In Danger?

Posted in 2012: “Do you feel in danger? are you afraid of losing the word, of missing it, as Paul says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God” (Heb. 12:15); lest professing it, he should not process it? Then this prayer will suit you, it will suit you as an individual; and if we as a people realize our weakness and our enemies, and the devils that are within us and without us, it will be a suitable prayer to us: “Take not the word of truth away from us.” If the Lord should walk among us, what would He see? May He grant there may be no prevailing heresy, no prevailing evil to provoke Him to threaten to remove the candlestick. I can but say, as I have said before, we are in a solemn time; and the Lord’s absence is very, very visible to some people, and the lack of power is mournfully felt and acknowledged by some. What He will do with us as a nation, what will become of the churches that profess the truth, I do not pretend to say; but I do, speaking in a general way, believe that solemn times are upon us, and that the churches will know it. “All the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts” (Rev. 2:23). The whole world shall know it, for the center of the world is the church. There will begin the judgments of God. May, then, this be our prayer, may this be our petition, poor people we are, we need it; ministers need it, greatly need it. They may be supposed to have some knowledge of truth, but it will only be dry and sapless and useless, if they only speak out of naked knowledge. Hearers need it; they may think they can discern the truth, but they may be blind all the while. So we need the Holy Spirit greatly, to do for us that for which the psalmist here prays, and for which he prays in another place in different words, “Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” Let the gospel continue, let it be in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance in our hearts and in our midst. Amen.”  – J. K. Popham

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The Great Exchange

The Great Exchange and Forensic Justification in the Early Church Fathers

by Craig Truglia of Orthodox Christian Theology
The Great Exchange

Some Catholics and Eastern Orthodox like to say Martin Luther invented the concept of the “Great Exchange.” The Great Exchange, in short, teaches that Christ bore the punishment for our sins, thus satisfying God’s need for justice, but at the same time credited us Christ’s righteousness.

A graphic representation of what 2 Cor 5:21 amongst other Scriptures teaches about the Great Exchange.

The Scripture is abundantly clear that Chris bore the penalty for our sins:

But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed (Is 53:7).

My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities (Is 53:11).

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors (Is 53:12).

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Col 3:13, 14).

To doubt that Christ bore our iniquities and paid their penalty on the cross, is in my mind, is completely unthinkable. Being that there are Catholic apologists that for whatever reason reject this plain statement of fact, my response to them is that this is not an idea Luther invented.

The Epistle to Diognetus, written in the second century, understood the ramifications of Christ baring the burdens of our sins, if not also crediting us His righteousness:

He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors (Chapter 9)!

The underlined is where we may infer that the Epistle taught the positive imputation of Christ’s righteousness. However, because it is inferred it is not convincing to Catholics or Eastern Orthodox who find it hard to believe that unrighteous men like us can really be credited fully righteous as Christ.

It is not an idea that is explicit in the Scripture. We may infer it from passages that speak of us being “in Christ” and others such as Eph 5:31-32 which speak of the Church’s literal union with Christ. The idea is, if the Church (with its believers) are literally one with Christ, they my be accounted as righteous as Christ upon judgment.

Indeed, this is an interpretative stretch, but one that appears justified by 2 Cor 5:21 which states, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Christians are not merely made righteous or credited as righteous in a theoretical sense, but really “become the righteousness” specifically “of God” and not their own, an “alien righteousness.”

Now, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox reject this for legitimate interpretive reasons, but also because of its ramifications. If believers are in union with Christ, and this happens upon faith in Christ, then good works wrought in holiness really do not make one more righteous in any way. Instead, it is Christ’s righteousness that really makes us righteous, not us conforming or doing something in accord with Christlikeness. Hence, we can be really unchristlike, but be accounted fully as righteous as Christ due to our union with Him.

This does not mean that by necessity all Christians achieve equal awards in heaven. The Scripture mitigates against this as does the interpreters of the early church, specifically Jerome in his letters against Jovanian.

However, it does mean that our justification is a completed act because of what Christ done, not an ongoing event. Our union with Christ does not increase in time, rather it gets consummated specifically upon Christ’s second coming.

