Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Real Turretin on: The Absurdities of Universal Atonement

Moses Cho at No Mo' Condemnation has a nice quotation from the real Francis Turretin on the absurdities of any doctrine of universal atonement (link). Turretin addresses not only the errors of Arminianism, but also those Amyraldianism with this short identification of four absurdities.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Machina, Ora Pro Nobis?

If this "worked," which (of course) it doesn't, it would be simony (link). It's yet another example of life being stranger than fiction.


Archbishop Raymond Burke and Priorities

This article (link) suggests that Archbishop Raymond Burke knows where his priorities lie.

Previously, according to the article: "In his remarks, Burke told Terry that American parishioners should press U.S. bishops to withhold the sacrament. 'It is weakening the faith of everyone,' Burke said."

Now, according to the article, "'If I had known what the true purpose of the interview was, I would never have agreed to participate in it,' said Burke, the former St. Louis archbishop."

He continued, "I am deeply sorry for the confusion and hurt which the wrong use of the videotape has caused to anyone, particularly to my brother bishops."

Before my critics say it, I'll say it. Randall Terry is something of a firebrand, and his single issue is the abortion issue. He feels, and seems to be justified in this, that the American bishops are not doing what their church law says they should. He's ticked, he wants blood, and he's (as the Americans would say) "loaded for bear." He had hoped to get Archbishop Burke on his side (against the American bishops) on this issue, presumably in view of Burke's high rank within the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

I am puzzled as to how Burke could not have known of Terry's purpose in the interview: even this blog knew what the purpose of this interview was, and reported it out on March 12, 2008 (link).


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Frank Turk on Apologetics with Romanism

Apparently Frank Turk, aka Centuri0n, thinks that engaging in apologetics with those of the Roman Catholic Church is a waste of time (link) and (thinks he) he's got the statistical data to prove it.

With all due respect to the wise Turk, I'm not persuaded by his argument from web traffic. I'll keep on giving an answer for the hope that is within me, trusting in God to bring the increase.


Dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses

It's not quite a "how to" but the first half of the Dividing Line program for March 24, 2009, provides a good introduction to how we can speak with Jehovah's Witnesses in a productive manner (link).



Albrecht vs. Augustine on the Bodily Presence - Further Rebuttal

William Albrecht has responded to a short video (technically it is just audio plus a slideshow) series I did demonstrating the obvious fact that Augustine did not believe that Jesus is bodily present with us today, although the divine presence of Jesus is with us (clip 1 / clip 2)(Albrecht's Response - part 1a, 1b, 2a, and 2b).

In this case, I've done a double-whammy - I've posted a video, which I'm embedding below, and I've posted a written response that provides more detail.

As I draw out in my clips, Augustine enunciates essentially the same view as the Reformed churches on the issue of Christ being bodily present in Heaven, but spiritually present here. What is Albrecht's response?

- He argues that the text is not addressing the Eucharist. Of course that is so. As I noted, the only reason he'd address the Eucharist is if there had been people around at the time that held to transubstantiation. Since there were not, it is no surprise he doesn't mention the Eucharist in the passage.

- He argues that all Augustine is saying is that Christ's presence here is "not exactly the same." That's misleading. He says that Christ deprived us of his bodily presence. He says it plain and simple.

- He differentiates between "Christ the person" and "the Eucharistic presence." But the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:
1374 The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend." In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." "This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present."
Thus, it appears that Mr. Albrecht's distinction is invalid within his own church's current theology.

- He argues that the spiritual presence of Christ is (in Augustine) not merely symbolic or figurative. Of course, that's right. As well, the Reformed churches teach that Christ's spiritual presence is real and divine and not merely symbolic and figurative. Apparently, Mr. Albrecht is just unaware of what we believe, even going so far as to claim that I had said that spiritual = symbolic (which, of course, I did not).

- He argues (if I am hearing him right) that the Latin word "spiritalem" is never used by Augustine in his later works to refer to something symbolic. This argument is presumably based on his previous blunder of imagining that I was arguing that Augustine was saying "spiritual" (spiritalem) but meaning "symbolic." Of course, I was not. A bigger problem for Mr. Albrecht is that "spiritalem" (spiritual) presence is the opposite of bodily presence. But - because he is chasing an irrelevant rabbit trail, Mr. Albrecht misses this important point.

