Seraphim and the Occultist

Another example of Church – State relations gone awry.

I’m reRASPading a bio of Rasputin by Douglas Smith and he repeats the story of how Seraphim of Sarov was canonized. According to Douglas, and I have heard this story before from another source, the Orthodox Church examined life and teachings of Seraphim but refused to canonize him. The Tzar received a prophecy from a French occultist named Monsieur Phillippe who stated that if he prayed to St. Seraphim of Sarov he would have the heir he so desperately desired, the problem was, the Church rejected Seraphim’s canonization.

How was the problem solved?

According to Douglas:

“…Nicholas, to the anger of the Holy Synod, the church’s governing body, overrode the decision (“The Emperor can do anything,” an angry Alexandra insisted) and ordered that Serephim be canonized.” p.46

And that folks is how Seraphim of Sarov became recognized as a Saint.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Satanic Vices

Elder Sylvester Hassell;

The terrible, wave of infidelity, heathenism, and atheism, thus well described and rebuked by Mr. Davidson, of Vermont, swept over Europe in the eighteenth century, and over the Northern States of the Union in the nineteenth century, and is sweep­ing over the Southern States in the twentieth cen­tury. This diabolical down-rush of the human race to perdition was foretold, and the certainty of its awful punishment by the only living, holy, and Al­mighty God was declared in Matt. xxiv; II Thess. i, 7-10; I Tim. iv; II Tim. iii; Rev. iii, 14-22; xix, 11-21. The irreverence, corruption, and violence pervading this wicked and adulterous generation are like the same satanic vices that pervaded nearly the whole human race in the days of Noah; and as unbelievers were destroyed by a flood of water then, so shall they soon be destroyed by a flood of fire. The sun shall become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon as blood, and the stars shall fall, and the heavens depart as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every mountain and island be moved out of its place, and the kings of the earth and the rich men and the chief captains and the mighty men hide themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and say to the moun­tains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? Rev. vi, 12-17. Then all the indifference and irreverence and infidelity and atheism will be instantaneously and everlast­ingly driven from the minds of the human race; for even the devils or demons or evil spirits believe and tremble (James ii, 19); but our poor, ungodly, irrev­erent, and sinful race, deceived by Satan, the chief enemy of God and man, seems to be more stupid and more wicked than even the devils. May the Lord graciously save his people everywhere from such un­utterable folly and sinfulness. [source]

“kept pure in all ages…”

(posted in 2010)

I hold to the same position the 17th century Reformers confessed, and is stated in Westminster and Second London Baptist Confessions.  According to these confessions, the scriptures are:

“immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentic; so as in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal to them.” (article 1:8)

Dr. Edward Hills explains how Erasmus, in his first printing of his Greek New Testament, was guided by a common faith held by all concerning, the text they had. And that,

“Luther, Melanchton, Stephanus, Calvin, Beza, and the other scholars of the Reformation Period who labored on the New Testament text were similarly guided by God’s special providence. These scholars had received humanistic training in their youth, and in their notes and comments they sometimes reveal traces of this early education. But in their actual dealings with the biblical text these humanistic tendencies were restrained by the common faith in the providential preservation of Scripture, a faith which they themselves professed along with their followers. Hence in the Reformation Period the textual criticism of the New Testament was different from the textual criticism of any other book. The humanistic methods used on other books were not applied to the New Testament. In their editions of the New Testament Erasmus and his successors were providentially guided by the common faith to adopt the current text, primarily the current Greek text and secondarily the current Latin text. … thus the logic of faith led true believers of that day, just as it leads true believers today, to the Textus Receptus as the God-guided New Testament text”

The Greek text edition circulated by Theodore Beza was in common use and considered authoritative. There was little or no further textual criticism done to his Greek edition, hence, it was received. In history we find a clear witness of the Protestant church to the Received Text. The church is the witness, the pillar and ground of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

J. H. Gosden of the Gospel Standard Baptist observes in his commentary on the Gospel Standard Baptist Articles of Faith,

“By inspiration of God gave the Holy Oracles, and power – perennial miracle – He preserves them intact. They are inerrant, unchangeable, unlosable. Could they err or change or be lost, their divine origin would be disapproved and dependence upon them would be misplaced. In such a case there would exist no foundation upon which to build for eternity, no final court of appeal respecting truth and error, no standard of doctrine, no rule of practice, no touchstone of experience. “

Those who prefer to use a rational approach in defining the New Testament text have to admit that scripture is selected by the text critic. In the office of a scholar many manuscripts are studied. The assumption is often stated that “only the originals are inspired.” The scholar must conduct examinations of the many manuscripts to determine which verse is more likely to be inspired and therefore authentic. But what kind of method does he use? What is his rule to determine what is, might be or is not scripture? The Bible critic or critics, whatever the case maybe, must choose and whatever kind of rule chosen, becomes their guiding principle. It is not driven by the logic of faith the Reformers used but a secular naturalistic presupposition. This presupposition denies the God who acts in history and intervenes in our daily lives. It denies what scriptures reveals about itself.

