We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Common-Prayer-Biography-Religious/dp/0691154813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417814005&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+book+of+common+prayer. January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-English-Reformation-1489-1556/dp/1592448658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420055574&sr=8-1&keywords=A.F.+Pollard+Cranmer. February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-Jasper-Ridley/dp/0198212879/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422892154&sr=8-1&keywords=jasper+ridley+cranmer&pebp=1422892151110&peasin=198212879
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Posted using ShareThis
This voice clearly says "No" to the Roman offer. Orombi and Akinola have been clear also. Minns, an American, offered a thin reply. Duncan was hopelessly double-minded. Perhap triple- and quadruply-minded, depending on which stream he is de jour.
The language of American, Canadian and English Bishops have been "very muffled, muddled and weak"---that's charitably put.
Application: One cannot have their children taught by soup de jour Anglicans.
Friday, October 30, 2009
This is a major primary work. This should be required reading at Anglican colleges and seminaries. It's not. You're on your own in the Anglican free-fall. But it is available. Free and downloadable at:
The defining and most important secondary work on Edmund Grindal continues to be John Strype’s The History and Acts of the Most Reverend Father in God, Edmund Grindal. Everything Strype has written should be required reading for Anglican and Reformed Churchmen. Forget the seminaries, professors and bishops. They're clueless and yet, being clueless, choose to lead. Some or few of us are too mature to follow the recent clerks in the United States of America, in terms of the ACNA.
There is an handy brief offered by our beloved Church Society, about the last quarter in England where the Reformed faith and old Prayer Book is still defended. We continue to praise His Majesty for the faithful witness of these Churchmen from England, through the decades. For a 2-page brief on Grindal, see:
We’ll make general observations on his life prior to reading his work.
1. c. 1519 - 6 July 1583. Age of death, approximately 64. He is buried in Croydon, a suburb in what would be metropolitan London today.
2. An English Reformer. In sequence, a Bishop of London, Archbishop of York and then Cantaur, or Archbishop of Canterbury.
7. He graduated from Pembroke College, Cambridge University with a BA and was elected a fellow in 1538.
8. He obtained his MA from Pembroke in 1541.
13. Our Church Society article notes from Strype; “Before he came to be taken notice of in the Church, he made a figure in the University, as one of the ripest wits and learnedst men in Cambridge.”
14. When Ridley became the Bishop of London, he became one of Ridley’s Chaplains and gave him the precentorship of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
17. Upon Queen Mary’s enthronement, Grindal made haste to Strasbourg. He then proceeded to Frankfurt, home to contentions between the “Knoxians” and “Coxians.”
18. Of note, at this time, Grindal was a “Reformed Churchman.” To wit, a Calvinist and Cranmerian on the Table. England was no place for a Reformed man during Mary’s wicked rule.
19. Knox wanted further simplifications of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer while Cox thought it adequate. Of note, Knox was not anti-liturgical.
20. Upon Elizabeth’s enthronement in January 1559, Grindal served on a committee to revise the liturgy.
21. He was elected also to the Mastership of Pembroke Hall.
22. He also succeeded the Papist Bishop Edmund Bonner in London, the famed inquisitor of numerous Reformers under Mary. We've recently been reviewing the trial examinations of (Archdeacon) John Philpott before London, Winchester and others.
23. Grindal, like other English Churchmen, had qualms about vestments and Erastianism.
25. As the Bishop of London, when the Helvetic Confession was embraced on the Continent in 1566, he wrote to Bullinger saying: “…down to this very day, we do perfectly agree with your churches, and with your confession of faith lately set forth.” He was a Reformed man, no question about it.
27. Grindal’s successor, John Whitgift, however, was willing to go after nonconformists.
28. Bishop Sandys, in London, would face similar difficulties with obstreperousness and recalcitrance, “divisive men.” London was always the hotspot. Grindal went to York as the Archbishop.
29. Grindal attempted to enforce the “surplice,” but met with protest during his tenure in London.
30. Refusal to wear the “surplice” resulted in clerical suspensions. In 1570, Grindal denounced Thomas Cartwright to the Council.
31. In 1570, upon accession to the diocese of York, he did not have to deal with Puritanical puerilities about “surplices,” a childish point, but with Recusancy.
32. In York, however, he had to deal with widespread Romanism, still infecting the nobility and the rank-and-file Churchman. He enforced uniformity--Articles, Prayer Book, Ordinal, and Homilies--on the Papists with care and skill. He has been called the “gentle shepherd.”
33. In York, he gave instruction (called “advertisements”) to ensure that the Churches were decent and in good repair, for worship befitting the faith to be proclaimed in them. High marks were signalled from several sources, including his opposition.
34. Further, in those advertisements, crosses, candle sticks and altar stones were to be removed and destroyed, the latter being replaced by a “decent table standing on a frame for the Communion Table.” This was Bishop Ridley redux. All appearances or suggestions of the Romish Mass, so engrained in the nation’s conscience, were to be removed. (The Exegete herself did not follow these Reformed advertisements or rules, but had her "own" for her "own" private chapel.)
36. Grindal ran afoul of Elizabeth the Theologian. She wanted “prophesyings” to stop. This was the equivalent of theological conferences or presbyteries of sorts sponsoring preaching. These were often held weekly. Ordained clergymen were the preachers and laymen were invited to attend. Grindal refused to suppress these events, thinking that they were healthy and that Elizabeth had overstepped her boundaries in church affairs. Grindal, as a good Calvinist, believed in the sufficiency, supremacy and necessity of God's Word as the food of he sheep. For that, he suffered.
38. In January 1578, Burghley was informed that the Exegete and Theologian of England wanted him deprived. Grindal held fast for the sovereignty of the church sphere, something that redevelop in subsequent English history and the quest for religious freedom. She sowed the seeds of a Civil War, aiding and abetted by that hapless fool, William Laud.
39. Elizabeth was dissuaded from this course, but remained “iron-willed” about her own Majesty and quite errantly. We think her a solid queen, but she made some mistakes too. This much, she kept the Papists out of England and defeated the Papist Spaniards...otherwise, Reformed and Protestant English Churchmen might have been tour-masters on the rosary beads instead of students of Scriptures.
40. In 1581, four years after his suspension, the Convocation (like a national presbytery or General Assembly) petitioned for Grindal's reinstatement. They sympathized with his stand and position on Scriptures. There was a stalemate. Bess suggested he resign, but Grindal would not.
41. At the end of 1582, he was reinstated. Aged for those days and while preparing for the assumption of duties, he died and was buried at Croydon Parish Church. (Croydon, as a locale, would be in the suburbs of metropolitan London.)
Observations on the observations:
2. Grindal believed the Scriptures were above the Queen and necessary for the edification of God’s flock. End of the discussion. But he lacked the political power and suffered for it, setting a benchmark for the future.
3. The entire clerical-system in England was not Reformed and Erastianism still errantly prevailed, then as now in England. Switzerland appears to have had a freer hand in the Reformation than than taut and tight Elizabeth.
1. Time for Reformational Anglicans to recover their Reformed roots.
2. Do not trust the ACNA leaders; they’re loaded with Tractarians who’d sneeze, guffaw, object, pout, and whine if the ACNA became “Reformed.”
3. Expect nothing like this from the ACNA.Hold fast to the truth on the Philpott-principle. When Bonner examined him, “But Master Philpott, all of us here, all these Bishops and nobility, yeah, all of England, are arrayed against you.” Philpott resorted to sufficient and perspicuous Scriptures. A Reformed and Anglican Churchman can answer with nothing else but this. Back to the Helvetic Confession, which Grindal affirmed was held widely in the Church of England (minus Exegete the First).
1. The subject is the growth of Papist dominionism.
2. This will be developed more fully in 4.11.10-15, so what is on offer here is a sketch of “how at an early period, and in what ways, it advanced itself to usurp some right over other churches.”
3. During the days of Constantinius and Constans in the fourth century, sons of Constantine the Great, the Arianism debate was in full swing in the east.
4. Athanasius, the chief defender of the Nicene faith, was expelled from his see.
5. Athanasius came to Rome to seek wider and western support for the eastern cause.
6. Julius, bishop of Rome, gave Athanasius support, and helped rally and encourage western bishops to support the defense of the Nicene Creed.
7. Later, in history, the dignity of Rome was helped when “shameful” men, “Presbyters,” being disciplined in their own dioceses by a bishop or synod, sought sanctuary and asylum in Rome. The Roman bishops began to view themselves as the arbiters of disputes in churches beyond their diocese.
