Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bellisario vs. His Own Imagination on Christmas

Bellisario has a new post, in which he ferociously battles positions that have not been presented (link). The straw flies in every direction, but I thought I'd do a quick response (well, it started as a quick response ... it ended up a bit long) to his post:

MB: "I wanted to answer the un-identifiable one and how he uses his foolish twisting of Sacred Scripture to reject honoring Our Lord's Incarnation."

TF: Rejecting Christmas as a holy day of obligation is not a rejection of honoring the Lord's Incarnation. Bellisario either is unable to think clearly or has decided to use his imagination in place of the actual arguments I set forth. (See my previous post addressing the silliness of his calling me "un-idententifiable.")

MB: "He uses Roman's [sic] 14:6 to justify himself in doing so."

TF: I do proclaim the truth of Romans 14, but not to reject honoring anyone but the legalistic church of Rome.

MB: "Is it about Christian liberty as this guy says?"

TF: Ah, so Bellisario has now remembered what this is about - Christian liberty, not "reject[ing] honoring Our Lord's Incarnation," as he so dishonestly put it.

MB: "Let's look at this passage and see what Saint Paul is really saying."

TF: This, of course, is what Bellisario ought to have done at once. But, at least he is doing it now. Let's see how he does:

MB: "In this passage of Scripture Saint Paul is not talking about whether or not we should attend or not attend a day of worship as if Sunday or any other day is as good as another to worship God."

TF: This passage is not dealing with the issue of the weekly sabbath. Nevertheless, this passage is dealing with the celebration of other holy days, such as existed both in the pagan world of Paul's day and in the Old Testament economy of grace. For example, as I pointed out in my last post, the Old Testament called for a yearly feast of booths, which reminded Israel of their redemption from Egypt.

MB: "He is referring to the many Jews of his day who were keeping old Jewish observances such as seventh day Sabbath laws etc."

TF: MB is a bit confused here. The Sabbath was a creation ordinance, like marriage. It predates Abraham and is not distinctly Jewish. It is not the Sabbath, but the other Jewish holy days that were among the practices that Paul had in mind. He may also have had some of the pagan holy days in mind, but it seems less likely, since abandonment of those holy days would have been natural for Christian converts.

MB: "We can tell this because this passage starts off with the Jewish dietary laws, and the Church Fathers interpreted it the same way."

TF: The legalism of the Judaizers was the primary error being addressed, doubtlessly. Nevertheless, it is not only Judaizing legalism that is condemned by Paul's words - he does not limit his comments on diet and days to the Jews, but words his liberating doctrines generically. We'll get to the church fathers issue in a bit.

MB: "This passage is really referring to works of the law in reference to the Jews just as Saint Paul does throughout his writings, which are also misinterpreted by the heretics to mean all works."

TF: As noted above, yes - the legalism of the Jews is a primary target, but Paul's words are not limited to their legalism. In fact, Paul doesn't actually explicitly even mention the Jews in the chapter. The issue of how "heretics" (anybody who disagrees with Bellisario's church) supposedly misinterpret Scripture is a topic best left for another post.

MB: "To prove it lets look at Saint Chrysostom and how he interprets this passage."

TF: You know, it is interesting. When Bellisario and I were debating Sola Scriptura, Chrysostom's word was not viewed as "prov[ing]" Sola Scriptura. But now, supposedly, Chrysostom's interpretation becomes imbued with magical imperviousness to error (something that goes beyond what even Chrysostom would have wanted).

MB: "It is not even close to what this guy is trying to prove from it."

TF: I wonder how many commentaries MB has actually read. Oftentimes, Scripture is like a jewel. One commentator may comment on 5 of the facets, another may comment on 3 of those and 3 others. And a third commentator may catch 2 of the first, 1 of the second, and 2 more not noticed by the first two guys. Scripture is quite rich with meaning, which is why its careful study is so profitable. Chrysostom (or any commentator for that matter) is likely to notice those facets that are most relevant to his day and age, with less emphasis on those facets that are so blindingly obvious that no one of his day misunderstands them. Or contrariwise, if a misunderstanding is prevalent enough, it could help a commenter miss the implication of a particular text. The fact that Augustine notices one thing, and Ambrose another, does not mean that one of them is an heretic. But let us continue on ...

