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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Gnosticism’s Influence on Early Church Monasticism and Asecticism

Gnosticism_s Influence on Early Church Monasticism and Asecticism

Reblog from Orthodox Christian Theology written by Craig Truglia in October 2016:

Several crucial doctrines separate Roman Catholicism/Eastern Orthodoxy/Etcetera from Reformed Christianity. Among these are the beliefs in baptismal regeneration, propitiatory penances, and the idea that sexual gratification (even in marriage) exists only for the purpose of procreation.

What if I told you that not only are all of these ideas not explicitly Biblical, but that they actually have origins in Eastern mystery religions and Greek philosophy? This would mean that the adherence to these ideas in Christianity are the result of a historical transformation over time where Gnostic influences permeated the Church.

This is a thesis I am not entirely convinced of, but let me make the case for the sake of motivating you to conduct further research.

Scriptural Teaching on Asceticism. Certainly self-denial is a Christian virtue. The Scripture admonishes a believer that if he wants to be Christ’s disciple, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). This self-denial is meant to be radical and lead to actions consistent with the willful emptying of oneself for the sake of others: “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none” (Luke 3:11) and “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16). Marriage is even knocked down a peg, because even though it is “good” it is not as good as celibacy, because “the unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided” (1 Cor 7:32-34).

Certainly, Christians are taught that for the sake of others and devotion to God, forgoing  life’s pleasures is a positive good. However, the Scripture also warns of those who teach “doctrines of demons.” “They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Tim 4:3). A long treatment is given in Col 2:20-23:

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.

In the preceding passages, Paul is not writing against a strictly Jewish heresy, as there is nothing distinctly Jewish about severely treating the body or not marrying. Rather, Paul is speaking of an ascetic strain in Greek thought which taught that the way to knowing God is through emptying oneself of all distractions and punishing oneself for all of his sins.  Even mentioning such concepts causes people to immediately think of Christian monasticism.

The Example of Monks. Monks are known for their asceticism. Further, no one seriously entertains the notion that monks were originally part of Christianity. No second century Christian writer makes mention of them.

Traditionally, the first known Christian hermit was Paul of Thebes. He lived some time in the fourth century. While there is no reason to doubt that other men like him lived some time before, historically we would have no reason to believe that the monastic movement would predate him by several centuries.

Some may point to the fact that Paul was celibate, the Essene movement within Judaism, or the Nazirite vow as antecedents to monasticism. The problem would be that none of these may be properly understood as monastic. Paul was simply a celibate missionary, the Essenes married, and Nazirites had only temporary vows.

Yet, according to a scholar nearly 100 years ago, Joseph Ward Swain in his book The Hellenic Origins of Christian Asceticism, monks that look similar to early Christian monastics did indeed exist. These ascetics belonged in “eastern” (usually Middle Eastern) “mystery cults” such as the Manichees, Mithraists, Galli, and Isis cultists.

Of the Cybile cultists called Galli, Swain writes:

The Galli resembled a mendicant and begging order. By this mode of life, they won the admiration of multitudes. “Their ardent faith, their ascetic life, their austere disciplines were an effective and contagious discipline. Many a troubled soul was borne towards these interpreters of a divine word, who appeared superior to other men because they were no longer men, who heard confessions and directed consciences, forgave sins, and gave consolations and sublime hopes.” Others did not attain the lofty place held by these Galli, but led an ascetic life nevertheless. Some who had merely undergone a simple initiation organized themselves into communities called the “Religious of the Great Mother,” and led a life of greater strictness than that of other people, supported wandering Galli, let their hair grow long, wore special costumes ; but they were not pagan monks in the full sense of the term, for they did not cut themselves off from the world altogether they married and became fathers of families (p. 74).

Of the Mithraists:

“They [Mithraists] praised abstinence from certain foods and absolute continence.” The cult had a clergy upon whom ascetic rules were imposed. Tertullian says that the supreme pontiff might marry only once, and that, like the Christians, the worshippers of this god had their “virgins” and “continents.” “The existence of this sort of Mithraic monasticism is the more remarkable,” says Cumont, ” because this value attached to celibacy is contrary to the spirit of Zoroastrianism” (p. 78).

