(4.) There is a temporary faith, that goes beyond all the former, and is effected by the common operation of the Spirit of God: nor is it merely taken up with the truth of the gospel, but also hath some relish of the goodness and sweetness of it; and hence the stonyground hearers are said to receive the word with joy, Matthew xiii. 20.; yet this belief hath no root, no abiding principle: it is not the faith of the promise that takes place in the children of promise.—Here is the most subtile deceit in the matter of faith: some people may take hold of Christ, as it were, and really get some sap and virtue from him, for their refreshment, and yet never get in to him. They are like the ivy, that grows up by the tree, and clasps about the tree, and draws sap from the tree, and yet grows upon its own root, and is never one and the same with the tree: so here, some professors may receive Christ, in the promise, by a temporary faith, they clasp about him closely, and draw some sap and virtue from him; but still they are never rooted in Christ, but rooted in the old Adam; still rooted in the old covenant, were never cut off from the old root, and ingrafted into Christ, but only draw virtue from Christ to maintain their old-covenant fruit. I imagine it will be a hard chapter for some here to read, How shall I know but I am one of these that have only that faith which takes hold of Christ, like an ivy to the tree, drawing sap from him, without ever being rooted in him ? I shall offer you but one key for the opening of this difficulty, and you have need to have it opened; for it as much as your eternal salvation is worth, to mistake here. If you have no other but that temporary faith, you may believe and be damned with the devil, but cannot believe unto salvation.- Ralph Erskine, "The Pregnant Promise," in The Sermons and Other Practical Works of Ralph Erskine, pp. 237-40
The key for opening the matter, then, is this question, What know you of the difference betwixt righteousness In Christ, and righteousness From him?
Temporary faith may say, From the Lord I have righteousness and strength; but true faith says, "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength."—Temporary faith may get many things from him, but true faith gets all things in him, and is complete in him.—Temporary faith, being without root, never rooted in him, hath nothing in him, but from him; but true faith being rooted in Christ, whatever it gets from him, it rests not there, but looks to what is in him,and glories in that: "In him shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." See Isa. xlv. 24, 25. 1 Cor. i. 30, 31. What think you the Popish way of believing unto salvation is? Indeed the refined of them go as far as some professed Protestants; they own there is no salvation but by Christ; and though they do not believe, with application, that they have any righteousness in him, yet they build upon a righteousness from Christ, saying, "It is he that gives a man power to do, and then sprinkles the man's doings with his blood, upon which he merits their life and salvation." So many such Papists amongst us, they believe that Christ only can save them, and they go to him to be saved from sin, and for grace to do better; and if they find power to do better, then- they hope they shall be saved; while yet they may be damned, and go to the devil, though they should escape all the pollutions of the world, and that even through the knowledge of Christ, not from their own strength, but from the strength and virtue of the knowledge of Christ, 2 Peter- ii. 20. But true faith comes first to Christ for righteousness, and gets a righteousness in him for justification and eternal salvation: and being rooted in Christ, grows up in him, and hath all in him; and hence can rejoice in him, even when it finds nothing but emptiness in itself; for, it is the nature of it to go out of itself to Christ in the free promise. Hence also temporary faith receives Christ conditionally, but true faith receives him freely as he is offered. Temporary believers take him for a Saviour: but, how ? even in this conditional way, if I be a servant to him, he-will be a Saviour to me; and so he serves him, and thereupon expects salvation from him: thus he bears the root, and the root bears not him. But true faith receives Christ freely for righteousness and strength both, saying, Even so I take him, both for righteousness, that he may be a Saviour to me; and for strength, that he may make me a servant to him, to serve as a son, not as a hireling. Temporary faith and legal faith believes Christ will save- me upon condition of my good behaviour for the time to come; in case I serve him, then he will save me: but gospel-faith takes Christ upon gospel-terms, as he is exhibit in the gospel promise, saying, O I dare not promise any thing to him, but I take him as promising all things to me: and, blessed be sovereign grace, that all is in the promise; for, if any thing depended upon my good behaviour and future service, I fear all would be cast loose; therefore I take a Christ for all, and a promise for all: and, O well is me, that he hath promised all, for I can promise nothing; therefore, I will rely upon the promise of salvation, 1 will rely upon the promise of sanctification. And, in this way of taking the promise freely, he comes to be furnished for a better behaviour, than all the legal and conditional believers in the world; for, as he believes the promise, so he lives upon it.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Where does the Bible . . .
. . . provide a list of the canonical books of the Old Testament?
1) Of course, there's an uninspired list provided in the front of most Bibles.
2) If someone had their Bible (assumed in the question) but their Bible didn't have that list, one could go through and create such a list quite easily.
3) But if the question is simply asking whether one of the books of the Bible includes an inspired list of the books of the Old Testament, then of course the answer is that no one book provides such a list.
1) Jesus does help us identify the canon of the Old Testament by using the expression:
Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Abel is the first martyr in Genesis, and Zacharias is the last martyr of 2 Chronicles, which was the last book of the Hebrew Bible.
2) Jesus also helps us identify the canon of the Old Testament by using the expression:
Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
The Law, the prophets, and the Psalms refer to the three parts of the Hebrew Canon. The Law included the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The prophets included Joshua, Judges, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve minor prophets. The Psalms was the first book of the "other writings" (with 1&2 Chronicles being the last book of the "other writings") which included the remainder of the canonical Old Testament books.
3) There is also reference to the "law and the prophets" which is another similar way of referring to the canon by its two major subdivisions (the five books of Moses and everything else):
Matthew 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Acts 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
4) We also see other places where:
a) The Psalms are called Scripture
Mark 12:10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: [Psalm 118:22]
(and many other passages could be cited)
b) Isaiah is called Scripture
Mark 15:28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. [Isaiah 53:12]
(and several other passages could be cited)
c) The Book of the Twelve Prophets is called Scripture
Mat 26:56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. [Zechariah 13:7]
John 19:37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. [Zechariah 12:10]
John 2:22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. [Hosea 6:2 prophesied the third day resurrection]
d) The Books of Moses are called Scripture
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [Genesis 15:6]
Rom 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. [Exodus 9:16]
James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: [Leviticus 19:8]
1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. [Deuteronomy 25:4] And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. [Luke 10:7]
Friday, February 19, 2010
Q. What is temporary faith ?—A. An affecting persuasion of divine truths, and presumptuous leaning on the promises for a time, without receiving Christ as our only Saviour, Matth. xiii. 20—22. Acts. viii. 13.- John Brown of Haddington, An Essay towards an Easy, Plain, Practical, and Extensive Explication of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism, pp. 27-28
When I say Jesus' human nature is divinized, what do I mean? I do not mean that the divine nature is mixed with the human nature, what I mean is that the union of the two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ makes his human nature divinized such that it participates in divinity to a degree no one else can.First, Reiss has the cart before the horse. The Word was made flesh - not the flesh made Word. The Son of God was incarnated - it is what we call the Nestorian error (or something close to) to treat Christ as though he was a human who became divinized.