This is why Protestants teach “Forensic Justification,” which in short means that justification is a completed and not a ongoing act. We simply can point to Scripture that uses the words “believed” and “justified” in the past tense to show that the event already occurred. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox accuse of of preaching a novelty. However, let our argument be based upon the Scripture and not tradition, because we are not the first to traditionally to espouse the idea. Cyril of Jerusalem writes:

Oh the great loving-kindness of God! For the righteous were many years in pleasing Him: but what they succeeded in gaining by many years of well-pleasing , this Jesus now bestows on you in a single hour. For if you shall believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved, and shall be transported into Paradise by Him who brought in there the robber. And doubt not whether it is possible; for He who on this sacred Golgotha saved the robber after one single hour of belief, the same shall save you also on your believing (Catechetical Lecture 5, Chap 10).

Chrysostom concurs in his exegesis of Rom 3:26:

He does also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is declaring, that he has added, That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus. Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God (Homily 7 on Romans).

Now, because all of this seems a great deal more theoretical than the negative imputation of our sins onto Christ, Catholics and Orthodox will accuse us Protestants of coming up with an innovation. I must respectfully disagree.

For one, Augustine interpreted 2 Cor 5:21 as teaching the positive imputation of Christ’s righteousness:

He does not say, as some incorrect copies read, He who knew no sin did sin for us, as if Christ had Himself sinned for our sakes; but he says, Him who knew no sin, that is, Christ, God, to whom we are to be reconciled, has made to be sin for us, that is, has made Him a sacrifice for our sins, by which we might be reconciled to God. He, then, being made sin, just as we are made righteousness (our righteousness being not our own, but God’s, not in ourselves, but in Him); He being made sin, not His own, but ours, not in Himself, but in us, showed, by the likeness of sinful flesh in which He was crucified, that though sin was not in Him, yet that in a certain sense He died to sin, by dying in the flesh which was the likeness of sin; and that although He Himself had never lived the old life of sin, yet by His resurrection He typified our new life springing up out of the old death in sin (Chapter 41, Handbook on Hope, Faith, and Love).

Many Protestant interpreters like to say that Jesus Christ was fully obedient to the letter of the Jewish Law, henceforth fulfilling the Law and its righteous requirements on our behalf. Not all ECFs affirmed this idea, but Athanasius did and he writes specifically that it is this righteousness that is credited to the Church:

It is necessary therefore it is necessary to believe the Holy Scriptures to confess him who is the first fruit of us to celebrate the philanthropy of him who assumed our nature to be struck with wonder at the great dispensation to fear not the curse which is from the Law for Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law Hence the full accomplishment of the Law which was made through the first fruit must be imputed to the whole mass (Athan Synops Sacr Script lib vii in Epist ad Rom Oper vol ii p 125, see link here).

Jerome concurs:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us Properly He was not under the curse because in all things He perfectly fulfilled the Law And therefore in the matter of debt our debt has been paid off by his curse so that He should set free from all obligation those who pass over to faith (Comment in Epist ad Galat iii, see link here).

Chrysostom also concurs, stating in his comments on Rom 8:4–

For the righteousness of the Law, that one should not become liable to its curse, Christ has accomplished for you.

Now there is more on the topic, but I think I have shown enough from both the Scriptures to justify Protestant doctrine and tradition to show that our doctrine is not an innovation. In fact, I would say that the burden of proof is on those that would teach that righteousness is infused into a believer and not a completed event:

An eternal rest remains to those who in the present life have wrestled legitimately which rest is given not according to the debt of works in way of just retribution but is bestowed to the grace of an abundantly bountiful God to who have hoped in Him(Basil, Homily on Psalm 104, see link here).

An eternal rest remains. It is a completed state, it is not a state that continues and grows over time. To God, the author and perfecter of our faith, be the glory forever. Amen.

 

Still my favourite devotional…

Posted in 2011 and still true!

J. Hart

Lamb of God, we fall before Thee,
Humbly trusting in Thy cross.
That alone be all our glory;
All things else are only dross.

Thee we own a perfect Savior,
Only source of all that’s good.
Every grace and every favor
Comes to us through Jesus’ blood.

Jesus gives us true repentance
By His Spirit sent from Heav’n;
Whispers this transporting sentence,
“Son, thy sins are all forgiv’n.”

Faith He grants us to believe it,
Grateful hearts His love to prize;
Want we wisdom? He must give it,
Hearing ears and seeing eyes.

Jesus gives us pure affections,
Wills to do what He requires,
Makes us follow His directions,
And what He commands, inspires.

