Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gospel Poetry

The following video provides some Gospel poetry. It is in a fairly modern style - what would be considered "frestyle rap."

I am not sure the context where this came from and I don't even know the name of the man bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel. This is a good message, and it may be a way that message of Christ can reach people that the sort of stuffy academic arguments that I tend to present here on my blog may not.

It's not the only gospel poetry out there. Long ago, Ralph Erskine provided this gospel poetry, which perhaps may provide some material for other folks like the rapper/evangelist in the video clip above:

But still say you power to believe I miss
You may but know you what believing is
Faith lies not in your building up a tower
Of some great action by your proper power
For Heaven well knows that by the killing fall
No power nor will remains in man at all
For acts divinely good; 'rill sovereign grace
By powerful drawing virtue turn the chase
Hence none believe in Jesus as they ought
Till once they first believe they can do nought
Nor are sufficient even to form a thought
They're conscious in the right believing hour
Of human weakness and of divine power
Faith acts not in the sense of strength and might
But in the sense of weakness acts outright
It is no boasting arm of power and length
But weakness acting on almighty strength
It is the powerless helpless sinner's flight
Into the open arms of saving might
'Tis an employing Jesus to do all
That can within salvation's compass fall
To be the agent kind in everything
Belonging to a prophet priest and king
To teach, to pardon, sanctify, and save
And nothing to the creature's power to leave
Faith makes us joyfully content that he
Our Head our Husband and our All should be
Our righteousness and strength our stock and store
Our fund for food and raiment, grace and glore
It makes the creature down to nothing fall
Content that Christ alone be all in all.

Praise to our King!


H.T. to Take Away the Stone (link), where I first saw this.

Friday, November 14, 2008

James White is Not A Hyper-Calvinist

I am surprised I have to put this in writing. Dr. James White, a leading Calvinist apologist, is not a hyper-calvinist. He is a Calvinist. He is a five point Calvinist. Other Calvinists recognize this.

A few folks who would be classified as "Amyraldians" or "Four-Point Calvinists" because they deny the doctrine of the Limited Atonement have been pestering Dr. White, and insisting (in essence) that the Shibboleth by which one discerns hyper-Calvinism from Calvinism is whether someone is willing to say that "God loves everyone without exception" and that "God desires that everyone be saved."

First of all, those are inaccurate Shibboleths. A more accurate characterization of Hyper-Calvinism (in my opinion) is fatalism, the idea that since God has elected some to everlasting life, there is no duty for evangelists to preach and no duty of the reprobate to believe. The fact that Dr. White is active in evangelism (probably more than most of these Amyraldian critics) is conclusive proof that he is not a hyper-Calvinist.

But let's take a different tack.

One of Dr. White's critics has decided to argue that Phil Johnson (evidently well-respected in Reformed Baptist circles) has called Dr. White a Calvinist, just because the two of them are friends. Let's see whether this is so.

Before this controvery erupted, Phil Johnson provided a "Primer on Hyper-Calvinism." Here's a link to one copy of that document (link). As Mr. Johnson wrote in his primer:

"Hyper-Calvinism, simply stated, is a doctrine that emphasizes divine sovereignty to the exclusion of human responsibility."

Dr. White teaches human responsibility. Therefore, Dr. White is not a hyper-Calvinist.

Identifying three critical characteristics of hyper-calvinism, Johnson writes:
First, it correctly points out that hyper-Calvinists tend to stress the secret (or decretive) will of God over His revealed (or preceptive) will. Indeed, in all their discussion of "the will of God," hyper-Calvinists routinely obscure any distinction between God's will as reflected in His commands and His will as reflected in his eternal decrees. Yet that distinction is an essential part of historic Reformed theology. (See John Piper, "Are There Two Wills in God? Divine Election and God's Desire for All To Be Saved" in Thomas R. Schreiner, ed., The Grace of God and the Bondage of the Will, 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995, 1:107-131.)

But Dr. White acknowledges that there is a real distinction between the decretive will and the preceptive will of God. Therefore, Dr. White is not a hyper-Calvinist.

Again, Johnson writes:
Second, take note of the stress the above definition places on hyper-Calvinists' "denial of the use of the word 'offer' in relation to the preaching of the gospel." This is virtually the epitome of the hyper-Calvinist spirit: it is a denial that the gospel message includes any sincere proposal of divine mercy to sinners in general.