8. One example. Eutyches was disciplined by Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople, and he appealed to Leo of Rome. Eutyches taught that the two natures in Christ were commingled and mixed; the human nature took on attributes of the divine nature; the divine nature took on attributes of humanity. This was condemned in the East. The Bishop of Rome, Leo, not only afforded Eutyches asylum and sanctuary, but “endorsed” Eutychianism…another instance of episcopal “fallibility” and meddling. 
9. Rome permitted, yeah sought, itself, to be upper court of appellate jurisdiction. In time, she would drunkenly make herself the "Supreme Court" of lesser jurisdictions, all appellate and district courts. This should not be surprising since we learn of this impulse amongst the apostles: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, `Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’” (Mt.18.1ff, inter alia) We noted yesterday that this wickedness, among Protestants as well, remains and shall remain with all us until Christ returns.
10. The continuuing audacity of Rome was noted by the North Africans bishops, synods and Churchmen. This compelled the Africans to “decree that no one, under penalty of excommunication, should appeal beyond the sea.” So much for Papists supremacy from the Africans. They'll have none of it.
Observations on the observations.
1. Following the Muslim conquest of North Africa, who knows what might have developed in terms of opposition to this growing Roman lust for imperialism and dominionism. Obviously, there was an "African check" on it for awhile.
2. Constantinople, to this day, has resisted Roman claims to supremacism. That continues as a testimony to pre-existent conditions in the Christ's jurisdictions prior to the lustful claims to supremacy.
3. It is interesting that a Roman bishop endorsed Eutychianism. It would be an interesting work: a listing of bullets of Romanist errors held by the Papas
4. It was noted in 4.7.4 that even up to Gregory the Great’s time (540-604), Rome still did not claim “universal” jurisdiction, although it is to be noted that the impulse to imperialism had grown to such an extent that his successors, Sabinian and Benedict III, did assume the title.
5. By the time of the Reformation, “dominionism,” profanity, arrogance, and triumphalism was the condition of the papacy.
Correlations to the Observations:
1. Just as the North Africans ruled sovereignly in their own synods, without Roman intervention, and complaining of the errors of Rome, so the Church of England ruled. Article XIX: “As to the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.”
2. England declared that her national church did not need Roman help or aid in regulating her internal affairs, including the Church. The Church of England was not under Papist dominion. Article XXXVI. “The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering…”
3. Contrary to the Papist lust for control and oversight, the Church of England ruled. Article XXXVII. “…The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.”
4. On 18 November 1302, Boniface VIII issued the Papal Bull, Unam Sanctamm one of the most viciously arrogant statements of Papal spiritual supremacy ever made. It arose due to the Pope's conflict with Philip IV, France, over attempts of each to prevent the other from receiving money from taxes. The bull concludes with: "Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff." Rome still believes this, although she smiles more at us in the last 50 years; she's still got a false gospel and is a lusty strumpet, to use the phrase of an English Reformer.
5. Other Reformation traditions ruled similarly, ousting Papist dominion and dogma.
6. The story at Valley Forge College, Valley Forge, PA (Assemblies of God, ergo, Schwarmer, Anabaptist, Arminian, charismatic, with a half-Christ, half-gospel and other errors). As a student from Westminster Seminary (back in the day) and as a friend of a student at Valley Forge College, I was invited to speak to the student body. I was what I am today in theology. It was a foreign and alien body and theology for me, but I went. I arrived early at the school and toured the library for perhaps 30-45 minutes. As the engagement began, the President of this Romanist-version college (Arminianism) introduced me by saying, "...Yada, yada, and he comes from a very small and not influential group and church." Further, the irksome lad, the President, turned and sported a triumphalist smile. Nice intro, huh? I was non-plussed, but regathered myself. I came to the podium and began my remarks with these words, "Being from a small and uninfluential school, like Westminster, and standing in that tradition by rearing, in touring your library today, it was of note that many and most of the books in your library were written by my ilk and forbears in the Reformation...that is, we control your libary....yada, yada." Triumphalism in this false sect of charismaniacs. Two can play that game. He moved his puny pawn on the board and, in one move, got checkmated, as it should be.
7. Pat Robertson pulls the same trump card also. "We're bigger so we're better," as if God's Sword and Word were little things.
8. The story of Archdeacon John Philpott in his seventh trial examination before the Papist Bishop of London, Ed Bonner. Bonner in essence argues, "We here, all these Bishops and all of England, the rank and file, from London, to villages, and to hamlets are against you, Master Philpott. What say you?" In a classic response, Philpott gives answers--a concatenation of them--drawn from Scriptures. I forbear to mention them all. The Scriptures were sufficent for this English Reformer, even if all of England was against him. Luther did the same at the Diet of Worms.
9. Mega-churches. "We're bigger and better," the American solution for biblical exegesis and the American quest for imperialism.
Rome is a lusty strumpet, plying her fictions and lies of dominion, and she was caught and rebuked by North Africans, Constantinople, England and others in the Catholic Churches of the Reformation; yet, she is still the false sect with a false gospel, an adulteress with the devil, peddling his wares of supremacy, like Lucifer who sought supremacy over other angels and over God Himself.
1. Hold and advance the line into and against Papist territory.
2. Rebuke Dr. James Innes Packer, if opportunity is afforded, for his capitulation to the adulteress. Write him a letter of objection.
3. Write a letter of objection to Charles Colson and Timothy George for their utter weakness re: Romanism.
4. Perhaps write letters to Bob Duncan and Philip Jensen about weakness re: Papists and Hashotah House.
5. Encourage the true Catholics of the Reformation in holding the line on their Confessions. Encourage them to hold and advance the battle.
6. Review this “Reformed evangelicalism” that is soft on the confessions for the sake of wider appeal.
7. Write a Prayer, a liturgical prayer, for inclusion and use in Morning and Evening Prayer, to wit, “Good Lord, spare us from Romanism, its satellite versions: revivalism, Wesleyanism, charismaticism, non-confessionalists and others who mitigate and denigrate Thy Holy and Exalted Word above words, through the Mediation of Thy Sovereign Son, our Redeemer, Amen.” Use it or improved versions twice per day. Then put feet to the prayers, singing Psalm 44.1-8. We will push back.
8. Satirize and mock weak Anglicans, as Elijah did to the Balaamites; Anglicans have "Balaamites" in their midst; the term is drawn from the English Reformer, Archdeacon John Philpott.
9. Appreciate Psalm 115 which mocks idols, including the idolatries of Constantinople with icons and statues. The distinction between "veneration" and "worship'" is a distinction without a difference.
 B.J. Kidd, History of the Christian Church, II.298ff.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Not All Evangelicals and Catholics Together
Protestant debate on justification is reigniting questions about Rome.
Collin Hansen posted 10/29/2009 08:41AM
An InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter can look very different in the fall than it did the previous spring. But the chapter at George Washington University (GWU) in the nation's capital is dealing with change of a more uncomfortable kind than absent graduates and incoming freshmen.
Shortly before students left for summer vacation, the D.C. chapter split when all ten student leaders resigned to form a new campus ministry called University Christian Fellowship. More than half of the chapter's roughly 100 students joined them. At issue was student leaders' worry that the national ministry confuses the gospel by cooperating with Roman Catholics, and has a mission statement that Catholics could sign without violating church teaching on the doctrine of justification—how sinners are declared righteous before God.
Over the past decade, justification has become one of the most hotly debated doctrines at conservative Protestant theology conferences and in the catalogs of highbrow Christian publishers. But it has almost entirely stayed in the academy and a handful of churches and denominations. The GWU clash suggests the debate may divide parachurch ministries and reshape evangelicals' relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.Jolt of Intensity
The long debate over how Protestants should view the Roman Catholic Church has received several jolts of intensity in the past 15 years. The group Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) touted a 1994 statement, "The Gift of Salvation," in which several prominent Roman Catholics affirmed "justification by faith alone." The unofficial statement predated an official agreement between the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, called "The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification." The church allowed that anathemas the Council of Trent delivered in the mid-1500s do not apply to Protestants who agree with the joint declaration.
But Protestants' internal disagreement over justification has complicated matters. A Presbyterian Church in America committee reported in 2007 that reformulations of justification (especially two views known as the Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul) fall outside the bounds of historic Presbyterian confessions.
The committee's study of the New Perspective focused largely on N.T. Wright, the Anglican bishop of Durham and a prolific biblical scholar. This year Wright published Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision. The book counters his critics, especially John Piper, who published The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright in 2007. (See "The Justification Debate: A Primer," CT, June 2009.)