All our prayers and all our praises,
Rightly offered in His Name—
He that dictates them is Jesus;
He that answers is the same.

a system of apostasy

Henry Grattan GuinnessPosted 2013 “… this apostasy was to have a head, and the coming and character of that head are the great subject of Paul’s Thessalonian prophecy. A mistaken apprehension of his first letter to them had led the Thessalonians to expect an immediate advent of Christ, and in his second epistle Paul sets himself to correct this error by further instruction as to the future. He tells them of something that was destined to precede the return of Christ, a great apostasy, which would reach its climax in the manifestation of a certain mighty power of evil; to which he attaches three names, and of which he gives many particulars similar to those which Daniel gave of his “little horn,” such as the place and time of its origin, its nature, sphere, character, conduct, and doom.

The names which the apostle gives to this head of the apostasy in this prophecy are “that man of sin, . . . the son of perdition,” and “that wicked” or “lawless” one. These expressions might convey to the mind of superficial readers the idea that the predicted head of the apostasy would be an individual. Careful study however shows this to be a false impression—an impression for which there is no solid foundation in the passage. The expressions themselves, when analysed grammatically, are seen to bear another signification quite as well, if not better, and the context demands that they be understood in a dynastic sense. “The man of sin,” like “the man of God,” has a broad, extended meaning. When we read “that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works,” we do not suppose it means any one individual man, although it has the definite article. It indicates a whole class of men of a certain character, succession of similar individuals. The use of the definite article (analogous to the omission of the article in Greek) does indeed limit an expression of the kind. A man of sin could be only one, just as a king of England could mean only an individual. The king, on the other hand, may include a whole dynasty. A king has but the life of an individual, the king never dies. When, in speaking of the Jewish tabernacle in Hebrews, Paul says that into the holiest of all “went the high priest alone once every year,” he includes the entire succession of the high priests of Israel. That a singular expression in a prophecy may find its fulfilment in a plurality of individuals is perfectly clear from John’s words, “As ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even so now are there many antichrists”

Any doubt or ambiguity as to the true force of the expression “the man of sin” is however removed by a consideration of the context of this passage. popeGrammatically it may mean either an individual or a succession of similar individuals. The context determines that it actually does mean the latter. “The mystery of iniquity,” in which this man of sin was latent, was already working in Paul’s day. The apostasy out of which he was to grow was already in existence. “The mystery of iniquity doth already work.” The man of sin, on the other hand, was to continue till the second advent of Christ, which is still future; for he is destroyed, as it is distinctly stated, only by the brightness of the epiphany. The interval between Paul’s days and those of the still future advent was then to be filled by the great apostasy in either its incipient working as a mystery of iniquity or its open manifestation and great embodiment in the career of ” the man of sin and son of perdition.” That career must consequently extend over more than a thousand years, for the process of gestation is certainly briefer than the duration of life. In this case of the man of sin the two together occupy at least eighteen centuries. What proportion of the period can we assign to the hidden, mysterious growth of this power, and what to its wonderfully active and influential life? The life must of course occupy the larger half, to say the least of it, and therefore, as no individual lives on through ages, we may be sure that it is a succession of men, a dynasty of rulers, that is intended by the ambiguous expression. We, students of the nineteenth century, may be sure of this, though the students of early centuries could not.” Romanism and the Reformation: From the Standpoint of Prophecy by Henry Grattan Guinness

The Term “Antichrist”

pope

Posted in 2009:

From Rev. J. A. WYLIE, LL.D.

We shall not go far afield in this discussion: nor is it in the least necessary to do so. The materials for a right decision on the question before us lie close at hand. The Apostle John, speaking of the great apostacy to arise in Christendom, calls it the “Antichrist.” And the Pope has taken to himself, as the name that best describes his office, the title “Vicar of Christ.” All we shall ask as the basis of our argument are these two accepted facts, namely, that John styles the “apostacy,” “the Antichrist,” and that the head of the Roman system styles himself “Christ’s Vicar.”

The Papacy holds in its name the key of its meaning. We shall make use of that key in unlocking its mystery and true character. The Papacy cannot complain though we adopt this line of interpretation. We do nothing more than use the key it has put into our hands.