But Dr. White affirms the free offer of the Gospel and does not hold that such an offer is insincere. Therefore, Dr. White is not a hyper-calvinist.

Further, Johnson writes:
Third, mark the fact that hyper-Calvinism "encourages introspection in the search to know whether or not one is elect." Assurance tends to be elusive for people under the influence of hyper-Calvinist teaching. Therefore, hyper-Calvinism soon degenerates into a cold, lifeless dogma. Hyper-Calvinist churches and denominations tend to become either barren and inert, or militant and elitist (or all of the above).

But Dr. White does not suggest that people ask whether or not they are themselves elect. At any rate, if he does, I've never heard him do so, and none of these critics of Dr. White's can point to him doing so. Therefore, Dr. White is not a hyper-calvinist.

Additionally, Johnson writes:
Hyper-Calvinism is sometimes defined as the view that God will save the elect apart from any means. Some, but very few, modern hyper-Calvinists hold such an extreme view. Those who do hold this view oppose all forms of evangelism and preaching to the unsaved, because they believe God will save whomever He chooses, apart from human means.

Of course, as noted above, Dr. White does not fall into this category.

Johnson further writes:
Another common but incorrect definition equates hyper-Calvinism with fatalism. Fatalism is a mechanistic determinism, antithetical to the notion of a personal God. While it is true that the most extreme varieties of hyper-Calvinism tend to depersonalize God, it is not accurate to portray all hyper-Calvinists as fatalists.

Likewise, for the reasons identified above, Dr. White doesn't fall into this category either.

Finally, after examining these and other tests for hyper-calvinism, Johnson settles on a five-part test:

A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:

1. Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR
2. Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
3. Denies that the gospel makes any "offer" of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
4. Denies that there is such a thing as "common grace," OR
5. Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

As to (1), Dr. White does not deny the universality of the gospel call;
As to (2), Dr. White does not deny that faith is the duty of every sinner;
As to (3), Dr. White does not deny the free and universal offer of salvation;
As to (4), Dr. White affirms that there is such a thing as "common grace;" and
As to (5), I think it would be fair to say that Dr. White would agree that there is a kind of love (corresponding to common grace) that God has even for the reprobate, thought it is distinguishable from the special love God has for the elect.

In short, Dr. White is not a hyper-calvinist according to Phil Johnson's primer on the subject. That, not the friendship between the men, is the reason that Phil Johnson attests to the same truth that I attest to (even if I disagree with the broad tests that Mr. Johnson uses), namely that Dr. White is a Calvinist, not a hyper-calvinist.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Has Rome to Do With Mecca?

Occasionally, I point out that one of the biggest reasons to reject the doctrines of Rome, is that Vatican II dogmatically taught that God and Allah are the same: that Muslims worship the one true God. As well, Vatican II teaches the Jews worship the one true God. This doctrine is false. Those who reject the Son of God reject God, and both religious Jews and Muslims do reject the Son of God.

I get a variety of reactions from those who are part of the Roman church when I point this out. Sometimes the reaction is disbelief that Vatican 2 actually taught that. Other times the reaction is an argument suggesting that Vatican 2 actually taught something else, such as that the Muslims are right to be monotheists. A few agree and try to come up with some way in which Muslims worship God by worshiping the fictional conception of Allah (an interesting squirm, but not particularly availing). Finally, a few acknowledge that it is what Vatican II taught, and accept it.

Below, I will point evidence supporting my contention that the Roman church teaches the God and Allah are one and the same - and that Muslims and Jews worship the same God as Rome does. I hope that this will give those readers of mine who identify themselves with the church of Benedict XVI some pause. I hope they will consider the fact that this is not a true doctrine: that it is contrary to Scripture.

The following is my evidence from the mouth of your two most recent popes, John Paul II (JP2) and Benedict XVI (Ben16).

"As I have often said in other meetings with Muslims, your God and ours is one and the same, and we are brothers and sisters in the faith of Abraham."

JP2 1985 (source")

Nevertheless, neither religious Jews nor Muslims have the faith of Abraham, for they reject the Son of Abraham.

"We are all children of the same God, members of the great family of man. And our religions have a special role to fulfil in curbing these evils and in forging bonds of trust and fellowship. God’s will is that those who worship him, even if not united in the same worship, would nevertheless be united in brotherhood and in common service for the good of all."