MB: "Chrysostom says in his homily on Romans in the 4th century the following in regards [sic] to this passage,
Ver. 6. He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it. And, He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks.
He still keeps to the same subject. And what he means is about this. The thing is not concerned with fundamentals. For the thing requisite is, if this person and the other are acting for God's sake, the thing requisite is (these words are repeated 3 manuscripts), if both terminate in thanksgiving. For indeed both this man and that give thanks to God. If then both do give thanks to God, the difference is no great one. But let me draw your notice to the way in which here also he aims unawares a blow at the Judaizers. For if the thing required be this, the giving of thanks, it is plain enough that he which eats it is that gives thanks, and not he which eats not. For how should he, while he still holds to the Law? As then he told the Galatians, As many of you as are justified by the Law are fallen from grace (Gal. v. 4); so here he hints it only, but does not unfold it so much. For as yet it was not time to do so. But for the present he bears with it (see p. 337): but by what follows he gives it a further opening. For where he says,

Ver. 7, 8. For none of us lives unto himself, and no man dies unto himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord, by this too he makes the same clearer. For how can he that lives unto the Law, be living unto Christ?

TF: And that is where MB stops quoting Chrysostom. Well, Chrysostom does mention the legalism of the Judaizers, and rightly so. Likewise, Chrysostom makes application of the text to the Judaizers who wanted to make folks follow the old laws. All this, of course, is perfectly harmonious with what I had said. It simply does not provide the further application to the innovation of holy days of obligation, or the particularly heinous abuse of asserting that it is a "mortal sin" not to regard such days as holy.

Indeed, Chrysostom, without using the word liberty, affirms Christian liberty, noting that what is important is thanksgiving. He doesn't apply this text to the problems of modern Romanism, but is that any surprise? He did not have a time travel machine.

MB: "To use this passage does not give anyone anyplace individually the right to set his or her own worship schedule as if he were his own Church."

TF: Ah, another of Bellisario's imagined enemy positions. The "right to set his or her own worship schedule" position was not presented by me, and isn't the position I've been advocating. Instead, what I've been advocating is the idea that Christians are free not to regard these man-made feast days (such as Christmas, or All-Saints Day, or the like) or to regard them, as they wish. Scripture says so, and it is only legalists, such as Juadiazers and papists, that deny it.

MB: "It is plainly aimed at the Jews and the works of the law."

TF: Plainly aimed at them, perhaps, and yet not limited to them. In fact, as noted above, the Jews aren't specifically mentioned in the chapter. What is truly absurd is to suppose that the Old Testament laws given by Moses with respect to days and meats are not binding but that brand new laws are binding! How bizarre! The former had the authority of God, the latter have only the authority of man. If observance of the former is not mandatory, much less so is the observance of the latter.

MB: "To use this passage to justify rejecting Church liturgical celebrations is a false interpretation. Let me continue."

TF: Really? Suppose that a church is run by Judaizers? Suppose they impose the days and dietary restrictions of the Old Testament economy? Surely then even the belligerant Bellisario would have to acknowledge that the Scripture "plainly" (his words) condemns such. Furthermore, the explanation for why the Christian need not follow the days and diets of the Old economy is that no man is to judge another in days and meats, and that we are to give thanksgiving to God whether we are working or worshiping. Only intentionally ignoring the explanation of the text could lead to a conclusion that churches which Judiaze are condemned, but churches that invent new dietary restrictions and new holy days are approved. But we will let Bellisario continue:

MB: "The Church in her authority can have a variation in Liturgical Calendars."

TF: The whole concept of "liturgical calendars" isn't found in the New Testament. Presumably MB is simply repeating what he thinks his church's position on the subject is. This is not entitled to any weight for us, since it is not founded in God's revelation.

MB: "This means that each Church, not each individual can have variations in liturgical schedule."

