Friday, July 25, 2008

The Real Turretin on: Perspicuity

Brandon at Siris has posted a summary of Turretin on the Perspicuity of Scripture (link) as well as directing us to Turretin's own words (link). This is very important reading for people who imagine that the Reformed position is that all of Scripture is easily understood: that is far from correct.


Centuri0n is an Anti-Catholic? (I am not!)

In a recent post, Centuri0n (Frank Turk) has declared that he is an "anti-Catholic" (link) or at least why he's ok with being called that. While I appreciate his basic rationale (which could be paraphrased as: "they've anathematized me, so - yeah - we are anti-one-another"), I am certainly not interested in adopting the title.

Why is that? Because the term is usually associated with nutcases like the college professor discussed here (link), who go out of their way to offend other people for the point of offending them. That's not me.

I realize that some of things I say are going to offend, and there's just no way around that:

1) Telling people that their religion is based on a false gospel that will not save them, is not something most people like to hear, even if it is the truth.

2) Telling people that the church they were raised in is not a pure church of Christ is something that bothers people who have been taught (and have believed) that it is such a church.

3) As we have discovered, even using a word other than their preferred title (e.g. not using "Catholic") to describe them (even when done to avoid theological and historical confusion) is something that can upset people (see here for example).

4) In fact, telling people generally that they are in sin offends them. People don't like to hear: "Repent and believe."

That message is offensive, but it is offensive incidentally, just as calling one's church "the universal church" is offensive to other churches that are part of the true universal church. Moreover, the message is truly "Catholic" in the original and proper sense of the word: it is the message of the universal Christian church. All who come to Christ do so in repentance and faith in Christ. This, of course, makes the whole "anti-Catholic" slur that much more inapplicable to folks like Centuri0n who in fact hold to what is properly (though not popularly today) designated the Catholic faith, though not to the doctrines of Rome.

The nutcase above, in contrast, aims to offend (and particularly to offend those who are transubstantionists - although he also has tried to offend many other groups). Others who would be properly labeled "anti-Catholic" hate people who call themselves "Catholics" (the KKK comes to mind). These are the folks that can properly be labeled for what they are.

We need to remember not to be like those groups. The Vatican has set itself against us and against the gospel. In past ages, it openly persecuted and had put to death many of our spiritual forefathers. Today, it opposes the gospel in other ways. It is not a good institution, and it is especially evil in arrogantly claiming to be "the Church."

That said, Scriptures tell us to love those who persecute us (and frankly, while modern Rome doesn't like what we have to say, "persecute" is a rather strong word for what they do in most English-speaking parts of the world today).

Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Thus, to associate ourselves with the likes of vicious, godless mockers and haters simply because we oppose the doctrines and practices of the Vatican is wrong. That's one reason I object to being mislabeled by certain hostile Vatican-friendly apologists as an "anti-Catholic," and why I think Frank Turk should do the same.

I don't think Centuri0n should be considered an "anti-Catholic," because I am quite sure he doesn't hate "Catholics," because I am fairly confident that he doesn't do things especially to offend them, and because the main source of offense between him and them is the Gospel. In fact, I think if you asked Frank if he loves "Catholics," his sincere answer (like mine) would be, "yes" - as well it ought to be.

To those of you who happen to read this blog and who happen to consider yourselves "Catholics." As strongly as I am opposed to the doctrines and practices of your church, I do care for you as a person. In fact, one reason I spend time trying to demonstrate the errors of the Vatican is for your benefit.


P.S. This is an issue that comes up from time to time. Accordingly, I may end up date bumping this post either to the top of the blog in the event that it needs to be said again, or to the back of the blog, if it needs to go to a reference post status.

Justification - Part I

The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) describes Justification thus:

I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction of his Father's justice in their behalf. Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.

V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God's Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respect, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.

Someone who wants a more detailed explanation of Justification by Faith in practice, within a consistently Reformed perspective should read the Sum of Saving Knowledge.

The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) has substantially the same definition:

1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.

2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

4. God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them.

5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

6. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.

Earlier reformation documents have similar discussions. For example, the Thirty-Nine Articles (1571), include Article XI, on the justification of man:

We are accompted [accounted] righteous before God, only for the merite [merit] of our Lord and sauiour [savior] Jesus Christe [Christ], by faith, and not for our owne workes [own works] or deseruynges [deservings]. Wherefore, that we are justified by fayth onely [faith only], is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homilie [Homily] of iustification [Justification].

I would reproduce the referenced Homily, but (a) it is not short, and (b) it is not entirely sound (particularly the parts relating to the effect of baptism on infants who die in infancy). (Those who wish to read the Homily may find it here (link).)

The Belgic Confession (1618) discusses Justification as follows, in Article 23, The Justification of Sinners:

We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, as David and Paul teach us when they declare that man blessed to whom God grants righteousness apart from works.

And the same apostle says that we are justified "freely" or "by grace" through redemption in Jesus Christ. And therefore we cling to this foundation, which is firm forever, giving all glory to God, humbling ourselves, and recognizing ourselves as we are; not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, which is ours when we believe in him.

