Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Heart-Knowing God

One of the unique characteristics of the LORD God is his ability to know the heart of man. Others may have some remarkable insights into human psychology. Nevertheless, God alone knows the heart. We see this taught in the Old Testament:

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

Jesus is shown to be God in this way, for Jesus knew the thoughts and heart of men.

Luke 6:8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.

Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

Mark 8:16-18
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?

One of the most poignant testimonies to Jesus' knowledge of the heart is seen in Jesus' admonishing to Simon Peter (notice that Jesus is still calling him "Simon, son of Jonas" after Matthew 16 ... the name Peter is a surname, not a change of name):

John 21:15-17
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my lambs." He saith to him again the second time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my sheep. " He saith unto him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, "Lovest thou me?" And he said unto him, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."
Jesus saith unto him, "Feed my sheep."
Notice that Peter is attributing omniscience to Jesus, but particularly Peter is attributing to Jesus a knowledge of Peter's own heart. We see the same thing in the Apostles' prayer to Jesus about replacing Judas.

Acts 1:24-26
And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

In case there is any question that the "Lord" here is Jesus, consider the preceding verses:

Acts 1:21-22
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

And for the connection between Jesus being Lord and Jesus being the Lord God, consider the basis upon which the apostles prayed over the casting of lots.

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

Finally, perhaps we should conclude with a quotation from Jeremiah that brings us back to the point of the post:

Jeremiah 17:9-10
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

This too connects us back to Jesus:

Revelation 22:11-16
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

There's an additional link back to the prophets here:

Isaiah 62:11 Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Perhaps you'll say that the salvation who comes is Jesus, but this verse doesn't specifically say that the salvation is God. That argument has been anticipated:

Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

Even so, let us praise our God with the words of Psalmist:

The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14)


UPDATE: An alert reader (Manu) brought to my attention a further evidence consistent with this theme:

Revelation 2:18 & 23
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; ... And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

That also relates back to Jeremiah 17:9-10.

Jamal Jivanjee's Testimony Regarding Ergun Caner

Jamal Jivanjee is, like Ergun Caner, a real ex-Muslim. He has testified to the fact that he went to the same Muslim "mosque/ masjid" as the Caner family (link to testimony). Some of those supporting Ergun Caner have viewed this as complete vindication of Dr. Caner. There are a couple reasons why it is still incomplete.

a) Mr. Jivanjee has not identified what years (even approximately) it was that he witnessed the Caner family at the "mosque/ masjid." This is not significant to the question of whether the Caner family was Muslim, but it is significant to the question of how devout they were.

b) Mr. Jivanjee has not testified as to whether Ergun and/or Emir were devout when he knew the family. Indeed, his testimony suggests that he may not be able to say, since he may have known them only slightly (he remembers as a young child eating dinner with his family at the Caner house) and/or he may have been too young to remember that kind of information.

Those items are what we would like to see from Mr. Jivanjee. I had previously asked Mr. Jivanjee if he knew Caner when Caner was a Muslim (link to my question). Mr. Jivanjee has not responded to my request. I have also asked the author of the blog that has reported Mr. Jivanjee's comment to see if he can elicit any additional facts to help support the points above. The information above would help to provide evidence against the Muslim critics who have been alleging that Dr. Caner was never a real Muslim.

However, it should be noted that the Christian critics of Dr. Caner have not been arguing that Dr. Caner was never a Muslim. Instead, the Christian criticism has focused on a variety of autobiographical embellishments, from claiming to debate people he never debated, to claiming to be born in places he wasn't born, and to have lived in places he hasn't lived. None of those issues are addressed at all by Mr. Jivanjee's comments. Thus, I think Mr. Guthrie is too optimistic when he writes: "Liars? No"


Friday, May 07, 2010

Ergun Caner's So-called Apology

People have asked me where they can find the so-called Apology that Ergun Caner offered on his website. It seems to have been removed from his website, though, for the moment, it can be found via Google (link to apology). I have no idea why Dr. Caner removed it from his site. He has not publicly explained that, as far as I know.

The so-called Apology does not admit to lying. Instead it makes comments such as, "Indeed, the Muslims have used clips that attempt to show that through two decades of ministry and hundreds of sermons there exist discrepancies in my testimony." And again, "The truth is, I would be surprised if no discrepancies were discovered, given the hundreds of messages I have given during all that time!" And further: "I have never intentionally misled anyone. I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better." And finally: "Criticism is many times helpful. In this particular instance, it has enabled me to correct the careless mistakes I addressed above. "

Additionally :
Finally, there is a legitimate complaint which I must address, namely, referencing a Muslim scholar that I have never met. Listening to the audio, I honestly have no idea who I was referencing, but it certainly could not have been the man I referenced. For this unintentional but nevertheless horrible mistake, I repent for saying his name, and I ask the forgiveness of all those who heard it. Sin is sin, and if I am dumb enough to say something like that, I should be man enough to deal with it and aim to never make such a grievous error again. This applies to any time when I wrongly used names. I shall be more careful.
Dr. Caner never admits to intentionally misleading anyone in this apology, though he admits that he did not debate some Muslim scholar that he claimed he debated (we think he is referring to Shabir Ally, but it is hard to be sure). This so-called Apology mostly claims that he simply unintentionally mixed things up. In my opinion it is hard to believe that Dr. Caner mistakenly believed that he lived in Turkey, watched American TV there, and particularly gained misconceptions about America by watching the Dukes of Hazzard (for the reasons explained here). Sadly, many more such examples could be provided. In any event, Caner has withdrawn this so-called Apology from the web. I have provided the information and link according to the request that was made, but I don't encourage people to dwell on an Apology, so-called, that has been withdrawn (for whatever private reasons it may have been withdrawn).


Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ergun Caner Parody

There is a "Dr. Ergun Caner" parody page on Youtube. It pokes some fun at the real Dr. Ergun Caner. Obviously, what Dr. Caner is doing in embellishing his autobiography is not funny. Nevertheless, this parody is at least drawing attention to the apparent attempted cover-up by Liberty University and Dr. Ergun Caner. Please keep in mind that the page is parody, not something serious. Also, for the Liberty University folks, before you try to take down this site, remember that parody is protected speech.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Water-Calming God

In a previous post (link to previous post), we discussed the fact that Jesus' miracle of walking on the water is one proof of his divinity. Another proof of Jesus' divinity is Jesus' ability to control the weather and especially the storms at sea.

Matthew 8:23-27
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Luke 8:22-25
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

Notice that here the disciples do not seem to understand fully that Jesus is God. They do recognize, however, that Jesus is no ordinary man. Commanding the seas and the waters is something uniquely divine.

Proverbs 8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

Perhaps someone will object that control of the weather was also done by Elijah. You will recall that Elijah prayed and it did not rain and Elijah prayed again and it rained.

James 5:17-18
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

As it was reported in the first book of Kings:

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

1 Kings 18:41-46
And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

But recall that while the rain came in answer to Elijah's prayer, it was not because of any power in Elijah. Elijah did not command the rain, but God did. In the former case, Elijah simply brought the Word of the Lord. In the latter case, as God had revealed beforehand, God already planned to bring the rain:

1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

As an aside, we should note that these facts also reveal that God's gift of rain was not the result of merit on Elijah's part, contrary to the cavils of the papists. Indeed, this principle of rain being withheld as a punishment and then restored in response to repentance was previously announced in the prophetic prayer of Solomon. Notice that here rain is offered to sinners who repent and confess their sin to God, as a sign of God's forgiveness.

1 Kings 8:35-36
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.

2 Chronicles 6:26-27
When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.

In view of the above, we can see the difference between God who commands the stormy waters to be calm, as opposed to men who can merely pray to God that it be so. WE have seen this both from Proverbs and from the response of the disciples, and we have responded to a possible objection regarding Elijah. Nevertheless, it is not only Proverbs and the reaction of the disciples that we may rely on, nor even the careful distinction from Elijah. We have the word of the Psalmist who teaches us that this is the Lord's doing:

Psalm 107:23-25
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

And you will recall that the Lord exercised this power in the case of Jonah:

Jonah 1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

And when the men who were transporting Jonah saw that this was from the LORD they did as Jonah the prophet said (and who would be such a fool as to imagine that Jonah himself stirred up this storm?) and threw Jonah into the waves, God calmed the waters:

Jonah 1:14-15
Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.

From this we see another proof of Jesus divinity. Jesus is not only the water-walking God, but also the water-calming God.

Praise be to him in whose hand are the deep places of the earth and the strength of hills is his!

- TurretinFan

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Water-Walking God

Reading through a commentary on John by Theophylact (circa A.D. 1055-1107) I came across a proof of Jesus' divinity that had escaped my attention many times (pp. 101-02 of the English translation of his "Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John). Surely all the readers of this blog are already familiar with the event:

John 6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

(Matthew 14:25-26 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.)

This extremely marvelous miracle is so familiar, many of us may even have come to treat it almost as a matter of course. The expression "he walks on water" is idiomatic in English for a person being really wonderful. Nevertheless, it is truly an extraordinary event.

Theophylact reminds the reader that this miracle shows that Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses parted the Red Sea with his staff, so that he and the people could walk through it on dry ground. But Jesus doesn't have to divide the sea, he can just walk across it.

Elijah and Elisha also parted the Jordan with Elijah's mantle (2 King 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. 2Ki 2:13-14 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.)

Joshua and the Levites bearing the ark also parted the Jordan.

Joshua 3:14-17
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

That shows that that Jesus is greater than Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha, but it doesn't quite show that Jesus is divine. Why then conclude that Jesus is divine from this miracle? The reason is that we are given prophecy in Job. Job describes God this way:

Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.

Jesus' walking on the water was a testimony to His divinity. God alone can do this. No ordinary man, not even Moses could do that. Simon Peter tried and could not:

Matthew 14:28-30
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

We're not told that the disciples remembered the prophecy from Job, but we are told that the disciples worshiped Jesus in response:

Matthew 14:32-33
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Not only did the wind cease, but there was a further miracle:

John 6:19-21
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

Notice that although they had gone about three and a half miles, once Jesus came into the ship the ship immediately arrived at the land where they were going. This too is a remarkable miracle. Who can move a ship instantly to its destination? Only God has this sort of power.