The Apostle John, we have said, speaking of the apostacy, the coming of which he predicts, styles it the Antichrist.” And we have also said that the Papacy, speaking through its representative and head, calls itself the “Vicar of Christ.” The first, “Antichrist,” is a Greek word, the second, “Vicar,” is an English word; but the two are in reality one, for both words have the same meaning. Antichrist translated into English is Vice-Christ, or Vicar of Christ; and Vicar of Christ, rendered into Greek is Antichrist –Antichristos. If we can establish this –and the ordinary use of the word by those to whom the Greek was a vernacular, is decisive on the point –we shall have no difficulty in showing that this is the meaning of the word “Antichrist,” –even a Vice-Christ. And if so, then every time the Pope claims to be the Vicar of Christ, he pleads at the bar of the world that he is the “Antichrist.”

Moreover, this will clear our way and simplify our discussion. For, let it be noted, if Antichrist signifies a Vice-Christ –that is, one who comes in the room of Christ –deception, dissimulation, counterfeit, must be an essential element in his character. In whatever persons or systems that fundamental characteristic is lacking, we fail to find the “Antichrist,” whatever may be their general opposition to Christ and to Christianity, or whatever other features of the Antichrist they may bear. They may have every other characteristic by which prophecy had described this noted adversary of Christ and his gospel, yet, lacking this fundamental one, their claim to this pre-eminently evil distinction cannot be admitted. This enables us to dismiss summarily and at once a host of Antichrists which have been conjured up by persons who have drawn upon their imagination, rather than followed any sound principle of prophetic interpretation. The cause of the papacy is served by the false glosses and mistaken interpretations of Scripture which interpose a pseudo-antichrist betwixt it and Prophecy, which unfolds against it so black a record, and suspends above it so terrible a doom.

We shall suppose that an atheist or an infidel has been put to the bar to answer to a charge of being the Antichrist. He has manifested a Satanic malignity against the Gospel, and has laboured to the utmost of his power to destroy it. He has blasphemed God, execrated Christ, and derided, vilified, and persecuted all who profess His name, and on these grounds he has been assumed to be the Antichrist. The case is no imaginary one. Atheists and scoffers in former ages, Voltaire and Paine in later times, Communists and Pantheists in our own day, have all been arraigned as the Antichrist.

Well, let us suppose that one or other of these notoriously wicked personages or systems has been put to the bar, on the charge of being the “adversary” predicted by John. “Who are you?” says the judge. “Are you a Vice-Christ? So you make a profession of Christianity, and under that pretext seek to undermine and destroy it? “No,” replies the accused. “I am no counterfeit. Christ and His Gospel I hate; but I am an open enemy, I fight under no mask.” Turning to the likeness drawn by Paul and John of Christ’s great rival and opponent, and finding the outstanding and essential feature in the portrait absent in the accused, the judge would be constrained to say, “I do not find the charge proven. Go your way; you are not the Antichrist.”

Mohammedanism comes nearer than any other of the opposing systems to the Antichrist of the Bible; yet it falls a long way short of it. Mohamet did not disavow the mission of Jesus; on the contrary, he professed to hold Him in honour as a prophet. And in much the same way do His followers still feel towards Christ. But Islam does not profess to be an imitation of Christianity. Any counterfeit that can be discovered in Mohammedanism is partial and shadowy when placed alongside the bold, sharp-cut counterfeit of Romanism. It requires a violent stretch of imagination to accept Mohammedanism, or, indeed, any other known ism, as a Vice-Christ. Of all systems that ever were on the earth, or are now upon it, Romanism alone meets all the requirements of prophecy, and exhibits all the features of the Vice-Christ; and it does so with a completeness and a truthfulness which enable the man who permits himself to be guided by the statements of the Word of God on the one hand, and the facts of history on the other, to say at once, “This is the Antichrist.”

What we have said is meant to indicate the lines on which our demonstration will proceed. We must trace the parallelism betwixt their respective chiefs, Christ and the Pope, along the entire line of their career. In this parallelism lies the essence of Antichristianism, and of course the strength of our argument. It is this counterfeit, so exact and complete, which has misled the world into the belief that this is Christianity, to the waste of ages not a few, the unsettling and overthrow of kingdoms, the stunting of the human understanding, and the loss of millions of immortal souls.

The Papacy Is The Antichrist A DEMONSTRATION Rev. J. A. WYLIE

Faith Alone in Buddhism

Faith Alone in Buddhism

Ever hear of a fella named Shinran?

Shinran is a very interesting chap, a fellow that used a “Law and Gospel” distinction in Buddhism. No, I’m not suggesting Buddhists are “saved” via Buddhism, just pointing out the similarity. Shinran lived out his live as a Japanese Buddhist monk in the area now known as Kyoto during the closing of the Heian Period and the beginning the Kamakura Period (1173-1263). He was a disciple of Honen and founded a sect of Buddhism known as Jōdo Shinshū / The Pure Essence of the Pure Land Teaching. According to Shinran one could leave the cycle of birth, death and re-birth by faith in Amida Buddha. This “salvation” is by faith ALONE.