TF: That may be MB's church's position, and it does seem to be the practice Catholicism that different national churches and churches of different rites have variations in their calendars. On the other hand, such differences have nothing at all to do with what Chrysostom said and such differences have nothing at all to do with what the text of Scripture says.

MB: "That does not mean that each church can arbitrarily remove Christmas from their liturgical calendars."

TF: Again, MB is just talking about what he thinks his church's position is.

MB: "Sure the day may be different, such as Easter is different on the old calendar from the new most of the time for example."

TF: Again, this has to do with MB's perception of his own church's laws. The reason for the difference in the calculation of Easter between the "East" and the "West" is that the celebration of Easter, as an annual holiday, was not an Apostolic tradition, although it became a widespread custom very early on.

MB: "This passage is not really in reference to this, but could be later interpreted to be referring to the spiritually weak in faith accusing other churches of not following their liturgical calendars, as sometimes happens today between the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Church over Easter."

TF: Of course, it is not really in reference to that, as the explanation provided in the text proves. The explanation in the text indicates there are no Christina obligatory feast days, and no Christian obligatory fast days. For Romanism to claim that a man is committing a mortal sin by not going to Easter mass or by eating meat on a particular Friday, is to violate the Christian liberty God through Paul in Scripture gives to the believer. It is not freedom from the old diets and calendars to bondage to a new set of diets and calendars, but into liberty.

MB: "There are numerous other passages of Scripture that prove that there are appointed days of worship by the early Church. Read 1 Cor 16, Acts 20:7, Rev 1:10 for example."

TF: There is one day of appointed worship, namely the weekly day of rest. It is appointed by God, not "the early Church." Acts 20:7 refers to this weekly observance:

Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

So does 1 Corinthians 16:2

1 Corinthians 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.

So does Revelation 1:10

Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

The Lord's day, a creation ordinance, is the only perpetually binding day that obliges the believer to cease from work and worship His Creator and Redeemer. These verses tend to prove that, especially Revelation 1:10, which mentions "the Lord's day" as though it were one - not one of dozens throughout the year, or as though it were a church-innovated holiday.

MB: "So once again we see this passage when read in context is not an excuse for each individual to decide whether or not to worship Christ in his incarnation individually. It was written primarily for the Jews of the time."

TF: It wasn't written primarily for the Jews of the time, it was written primarily for the Romans, see the Title of the Book, or verse 7 of the first chapter of Romans, from which the title of the book was perhaps obtained. Furthermore, although it was primarily addressed to the immediate problem of Judaizers trying to impose those holidays, the explanation provided provides a shield against the modern legalism of Rome, which tries to imposes fasts and holidays on its members, in violation of this passage.

MB: "Next lets look at the age long persecution of Christmas by the Protestants to really get an idea of where this guy is coming from."

TF: Persecution of Christmas? One has to chuckle at the personification of Christmas in order to make such an inane rhetorical claim.

MB: "In England the Catholics were persecuted so harshly that certain Christmas carols were invented to communicate Catholic doctrine at Christmas time because of the hatred of the Catholics celebrating Christmas. One of these carols is the well known 12 days of Christmas. Another example is when the people of Ireland placed lit candles in their windows at Christmas so that passing priests would know that the people wanted to have Mass celebrated in their homes. Once again the likes of the English crown persecuted the Catholics in Ireland."

TF: The harshest treatment of Irish papists was probably under Cromwell's reign, but he did not take the crown, styling himself "Lord Protector of England." In any event, criticism by the papists of the "persecution" (so called) of their fellow-papists in England and Ireland is like someone with Ebola pointing out that his neighbor once came down with bad case of chickenpox. The old saw about those in glass houses being careful springs to mind.

MB: "The English Puritans had a hellbent hatred for Christmas and went to all lengths to destroy it. During the brief Calvinist reign in England, they forbade the celebration of Christmas, even going so far as to force shops to be open! This is how sick these sub-defectives were in their hatred for Our Lord's incarnation."