What mere prophet ever did a miracle like that? We can compare walking on water with dividing the water and walking through on dry ground, but to what will we compare this transportation of the ship? Jonah fled from the face of God in a boat, but on his account God kept the boat in the midst of the tempest despite the efforts of the sailors (Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.).

The Apostle himself was only able to his fellow travelers that none of the people on the ship would die, although the ship they were traveling on would be destroyed (Acts 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.)

Jesus was greater than the greatest apostles and prophets, for he could walk on water and could instantly transport a ship to its destination. No mere man has these abilities, but only God. God alone spreads out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea.

Praise be to the Great God and our Lord Jesus Christ!


Monday, May 03, 2010

Further Replies to Stellman

There are two parts to this post. The first is a response to Stellman's response to my previous post (link to previous post)(link to response: part 1 - part 2). The second part is a response to comments he had made earlier in the same comment thread.

I. Dividing Word from Scriptures

Jason J. Stellman wrote: “So to TurretinFan’s statement that “To divide the Word from the Scriptures, as Stellman is doing, is dangerous ground (although it is one of the approaches that the Romanists use),” I would simply answer that I am doing nothing other than what Horton is doing in the citation above.”

Paige Britton had written: “Whoa, I don’t think you need to pin some insidious Romanism on Jason’s thought, there.”

On this point, I want to clarify that I’m not pinning Romanism on Jason’s thought. I do think his argument is dangerously imprecise, but I don’t think he’s a Romanist. My comments (at great length) were aimed at showing him the danger, as well as helping to steer him clear of that danger.

I appreciate the quotation from Michael Horton. The quotation states: “Of course, God’s Word was at first delivered by oral tradition and was only later committed to writing. None of the Reformation theologians held that the Bible as we now have it preceded the church! However, the Reformers argued that the Word of God preceded both Scripture and the church.”

I don’t have the full context for this quotation, which makes it hard to respond to it. With that enormous and important caveat, I’d like to venture a few responses.

1) If Horton is simply referring to the fact that God’s word came orally from Adam to Moses, he’s right. No one can doubt that.

2) If Horton means that God’s word sometimes came orally from Moses until Malachi and again from John the Baptist to John the Beloved Disciple, he’s right. No one can reasonably deny that.

3) If Horton is simply trying to repeat what the WCF 1:1 says:

I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.

… then of course, Horton is right, and his point can’t reasonably be denied. (However, note that the confession itself teaches that the Church is founded (“establishment”) on the Scriptures.)

4) However, Horton’s comments could be taken another way. If Horton’s comments were taken as suggesting that the Scriptures themselves are simply a transcription/condensation of prior oral tradition (and without context, I have no reason to think that Horton meant his words that way), then they would seem to be wrong.

In that regard, Horton’s characterizations would be imprecise. For example, Paul’s epistles were not examples of prior oral tradition being committed to writing. Indeed, it is rare in Scripture that we are told that something is an oral tradition being committed to writing.

Finally, I note that the rationale/explanation provided in Stellman’s original comment, namely “but it was not founded upon ‘the Scriptures,’ for the obvious reason that decades elapsed during which the church was growing, and no NT books had even been written, let alone collected and recognized as canonical,” is still problematic, but since he’s not continuing that (and has already acknowledged that there was some imprecision there), I figure the point has been sufficiently made for everyone concerned. Indeed, the point that the Scriptures were given for the establishment and comfort of the church is simply Scripturally and Confessionally the undeniable fact. And Paige Britton has already noted that: “[Stellman]’s steady-on re. the mother-daughter thing (Church as mother of Scriptures v. Scripture as mother of Church).” So, I suppose the clarification is at an end, unless I’ve misunderstood Stellman’s responses above.

However, there is another issue I’d like to address.

II. The Authority of Councils

I wonder what Stellman means when he writes:
Were ministers in the post-Acts 15 church free to disregard the conclusion of the Jerusalem Council? Or, are we free today to disregard the Nicene formulation of the Trinity or the Chalcedonian definition of the hypostatic union?

You may answer (1) no and no; (2) yes and yes; (3) no and yes; or for the sake of argument, (4) yes and no.

My instinct is to opt for option #1. Now, if the councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon were so authoritative that they actually define orthodoxy, my question is, “Are the Westminster Assembly’s conclusions that authoritative, and if not, why not?”

And is there a church or branch of the church today that can still make Nicaea-like pronouncements? If so, where is it? If not, where did it go?


The specific question mark in my mind is his expression: “free to disregard” which isn’t really a defined theological term.

There are two possible senses to his comment. I’ll give the sense I hope he meant first. The sense I hope he meant is the sense of WCF 31:3:

III. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his Word.

In this sense, Christians are not free to utterly disregard the decisions of councils. If that’s all that Stellman meant (and to be clear, I am charitably presuming that’s what he meant), then I agree with him.

However, there is a possibility that what he said could be understood to mean that Nicaea and Chalcedon are our regula fidei – our rule of faith. That is to say, their definitions are not something that we can even consider questioning on the basis of Scripture.

If Stellman’s expression were to be understood in that light, then it would be both wrong and contrary to our (his and my) confession, namely WCF 31:4:

IV. All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.

Notice that the Confession (which in Section 2, had specifically indicated the Scriptures as the rule of faith) explicitly indicates that councils are nor our rule of faith/practice (even councils that were right).