That is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident, freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God's approach, without doing what our first father, Adam, did, who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.

In fact, if we had to appear before God relying-- no matter how little-- on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up.

Therefore everyone must say with David: "Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified."

The Augsburg Confession (1530) likewise discusses justification in Article IV, Of Justification:

Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight.

This post focuses on the primary confessional documents that describe the Reformed faith. The Lord Willing, in a next post I will turn to some more particular explanations.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Brief Biography of the Real Francis Turretin

The following biography was originally published in The Evangelical Guardian and Review, Vol. II, April 1819, No. 12:

Sketch of the Life of the celebrated Francis Turrettine, Professor of Divinity at Geneva, who died Anno 1687. Translated from B. Pictet’s Latin Oration, delivered before the Academy of Geneva, when he ascended the Theological Chair, in the room of Turrettine, his uncle.

“IT is not a hall filled with smoky statutes," as Seneca observes, "that can make a man illustrious; because no one hath lived for our glory, nor is any thing ours which existed before us." Yet, if dignity of family is of any avail to procure just veneration from lofty minds, that our Turrettine was nobly descended, is well known to all who have heard that his ancestors held the first rank in the very ancient republic of Lucca. The first of that family who came to Geneva was Francis Turrettine, the grandfather of our deceased friend. This man, more than a century since, impelled by an ardent zeal for knowing, and professing the reformed religion, renounced every thing dear in his native country, and after suffering many hardships, arrived at this happy place. He had lived for some years in Antwerp, and was intimately acquainted with the most illustrious Marnix Santaldegond. But that place being besieged by the Duke of Parma, he was forced to leave it at the hazard of his life, and came first to Geneva, and afterward to that sacred asylum for proscribed humanity and persecuted religion, Zurich. After he had resided more than five years there, he returned to this city, where he spent the remainder of his days. He was a man of the strictest integrity, and of a very blameless life; faithful to his promises, and a lover of true religion, which he proved by many acts of beneficence to the poor. Thus he acquired a reputation which shed a lustre on his posterity, outlived this transitory world, and does not need to fear the corroding tooth of time. Of him it may be said, "he hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever."
His son, Benedict Turrettine, was the father of our departed friend. He was long the principal ornament of this city, academy, and Church. He shone with no common lustre, and was a very warm defender of divine truth. To him may be applied, what Gregory Nazianzen said of Athanasius, "In praising Athanasius, we praise virtue itself." The most animated of Benedict's works was his answer to father Cotton, the Jesuit, that most inveterate enemy of the Reformation. Cotton had attacked our translation of the Bible; and forgetting his argument, and instigated, doubtless, by the father of lies, ventured to predict the time when the city of Geneva should be destroyed, and the heresy of Calvin obliterated from the earth. Blessed be God, he has been found a liar. Turrettine obtained a complete victory over him, and hung up the spoils in the temple of the God of heaven. In the year 1620, he attended the Synod of Alez, in the Cevennes. Peter Du Moulin, a man famous in all the Christian world, was moderator in that venerable assembly. Benedict Turrettine gained the love of all the divines present. It was difficult to know, whether he excelled most in human learning, or in the knowledge of the Scriptures. In him were united a happy commanding authority, unaffected piety, and wonderful eloquence. He had the simplicity of a child united to the magnanimity of a hero. His love of peace, and forbearing spirit, were equalled only by his love to truth and holiness; virtues which, Erasmus said, met in Leo X, but of which, as all the world knows, he did not possess the most distant resemblance. He that had acquired immortal honour seemed deserving of a long life. But he, such was the will of God, only paid a visit to this globe; for be had not reached his forty-ninth year, when he was torn, as it were, from the bowels of his country, by a premature death, by means of a severe fever. He left many children behind him.
Francis Turrettine, the son of Benedict, was born the 17th of October, 1623. In this year died Philip Du Plessis, and the great Paul Sarpi, of Venice; illustrious characters, whom no praise can appreciate. When the stars disappear in one part of our horizon, others come forth to view in another. In this year, also, died Pope Gregory XV. It was, likewise, famous for the Synod of Charentoa. In the same year, the Genevan Church, according to the custom of the primitive Christians, began to use leavened bread in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
We admire the early beams of the sun, and from the stem we conjecture the future harvest. From his early years Turrettine gave remarkable specimens of his greatness in after life. In him was confirmed what a historian of the first rank asserts concerning Probus the emperor, that no man ever arrived at a high degree of eminence in virtue, who did not, when young, discover something great. These seeds of excellence, and sparks of genius, were not unobserved by Turrettine's sagacious father, who, when at the point of death, caused his son to be brought to his bedside, and said, as with a prophetic impulse, “This child is sealed with the seal of the living God!” In some such manner, Athanasius and Basil are said to have discovered that greatness in early years, which, by the grace of God, they afterward attained.