Second, the hypostatic union brought about by the Incarnation (one person in two natures) is an absolutely unique event. It has no precedent, no adequate analog, and it will have no sequel. There always has been a Trinity, and there will never be a Quadernity - and while there is perhaps nothing that prevents the Father or Spirit being Incarnate, there is no reason for such an event, the Son has fulfilled his task and purpose in the Incarnation:
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Third, notice that in the passage above he took on precisely human nature. Not something close to human nature, but true flesh and blood. The only difference being that Christ was without sin:
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Turretin Fan said that Jesus' unique authority does not suggest his humanity is any different than ours. But that depends on what we mean by "different". How does Jesus' human nature participate meaningfully in any miracles? To be consistent, Turretin Fan would have to say that because our human nature cannot perform miracles, it was only Jesus' divinity which performed miracles. But how is that done without falling into some species of Nestorianism?Part of the confusion seems to be Reiss' use of the term "participate" and especially "meaningfully participate." These vague expressions seem to be the reason for Reiss to apparently confuse the natures and attribute to the human nature things that are properly divine.
Reiss does not think that Moses' human nature "participated meaningfully" (whatever Reiss is intending to mean by that) in Moses' miracles (we can infer this from the fact that Reiss does not call Moses' flesh "divinized"), but Reiss insists (without explanation or reason) that Christ's human nature must "participate meaningfully" or we run into Nestorianism because, according to Reiss, "if the divine nature 'does' something apart from Jesus' human nature that immediately implies a divine person and a human person ... ."
Reiss brings in this vague word "participate" and then asks, in the conclusion of his post:
So, I would like to ask Turretin (or any one else) in what sense does the person Jesus Christ hold together all things, and in what way does his humanity participate in this without dividing the person?The answer, of course, is that he himself hasn't defined what "participation" means. He's picked a vague word to discuss the issue and left it undefined. One could say that Moses had some sort of "participation" in at least some of the miracles he performed. However, since not every sense of "participation" will work for Reiss' system, we aren't sure what new touchstone of orthodoxy he wants to set forth. We're also a little confused by his "to a degree no one else can" since the difference between the hypostatic union and ordinary men is not one of degree.
The fact that Jesus is one person doesn't justify a confusion of the natures. Yet Reiss' question seems to suggest that we ought to confuse the natures and attribute the supernatural power of the divine specifically to the flesh Christ took from Mary. While some amount of improper (i.e. imprecise) characterization is orthodox (we're not required always to carefully maintain the lines of distinction between the natures whenever we speak), nevertheless when we speak of Christ's flesh and blood properly and precisely, it is the same as ours, except that it is not tainted by sin. Since Reiss hasn't defined "participate" we can't be sure, however, whether he is confusing or blending the natures when he says: "his human nature divinized such that it participates in divinity to a degree no one else can."
Where does the Bible . . .
. . . tell us how we know that the revelation of Jesus Christ ended with the death of the last Apostle?
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
2) Hebrews 1:1-4
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
3) 1 Corinthians 13:8-10
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1) The historical reality of the matter is that the dramatic sign miracles that accompanied the prophets from Moses to John ceased after John's death. No one today is healed by the shadow of any of the believers, nor can the believers raise people from the dead as Peter and Paul did. B. B. Warfield's Counterfeit Miracles provides a more thorough explanation of this.
2) We don't necessarily think that all the revelation of Christ has ended forever. We expected to be illuminated by the light of the Lamb in the ages to come:
Revelation 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
3) While God has ceased speaking through prophets, God continues to provide the light of nature that renders all men excuse-less.
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Temporary faith is an assent to the doctrines of the church, accompanied with profession and joy, but not with a true and abiding joy, such as arises from a consciousness that we are the objects of the divine favor, but from some other cause, whatever it may be, so that it endures only for a time, and in seasons of affliction dies away. Or, it is to assent to the doctrine delivered by the prophets and apostles, to profess it, to glory in it, and to rejoice for a time in the knowledge of it; but not on account of an application of the promise to itself, or on account of a sense of the grace of God in the heart, but for other causes. This definition is drawn from what Christ says in the explanation of the parable of the sower; "He that received the seed into the stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while, for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." (Matt. 13: 20, 21.) The causes of this joy are in a manner infinite, and different in different individuals; yet they are all temporary, and when they fade, the faith that is built upon them, vanishes away. Hypocrites rejoice in hearing the gospel, either because it is new to them, or because it seems to calm their minds, whilst it delivers them from the burdens which men, by their traditions, have imposed upon them, as does the doctrine of christian liberty, justification, etc.; or, because they seek, under its profession, a cloak for their sins, and hope to reap rewards and advantages, both public and private, such as riches, honors, glory, etc., which shows itself when they are called to bear the cross; for then, because they have no root in themselves, they fall away. But hypocrites do not rejoice as true believers, from a sense of the grace of God, and from an application to themselves of the benefits offered in the divine word, which may be regarded as the cause of true and substantial joy in the faithful — the removal of which single cause is sufficient to make their faith temporary.- Zacharias Ursinus, The commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg catechism, p. 109
This temporary faith differs from historical only in the joy which accompanies it. Historical faith includes nothing more than mere knowledge; whilst this has joy connected with this knowledge; for these time-serving men "receive the word with joy." The devils believe, historically, and tremble, but they do not rejoice in the knowledge which they have; but rather wish it were extinguished; yea, they do not even profess themselves to be followers of this doctrine, although they know it to be true; but hate and oppose it most bitterly. In men, however, historical faith is sometimes joined with profession, and sometimes not; for men often, whatever may be the causes, profess that truth and religion which they hate. Many also who know the doctrine to be true, still oppose it. Die wollten daß die Bibel im Rhein schwimme. These sin against the Holy Ghost.
Objection: But the devil has often professed Christ. Therefore he cannot be said to hate this doctrine.
Answer: He did not, however, profess Christ from any desire of advancing and promoting his doctrine, but that he might mingle with it his own falsehoods, and thus cause it to be suspected. It is for this reason that Christ commands him to keep silent, as Paul also does in Acts 16:18.
(UPDATE: I see that another version of Ursinus' commentary is on-line here.)
Where does the Bible . . .
. . . say salvation is attainable through faith alone?
1) Salvation is by grace alone through faith.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
2) Justification is by faith alone.
Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
We are aware of the practically automatic Roman objection that James talks about justification by faith and works.
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
However, as we always point out James is simply distinguishing between a a true faith and a dead faith. Saving faith operates according to love.
Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Not servile fear that comes from mere assent to the intellectual fact of God's existence.
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
The way in which works justify are that they show evidence of a true and living faith. A true and living faith, which operates according to love, will manifest and complete itself in works.
James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
James confirms that Abraham was justified by faith alone, before works, for he repeats for us:
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
But James explains that this faith which had already justified Abraham was demonstrated through his act of obedience to God's law/command:
James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
For indeed, Paul cannot be made to contradict James, yet Paul wrote:
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Notice that Paul teaches plainly that Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness of the faith that he already had while he was yet uncircumcised. Yet, Abraham's demonstration of his faith through offering up Isaac came long after his own circumcision. Therefore, it cannot be that Abraham was not righteous in God's sight until he had offered Isaac, but rather that Abraham's faith demonstrated itself by working in love toward God.
And thus we see how (that word of 2:24 is so often ignored by Rome's apologists) works justify: they demonstrate faith.
I invite you to read this letter as a good example in context. Note how he treats the judgement of the Catholic Church and tradition handed down concerning scriptural faith.(source of SP's statement)
For what is so manifestly shown to be evil, it is not necessary to waste time in exposing further, lest contentious persons think the matter doubtful. It is enough merely to answer such things as follows: we are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the fathers hold this.
Athanasius' statement that "we are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the fathers hold this" doesn't explicitly rely on Scripture, which is doubtless why it is being cited.