Another bombshell hit in May 2007, when Francis Beckwith, then president of the Evangelical Theological Society, reverted to Catholicism. The Baylor University philosopher has since published an account of his journey, titled Return to Rome.
"I have no doubt that the New Perspective and Federal Vision have had an effect on the Protestant-Catholic debate," Beckwith told Christianity Today. "I have met several former evangelical Protestants who have told me that Wright's work in particular helped them to better appreciate the Catholic view of grace."
Taylor Marshall went even further. Now a Ph.D. philosophy student at the University of Dallas, he started reading Wright while attending Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He said Wright's work shifted his assumptions so he could understand the Council of Trent's position. Marshall does not believe Wright holds to the full Catholic view. But he said Wright's critique led him to conclude that the Reformers departed from Scripture by teaching "forensic justification through the imputed alien righteousness of Christ."
Marshall briefly served as an Anglican priest before converting to Catholicism in 2006 and becoming assistant director of the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. Marshall said he speaks with new Catholic converts every month, about half of whom have been "deeply influenced" by Wright.
"If you buy into Wright's approach to covenantal theology, then you've already taken three steps toward the Catholic Church. Keep following the trail and you'll be Catholic," said Marshall, who blogs at PaulIsCatholic.com. "Salvation is sacramental, transformational, communal, and eschatological. Sound good? You've just assented to the Catholic Council of Trent."
Wright himself finds strange the notion that he's leading people to Rome. "I am sorry to think that there are people out there whose Protestantism has been so barren that they never found out about sacraments, transformation, community, or eschatology. Clearly this person needed a change. But to jump to Rome for that reason is very odd," he said. The best Reformed, charismatic, Anglican, and even some emerging churches have these emphases, he said.
Wright, the Anglican observer at the Vatican's Synod of Bishops last October, said he was struck by the bishops' emphasis that every Catholic read the Bible in his or her own language. "Let's engage cheerfully in as much discussion with our Roman friends as we can," Wright said. "They are among my best ecumenical conversation partners, and some of them are among my dear friends. But let's not imagine that a renewed biblical theology will mean we find ourselves saying, 'you guys were right after all,' just at the point where, not explicitly but actually, they are saying that to us."
Chris Castaldo studied under Wright for a semester at Harvard Divinity School. He identifies several reasons why Wright's Pauline theology might lead Protestants to consider the merits of Catholic teaching. Like Catholics, Wright emphasizes the positive contribution of "works" in salvation, worships in a liturgical church, and places the church's call to social justice in the foreground. But Castaldo, author of Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic, also sees a growing movement of Catholics more willing to confront Protestant belief as the reason for so many conversions—and for renewed Protestant-Catholic tensions.
"In keeping with the spirit of Vatican II, the 'new evangelization' of Pope John Paul II sought to deepen personal faith and stimulate innovative forms of outreach," Castaldo said. "Not unlike renewal movements surrounding the Council of Trent, an element of this recent Catholic fervor has morphed into strident opposition [to] Protestantism. Listen to the Catholic apologists on Relevant Radio or ewtn. Faced with millions who have left Rome for evangelical Protestant pastures, it's not too surprising that Catholic polemics would take such a turn."Long History, Little Agreement
Beeson Divinity School founding dean Timothy George signed the 1994 ECT statement, which he said was a "circumscribed step forward" in Protestant-Catholic dialogue. Among ECT participants, George said, there is strong agreement with the Augustinian emphasis on the gratuity of grace, that we do not earn salvation by good works or merits. He acknowledges Protestants' and Catholics' lingering disagreement over how justification relates to sanctification and Luther's famous phrase simul iustus et peccator ("at the same time righteous and a sinner"). But he does not see justification as the focal point of Protestant-Catholic
"The gaping divide between evangelicals and Catholics is ecclesiology and authority, not justification and salvation, as important as that debate remains," George said. "There is enough commonality that evangelicals and Catholics with a living faith can recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ with a common Lord and common grace that brought them together. The hard issues are questions related to the church, such as the Petrine office [the papacy] and the Eucharist. Those discussions will occupy us for the next 100 years."
They have already occupied us for several hundred years. During the English Reformation, the Puritans were united in their disagreement with Roman Catholic teaching. Yet some viewed Rome as a true church in error, while others treated it as a false church. John Owen took fellow Puritan leader Richard Baxter to task over a view of justification that resembles Wright's. During the 1800s, American Presbyterians disagreed over whether to recognize Roman Catholic baptisms as valid. More recently, conflict over ECT has strained some long-term friendships between prominent theologians with opposing views on how to regard Catholics.
And even ECT is changing. Its October statement on Mary was the first to include, after an initial statement on areas of agreement, sections where each side attempted to correct the other's views.
Basis of Doctrine
Until recent years, debates over justification were handled mainly by theologians and select pastors. But the release of Wright's and Piper's books have led more church leaders to choose sides and act on their convictions. Several of the GWU students who left InterVarsity are members of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, whose associate pastor, Michael Lawrence, formerly served on InterVarsity staff. "Whether or not you agree with the students, they are not impulsive firebrands," Lawrence said.
Concern among GWU student leaders began when they noticed promotional material on InterVarsity's website and during the organization's Urbana conference that conveyed a willingness to cooperate with Catholics. Then, during a spring mission trip, InterVarsity staff took students to a Mass. Finally, local staff pushed back when the student-led executive team unanimously declined to select a student for a leadership position because she was a Catholic.
The GWU executive team then examined the InterVarsity Doctrinal Basis, adopted in 2000, and concluded that Catholics could sign the InterVarsity statement because it does not specify that grace comes through "faith alone" in Jesus Christ.
"We believe that the Roman Catholic Church does not agree with the gospel that we emphasize, meaning that it would not be good to hold up someone as a leader who has associated with them," said Tristan Stiles, a 2009 GWU graduate and former member of the executive team.
InterVarsity president Alec Hill responded in a letter, telling the students, "I can unequivocally assure you that InterVarsity holds to the position of justification by faith alone." Hill observed that InterVarsity is corporately federated under the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), whose statement of faith lists "the justification of the sinner by the grace of God through faith alone" as a central Christian truth. All InterVarsity staff must reaffirm their commitment to the Doctrinal Basis and the IFES statement each year.
Hill also allowed that the GWU executive team could require leaders to affirm "justification by faith alone" in the student application process (editor's note: Efforts to contact InterVarsity staff at GWU were unsuccessful.).
InterVarsity's Bear Trap Statement, adopted in 1960 at the national staff conference, specified that sinners are justified "by the Lord Jesus Christ through faith alone." By contrast, the Doctrinal Basis of 2000 said that InterVarsity believes in "justification by God's grace to all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation."
The word alone's shift in placement is significant, said Doug Sweeney, professor of history of Christian thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
"Tridentine Roman Catholics could not sign the Bear Trap Statement, for justification by faith alone was anathematized at the Council of Trent," said Sweeney. "Such Roman Catholics could sign the 2000 statement, however, for Catholics have always taught that salvation is found in Christ alone. Further, the 2000 statement allows for a Tridentine commitment to the necessity of faith being formed or perfected by love before one is finally justified. This is the doctrine that the 16th-century Reformers opposed most strenuously."
Hill said some critics are thinking "with their church history primer rather than their biblical text."
"What evangelical Protestant could possibly object to that language [in the 2000 doctrinal basis]?" he said. "It is biblically centered. It is biblically correct. Faith is in Christ Jesus alone …. This was run by many Reformed theologians inside and outside the fellowship when it was adopted. No one objected. As a matter of fact, they felt it strengthened the prior statement by specifically stating in whom we put our faith. To suggest that Inter-Varsity has somehow watered down its statement of justification by faith is erroneous, to be honest."
So far, the GWU debate shows no sign of spreading to other InterVarsity chapters. But given the importance of justification to Protestants' understanding of the gospel, said Lawrence, more ministries can expect more conflict over it.
"This debate has a long pedigree," he said. "Again and again, it has caused division among Protestants."
Collin Hansen is a CT editor at large.
In the Church
Drifting Into Christless Christianity
Richard Doster, Issue Number 25, October 2009
Questioner: The title of the book is a pretty jarring oxymoron. What, exactly, is “Christless Christianity”?