Turrettine soon completed his course in the languages and philosophy. Such was the happy turn of his mind, such his astonishing progress in learning, that his companions willingly confessed his superiority. His vigorous mind left nothing unsearched; and though but a youth, he read books with the eye and attention of one far advanced in life. He soon exceeded the sanguine expectations of his friends; and every day showed that the operations of the mind outrun the velocity of time. Having finished his course of philosophy, he applied all his attention to theology. He had the greatest men of his time for preceptors: John Deodate, that eminent divine, who, in the Synod of Dort, a council more celebrated than any for many ages past, had as many witnesses of his immense learning and acute judgment as he had hearers; who, in a convention held at Saumor, so composed the differences of the hot-spirited divines, that the queen of France, oftener than once, ordered thanks to be given him in her name; whose friendship crowned heads, and purpled eminences of the Church of Rome, eagerly sought; and whose work on the Bible is a monument more lasting than brass: Theodore Tronchin, who was also a member of the Synod of Dort, and who conducted himself in such a manner in that assembly as to merit the name of a great divine. Nor is it the least of his praise, that he pleased the very brave De Rohan. He was a most spirited defender of the Reformation, and wrote an animated answer to father Cotton; he lived, as a light to the youth in sacred studies, to an extreme old age, and is yet revered by us as reviving in his excellent son. Another of Turrettine's instructers was Frederick Spanheim, whose memory and reputation will never perish from the annals of sacred literature, while the sun rules the day, and the stars burn by night; who was the miracle of Europe, and whose death the Reformed Churches would not cease to lament, if he had not left behind him two such sons as Ezekiel and Frederick. What great men ! the very eyes of the republic of letters, and whose worth no lapse of time can obliterate, or almost equal. Alexander More, one of the most eloquent of men, so cherished Turrettine, that, when the latter published, anno 1644, theses concerning divine grace, as he had defended one before on political happiness, the master did not think it unworthy of his station to celebrate the merit of his pupil in verse.
Under such masters, how much he acquired let the world judge; I will be silent. Suffice it to say, such were his powers of expression that he could give probability to the amiable reveries of certain philosophers; and his mind not only learned, but registered what he was taught. By the peculiar favour of heaven, what cost others much attention and labour, was but a sport to him to acquire. When he had studied some years at Geneva, he wished to visit other seminaries of learning at that time famous in the world. He accordingly left his native country, and carried with him a very honourable testimony to his character. Leyden, which was then, and still is, the abode of the Muses and the nursery of great divines, was the first place he visited. In this celebrated seat of learning, Turrettine gained, not only the private affection, but the public honorary esteem of all the academy. He defended a thesis, on the written word of God, before the great Spanheim. He followed all the divines in Holland, who were eminent for learning and holiness of life. What a group of wonderful divines were then at Leyden ; Rivet, Salmasius, Voet, Hornbeck, &c. ! Turrettine profited much by their prelections and conversation; and having carried away in his capacious mind almost every thing valuable in Leyden, went to Utrecht. There he saw, with wonder, that most illustrious and learned virgin, Anna Maria a Schurman ; a woman in whom were concentrated immense learning and sterling piety; a woman not inferior, in any degree, to the Paulas, Laetas, &c. mentioned by the ancient fathers. Having visited every place in Belgium, where he could find anything to make a good Minister of the Gospel, he went, anno 1645, to France, which country has, from time immemorial, abounded with men eminent in every branch of science. He went first to Paris, the metropolis of Europe, and the mother of learning. At that time many great men taught there; as, Falcair, Mestrezat, Drelincourt, Daille, and Blondel. He lodged in the house of the incomparable Daille; and soon gained his entire affection. All admired that greatness of mind, that invincible love of learning, that accurate judgment, and tenacious memory, which distinguished this youug man; above all, his amiable modesty, and a course of virtue without a stain. While at Paris he studied the doctrine of the sphere, under Gassendi, that prince of philosophers. He left Paris, and went to Saumur, Montauban, and Nistnes, places famous for learned divines, and for the Reformation. In this last city, celebrated for its antiquities, the stupendous remains of the Roman grandeur, Turrettine's father once discharged the pastoral office. There he saluted the venerable Calvus, who was an intimate friend of Benedict, and who, seeing in Francis the very image of his father, could not think of parting with him. Thus, having almost travelled over all France, and having left a grateful remembrance of himself in every place, Turrettine returned, enriched with the knowledge of men and things, to his native country.
The time was now come, when those talents, committed to him by God, should be devoted to the service of the Church. Accordingly, he was get apart to the holy ministry, anno 1648, and in the following year was, with the consent of the Senate, admitted a Pastor of this Church. He first exercised his talents in the Italian congregation; for he could preach, with equal facility, in the French, Latín, and Italian languages. Whenever he began to speak in public, all acknowledged his father revived in him, and admired Benedict in Francis. As often as he ascended the pulpit, all flocked after him. Such was the power of his eloquence, such his commanding manner and majestic mien, that he seemed to have been educated at Athens itself; and begat an attention in the audience which nothing could interrupt; and an eagerness scarcely ever to be satisfied, as he conciliated the regard of all the citizens of Geneva, and the Senate were so pleased with his abilities, they oftener than once offered him a professorship in philosophy; this, however, he as often refused.