Standing alone, however, they don't directly contradict the idea that Scripture is formally sufficient. Instead, this kind of comment says that it is enough that the church as a whole doesn't teach this and that there is no historical precedent for the teaching.
One might argue that by "the teaching of the Catholic Church" Athanasius is referring to Nicaea. After all, the letter begins, immediately after the greeting sentence:
I thought that all vain talk of all heretics, many as they may be, had been stopped by the Synod which was held at Nicæa.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 1 (source)
In fact, that sentence in isolation also looks nothing like a view of formal sufficiency of Scripture (although it doesn't actually interact with the view of formal sufficiency).
Likewise, a couple of sentences in the conclusion don't explicitly mention Scripture:
But thanks to the Lord, much as we were grieved at reading your memoranda, we were equally glad at their conclusion. For they departed with concord, and peacefully agreed in the confession of the pious and orthodox faith.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 12 (source)
However, when we begin to examine Athanasius' comments in context, a different picture emerges. Here's the entire Section 3 from which the initial comment was drawn:
Such were the contents of the memoranda; diverse statements, but one in their sense and in their meaning; tending to impiety. It was for these things that men who make their boast in the confession of the fathers drawn up at Nicæa were disputing and quarrelling with one another. But I marvel that your piety suffered it, and that you did not stop those who said such things, and propound to them the right faith, so that upon hearing it they might hold their peace, or if they opposed it might be counted as heretics. For the statements are not fit for Christians to make or to hear, on the contrary they are in every way alien from the Apostolic teaching. For this reason, as I said above, I have caused what they say to be baldly inserted in my letter, so that one who merely hears may perceive the shame and impiety therein contained. And although it would be right to denounce and expose in full the folly of those who have had such ideas, yet it would be a good thing to close my letter here and write no more. For what is so manifestly shewn to be evil, it is not necessary to waste time in exposing further, lest contentious persons think the matter doubtful. It is enough merely to answer such things as follows: we are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the fathers hold this. But lest the ‘inventors of evil things [Rom. i. 30.]’ make entire silence on our part a pretext for shamelessness, it will be well to mention a few points from Holy Scripture, in case they may even thus be put to shame, and cease from these foul devices.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 3 (source)
Notice that Athanasius says: "For the statements are not fit for Christians to make or to hear, on the contrary they are in every way alien from the Apostolic teaching." That Apostolic teaching, of course, is Scripture. For Athanasius, it is adherence to the Apostolic teaching that is the guiding principle.
Notice as well that Athanasius doesn't view the error of the heretics as being at all reasonable. He thinks that the bare repetition of their argument is enough to show its impiety, "For what is so manifestly shewn to be evil, it is not necessary to waste time in exposing further, lest contentious persons think the matter doubtful." That middle expression, "it is not necessary to waste time in exposing further," is then explained by the comment about the teaching not being one of the Catholic Church or the fathers. It is also a reiteration of his prior comment, in Section 2, "I write this after reading the memoranda submitted by your piety, which I could wish had not been written at all, so that not even any record of these things should go down to posterity. For who ever yet heard the like? Who ever taught or learned it?"
However, notice that the way in which these men are to be put to shame and converted from their evil way is not a simple appeal to Nicaea (after all, these men "make their boast in the confession of the fathers drawn up at Nicæa") nor to the fathers (from what fathers does Athanasius quote?) but from Scripture: "But lest the ‘inventors of evil things [Rom. i. 30.]’ make entire silence on our part a pretext for shamelessness, it will be well to mention a few points from Holy Scripture, in case they may even thus be put to shame, and cease from these foul devices."
The same contextual issues arise with respect to the introductory section of Athanasius' letter. Looking at the context, indeed the next sentence, we see a somewhat different sentiment:
I thought that all vain talk of all heretics, many as they may be, had been stopped by the Synod which was held at Nicæa. For the Faith there confessed by the Fathers according to the divine Scriptures is enough by itself at once to overthrow all impiety, and to establish the religious belief in Christ.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 1 (source)
Notice that Athanasius is quick to point out the rule that guided the fathers at Nicaea, namely the Scriptures. While there is some mention in the text of holding to the faith of the Nicene fathers, the bulk of the letter is exegetical - relying on and explaining the matter from Scripture.
So we should not be surprised at the conclusion mentioned above considered in its context:
This proves that while to all the others the Word came, in order that they might prophesy, from Mary the Word Himself took flesh, and proceeded forth as man; being by nature and essence the Word of God, but after the flesh man of the seed of David, and made of the flesh of Mary, as Paul said [Cf. Rom. i. 3; Gal. iv. 4.]. Him the Father pointed out both in Jordan and on the Mount, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased [Matt. iii. 17, and xvii. 5.].’ Him the Arians denied, but we recognizing worship, not dividing the Son and the Word, but knowing that the Son is the Word Himself, by Whom all things are made, and by Whom we were redeemed. And for this reason we wonder how any contention at all has arisen among you about things so clear. But thanks to the Lord, much as we were grieved at reading your memoranda, we were equally glad at their conclusion. For they departed with concord, and peacefully agreed in the confession of the pious and orthodox faith. This fact has induced me, after much previous consideration, to write these few words; for I am anxious lest by my silence this matter should cause pain rather than joy to those whose concord occasions joy to ourselves. I therefore ask your piety in the first place, and secondly those who hear, to take my letter in good part, and if anything is lacking in it in respect of piety, to set that right, and inform me. But if it is written, as from one unpractised in speech, below the subject and imperfectly, let all allow for my feebleness in speaking.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 12 (source)
Notice that Athanasius writes: "And for this reason we wonder how any contention at all has arisen among you about things so clear." These are not vague obscure things, but clear things. And the thing from which this is clear can be seen from the proof that Athanasius had provided in, for example, Section 5 of his letter:
. But this is not so, far be the thought. For he ‘takes hold of the seed of Abraham [Heb. ii. 16.],’ as the apostle said; whence it behoved Him to be made like His brethren in all things, and to take a Body like us. This is why Mary is truly presupposed, in order that He may take it from her, and offer it for us as His own. And this Isaiah pointed to in his prophecy, in the words: ‘Behold the Virgin [Isa. vii. 14.],’ while Gabriel is sent to her—not simply to a virgin, but ‘to a virgin betrothed to a man [Luke i. 27.],’ in order that by means of the betrothed man he might shew that Mary was really a human being. And for this reason Scripture also mentions her bringing forth, and tells of her wrapping Him in swaddling clothes; and therefore, too, the paps which He sucked were called blessed [Ib. xi. 27.]. And He was offered as a sacrifice, in that He Who was born had opened the womb [Ib. ii. 23.]. Now all these things are proofs that the Virgin brought forth. And Gabriel preached the Gospel to her without uncertainty, saying not merely ‘what is born in thee,’ lest the body should be thought to be extraneously induced upon her, but ‘of thee,’ that what was born might be believed to be naturally from her, inasmuch as Nature clearly shews that it is impossible for a virgin to produce milk unless she has brought forth, and impossible for a body to be nourished with milk and wrapped in swaddling clothes unless it has previously been naturally brought forth. This is the meaning of His being circumcised on the eighth day: of Symeon taking Him in his arms, of His becoming a young child, and growing when He was twelve years old, and of His coming to His thirtieth year. For it was not, as some suppose, the very Essence of the Word that was changed, and was circumcised, because it is incapable of alteration or change. For the Saviour Himself says, ‘Behold, behold, it is I, and I change not [Mal. iii. 6.],’ while Paul writes: ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever [Heb. xiii. 8.].’ But in the Body which was circumcised, and carried, and ate and drank, and was weary, and was nailed on the tree and suffered, there was the impassible and incorporeal Word of God. This Body it was that was laid in a grave, when the Word had left it, yet was not parted from it, to preach, as Peter says, also to the spirits in prison [1 Pet. iii. 19.].- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 5 (source)
Notice how Athanasius explains it as being that "Nature clearly shews that it is impossible for a virgin to produce milk unless she has brought forth, and impossible for a body to be nourished with milk and wrapped in swaddling clothes unless it has previously been naturally brought forth." It's not a matter of obscurity or ambiguity or one man's opinion over another. It is clear and plain to Athanasius.