JP2 1985 (source")

Notice that JP2 acknowledges that the worship itself is different, but asserts that it is worship of the same God.

"In the final analysis, prayer is the best means by which all humanity can be united. It disposes people to accept God’s will for them. It also affects the relationship of those who pray together, for by coming together before God in prayer people can no longer ignore or hate others. Those who pray together discover that they are pilgrims and seekers of the same goal, brothers and sisters who share responsibility for the same human family, children of the same God and Father. It is my ardent hope that the Day of Prayer for Peace to be held in Assisi, at which Christians of all Communions and believers from all the great religions have been invited to participate, will be a beginning and an incentive for all believers in God to come often before him united in prayer."

JP2 1986 (source")

Nevertheless, those who have not received adoption are not the children of the Father. Likewise, Muslims and Christians have different and competing goals - not the same goal.

"I thank you for your visit, all representatives, leaders, of the Muslim community here in Uganda. Archbishop Wamala said that you are cooperating and that in doing so, you are also accomplishing the will of God, our Creator, our Father. God has created all of us, men and women, the whole human race, to cooperate–to cooperate in order to improve the world. He, our God, committed us, the world, to being inhabited, to being used, not abused, not abused, used, and to serving the human being, human existence. It is necessary to cooperate all together, for the riches of the world are sometimes in danger and the human community is many times is in danger. It requires the cooperation of all of us who believe in the same God, the one God of Abraham, the Father who gave us his son Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for your visit."

JP2 1993 (source")

Nevertheless, the Muslims do not believe in the same God, for they do not even know God.

"We Christians joyfully recognize the religious values we have in common with Islam. Today I would like to repeat what I said to young Muslims some years ago in Casablanca: “We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection” (Insegnamenti, VIII/2, [1985], p. 497)."

JP2 1999 (source")

What joy is there in the fact that there are those on the road to hell who happen to acknowledge some parts of the truth? This truth partially known will not save - it will only increase the condemnation of those who, like the Muslims, reject the one true God.

"This year is also the 40th anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which has ushered in a new season of dialogue and spiritual solidarity between Jews and Christians, as well as esteem for the other great religious traditions. Islam occupies a special place among them. Its followers worship the same God and willingly refer to the Patriarch Abraham."

Ben16 2005 (source")

But James said:

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4

I'm not suggesting that we cannot be kind to Muslims. We can, should, and must. Nevertheless, we need to distinguish between being kind and respectful to them as people and endorsing or esteeming their religion. Islam is a path to judgment, part of the broad road that leads to destruction. Friendship with Islam as such is an unkindness not a kindness to the members of that religion. Those siding with Islam are siding against Christianity.

To parody an old saw, we must love the Muslim not Islam: the man not his religion.

Hopefully, this settles the matter of what Rome teaches, as well as illustrating some reasons why what Rome teaches is wrong. You will notice that in each case, the quotation is taken from the English translation provided at the Vatican's official web site. These are not my own translations. Now, I call on those of you in the Roman communion to consider whether Scripture teaches that one can both be one who worships God and who rejects the Son of God. If you see that the Scriptures do not teach that, I urge you to come out from the Roman communion and into fellowship with an Evangelical body that maintains not only the historic but Scriptural distinction between the followers of Christ and all other religions, including the religions of Mecca and modern Jerusalem.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Imaginary Patristic Quotation Regarding Mary?

Sometimes I like to read what "the other side" has to say about issues like the so-called Immaculate conception. I happened to come across the following argument in a book by Cardinal Lambruschini, who nearly became pope but was beaten out by Pius IX:
St. Cyril of Alexandria, who flourished in the fifth century, expresses himself in a manner still more decisive. Here are his words: "All men, except Him who was born of a Virgin, and that same most holy Virgin of whom was born the Man-God, are born in original sin, and we come into this world afflicted with the most grievous blindness, which indeed we inherit from our first parent, the origin of our race." And he gives, moreover, the motive for this exception, since he goes on to say: "Who ever heard of an architect, building a house for himself, and giving possession of it to his greatest enemy?"