- He argues, quite confusedly, that I show my ignorance of the Fathers by asserting that none of them taught transubstantiation. Then he admits that this is not a point of contention. Thus, by his own admission, my knowledge (not my ignorance) of the Fathers is clear.

- He calls pointing out that none of the fathers believed what Trent now requires followers of Rome to believe a "debating tactic." Actually, what it is, is simply an inconvenient fact that apologists for Rome have to dismiss or ignore in order to get people to look away from it, using debating tactics.

- He argues that Augustine believed in a substantial change of the bread and wine by quoting a passage where Augustine says that the bread is Christ's body and the wine is Christ's blood, after the consecration. I had to laugh - this is the same thing one might here from a Reformed minister. It is not a statement of transubstantiation in the least.

I think Mr. Albrecht would be surprised and shocked to discover that the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches, almost exactly as Augustine does:
VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
and the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith says practically the same thing too:
Paragraph 7. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
Of course, that's nothing remotely like what Rome's catechism (already quoted above) says, but (of course) Augustine also says nothing like what Rome's catechism says.

- Mr. Albrecht tries to argue that Augustine doesn't have to say "transformed" to mean "transformed" in the Latin. Of course, Mr. Albrecht's argument isn't based on anything. I realize that folks who don't know Latin might be confused by the fact that he's throwing it out there, but really he's got nothing. The Latin says just what the English says: after the consecration, the bread is the body and the wine is the blood. There's no unique or even special rules of Latin grammar that are implicated by the sentences, and there is no reason to think that a substantial change is intended when Augustine says it, just as there is no reason to think that a substantial change is intended when a Reformed pastor says it.

- It is mildly amusing to hear Mr. Albrecht emphasizing the word "the" in the phrase "THE word of God," since - assuming Mr. Albrecht knows Latin - Mr. Albrecht should know that the word "the" has no corresponding word in the Latin original. But perhaps this was simply an accidental emphasis on Mr. Albrecht's part.

- Mr. Albrecht then turns to another place where it is said that only the bread that receives the blessing "becomes Christ's body." Again, the Latin examination doesn't show anything that the English doesn't show. There are no unique or special Latin grammatical issues involved, and there is nothing in the sermon to make us conclude that Augustine meant that "becoming" was a change of substance instead of simply a designation.

- In short, in both cases, Augustine's words (whether in English or in Latin) would be perfectly consistent with not only the Reformed view of spiritual presence, but even the more radical view of bare symbolism.

- Mr. Albrecht makes a comment about Augustine being "a Catholic" and those of us who do not follow Rome not being able to "make [Augustine] a Protestant." Mr. Albrecht - again - is missing the point. Augustine was an Early Church Father, not a Protestant or a Roman Catholic. Augustine taught many good things, but he also had errors in his theology. Unlike Roman Catholicism, however, we are under no obligation to make Augustine fit our mold. We don't have to try to make him a "Protestant" but Mr. Albrecht does feel compelled to make him "a Catholic" as he puts it.

- All in all, I feel sorry for Mr. Albrecht. He spent loads of time preparing videos in which he addressed something other than the position I had presented. In his third video he even mentions (around 35 seconds into the video) that we don't say that he means "symbolic" by "spiritual" but then goes on to say that we "pretty much indicate that in their writings." His evidence actually disproves his point - for he provides an example (around 5:45 in the 3rd video) where the term "spiritual" is used specifically as opposed to "corporeal" - i.e. as distinguishing between spirit and body. Similar examples can be found in Mr. Albrecht's 4th video as well.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Groves / Sarna to be Cut Down

In a ridiculous mess, pagans in India are complaining about the fact that the Bible commands believers to destroy the places of false worship (link). The errors in the article and in the pagan reaction are legion:

1. The article notes that the translation is "Protestant" and claims that the translation is faulty.

This is not the case. The translation is accurate. It conveys the intended meaning of commanding the destruction of worship groves.