Notice as well that after more Scriptural exegesis in sections 6-7, Athanasius provides the following comments in section 8:
These things being thus demonstrated, it is superfluous to touch upon the other points, or to enter upon any discussion relating to them, since the body in which the Word was is not coessential with the Godhead, but was truly born of Mary, while the Word Himself was not changed into bones and flesh, but came in the flesh. For what John said, ‘The Word was made flesh [Joh. i. 14.],’ has this meaning, as we may see by a similar passage; for it is written in Paul: ‘Christ has become a curse for us [Gal. iii. 13.].’ And just as He has not Himself become a curse, but is said to have done so because He took upon Him the curse on our behalf, so also He has become flesh not by being changed into flesh, but because He assumed on our behalf living flesh, and has become Man. For to say ‘the Word became flesh,’ is equivalent to saying ‘the Word has become man;’ according to what is said in Joel: ‘I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh [Joel ii. 28.];’ for the promise did not extend to the irrational animals, but is for men, on whose account the Lord is become Man. As then this is the sense of the above text, they all will reasonably condemn themselves who have thought that the flesh derived from Mary existed before her, and that the Word, prior to her, had a human soul, and existed in it always even before His coming. And they too will cease who have said that the Flesh was not accessible to death, but belonged to the immortal Nature. For if it did not die, how could Paul deliver to the Corinthians ‘that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures [1 Cor. xv. 3.],’ or how did He rise at all if He did not also die? Again, they will blush deeply who have even entertained the possibility of a Tetrad instead of a Triad resulting, if it were said that the Body was derived from Mary. For if (they argue) we say the Body is of one Essence with the Word, the Triad remains a Triad; for then the Word imports no foreign element into it; but if we admit that the Body derived from Mary is human, it follows, since the Body is foreign in Essence, and the Word is in it, that the addition of the Body causes a Tetrad instead of a Triad.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 8 (source)
Of note, as a first point, is the fact that Athanasius begins the section by again repeating that even all this additional evidence he is giving is not necessary. Nevertheless, he's providing it.
Also, of significance, notice that Athanasius teaches us (by example) to use Scripture to interpret Scripture when he states: "For what John said, ‘The Word was made flesh [Joh. i. 14.],’ has this meaning, as we may see by a similar passage;" which shows us that Athanasius agreed with us that Scripture is to be Scripture's interpreter. (He does this again almost immediately: "For to say ‘the Word became flesh,’ is equivalent to saying ‘the Word has become man;’ according to what is said in Joel: ‘I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh [Joel ii. 28.];’")
Notice as well that Athanasius thinks that the sense of Scripture is so clear that the heretics will themselves see their error and condemn themselves. For he writes: "As then this is the sense of the above text, they all will reasonably condemn themselves who have thought that the flesh derived from Mary existed before her, and that the Word, prior to her, had a human soul, and existed in it always even before His coming."
In section 9, Athanasius provides an interesting comment. He writes:
And how do these remain Christians who imagine another God in addition to the true one? For, once again, in their other fallacy one can see how great is their folly. For if they think because it is contained and stated in the Scriptures, that the Body of the Saviour is human and derived from Mary, that a Tetrad is substituted for a Triad, as though the Body created an addition, they go very far wrong, so much so as to make the creature equal to the Creator, and suppose that the Godhead can receive an addition.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 9 (source)
Notice that Athanasius assumes that these putative Christians will derive their understanding from Scripture. Accordingly, he takes care to state their their understanding is wrong (as well as, at some length, to explain why it is wrong).
Athanasius' argument reaches something of a pinnacle when, in section 10, he provides a very plain Scriptural demonstration that he thinks they must acquiesce to:
For this reason they also will henceforth keep silence, who once said that He who proceeded from Mary is not very Christ, or Lord, or God. For if He were not God in the Body, how came He, upon proceeding from Mary, straightway to be called ‘Emmanuel, which is being interpreted God with us [Matt. i. 23.]?’ Why again, if the Word was not in the flesh, did Paul write to the Romans ‘of whom is Christ after the flesh, Who is above all God blessed for ever. Amen [Rom. ix. 5.]?’ Let them therefore confess, even they who previously denied that the Crucified was God, that they have erred; for the divine Scriptures bid them, and especially Thomas, who, after seeing upon Him the print of the nails, cried out ‘My Lord and my God [John xx. 28.]!’ For the Son, being God, and Lord of glory [1 Cor. ii. 8.], was in the Body which was ingloriously nailed and dishonoured; but the Body, while it suffered, being pierced on the tree, and water and blood flowed from its side, yet because it was a temple of the Word was filled full of the Godhead. For this reason it was that the sun, seeing its creator suffering in His outraged body, withdrew its rays and darkened the earth. But the body itself being of mortal nature, beyond its own nature rose again by reason of the Word which was in it; and it has ceased from natural corruption, and, having put on the Word which is above man, has become incorruptible.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 10 (source)
It's particularly remarkable to see how Athanasius portrays Scripture as commanding them to believe ("for the divine Scriptures bid them"). Athanasius recognizes that the Scriptures can bid one to believe - they have authority - and they are the indisputable rule of faith. Athanasius indicates that the Christians will silence their own error once they see what Scripture so plainly teaches.
Section 11, which is about the only section we haven't discussed, continues the same Scriptural arguments:
But with regard to the imagination of some, who say that the Word came upon one particular man, the Son of Mary, just as it came upon each of the Prophets, it is superfluous to discuss it, since their madness carries its own condemnation manifestly with it. For if He came thus, why was that man born of a virgin, and not like others of a man and woman? For in this way each of the saints also was begotten. Or why, if the Word came thus, is not the death of each one said to have taken place on our behalf, but only this man’s death? Or why, if the Word sojourned among us in the case of each one of the prophets, is it said only in the case of Him born of Mary that He sojourned here ‘once at the consummation of the ages [Heb. ix. 26.]?’- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 11 (source)
Notice how Athanasius refers to the opinion of men who suggest that the Word came to Jesus, rather than Jesus being the Word made flesh as "madness" in view of the plain Scriptural testimony. (As an aside, it is interesting to note that Athanasius viewed only Christ's death as having taken place on our behalf, and not also the deaths of the martyrs.)
