Saturday, January 05, 2008

Holy Water Debate - Negative Constructive Argument Posted

Now that the Sola Scriptura Debate is complete, I've posted a Negative Constructive opening statement in the Holy Water Debate over at the debate blog, taking the position that Holy Water as it is used by modern Roman Catholicism is simply a hangover (or should that be hand-me-down/left-over ...) from medieval superstition, rather than something having Scriptural, Apostolic, or even Patriarchal (of or pertaining to the early church fathers) authority.


Federal Vision - Status Report

According to this report, the Louisiana Presbytery of the PCA has been formally indicted for its failure to bring appropriate action against Steve Wilkins, a teaching elder subject to the jurisdiction of the LA presbytery. That's good news and sad news at the same time. It's good news because it means progress is being made by the PCA to root out the Federal Vision heresy, and sad news because no one likes to see presbyties disciplined, even when they are tiny presbyteries, like the LA presbytery.

There are basically three ways the matter can go:

1. The LA presbytery can repent, and address the heresy taught by Mr. Wilkins;
2. The LA presbytery can dissolve its relation with the PCA, and those elders/congregations of the LA presbytery that wish to be part of the PCA can become members of suitable adjacent presbyteries; or
3. The matter can proceed to trial.

Not a few folks are waiting on seat's edge to see what will transpire. I think we nearly all hope that course (1) will be taken and that it, in turn, will result in Mr. Wilkins repenting of his errant views and submitting to whatever discipline is appropriate.

Thanks to Green Baggins(es) for bringing this to my attention (link).


Shiny New Anti-Calvinist Web Site

Here is the latest anti-Calvinist propaganda site put forth by Dan Corner (link), aptly titled "No Calvinism". The web site's opening page is very professional looking. While some of the other pages are far more amateurish. The web site includes a link to Dan Corner's deceptively edited audio recording of a private telephone call between him and James White. Here's a challenge for Dan Corner.

Release the entire, unedited telephone conversation!

Here's James White's comments (web post) (including helpful audio discussion here).

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of the web site is the effort made to conceal the fact that the web site is, in fact, a Dan Corner creation. As can be seen in the P.S. below, the web site tries to suggest that Evangelical Outreach is simply a "favorite" of the authors of the web page. Of course it's a favorite, because its from the same organization. The evidence?

In the contact information,'s address is the very same P.O. Box in Washington, PA that is used by Dan Corner and Evangelical Outreach. This kind of fake alliance makes sense in view of Dan Corner's deceptive use of audio editing to try to put words in James White's mouth.

By their works, know them.


P.S. Special note to "anti-" misusers Hidden One and Dave Armstrong: lest you think I'm misusing the term, note that the web address is "No Calvinism" and that in the "audio" page of the website, the website states: "Visit our favorite anti-Calvinism site." (with that link being to Dan Corner's main web page, "Evangelical Outreach").

FV a Stepping Stone to Rome?

This former FVist is claiming that the Federal Vision was a stepping stone to Rome (link). The big "yeah, but," is that obviously the step before the Federal Vision was a Reformed Church. In any event, stones should not be blamed for those who step on them, and it seems somewhat unfair to blame Doug Wilson for the path of any given former member. It's fair to say that a person becomes Roman Catholic not because they follow DW too much, but because they are attracted only by a part of what DW has to say.

Still, that is really the only way for the logical progression to work:

Reformed -> Federal Visionist -> Catholic

Of course, that said, many people bounce around alot before settling on letting the Vatican make their doctrinal decisions for them. So I wouldn't be surprised in time to see some poor fellow make a hop from FV to TR to RC.

Thanks to the Trinity Foundation (this one not the other one) for bringing the post to my attention.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Practical Morality: Curse not the Rich

Ecclesiastes 10:20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

All of Scripture is variously profitable instruction in righteousness, but Ecclesiastes 10:20 is emminantly practical, particularly in the Internet age. As demonstrated in my previous post (and quite humorously illustrated in Michael's comment, see "Nebo" to the right), secrecy is often an illusion, or - at best - ephemeral. If you say something bad about those in power, you can reasonably expect they will find out.