Of the Isis cultists:

Weingarten seriously attempted to explain the whole rise of Christian monasticism from them [the Isis cult], alleging that Pachomius, the legislator of Christian monasticism, had been such a recluse in his youth; this is obviously too simple a theory, and is not held by any serious scholars today, but the very posing of the question directed considerable attention to these men, and their ascetic character has been made very evident (p. 79).

Weingarten’s speculation  concerning Pachomius (one of the earliest Christian monks), is essentially unfounded, but the overall point is clear: These cultists followed monastic practices before the existence of Christian monasticism. Further, Christian monasticism did not  develop  in a cultural and intellectual vacuum.

The Gnostics were the intellectual go-between for eastern mystery religions and orthodox Christianity. While their cosmology and odd doctrines would appear to the modern eye to be so foreign from Christianity that one could not possible have anything to do with the other, contemporaries like Irenaeus did not take this view. To the ancient, Hellenized mind, the Gnostic view made some sort of sense and so to those hearing the message of Christ, the Gnostic spin on it had an appeal. So, while we may rightly expect that eastern, pagan monastic orders would have very little to do with Christian monasticism, Gnostic monasticism would have been visibly Christian, even if it were heretically so.

Concerning the Manichees (a Gnostic sect) a more recent source writes:

[T]he Manicheans…prove again that in decades prior to Pachomius’s emergence upon the scene a wide variety  of sometimes eccentric and sometimes ascetic experiments in religious life were underway (Philip Rousseau, Pachomius: The Making of a Community in Fourth-century Egypt, p. 31).

Scholars may not say that the preponderance of Manichee and Isis-cultist monks in Egypt directly led to Christian monasticism, but certainly they predated it and affected the mindsets of everyone, including Christians, that lived during the time. In the words of Swain:

[I]n the second and third centuries, the land [of Egypt] was filled with anchorites and wandering ascetics, who not only made it a point to abstain from flesh, wine and sexual intercourse, but who also inflicted upon themselves all sorts of severe mortifications. Egypt became preeminently the land of extravagant ascetics, so that the eccentric Christians had but little to add to what these Egyptians had already done (p. 79).

The Issue of Remarriages and Sexual Satisfaction. The debate over remarriage may be foreign to the modern mind. After all, the Scripture is so clear that not only is remarriage permissible, it is commanded: “I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us” (1 Tim 5:14). Yet, great thinkers like Tertullian (probably) and Saint Hippolytus (temporarily) left the Church because it was permitting remarriage.

Why? It appears that very early on the Church started taking the view that sex, in of itself, is not good apart from procreation. For example, the second century Apologist Athenagoras writes in his Plea for Christians:

[W]e despise the things of this life, even to the pleasures of the soul, each of us reckoning her his wife whom he has married according to the laws laid down by us, and that only for the purpose of having children…Nay, you would find many among us, both men and women, growing old unmarried, in hope of living in closer communion with God. But if the remaining in virginity and in the state of an eunuch brings nearer to God, while the indulgence of carnal thought and desire leads away from Him, in those cases in which we shun the thoughts, much more do we reject thedeeds.  For we bestow our attention, not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions,— that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery (Chap 33).

Now, there s a lot here which might make one think, “Did Athenagoras read his Bible?” The Bible commends the enjoyable qualities of wine and sex (Prov 5:18-19). In commending man to marriage (1 Cor 7), Paul’s reasoning is that it satisfies lust. Nowhere did he write that the purpose of marriage was strictly for procreation and surely Paul was not admonishing man to take part in a lesser evil (the satisfaction of sexual desire) when he called the institution of marriage “good.”