TF: Shops open on Christmas! How sick! How terrible! What a travesty! People working and doing business on that day, just like in the time of the apostles, before anyone began to celebrate Christmas as though it were a holy day! What a revolting, disgusting concept. I mean, assuming one does not want the purity of the Apostolic church, of course. Otherwise, it sounds quite excellent - men glorifying God by industry, working with their hands.

Notice how Bellisario misrepresents the Puritans. He claims that they hated the Lord's incarnation. He makes the same false claim about me. For Bellisario, if one rejects the legalism of Rome, one must do so not because one loves to worship God as the Apostles did, but because one hates the Incarnation. What utter and complete blindness! Notice how he calls them "sub-defectives" and yet his own reasoning is full of pronounced errors. He cannot appreciate that rejection of Christmas is not a rejection of the Lord's Incarnation.

MB: "Now the last argument is that Christmas is a new invention and that it was taken from the pagans and it has nothing to do with real Christian worship."

TF: It is an invention. It is not new. The best explanation as to the choice of the day is that it was taken from the pagans, especially since it happens to fall about the time of the winter solistice. As Benedict XVI pointed out, on 21 December 2008, "The very placement of Christmas is tied to the winter solstice, when the days in the Northern hemisphere start to become longer." (source - longer version)

MB: "This is quite absurd, since the history of the Church speaks otherwise."

TF: Church history confirms that the celebration of Christmas is an innovation unknown to the apostles. Furthermore, while the celebration of Christ's birth starts to come about in church history, it doesn't start out at the end of December. Finally, even when it gets celebrated in the end of December, it doesn't become obligatory for a while longer. Furthermore, one really has to wait a while to hear some legalist begin to proclaim that it is a mortal sin not to celebrate Christmas. In fact, the more one explores church history, the more one discovers just how much Rome has accreted new traditions on old traditions until what we have now would not be recognizable to those of 500 years ago, just as theirs would not have been recognizable to 500 years previous, and so forth. But to return to the simplicity of the Apostolic worship of God - that's something MB regards as "sub-defective" and evidence "hatred" of the Lord's incarnation.

MB: "We have Christmastide being celebrated in the early Church and scholars think that the celebration of Epiphany (originating in the East), which included the nativity and modern Christmastide themes, was celebrated as early as the second century."

TF: "Scholars" think all sorts of things. Scholars are pretty much unanimous, though, that Christmas was not instituted, known of, or approved by the apostles.

MB: "The oldest manuscript that we have in the west dates from AD 336. It shows the liturgical celebration on December 25th and is in the Philocalian calendar."

TF: One has to know a bit about the Philocalian calendar to appreciate the irony of MB's citation of it, after claiming that the celebration day has no pagan roots. The Philocalian calendar has several sections. Although in the calendar of martyrs there is a December 25th entry for the birth of Jesus is Bethelehem Judah, in the civil portion of the calendar December 25 is marked "Natalis Invicti," the Birth of the Unconquered (Sun). Naturally, the winter solstice, from which point the days begin to grow longer in Rome, coincides with the birth of the imagined sun god, whose feast had become an ingrained part of Roman life, to the point of being on the civil calendar. While many seek to dispute the idea that December 25 was selected for this reason, the Philocalian calendar is evidence that supports the idea that the date was simply taken over from the pagans in Rome.

MB: "The Apostolic Constitutions (c AD 380) mandated the celebration of Christ's birth on December 25th, and his Epiphany on January 6 to give a united day to the celebration of the Incarnation throughout the Church."

TF: The Apostolic Constitutions were horatory (instructional) not prescriptive (legislative). They give advice, not laws. They are obviously pseudographic (they claim to be written by the Apostles, but they are not), and they were rejected by the Trullan Council in 692. There certainly were churches that used them as the basis for church legislation, but they were unknown to the Western church for most of the middle ages. Again, history is not Bellisario's friend, but his enemy.

MB: "Once again every Church throughout the world is living and interpreting the Scriptures different than these modern "Protestant" heretics."