In conclusion, there are indeed passages of Athanasius that don't expressly rely on Scripture. For example, in section 4:
For they say that God came in a human body. But the fathers who also assembled at Nicæa say that, not the body, but the Son Himself is coessential with the Father, and that while He is of the Essence of the Father, the body, as they admitted according to the Scriptures, is of Mary. Either then deny the Synod of Nicæa, and as heretics bring in your doctrine from the side; or, if you wish to be children of the fathers, do not hold the contrary of what they wrote.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 4 (source)
But when we see the fact that the fathers of Nicaea are mentioned only occasionally, while Scripture is mentioned throughout and that even comments like the comment above from section 4 is immediately preceded by the following sentences:
Whence did it occur to you, sirs, to say that the Body is of one Essence with the Godhead of the Word? For it is well to begin at this point, in order that by shewing this opinion to be unsound, all the others too may be proved to be the same. Now from the divine Scriptures we discover nothing of the kind.- Athanasius, Letter 59, Section 4 (source)
In short, for Athanasius it is those divine Scriptures that are the rule of faith, and consequently they are what the fathers at Nicaea followed and taught. As Athanasius put it in section 1, "the Faith there confessed by the Fathers according to the divine Scriptures ... ."
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
This argument is used to show that, in particular instances, what Jesus did, e.g. walk on water, was done by others, e.g. St. Peter, so this is no proof Jesus' flesh is divinized.(source)
The problem goes back to the question of "what" instead of "whom". My reformed interlocutors insist that the "who" has little to do with anything the "what" can do. In the example of walking on water, Jesus did it because of who he is while Peter did it because of Jesus. It is not like a force or energy outside of Jesus kept him walking on water, he did himself based on his own power as God in the flesh. Peter was able to walk on water because his faith in Jesus sustained him--until he doubted. If Jesus walked on water because of a different "whom" then per force we have two persons in Jesus Christ, as opposed to two natures. The difference between the "who" of St. Peter and the "who" of Jesus Christ can be shown by Jesus' statements about himself, such as "...You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world." (John 8:23), "For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink." (John 6:55). I could supply more examples, but suffice it to say there is something intrinsic in Jesus that makes his miracles of a different kind from those done for e.g. Daniel or St. Peter. Now, if the miracles of e.g. Daniel and those of Jesus Christ really are the same, I would ask who sustained Jesus Christ on the water? I don't want to hear about a "nature" because a nature doesn't do anything--a nature is not a personal actor while a person is.
Actually, Reiss' argument proves the very point I was making. The miracles of Jesus had to do with a "who" not a "what." They did not prove that his human nature was different from ours, rather they were a testimony to his divine power as a result of who he is, the Son of God.
Reiss tries to continue the argument thus:
Is there any indication in Scripture that the "who" of Jesus Christ makes a difference as to his humanity as compared to others?Jesus' unique authority, even when that is expressed according to his humanity, does not suggest a difference in Christ's human nature as compared to our human nature.
"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper." (John 13:3-4)
Since as the divine Son, the Word already had all godhead, it is evident that St. John here is speaking of giving all things into Jesus' hands according to his human nature. Thus as the God-Man, Jesus has all that God has as per his nature. (q.v. Matt 11:27, Matt 28:18)
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11)Two natures, one person is all that is implied here - not a blending of the natures or a "divinizing" of Jesus' flesh. Furthermore, the exaltation of Christ comes more than 30 years after the incarnation (and after many of the miracles that Reiss had pointed to previously). To appeal to the exaltation of Christ seems odd, to say the least.
As above, as the divine Son, the Word already was entitled to be worshipped as God. But when God became man, it is now appropriate to worship a man as God. The worship rightly given to God as Spirit is also rightly given to the flesh and bone man, Jesus Christ, which means what is God's by right also belongs to the man Jesus Christ by right. Put another way, the man Jesus Christ is capable and welcomed into the full communion of the trinity.
"And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed." (John 17:5)Omnipresence is one of God's attributes, not necessarily a "part of God's glory." Furthermore, it should be immediately obvious that Christ's human body isn't everywhere. It is not omnipresent. An easier explanation of this passage is referring to the end of Christ's humiliation and the forthcoming exaltation of Christ. But again - this glorification is something different from the incarnation per se.
As above, this pertains to his human nature not his divine nature; so Jesus Christ, the Man, has all the glory he had before he became incarnate. And part of this glory is omnipresence.
Unless one wishes to assert that omnipresence is not part of God's glory.
Wholly different from this is the historical faith, which Brakel briefly describes as follows: "Historical faith is thus called because it knows the history, the narrative, the description of the matters of faith in the Word, acknowledges them to be the truth, and then leaves them alone as matters that concern it no more than the histories of the world; for one can not use them in his business, neither does it create any emotion in the soul, not even sufficiently to cause man to make a confession: 'Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well, the devils also believe and tremble' (James ii. 19). 'King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest' (Acts xxvi. 27)."- Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, pp. 420-21
Next comes temporary faith, of which Brakel gives the following description: "Temporary faith is a knowledge of and a consent to the truths of the Gospel, acknowledging them as the truth; which causes some natural flutterings in the affections and passions of the soul, a confession of these truths in the Church, and an external walk in conformity with that confession; but without a real union with Christ, to justification, sanctification, and redemption: 'But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet, hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended' (Matt, xiii. 20, 21). 'For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance' (Heb. vi. 4, 5). 'For if, after they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning' (2 Peter ii. 20)."
There is also a faith of miracles, which Brakel describes in these words: "The faith of miracles is a being inwardly persuaded, by an inward working of God, that this or that work shall be wrought, in a supernatural manner, upon our word or command, in ourselves or in others. But the ability to perform miracles is not of man, but of God, by His almighty power, in answer to faith: 'If ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you' (Matt. xvii. 20). 'And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains' (1 Cor. xiii. 2). 'The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked' (Acts xiv. 9, 10). This faith was found especially in the days of Christ and of the apostles, for the confirmation of the truth of the Gospel."
These three kinds of faith do in some respects resemble saving faith, but they lack its being. Least of all is the faith to perform miracles, which was found also in Judas. Faith which removes mountains is not justifying faith. Historical faith comes a little nearer, unless, by reason of a slothfulness and indifference, it merely echoes the words of others without accepting their truth, and thus opens the way to Pharisaism. Temporary faith comes nearest, which is indeed wrought by the Holy Spirit, and affords a taste of the heavenly gifts, but which has not root in itself. It is a bouquet of flowers, that for a day adorns the breast of the person who wears it, but which, being cut from its root, is not a plant in him.
Where does the Bible . . .
. . . say God created the world/universe out of nothing?
1) Genesis 1
2) But more clearly:
Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
1) The words "out of nothing" (Latin: ex nihilo) are not found in Scripture, but the concept is, both in Genesis 1:1 and following as well as in Hebrews 11:3.
2) We also see it in other passages:
Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
3) While Mormons may deny creation ex nihilo Steve Ray shouldn't feel free to, since the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) formally declared:
We firmly believe and simply confess that there is only one true God ... the one principle of the universe, the creator of all things, visible and invisible, spiritual and corporeal, who by His almighty power from the beginning of time made at once out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body.(it's interesting to note that "at once out of nothing both orders of creatures" seems to be an endorsement of Young Earth Creationism as opposed to the heresy of theistic evolution, which is more prevalent among contemporary Roman Catholics)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Well, I would just love to stick this Doctor in a room with all of the ancient manuscripts that we have including the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Apocryphal books with no punctuation, no labeling of the manuscripts, mix them all together with texts that were rejected and see if the brilliant doctor can put together the Canon of Scripture. We will see how self authenticating the text is.One wonders if Bellisario really thinks it works that way - as though self-authentication were a sort of glow that the documents give off under an ultraviolet (UV) light or something like that.