Athenagoras was an Athenian philosopher who converted to Christianity, and he apparently imported the Hellenisitic (often pagan and Gnostic) idea that remarriage and sexual enjoyment is sinful into his own theology. The Eastern mystery religions taught that celibacy “prevented the introduction of deadly elements into the system” and that “chastity…preserved men from pollution and debility, became means of getting rid of the domination of evil powers and of regaining heavenly favor” (p. 72). Cynics, Pythagoreans, and Gnostic Platonists also taught the virtues of celibacy and avoiding marriages/remarriages. Gnostics Basilides, Marcion, and Valentinus all taught that celibacy was especially virtuous. For example:

For Basilides, marriage was at best a concession to men, and he strongly advised abstention from it (p. 81).

He [Marcion] condemned the flesh and forbade marriage. If married, his disciples had to renounce all sexual relations… Marcion even made continence a condition of baptism. “Marcion does not baptise flesh unless it is virgin or widow or celibate, or unless it has bought baptism by a divorce” (p. 82).

In short, the historical teachings that contraception is sinful sprouts from the Gnostic and Hellenistic asceticism, which had an aversion against the sexual act itself as it was thought to make someone impure and incapable of contemplating higher philosophical truths. To pretend that Athenagoras’ belief that sex is only for procreation stems from the example of Onan ignores the obvious truth that he viewed both sexual satisfaction and remarriage as bad and that he expected his pagan audience, in his Appeal, to approve wholeheartedly of this reasoning. Why? Because such negative views of the sex drive permeated the pagan Mediterranean world and would have been immediately identified as virtuous.

Penance. Repentance is in the Bible, but works of penance whose role is to restore salvation is not. Yet, works of penance are mentioned in some of the earliest writings of the Church Fathers, including On Penance by Tertullian and the Epistle of Barnabas. “Barnabas” wrote:

Thou shalt remember the day of judgment night and day, and thou shalt seek out day by day the persons of the saints, either laboring by word and going to exhort them and meditating how thou mayest save souls by thy word, or thou shalt work with thy hands for a ransom for thy sins (19:10).

Tertullian wrote:

Thus he who, through repentance for sins, had begun to make satisfaction to the Lord…It is intolerable, forsooth, to modesty to make satisfaction to the offended Lord! To be restored to its forfeited salvation (On Repentance, Chap 5, 10)!

Both “Barnabas” and Tertullian appear to be saying that salvation can be lost and that through works of penance, salvation is restored. Whether or not this is something they earnestly and literally taught, or they felt that repentance merely satisfied God in a general sense, I won’t debate here. Let’s simply concede they were speaking of works of penance as the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox would understand them.

The idea that works of penance restore one to God is not necessarily anti-Christian. Surely, visible acts of penance are seen throughout the Old Testament. However,  this changes in the new covenant when the crucifixion of Christ  atoned for all the sins of His Church that have ever existed and ever will:

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 (Col 2:13-14).

Any additional works, whose purpose would be to satisfy God and effect the forgiveness of sins, in light of this are superfluous. This is not my opinion, this is literally Paul’s point in Colossians 2. After stating the preceding tenet of doctrine he makes an application:

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day…If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” (Col 2:16, 20-21; read 16-23 for entire context)!

As we can see, because Christ has effected a total forgiveness of sins, therefore the Christian is not obligated to observe Jewish and Gnostic rituals whose purpose is to satisfy God and effect the forgiveness of sins. So, being that Paul spoke againstpenances effecting satisfactions for sin, where did the idea come from? According to Swain, eastern mystery religions:

Macerations, laborious pilgrimages, public confessions, sometimes flagellations and mutilations, in fact, all forms of penance and mortifications uplifted the fallen man and brought him nearer the gods (p. 71-72).

To Hellenized thinkers Tertullian, “Barnabas,” and the future purveyors of the preceding rite, penance made sense. As said before, their thought did not develop in a vacuum. In light of this, it appears they were importing pagan thought and misappropriating Old Testament texts.  This may have led to an anti-new covenant view of penance being practiced in the Church even very early on.