TF: The celebration of Christmas was not based on interpreting Scriptures, as though Scriptures require such a celebration. Furthermore, even once people widely began to celebrate the birth of Christ, they appear to have done so voluntarily, not under obligation or threat of mortal sin. Even if we find such a concept as early as Aquinas (and I cannot recall specifically where even he asserted that failure to communicate on Christmas is a mortal sin), we would still identify such an innovation as medieval in origin, not part of the early church teachings, and certainly not based on Scriptural interpretation.

MB: "Although the day in the early Church was not explicitly celebrated on Dec 25th, the Incarnation was a day of liturgical worship by the Church since its earliest time."

TF: This false statement is rebutted by historians, and even by MB's own previous claims that it was celebrated as early as the "second century." The earliest time, would, of course, be the time of the apostles.

MB: "Once again Saint Paul is not to be understood as to not arguing over whether we should be celebrating Christmas, but possibly what day we should celebrate Christmas."

TF: Ha ha ha. This ties into MB's claim that the passage is really directed to the Judaizers, but we can now interpret it some new way. Paul is generically addressing the kind of legalism found both in Judaism and modern Romanism - a legalism that hangs ones salvation on not eating certain things and following certain feast days. If Paul had said that the Passover doesn't have to be celebrated according to the Ancient calendar any more, but can be celebrated whenever - then perhaps there would be application to newly innovated holy days. But Paul says that believers have the freedom to regard or not regard days, giving thanks to God, and to eat or fast, giving thanks to God.

While MB is busy complaining that my explanation goes further than Chrysostom's, MB tries to take the text in an entirely different direction, to justify the liturgical disunity that exists within Romanism.

MB: "There is a big difference. To interpret Saint Paul in a manner allowing each individual to decide for himself as whether he is going to go to church on Sunday or any other Holy Day is ridiculous and one must really stretch the text and twist it to get this meaning from it."

TF: With respect to the Lord's day, such an interpretation would be erroneous, because we must not set one part of Scripture against another. But with respect to holy days, it is not only not ridiculous, it is the true sense of the passage - for individual people are in mind who may celebrate the Passover or the feast of booths, or whatnot, or may not celebrate those ancient Israelite traditions, in the New Testament administration. The passage makes sense against the Judaizers only when applied to individual believers. This teaching against legalism, however, is not convenient for Bellisario, and consequently it is dismissed as ridiculous.

MB: "He is clearly telling the Jews that it must not be a work of the law."

TF: He's not speaking to the Jews, he's speaking to the Romans. He's warning them of the errors of legalism, which errors were first presented by the Judaizers. However, in chapter 14 Paul doesn't specifically mention that group, but speaks generically. Furthermore, Paul isn't (here) specifically addressing the issue of whether such celebrations should be works of the law. It's just not there.

MB: "Meaning that we should not celebrate that day as a work of the law in and of itself."

TF: That's not at all what Paul is saying. Paul is speaking about Christian liberty either to regard or not to regard days, and to eat or avoid eating various foods. Thus, for example, later in the passage, Paul states (placing a boundary on Christian liberty):

Romans 14:13-15
13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. 14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

MB: "This is clearly not the case with Christmas, nor was it Saint Paul's intention as we just read in Saint Chrysostom's homily on it."

TF: MB claims it is "clearly not the case with Christmas," but the teaching of Rome is that to fail to obey their law to go to mass on Christmas is to engage in mortal sin, which amounts to a fall from grace, and essentially a loss of salvation. That's the same basic error as the Judaizers made, except that the Judaizers had the sense to point to customs that were not of merely human origin, such as Christmas. The justification for Rome's legalism, consequently is even less than that of the Judaizers. Chrysostom picks on the Judaizers, but if he could see Rome today, his pastoral message would (we have every reason to expect) point out that they are violating the Apostle's words in Scripture.

Furthermore, if Chrysostom failing to mention something is really the standard for that "something" being error, then why does MB provide an interpretation that is not found in Chrysostom? But, of course, it is not absurd to see new applications to the commands of Scripture, which is why we are not locked in by what Chrysostom happened to mention in the portion of his homily that was recorded and passed down to us.

MB: "Isn't it funny how heretics will throw Scripture verses at the Church not even knowing what they mean?"