The Pure Land is described in great detail in the Buddhist scriptures or sutras and is, in a manner of speaking, a kind of heaven. Traditionally the Pure Land is a the celestial realm or pure abode where Buddhas live. Today many Pure Land Buddhists believe the sutras are speaking metaphorically and the Pure Land is enlightenment, or enlightenment manifested here and now. A follower of Shinran confesses faith in Amida Buddha by repeating Namu Amida Butsu (Praise be to Amida Buddha). Amida functions in Pure Land Buddhism like a cosmic Christ figure who can remove the departed from the cycle of reincarnation and bring them into a state of bliss and rest. With all evil passions gone you reside in peace.

Amitabha.VowsIn Shinran’s work, “The Essentials of Faith Alone” he begins by giving us the “Law and Gospel” so to speak. The Law includes Buddhist practices of meditation, reading Buddhist scriptures called sutras, repeating mantra, performing esoteric ritual prescribed by a teacher, etc.

When persons aspire to free themselves from birth-and-death and attain enlightenment, there are two routes open to them: the gate of the Path of Sages and the gate of the Pure Land.  The Path of Sages consists of performing practices and accumulating merit while living in this Saha world, striving to attain enlightenment in this present life.

Shinran continues to explain how one tries to avoid “Saha” or suffering and defilement through religious practices prescribed by different sects of Buddhism, but avoidance is impossible because “the world has reached the age of the corrupt dharma (teaching) and entered the period of defilement.” Word in brackets is mine.

Second is the gate of the Pure Land, in which, directing the merit of practice in the present life, one aspires to be born in the next life in the Pure Land to fulfill the bodhisattva practices and become a Buddha. This gate meets the needs of people of these latter days; it is truly a marvelous path. But this gate is itself divided into two: birth through various practices and birth through the nembutsu.

We see a path of Law or merit and works, where one becomes enlightened and a living Buddha through disciplined religious observance earning merit and removing karma. When one dies in this state of Buddhahood they will enter the Pure Land but Shinran points out, “not even a single person among millions can attain enlightenment in this present life.” The other path whereby a Buddhist may enter the Pure Land is by faith alone in Amida Buddha.

Shinran recognizes the inability to save oneself when he writes:

…one aspires for birth by applying oneself relentlessly to practices, so they are called “birth through self-power.” If the practices are done inadequately, it is impossible to achieve birth. They do not accord with Amida’s Primal Vow; they are not illuminated by the radiance of Amida’s grasp.

Why do they believe Amida will save them? “If one asks why utterance of the Name is in accord with the Buddha’s Primal Vow, we must recall the Vow’s origin.” In Pure Land Buddhism one must believe in the “Primal Vow” of Amida Buddha who promises to save one from defilement and it is by faith alone – without works.

Single practice is to perform simply the one practice of the nembutsu, awakening the aspiration for the land of bliss and the faith of entrusting to the Primal Vow, never mixing any other practices whatsoever with it. To say the Name of Amida only and think wholeheartedly on this one Buddha…

The Pure Land school of Buddhism desires to keep “faith and works” separate forsaking the merit earning practices of other schools for faith alone.

Of these two, single practice is to be considered superior. The reason is as follows. If one already aspires wholeheartedly for the land of bliss, why include other things besides contemplating on the master of that land?

Here Shinran places emphasis on “single practice” or faith alone. He instructs the Buddhist to live with the Vow of Amida Buddha in mind, remaining faithful to the practice of trusting in Amida alone.

In considering this matter over again now, single practice is still superior. The reason is that we are essentially foolish beings of this defiled world who experience obstacles in everything. Amida, observing this, taught the path of easy practice. One who plays and frolics all day is a person of great distraction and confusion. One who sleeps the whole night is a person of great lethargy. All are consequences of blind passions, difficult to sunder and difficult to control. When playing has ended, say the nembutsu; when awakening from sleep, recall the Primal Vow.

Shinran rejects a mixing of faith with works and the overly complicated esoteric Buddhism found in Japan during his time. Enlightenment and entrance into the Pure Land, according to Shinran, is by faith alone.