As the peoples historian D’Aubigne declared, “Christianity is neither an abstract doctrine nor an external organization. It is a life from God communicated to mankind…”

The CT man has no biblical text:

Bart Ehrman states, “there is always a degree of doubt, an element of subjectivity.”

Kurt Aland declares that the latest Text of the United Bible Societies is “not a static entity” and “every change in it is open to challenge.”

G. Zuntz admits that “the optimism of the earlier editors has given way to that scepticism which inclines towards regarding ‘the original text’ as an unattainable mirage.”

Douglas Wilson writes,

“This witness is not offered by the Church as “something to think about” or as a mere “suggestion.” The testimony of the Church on this point is submissive to Scripture, but authoritative for the saints. For example, if an elder in a Christian church took it upon himself to add a book to the canon of Scripture, or sought to take away a book, the duty of his church would be to try him for heresy and remove him immediately. This disciplinary action is authoritative, taken in defense of an authoritative canonical settlement. This does not mean the Church is defending the Word of God; the Church is defending her witness to the Word. As the necessity of discipline makes plain, this witness is dogmatic and authoritative. It is not open for discussion. God does not intend for us to debate the canon of Scripture afresh every generation. We have already given our testimony; our duty now is to remain faithful to it. “

Dr. Daniel Wallace is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and is considered an expert inn ancient biblical Greek and New Testament criticism. In a blog post about the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature he wrote,


“As remarkable as it may sound, most biblical scholars are not Christians. I don’t know the exact numbers, but my guess is that between 60% and 80% of the members of SBL do not believe that Jesus’ death paid for our sins, or that he was bodily raised from the dead. “

We cannot declare the originals only, exchanging “King James Onlyism” for “Original Text Onlyism,” our very idea of sola scriptura does not allow for it. Without a foundational set of manuscripts Protestantism is reduced to just one of many traditions with sola scriptura a late development and no less of a tradition then that found in Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism. This tradition is reduced to a Magisterium of scholars instead of Popes, Cardinals and Bishops. We have replaced the Roman Magisterium with a Magisterium of Textual Critics.  Rome acts like a final authority, and the scholar tells us what the final authority might be.
jm

Spurgeon on Christmass

ChristsMassPosted on FM last year: “WE HAVE NO superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.” – Spurgeon

Audio from John Knox, Charles Spurgeon, A. W. Pink, etc.

The Christmas Cycle

From 2013

Notes and quotes from Schaff’s History of the Christian Church (emphasis added by me)

Everyone Loves Christmas!scrooge-1
The Christmas festival is the celebration of the incarnation of the Son of God. It is occupied, therefore, with the event which forms the centre and turning-point of the history of the world. It is of all the festivals the one most thoroughly interwoven with the popular and family life, and stands at the head of the great feasts in the Western church year. It continues to be, in the entire Catholic world and in the greater part of Protestant Christendom, the grand jubilee of children, on which innumerable gifts celebrate the infinite love of God in the gift of his only-begotten Son. It kindles in mid-winter a holy fire of love and gratitude, and preaches in the longest night the rising of the Sun of life and the glory of the Lord. It denotes the advent of the true golden age, of the freedom and equality of all the redeemed before God and in God. No one can measure the joy and blessing which from year to year flow forth upon all ages of life from the contemplation of the holy child Jesus in his heavenly innocence and divine humility.

Johnny Come Lately:
…the festival of the birth of the Lord is of comparatively late institution. This may doubtless be accounted for in the following manner:

In the first place, no corresponding festival was presented by the Old Testament, as in the case of Easter and Pentecost.

In the second place, the day and month of the birth of Christ are nowhere stated in the gospel history, and cannot be certainly determined.

Again: the church lingered first of all about the death and resurrection of Christ, the completed fact of redemption, and made this the center of the weekly worship and the church year.

Finally: the earlier feast of Epiphany afforded a substitute. The artistic religious impulse, however, which produced the whole church year, must sooner or later have called into existence a festival which forms the groundwork of all other annual festivals in honor of Christ.

The feast of Epiphany had spread from the East to the West. The feast of Christmas took the opposite course. We find it first in Rome, in the time of the bishop Liberius, who on the twenty-fifth of December, 360…

(“The human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols.” John Calvin, Institutes, 1.XI.8)

Christmas was introduced in Antioch about the year 380; in Alexandria, where the feast of Epiphany was celebrated as the nativity of Christ, not till about 430. Chrysostom, who delivered the Christmas homily in Antioch on the 25th of December, 386, already calls it, notwithstanding its recent introduction (some ten years before), the fundamental feast, or the root, from which all other Christian festivals grow forth.