The fame of Turrettine was not confined to the narrow precincts of Geneva. The Church of Lyons, which had lately lost the very valuable Aaron More, their pastor, invited Turrettine, by letter, to supply his place, in the words of the man of Macedonia, "Come over and help us." This call, with the consent of the Senate, he accepted; and was received at Lyons with every mark of affection and esteem. The Church of Lyons had not been misinformed about their illustrious Pastor; for he so exerted himself, that, though he was but one year among them, the flames which raged before in that congregation were extinguished, and the most perfect tranquillity was restored. He was, during his short stay, eminently successful. The Church of Lyons was very unwilling to part with him; but his native country could not want such a man any longer. He left a sorrowful people in Lyons; and returning in safety, was received at Geneva with open arms; it being resolved, that he should teach divinity in the place of the venerable Tronchin, who was, through old age and infirmity, unable to discharge the duties of his office. Turrettine accordingly ascended the theological chair in the year 1653, and delivered an inaugural oration on the first verse of the Epistle, to the Hebrews, which gained applause from all his auditors.
From this day he devoted all his time and abilities to the duties of his office; and how much knowledge he acquired, and with what assiduity and learning he taught, let others say. It would be fulsome for me to say too much of my dear deceased uncle, let others inform posterity how much he did to promote the glory and kingdom of Christ; to overthrow the power and tyranny of Antichrist; what was his incessant solicitude for the good of the Church; how solidly and learnedly he explained the Gospel of Christ, not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but feeding his hearers with sound doctrine, keeping the medium between farcical ostentation and a creeping vulgarity, and exercising the greatest fear, lest the majesty of divine truth should sink in the glare of pompous expressions. Let others relate, with what boldness he lashed the manners of our age, how neither the blandishments of the polite, nor the frowns of power, could make him hold his peace. With what intrepidity of soul, and force of expression, did he thunder against the vicious and profane! How did he, with showers of tears, call the wicked to repentance ? beseeching and warning every man, not in passionate irritating words, but with the yearnings of a father over his profligate son. With what diligence he taught in the theological chair! With what ease he made, dark things clear, distinguished between truth and error, solved difficult questions in divinity, followed the sophist into his lurking places, and pursued the enemy of truth through all his winding! All the Pastors of the Church, except three or four, were nursed under his care; and though we should be silent, many eminent divines in France, and Holland, and Switzerland, will tell what a teacher he was. Would to God he had been teaching still!
Turrettine was a modest divine, if ever there was one. As at mount Sinai the Lord set bounds to the curiosity of the Israelites, so there are certain limits fixed by God to human knowledge in this world; and some things in the Scriptures over which Jehovah has thrown a veil, and which we will not and cannot know, till we see Christ as he is. He had continual heaviness in his heart, because he saw all things in the world and Church growing worse and worse. He saw, with the utmost concern, the coat of Christ torn to pieces; the progress and increase of error; the apostacy of many from the reformed religion, either through a cowardly or avaricious spirit; the awful mysteries of Christianity weighed in the balance of depraved reason, and sported with by petty philosophers and profane infidels; the introduction of a flood of Arian, Socinian, and Arminian errors, nay, of the horrors of Atheism. These things made him almost shed tears of blood. He admired, but did not seek, to comprehend the deep things of God; and he was wont to tell his pupils, with awful solemnity, that it was the province of a mad philosophy, and an evidence of a bold impious spirit, to seek farther than the plain decisions or native consequences of revelation.
Turrettine lived as he believed, and walked as he taught. He was foremost in every thing lovely, grave, and of good report. He was not like those who speak as angels, and walk as men. What Nazianzen said of Athanasius was evidently true of Turrettine: He was low in his opinion of himself, but sublime in all his actions. Though Turrentine wished to do actions worthy of praise, yet he did not court the applause of men; nor did he ever thrust himself forward to public observation. A well-earned reputation he did not decline; but he neither studiously sought it, nor built it on the ruins of another man's. As far as can be observed, he never acted to please himself. All he did was for the glory of Christ, the good of the Church, and especially for the advantage of his pupils, who were dear to him as his own soul. Turrettine was not like many divines, who despise every thing but their own productions; who defend an opinion, not because it is true, but because it is their own; who measure themselves by themselves, and are not wise. His authority was never stretched too far. He might have enjoined, but for love's sake, he rather besought. His mind was the very seat of candour, and consequently a stranger to those little jealousies and unsanctified heats that disgrace the religion of Jesus. He was not an evil speaker, nor soon angry at an opposing brother. His character, in this instance, was the reverse of Jerome's, and other great men mentioned in Church history, who, on all occasions, treated their antagonists with the utmost severity of manner, and acrimony of style, and thus injured rather than promoted their cause. Our deceased friend was a great lover of peace: he often said, that the Ministers of the Gospel of Peace ought not to be the heralds of war; and that the trumpet of Zion should not be sounded to excite contention among saints. He often lamented, that in time of common danger, divines should, by their petty squabbles, open the gates to the enemies of truth.