TF: It's quite sad to see how fanatical papists will ignore what Scripture says in order to try to justify their church. It's quite sad that they will refuse to carefully consider what Scripture means in order to determine whether their church is in error - particularly on an issue such as this, where the error of legalism is glaring. At moments it may be humorous to see just how wildly illogical the arguments are, but at the end of the day it is quite saddening to see such fanatical devotion to the pope and his doctrines over the Scripture.

MB: "Just reading the Scriptures and interpreting them as you see fit is not real Christianity."

TF: It truly is not, and yet that is what we have seen from Bellisario. He reads the Scriptures (or at least tiny parts thereof) and tries to interpret them to make them fit his church's position. Real Christianity is diligently searching the Scriptures to see what they say: letting Scripture interpret Scripture.

MB: "You have to live the Scriptures and unite yourself to Christ in His Church."

TF: Living Romans 14:6 can include not regarding holy days (or regarding them). So, the only question is, "Is a church that denies Christians their Romans 14:6 rights, a church of Christ?" If we determine whether a church is Christ's by comparing its doctrine to Scripture, we can give an answer. If we refuse to compare our church's doctrine to Scripture, we cannot know whether we are following the false teachers that Scripture warns will come.

MB: "The Scriptures are to be lived in the Church by the Church."

TF: And when a church contradicts Scripture, it shows its own fallibility. When it refuses to submit itself to Scripture, it shows its arrogance. When it tries to impose legalism, it shows itself to be preaching another gospel.

MB: "The un-identifiable one will always be on the outside looking in until he decides to repent and follow Christ."

TF: Christ is my Lord. Therefore, whether I live, I love to the Lord, and whether I die, I die to the Lord. Consequently, whether I live or die, I am the Lord's, which is the very reason he was incarnate, died, and rose, that he might by my Lord. Bellisario would know this, if he would read Romans 14 carefully, humbly asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate his reading of the Scriptures so that he could investigate whether the doctrines I speak of are of the Lord or of man, and likewise whether the doctrines of his church are of divine or human origin.

MB: "Is this legalistic that the Church provides us with a liturgical calendar to follow so that we may immerse ourselves in the life of Christ and become more Holy through Him and the Sacraments of the Church? I think not!"

TF: It is not for providing a liturgical calendar that I have been criticizing Rome for legalism: it is for insisting that Christians are obligated to follow this calendar or commit mortal sin. Having a liturgical calendar may be a very handy thing, and - while it is prone to abuse - it is not inherently legalistic. Bellisario's battling his imagination again.

MB: "And I think it is the one who is spiritually dead who makes such accusations at the Church."

TF: Since I make different accusations than those he attributes to me, I'll just let his judgment of spiritual deadness (essentially the same false judgment made by Judaizers against those who refused to celebrate the old liturgical calendars) lie.

MB: "The Church provides these things to us because we need them and because it is our spiritual hospital so to speak."

TF: The Apostles didn't need them, and didn't appoint them. Does Bellisario think that his church is wiser than the Apostles (frankly, considering how little he cares for what Scripture says, I'm afraid to imagine what his answer might be).

MB: "Do the healthy need a hospital?"

TF: The great Physician is not the church calendar, but Christ himself. The best revelation of that Physician is not the church calendar, but Scripture. Thus, Basil the Great compared Scripture to a pharmacy, from which everyone get the medicine they need.

MB: "Woe to those who think they are spiritually sin-proof for they are really spiritually dead!"

TF: So saith Bellisario, but John the Apostle says:

1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

MB: "Those who oppose the authority of Christ are those who think they don't need help, those who think they they know better than Him."

TF: Legalism is not "help," but Scripture is. Let God judge the heart, but let it be clear that while Bellisario is placing faith in the teachings of his church, I am placing my trust on the God of Scripture, the God taught in Scripture, the God of liberty.

1 Peter 2:15-16
15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

MB: "It is not a legalistic obligation we are following, but one of love towards Christ."