Horton: First of all, it is not a claim that all the churches in America are Christless. It’s certainly not a claim that we have reached a point where Christ is no longer being preached. Rather, it’s motivated by a concern that there’s this creeping fog of what sociologist Christian Smith called “moralistic-therapeutic-deism.” This has turned God into a tool we can use rather than the object of our faith and worship. I’m concerned that the gospel is being taken for granted, that Christ is a sort of life coach, but not the Savior. With the general shallowing within the culture, there is a shallowing of Christian faith and practice. We don’t really know what we believe and why we believe it.
Questioner: A lot of byFaith readers are thinking to themselves: “That’s not my church.” Are they naïve or blessed?
Horton: Well, [chuckles] I’ve been in PCA churches and United Reformed Churches [Horton’s denomination] where I have heard Christless Christianity. I’m not saying that I’d expect that every week, but I have heard sermons that have had Christ in the text—or at least by implication pointed forward to Christ—yet the text was treated in a moralistic-therapeutic way. That’s why I argue that this isn’t an indictment from a fire-breathing Reformed Christian against Arminians or Roman Catholics or Southern Baptists. This is a concern I have because I’ve experienced it in our circles. It’s not because we’re tolerating heresy, but I think it’s easy to take the gospel for granted, to say, “Okay, let’s move on to something more interesting or more relevant.”
For Further Discussion
Questioner: What do you make of the idea that we’ve turned God into a tool rather than the object of our worship? Into a life coach, but not Savior.Have you heard this in sermons/lessons? Have you read it in books?Are we discerning enough in our hearing and reading? For people who are in churches where Christ is faithfully preached, what’s the take-away? What do you want them to do with the information you present?
Horton: First of all, to fall down on their knees in gratitude for being in churches where Christ and Him crucified is the rallying cry, where that message is never taken for granted, where it’s always explored from Genesis through Revelation.
But I’m also hearing from a lot of people—pastors, for example, in very sound churches—who have said: “It’s helpful to know why I hear sermons preached with a non-Christo-centric focus. It helps to explain why sometimes my own preaching isn’t as Christ-focused as it could be.”
We need to be asking the question—when it comes to outreach, evangelism, worship, the songs we sing, the visitation we do, even diaconal ministries: How is Christ being delivered to sinners—even lifelong Christian sinners—in this time and place?
Asking that question, I think, is critical.
Questioner: And so, we can’t envision a sermon that wouldn’t be predicated on some facet of the gospel?
Right. Which means our preaching needs to be expository. If, as Jesus said, all the Scriptures proclaim Him, then we should be looking for Christ in every passage. We should expect that He’ll be placarded before us.
It makes a big difference if we go to the Bible looking for tips or for “our best life now” or for advice on child rearing, marriage, success in life … . Or, if we go to find Jesus Christ. If we go to find Christ, who is the wisdom of God, then all the wisdom on other matters—marriage, parenting, covenantal life—it finds its proper coordinates in Him.
Questioner: Switching gears, I wanted to talk about God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice. In the book you cite sermons that “treat God exclusively as the extravagant lover” without reference to these other attributes. Later, you mention a recurring emphasis in sermons that “lost” no longer means “damned,” that sermons intended to be compassionate are actually cruel. Can you elaborate?
Horton: I got this idea from an Episcopal bishop, C. Fitzsimons Allison, who argues that it’s actually pastoral cruelty to dress the wound of God’s people as though it were not serious. It’s actually pastoral cruelty when people are struggling with guilt to tell them they shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s pastoral cruelty to hide from them the actual force of that guilt so that it can be addressed.
That’s the wonderful thing about the law and the gospel. The law isn’t just a set of helpful instructions; the law comes to me first of all to strip me of my pretense of righteousness so that the gospel can clothe me in the righteousness of Christ. To summarize Paul’s argument in Romans: If the law hadn’t come along and stripped me naked, then I would have never fled to Christ to be clothed by Him. So we should be grateful when that traumatic experience occurs—of us realizing that we’re helpless, damned, under the wrath of God—because that’s what makes us flee to the hills to Jesus Christ.
I remember a couple of years ago, with the wildfires in San Diego, hearing reports that the fires were getting closer. They got so close that the fire department told us to evacuate. We moved from thinking, “Oh, we can handle this” to “Head for the hills!” The firemen weren’t being mean; they weren’t being intrusive. They were rendering a service, and because they did we were safe.
The problem, I think, is that a lot of pastors, a lot of Christian laypeople who talk to their non-Christian friends do believe, deep down, that there is a judgment to come. But in this culture we have been taught to take this life and our happiness more seriously than we take God and His holiness. Therefore, we look for a god who is usable rather than the God who is actually there.
We need the holiness of God to restore our sense of wonder, and a proper sense of fear in His presence so that we do not presume that we can stand in His presence apart from Christ.
For Further Discussion
Questioner: How do you react to the idea that it’s cruel to shield people from the force of their guilt? Do we take God’s holiness seriously enough? Do we properly share that part of His character? Or are we too concerned about “this life” and “our happiness”? Are we too concerned that people will be offended? Why do we shy away from this part of the conversation?
Horton: Part of the problem is our history. It’s not that people deny it. If you ask them outright, “Do you believe in hell?” most people in conservative, Reformed circles would say, “Of course I believe in hell.”
But we’ve had one generation of really bad preaching on hell: the hellfire and brimstone caricature which was a superficial view of sin as taboos: parties, drinking, smoking, dancing … . I think of Saturday Night Live’s church lady as a mascot for that generation—a kind of judgmental moralism—always wagging a finger.
A whole bunch of people my age were raised on that kind of scolding, which really isn’t a biblical view of sin or of God’s holiness. It’s a fear of hell, not a fear of God. It’s sin defined as breaking taboos, not as an offense against a holy God.
Then you had a whole generation that said: “If we come back to your church you better stop being mean; you’ve got to stop pointing your finger at us.”
This is a shift from Saturday Night Live’s church lady to Saturday Night Live’s Stuart Smalley, who comes along with his pink sweater and says, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.” Now [we’re using] warm, affirming tones. We’re adding a soothing sampler of conservative craving for virtue along with a New Age longing for peace of mind.
These all converge as Muzak in the background. Both are atrocious forms of both the law and the gospel.
Questioner: So how does an evangelical church present God accurately to someone who doesn’t know Him?
Horton: First of all, we can’t put all of the weight on the sermon. The sermon is the most important part of the service, but we have to see the Word of God as communicated not only through the sermon but through the singing, liturgy, prayer, and sacraments.
Paul speaks of the Word of Christ as dwelling in us richly through singing. Children often learn the faith more by singing than in Sunday school. Do the songs we sing cause the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly?
Is the liturgy moving us from confession of sin and a declaration of forgiveness to corporate prayer, to the reading of Scripture, to preaching, and the Lord’s table? Are these things regular aspects of our worship, or do we focus more on what we do than on what God does in the service?
There are a lot of well-meaning folks who say—and they’re speaking against the consumer-driven worship service—that worship is about what we do for God; we’re serving Him; we’re the ones worshiping. And I want to say to them: It’s not that we’re consumers, but we’re not worker bees either. It’s better than that. It’s better than we could have ever imagined. The God of all the universe—who looks after the movement of the planets—became flesh for us, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
People may be startled at the concept that we’re the ones being served on Sunday.
Paul says in Romans 10 that there are two kinds of messages: There is the “righteousness by works” message. This asks how can we go up to heaven and pull God down? Or how can I descend into the depths to pull Christ up from the dead?
But the righteousness which is by faith recognizes that Christ’s presence doesn’t depend on our cleverness or activity. He is present by His Word. God comes down to us; there’s a logic in Romans 10 where Paul says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ.
So how will they hear without a preacher? How will he preach unless he is sent? God is sending news from the battlefield—not only has He has accomplished victory, He is sending runners. He’s not saying, “Okay, I did my part, and now you finish the job." He is sending heralds to tell us the good news. And by this good news the Holy Spirit regenerates us, brings us to saving faith and repentance, and keeps us in that faith.
So we come to church, first of all, to be served. And only those who are served can serve. So if we have, as we do now, a situation where the sheep are expected to be shepherds, and where every member is supposed to find a ministry, then, when people walk into church they get a shopping list of things to do. When they sit down and hear a sermon, there’s another shopping list of things to do.
We end up harming the church in two ways. (1) People aren’t really saturated with the gospel, so they dry up on the vine. (2) We don’t get them out into the world. We keep them cooped up in the church where their good works are only serving other Christians. I love the line from Martin Luther. He was asked what’s the place of good works if all is of grace. Luther replied, "God doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does."
God is circulating His gifts in the world to us and then through us for our neighbors. But we’re damming up that movement by trying to send our gifts up to God when He wants to send His gifts down to us, and then out to the world.