In this regard, I am concerned that Stellman's view of the Reformed doctrine of sola scriptura may sound closer to Keith Mathison's presentation of it (in The Shape of Sola Scriptura) than the presentation we find in the Westminster Confession of Faith. While it may sound that way, please note that I'm not accusing Stellman of denying the WCF in favor of a more Mathisonian approach.


Ergun Caner in San Diego

Ergun Caner was apparently in San Diego, May 1-2, 2010.  The following are some thoughts/reflections/comments on what he said at that time.

Part I

(07:17) As a boy, coming from Turkey, born in Stockholm, Sweden.

(07:55) Turkish background, Turkish father-mother, Turkish citizen, we come to America as Muslims.

(11:26) I'm the oldest of three sons, which means, in the Turkish culture, I'm the first one that's supposed to get married. So my father gives me the lecture on being married. And we come to America, now its my job to be the first one to marry an American. As a Turk and as a Muslim, you marry a girl and she becomes a Muslim, even if she never walks into the mosque.

(18:20) My assumptions were what I saw on television: Andy Griffith, Andy Griffith was American, and we came through New York. Mayberry and Brooklyn. Very little in common. And wrestling. I - my entire life - I know, it's odd - "President of a Seminary" - that's nothing, - being a president means nothing to me. When I looked at America, I saw it through the prism of whatever I saw on television. I thought Rick Flair was the mayor of America, I thought that - you a Rick Flair fan? - I thought Dusty Rhodes was the governor - I thought that was America. And that's my assumption, because that was my filter, and that was my grid. And everybody has a grid and everybody has a filter.

(39:55) They had, as I had, a glorious mullet that would cascade down my head. I had a foot-long Turkish mullet. Turkish hair is very kinky, and I would even have it permed so it bounced as one hair as I walked. I would blow-dry it upside down and I head a feather earring.

Part II

(11:46) We were raised the sons of a man who was so devout he did the call to prayer, a muezzin. Acar Mehmet Caner, my father. And we come to America - I've been sharing my testimony since I got saved, twenty-seven years ago. And yet, when YouTube became real popular in 2006, this - they - this Muslim guy out of London started getting video clips of me, and dissecting them. "He mispronounces this," I'm not Arabic. I'm Turkish. If you know the Middle East, a couple of you obviously do, cause ya'll've been there, there's Persian, there's Anatolian, and there's Arabic. And the Arabs are only 20% of the Muslims, world-wide. And everybody else speaks Arabic phonetically. It's like Catholics who memorize the Latin. You do it. You may not know what you're sayin', and you can do it reflexively. If you came from a Catholic background, and I just pop out a "peace to you," you just go "and peace be unto you." You do it in your sleep man, it came from your whole background.

(12:47) So the YouTube channel was Muslims. Hey, I've been dealing with that forever. And you learn to live with it. There's reasons you guys couldn't advertise, maybe the ways you've advertised in the past. There's things that I have to do, precautions I have to take. It's the way we live. Emir and I have to live this way, my younger brother.

(13:10) But about six months ago, about six - eight months ago, they got joined up. The Muslims got joined up with a Christian group to hate on me. Now that is painful, cause you don't see it coming. That's what happens in church fights.

(19:49) I went to my chancellor and I said, Chancellor, these guys have a website that's called "fakeexmuslims" something, says that my brothers and I were not Muslim. And it's by a Muslim who says, you know, for instance, "He speaks with a Turkish accent." well, really? really? Another one says, "I have absolute proof that his nickname is 'Butch.'" I tell everybody that. The people who call me Butch - you know - they're from my family - my wife's family. So I took it to the chancellor, and I said, "Chancellor, just because I'm accountable to you, I want you to see proof." He goes, "I don't need proof, you've been doin' this forever. You write books - do you really -" We write books under our own name. A lot of people in our world use a pseudonym to cover. I don't know if Shubat is a pseudonym, but Abdul Saleeb wrote a great book called, "Answering Islam." "Abdul Saleeb" means slave of the cross.

(20:45) We chose to write under our real names. So, we knew it was coming. We didn't that was [unintelligible]. So the chancellor said, "Look. Two guys become presidents of two colleges - two institutions, a college and a seminary - I don't think that you could pull that off."[end of quotation unclear] You know, they're looking for Mike Wernke moment. Yeah, they were. So much so, that the Christians hired somebody to go to Columbus Ohio where we lived and to the courthouse and this has been about three weeks ago and got my parents' divorce, separation, and appeal papers, and uploaded them to the web. My whole life is on the web. My gun permit is on the web, my - which I'm sort of happy about - but you can imagine how my wife feels when our whole world is on the line. You know, we've had to move three times in Lynchburg, and now we may have to move again.

(21:41) I didn't see that because, when it comes to flamers, when it comes to people you can't shut up, you have to shut 'em out. You can't shut 'em up, you have to shut 'em out. So I cut it out of my life. I blocked those people, I blocked [unintelligible] But it was my students that started coming to me. Goats. "Well, what are they saying about you?" I don't know. So I went back to my chancellor. My chancellor said, "Have you seen what they uploaded?" "Nope." "Ya need to see it." "Why" "Because they proved your point." What they uploaded was our father's saying he has land and property still in Turkey, that we have Turkish passports, that we are Turkish citizens, that in the divorce he wanted us to still be raised in the madrassa, to still follow the holy days, and it proves that we were Muslim.