Turrettine did not, through envy, look with an evil eye upon the excellence and reputation of other men. He was a real friend to humanity, and to humanity in affliction. Nothing excelled his beneficence, but the happy way of his discovering it. The widow and the fatherless, the orphan and the stranger, found in him a patron and defender. He was, in fact, what the Scriptures and the fathers of the Church say a bishop should be, given to hospitality, and a lover of the poor. As Olympiodorus speaks, he did not measure his bounty by his wealth, but from the largeness of his affection to the needy. His house was a kind of home to every religious stranger that visited Geneva, and none left his house without profit; for he reckoned with Titus and Frederick I that a day was lost in which he had
done no good. Turrettine was very laborious in study; his mind was always on the stretch. His study was his pleasure and recreation.
In a short time after he was made professor of divinity, he was called to the rectorship of this academy. This office he discharged for many years, with much credit to himself, and advantage to the republic, and delivered anniversary orations in the fullest assembly of the Genevans, on topics worthy of a man of God, and of a polite and religious audience, viz. On the origin or birthday of the school and academy; on the election of Pope Alexander VII; on the union between virtue and truth; and on the prejudices that hinder the spread of the Gospel.
In the year 1662, another office of great honour and difficulty was imposed upon Turrettine. When the walls of this city were to he repaired, and the expense was found more than the state could bear, it was agreed to seek the assistance of the Swiss cantons, and of the United States of Holland; and none was reckoned more fit for this embassy than the son of Benedict Turrettine, who had been more than forty years before sent for the same purpose. Francis Turrettine left Geneva in the month of May. His reception at Basle was very flattering; the divines of that seminary vied with each other in testifying their great affection for him. From thence he went to Holland, where their High Mightinesses received him very cordially; and, as a token of their esteem, honoured him with a golden chain, and a large piece of plate. Turrettine could never forget the attentions he received in Holland, especially the marked regard of that miracle of our age, the prince of Orange. His embassy succeeded to his wish; and if we are silent, the fortifications of the city will cry out. It is unnecessary here to narrate how much the Churches in Holland, especially the Church at the Hague, wished to have this luminary of the Reformation again among them. But their attempts to recall him were fruitless. He left them; and, from a strong love to Geneva, broke through every entanglement of honour, affection, and grief. He continued, however, to correspond with the great and good men of that country to the day of his death. Turrettine, taking another route on his way home travelled through Germany, and returned home by the way of Paris. Thither he went to congratulate his old preceptors. Those of them who were alive, rejoiced to see their former scholar, now wiser than his teachers. He preached twice to most crowded audiences in the Church of Charenton, which, alas ! is now no more. At that time he became acquainted with the matchless John Claude, the glory and eminent defender of the Reformation, whose character is far above my praise. Turrettine returned safely home, and was received with open arms by all his countrymen. The city and Church, though at that time in mourning on account of the death of the great Leger, were comforted by the arrival and presence of Turrettine.
He returned to his work with greater alacrity than ever. In the year 1608, he was again rector of this academy, and, with his usual judgment and eloquence, delivered an oration on the preservation of Geneva, and the evils and scandals of the Church. Nothing was now wanting to his external happiness but a consort. He married, about this time, Elizabeth de Masse, a most illustrious virgin. She brought him one daughter, and three sons. Only one of the sons is now alive, and seems, in every respect, worthy of such a father.
In the year 1664, Turrettine refuted the letter of the Pope, and vindicated the Reformation from the cavils and reproaches of its enemies. In 1666, be published his disputations concerning the satisfaction of Christ, against Socinus and his hell-hatched brood. In the year 1674, be corrected his celebrated System. With this system every divine ought to be acquainted, otherwise he will fight in the dark against the enemies of the truth. Turrettine long hesitated whether he should publish his great work. He knew that the world was already filled with books of this kind, and that the taste of the age was fonder of books that fed the fancy than instructed the mind. His love of truth, and the cause of Christ, however, prevailed over his inclination, and that work, so long desired by the public, was published, and gratified their fullest expectations. He received letters from many learned divines, testifying their approbation of his views of divine truth. He published his Sermons the same year, which are in almost every body's possession, In the year 1668, he revised and published his Disputations anew, and added ten new ones to that edition. He had begun to revise part of his System, when he was taken to Heaven by the Sovereign Head of the Church.