For Further Discussion
Questioner: What do you think about the idea that God serves us on Sunday morning? Does this strike you as odd? Does it make you a little nervous? If we’re the ones receiving on Sunday, what are the implications for us on Monday?
Horton: Changing the subject again, I’d like you to talk about the “narrow mandate” of the Church. What is it, precisely, that the Church is supposed to do?
There’s a distinction that I think is so important for us to make between the Church as the people of God, and church as a place where people come. In other words, if this feeding is going on—this serving of the Lord’s, then [the people] will become robust witnesses who go out into the world.
The Great Commission and caring for the physical and spiritual welfare of the saints—that’s all that the Church is commissioned by Christ to do.
But Christians—the Church as people—in that sense the Church is called to be parents, husbands, wives, children, doctors, lawyers—you name it. We’re all called to work alongside non-Christians, to make a good shoe and sell it at a fair price, to provide service to our neighbors who need us.
Questioner: When Reformed people hear that the Church’s narrow mandate is to proclaim the good news the first reaction may be: Sure, but we need to make mature disciples, we want to be theologically deep people. How, within this narrow mandate, do we grow people spiritually?
Horton: This is going to come as counter-intuitive to a lot of us, but it’s really found there in our confessions. We say that a true church can be found wherever the Word is rightly preached, the sacraments are rightly administered, and there is church discipline. That’s the narrow mandate I’m talking about. If you ask a lot of people today—even Presbyterian and Reformed people—they’d say “to transform the world, to transform business, to transform the arts and sciences, politics.” But that makes everything about us, not about God and His drama of redemption. How do you know where a church is alive and present in this world? How is Christ’s kingdom made visible through the Church? It’s where there’s faithful preaching, faithful administration of the sacraments, and faithful care of the spiritual lives of the members.
Richard Doster is the editor of byFaith. He is also the author of two novels, Safe at Home (2008) and Crossing the Lines, both published by David C. Cook Publishers.
The Examinations and Writing of John Philpott (Parker Society Series, 1842). Free and downloadable at:
1. We’ve been following the repeated examinations of Archdeacon John Philpott before Bp. Bonner
We now have the “eighth examination” of Philpott, otherwise kept in jail. He Bishop of London (Bonner), the Bishop of St. David’s, Master Mordant, and others in the bishop’s chapel.
2. Philpott calls the Romanists “Balaamites,” a reference to the ancient pagan prophet Balaam who lived at Pethor, a city in northern Mesopotamia on the banks of the Euphrates River. Balak would call on this false and pagan prophet to curse the conquering Israelites. Balaam’s ass has a high spiritual I.Q. than Balaam. Some things never change. Cf. Numbers 22-24 for this historic, classical and humorous story.
3. The articles of accusation against Philpott are read again (for the umpteenth time). Bonner claims—again—that Philpott is stubborn and speaks “against the blessed sacrament of the altar.” Of course, as with Ridley, the Table issue is an entre pot to all the larger questions of the magisterial reformation.
4. A rather rancorous set of exchanges occurs, to wit, Bonner accusing and Philpott protesting the lawlessness of the proceeding, e..g. only allowing Philpott limited responses of “two or three words” to direct, close-ended questions like answer “yes or no.”
5. The “ninth examination.” Bishop Bonner and his chaplains are on hand. It’s hard to extrapolate what Bonner’s intentions were. He’s already heard Philpott’s Reformed views. It’s almost like he wants a “confession of errors” as a claim to success...as a notch on his rochet and mitre. "One more bites the dust." Philpott won't bite the dust but will inhale the fumes of his own burning body in 1555, compliments of Roman affections and God's love. Philpott on this particular morning must wait till Bonner has finished morning mass prior to the exam.
6. Bonner re-reads the articles. We’re told that Philpott sat back and looked out the window until they were concluded. Philpott responds: “I am neither wedded to mine own will, neither stand upon mine own stubbornness or singularity, but upon my conscience instructed by God’s word; and if your lordship can shew better evidence than I have for a good faith, I will follow the same.” (140) Sounds like Luther at the Diet of Worms. Sounds like Peter Akinola’s curt response to Canterbury on gays and Rome's recent offer of "oversight": “Nigeria won't being going that way. I preach the Bible. We have biblical theology.”
7. Philpott observes that the Papists can argue and subdue only “such as be unlearned and for lack of knowledge not able to answer.” That still obtains for today.
These are observations on exam eight and most of nine. Now for our observations about the observations, with a few closing applications.
1. Bonner is quite persistent, as are Romanists today in arguing for submission to themselves on their terms. Liberal, mainline ecumenicalists from the Protestant side have consistently been slapped in the face by the “my-way-only” approach of Rome. Reading the Reformation literature is an excellent preservative against modern amnesia.
2. Philpott’s testimony is every bit as strong as Luther’s at the Diet of Worms. Yet, Philpott is a long-forgotten name in history. Anglicans go, “Huh?!” Anglicans actually have their own Reformed martyrs. Can't I just get along with a nice secondary work like Stephen Neill's Anglicanism? Anglicanism is full of Baalamites today.
3. Anglicans are not taught their history. The Parker Society series is not required reading in their seminaries, while Newman is at Hashotah House.
4. Philpott uses an excellent name for Romanists. “Balaamites.”
1. Keep reading. Otherwise, you’d be misled by the modern voices, like the site of “Global Windbaggery of Heterdox Anglicanism.” (http://www.virtueonline.org/)
2. Be thankful. You’ve got an education that has preserved you from the revisionists. Can you imagine having been instructed only by the Anglican revisionists? Thanks, but no thanks. Can you, your wife, or your children--God forbid--imagine getting your catechesis from Jack Leo Iker, Keith Ackerman or others of that ilk?
3. Help younger folks. Warn them. Teach the Bible. Tell the stories of history and the fathers of old. Psalm 44.1-8. Push back and don't apologize. They won't get the theology of these Reformers from these Manglophiles.
4. Steer folks away from the ACNA.
5. Steer folks away from the Windbag of Virtual Disorientation.
In memoriam to those who stood the watch, lest we forget.
Like Philpott, a list of those who perished in flames for their faiths during the days of Mary.
The First Four Martyrs
John Rogers, preacher, biblical translator, lecturer at St. Paul’s Cathedral – burned at Smithfield, 4 Feb. 1555.
Lawrence Saunders, preacher, rector of London church of All Hallows – burned at Coventry, 8 Feb. 1555.
John Hooper, King Edward-era bishop of Gloucester and Worcester – burned in Gloucester, 9 Feb. 1555.
Rowland Taylor, rector of Hadleigh in Suffolk – burned at Aldham Common, 9 Feb. 1555.
Notable Martyrs of the Persecution (1555-1558)
This is not a complete list
William Hunter, burnt 27 March Brentwood
Robert Ferrar, burnt 30 March, Carmarthen
Rawlins White, burnt Cardiff
George Marsh, burnt 24 April, Chester
John Schofield, burnt 24 April, Chester
William Flower, burnt 24 April, Westminster
John Cardmaker, burnt 30 May, Smithfield
John Warne, burnt 30 May, Smithfield
John Simpson, burnt 30 May, Rochford
John Ardeley, burnt 30 May, Rayleigh
Dirick Carver of Brighton, burnt 6 June, Lewes
Thomas Harland of Woodmancote, burnt 6 June, Lewes
John Oswald of Woodmancote, burnt 6 June, Lewes
Thomas Avington of Ardingly, burnt 6 June, Lewes
Thomas Reed of Ardingly, burnt 6 June, Lewes
Thomas Haukes, burnt 6 June,Lewes
Nicholas Chamberlain, burnt 14 June, Colchester
Thomas Ormond, burnt June 15, 1555, Manningtree, Buried in St. Micheals & All Angels Marble placed in 1748
William Bamford, burnt 15 June, Harwich
Robert Samuel, burnt 31 August, Ipswich
John Newman, burnt August 31, Saffron Walden
James Abbes Shoemaker, of Stoke by Nayland burnt at Bury St Edmunds August 1555
William Allen, Labourer of Somerton burnt at Walsingham September 1555
Nicholas Ridley, burnt 16 October outside Balliol College, Oxford
Hugh Latimer, burnt 16 October outside Balliol College, Oxford
John Philpot, burnt
Agnes Potten, burnt 19 February Ipswich Cornhill
Joan Trunchfield, burnt 19 February Ipswich Cornhill
Thomas Cranmer, burnt 21 March outside Balliol College, Oxford
Thomas Hood of Lewes, burnt about 20 June, Lewes
Thomas Miles of Hellingly, burnt about 20 June, Lewes
John Tudson of Ipswich, burnt at London
Thomas Spicer of Beccles, burnt there 21 May
John Deny of Beccles, burnt there 21 May
Edmund Poole of Beccles, burnt there 21 May
Joan Waste, burnt at Derby, 1 August
William Morant, burnt at end of May, St. George's Field, Southwark. 