Bellisario should read up on the doctrine of the self-authentication (also called the self-attestation) of Scripture. Greg Bahnsen has written an article worth reading on the subject (link to article). Some of Dr. Bahsen's explanation is as follows:
Hopefully the reader can see that this kind of self-authentication or self-attestation isn't a matter of simply sorting through a bunch of manuscripts. That kind of picture would be a caricature of the doctrine, not an accurate representation of the doctrine.
Throughout the history of redemption God has directed His people to find His message and words in written form. Indeed, God Himself provided the prototype of written revelation when He delivered the tablets of law upon Mount Sinai. And when God subsequently spoke by His Spirit through chosen messengers (II Peter 1:21), their words were characterized by self-vindicating authority. That is, it was evident from their message that they were speaking for God -- whether the claim was explicit (e.g., "Thus saith the Lord...") or implicit (the arresting power or demand of their message as a word from the Lord of the covenant: e.g., Matt. 7:28-29).
Moreover, their messages were of necessity coherent with each other. A genuine claim to inspiration by a literary work minimally entailed consistency with any other book revealed by God, for God does not lie ("...it is impossible for God to lie," Heb. 6:18) and does not contradict Himself ("But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no," II Cor. 1:18). A genuine word from God could always be counted upon, then, to agree with previously given revelation -- as required in Deut. 13:1-5, "If there arises among you a prophet..., saying `Let us go after other gods...,' you shall not hearken unto that prophet....You shall walk after Jehovah your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice...."
38) What is one to believe when one Protestant says infants should be baptized (e.g., Luther and Calvin) and another says it is wrong and unbiblical (e.g., Baptists and Evangelicals)?
1) Search the Scriptures to see who is right.
2) Pray to God for wisdom.
1) The term "evangelicals" encompasses both Baptists and Presbyterians.
2) "Luther and Calvin" would be two "Protestants" not one.
3) This idea of pitting paedobaptists (those who baptize both those who profess faith and their infants) against credobaptists (those who baptize only those who profess faith, but not their infants) is a popular tool in Rome's apologetic toolkit. The underlying theory of the objection is that Scripture is unable to answer the question. Yet when Roman apologists are trying to defend infant baptism against credobaptists, they will argue that Scripture teaches infant baptism. Go figure.
Monday, February 15, 2010
1. Response to Bryan Cross' Misuse of Jerome (David King)
2. Debunking "Natural Necessity" Argument (and other arguments) against Sola Scriptura (TurretinFan)
3. Demonstrating the Inevitable Flow of Communication (and consequent interpretive role) to the Individual (TurretinFan)
4. A Distinction in Principle between Sola Scriptura and Solo Scriptura (TurretinFan)
5. Principled Distinctions Again - This Time in a More Narrower Category (TurretinFan)
6. The Distinction Gets Yet More Narrow (TurretinFan)
7. Examining John 17 and Christian Disunity (TurretinFan)
8. Arianism is Consistent with Scripture? (TurretinFan)
9. Is the Magisterium more Sufficient than Scripture? (TurretinFan and David King)
15. What is the nature of temporary faith, and of the evidence upon which it is founded?- A.A. Hodge, Outlines of theology, p. 471
Temporary faith is that state of mind often experienced in this world by impenitent hearers of the gospel, induced by the moral evidence of the truth, the common influences of the Holy Ghost, and the power of religious sympathy. Sometimes the excited imagination joyfully appropriates the promises of the gospel. — Matt. xiii. 20. Sometimes, like Felix, the man believes and trembles. Oftentimes it is at first impossible to distinguish this state of mind from genuine saving faith. But not springing from a divine work of recreation it has no root in the permanent principles of the heart. It is always, therefore, 1st, inefficient, neither purifying the heart nor overcoming the world; 2d, temporary.
There is another kind of faith, which has some things in common with saving faith, and is sometimes mistaken for it, but is vastly different from it. This, in some, is called an historical faith; and in others, by reason of the short continuance thereof, a temporary faith. An historical faith is that whereby persons are convinced of the truth of what is revealed in the gospel, though this has very little influence on their conversation: such have right notions of divine things, but do not entertain a suitable regard to them; religion with them is little more than a matter of speculation; they do not doubt concerning any of the important doctrines of the gospel, but are able and ready to defend them by proper arguments: nevertheless, though, in words, they profess their faith in Christ, in works they deny him: such as these the apostle intends when he says; Thou believest that there is one God, thou dost well; the devils also believe and tremble, James ii. 19. And he charges them with a vain presumption, in that they expected to be justified hereby; whereas their faith was without works, or those fruits which were necessary to justify, or evince its sincerity; or to prove that it was such a grace as accompanies salvation; and therefore he gives it no better a character than that of a dead faith.- Thomas Ridgley, A Body of Divinity, Volume 3, p. 124
As for that which is called a temporary faith, this differs little from the former, unless we consider it, as having a tendency, in some measure, to excite the affections; and so far to regulate the conversation, as that which is attended with a form of godliness, which continues as long as this comports with, or is subservient to their secular interest: but it is not such a faith as will enable them to pass through fiery trials, or part with all things for Christ's sake, or to rejoice in him, as their portion, when they meet with little but tribulation and persecution, in the world, for the sake of the gospel. This will evidently discover the insincerity thereof; for it will wither like a plant that is without a root: our Saviour speaks of it in the parable, of the seed that fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, and forthwith they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root they withered away; which he explains of him, who heareth the word, and anon with joy, receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth, because of thy word, by and by he is offended, Matt. xiii. 5, 6. compared with ver. 20, 21. This parable had a particular relation to the Jews, who heard John the Baptist gladly, rejoicing in his light for a season; and seemed to be convinced, by his doctrine, concerning the Messiah, who was shortly to appear; but when they apprehended that his kingdom, instead of advancing them to great honors in the world, was like to expose them to tribulations and persecutions they were offended in him; and this is also applicable to all those who think themselves something, and are thought so by others, as to the profession they make of Christ and his gospel; but afterwards appear to be nothing, deceiving their own souls.
37) How does a Protestant know for sure what God thinks about moral issues such as abortion, masturbation, contraceptives, eugenics, euthanasia, etc.?
The Reformed believer searches the Scripture and is content with God's revelation of his moral law.
1) Scripture is able to thoroughly equip the man of God for every good work. That speaks to the sufficiency of Scripture to adequately address every moral issue that arises, from abortion to euthanasia.
2) A sufficient answer that adequately addresses the issue may not leave the believer 100% sure on every nuance of every question. However, the believer is content with the revelation he has been given and seeks to apply it to his life as best he can with prayer to God for wisdom.