You may think what you say will remain a secret, but information secrecy is often easily, even accidentally compromised, even when everyone involved is serious about guarding the secret.

The verse above provides the solution: don't think evil thoughts to begin with. Don't think things that you will be ashamed to see in print as a Newspaper headline. That way you will not type them in an email or blog comment that gets republished, or write them in your journal that gets read by the target of your hate. That way you will not whisper an evil word that gets repeated by the mockingbird, or carries on the wind, or is overheard by a child playing hide and seek.

The solution to hateful, evil thoughts is not to hide them well, but not to create them.

I don't write this to condemn the Federal Visionists for their mistakes. That was last post. Nor am I writing to anyone else specifically (you'll have to take my word on that). I myself am convicted by the words of Ecclesiastes 10:20, just as anyone should be. There have been times I have had thoughts that were not fit to print, and the same is true of everyone but Christ.

That's why Christ's righteousness is so necessary. That's why I was so eager to appropriate it by faith, to have His righteousness to my account. His thoughts were all fit to print. Even his angry thoughts were without sin.

"Christ is angry with the moneychangers!" reads the headline.

"They should be ashamed," is the appropriate reaction.


"Turretinfan is angry with ________," may have a different reaction - it may be Turretinfan that needs to be ashamed. Maybe someone has sinned against God, but am I zealous for His honor or my own? Is Turretinfan angry because God has been dishonored, or because Turretinfan has been embarassed?

Recall Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: There is a time for anger, but that is not instant justification for thinking ill of another man. Turretinfan cannot sieze Ephesians 4:26 to justify every temper tantrum.

Turretinfan is just a pseudonym. You be Turretinfan ... put your name in place of my nom de plume. We must consider our thoughts, and repent when we recognize that they do not measure up to the standard of divine perfection set forth in the moral law.

But we ought not despair. If we have faith in Christ, God imputes our sin to Jesus, and His rigteousness to us. There is a double imputation. We are considered righteous, just as he was considered guilty. And in it all, God is glorified.

Praise His Glorious Name!


(and, of course, this verse is the source for our "a little birdie told me" euphemism)

The Blessing/Curse of Anonymity

Doug Wilson is peeved at Mark T., a blogger who hosts a blog that is (to put it mildly) frequently critical of Doug. Now, MT has located some private emails from 2003, which seem to put some of the Federal Vision folks in a bad light. One of the participants (not Doug) even uses some rather unbecoming language. I had expected this to simply be ignored. However, it is being publicized by Doug Wilson himself in one of his recent blog articles (link).

Doug criticizes Mark T. (perhaps validly) for disclosing something that was clearly supposed to be secret, but also criticizes Mark T. for his anonymity. He makes goading comments like, "I am not ashamed of my baptized Christian name," which are simply not helpful.

But it is the last ditch attempt of those who seek to apply ad hominem to anonymous people.

So, that's the blessing/curse of Anonymity. You remove all the other ad hominems, but you leave yourself open to the "if you were a real man, you'd name your name" silliness. Shame on Doug for stooping to that level.

The divulging secrets argument was tenuous at best - it could have been the postscript to a "So what? Everything in those emails, taken in context, is perfectly harmless," defense. Frankly, if that's the best smoking gun evidence from the Biblical Horizon's list, there's not much dirt to be dug.

Finally, while it seems unlikely that this occurred, there are other ways than someone breaking their word that the emails could have been leaked. Suppose that one of the participants carelessly neglected to wipe his computer harddrive before a yard sale? Suppose someone's child happened to stumble upon printouts of the emails? I can think of plenty of ways that the information could leak without a direct divulging taking place. But, possibly one of the participants leaked the information, and - in doing so - broke his word (assuming he did not get permission from the participants, which - of course - we have no way of knowing). Oh well, given that the allegedly foul-mouthed participant has apparently threatened legal action, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.