Stephen Gratwick, burnt at end of May, St. George's Field, Southwark. 
(unknown) King, burnt at end of May, St. George's Field, Southwark. 
Richard Sharpe, burnt 7 May, Cotham, Bristol
William and Katherine Allin of Frittenden and five others, burnt 18 June at Maidstone
Richard Woodman of Warbleton, burnt 22 June, Lewes
George Stevens of Warbleton, burnt 22 June, Lewes
Alexander Hosman of Mayfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes
William Mainard of Mayfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes
Thomasina Wood of Mayfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes
Margery Morris of Heathfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes
James Morris, her son, of Heathfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes
Denis Burges of Buxted, burnt 22 June, Lewes
Ann Ashton of Rotherfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes
Mary Groves of Lewes, burnt 22 June, Lewes
John Noyes of Laxfield, Suffolk, burnt 22 September
Roger Holland, burnt at Smithfield with seven others
William Pikes or Pickesse of Ipswich, burnt 14 July, Brentford with five others
Alexander Gooch of Melton, Suffolk, burnt 4 November, Ipswich Cornhill
Alice Driver of Grundisburgh burnt 4 November, Ipswich Cornhill
P Humphrey, burnt November, Bury St Edmunds
J. David, burnt November, Bury St Edmunds
H. David, burnt November, Bury St Edmunds
Further observations from the close of Mary's reign to the early months of Elizabeth's accession. Parker (1504-1575), a man at the top of his game as it were, then ruthlessly deprived, and later become Elizabeth's first Reformed and Protestant Archbishop. It's a Joseph or Job story. From patronage to prison, as it were, and a return to privilege and patronage. We bring observations on McClure's work, the our observation about the observations, with a few practical applications.
1. Parker’s continued sequestration to private life under Mary's brutal reign, while enjoyed--the retirement, increasingly rendered it difficult for him to desire engagement with and involvement with social situations. There may have been some signs of post traumatic stress syndrome, but this is only a query. PTSD can manifest itself in withdrawal. Also, it can manifest itself in aggressive and hostile behaviours. It is something we believe Luther suffered from.
2. Parker worked on translations of the Psalms for devotional exercises.(99) Our author believes this under-laid and underlined the foundations of Parker’s moral strength.
3. He writes the “Defense of the Marriage of Priests.” He speaks of God’s wrath and banishment of excellent men from England. Parker sees God as judging England with the rise of Romanism during Mary’s time.
4. Parker had extremely strong reactions to Romanism. It was repugnant to him. (100).
5. We turn to the opening months of Elizabeth 1’s reign. Mary had left behind a nation with stagnant trade, a people worn out by factionalism, and numerous dioceses without ordinaries. The war with France had concluded, but relations with Scotland were troubled with Mary Queen of the Scots on the throne.
6. Archbishop Pole died 18 November 1558, one day after Mary’s death. One year later, Parker was consecrated as Pole’s successor.
7. Sir William Cecil, a conformist under Mary, comes to be Elizabeth’s chief councilor. Her inner council is shaped by Protestant and Reformed men.
8. In December 1558, expatriates or exiles from the Marian period, begin returning with their differing "factions:" Strasbourg, Frankfurt and Geneva. McClure, throughout, has been insistent on denigrating those who fled during Mary's reign. He's tipped his hand too often. Methinks thou dost protest too much, McClure.
9. Whittingham’s return was delayed while in Geneva. John Foxe remained at Basel, preparing an edition of the Bible and bringing out his Latin version of the Martyrology. (106).
10. A stir was occurring with the expats. Soon, a Royal proclamation went out forbidding all preaching, but allowing the Gospels, Epistles and the Ten Commandment in English. The Litany of Cranmer’s was allowed but omitted the offensive section, “Good Lord, spare us from the gross and detestable enormities of the bishop of Rome.” (106)
11. 10 above was to continue until “consultation may be hand by Parliament, by Her Majesty and her three estates of the realm for the better conciliation and accord of such causes at present are moved in matters and ceremonies of religion.” (106).
These are observations on McClure’s handling of Archbishop Matthew Parker. We offer our observations on the observations on McClure.
1. Theology in that period was determined by national leaders, kings, queens, electors, etc. The religion of the sovereign was the religion of the people. This was not only so in England, but in other Protestant countries.
2. McClure offers little, thus far, on Parker’s theological outlines, convictions, or beliefs. We are not impressed with his work thus far. We look forward to reading Parker himself--en toto.
3. John Foxe’s Marytrology would be extremely influential in shaping subsequent Anglicanism in a Protestant and Reformational perspective, a fact downplayed in the last 100 years of Anglican “Manglicanizing,” Romanizing and “revisionism.”
4. England, to this day, has never been free of a State-Church. For example, the XXXIX Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and its Ordinal still are the “law of the land.” Never mind that it’s not heeded, but the fact still exists. Non-English Anglicans, e.g. Nigeria or Australia, are not state-run, funded or controlled.
We have drawn no pertinent applications from this section except a couple:
1. Persecuted bishops have more credibility than opulent, affluent, corpulent and western bishops. When guns are pointed at your head and you take a stand, you are more credible...in terms of your statements of faith. Akinola, whether one agrees or disagrees with him, at least has faced suffering. That’s not a guarantee of apostolic succession, that is, concurrence with apostolic doctrine. It does suggest that when the persecuted and suffering man says something...the presumption of integrity is far greater. He means what he says and says what he means.
2. Parker's forced 5-year time out is an excellent model for ACNA bishops. An excellent program would be for all the "Primates" in the theological zoo to retire for several years. Time to spend at Wycliffe Hall under Dr. Turnbull. And a few years at Westminster California on basic Reformed theology, something they never had in their ludicrously and notoriously weak backgrounds.
1. Contention over the term “universal bishop” did not arise until Gregory the Great’s time (540-604 A.D.)
2. The ambition of John of Constantinople was the occasioning incident; he was trying to make himself the “universal bishop.”
3. Gregory’s position is that this is sacrilegious, profane, and anti-christ in spirit.
4. Calvin quotes Gregory 1:
a. “The whole church falls from its condition if anyone who calls `universal’ falls.”
b. “For our brother and fellow bishop to take the name of sole bishop, despising all others, is a very sad thing to bear patiently. But what else does this pride of his signify except that the times of Antichrist are already at hand? For he is obviously imitating him who, spurning fellowship with the angels, tried to climb to the pinnacle of uniqueness!”
c. In another letter to Eulogius of Alexandria and Anastasius of Antioch: “None of my predecessors every wished to use this profane word. For clearly if one patriarch is called `universal,’ then the name `patriarch’ is taken away from the rest. But let this be far from the Christian mind, that anyone should wish to claim for himself an advantage to threaten the honor of his brethren in the slightest degree.”
d. “To consent to the wicked word is nothing less than to destroy the faith.”
e. “It is one thing that we should preserve unity of faith; another, that we ought to repress self-exaltation. But I say it, confidently, because whoever calls himself `universal bishop,’ or wishes to be so called, is in his self-exaltation Anti-Christ’s precursor, for in his swaggering he sets himself before the rest.”
f. In another letter to Anastasius of Alexandria: “I have said that he cannot have peace with us unless he correct his pride over a superstitious and proud word which the first apostate invented. And (that I may forbear to speak of the injury to your honor) if one bishop is called `universal,’ the universal church goes down when that universal bishop falls.”
5. The terms used by Gregory, here and elsewhere, for this self-exaltation are: wicked, profane, abominable, proud and sacrilegious, invented by the devil, and published and advanced by the Anti-Christ.
These are Calvin’s observations. We bring our observations to Calvin's observations, followed by some applications.
1. Pride informs churchmanship today as much as yesterday. One-upmanship over brothers, on Gregory’s terms, is wicked, evil, profane, and demonic. It happens and is happening today in leadership positions. The term "Archbishop" and "Primate," having no foundation in Scripture or the early church, should be abolished.
2. Rome in Calvin’s day had claimed this supremacy; Rome has never reversed itself on this point and continues with its self-intoxicated and demonic lust and agenda for world supremacism. She calls everyone else "ecclesial communities." She can't bring herself to call them Churches of Christ. She, the adulteress with the devil, still says she is #1.
