Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Innocent X vs Sound Doctrine

In 1653, Innocent X released the constitution "Cum Occasione" (May 31, 1653)(full text here). In that document, there were errors said to have been extracted from the Augustinus of Cornelius Jansen. These are also printed Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (1957)(Dz. 1092-1096)(link)
1. Some of God’s precepts are impossible to the just, who wish and strive to keep them, according to the present powers which they have; the grace, by which they are made possible, is also wanting.

Declared and condemned as rash, impious, blasphemous, condemned by anathema, and heretical.

2. In the state of fallen nature one never resists interior grace.

Declared and condemned as heretical.

3. In order to merit or demerit in the state of fallen nature, freedom from necessity is not required in man, but freedom from external compulsion is sufficient.

Declared and condemned as heretical.

4. The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of a prevenient interior grace for each act, even for the beginning of faith; and in this they were heretics, because they wished this grace to be such that the human will could either resistor obey.

Declared and condemned as false and heretical.

5. It is Semipelagian to say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men without exception.

Declared and condemned as false, rash, scandalous, and understood in this sense, that Christ died for the salvation of the predestined, impious, blasphemous, contumelious, dishonoring to divine piety, and heretical.
The condemnation of these five statements was then affirmed by Alexander VII (Constitution, "Ad sacram beati Petri Sedem," October 16, 1656 and Constitution "Regiminis apostolicis," February 15, 1665)(more discussion and links here)

It is interesting to note that Innocent X appears to be affirming perfectionism (contra 1), denying irresistible grace (contra 2 and 4), denying compatible free will (contra 3),and denying limited atonement (contra 5), and on each of these points appears to err, since Scriptures teach that we continue to struggle with sin in this life, Scripture teaches irresistible grace, Scripture teaches that free will is compatible with divine necessity, and Scripture teaches that Christ died specifically for the elect.

- TurretinFan

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Actually, Jesus Did Ask Someone to Write a Book

About 43 minutes into episode #6838 of Catholic Answers Live, Patrick Coffin, the host of the show, stated: "Jesus never wrote a book, didn't ask anybody to write a book, or you know - put on kind of memo on the fridges of Nazareth, but he did found a church."

I've previously addressed this "Jesus Didn't Write a Book" Objection (link to previous treatment). While I stand by that response, let me provide some further response Mr. Coffin's assertions here, since Mr. Coffin is guilty of a redemptive history error, a trinitarian error, and a simple factual error (not even to get into his ecclesiastical error).

1. Redemption History Error

Mr. Coffin's characterization, by focusing on the form of the revelation of Jesus Christ misses the place of revelation in the history of redemption. It is by revelation that the church was founded. The revelation of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the church that Jesus founded. That's why Jesus said to Peter:
Matthew 16:17-19
And Jesus answered and said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Jesus focuses on the fact that Peter's confession was something revealed to him by the Father. It is on that confession of faith - revealed by God - that the church was to be founded.
That's why Irenaeus says: "For we learned the plan of our salvation from no others than from those through whom the gospel came to us. They first preached it abroad, and then later by the will of God handed it down to us in Writings, to be the foundation and pillar of our faith" and again a little later on "the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel" (Against Heresies, Book 3, Sections 1 and 8).
And Irenaeus is being Scriptural:
Hebrews 1:1-2, 2:1-4, 4:2
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; ... Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? ...
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
You see the foundation of the church is the revelation of Jesus Christ - not the other way around. Even if the assembly of Jesus' followers (i.e. the church) can be said to have begun before the writing of the New Testament Scriptures - still they are a record of the revelation that preceded and founded the church. They are the cause of the church - not the effect of the church.

2. Trinitarian Error

Mr. Coffin's comments invite the listener to divide Jesus from the person of the Spirit, to the extent that one considers the plain and inescapable fact that the Spirit did command people to write a book. Even assuming it were true that Jesus didn't personally command the writing of Scripture, the Spirit did, and that's not any more or less authoritative than if Jesus himself did it. The Spirit is not a lesser deity.

Moreover, the Spirit was united in Jesus' revelatory mission:
John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
That leads us to a third category of error:

3. Factual Error

Mr. Coffin has forgotten about the fact that the Bible itself tells us that Jesus commanded John to write a book:
Revelation 1:1-3, 11, 19 and 21:5
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. ... Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. ... Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; ... And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
I understand that the book of Revelation is excluded from the readings of Scripture in the Roman liturgy, but even Trent had to admit that it is canonical and authoritative Scripture.