SP has suggested that the following quotation from Athanasius negates the idea that Athanasius held to the formal sufficiency of Scripture. SP provides the quotation in this form:
'For, what our fathers have delivered, this is trully doctrine; and this is truly the token of doctors, to confess the same thing with each other, and to vary neither from themselves nor from their fathers...Thus the Greeks, as not witnessing to the same doctrines, but quarreling one with another, have no truth of teaching; but the holy and veritable heralds of truth agree together, and do not differ..preaching the same Word harmoniously'This seems to be a hasty edit of the version found at EWTN's website:
- De Decretis 4
'For, what OUR FATHERS have delivered, THIS IS TRULY DOCTRINE; and this is truly the TOKEN of doctors, to CONFESS THE SAME THING with each other, and to vary NEITHER from themselves nor from their FATHERS...Thus the Greeks, as not witnessing to the SAME doctrines, but quarreling one with another, have no truth of teaching; but the holy and veritable HERALDS of TRUTH AGREE TOGETHER, and do not differ..preaching the same Word harmoniously'Both of these quotations have essentially the same content, and it is not as though SP has gone back to the source material to check what the context was and what has been omitted by the elipses. The entire section states:
De Decretis 4
Are they not then committing a crime, in their very thought to gainsay so great and ecumenical a Council? are they not in transgression, when they dare to confront that good definition against Arianism, acknowledged, as it is, by those who had in the first instance taught them irreligion? And supposing, even after subscription, Eusebius and his fellows did change again, and return like dogs to their own vomit of irreligion, do not the present gain-sayers deserve still greater detestation, because they thus sacrifice their souls’ liberty to others; and are willing to take these persons as masters of their heresy, who are, as James [James i. 8.] has said, double-minded men, and unstable in all their ways, not having one opinion, but changing to and fro, and now recommending certain statements, but soon dishonouring them, and in turn recommending what just now they were blaming? But this, as the Shepherd has said, is “the child of the devil [Hermas, Mand. ix.]” and the note of hucksters rather than of doctors. For, what our Fathers have delivered, this is truly doctrine; and this is truly the token of doctors, to confess the same thing with each other, and to vary neither from themselves nor from their fathers; whereas they who have not this character are to be called not true doctors but evil. Thus the Greeks, as not witnessing to the same doctrines, but quarrelling one with another, have no truth of teaching; but the holy and veritable heralds of the truth agree together, and do not differ. For though they lived in different times, yet they one and all tend the same way, being prophets of the one God, and preaching the same Word harmoniously.- Athanasius, De Decretis, Chapter 2, Section 4.
Athanasius' point here is actually that the heretics or those from whom the heretics were taught had previously affirmed Nicaea and were now (in essence) backing out of it. Thus, using Jacobian terminology he calls them "double-minded men, and unstable in all their ways, not having one opinion, but changing to and fro, and now recommending certain statements, but soon dishonouring them, and in turn recommending what just now they were blaming."
Athanasius also alludes to "the Shepherd" (though we learn from his 39th festal letter that he did not regard that writing as Scripture) to characterize such vacillating men as children of the devil.
It is the vacillation, not opposition to the council itself, that Athanasius regards as the great crime. And we also note that the comment about living in different times, yet all preaching the Word harmoniously is explained not as a reference to Nicaea, but instead to the prophets (and others who spoke directly) of Scripture:
And thus what Moses taught, that Abraham observed; and what Abraham observed, that Noah and Enoch acknowledged, discriminating pure from impure, and becoming acceptable to God. For Abel too in this way witnessed, knowing what he had learned from Adam, who himself had learned from that Lord, who said, when He came at the end of the ages for the abolishment of sin, “I give no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment, which ye have heard from the beginning [1 John ii. 7.].” Wherefore also the blessed Apostle Paul, who had learned it from Him, when describing ecclesiastical functions, forbade that deacons, not to say bishops, should be double-tongued [1 Tim. iii. 8.]; and in his rebuke of the Galatians, he made a broad declaration, “If anyone preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be anathema, as I have said, so say I again. If even we, or an Angel from heaven should preach unto you any other Gospel than that ye have received, let him be anathema [Gal. i. 8, 9.].” Since then the Apostle thus speaks, let these men either anathematise Eusebius and his fellows, at least as changing round and professing what is contrary to their subscriptions; or, if they acknowledge that their subscriptions were good, let them not utter complaints against so great a Council. But if they do neither the one nor the other, they are themselves too plainly the sport of every wind and surge, and are influenced by opinions, not their own, but of others, and being such, are as little worthy of deference now as before, in what they allege. Rather let them cease to carp at what they understand not; lest so be that not knowing to discriminate, they simply call evil good and good evil, and think that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. Doubtless, they desire that doctrines which have been judged wrong and have been reprobated should gain the ascendancy, and they make violent efforts to prejudice what was rightly defined. Nor should there be any reason on our part for any further explanation, or answer to their excuses, neither on theirs for further resistance, but for an acquiescence in what the leaders of their heresy subscribed; for though the subsequent change of Eusebius and his fellows was suspicious and immoral, their subscription, when they had the opportunity of at least some little defence of themselves, is a certain proof of the irreligion of their doctrine. For they would not have subscribed previously had they not condemned the heresy, nor would they have condemned it, had they not been encompassed with difficulty and shame; so that to change back again is a proof of their contentious zeal for irreligion. These men also ought therefore, as I have said, to keep quiet; but since from an extraordinary want of modesty, they hope perhaps to be able to advocate this diabolical irreligion better than the others, therefore, though in my former letter written to thee, I have already argued at length against them, notwithstanding, come let us now also examine them, in each of their separate statements, as their predecessors; for now not less than then their heresy shall be shewn to have no soundness in it, but to be from evil spirits.- Athanasius, De Decretis, Chapter 2, Section 4.
Notice that Athanasius makes it abundantly clear that what he is criticizing is the switching back and forth. The gospel doesn't change and hasn't changed from the beginning. Athanasius is emphatic about that. The great crime, then, is not opposition to an ecumenical council per se but vacillation regarding the gospel.
Bryan Cross answered on the subject of the ability of the Scripture to interpret Scripture sufficiently, from Scripture, reason, and tradition.
Basil of Caesarea (about A.D. 329-379):
You could find many passages of this sort in the writings of the evangelists and the Apostle. Now, then, if a command be given and the manner of carrying it out is not added, let us obey the Lord, who says: ‘Search the Scriptures.’ Let us follow the example of the Apostles who questioned the Lord Himself as to the interpretation of His words, and learn the true and salutary course from His words in another place.Greek text:
Καὶ πολλὰ τοιαῦτα εὕροις ἂν παρά τε τοῖς εὐαγγελισταῖς καὶ τῷ ἀποστόλῳ. Ἐὰν δὲ ἡ μὲν ἐντολὴ δοθῆ, πῶς δὲ γένηται, μὴ ἐπενεχθῆ, ἀνασχώμεθα τοῦ Κυρίου λέγοντος· Ἐρευνᾶτε τὰς Γραφὰς, καὶ μιμησώμεθα τοὺς ἀποστόλους αὐτὸν τὸν Κύριον ἐπερωτήσαντας τὴν ἑρμηνείαν τῶν παρʼ αὐτοῦ εἰρημένων, καὶ τῶν παρʼ αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν ἐν ἑτέρῳ τόπῳ εἰρημένων μανθάνωμεν τὸ ἀληθὲς καὶ σωτήριον·Citation: De Baptismo, Liber II, §3, PG 31:1589; translation in Fathers of the Church, Vol. 9, Ascetical Works, On Baptism, Book 2, §3 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1950), p. 399.