Baptismal Regeneration. There is no evidence that any of the church fathers before Cyprian explicitly believed in the doctrine,  as they usually conflated baptism with faith or repentance as the operative saving act. For example, Tertullian wrote:

We are not washed in order that we may cease sinning, but because we have ceased, since in heart we have been bathed already (On Repentance, Chapter 6).

Yet, not long afterwards, church fathers were arguing that baptism really effected a one-time get-out-of-hell free card that could even save those who did not have faith or repentance, such as infants. Where did this idea come from?

It is entirely possible that the idea arose from overly literal interpretations of verses such as Acts 2:38 and John 3:5. Further, references to the “laver of regeneration” from Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, and Irenaeus when read apart from context (they are clearly speaking of repenetance) would make it appear that these men believed that water literally effected the regenerating. So, to arrive at the doctrine of baptismal regeneration would not be unexpected given what the Scriptures and traditions say.

However, just as we said before, early Christian doctrine did not evolve in an intellectual vacuum. Swayne identifies that eastern mystery religions taught that baptisms and annointings effected an one-time-only complete remission of sins:

Two new things in particular were brought by the Oriental priests : mysterious methods of purification, by which they claimed to wash away the impurities of the soul, and the assurance that a blessed immortality would be the reward of piety…They had a series of ablutions and lustrations supposed to restore original innocence to the mystic. He had to wash himself in the sacred water according to certain prescribed forms (p. 70).

This did not belong to the eastern rites alone. Gnosticism, which essentially acted as the gateway between eastern mystery religions, Greek philosophy, and Christianity, also adopted the practice. Irenaeus condemns a Gnostic baptism by sprinkling rite in Against Heresies 1.21.5:

Others still there are who continue to redeem persons even up to the moment of death, by placing on their heads oil and water, or the pre-mentioned ointment with water, using at the same time the above-named invocations, that thepersons referred to may become incapable of being seized or seen by the principalities and powers, and that their inner man may ascend on high in an invisible manner, as if their body were left among created things in this world, while their soul is sent forward to the Demiurge.

Conclusion. The argument has been made that the preponderance of ascetic practices, found in pagan thought before the existence of Christianity suggests that Hellenistic intellectual norms permeated the Church at a very early date. This had a marked effect on the development of monasticism and peculiar, extra-biblical doctrines ranging from the admonishment to have sex only for procreation to propitiatory penances.

Now, it is possible to overstate this argument as there were specific Christian doctrines that early Church Fathers themselves recognized were found in Mithraism and the like. Justin Martyr wrote:

[W]hen those who record the mysteries of Mithras say that he was begotten of a rock, and call the place where those who believe in him are initiated a cave, do I not perceive here that the utterance of Daniel, that a stone without hands was cut out of a great mountain, has been imitated by them, and that they have attempted likewise to imitate the whole of Isaiah’s words (Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 70)?

In chapter 66 of his First Apology, Justin likewise accuses the Mithraists of copying the eucharist. In the First Apology he blames “wicked devils”  for deceiving man into imitating the sacrament. We may easily infer that the Mithraists copied Christianity, and certainly, we have evidence of eastern mystery religions in later centuries mimicing Christian symbolism and the like. Certainly, this is what Gnosticism did.

However, it appears impossible to ignore that we certainly have evidence of pre-Christian practices that, though not Biblical like the Eucharist, did find their way into Christian practice and belief. There are two possible reasons why:

  1. Christianity simply has some practices and beliefs identical to that of pagan belief systems, and we can chalk that up to a broken clock being right twice a day.
  2. Early Christians were effected by the intellectual ideas of their time, and they interpreted God’s revelation in light of this intellectual climate.

While the former is possible, the latter appears much more likely. Why? For one, as we see in Athenagoras Appeal, some of these beliefs are actually against the Scripture and the Church universally has rejected  some of them (such as no re-marriage). So, we have bona fide examples of Hellenistic cultural import into the early Church. It would seem like special pleading to say that the other examples of doctrines listed here would not be similar, Hellenistic imports.