2. The pagans have reacted to the Bible's comments by burning a Roman Catholic cardinal in effigy.

This is inappropriate both because the cardinal isn't responsible for the translation and because the cardinal doesn't represent the religion of the Bible.

3. The Bible society has apologized for the translation.

This is sad. The truth of Scripture must not be compromised. If and when it offends the native religions, that's a good thing.

4. It took the tribes 8 years to notice this issue.

This is also sad. I cannot complain too much, though, because I have done nothing to preach the gospel to those tribes. Nevertheless, their false religion should have been brought to their attention years ago, if possible.

All in all, it is sad sight to see. Yes, the pagan religions of India, both the major religions and the tribal religions are false religions. Their groves ought to be cut down, their idols smashed, and their hearts turned to the unseen God.

May God's Kingdom Come!


Virtuosity - Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Yuja Wang

I was amazed at the skill exhibited in this very short performance of the "Flight of the Bumblebee" arranged for the piano. Yuja Wang is the pianist.

The musical gifts that God has given to some people are simply amazing. Honestly, I am not 100% sure whether the video is edited or not, the pianist's fingers are moving so quickly and yet accurately. Either way, whether as a feat of musical or video-editing skill, this piece illustrates one of the good gifts God has given us: music.

Although we would expect that Adam could sing, instrumental music was developed in the sixth generation of mankind, around 3500 B.C. or so, by Jubal. Scripture tells us:

Genesis 4:21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

Jubal was the son of Lamech by Adah. Lamech was the son of Enoch: not the Enoch who was translated, but Enoch the son of Cain and Cain's unnamed wife. As you doubtless recall, Cain was Adam's firstborn son.

This musical gift was handed down beyond the flood and became incorporated into the temple worship. You will recall that David and all of Israel played before the Lord with such instruments. As well, this can be found in Psalm 33:

Psalm 33:2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.

May we glorify Him with this gift!


UPDATE: As you can see from the URL of this post, I initially ascribed this tune to the wrong composer. That has been fixed, thanks o an attentive reader who chose to remain anonymous.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cochlaeus Work On-Line

Further to my last post about the BSB digitization project, one may recall an informal debate that I conducted with Dave Armstrong last January on the issue of a spurious quotation attributed to Luther. The full work of that slanderer Cochlaeus, from which the quotation originated, has been digitized and is available freely on-line, though one will have to navigate some German menus to download it (link).


Good News for Lutherophiles

At least, I think it is good news. Todd at Historical Theoblogy has a report on a digitization project that aims to digitize 100,000 volumes: all the extant volumes that were published in Germany (well, in the German-speaking lands) in the 16th century (link to report). Obviously, a significant percentage of these works will be German or Latin. Nevertheless, it represents a treasure trove, especially for those interested in things related to Martin Luther.



John Martignoni Demonstrating Sola Ecclesia

In this clip, I discuss an instance where John Martignoni demonstrates the error of sola ecclesia. As a caveat, I'm sure not everyone within Roman Catholicism holds to these sort of extreme views, so perhaps this discussion is limited in its value, since it does not address those that do not go as far as Marignoni. Nevertheless, his position is not a rare one.



Monday, March 23, 2009

Vatican Editing & a Clear Conscience

I found an article complaining that the Vatican edited the remarks of the pope that were given during his recent visit to Africa (link). I was immediately reminded of this amusing clip (link). No doubt the remarks were edited for the perfectly innocent reason of reflecting "a version which represents the [pope's] views as he would, on reflection, have liked them to be."


UPDATE: In fairness, it looks like the American's White House is run by the same folks who work at the Vatican (link). Did they know there was a video? (one wonders)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Determined Choices

Paul Manata at Triablogue has a fascinating post on Determined Choices (link). He provides a reasonably concise explanation of how God's declaration that he decides when we die (John 14:5) and the fact that people sometimes choose to kill themselves are compatible, not contradictory. Thus, he reasonably concludes that the nature of free will is at it is described in Calvinism.