David Armstrong Assists James Swan while insulting him

In a recent post (link), Dave Armstrong attempts to take on James Swan, who has been establishing that Luther was taken out of context, and that it was made to appear that Luther said something he did not. Dave has (for some odd reason) misinterpreted Swan's task as an, and I quote, "Effort to Liquidate the Honourable Endeavour of Catholic Apologetics" (British spellings in original).

After a lengthy attempted demonstration to poison the well by establishing that James Swan is a inane mudslinger ("his almost daily inanities and mudslinging"), Dave finally gets around to making some attempt at argument. The result is comical.

First Dave pulls the reverse ad hominem, by establishing that "Leibniz has been estimated to have possessed an IQ of 176" (link in original), that Leibniz was a Lutheran, and that Leibniz cited the same source that someone else (Dave is not real specific here, possibly he means Balmes) did. The "he's a genius so he must have been right in this instance" argument is a classic example of the fallacy of "argument from authority."

Next, Dave collates several Latin citations, and compares them to an alleged German original. Finally Dave establishes that real differences exist between the alleged German original and the collated Latin translations.

Finally, Dave concludes by (apparently) blaming Protestants for the difference between the Latin and the German.

I think what Dave has demonstrated is that, in fact, the Latin translation is inaccurate at the critical point for which the Latin translation (or a variant thereof) is being used. In short, Steve Ray following in the footsteps of other Catholic apologists misquoted Luther. I'd welcome different opinions of Dave's post, but that's mine for now.


UPDATE: More of Dave's obsession with James Swan in this more recent post (4 January 2008).

UPDATE: Dave has updated the article linked to above, which this post addresses. Accordingly, the summary above is incomplete, as he has added more material. He has also added a new post (link) that is really pointless from where I'm standing, at least as far as the citation debate goes. For some reason Dave confuses Leibniz's mistaken claim that Luther was a glutton (a claim that is objectively false) with Calvin's harshly critical, yet opinionated words about Luther's character.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Part V of my Response of my Response to Centuri0n on Christmas

This is the fifth, and final, post in my series of posts to Centuri0n. As I've pointed out in each of the last three posts, one should really start with the first post and read sequentially.

(part 1)
(part 2)
(part 3)
(part 4)

In this part, I'll be tackling Centuri0n's conclusion:
*** Centuri0n's Conclusion, including embedded quotations ***
It is your answer to that question, and the ones above it, which leads me to accuse you of mopery. So when you say this:
Your assertion, sir, that: "You are, in fact, wanting mopery in order to avoid popery. You want no sign that we smile, and no opportunity by which we can show people something they can taste and see as goodness -- especially if it's a time when they would have been enjoying themselves."

is false. I repudiate that sentiment, and if you continue to repeat your assertion that such is my position, you are illustrating that you are not hearing what I'm saying.
That's very daunting language, I am sure – the problem is that you do advance mopery – you advance the elimination of all kinds of cultural and social means of interaction in order to do what Jesus told us to do.
I'd encourage you to reconsider putting words in my mouth, let alone avatars in my avatar window.
There's no need to put words in your mouth: you say everything that needs to be said in order to discredit your view. The clowning merely points out that you are unwilling to see how bad your logic works out in real time and space.

Happy New Year – unless the Catholics are having mandatory mass tomorrow, in which case forget I said anything. We don’t want to be confused with them, right?

*** End of Conclusion ***

I'll break it down line-by-line, this time:

1. "It is your answer to that question, and the ones above it, which leads me to accuse you of mopery."

There's simply no connection between any of the foregoing discussion and mopery. There's no support to the charge. Christian liberty is not mopery. Avoiding confusing the gospel of Christ and the gospel of Rome is not mopery. Griping that someone is not joining you in your artificial holiday is the closest we come in the discussion to mopery, but that's not from my side of the aisle, Centuri0n!