Secondly, Christians always have and always will be affected by the society in which they live. For example, we have churches that elect their pastors and makes decisions based upon popular vote. Clearly, democratic ideals have found their way into ecclesiastical practice. Woman’s liberation and hairstyles have virtually eliminated women’s headcoverings from the Western Church, even though there is no justifiable textual or traditional basis to do so. The same intellectual tradition has also helped destroy complementarianism. I have been to both Catholic and Protestant churches and have watched them try to explain away the fact that the Scripture calls wives to submit to their husbands. (To be fair, more ancient churches went beyond what the Scripture taught and were overtly misogynistic.)  In many churches, fornication is turned a blind eye to (look how Catholics and Protestants alike spoke so highly of men like Karl Barth.)

Saint Augustine warned:

[S]ins, however great and detestable they may be, are looked upon as trivial, or as not sins at all, when men get accustomed to them; and so far does this go, that such sins are not only not concealed, but are boasted of, and published far and wide (Chapter 80, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love).

Social norms have a very strong effect on the Church. Did social expectations about virtue lead to the importing of pagan and Gnostic forms of asceticism? Most likely, yes. It would have been natural for God-fearing Christians to seek excellence in virtue. It is just that their sense of virtue was colored by the intellectual climate of their time, and with some Scriptural justification, pagan and agnostic beliefs found their way into Christian practice.

Sacerdotal System Rejected

(first published in 2013)

Notes and quotes from chapter 7 of Schaff’s History of the Christian Church. (Schaff had a killer beard!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

THE SACRAMENTARIAN CONTROVERSIES: 101. Sacerdotalism and Sacramentalism.

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodoxy:

The Catholic system of Christianity, both Greek and Roman, is sacramental and sacerdotal. The saving grace of Christ is conveyed to men through the channel of seven sacraments, or “mysteries,” administered by ordained priests, who receive members into the church by baptism, accompany them through the various stages of life, and dismiss them by extreme unction into the other world. A literal priesthood requires a literal sacrifice, and this is the repetition of Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross offered by the priest in the mass from day to day. The power of the mass extends not only to the living, but even to departed spirits in purgatory, abridging their sufferings, and hastening their release and transfer to heaven.

The Reformed Church:

The Reformers rejected the sacerdotal system altogether, and substituted for it the general priesthood of believers, who have direct access to Christ as our only Mediator and Advocate, and are to offer the spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and intercession. They rejected the sacrifice of the mass, and the theory of transubstantiation, and restored the cup to the laity. They also agreed in raising the Word of God, as the chief means of grace, above the sacraments, and in reducing the number of the sacraments. They retained Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, as instituted by Christ for universal and perpetual observance.

Lutheranism:

The Lutheran Confession is, we may say, semi-sacramental, or much more sacramental than the Reformed (if we except the Anglican communion). It retained the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, with the rite of exorcism, and the corporal presence in the eucharist. The Augsburg Confession makes the sacraments an essential criterion of the church. Luther’s Catechism assigns to them an independent place alongside of the Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. It adds to baptism and the Lord’s Supper confession and absolution as a third sacrament. At a later period, confirmation was restored to the position of a quasi-sacrament as a supplement of infant-baptism.

Zwingli and Calvin Agree:

Zwingli and Calvin reduced the sacraments to signs and seals of grace which is inwardly communicated by the Holy Spirit. They asserted the sovereign causality of God, and the independence of the Spirit who “bloweth where it willeth” (John 3:8). God can communicate his gifts freely as he chooses. We are, however, bound to his prescribed means. The Swiss Reformers also emphasized the necessity of faith, not only for a profitable use of the sacrament (which is conceded by the Lutherans), but for the reception of the sacrament itself. Unworthy communicants receive only the visible sign, not the thing signified, and they receive the sign to their own injury.