_wsb_924x461_AmitabhaBuddhaAndBodhisattvasArriveToBringPureLandPractitionersMindToPureLand4

In Closing:

There you have it folks…enlightenment and salvation from suffering – by faith alone – according to Buddhist tradition. I’m not sure why I posted this one but I thought it was interesting and worth sharing.

Please leave your comments below.

Yours in the Lord Jesus Christ,

jm

Tau Malachi: Quotes on Gnosticism

feileadhmor.wordpress.com

Interesting stuff – just thought I’d share.

“Gnostics, in general, are not trying to delineate a set of beliefs. The intent is to inspire the sacred quest for true gnosis and to provide keys through which true gnosis might be acquired.”

“Whether heaven or hell or a world of admixture, it is all a state of mind, a condition of consciousness-being. The kingdom of heaven is not a place, but a spaciousness in consciousness, just as hell is a severe confinement and limitation upon consciousness. There are worlds within worlds and worlds beyond, heavens and hells and spaces in between. All are an expression of consciousness-being, which is the radiant nature of consciousness, and all exist within consciousness.”

“It is, in effect, as though we forget who and what we most truly are, and thus must labor to remember ourselves and reintegrate ourselves to the state of the person of light who is united with divine being in the light-continuum.”

“The nature of one’s own consciousness is the same as the nature of God and Godhead and, therefore, to know God, one must seek to know oneself.”

“Death will come, as it has for all prophets and saints, but it will just be an appearance of departure-a transition to another mode of existence, no more or less real than falling asleep, only to dream and awaken again. Death, for the Gnostic, is not an end as much as a new beginning. Ultimately, death has no substantial reality, but is merely a natural moment of transition. Knowing this changes everything.”

“When seeking is based upon preconception, precondition, and expectations, upon who and what you think you are and who and what you believe reality or God to be, then seeking itself becomes an obstruction and what is sought cannot be discovered.”

“We share many of the same essential points of faith with sisters and brothers in mainstream churches, but we tend to venture deeper into esoteric and metaphysical dimensions of the Gospel, and as much as viewing Christ as the Savior, we also view Christ as the Gnostic Revealer, a teacher of a path to self-realization or enlightement. You might say we share advanced teachings of Christianity. We do have some views, beliefs, significantly different than those of mainstream Christianity, but we do not view differences as a conflict or contradiction – there is an outer, inner and secret Gospel, and for us the outer, inner and secret are completely interwoven. In our extended community, the EPS, we have some members who attend other, mainstream churches, as well as being members of our gnostic church.”

 

“Sleep Doesn’t Help When Your Soul is Tried”

sleep

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Freemasonry: from the inside pt. 1

freemasonry (2)

I am a Christian.

A Bible believing Christian.

A Protestant Christian.

A confessional Christian who subscribes in good faith to the London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689.

I confess there is no salvation apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ alone and that salvation is by Christ alone through faith.

All other forms of religion are works based and therefore false.

Now that’s all laid out I want to tell you I am also a Freemason and a member of a Prince Hall Masonic Lodge. I have really come to love the time I’ve spent in Lodge with my brothers, they have taught me many things about life, service and brotherhood. My personal experience is limited, being fairly new, but I have come to view the Lodge as a benevolent society and even a philosophers club. Sure, there are things I do not agree with, unofficial slogans and teachings held by individual Masons, but that’s just it…they are unofficial!

When I was on the outside looking in the Lodge seemed mysterious. When you google the Freemasons you find all sorts of conspiracy theories, misinformation and downright lies written about us. Much of this stems from two instances, the first was the disappearance of William Morgan and the second was the Leo Taxil Hoax. Morgan disappeared and was presumed murdered by Freemasons but after reading about it the details seem vague and unclear. Taxil was a con-man and made up stories about the Freemasons for publicity and money. Now that I’m on the inside I see most of what is written online is simply untrue.

I want to stress that Masonry is not a religion but a fraternity. Freemasons are not trying to take over the world or your denomination, we can barely decide where to take our wives out for dinner, let alone perpetrate a take over of anything. Freemasonry is not a religion and does not try to supplant religion.

I guess I’m trying to say Freemasonry is not as scary as the internet would have you believe and individual Masons, like Rotarians or Moose Lodge members, are just that –  individuals – with personal opinions and flaws. Posts in this series will focus on the general history of Freemasonry with some highlights of Prince Hall Freemasonry in particular. Stick around folks…more to come.

Yours in the Lord,

jm