2. "the problem is that you do advance mopery – you advance the elimination of all kinds of cultural and social means of interaction in order to do what Jesus told us to do."

That simply is not true. It might be true if I suggested that we should all become hermits and live in caves far from other people, but of course I do not. Simply holding that it is permissible not to celebrate Christmas is in now way equivalent to or convertable to "eliminat[ing] all kinds of cultural and social means of interaction." Furthemore, suggesting that there may be some value in exercising that freedom is likewise not equivalent or convertable to such nonsense.

This can be seen from the facts that:
a) religiously celebrating Christmas requires no or little cultural/social means of interaction with our unconverted neighbors ("I'm headed to church for Christmas," provokes no reaction from the crowd); but
b) contrariwise "I'm going to go into the office/out to my field/to open my shop on Christmas" does tend provoke a crowd reaction and provide a starting place for conversation.

Thus, in fact, going with the flow does not provide much opportunity for meaningful social interaction, whereas bucking the flow does.

And of course, Jesus did not tell us to celebrate his birth, or to celebrate the holidays of our society. So the "Jesus told us to do" line is just rhetorical puffery.

3. "There's no need to put words in your mouth: you say everything that needs to be said in order to discredit your view."

If that were true, one would expect you to simply post what I said without further commentary. But, of course, my actual position is not self-discrediting. In fact, my position is simply Paul's position in the Epistle to the Romans.

4. "The clowning merely points out that you are unwilling to see how bad your logic works out in real time and space."

The clowning is a substitute for reasoned argumentation, and useful in situations (unlike this one) when reasoned argumentation is unnecessary. The idea of "logic work[ing] out in real time and space" is a confusion of doctrine with practice. Regardless, however, the way the doctrine is practiced is simple, we celebrate if we want to, and we don't if we don't want to. We're not obliged either to celebrate (even if there are salutory reasons for doing so) and we're not obliged to abtain (even if there are salutory reasons for abstaining, such as those I presented).

5. "Happy New Year – unless the Catholics are having mandatory mass tomorrow, in which case forget I said anything. We don’t want to be confused with them, right?"

I do often celebrate a feast on the New Year, and I give God thanks, but I don't suggest that it is obligatory for anyone else. Doing so in my cultural environment (which is well post-pagan and post-Jewish) doesn't seem to be likely to confuse my celebration with religious observances of a false religion.

But you weren't really worried, you were mocking.

As demonstrated above, however, your mockery is crockery.

But Happy New Year to you too, Centuri0n, may God bless you and all who pass by,


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Real Turretin's Thoughts on the Difference between Grace and Works

The real Turretin's thoughts on the difference between grace and works can be found here (link), thanks to the "Transforming Grace" blog.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Part IV of my Response of my Response to Centuri0n on Christmas

This is the fourth part of a series of response to a recent post from Centuri0n. I suggest that you read the first three parts first, in order to gain a proper perspective and context.

(part 1)
(part 2)
(part 3)

In this part, I'll be addressing Centuri0n's claim that: "Here's a short list of things that we have to stop doing if we have to stop doing all the things "Rome" does to make sure we don't confuse people about what the Gospel is: ... -- eradicate all iconography of crosses from our architecture and art."

I had answered: "I don't see any particular problem eliminating the iconography of the cross from our architecture. Our art? I'm not sure what you mean there. Plenty of both Reformed and Fundamentalist non-Reformed Baptistic churches avoid the iconography of the cross."

Based on Centuri0n's further explanation, he apparently just meant architecture and building decorations. Centuri0n provides some examples of churches that incorporate crosses, and I could simply reply by providing examples of fundamentalist and reformed churches that do not incorporate crosses in their architecture. Here's one such example, in case anyone thinks it doesn't happen (link). I should point out, interestingly, that while the church itself does not employ cross iconography, the web site for the church has something that arguably is supposed to be a cross (though it does not have the typical dimensions associated with Catholic crosses).