On Things That Differ:

These theories are not isolated; they proceed from different philosophical and theological standpoints, and affect other doctrines. Luther was not quite wrong when he said to Zwingli at Marburg “You have a different spirit.” Luther took his stand on the doctrine of justification by faith; Zwingli and Calvin, on the doctrine of divine causality and sovereignty, or eternal election. Luther proceeded anthropologically and soteriologically from man to God, Zwingli and Calvin proceeded theologically from God to man.

The Roman doctrine of transubstantiation is the outgrowth of a magical supernaturalism which absorbs and annihilates the natural and human, leaving only the empty form. The Lutheran doctrine implies an interpenetration of the divine and human. The commemorative theory of Zwingli saves the integrity and peculiar character of the divine and human, but keeps them separate and distinct. The eucharistic theory affects Christology, the relation of church and state, and in some measure the character of piety. Lutheranism inclines to the Eutychian, Zwinglianism to the Nestorian, Christology. The former fosters a mystical, the latter a practical, type of piety.

Calvin’s View According to Schaff:

Calvin, who appeared on the stage of public action five years after Zwingli’s, and ten years before Luther’s, death, advocated with great ability a eucharistic theory which mediates between the Lutheran realism and the Zwinglian spiritualism, and which passed into the Reformed confessions Luther had to deal with Zwingli, and never came into contact with Calvin. If he had, the controversy might have taken a different shape; but he would have maintained his own view of the real presence, and refused the figurative interpretation of the words of institution.

With the doctrine of the eucharist are connected some minor ritualistic differences, as the use of the wafer, and the kneeling posture of the communicants, which the Lutherans retained from the Catholic Church; while the Reformed restored the primitive practice of the breaking of bread, and the standing or sitting posture. Some Lutheran churches retained also the elevation of the host; Luther himself declared it a matter of indifference, and abolished it at Wittenberg in 1542.

Online source.

 

Blessed be God!

FEILEADH MOR blog (2)

“Is there no balm in Gilead?”

Yes, there is, blessed be God; the blood of Jesus and the sweet promises of the gospel.

“Is there no physician there?”

Yes, blessed be God, there is, a wise, a mighty, yea, an Almighty, an all-sufficient One.

“Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

If not recovered, it is only delayed and delays are not denials. The time will come, the appointed season will roll round, and then every hindrance will be removed. If it be the world, some affliction will be sent to wean the heart from it. If an idol, the hand of God will take it away or destroy its power. If it be a temptation, God will deliver from it, or make a way of escape that the soul may be able to bear it. If unbelief prevail, He will overcome it, and give faith a victory over it. If there be any lust indulged, He will purge the heart from its power and prevalence. So that our wisdom and mercy alike are to fall into His compassionate hands, to renounce our own righteousness, to acknowledge that we have nothing in ourselves but filth and folly, and thus to seek His face, to call upon His name, to hope in His mercy, and rest in His goodness; and, as He may be pleased to shine upon the soul, to thank and praise His holy name for the mercy He displays in Christ to the vilest of the vile.

Here, then, is the answer to this important question, “Is there no balm in Gilead; Is there no physician there?” Blessed be God, there is both one and the other. “Why then is not the health of the daughter of God s people recovered?” It is already accomplished in the mind of God, and will be made experimentally manifest in His own time and way.

J. C. Philpot

Carroll the Freemason

Did you know B.H. Carroll (1843-1914), the first president of Southwestern seminary, was also a Freemason? Carroll was a member of Waco Lodge No. 92 and Herring Lodge No. 1224 in Waco, Texas. Carroll wrote a useful commentary on the English Bible thacarrollt still use from time to time and wrote over 20 books. He was also strongly evangelistic supporting home missions and Christian education.

Some quotes from B.H. Carroll:

“Keep the Seminary lashed to the Cross. If heresy ever comes in the teaching, take it to the faculty. If they will not hear you and take prompt action, take it to the trustees of the Seminary. If they will not hear you, take it to the Convention that appoints the Board of Trustees, and if they will not hear you, take it to the great common people of our churches. You will not fail to get a hearing then.” – deathbed commission to Lee Scarborough, his successor as president of Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary.