3. The recent gaggle in the ACNA and the grossest tepidity of responses from ACNA bishops has been tastelessly shallow and without the slightest sense of discernment. Words along these generic lines have been offered, “We thank the Holy See for this generous offer, but we have…” Gregory the Great, if alive today, would not be tepid like the moderns.
4. We witness triumphalism in many different garments today: Wesleyanism, revivalism, and other reform movements have said, “We’re better than thou.” This can be seen in the Reformed camp also. The Anglo-Romanists are one of the worst expressions of it; witness their "purple shirt" fever amidst 50-ish some continuuing jurisdictions. Southern Baptists have talked about "numbers" like gunslingers "putting notches on their belts." We shall have this impulse to dominion and pompophilia today and into the future, as we’ve had in this past.
5. Gregory’s objection to `universal bishop’ entails this consequence. If that universal bishop falls, the church falls. That is, if Rome is truly the universal bishop and subsequent doctrine--false doctrine--arises and dominates (e.g. Trent), the church has fallen. Yeah, it has become a fallen church following a fallen leader following a fallen angel, Lucifer. That is exactly what the English and Continental Reformers believed…with Gregory the Great.
1. Steer clear of ACNA Bishops; they are not sound on their views towards Rome. They have been trained in TEC and Anglo-Romewardizing schools.
2. Steer clear of Canterbury and Anglicanism, as a whole, since, as an aggregate body, they are unsound. Listen, read and learn, but keep an healthy distance.
3. Steer clear of Dr. James Innes Packer, in terms of his statesmanship (not all of his theology), because he failed with ECT. He does not share Gregory the Great's or Calvin's views. He a "child of his times," a softee.
4. Study Federal Vision in the Reformed world, because it has slipped “works-salvation” in the back door. Note the "one-up-manship" so evident in so many of the FV-leaders in the past in blog forums and email lists.
5. Steer clear of Arminianism and Wesleyanism, with its manifold offshoots (Pentecostals, charismatics, etc.), because it is Romanism at its base.
6. Continue reading and working with those with ears to hear. Encourage others of like mind.
7. Hesitate not to say with Gregory 1 and John Calvin (and all the Reformers) that the bishop of Rome is profane, wicked, arrogant, repressive, and dominionist, following the fallen angel of heaven, Lucifer.
8. Encourage Lutheran brethren to remain steadfast, Confessionally, on their position that Rome is Anti-Christ.
9. Work with the Anglican remnant that are serious about doctrine and history. Men who aren't on "paid staffs," but men and women who are free of the "system."
10. Encourage Reformed and Presbyterian leaders to use the term “Anti-Christ.”
11. If Satan did not hesitate to attack Christ, Mt.4, he has no compunction about attacking it today...as he did in the days of Gregory the Great.
 Gregory 1, Letters V.37.39,41, 44, 45, inter alia.
October 29, 2009
Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 69. What is the communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ?
A. The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.
Westminster Confession of Faith
Chapter 26: Of the Communion of Saints
3: This communion which the saints have with Christ, does not make them in any wise partakers of the substance of His Godhead; or to be equal with Christ in any respect: either of which to affirm is impious and blasphemous. Nor does their communion one with another, as saints, take away, or infringe the title or propriety which each man has in his goods and possessions.[509
The Importance of Hell
There are plenty of people today who don't believe in the Bible's teaching on everlasting punishment, even those who do find it an unreal and a remote concept.
by Tim Keller
In 2003 a research group discovered 64% of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die, but less than 1% think they might go to hell. Not only are there plenty of people today who don't believe in the Bible's teaching on everlasting punishment, even those who do find it an unreal and a remote concept. Nevertheless, it is a very important part of the Christian faith, for several reasons.
1. It is important because Jesus taught about it more than all other Biblical authors put together. Jesus speaks of "eternal fire and punishment" as the final abode of the angels and human beings who have rejected God (Matthew 25:41,46) He says that those who give into sin will be in danger of the "fire of hell" (Matthew 5:22; 18:8-9.) The word Jesus uses for 'hell' is Gehenna, a valley in which piles of garbage were daily burned as well as the corpses of those without families who could bury them. In Mark 9:43 Jesus speaks of a person going to "hell [gehenna], where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.' " Jesus is referring to the maggots that live in the corpses on the garbage heap. When all the flesh is consumed, the maggots die. Jesus is saying, however, that the spiritual decomposition of hell never ends, and that is why 'their worm does not die.'
If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth.
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, "Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." He is speaking to disciples, some of whom will eventually be tortured, sawn in half, flayed and burned alive. Yet, he says, that is a picnic compared to hell. Clearly, for Jesus hell was a real place, since he said that after judgment day people would experience it in their bodies. Hell is a place not only of physical but also of spiritual misery.
Jesus constantly depicted hell as painful fire and "outer darkness" (Matt 25:30; cf. Jude 6,7,13,) a place of unimaginably terrible misery and unhappiness. If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth. But why was it so important to Jesus?
2. It is important because it shows how infinitely dependent we are on God for everything. Virtually all commentators and theologians believe that the Biblical images of fire and outer darkness are metaphorical. (Since souls are in hell right now, without bodies, how could the fire be literal, physical fire?) Even Jonathan Edwards pointed out that the Biblical language for hell was symbolic, but, he added, 'when metaphors are used in Scripture about spiritual things . . . they fall short of the literal truth." (from "The Torments of Hell are Exceeding Great" in volume 14 of the Yale edition of Edwards works.) To say that the Scriptural image of hell-fire is not wholly literal is of no comfort whatsoever. The reality will be far worse than the image. What, then, are the 'fire' and 'darkness' symbols for? They are vivid ways to describe what happens when we lose the presence of God. Darkness refers to the isolation, and fire to the disintegration of being separated from God. Away from the favor and face of God, we literally, horrifically, and endlessly fall apart.
In the teaching of Jesus the ultimate condemnation from the mouth of God is 'depart from me.' That is remarkable--to simply be away from God is the worst thing that can happen to us! Why? We were originally created to walk in God's immediate presence (Genesis 2.) In one sense, of course, God is everywhere and upholds everything. Only in him do we all speak and move and have our being (Acts 17:28.) In that sense, then, it is impossible to depart from the Lord; even hell cannot exist unless God upholds it. But the Bible says sin excludes us from God's 'face' (Isaiah 59:2.) All the life, joy, love, strength, and meaning we have looked for and longed for is found in his face (Psalm 16:11)-that is, in his favor, presence, fellowship, and pleasure.
Sin removes us from that aspect of his power that sustains and supports us. It is to us as water is to a fish-away from it our life slowly ebbs away. That is what has been happening to us throughout history. That is why, for Paul, the everlasting fire and destruction of hell is 'exclusion from the presence of the Lord." (2 Thessalonians 1:9.) Separation from God and his blessings forever is the reality to which all the symbols point. For example, when Jesus speaks being 'destroyed' in hell, the word used is apollumi, meaning not to be annihilated out of existence but to be 'totaled' and ruined so as to be useless for its intended purpose.
The image of 'gehenna' and 'maggots' means decomposition. Once a body is dead it loses its beauty and strength and coherence, it begins to break into its constituent parts, to stink and to disintegrate. So what is a 'totaled' human soul? It does not cease to exist, but rather becomes completely incapable of all the things a human soul is for--reasoning, feeling, choosing, giving or receiving love or joy. Why? Because the human soul was built for worshipping and enjoying the true God, and all truly human life flows from that. In this world, all of humanity, even those who have turned away from God, still are supported by 'kindly providences' or 'common grace' (Acts 14:16-17; Psalm 104:10-30; James 1:17) keeping us still capable of wisdom, love, joy, and goodness. But when we lose God's supportive presence all together, the result is hell.
3. It is important because it unveils the seriousness and danger of living life for yourself. In Romans 1-2 Paul explains that God, in his wrath against those who reject him, 'gives them up' to the sinful passions of their hearts. Commentators (cf. Douglas Moo) point out that this cannot mean God impels people to sin, since in Ephesians 4:19 it is said that sinners give themselves up to their sinful desires. It means that the worst (and fairest) punishment God can give a person is to allow them their sinful hearts' deepest desire.