I could also point out that using the particular cross found in Russian Orthodox architecture (example) would be confusing (note the extra piece for the title above the main crossbar, and the slanted piece towards the base, which looks something like a place to stand). It's not sinful to use such a cross in one's architecture, but it might confuse, in a way that a typical simply cross does not.

In some parts of the world, that may not be the case. Perhaps in some parts of the world, it would be valuable to avoid cross iconography in church architecture specifically to avoid the appearance of being a Catholic church. But, in general, churches are free to decorate their church in any way that does not violate God's law, and a cross in ipse does not violate God's law.

That said, again, there is no Scriptural requirement that we incorporate crosses into our architecture and building decorations. So, Christians are free to include it or not, and it would be wrong for Centuri0n to insist that Christians must use crosses in their architecture.

I found this particular topic interesting, because Mormons have conventionally not put a cross on top of their churches, specifically to avoid being connected with conventional Christianity. These days, they want to be called Christians, so we can probably expect to see cross architecture/decorations start to appear (compare the current look of the St. George Temple, look closely, that's a weather vane on top, or this more modern Mormon temple, where you can see a golden statue of what the Mormons think is an angel holding a trumpet). I doubt a weather vane would confuse anyone for long, but placing a golden statue holding a trumpet on the pinnacle of the roof of one's church would be a really bad idea for a Christian church in, say, Utah, Idaho, or Oregon.

Major Objections

1. Of course, a major objection is that the matter simply does not follow. There may be some marginal value in avoiding crosses to avoid a connection with popery, but - as I think Gene Bridges has pointed out - the cross is an ancient symbol of Christianity, and one that predates the sect of Roman Catholicism. While avoiding cross iconography may be helpful in some places and at some times, to distinguish the true gospel from the gospel of Rome, the situation is not similar to observance of a church holiday, because the informational content associated with the form of a cross is quite minimal compared with the informational content associated with the holiday held December 25.

2. Whether we place a cross on our buildings, or not, is of relatively little consequence. Thus, even if the logical conclusion of my position on Christian freedom was that it would be wise to avoid crosses in our architecture, that would not be an "over the top" action to take. Worship does not subsist in pictures, but in ideas.

3. This is the big one. Centuri0n's apparent line of reasoning is that if we do one thing to set ourselves apart from Catholicism, we must do everything possible to set ourselves apart from Catholicism. That simply doesn't follow. Centuri0n does not provide any analytical link, and there is not one to be made.


Part III of my Response of my Response to Centuri0n on Christmas

This is the third part of a series of responses to post by Centuri0n. If you haven't read the first two posts in the series, you should really read those first (part 1) (part 2).

In this part, I'll address Centuri0n's contention that: "Here's a short list of things that we have to stop doing if we have to stop doing all the things "Rome" does to make sure we don't confuse people about what the Gospel is: -- stop calling our list of holy books "the Bible"."

I had pointed out that:

a) "there is already a relatively clear notion in the public's mind that the "Protestant Bible" and the "Catholic Bible" are two different things. No real concern of confusion there."


b) "Also, there is a problem that there is not really a substitute word in English. We could use the term "Scriptures" but that word is also used by the Catholics."

Minor Quibbles
With respect to (a), Centuri0n pointed out that few printed editions of the Bible specify "Catholic" on the cover (and, he could have pointed out, even fewer specify "Protestant" on the cover). I suppose he may be right about the statistics, but I don't think they particularly help him. The reason that the various Bibles are not labeled with "Catholic" and "Protestant" is that the consumers know the difference. They are typically labeled with a translation name (the "NASB" or "KJV" etc.), which ends up being a proxy for whether the translation is Catholic or Protestant.

With respect to (b), Centuri0n argues that we could simply call ours the "Holy Book." But (a) Catholics already sometimes call Scripture that (see here), so Centuri0n's uncreative alternative label would not help.