To provide a conclusion, I'd like quote my friend, Pastor David King, who put it this way:
The Romanist would clearly ascribe to human potency a power of which he presupposes God in Holy Scripture to be bereft. He would feign involve God’s words in hopeless confusion, while he would have us believe that the human element of “interpretive self-clarification” has an “unlimited intrinsic potency” to ensure us that this crisis of “the hermeneutical spiral may reach its end.” It is in the language of Lactantius the preference “to give credence to human rather than to divine things.” (The Divine Institutes, Book III, Chapter 1). This kind of skepticism regarding God’s word was something that was rejected time and time again by the members of the ancient church. They did embrace what we know today as the principle of formal sufficiency, viz., that God Himself is capable of making Himself known through His own word. And when they did encounter difficulty in understanding Holy Scripture, they invoked the spiritual discipline of prayer such as we find exemplified in Tertullian, “Interpret in person Thine own Scriptures” (On the Veiling of Virgins, Chapter 3). Unlike Augustine, Romanists refuse to acknowledge that “there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions [even that of human speech] subsequent to apostolic times” and that there are “such cases” where “a man is at liberty to withhold his belief [eg. Papal infallibility, Marian dogmas], unless there is some clear demonstration or some canonical authority to show that the doctrine or statement must or may be true. But in consequence of the distinctive peculiarity of the sacred writings, we are bound to receive as true whatever the canon shows to have been said by even one prophet, or apostle, or evangelist. Otherwise, not a single page will be left for the guidance of human fallibility, if contempt for the wholesome authority of the canonical books either puts an end to that authority altogether, or involves it in hopeless confusion.” (Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, Book XI, §5). The alleged hermeneutical spiral, if left to the guidance of human fallibility, spells the end contemptuously for the recognition of the wholesome authority of Holy Scripture by shifting one’s confidence from the word of God to human fallibility. The ECFs would never have owned such blasphemous reasoning. The problem is not that of an endless “hermeneutical spiral,” but “dissensions concerning the faith” are the result of what Hilary of Poitiers described as “a distorted mind, which twists the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture” (On the Trinity, Book VII, §4). Moreover, Augustine informs us that the problem is not that of an hermeneutical spiral, but rather the reason wherefore men have so far gone astray, or that many — alas! — should follow diverse ways of belief concerning the Son of God, the marvel seems to be, not at all that human knowledge has been baffled in dealing with superhuman things, but that it has not submitted to the authority of the Scriptures” (Of the Christian Faith, Book IV, Chapter 1, §1). The solution for those who err, he tells us, is to be found in the spiritual discipline of prayer, “that God would open their understanding, and that they might comprehend the Scriptures” rather than forming their own “notion of His Church from the vanity of human falsehood, instead of learning what it is on the authority of the sacred books” (A Treatise concerning the Correction of the Donatists, Chapter 1, §2). The early church fathers emphasized time and time again that “the Lord stoops to the level even of our feeble understanding; to satisfy the doubts of unbelieving minds He works a miracle of His invisible power” that “lies beyond the region of human explanation” (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book III, §20).I'll give the very last words to Augustine:
Moreover, according to the ECFs, there is no “hermeneutical spiral” dilemma with respect to those things that are necessary. Chrysostom informed the congregation of his day that “all things are clear and open that are in the divine Scripture; the necessary things are all plain (Homilies on the Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, Homily III, Comments on 2 Thessalonians 1:9, 10, πάντα σαφῆ καὶ εὐθέα τὰ παρὰ ταῖς θείαις Γραφαῖς, πάντα τὰ ἀναγκαῖα δῆλα. In epistulam ii ad Thessalonicenses, Homilia ΙΙΙ, §4, PG 62:485). Augustine likewise testified that “the fact is, after all, that in the passages that are put plainly in scripture is to be found everything that touches upon faith, and good morals” (De Doctrina Christiana, Book II, Chapter 9, §14).
In short, the claim for the interpretive authority of the Roman magisterium is, in reality, a case of special pleading for the claims that are peculiar to its own communion. Moreover, there is no such human hermeneutical authority which can effectively end controversy this side of eternity. The unbelieving Jews of our Lord’s day rejected His infallible interpretation of the law to prove His deity. Their response is described in their attempt to stone him. But regardless of their unbelieving response, the Scripture cannot be broken. Thus the end of controversy, indeed the end of “the hermeneutical spiral,” is not the litmus test for the propriety of authoritative appeal. The fact that Romanists refuse to rest in the adjudicating authority of Scripture, because dissensions exist, forms no valid objection to our appellation to the voice of heaven, for no authority (however clear or definitive) could accomplish that. Only the Judge of the last day has the power to silence every dissident, and this the Lord will do when he returns and “divides his sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32). Till that day, the wheat will always be mingled with the tares (Matt 13:24-30), and the Lord will sort them out with infallible judgment. Holy Scripture, church history, and human nature all teach us that there is no truth, no matter how clearly it is set forth and expounded with authority from heaven, but that impenitent, rebel sinners will reject and suppress it in unrighteousness, as Scripture itself testifies (Rom 1:18-32).
Augustine (about A.D. 354-430): Bad people commingle with good people not only in the world but even within the Church: even here the wicked are mixed up with the good. You know this, you have plenty of experience of it, and if you are good yourselves you will be all the more keenly aware of it, for when the shoots had grown up and come into ear, then the tares became apparent (Mt 13:26). The bad people within the Church are obvious only to one who is good. But you know that they are mingled with the rest, always and everywhere, and scripture testifies that they will not be sorted out until the end. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 3, Vol. 20, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms, Psalms 121-150, Psalm 128.8 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2004), p. 122.
Augustine (about A.D. 354-430):
To be sure, if the truth is revealed so clearly that it cannot come into doubt, it ought to be preferred to all the things by which I am held in the Catholic Church. But if it is only promised and not revealed, no one will move me from that faith which binds my mind to the Christian religion by such great bonds.- Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, The Manichean Debate, Part 1, Vol. 19, trans. Boniface Ramsey, Answer to the Letter of Mani Known as The Foundation, 4,5 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2006), p. 236.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
On the issue of temporary forgiveness (which he seems to connect with temporary faith), he relies improperly on the parable in Matthew 18 that Rayburn also relied on. So does Jeff Meyers, who ties temporary faith and temporary "justification" together (albeit unclearly). Matthew W. Mason at Biblical Horizons provides a more elaborate explanation (including criticism of the real Francis Turretin) in a post he calls "Temporary Faith is Real Faith."
PCA Pastor (serving in the CREC), and Federal Vision Joint Statement signatory, Peter Leithart contains a similar discussion in his book, Baptized Body (for example, at p. 102). Like Mason, Leithart criticizes the Reformed position taught by the real Francis Turretin.
However, as Leithart himself notes, the rejection of errors at the Council of Dordt included the rejection (canon 7 of the section on Perseverance) of the following group:
Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.Yet Joshua Moon's statement was: "we are the ones who speak of 'temporary faith'--not pseudo-faith, but faith that is temporary and so, in the end, not effectual for salvation."
For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.
Joshua Moon's speech alleged that the views of PCA Pastor Lawrence (whom he was defending) are not out of accord with the broad Reformed tradition. Before we address other problems in Moon's speech, I'll provide some additional testimony on the subject of temporary faith - and how it is not true faith, but rather a pseudo-faith.
36) The Koran explicitly claims divine inspiration, but the New Testament books do not. How do you know that the New Testament books are nevertheless inspired, but the Koran is not?
1) The New Testament claims that all Scripture is inspired:
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
2) The Koran does not claim to be "inspired" or to have been given by "divine inspiration." It claims to have been directly written essentially from the Creation and simply revealed to Mohamed.
3) We accept the Scriptures on faith, and that faith is reasonable.
4) Faith in the Koran would be unreasonable.
1) We realize that the New Testament wasn't yet complete when 1 Timothy was written. Nevertheless, "all Scripture" was intended to include "all Scripture" and not simply the Old Testament Scripture.
2) It's not simply the fact that Scripture calls it itself inspired that produces our faith.
3) We realize that each individual book of the New Testament may not explicitly state "This book is inspired Scripture" and that consequently a person who wishes to engage in extreme skepticism will always find a reason to doubt. However, such doubt is not reasonable.