I suppose I could add to the above that Mr. Coffin's conception of Christ founding a church is way off. Mr. Coffin has in mind a hierarchical structure of authority, whereas when Christ talked about founding his church on the rock of Peter's confession, he was talking about followers united by faith. While God did appoint a structure of authority within the church, that was not the primary sense in which he founded a church. Perhaps we can get into that more in another post.

-TurretinFan

Christ is what's Better about the New Covenant

What's better about the New Covenant? Christ. That's the point of Hebrews. My beloved Reformed Baptist brothers seem to have missed this.
Baptism is not better than circumcision - the Lord's Supper is not better than the Passover. Instead, Christ's blood is better than the things that point forward or backward to it.
There is a distinction between the bloody forward-pointing signs and the bloodless backward-pointing signs, but it is not that the latter are more effective or better than the former.
Baptism is not "circumcision of the heart" - regeneration is. Both Baptism and Circumcision pictured that.
We feed on Christ by faith - not by our teeth chewing bread or chewing a lamb.
We are saved by the sprinkled blood of Christ - not that of the passover lamb nor by the water of baptism.
There is still a distinction between the outward physical signs and the inward spiritual reality. There is still a difference between the congregation/assembly of those who profess faith and the actual inward reality of profession of faith.
The difference between the New Covenant administration of the Covenant of Grace is Christ. That's what Hebrews says a ton of times. My RB brothers - I think you agree with me 90+% on this - why not that last 10%?
(previously posted on facebook)

Monday, February 09, 2015

Three Observations on Acts 2:39

"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:39) Three observations:
1) Notice that the promise is monergistic - it is to those whom the Lord calls - that's how the promise is phrased. It's not to "even as many as shall work really, really hard."
2) Paedobaptists sometimes quote this passage incompletely as though it just say "unto you and to your children." It says more than that, and the "even as many as the Lord our God shall call" is definitely key.
3) Still, I haven't heard my Reformed Baptist brothers provide an adequate explanation for the reference to children, if not to suggest that God is going to continue dealing with families as families. This looks like the kind of thing we see several times in the Old Testament - now with an expansion to those who are not Jews. That's not the central point of the verse, but it seems to be the most obvious reason for the reference to children - a passing reference to the fact of familial treatment that God applied up to this point both with respect to Israel and the nations.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Catholic Answers - Mary as Alternative to God

Around 45 minutes into episode #6824 of "Catholic Answers," Vicki Thorn stated: "You know, I also want to say to our listeners, that sometimes when we're beginning to heal, especially women, God is really sort of frightening to us, because we're so afraid of judgment. The blessed Mother - this is Mary's work. ... This is Mary's work - and so if God seems a little - you know - too scary, turn to Our Lady and ask her to help, because she'll lead you."

By contrast, the Scriptures always exhort us to turn to the mercy of the Lord:
Psalm 89:1 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 69:16 Hear me, O Lord; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.

Psalm 25:6 Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.
We are not to come in reliance on our own merits (or the merits of our fellow sinners, such as Mary), but solely on the mercy of God:
Daniel 9:18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.
Indeed, we can approach the Father through Christ, specifically because it is through Christ that the Father of mercies has given us mercy:
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Rather than turning to any form of idolatry, including the religious veneration of Mary, turn to Jesus:
James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
The Lord's is full of compassion and He is the only Mediator between God and man, as it is written: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" (1 Timothy 2:5) - therefore with Paul let me entreat the reader who is trusting in Christ to be reconciled to God by Christ - not by anyone else:
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Just Psalms? How about Ephesians and Colossians?

From time to time, people ask me about why Christians might sing only Psalms in the worship of God. One of the more understandable arguments they sometimes present is an appeal to one or both of these verses:
Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
My response to them on this is that we need to look at how the terms Paul uses would have been understood to people in a 1st century context. In that context, there was no "Trinity Hymnal" nor any "Praise Song" transparencies or the like. So, Paul wasn't speaking about three different sources, i.e. the Psalter, the Hymnal, and the Praise Songs licensed by CCLI.

What was Paul referring to? He was referring to the Psalter. This may seem surprising, because we have so closely associated the term "Psalm" with the book of Psalms, whereas we have associated the word "Hymn" with songs that aren't in the Psalter.