Furthermore, it was Protestants popularized the English word "Bible" over the Latin word "Biblia." It was Protestants in England that championed placing the Bible in the Vulgar tongue. In other words, the label was a Protestant label to begin with. The fact that Catholics have adopted the same label for their book (rather than simply translating Biblia Sacra into English) is hardly a compelling reason to change our label.

Major Disagreement

More importantly, the comparison between Christmas and the Bible is non-analogous. I was not suggesting that we should keep a holy day of obligation on December 25, but call it "Jesus' Birthday Party." I was suggesting that we should feel free to disregard December 25 entirely. I think Christians should also feel free to call the Bible the "Holy Book" as you point out, and that we would be rank legalists to insist that it must be called "The Bible," in order to capture conventional public sentiment associated with the word "Bible."

In other word, the attempted reduction to absurdity only demonstrates a similar analytic disconnect to that set forth in part 1 of this series.

May God be glorified,


Part II of my Response of my Response to Centuri0n on Christmas

Part I of my response is provided above, and should be read first (link).

In Part II, I will discuss very briefly Centuri0n's comments on Lord's Day worship:

Centuri0n seems to think that if one took my position to its logical conclusion, one would have to "-- stop worshipping on Sundays" to avoid having the gospel of Scripture be confused with the gospel of the Vatican.

I responded that this "is out, because (a) Rome itself no longer emphasizes Sunday worship, and (b) Scripture requires it."

Centuri0n surprisingly insisted that Rome continues to emphasize Sunday worship (which seems dubious, to anyone who has seen the difference in attendance on days of obligation versus a typical Sunday). Nevertheless, let us suppose out of charity that Centuri0n is right, and that I was mistaken about Rome's deemphasis of Sunday worship. No problem, my second point was sufficient.

Even more surprisingly, Centuri0n challenges the fact that Scripture requires Sunday worship!

I simply point Centuri0n to

The Heidelberg Catechism, Question 103. What does God require in the fourth commandment?

Answer: First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained; (a) and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, (b) to hear his word, (c) to use the sacraments, (d) publicly to call upon the Lord, (e) and contribute to the relief of the poor. (f) Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath. (g)

(a) Tit.1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: 2 Tim.3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 2 Tim.3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 1 Tim.5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 1 Cor.9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 1 Cor.9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 1 Cor.9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 2 Tim.2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. (b) Ps.40:10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Ps.40:11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. Ps.68:27 There is little Benjamin with their ruler, the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali. Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (c) 1 Tim.4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Cor.14:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. 1 Cor.14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 1 Cor.14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. (d) 1 Cor.11:33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. (e) 1 Tim.2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 1 Tim.2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 1 Tim.2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 1 Tim.2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Tim.2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 1 Tim.2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 1 Tim.2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 1 Cor.14:16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? (f) 1 Cor.16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (g) Isa.66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

See also Chapter XXI of the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646, Chapter XXII of the Savoy Declaration of 1658, and Chapter XXII of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.

This is not advanced theology, but part of ordinary Reformed catechesis.


Questions 86-90 of the Catechism for Young Children
Questions 57-62 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism
Questions 115-121 of the Westminster Larger Catechism

These various sources, and the Reformed churches that have variously endorsed them are an adequate explanation of the Scriptural doctrine.


Part I of my Response to Centuri0n on Christmas

This is part I. There will, Lord willing, be more parts.

I preface this series by indicating my sincere appreciation of Centuri0n taking his time to interact with what I have written, and to state that I consider Centuri0n to be a brother in Christ. The tone may get a little hot and heavy, but I hope people will remember that. Also, I'm not going to beat his graphics. He's much more graphically inclined than I, and his blog is way cooler. I'd have to be a clown (HT: Centuri0n for that graphic) to imagine otherwise.

With that, here's the first few things.

1. My position is the position of Christian liberty, and it has explicit Scriptural warrant.

I say that individual Christians should be free to celebrate Christmas or not, free from any obligation, whether imposed by the Roman Catholic Church or prominent bloggers.