(22:23) So, I go home to my wife, who is not happy, to say the least. And I said, "Looks like the flamers are piling on, but they may have proved our point, so they may go away." I am an idiot. Flamers never go away. They got eight hours a day to sit on the computer, because they don't have a life.

(32:10) As I entered into high school, I looked different, acted different, was different. I'm Columbus, Ohio, where my father builds the mosque on Broad St. It's still standing, the Islamic Foundation. Trust me, the haters put up the pictures. You can see where my dad - you'll see pictures of my father! There is Acar Mehmet Caner, standing next to the imam.

(32:35) We were in the mosque, like some of you were in church. Some of you were in church because you had a "drug" problem. Drug to Sunday School, drug to church, drug to Wednesday nights, etc. Right? Right? You went every time, Mom and Daddy made you come, right? That was us in the mosque. I knew nothing about you Christians, couldn't have cared less.

(32:53) One boy. One kid. Jerry Tackett was an apologist. Starting in our freshman year, going to our senior year, Tackett wouldn't leave me alone, wouldn't let me out of an excuse, and wouldn't shut his mouth. Every time he told me "Come" and every time I told him "No" he didn't mark me off a list, and go away. He just kept coming.

(37:44) Jesus strapped himself to a cross, so I wouldn't have to strap a bomb to myself.

(38:00) So, in that church, I got saved. In that church, that night. I'm free from scales. The youth group goes out to eat, as all youth groups did back then. Went to a waffle house, huddle hut, Dennie's - whatever. I took off my keffiyeh, told the waitress that I was saved, ordered some ham. I know - I don't lack ham now. Then I go home and tell my father that I'm a believer in Jesus. Now, it's the last day that I see my dad until his death. And as - oh - and as gracious as you are for thinking "oh, that's hard - oh, that's horrible," no. In the Islamic world, when they can't argue with your points, they argue with you, right. Ad Hominem instead of Ad Hoc. Here's the simple point they can't argue with. In Islam, conversion to anything makes you murtad. And in thirty-six countries, at least thirty-six countries - you are put to death for your conversion, including Turkey, where converts who owned a Christian bookstore were killed, just recently - a couple years. It happens. So my dad was doing an act of mercy.

(39:30) Next thing I know I'm in college, a year later, both of my brothers get saved. All three of us through the work of one apologist - one friend - one kid. One person who took the time and met me in the marketplace, and met them in the marketplace.

(41:47) In '91, my mom got saved. My mom. My mom. This little woman, adopted in Sweden, dark, heavy accent, I got to baptize my mom, which is amazing, and my mom now lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

(43:06) In 1995, my grandmother got saved. Our first book, Unveiling Islam, was dedicated to her. Maria Eleonora Lindberg. She's the one who adopted our mom. Our grandma moved to America, never learned a word of English, lived here twenty years - plus twenty years. And watched as her three grandsons get disowned, watched the family go through divorce, watched the horror that that entails. And she's living in Wood, North Carolina, where I met me wife, and my brother Emir was working with me, we were both in seminary at the same time, serving at the same church. And these ladies in the church blew up Scripture that she could read, large enough and led my grandma to Christ. Emir got to baptize our grandma.

Part 3

(41:01) The way that Mohamed described the life a jahid, the martyr, is that if he gets to the 100th degree of paradise, he's the only person in all of Islam who's assured of heaven.

(41:48) What does the female jahid - what does the female martyr get?

(51:40) Being from the Middle East - he's more olive skinned, darker than me - because again I'm Anatolian - I'm a Mongol [Mongrel?] - a more Asiatic Muslim.

Part 4

EC makes a good point against Legalism around 8 minutes in.

(16:34) I fight vehemently with hyper-Calvinists who think that Christ only died for them, and thus, he didn't die for the world, and they qualify that. But - so - hyper-Calvinists are still saved, they are still my brothers.

(23:16) The big evil thing is Catholicism and the icons. (fake voice)"Well they had icons, and the Greek and Roman churches split over the use of icons in worship" (normal voice)Yeah, I get it, but you're forgetting that this is the dark ages. And the reason the dark ages were called the dark ages was 'cuz after the fall of Rome, education fell on the backside, 'cuz everybody had to separate into city-states and nobody could be educated and they had to survive - and everybody stopped learning how to read. So - how do you tell the Bible - how do you preach the Bible to a people who can't read? Icons. That's how they did it. That's why, if you go into churches, and you see these monstrous stain glass windows. That's like the middle ages. They would tell the stories by showing the picture. In other words, Icons - they may be bad now, people kissing them and thinking they've the spirit of Gregory in it or whatever - but it started out as the Vacation Bible School method. It was the flannelgraph. It was holding up of an icon to say "this is the story of John."

[37:57] Thank you for listening to a towel-headed kid for two days, God bless you.

Scripture and the Church - Response to John Martin

The following is a response to comments from John Martin (Roman Catholic) in the comment box of a previous post (link to previous post). In general, the quotations (using normal quotation marks) are from John Martin. My responses follow line-by-line.