Nevertheless, the terms translated "psalms," "hymns," and "songs" are three of the four words commonly used in the Septuagint titles of the Psalms. Specifically: ψαλμοσ (Psalm)(66 times), συνεσεοσ/συνοισ (understanding or wisdom)(13 times), υμνοισ (hymn)(6 times), and ωδη/ωδησ (song or ode)(36 times). (see more detailed analysis here)


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Deeper Criticism of Francis' Typo Tweet

"Our Mother Mary is full of beauty because [s]he is full of grace."
- Francis of Rome via Twitter about a year ago.

The typo (corrected with bracketed insertion) was amusing, but there's a bigger problem. Who is more full of grace - Mary or Jesus? Yet of Jesus it is said "he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). Was Mary physically beautiful? No one knows, for there is no authentic tradition about her appearance. All the idols of her are lies, the mere figments of the imaginations of their creators. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

And as well, in Scripture our mother is the heavenly Jerusalem, not Mary. (Galatians 4:26)

-TurretinFan

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pope Francis - Liberal or not?

Matthew Bellisario, editor of the Catholic Champion, was kind enough to bring this clip to my attention, and I'm happy to bring it to the attention of Dave Armstrong and others, who think that Francis is just business as usual for the Roman see:
Christopher Ferrara is a traditionalist Roman Catholic, to be sure, but that's kind of the point. He says: "Something is seriously wrong with this pontificate. You can't deny it any longer." (Christopher Ferrara, 11 minutes in)
"I think we just got stuck with a really, really bad decision in Pope Francis, who again I think has to rank among the very worst popes in the history of the papacy." (Michael Matt - 24:45 in)
Mr. Matt goes so far as to say that living under Francis is worse than living under Alexander VI and the (other) Borgia popes (around 26 minutes in).

-TurretinFan

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Real Turretin on: Christ's Atonement is Both Substitutionary and Exemplary

Tony Stiff at Sets 'n' Service has provided a brief quotation from the real Turretin providing a helpful reminder that the Atonement is not only Substitutionary but also Exemplary
(source). Sometimes in our eagerness to emphasize the distinctives of Reformed Theology, we can lose sight of that fact. The fact that Christ's death is an example is important: and something Paul mentions.

-TurretinFan

Monday, December 08, 2014

Assurance and Baptism - Leithart Should Read 1 John

Peter Leithart should read the First Epistle of John. Peter Leithart writes: "Justification by grace through faith cannot be sustained, either in theology or in our experience, without confidence that God works in the sacraments. We cannot get assurance unless we’re convinced that God declares me His beloved child in the water of baptism. Which means, No baptism, No justification." (link)

But read 1 John. That book's raison d'etre is expressed this way:
(1:4) ... these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full ... (5:13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
John mentions a lot of things that help give us confidence, the primary one being that we have faith in Christ. John never mentions baptism in this epistle.

Leithart should learn from 1 John that Baptism is not what provides us our assurance.

-TurretinFan

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Leithart Asks - on Justification and Baptism

Peter Leithart has a question that every child who has memorized the Westminster Shorter Catechism should be able to answer: "If baptism is not a public declaration of justification, where and when does that public declaration take place?" (link)

Westminster Shorter Catechism #38
Q: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory,1 shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment,2 and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God,3 to all eternity.4

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:42-43. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
[2] Matthew 25:33-34. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matthew 10:32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
[3] Psalm 16:11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
1 Corinthians 2:9. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
[4] 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [See preceding context.]

As Matthew Henry puts it:

4. Shall they be openly acknowledged in the day of judgment? Yes: Him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven, Matt. 10:32. Will God own them as his own? Yes: They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels, Mal. 3:17. And will that be their honour? Yes: If any man serve me, him will my Father honour, John 12:26. Shall they be openly acquitted? Yes: for their sins shall be blotted out when the times of refreshing come, Acts 3:19.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 90. What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?

A. At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds,[389] shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted,[390] shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men,[391] and shall be received into heaven,[392] where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery;[393] filled with inconceivable joys,[394] made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels,[395] but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity.[396] And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.

[390] Matthew 25:33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Matthew 10:32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

[391] 1 Corinthians 6:2-3. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

[392] Matthew 25:34, 46. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

[393] Ephesians 5:27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Revelation 14:13. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

[394] Psalm 16:11. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

[395] Hebrews 12:22-23. But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

[396] 1 John 3:2. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 Corinthians 13:12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.