Evidently, the anonymous clergyman who translated the corresponding Latin felt it fit to include the Latin provided by Lambruschini:
Omnes homines, excepto illo, qui de Virgine natus est, et sacratissima etiam Virgine, ex qua Deus homo prodiit in mundum, exempta, cum peccato originali nascimur, et gravissima caecitate depressi in mundum venimus, quam quidera caecitatem de radice primi parentis contraximus.

His citation was as follows:
In Evang. Joan. lib. VI, adjecto explanationi Cyrilli per Judocum Clichtoveum Neoportuensem, Docterum Theologum, cap. XV, Oper. S. Cyrilli Alexandrini. Basileae, 1566.

The above, of course, is only the Latin and citation for the main portion of the quotation. The part quoted as explanation has the following Latin:
Quis unquam audivit architectum, qui sibi domum aedificavit, ejus occupationem et possessionem primo sui inimico cessisse.

with the following citation: "In. Conc. Eph. N. VI." (see this link for some interesting discussion regarding the variant issues for this quotation)

Several issues came to mind:

1) The supposed explanation comes from an entirely different and unrelated work.

2) Upon checking the standard collections of Cyril, I noticed two problems. First, Book VI, cited by the cardinal, is a book of a single chapter in all the standard bodies of Cyrillic literature. Second, whether or not one divided that book into multiple chapters, the commentary in question is not to be found in the book. It's just not there.

3) So, how did the cardinal err? He relied on Josse Clichtove, a Romanist theologian who was not the best academic.

In fact, upon further investigation, I discovered that Josse Clichtove, unable to find a copy of Books V to VII of Cyril's works, inserted instead the works of other ancient writers, without informing the reader. Erasmus made fun of him for this in Responsio ad annotationes Lei. It wasn't the only time that Clichtove made such substitutions. See pp. 317-318 of "Contemporaries of Erasmus," by Bietenholz et al.

I don't bring this up simply to make fun of the cardinal's blunder. After all, the Reformed writers of the day also occasionally misquoted a source, particularly when they relied on the work of Romanist scholars in providing the allegedly patristic material.

What is even more interesting is that upon reading the genuine Book VI, I found that Cyril of Alexandria actually said what amounts to the precise opposite, namely that he provided no exclusion whatsoever for Mary:
And yet we could not grant that they [i.e. the parents of the man born blind] were altogether free from sin. For, inasmuch as they were human, it is I suppose in every way likely or rather it of necessity follows that they fell into errors.

Migne's corresponding Latin from PG73:942 is "Atqui non omnino concesserimus eos immunes peccati. Quippe homines cum essent, necesse fuit ut in peccatum inciderent." (If you are interested in the Greek, see the facing portion of Migne at column 941, or volume two of Pusey, p. 187, lines 24-27, 1872 ed.)

In point of fact, the supposed sinlessness of Mary was not the universal consent of the ancient fathers. From everything I have seen, the universal consent of the ancient fathers that addressed the issue was that Jesus was the only human not to sin, and this was because he was no mere man, but God incarnate. Only Jesus' conception was immaculate. He was born of a physically immaculate virgin, but he was made after the likeness of sinful flesh, as the Scriptures teach. Mary had sin, which is why she recognized Christ as her savior.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Married Priest Movement on the Rise

One of the standard objections to the Papists has been that they violate Scriptures by forbidding their "priests" and bishops from marrying. Scripture not only permits the marriage of ordinary folks but of elders/bishops and deacons, the servants of the church. Scripture not only permits such marriage, but views it as the norm: not that every elder and deacon must be married, but that this is the ordinary course of events.

Now, in England this issue is coming to something of a bubble, because of the influx of married former Anglican clergy into the papist ranks. Anglicans, because of the historic (and largely dissipated) influence of the Reformation, do not forbid their clergy from marriage. This influx of married clergy creates tension, because the married clergy are not required to give up their wives when they join, while their newly acquired colleagues must remain unmarried.

One expects similar tension may also exist within other parts of Romanism, as some of the "Eastern rite" priests that have joined Rome's communion also included married clergymen. The Eastern Orthodox traditions, while generally forbidding bishops to marry, do permit their priests to marry (UPDATE: this sentence apparently confuses some who conclude that I'm suggesting that sometimes men who are already ordained in EO churches go from being single to being married - with that in mind, I should point out that I'm not aware of examples of either of those things happening).