Of Pagan Origin:
The Christmas festival was probably the Christian transformation or regeneration of a series of kindred heathen festivals—the Saturnalia, Sigillaria, Juvenalia, and Brumalia—which were kept in Rome in the month of December, in commemoration of the golden age of universal freedom and equality, and in honor of the unconquered sun, and which were great holidays, especially for slaves and children. (Schaff’s footnote: The Satumalia were the feast of Saturn or Kronos, in representation of the golden days of his reign, when all labor ceased, prisoners were set free, slaves went about in gentlemen’s clothes and in the hat (the mark of a freeman), and all classes gave themselves up to mirth and rejoicing. The Sigillaria were a festival of images and puppets at the close of the Saturnalia on the 21st and 22d of December, when miniature images of the gods, wax tapers, and all sorts of articles of beauty and luxury were distributed to children and among kinsfolk. The Brumalia, from bruma (brevissima, the shortest day), had reference to the winter solstice, and the return of the Sol invictus.)

The OG Festival: All About the Incarnation
The feast of Epiphany on the contrary, on the sixth of January, is older… It refers in general to the manifestation of Christ in the world, and originally bore the twofold character of a celebration of the birth and the baptism of Jesus. After the introduction of Christmas, it lost its reference to the birth. The Eastern church commemorated on this day especially the baptism of Christ, or the manifestation of His Messiahship, and together with this the first manifestation of His miraculous power at the marriage at Cana. The Westem church, more Gentle-Christian in its origin, gave this festival, after the fourth century, a special reference to the adoration of the infant Jesus by the wise men from the east, under the name of the feast of the Three Kings, and transformed it into a festival of Genthe missions; considering the wise men as the representatives of the nobler heathen world. Thus at the same time the original connection of the feast with the birth of Christ was preserved. Epiphany forms the close of the Christmas Cycle. It was an early custom to announce the term of the Easter observance on the day of Epiphany by the so-called Epistolae paschales, or gravmmata pascavlia. This was done especially by the bishop of Alexandria, where astronomy most flourished, and the occasion was improved for edifying instructions and for the discussion of important religious questions of the day.

 

A Romans 14 Christmas?

Posted in 2015

Does Romans 14 give us a defense for keeping Christmas? I’ve seen v.5 cited often as a general defense for the keeping of holy days.

It reads;

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Well folks, I don’t believe it applies to Christmas, just read the passage in context. The passage is speaking to the church at Rome made up of Jewish converts and Gentiles. Some wanted to keep old Mosaic holy days while other did not.

Gill explains this passage is;

“not to be understood of days appointed by the Christian churches for fasting, or abstinence from certain meats, either once a year, as the “Quadragesima”, or Lent; or twice a week, as Wednesdays and Fridays; for these are things of much later observation, and which had never been introduced into the church of Rome in the apostle’s time; nor were there any disputes about them: much less of days of Heathenish observation, as lucky or unlucky, or festivals in honour of their gods; for the apostle would never say, that a man who regarded such a day, regarded it to the Lord; nor would have advised to a coalition and Christian conversation with such a man, but rather to exclude him from all society and communion:”

If Paul isn’t defending Christian liberty to make up and keep holy days what is his point?

“it must be understood of Jewish days, or of such as were appointed to be observed by the Jews under the former dispensation, and which some thought were still to be regarded; wherefore they esteemed some days in the year above others, as the days of unleavened bread, or the passover; particularly the first night, which was a night to be observed throughout their generations; and in their service for it to this day”

Ahh, that makes sense. Gill continues;

“but let it be observed, that the man that did so was one that was weak in faith; the same man that ate herbs, because he would not be guilty of violating those laws, which ordered a distinction of meats to be observed, the same weak man esteemed one day above another, imagining the laws concerning the distinction of days were still obligatory, not rightly understanding the doctrine of Christian liberty, or freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law”

The context of Romans 14 doesn’t support the introduction of unbiblical holy days. It just doesn’t.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Christmas

Posted back in 2012

I don’t believe ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ will sanctify the day.

Don’t get me wrong, celebrate Christmas any way you like, I would never prevent you from doing so…I just don’t see a biblical reason for the celebration.

The Puritans didn’t either.

They went a step further and had it banned because of the open drunkenness and debauchery that attended the celebration. The Puritans were wrong for trying to ban Christmas. I wouldn’t ban the ‘holiday.’ (I also wouldn’t ban a gay pride parade, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa…I just don’t want tax dollars funding them.)

Christmas is one of our cultural traditions that I will participate in, just like Thanksgiving, but not because I am a Christian or because I believe it is a Christian Holy Day.

Keep a holy day if you like its up to you.