"All scriptures were written by prophets either of the OT church of Israel of the NT church of Israel."

Seemingly, all the Scriptures were written by people who were Jewish and who were believers. As far as we know, all were males. The fact of their ethnic identity and their masculinity are not especially significant. We don't actually know who wrote some of the books of Scripture (for example, Hebrews, Job, or Esther). The fact that we don't know who wrote them is not especially significant.

"In both cases the prophets came first, and spoke the word and some of the word was then written down."

No. In the case of Paul's epistles, the word was written down in the first instance. The same goes for Revelation. The same may be the case in many or nearly all cases. It's rare when we are told that a certain prophecy was first given orally and later written down.

"From this we have the principle of church dependence upon the OT and NT, for the scriptures were never self written nor self authenticating, but were written and authenticated by church members."

No, the Scriptures are θεόπνευστος (theopneustos), God-breathed. Thus, they are self-authenticating. Their authority was recognized by members of the Church, but on the authority of God, not the church.

"In both the OT and the NT the scriptures were recognised as such by the magesteriums’ within either testaments. In the OT were have the chair of Moses and the NT we have the chair of Peter."

We don't have "the chair of Peter" in the New Testament. If you disagree, please point it out. No doubt not only the magisteria of the churches of the old and new testaments but also the congregants altogether recognized the authority of the Scriptures. And "the chair of Moses" (the Sanhedrin who sat in that seat, and ) clearly did show that it was aware of the Scriptures, as did the apostles, elders, and brethren of the Jerusalem church.

Ironically, however, you don't accept the same Scriptures that the "chair of Moses" accepted, together with the Jewish people generally, even though the divine oracles were committed to them:

Romans 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

"Church founded by Christ and the apostles"

It was founded by Christ on himself. The apostles were built on him. And we are built on their foundation.

"Some members of the apostles and their close associates writes some texts"

Some holy men of God were inspired to write the Holy Scripture.

"These texts were used in the liturgy and later recognised as being apostolic and inspired by the church magesterium. This is historical fact."

Saying "This is the historical fact" doesn't make it one. The development of stable liturgies comes after the apostles. The Scriptures were read both in the synagogues before Christ and in the churches once Christ came.

As I've already pointed out, the Scriptures were recognized as Scriptures immediately, though a few of the smaller books took longer to circulate.

"In short we have church- church members write- church uses text- church recognises text officially as scripture."

The fact that the people who write something are "church members" doesn't make their work a product of the church. And, the churches used the text before there was an "official" recognition. Peter mentions the canonicity of Paul's epistles almost as a matter of course, without any prior (that we know of) official dogmatic announcement of the canon.

"Therefore, from beginning to end the authority of scripture is dependent upon the church."

See above.

"It is fallacious to cite a cited text as being authoritative without establishing the authority of the original text that uses the statement."

No, it's not.

"Therefore to say Peter says Paul’s texts are scripture means we must determine the authority of Peter first and as Peter is not self authenticating then it must be determined as authoritative through the ordinary means of tradition and the magesterium."

a) Peter's epistles are self-authenticating.

b) All that we must do is believe Peter's epistles to know that Paul's epistles are Scripture.

"Therefore the so called early citation of scripture is fallacious."

It's not "so called." Peter refers to Paul's epistles as Scripture.

"Christ also referred to the chair of Moses as being binding on the believer and Paul says repeatedly throughout his letters that tradition is binding on the believer."

a) The chair of Moses was binding only to a limited extent. When it came in conflict with God's law, it was not to be obeyed.

Recall what Peter and the other apostles said:

Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

b) The apostolic tradition we have is that found in Scripture. You cannot point us to any other authentic apostolic tradition. Nor can you establish that there is any part of the apostolic tradition that was conveyed by the apostles but not contained either expressly or implicitly in Scriptures.

"As Paul was an apostle and Paul preached many truths not recorded in scripture, we then have the three authorities of scripture, tradition and the magesterium being used in the early Church."

a) There's not a good reason to think think that "Paul preached many truths not recorded in scripture."

b) Even if there were a good reason to think that "Paul preached many truths not recorded in scripture" it would not follow that we need those additional things.

"Evidently the church was Catholic and not a reformed version of the Gospel."

The early church had a mixture of true and false teachers, just as now. But none, even among the false teachers, taught the odd assortment of distinctively Roman dogmas, such as papal infallibility, the immaculate conception of Mary, and Purgatory.

That doesn't mean that the alternative is that all held to precisely the Westminster Confession of Faith. There were a variety of different views among the early Christians - though they had a single source for their doctrines: the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

"The Bereans listened to Pauls oral tradition as from an apostles who was a member of the magesterium."

What makes you say that? It can't really be something in the text of Acts, can it?

"The Bereans were formally using scripture ad materially using tradition and the magesterium, which to be expected because the Bereans were not yet in the church, but only possible converts when Paul was evangelizing them."

They were using Scripture as their rule of faith.

"Even still, the Bereans used scripture tradition and the teaching magesterium and not scripture alone."

It would be nice if you could demonstrate that - but we both know that you cannot.

