaration with the imperfect sanctification that is our progressive process in holiness from the time of regeneration to the hour of our death.  Sanctification without justification can only merit hell for so-called Christians.  The only basis for saving faith is our justification based solely on the active and passive obedience of Christ.  He kept all the law of God perfectly for elect believers by keeping God’s moral law perfectly for them vicariously by His active obedience.  He paid the eternal penalty for the sins of His elect by dying on the cross to bear the wrath of God against them in their place as well.


Due to time constraints I am not providing all the proof texts for this.  But needless to say when law becomes the gospel—even in regards to my Evangelical friend—what happens is people feel beaten up with no relief.  A truly reformed sermon includes both law and gospel.  The gospel is what God promises to do for us because we are helpless to do those things for ourselves!  The law can only reveal us to be lowly sinners who deserve God’s eternal wrath and punishment.  (Romans 3:20; 3:20-23; 7:7).  Of course, even a liberal would not accept the three uses of God’s moral law, namely the 1) pedagogical use, 2) the civil use, and 3) the Christian duty to live by faith according to God’s moral precepts.  The pedagogical use shows us that law keeping or obedience is never enough to save us or merit salvation.  That’s why salvation must be founded on justification by faith alone.  Without justification by faith alone there is no foundation for sanctification or salvation whatsoever.  The just shall live by faith, not by the deeds of the law.  (Romans 1:16-17).  We are free from the law in that sense, that is as a means of earning or meriting or living up to an impossible standard.  But we are not free from the law as if we have a license to sin!  That is called antinomianism.  (1 John 3:4-9; Romans 6:1-2).


Mr. Booker is a false teacher who redefines biblical terms to justify his relativism and lawlessness.  (Acts 20:27-31; Jude 1:3-5).  He would approve of fornication and adultery by redefining the terms so that what the terms meant in biblical times is not applicable to the Christian today.  So long as no one is hurt it is ok to engage in gay sex, premarital sex, and even extramarital affairs!  The opposite error of my Evangelical friend is to confuse law with gospel such that the gospel is simply the law rehearsed.  It reminds me of Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug abuse campaign:  “Just say no!”  If sinners are not slaves to sin, that would make perfect sense.  But Pelagianism has never worked.  The only sinless man who ever kept God’s law from birth to the grave without ever breaking it once was our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 2:22-25).  Christ did not come to give the elect a license to sin all they want.  He came to set His elect people free from their slavery to sin.  (John 8:32-36).  Augustine, the bishop of Hippo in the fourth century, caused a huge controversy when he prayed, “Lord, command what you will, and grant us the grace to do what you command.”  I am paraphrasing a bit.  But the point is Pelagius—like the Arminians, semi-pelagians, papists, and liberals of today—got upset because he thought it would be unfair of God to command something men and women are unable to do:  obey.  What Pelagius forgot was that when Adam fell from grace and rebelled against God He brought a curse on all mankind.  That curse includes both the guilt of Adam’s original sin imputed to them and the traducian view that sin is passed on from one generation to the next by natural generation.  That is, sin is inborn.  (Psalm 51:4-5; Psalm 58:3; Ephesians 4:18).  God does not answer to man but man must answer to God, and, as the late Dr. Gordon  H. Clark said, nothing God does is wrong.  That would include when God strikes men with hardness of heart and reprobation (Romans 1:24; Romans 9:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).


My Evangelical friend, David Knox, on the other hand, needs to learn systematic theology and the law/gospel distinction.  Anyone who thinks Rome or Tractarianism offers any hope whatsoever to the reprobate has been deceived by the enemy.  One reason I keep upholding the 39 Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is that the Anglican Formularies do teach these essential doctrines.  For example, Article 7 clearly upholds the law/gospel distinction without advocating antinomianism:

Article VII

Of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

The prayer of humble access and other portions of the Lord’s Supper advocate that God does not “weigh” our “merits” but instead pardons “our offenses.”  “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table.”  (Matthew 15:27; Mark 7:28; Luke 16:20-22).  These portions of the service clearly indicate that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer wanted to teach the doctrine of justification by faith alone through the liturgy.  But he likewise rejected antinomianism since he also included exhortations to live by faith and obedience:

Then shall the Priest say to them that come to receive the holy Communion, 

YE that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your knees.  (The Lord’s Supper).

I can only pray for the remnant of naïve believers left at Christ Church Longwood.  May God grant them the discernment to see the lies of the enemy. May God preserve their souls and cause them to persevere to the end.

Amen.

Charlie



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