What is that? The desire of the sinful human heart is for independence. We want to choose and go our own way (Isaiah 53:6.) This is no idle 'wandering from the path.' As Jeremiah puts it, 'No one repents . . . each pursues his own course like a horse charging into battle. (8:6)' (We want to get away from God-but, as we have seen, this is the very thing that is most destructive to us. Cain is warned not to sin because sin is slavery. (Genesis 4:7; John 8:34.) It destroys your ability to choose, love, enjoy. Sin also brings blindness-the more you reject the truth about God the more incapable you are of perceiving any truth about yourself or the world (Isaiah 29:9-10; Romans 1:21.)
What is hell, then? It is God actively giving us up to what we have freely chosen-to go our own way, be our own "the master of our fate, the captain of our soul," to get away from him and his control. It is God banishing us to regions we have desperately tried to get into all our lives. J.I.Packer writes: "Scripture sees hell as self-chosen . . . [H]ell appears as God's gesture of respect for human choice. All receive what they actually chose, either to be with God forever, worshipping him, or without God forever, worshipping themselves." (J.I.Packer, Concise Theology p.262-263.) If the thing you most want is to worship God in the beauty of his holiness, then that is what you will get (Ps 96:9-13.) If the thing you most want is to be your own master, then the holiness of God will become an agony, and the presence of God a terror you will flee forever (Rev 6:16; cf. Is 6:1-6.)
Why is this so extremely important to stress in our preaching and teaching today? The idea of hell is implausible to people because they see it as unfair that infinite punishment would be meted out for comparably minor, finite false steps (like not embracing Christianity.) Also, almost no one knows anyone (including themselves) that seem to be bad enough to merit hell. But the Biblical teaching on hell answers both of these objections. First, it tells us that people only get in the afterlife what they have most wanted-either to have God as Savior and Master or to be their own Saviors and Masters. Secondly, it tells us that hell is a natural consequence. Even in this world it is clear that self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness makes you miserable and blind. The more self-centered, self-absorbed, self-pitying, and self-justifying people are, the more breakdowns occur, relationally, psychologically, and even physically. They also go deeper into denial about the source of their problems.
On the other hand, a soul that has decided to center its life on God and his glory moves toward increasing joy and wholeness. We can see both of these 'trajectories' even in this life. But if, as the Bible teaches, our souls will go on forever, then just imagine where these two kinds of souls will be in a billion years. Hell is simply one's freely chosen path going on forever. We wanted to get away from God, and God, in his infinite justice, sends us where we wanted to go.
In the parable of Luke 16:19ff, Jesus tells us of a rich man who goes to hell and who is now in torment and horrible thirst because of the fire (v.24) But there are interesting insights into what is going on in his soul. He urges Abraham to send a messenger to go and warn his still-living brothers about the reality of hell. Commentators have pointed out that this is not a gesture of compassion, but rather an effort at blame-shifting. He is saying that he did not have a chance, he did not have adequate information to avoid hell. That is clearly his point, because Abraham says forcefully that people in this life have been well-informed through the Scriptures. It is intriguing to find exactly what we would expect-even knowing he is in hell and knowing God has sent him there, he is deeply in denial, angry at God, unable to admit that it was a just decision, wishing he could be less miserable (v.24) but in no way willing to repent or seek the presence of God.
I believe one of the reasons the Bible tells us about hell is so it can act like 'smelling salts' about the true danger and seriousness of even minor sins. However, I've found that only stressing the symbols of hell (fire and darkness) in preaching rather than going into what the symbols refer to (eternal, spiritual decomposition) actually prevents modern people from finding hell a deterrent. Some years ago I remember a man who said that talk about the fires of hell simply didn't scare him, it seemed too far-fetched, even silly. So I read him lines from C.S. Lewis:
Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others . . . but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God 'sending us' to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE Hell unless it is nipped in the bud.
To my surprise he got very quiet and said, "Now that scares me to death." He almost immediately began to see that hell was a) perfectly fair and just, and b) something that he realized he might be headed for if he didn't change. If we really want skeptics and non-believers to be properly frightened by hell, we cannot simply repeat over and over that 'hell is a place of fire.' We must go deeper into the realities that the Biblical images represent. When we do so, we will find that even secular people can be affected.
We run from the presence of God and therefore God actively gives us up to our desire (Romans 1:24, 26.) Hell is therefore a prison in which the doors are first locked from the inside by us and therefore are locked from the outside by God (Luke 16:26.) Every indication is that those doors continue to stay forever barred from the inside. Though every knee and tongue in hell knows that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11,) no one can seek or want that Lordship without the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3.This is why we can say that no one goes to hell who does not choose both to go and to stay there. What could be more fair than that?
4. The doctrine of hell is important because it is the only way to know how much Jesus loved us and how much he did for us. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says that no physical destruction can be compared with the spiritual destruction of hell, of losing the presence of God. But this is exactly what happened to Jesus on the cross-he was forsaken by the Father (Matthew 27:46.) In Luke 16:24 the rich man in hell is desperately thirsty (v.24) and on the cross Jesus said "I thirst" (John 19:28.) The water of life, the presence of God, was taken from him. The point is this. Unless we come to grips with this "terrible" doctrine, we will never even begin to understand the depths of what Jesus did for us on the cross. His body was being destroyed in the worst possible way, but that was a flea bite compared to what was happening to his soul. When he cried out that his God had forsaken him he was experiencing hell itself. But consider--if our debt for sin is so great that it is never paid off there, but our hell stretches on for eternity, then what are we to conclude from the fact that Jesus said the payment was "finished" (John 19:30) after only three hours? We learn that what he felt on the cross was far worse and deeper than all of our deserved hells put together.
And this makes emotional sense when we consider the relationship he lost. If a mild acquaintance denounces you and rejects you--that hurts. If a good friend does the same--that hurts far worse. However, if your spouse walks out on you saying, "I never want to see you again," that is far more devastating still. The longer, deeper, and more intimate the relationship, the more tortuous is any separation. But the Son's relationship with the Father was beginningless and infinitely greater than the most intimate and passionate human relationship. When Jesus was cut off from God he went into the deepest pit and most powerful furnace, beyond all imagining. He experienced the full wrath of the Father. And he did it voluntarily, for us.
Fairly often I meet people who say, "I have a personal relationship with a loving God, and yet I don't believe in Jesus Christ at all." Why, I ask? "My God is too loving to pour out infinite suffering on anyone for sin." But this shows a deep misunderstanding of both God and the cross. On the cross, God HIMSELF, incarnated as Jesus, took the punishment. He didn't visit it on a third party, however willing.
So the question becomes: what did it cost your kind of god to love us and embrace us? What did he endure in order to receive us? Where did this god agonize, cry out, and where were his nails and thorns? The only answer is: "I don't think that was necessary." But then ironically, in our effort to make God more loving, we have made him less loving. His love, in the end, needed to take no action. It was sentimentality, not love at all. The worship of a god like this will be at most impersonal, cognitive, and ethical. There will be no joyful self-abandonment, no humble boldness, no constant sense of wonder. We could not sing to him "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." Only through the cross could our separation from God be removed, and we will spend all eternity loving and praising God for what he has done (Rev 5:9-14.)
And if Jesus did not experience hell itself for us, then we ourselves are devalued. In Isaiah, we are told, "The results of his suffering he shall see, and shall be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11). This is a stupendous thought. Jesus suffered infinitely more than any human soul in eternal hell, yet he looks at us and says, "It was worth it." What could make us feel more loved and valued than that? The Savior presented in the gospel waded through hell itself rather than lose us, and no other savior ever depicted has loved us at such a cost.
The doctrine of hell is crucial-without it we can't understand our complete dependence on God, the character and danger of even the smallest sins, and the true scope of the costly love of Jesus. Nevertheless, it is possible to stress the doctrine of hell in unwise ways. Many, for fear of doctrinal compromise, want to put all the emphasis on God's active judgment, and none on the self-chosen character of hell. Ironically, as we have seen, this unBiblical imbalance often makes it less of a deterrent to non-believers rather than more of one. And some can preach hell in such a way that people reform their lives only out of a self-interested fear of avoiding consequences, not out of love and loyalty to the one who embraced and experienced hell in our place. The distinction between those two motives is all-important. The first creates a moralist, the second a born-again believer.
We must come to grips with the fact that Jesus said more about hell than Daniel, Isaiah, Paul, John, Peter put together. Before we dismiss this, we have to realize we are saying to Jesus, the pre-eminent teacher of love and grace in history, "I am less barbaric than you, Jesus--I am more compassionate and wiser than you." Surely that should give us pause! Indeed, upon reflection, it is because of the doctrine of judgment and hell that Jesus' proclamations of grace and love are so astounding.