“These modern devotees of higher criticism must wait each week for the mail from Germany to know what to believe or preach, to find out how much, if any of their Bibles remains.” – Theological Seminaries and Wild Gourds

“The modern cry ‘less creed and more liberty’ is the degeneration from the vertebrate to the jelly fish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy.” – An Interpretation of the English Bible

“It is a positive and hurtful sin to magnify liberty at the expense of doctrine.” – An Interpretation of the English Bible

Speaking of his false conversion as a child: “I did not believe, in any true sense, in the divinity or vicarious sufferings of Jesus. I had no confidence in professed conversion and regeneration. I had not felt lost, nor did I feel saved. There was no perceptible, radical change in my disposition or affections. What I once loved, I still loved. What I once hated, I still hated.” – My Infidelity and What Became of It

Speaking on the humanistic philosophies he studied before his true conversion: “They were destructive, but not constructive. They overturned and overturned and overturned; but, as my soul liveth, they built up nothing under the whole heaven in the place of what they destroyed. I say nothing. I mean nothing.” – My Infidelity and What Became of It

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Reaffirming the Faith

Theological positions: Independent Particular Baptist, Predestinarian.trinitarian bible003

Soteriological Position: What theologians call “Calvinistic” (Supralapsarian)

Eschatological Position: Amillennial Historicist

Covenantal Position: 1689 Federalism

Creeds and Confessions: London Baptist Confession of 1689

(Some questions I had to fill out on a forum that I thought I would include.)

Are some men elected to salvation?

Yes.

Are some men elected to damnation?

Yes.

Is salvation by works?

No.

Jesus died for all men?

No.

God loves all men?

No.

Christ experienced sin in His person?

No.

Was sin imputed or imparted to Christ?

Imputed.

Is righteousness imputed or imparted to believers?

Imputed.

God predestines all things, including sin?

Yes.

God wanted Adam to fall into sin?

Yes, it was decreed.

God has how many wills?

One. (His decretive will of purpose is His will of pleasure)

Do you believe in Justification from Eternity?

Yes.

What point in time is righteousness imputed to the elect based upon?

The entire life of Christ culminating in His death.

Baptism is required for salvation?

No.

Baptism is the sign of the new covenant?
No.

THE CARTER LANE DECLARATION OF 1757 with some adjustments

(Those words in red have been added or indicate change to the DECLARATION in light of personal belief and for clarity of position. The plural “we” and “our”, etc has been changed to reflect a singular statement of belief.)