This man, who feared God greatly, had been long bowed down to the grave with grief, on account of the melancholy state of the Reformed Churches. As was said of Basil, so we may say of Turrettine, "While others regard only their own things, and see only what is among their own feet, or what concerns their own interest, he went farther, his spirit trembled for every thing done against Christ's spouse ; in every thing he was moderate, but in this he knew no bounds; when truth lay in the street, when the members of Christ were scattered, he could take no sleep, his soul was rent with anguish."How often have we heard him groaning, and seen him weeping over the massacres of Piedmont, and when he beheld the miserable remains of our brethren there? How often was his face foul with weeping at the state of the Protestant Churches in France, who are now the sport of bigoted priests and faithless tyrants! With what feeling did he repeat the latter part of the eightieth Psalm! Great God, thou heardest these groans, thou sawest these tears; and ye, my hearers, have seen him in tears, when bewailing the Churches of Christ. The Lord hath now wiped all his tears away: and thus we come to the concluding scene of his life.
Turrettine's health had long been very good. If the strictest temperance and an unshaken mind could have ensured a long life, he had lived long indeed! We seldom saw him sick. He was sometimes subjected to a colic, and twice felt the excruciating pains of the gout. We promised ourselves a long possession of such an invaluable treasure; but it was determined otherwise. Turrettine's great soul could dwell no longer in the frail tenement of the body! On the 26th of September, 1687, the day in which he was first confined to bed, he rose very early, long before the rising of the sun, and wrote letters to some of the dearest friends in the Church; as to Heidegger and Peter Jurieu, the luminaries of the age in which they lived, and would have written more, but his strength failed him. He conversed, that day, about the interests of the kingdom of Christ, with several of his friends, till ten o'clock, when, on a sudden, he felt the approach of the last enemy. О happy day, that found him so employed! As soon as he felt himself seized with this sickness unto death, his mind looking into futurity, augured the issue, and he did not choose to conceal it from his dear sister. Whenever I heard of his distress, I hastened to his bed-side, and was thus accosted by my much-esteemed uncle. "The time is now come, when, to my inexpressible joy, I will be delivered from the prison of the body, and am only sorry, that, through my great affliction, I cannot pray as I ought to my eternal Father. I know, however, whom I have believed, and whom I will trust, while I have any being. My soul pants, through all its powers, for Christ, and none but Christ. This I earnestly beg of God, that, having forgiven all my sins, he would give me strength and patience to bear my trouble, and give me an easy passage to a blessed immortality." The most skilful physicians in Geneva were called, in order to relieve, if they could not remove, the disorder. While they were exerting all their skill, he was addressing himself to the great Judge of all, in the words of David, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant;" and, "О Christ, wash my soul in thy blood." "Hear, Father, the powerful voice of his blood," &c. On the following day, the physicians, with great concern informed us, that all the powers of medicine could give him no relief. We hoped for his recovery, and stood weeping around him. He, collected in himself, and prepared for all events, said to us, Why do you weep? The way of death must be trod once by all. The life we now live, is not life: it is the abode of sin; a sea of cares; a school of sorrow; it is death itself. The life which I am soon to live, is only worthy of the name. О ! when shall I leave this habitation of sin, this field affliction? О ! when shall I be dissolved in death, be master of myself, and enjoy eternal happiness in the presence of Christ ? The last day he lived, he spoke many affecting things to his son, (Alphonsus) and, among other things, gave in charge the four following: the care of the Church of God, if ever he was a minister; a love of truth, humility, and charity. And when I stood beside him, he exhorted me, in the strongest expressions, to diligence in the work of the Lord. Many things he said, which grief permits me not to utter, but which I shall never forget while I live. Towards evening, he was observed to decline rapidly; but he told us that he would not die that night, but would see the light of another day ! We all admired his patience in his trouble; and if, at any time, through the force of his distress, an impatient word escaped him, he instantly returned to himself, and praised the infinite mercies of God. The next morning he knew his dissolution was near. “The day is now come,” cried he, “when I shall go forth to meet my Savior. Farewell, cruel absence, for ever!” Michael Turrettine, a dear relation of the deceased, and professor of oriental languages at the academy, came to see his dying friend. He bore witness to the truth of religion; confessed that he had been a great sinner, and needed much repentance unto life ; but declared, that he had the fullest assurance of the remission of his sins through Christ ; that he embraced the divine mercy with all his heart, and, as a dying man, begged of God that he would wash him in the blood of the Lamb, and receive him now into the mansions of the blessed. He recommended to him the Church, the academy, and his son. He begged of him to salute the senate in his name; and to tell them, that he died in the same faith in which he had lived, and which he had taught; to exhort the brethren in the ministry, to lay aside all guile and differences, and strive together for the faith of the Gospel, and in the work of the Lord; to live mindful of their common order, character, office, mortality, and the account they must render of their stewardship at the tremendous tribunal of God !
We continued praying, and when one said, Let us go to the throne of grace, he cried out, as if impatient of delay, Let us go, let us go! His face was not like that of a dying man, but of one that was triumphing! He seemed to be in heaven, not on earth. Immediately after this he gave us his last benediction, commending us to God with all his heart, and, without any convulsion of his body, without any contortion of his face or eyes, he fell asleep in Jesus. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord !
Thus died Turrettine, aged sixty-four years. God grant that we all may be enabled to live as he did, and to die in like manner. Amen