"The first person to correctly put together was Athanasius in the 4th C, so the NT canon was not settled until at least that time."

a) You ought to say instead that the first person whose list we have, where the list of New Testament books exactly matches our list, is Athanasius.

b) The fact that there was a little uncertainty (in various churches) about some of the books is true. Nevertheless, the vast bulk of the Scripture was well known from the earliest times, as I've already noted.

c) Additional evidence may be found in the canon list of Eusebius of Caesarea, which has all the New Testament books, although it notes that some are disputed (Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 25.)(about A.D. 324).

I wrote: “h) The Scriptures were given for the purpose of the edification and instructions of the church.”

JM responded: "And so was tradition and the teaching magesterium to resolve doctrinal conflicts."

Not in the same way, to the extent they were given at all.

"We see this in the Jerusalem Council and later at Nicea and Chalcedon and son on."

All three of those councils relied on the authority of Scripture, rather than on supposed inherent authority of the council.

"All three authorities were used together throughout church history. This is undeniable fact."

Not in the same sense that you have in mind - based on your arguments here. And we don't have any authoritative extra-scriptural "tradition" left, if there ever was any. Meanwhile, we still have the authority of teachers in the church - but this was never an authority comparable to Scripture.

"From what I’ve said, from what’s found in scripture and from church history there are three authorities of scripture, tradition and the church magesterium all required and interdependent."

Do you think you can show from Scripture that Scripture is dependent on the church or extra-scriptural "tradition"?

"We cannot base the authority of the church upon formally upon the scriptures, but only materially, because the scriptures authority formally comes from God, through the church."

Do we find any of the Scriptures written in the name of "the Church"? Not one. We find that they are all God-breathed, and that they are written by individuals whom God's Spirit has moved to write what they write.

There seems to be an attempt in the argument you are making to allege the mere material sufficiency of Scripture, although the way you are phrasing the argument is somewhat unusual.

"The OT scriptures come from the OT church, which was OT Israel. Again, this is an almost self evident fact."

I've addressed this above. They came from individuals who were inspired. The OT church did not say, "Go write some Scriptures." The individuals' authority came directly from God.

"Taking a closer look at the text shows us just how problematic sola scriptora really is."

Let's see.

"The reference to scripture being God breathed is only a metaphor, which assumes an authoritative magesterium to flesh out the meaning of the text and give the church a more formal and a more precise meaning of what it means for a text to be inspired."

The use of metaphor in writing doesn't ordinarily require an authoritative magisterium. Why should it require one here? The sense is relatively transparent despite the use of an anthropomorphism.

"This was done by the catholic Popes, who made pronouncements on the nature of inspiration in conformity with tradition."

When I read through the church fathers who either comment on that verse or cite it, not a single one makes reference to pronouncements by Roman bishops about the verse. Doesn't that strike you as odd? I mean, if you were right, we wouldn't we expect to hear it say, "as Bishop Celestius explains" or even, "as Rome has taught us."

Take Chrysostom's commentary as an example:
Having offered much exhortation and consolation from other sources, he adds that which is more perfect, derived from the Scriptures; and he is reasonably full in offering consolation, because he has a great and sad thing to say. For if Elisha, who was with his master to his last breath, when he saw him departing as it were in death, rent his garments for grief, what think you must this disciple suffer, so loving and so beloved, upon hearing that his master was about to die, and that he could not enjoy his company when he was near his death, which is above all things apt to be distressing? For we are less grateful for the past time, when we have been deprived of the more recent intercourse of those who are departed. For this reason when he had previously offered much consolation, he then discourses concerning his own death: and this in no ordinary way, but in words adapted to comfort him and fill him with joy; so as to have it considered as a sacrifice rather than a death; a migration, as in fact it was, and a removal to a better state. “For I am now ready to be offered up” (2 Tim. iv. 6.), he says. For this reason he writes: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, 510for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All what Scripture? all that sacred writing, he means, of which I was speaking. This is said of what he was discoursing of; about which he said, “From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures.” All such, then, “is given by inspiration of God”; therefore, he means, do not doubt; and it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

“For doctrine.” For thence we shall know, whether we ought to learn or to be ignorant of anything. And thence we may disprove what is false, thence we may be corrected and brought to a right mind, may be comforted and consoled, and if anything is deficient, we may have it added to us.

“That the man of God may be perfect.” For this is the exhortation of the Scripture given, that the man of God may be rendered perfect by it; without this therefore he cannot be perfect. Thou hast the Scriptures, he says, in place of me. If thou wouldest learn anything, thou mayest learn it from them. And if he thus wrote to Timothy, who was filled with the Spirit, how much more to us!

“Thoroughly furnished unto all good works”; not merely taking part in them, he means, but “thoroughly furnished.”

"Evidently the church is only materially dependent upon the scriptures for its authority."

Actually, listen to what Chrysostom explains above: "Thou hast the Scriptures, he says, in place of me." Having Paul's epistles is like having Paul himself, and better - for Scripture is infallible but Paul was fallible. See also my note above the formal/material distinction.

"The church is formally dependent upon Christ and the apostles and the tradition passed down through the church history. This tradition tells us of the way in which the church is to pray, worship, a code of conduct to be used to please God ..."

Paul (indeed Scripture itself) says that Scripture itself is able to furnish man thoroughly for every good work.