The following linked article, from Sify news (which seems fond of pop-ups), describes the views of the apparent future head of Romanism in England and Wales, a certain "Bishop McMahon." (link)

McMahon claims, "There is no reason why priests shouldn't be allowed to marry. It has always been a matter of discipline rather than doctrine." We agree with him that there is no good reason. There are purported reasons, though, that were previously set out. "The Church" (as his comrades are fond of calling it) did not impose celibacy without some pretext. If someone wants the pretext, they need only turn to the polemical sites of any number of papists. The usual answer, framed against modern Evangelicals, is that celibacy frees one up to serve God. The more traditional answer is a perception that the sexual act itself is somehow unholy: i.e. that it is more holy to be single than to be married.

That is to say, while the practice certainly is disciplinary, it is one imagined (by its supporters) to be based on doctrinal arguments. It is interesting to see that within the ranks of papalism there is dissent even on these matters. One wonders what is next? He supports marriage for "priests:" will he support marriage for bishops too?

Finally, one wonders what "Joe Roman Catholic Lay Apologist" thinks about these things. Such a guy is typically himself married, but in favor of a celibate priesthood. Such a guy typically appreciates the fact that Rome's position on this matter of discipline cannot rationally be defended as simply an arbitrary decision with "no reason" (McMahon's words). On the other hand, against him is the Bishop of Nottingham - someone with far better credentials within the Roman hierarchy. What can this poor Joe do? Disagree with a bishop? or admit that there is no good reason for required celibacy?

We'll have to wait and see.


The Video Everyone is Watching

The following is a reaction video provided by Dr. White regarding the recent election. It has had a surprising (to me) resonation within the blogosphere. If you haven't already seen it, I would encourage you to watch it. I don't endorse everything he has to say, but he makes a lot of good points.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Ridiculous Accusations Refuted

I read a touching testimonial today about the apparent conversion of a four-year-old child (link). There would be no particular reason for me to blog this (as wonderful as it is), except for the fact that those under the power of sin have responded by accusing this woman of "child abuse." Why?


a) She explains to her children that they are sinners.

But this is both the truth and the woman's Christian duty to tell them.

b) She *might* be spanking her children.

But this is both the proper and loving way to discipline children according to the Bible.


The problem with the folks launching these ridiculous accusations against this Christian woman is that they do not know the truth. These accusers are not followers of God, nor are they students of His Word. Their eyes have not been opened to see the truth of the Gospel. That's the reason they reject the Word of God and accuse this poor woman as they do.

They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

What's interesting is that they lob the accusation "child abuse" for convicting a child of sin from an early age. On the other hand, these people have no moral basis for denouncing even actual child abuse (much less saving a child's soul). Furthermore, in their false accusation they actually wish to bring about child abuse in the form of parents neglecting the spiritual state of their children.

The true child abuse is neglecting to tell children of their sin. The true child abuse (by way of neglect) is failing to speak of things of God to one's children. It is truly abusive (by way of neglectfulness) to refuse to give corporeal discipline to a child that needs it.

These anti-God critics need to think again, for on the side of this woman is God and His Word. They may not like to believe it, and they may prefer to listen to the mockery of the likes of Dawkins. Nevertheless, God does exist and He has spoken. Those who stop their ears will only be able to do so for so long. Eventually everyone passes on and goes to meet their maker.

Repent and believe now, while their is time.


Free Sermons from a Famous Pastor

I'm not a big fan of John MacArthur because of my concern for accurate, precise theology. Nevertheless, he is a very powerful preacher and many people have been blessed by his ministry. Now, I have learned (thanks to Matthew Kratz and The Truth Will Set You Free) that one can now get free sermons of his - maybe as much as forty years worth. Enjoy (discerningly)! (link)


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Eastern Orthodox Monks (Again)

We've reported on this sort of thing before. Eastern Orthodox monks sparring with each other. Here are two reports of a clash (one clash, two reports) between Greek and Armenian monks in Jerusalem (first report - second report). Why even mention it?

a) Because people forget that there is disunity both among those who claim to hold to Sola Scriptura and those who claim to deny it;

b) Because the monks, being some of the most zealous members of their religions, are fair representatives, not merely nominal adherents;

c) Because, today, disagreements between Evangelical denominations (even if fierce) are not addressed by violence.