Monday, July 21, 2008

Psalm 151

Thomas Hartwell Horne, in his "Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures," remarks:

The number of the canonical psalms is one hundred and fifty: but in the Septuagint version, as well as in the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic translations, there is extant another, which is numbered CLI. Its subject is the combat of David with Goliath (related in 1 Sam. xvii), but it is evidently spurious; for, besides that it possesses not a particle of David's genius and style, it never was extant in the Hebrew, and has been uniformly rejected by the fathers, and by every council that has been held in the Christian church.

Sabine Baring-Gould, in "Legends of Old Testament Characters," provides the following translation and commentary:

PSALM CLI. (Pusillus erani).
1. I was small among my brethren; and growing up in my father's house, I kept my father's sheep.
2. My hands made the organ: and my ringers shaped the Psaltery.
3. And who declared unto my Lord! He, the Lord, He heard all things.
4. He sent His angel, and He took me from my father's sheep; He anointed me in mercy with His unction.
5. Great and goodly are my brethren: but with them the Lord was not well pleased.
6. I went to meet the stranger: and he cursed me by all his idols.
7. But I smote off his head with his own drawn sword: and I blotted out the reproach of Israel.

This simple and beautiful psalm does not exist in Hebrew, but is found in Greek, in some psalters of the Septuagint version, headed "A Psalm of David when he had slain Goliath." S. Athanasius mentions it with praise, in his address to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms, and in the Synopsis of Holy Scripture. It was versified in Greek in A.D. 360, by Apollinarius Alexandrinus.

Andrew Adward Breen in his "General and Critical Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture" writes:

In editions of the Greek text of the Old Testament, we find the CLI. Psalm attributed to David. St. Athanasius (Epist. ad Marcell. 15) and Euthemius (In Ps. Proem.) regarded it as authentic. The import of the Psalm is to celebrate David's victory over Goliath. It was never received in the Latin version, but it has place in the Ethiopian, Armenian, Syriac, and Arabic. It is not lacking in grace of thought and diction, but not good authority warrants its inspiration.

(Breen also notes the existence of eighteen psalms purporting to be of Solomon, but which from their tone are evidently from at the period of the captivity at the earliest.)

Psalm 151 ends up being one of those great examples of textual criticism properly applied in the West, even while many other errors in the Septuagint (particularly in the Psalms) were overlooked in the West, especially in the popular Latin version (not Jerome's translation).

It's worth noting that Psalm 151 shows up in Codex Sinaiticus as though canonical, whereas in Alexandrinus, it shows up in an appendix with the ascription to David noted and its being "outside the number" is noted.

What may be of interest to Tridentine Roman Catholics is that Psalm 151 is found in the Old Latin version, it is not included in the Vulgate and not in the Nova Vulgata (post Vatican II Vulgate). Trent, you may recall, dogmatically adopted the Old Latin Version in all its books and all their parts (which would consequently seem to include Psalm 151, if that was a part of the Old Latin Version). Alternatively, one could simply view the decree as a denial of the correctness of the Protestant canon, which excluded the Deutero-canonical books and apocryphal portions of the canonical books from the canon.

There is an interesting historical footnote. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls was found a "slightly different version of this psalm, in Hebrew" according to William Lee Holladay's "The Psalms Through Three Thousand Years." The bottom line, however, is that the Psalm was evidently not considered canonical by the Jews who preserved the text of the Old Testament in its original language, and was even recognized as non-canonical by some of the ancient Greek-speaking Christians (as evidenced by Alexandrinus and other ancient examples of the Septuagint).


Was Adam Offered Heavenly Life?

More specifically, the question is whether he was offered heavenly life before the fall. Pastor Wes White provides an illuminating discussion (link). Interestingly, this meshes well with another recent post of mine (Turretin cf. Goodwin). Naturally, Pastor White makes good use of Turretin in his explanation.


Papist Assistance

PA'PIST,n. A Roman catholic; one that adheres to the church of Rome and the authority of the pope. (Webster 1828)

A few people have griped about my use of the word "papist." I would use "Roman catholic," except that (a) people get confused and think I mean "Latin Rite," and (b) the term "Catholic" to describe a Roman catholic, or papist, is mis-descriptive.

Here's my request for assistance from those who bridle at the designator "papist."