"... and a magisterial authority that can an has made pronouncements upon many matters of faith and morals."

There is, of course, authority in the church. It's just not as high of an authority as your church suggests.

"Any way you look at it, scripture, tradition and the church are all interrelated and we cannot come to the conclusion that the church is formally dependent upon the scriptures for its authority."

Jesus' subordinated his own ministry to the Scriptures, encouraging the Jews to Search the Scriptures to confirm that He was whom He claimed to be.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Holy Scripture - The Foundation of the Church - A Response to Stellman

Jason J. Stellman wrote:
I think we need to make a simple distinction between the “Word” and the “Scriptures.” The New Covenant church was founded on the Word (that is, upon Christ and his message as preached by the apostles), but it was not founded upon “the Scriptures,” for the obvious reason that decades elapsed during which the church was growing, and no NT books had even been written, let alone collected and recognized as canonical.

So whatever our doctrine of ecclesiastical authority, it needs to do justice to the fact that the church existsed (not before the Word, but) before the Scriptures.

I answer:

a) Most of the Scriptures predate the New Testament church, and those Scriptures speak of Christ.

b) The Church is, of course, founded specifically on Christ, and on the revelation of Him. The primary source of that revelation is the Old Testament Scriptures, but the New Testament Scriptures are also a critical part of the revelation, providing additional light that helps to explain the Old Testament.

c) The Scriptures were completed in the first century, and the Church was nurtured on them from the time of their writing onward.

d) Further to (c), the New Testament Scriptures were recognized as such during the lifetime of the apostles (See Peter's description of Paul's letters as Scriptures, as well as Paul's reference to Luke's gospel).

e) Further to (a)-(d) the Old Testament Scriptures were used authoritatively by Christ himself and the apostles as well. The one "council" that we see relied for its judgment on comparing their experiences to the authoritative Old Testament Scriptures.

f) Further to (e), the Bereans were specifically commended for carefully scrutinizing the Old Testament Scriptures to determine whether Paul the Apostle's gospel was true.

g) We also see from the earliest extant post-apostolic writings that the churches had and read both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.

h) The Scriptures were given for the purpose of the edification and instructions of the church.

From the above, which cannot be reasonably denied, it is proper and right to say that the true Church of Christ is founded on the Scriptures, and therefore the authority of the Scriptures cannot depend on the Church.

Certainly, beyond any doubt, the authority of the bulk of the Scriptures, specifically the Old Testament Scriptures, cannot come from the Church.

As a final support for the fact that the authority of the New Testament Scriptures does not come from the church, we see that Scripture itself explains to us that the Bible is θεόπνευστος (theopneustos), God-breathed. The Scriptures are not ecclesiopneustos (church-breathed). They come not from the authority of the church, but from God's authority.

Indeed, the same is true of Paul's own ministry. Paul was not an apostle of the church, but of Christ. He did not derive his authority from the twelve, but directly from God. Paul's discussion at the beginning of Galatians is especially clear about this. When he wrote Scriptures, he did not write from their authority, or from his own authority, but according to the authority of the Holy Spirit who inspired him.

The Scriptures were written for the church, not by the church. Their authority is greater than the church, because they are θεόπνευστος (theopneustos). There is no greater authority that we have. Paul himself explained that if the apostles themselves or an angel from heaven were to preach another gospel, we should not accept that (Galatians 1:8).

To divide the Word from the Scriptures, as Stellman is doing, is dangerous ground (although it is one of the approaches that the Romanists use). Surely the Word of God came to prophets in the apostolic age, even as the Scriptures were continuing to be given. Nevertheless, that Word upon which the church was founded is the inscripturated Word. The inscripturated word has, since the time of Moses, always had the priority over alleged prophets:

Deuteronomy 13:1-5
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

We see the difference between the time period of the apostles and the time period succeeding the apostles in Hebrews 1-2:

Hebrews 1:1-2
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; ...

Hebrews 2:1-4
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Notice that the author of Hebrews treats the period of confirmation of the revelation as a time that has past (was confirmed - aorist tense). This makes sense if, as many suppose, Hebrews is one of the last books of Scripture. It particularly makes sense in view of the prophesied completion of prophecy when the revelation was complete:

1 Corinthains 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.

So, there is little doubt that the prophecies, and tongues, and knowledge that failed upon the completion of Scripture were not formally the same as Scripture. Nevertheless, the Word of God is preserved. It is what was completed, ending the need for prophecy. And it has been preserved for us by the mechanism of Scripture.

Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Isaiah 40:6-8
The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

1 Peter 1:24-25 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

This is not a new idea from the 21st Century, but something that Irenaeus recognized in the 2nd century:
1. We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed "perfect knowledge," as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God. Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.

2. These have all declared to us that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, announced by the law and the prophets; and one Christ the Son of God. If any one do not agree to these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord; nay more, he despises Christ Himself the Lord; yea, he despises the Father also, and stands self-condemned, resisting and opposing his own salvation, as is the case with all heretics.
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 1

Notice that Irenaeus plainly teaches us that it is the Holy Scriptures that are the ground and pillar of our faith ("the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith."). That's because for Irenaeus there is a merger, not a division, between the Word and the Scriptures. I hope this post will encourage Stellman to do the same.

- TurretinFan