My warrant is:

Romans 14:1-6
1Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

2. Among other things, I have been charged with being a "killjoy" because of this stance on Christian liberty. This violates God's word.

Centuri0n writes: "As we kick this off, let me say this: one is not a damned sinner if one doesn't celebrate Christmas. One is simply a killjoy – someone who is afraid of enjoying the Gospel because someone might confuse that with the sins of prostitutes, publicans or (in the case of T-Fan) Catholics." (source)

a. The labeling is sinful and contra-Scriptural.
The killjoy label is clearly a violation of Romans 14:5 as well as Romans 14:4. Centuri0n is unwilling to let each man be persuaded in his own mind, and Centuri0n is judging this blogger, Christ's servant. The fact that Centuri0n does not call me a "damned sinner" makes his labeling less heinous, but it does not make it right, proper, or even acceptable.

b. The labeling is a non-sequitur.
It does not follow from the fact that one does not celebrate Christmas with Roman Catholics that one is "afraid of enjoying the Gospel." There is nothing that brings greater joy to a Christian or even an elect angel, than the Gospel. All of heaven rejoices when any sinner is brought from death to life by the power of God, and we rejoice most of all at the fact that this was done for us.

(i) To suppose for one instance that failure to celebrate an artificial, man-made holiday suggests a lack of enjoyment in the Gospel simply doesn't follow. Of course those of us who, like the Puritans, do not celebrate Christ's birth on December 25, do not lack enjoyment of the gospel.

(ii) Those who are actually celebrating Christmas do not necessarily enjoy the gospel at all. I dare say that the vast bulk of Americans who celebrate Christmas do not even have a real knowledge of the gospel. These days, even many Jews celebrate Christmas. Mormons celebrate Christmas. And, as we all know, Catholics celebrate Christmas. I wouldn't be surprised if Muslims celebrated Christmas, all the while filling the air with their (mpbuh's). Thus, actually celebrating Christmas is no guarantee that it will be done as a celebration of the gospel. And let me perfectly clear: if one is going to celebrate Christ's birth, one ought to do so with reference to the gospel, that Christ came to save his people from their sins.

Thus, there is no link: one can enjoy the gospel without celebrating a man-made holiday, and one can (though he ought not, we might note) observe the man-made holiday without enjoying the gospel.

c. The labeling is being misused.
Normally a killjoy is one who spoils the fun of others. Scrooge was a killjoy who shoved a ruler at the nose of the caroler, who insisted on spoiling the enjoyment of others. But, of course, that's not what is happening here. I have not told Centuri0n he may not celebrate the day, or even that it would be better for him to desist. I've simply insisted on my own liberty, and the liberty of every Christian. If I've spoiled Centuri0n's joy, it is only the joy of lording over others - a joy he ought to be deprived of.

Now, there is doubtless more that needs to be said, but it will have to wait for another post.


Monday, December 31, 2007

Conclusion to Sola Scriptura Debate Posted

Well, it is over at long last. (link) Meanwhile, at the same blog, the "Holy Water" debate is continuing to spill ever onward. Thankfully, I've agreed to time limits on posting in that debate, so we should see progress more quickly.

Thanks to "Orthodox" for debating me on the topic of Sola Scriptura.


More Orthodox Territorial Squabbling

This is a follow up to a previous post. Here we see more territorial squabbling - the natural result of sola ecclesia. Follow the link (link).


Compare Your New Year's Resolutions ...

... to those of Jonathan Edwards (link) or (direct link).

May God be glorified, despite our many failings,


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Timely Announcement: Exorcism Squads

The latest news (actually, maybe it's old news and I'm just hearing about it) from Vatican City is that the pope is authorizing exorcism squads (link). The timing of all this is rather handy, as the Holy Water debate is moving along with some speed over at the debate blog (link).

May God be glorified,