  1. I believe, That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Words of God, and the only rule of faith and practice. The Holy Scriptures, composed of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, are the verbally inspired Word and Revelation of God. The Bible is inerrant and infallible. Divine inspiration of the original autographs extends to the divine preservation of a pure text to this day. The preserved Word of God is found in the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus.
  1. I believe, That there is but one only living and true God; that there three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Who are equal in nature, power, and glory; and that the Son and the Holy Ghost are as truly and properly God as the Father. These three Divine Persons are distinguished from each other by peculiar relative properties. The distinguishing character and relative property of the First Person is begetting; He has begotten a Son of the same nature with Him, and Who is the express image of His Person; and therefore is with great propriety called the Father. The distinguishing character and relative property of the Second Person is that He is begotten, and He is called the Only Begotten of the Father, and His own proper Son; not a Son by creation as angels and men are, nor by adoption as saints are, nor by office as civil magistrates are, but by nature, by the Father’s eternal generation of Him in the divine nature; and therefore He is truly called the Son. The distinguishing character and relative property of the third person is to be breathed by the Father and the Son, and to proceed from Both, and is very properly called the Spirit or Breath of both. These three distinct Divine Persons, we profess to reverence, serve and worship as the one true God.
  1. I believe, That before the world began, God did elect a certain number of men unto everlasting salvation leaving other men in their sin; those whom He did predestinate to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ of His own free grace, and according to the good pleasure of His will; and that in pursuance of this gracious design by means of secondary and direct causes that work to accomplish His eternal plan and purpose, He did contrive and make a covenant of grace and peace with His son Jesus Christ, on behalf of those persons, with all their grace and glory, were put into the hands of Christ, and made His care and charge.
  1. I believe, That God created the first man Adam, after His image, and in His likeness, an upright, holy, innocent creature, capable of serving and glorifying Him, but he sinning, all his posterity sinned in him, and came short of the glory of God; the guilt of whose sin is imputed; and a corrupt nature derived to all his off-spring descending from him by ordinary and natural generation; that they are by their first birth carnal and unclean; averse to all that is good, incapable of doing any in the sight of God, and prone to every sin; and are also by nature children of wrath and under sentence of condemnation, and so are subject, not only to a corporal death, and involved in a moral one, commonly called spiritual, but are also liable to an eternal death, as considered in the first Adam, fallen and sinners; from all which there is no deliverance, but by Christ the second Adam.
  1. I believe, That the Lord Jesus Christ, being set up from everlasting as mediator of the covenant, and He having engaged to be surety of His people did in the fullness of time really assume human nature, and not before neither in whole nor in part; His human soul being a creature, existed not from eternity, but was created and formed in His body by Him that formed the spirit of man within Him, when He was conceived in the womb of the virgin; and so His human nature consists of a true body and a reasonable soul, both which, together, and at once the Son of God assumed into union with His Divine Person, when made of a woman and not before, in which He really suffered and died as the substitute of His people, in their room and stead; whereby He made all that satisfaction for their sins which the law and justice of God could require, as well as made way for all those blessings which are needful for them both for time and eternity.
  1. I believe, That the eternal Redemption which Christ has obtained by the shedding of His blood is special and particular, that is to say that it was only intentionally designed for the Elect of God, and Sheep of Christ, who only share the special and peculiar blessings of it.
  1. I believe, That the justification of God’s Elect is only by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, without the consideration of any works of righteousness done by them;and that the full and free pardon of all their sins and transgressions, past, present and to come, is only through the blood of Christ according to the riches of his grace.
  1. I believe, That the work of regeneration, conversion, sanctification and faith is not an act of man’s free will and power, but of the mighty, efficacious and irresistiblegrace of God.
  1. I believe, That all those who are chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and sanctified by the Spirit are sealed unto the day of redemption, these shall certainly persevere, so that not one of them shall ever perish but shall have everlasting life.
  1. I believe, in the true, literal reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20. It is a literal reign, but the 1000 years mentioned are symbolic of the entire period of time between Christ’s first and His second coming.
  1. I believe, That Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of Christ, to be continued until His second coming; and that the former is absolutely requisite to the latter; that is to say, that those only are admitted into the communion of the church, and to participate of all the ordinances in it, who upon profession of their faith, have been baptised by immersion, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
  1. I believe, That singing of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs vocally is an ordinance of the Gospel to be performed by believers, but that as to time, place, and manner, everyone ought to be left to their liberty in using it.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Lined-Out Hymnody from Southern Kentucky

(first blogged in 2010)

This is some moving, soul stirring music from the Southern States.  These hymns are similar to the Gaelic Psalms sung in Scotland and I’m sure there is a connection, not to mention it sounds similar to early Blues music before the electric guitar.

Have a listen.

They are offered as free downloads from the Old Regular Baptist [1] website.

Turn it up and be engulfed by the power of the human voice.

jm


[1] note, these brothers and sisters are Arminian in their theology

Grace and Salvation

Amen, be encouraged, it is all of GRACE! john_gill

“That there are universal offers of grace and salvation made to all men, I utterly deny; nay I deny that they are made to any; no not to God’s elect: grace and salvation are promised for them in the everlasting covenant, procured for them by Christ, published and revealed in the gospel, and applied by the Spirit.” John Gill, The Doctrine of Predestination Stated