1. Try to realize that I'm just indicating the definition above. I'm not trying to impugn your character, mock your ancestors, or cast aspersions on your intellect or sincerity.
2a. Try to set aside your ideas that if someone uses that term, they must not like papists as people. For whatever reason (I ascribe it to a sincere belief in the soteriological importance of works), some of the nicest, most personable people I've met have been devout papists. Some of my most stimulating intellectual and theological discussions have been with papists, many of whom are very bright.
2b. That said, I do (strongly) disagree with your doctrine. There is no Scriptural doctrine of the papacy, and it is wrong for Rome to teach such a doctrine, and wrong for you (or anyone) to accept such a doctrine, since it is not from God (notice that this is just a statement of my position, not the argument for my position).
3. In short, do not mentally impose some unintended (by me) negative connotation onto my use of the term "papist".
4. If there exists an accepted synonym for "papist" that lacks the connotations you dislike, let me know what it is. I've seen "papalist," but that - to me - just sounds like someone who doesn't know how to spell "papist."
5. "Catholic," which is what seems to be about the only acceptable label to some of the more vocal complainers on this topic, is not an option for me, because I am unwilling to cede the title "Catholic" to church that is not only not itself catholic, but has departed departed from the catholic faith as defined by Scripture. As I have to remind certain people, your church is not "the Church," and your church is not "catholic" both because it is not universal either in scope (there are Christian churches that are not in communion with Rome) or authority (there are Christian churches that do not owe a duty of obedience to Rome) and because the way of salvation taught by Rome is not the way of salvation set forth in Scripture.
6. Another option, "Romanist," has been similarly tarred as being objectionable, for essentially the same reason that it has negative connotations. Furthermore, "Romanist," runs the risk of being confused as being relevant only to "Latin rite" folks.
7. Frankly, I get the feeling that the main response that is going to be running through the heads of those who accept the authority of the pope and who read this is, "Just call us 'Catholics'!" In fact, I get the feeling that some folks out there are set on being offended by any other label, no matter innocuous it is in itself, or how well or accurately it describes those folks' theological position. I recognize that this post, or a hundred more like it, will do nothing to persuade such people. Such people are not considering the matter rationally, but emotionally. Nevertheless, if there is an easy way to accommodate them without sacrificing the truth, I'd be happy to hear the suggestions.

I welcome suggestions from those who are papists by the definition above, but who might not like that term or who might even find that term something unpleasant or revolting, despite the fact that it simply and accurately describes one's adherence to a principle of church government (much as I am a Presbyterian, while other Reformed folk are congregationalist or episcopalian in their church government).

Remember that your suggestions are primarily for me, although I may share them with others - particularly others who are in the same position as me, of being essentially told that unless we use an incorrect and/or misleading term we're hurting your feelings (something that is not our purpose [well, perhaps I should just speak for myself: it is not my purpose to hurt anyone's feelings by the use of the word "papist" no matter how much people may dislike that term]).

Finally, a word of caution. Some people employ radical double-standards on this issue. I quote from "Julie R." who identifies what offends her as: "Being labelled 'Roman' Catholic. Well, incidentally, I am of the Latin Rite. But on behalf of my non-Latin rite friends... Also, because of the origin of the term in Deformation England. " (source - with more examples)

Notice how she uses the purely derogatory term "Deformation," which is designed to express an opinion about the thing being described, while complaining about the fairly mild (if at all offensive) term "Roman" being affixed to "Catholic."

In the same thread, MaryRita states: "Perhaps I'm thin skinned but the term "papist" really offends me. I guess because it is meant as a slur by those using it." Presumably if MaryRita ever sees this post she'll recognize that I don't use it as a slur, but simply as an accurate description of ecclesiology. I wonder whether she would still insist on being offended by it. I would hope not.

Finally, I should point out that "Seminole Jim" later in the same thread states: "I rather like "Papist" and refer to myself that way if I'm asked what religion I am." His sentiments are immediately echoed by another user "jmcrae." I just happened to stumble across these two today. I can assure you that there are plenty of others who feel the same way.


Westminster Confession of Faith in Tagalog

Nollie, at Two Ages Pilgrims, has posted a translation of the Westminster Confession of Faith in Tagalog, a language that is apparently still dominant in some parts of the Philippines. (link) As noted, the project is not in its final form, and comments, encouragements, and assistance from Reformed folks that know Tagalog would doubtless be appreciated. It's worth pointing out that translations of other Reformed resources have also been made available there.

UPDATE: 22 July 2008 - For those who may like confessions, but are less inclined to baptize their infants, the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 is also available in Tagalog (link). Thanks to Albert for pointing this out to me.


Reader Requests?

If there is an issue or doctrine on which you'd like to see more discussion, please let me know. The easiest way is to submit a comment to this post, but you can also contact me with your request by email, which is obtainable via my Blogger profile. Feel free to leave your request anonymously, if you don't want to be identified.

Trinity vs. Oneness Debate (1999) White vs. Sabin - Part 1

The following video is part of a Trinity vs. Oneness Debate held in 1999, between James White (Trinitarian) vs. Robert Sabin (Oneness). This is the first part of the debate, including the introduction and Dr. White's opening presentation. Even though it is only the first part, it is about 51 minutes long. One particularly nice feature is that one can see Dr. White's projected presentation that accompanies the debate.

This presentation may be helpful for Oneness Pentacostals who happen to stop by, as well as for Unitarians and the like. It may also be helpful for dealing with Muslims who like to borrow the arguments of the Oneness Pentacostals and (other) Unitarians (Oneness folks tend not to use the "Unitarian" label for themselves).

I hope that additional segments of the debate will become available in time.

To the glory of our Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,