TF: It is possible for a person to observe religious holidays out of love towards Christ, or to fast from certain foods out of love for Christ, or not to observe religious holidays out of love towards Christ, or to eat food out of love for Christ. Romans 14:6 makes it clear that all four of these things are possible. What is legalism is insisting that holy days (beyond, of course, the Lord's Day) must be observed, and particularly insisting that a person who refuses loses their salvation. That is rank legalism, of essentially the same kind promoted by the Judaizers.

MB: "The Church knows that those who immerse themselves in the Holy Days will reap rewards of grace from God because those that love God want to be with Him on these most Holy days of worship."

TF: I could sarcastically comment that "reap[ing] rewards" sounds absolutely nothing like legalism, but perhaps it would be more helpful for me to note that saying "The Church knows" is not really an argument for something. The Scriptures don't teach that doctrine, and the Apostles didn't teach it either. So from whence did Bellisario's church get this knowledge? The most obvious answer is that it comes from their imagination, or simply from Bellisario's imagination - since perhaps his church never makes such a claim.

MB: "It is love that the real law is based on, not legalistic transactions as you have in Protestantism."

TF: The law is one of love: for God and our neighbor. That is the teaching of the Reformed churches. Bellisario's confused comment regarding "legalistic transactions" appears to be the result of Bellisario not understanding forensic imputation, and confusing "juridical" with "legalistic." Nevertheless, an explanation of those problems in Bellisario would exceed the scope of this already-long post.

MB: "This is what is condemned in Scripture."

TF: Actually, what is condemned in the first part of Romans 14 is insisting that other people observe holy days or eschew certain foods. It doesn't address legal concepts of the covenants of grace and works, at least not in a direct manner.

MB: "We don't have to look very far as the "Reformed" church looks at Christ and salvation as getting your ticket punched at the train station."

TF: No, that's not the Reformed soteriology. Bellisario seems to be even less familiar with Reformed soteriology than he is with history, for him to be making a claim like that. But, correcting Bellisario's errors in that regard will have to wait for another day.

MB: "Talk about legalistic nonsense."

TF: This sentence is the result of Bellisario confusing "legalistic" with something else. What exactly he has in mind, it is hard to say.

MB: "I will close with this beautiful Arabic Christmas Carol from You Tube! It is truly amazing! Christ is born! Glorify Him!"

TF: The refrain from the eastern liturgy is already addressed in my previous post (link). And, of course, the beauty of the Arabic Christmas Carol is neither a particularly salient or important issue.

In conclusion, I encourage the reader to carefully read and consider Romans 14 (link). Consider what it says, and recognize whether it permits a church to require observance of particular diets or religious holy days.



Anonymous said...

Is it just me? Does any other reader notice that MB focuses on what is good for man, doing traditionally, and TF, you focus on the "Mind" of God and what He wants?

Isn't it the irony of ironics that the dispute centers around "Romans" 14. Hmmmmmmm? And where is the RCC's seat of power and from there trying to establish tradition in all the world?

Paul wrote amazingly of the ability of the Gospel's authority and power. He writes:

Col 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
Col 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,
Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Col 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
Col 1:8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And no doubt, there are infants ferried to Heaven and there now.

In my house, we do celebrate birthdays. I must celebrate my wife's or things will not be comfortable for me for many days. My boys, they love to be doted on and always enjoy the "birthday" gifts and cards and money they receive annually.

Me, on the other hand, as the head of my household, I am not so much interested in my "birth" celebrated as I am in my wife and sons understanding the authority God gives me for them and their protection, honored and carried out. When they do, they are not glorifying me, they are honoring and glorifying Their God. I could care less about celebrating my birthday. I do have a desire for the Word of God to be honored at all times though. What's that old saw? "Zeal for His Father's house...."

Joh 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Joh 2:14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.
Joh 2:15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
Joh 2:16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade."
Joh 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."

It should be duly noted that there has been a brisk business going on over the years as the 'faithful' prepared themselves for Christmas mass in Rome and at other sanctioned places, you know, selling the candles and brochures prepared for these events and sold outside the great halls?

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Hoffer, I responded to your question in a new post (link).