All posts by Nick Sabato

A brief note on Dave Hunt’s attack on Particular Redemption as it relates to evangelism

“Paul could and did honestly say to everyone he met, ‘Christ died for you.’ In complete contrast, a book on biblical counseling that we have long recommended to readers declares, ‘As a reformed Christian, the writer [author] believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, for they cannot say that. No man knows except Christ himself who are his elect for whom he died.’”[1]

In the above excerpt from What Love is This?, Dave Hunt addresses a statement by Jay Adams,[2] a reference Hunt also utilizes in Debating Calvinism.[3]

What we find in this brief excerpt from the late founder of the Berean Call concerning the subjects of the extent of the atonement and its relation to evangelism is a fine example of the dangerous tendency of letting unjustified theological presuppositions determine one’s approach to Scripture. If Hunt’s assumption (that the atonement is universal and general and a provision made for every individual that ever lived) is true, then it is reasonable to assume that Paul and the Apostles would have shouted from the hilltops, “Christ died for you!” But, in fact, one would search in vain to find the phrase, “Christ died for you” anywhere in the Bible. Hunt boldly states that “Paul could and did honestly say to everyone he met, ‘Christ died for you”, but he cites no Scripture whatsoever to prove this unwarranted assertion. Continue reading…

Poison for the Mind: The Nation on CO2 and Global Warming, by E. Calvin Beisner

It is no secret that college campuses in general have become platforms for leftist propaganda and sinkholes of irrationality. A recent example of such irrationalism comes from University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole who alleges that carbon dioxide is far more deadly than Sarin gas. The mind-boggling madness of such a claim must not be brushed aside with a simple roll of the eyes because this is the kind of nonsense the next generation of social justice warriors, community organizers and other destroyers of Western Civilization are learning under their esteemed professors.

Fortunately, E. Calvin Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance have provided a succinct refutation of Professor Cole’s absurd claim. For a little background on Beisner and his impressive credentials see here. Of interest to my fellow Scripturalists, Beisner has also lectured on the epistemology of Gordon Clark.

The Cornwall Alliance is “a coalition of theologians, pastors, ministry leaders, scientists, economists, policy experts, and committed laymen, the Cornwall Alliance is an evangelical voice promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles.” You can support the work of the Cornwall Alliance here.

“What’s “a far more deadly gas” than the Sarin that Syrian President Bashar al Assad used to kill his own citizensprompting President Trump to respond with a missile attack?

Carbon dioxide.

Or so says The Nation. According to “The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions,” by University of Michigan Professor of History Juan Cole, “If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn’t be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere.”

We could laugh at the ignorance of the author, the fact checkers (if any), and the editors. Or we could rage at their dishonesty. Or we could cry at the ignorance of trusting but deceived readers. Maybe we should do all three.

Time for an elementary lesson in toxicology….”

Click the link below to continue reading:

Poison for the Mind: The Nation on CO2 and Global Warming

Justification by faith alone and the role of repentance: Interacting with an inverted soteriology

The doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone’ has been rightly regarded as a foundational tenet of Protestantism. Having been anathematized at the Council of Trent[1], it not only continues to be the archenemy of Romish dogma but has undergone more recent attacks by professing Protestants who have given in to Federal Vision and/or the New Perspective on Paul.

But apart from these more obvious assaults on this key doctrine, it is common for even conservative evangelicals to encounter confusion when struggling to understand how the doctrine of repentance fits within the parameters of sola fide. Like many other persistent errors in American evangelicalism, much of this can be blamed on dispensationalism and its entanglement in conservative and fundamentalist churches for more than a century. At the least, many dispensationalists simply fail to understand the three-fold division of the law, despite frequently giving lip-service to it. At most, some are blatantly antinomian, considering any appeal to repentance a relic of Old Covenant, pharisaical legalism. If “the Law” collective (including the moral law which predates the Mosaic Covenant) has been abrogated under the current dispensation (as has been sometimes alleged), quite obviously there is no standard by which one’s actions can be assessed and judged needful of repentance. After all, we are reassured, the church is under the dispensation of grace. Further, we are warned, one dare not pervert grace by adding repentance as a condition for receiving it.

The problem of repentance to which I am referring can be summarized as follows: Justification is by belief alone, yet the NT also teaches the necessity of repentance. The question necessarily arises, what if someone believes the gospel but does not repent? Are they saved? Or, are they somehow “provisionally” saved but retain the potential to fall away (when their repentance is quantified and found wanting at the final Judgment)? This appears to be John Wesley’s view. Gordon Clark quotes from Wesley’s Doctrinal Summaries and notes an obvious implication:

“Q.12. Can faith be lost but through disobedience?

A. It cannot. A believer first inwardly disobeys…. Then his intercourse with God is lost, i.e., and after this [he is] like unto another man.

Q.13. How can such a man recover faith?

A. By repenting and doing the first works.

…Wesley must, if consistent, assert that a man once regenerated can nonetheless fail to arrive in Heaven and on the contrary be eternally lost in Hell.”[2]

Some have attempted to address the faith/repentance dichotomy by simply conflating repentance with belief. Indeed, repentance does refer in large part to a changing of the mind, and may even be the primary meaning in its Scriptural usage. Yet some go farther and argue that repentance and belief are purely synonymous, the terms being a mere redundancy as they are found in the NT. This “solution” ensures that sola fide is maintained and the “works” of repentance pose no threat to simple belief in the gospel.

Others have responded by stating that if ‘justification by faith alone’ is correct, then repentance is not necessary for salvation because to demand repentance in addition to faith would be adding something other to the soteriological order. Thus, the doctrine of the “carnal Christian” is born, and those few who actually do repent of their transgressions and turn from the life of the “old man” have thus attained to some higher-order Christianity, not to be expected of the average believer. These answers are hardly satisfactory in light of passages like Luke 13:3.

I have heard good men tackle this issue many times. I can remember having discussions with certain brothers where the issue seemed complicated and paradoxical, some having a zeal to maintain the Protestant doctrine but knowing that repentance was preached by Christ Himself. I personally wondered if using the word “repent” in evangelism would pervert the truth of sola fide. It took many years for me to realize that there always was a solution to this alleged faith/repentance dichotomy that both demanded repentance yet did no injustice to the purity of ‘justification by faith alone’. The biblical solution has been largely ignored because of a prior commitment to an inverted ordo salutis (order of salvation) in contemporary evangelicalism. This prior commitment to synergism is one that I was not quick to part with.

Ultimately, the whole issue hinges on what human beings allegedly need to “do” in order to be made right before a holy God. Must we simply believe the gospel, or must we believe the gospel and…? Surely something is amiss when an evangelist gives the impression that one might believe the gospel and still be lost because he hasn’t repented. If such a scenario is possible, then justification is obviously not by belief alone. And if repentance must precede conversion, how much repentance constitutes a sufficient degree of turning, seeing that sin is not completely abolished from one’s existence at the time of conversion?

Consider the following from Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society:

“Either justification is by faith alone or it is not by faith alone. It can’t be by faith alone and not by faith alone. That is logically impossible.”[3]

Wilkin’s logic in this statement is commendable. We wish that every theologian would speak with such precision and directness instead of paradoxical pandering and linguistic lollygagging. Elsewhere, in a paper responding to Thomas Schreiner’s book on justification, Wilkin writes:

“…The expression ‘bare faith’ is synonymous with ‘faith alone.’ How can justification be by faith alone and yet not by bare faith?”[4]

We find in these statements by an opponent of Calvinism a logical consistency concerning sola fide reminiscent of a devoted Calvinist by the name of Gordon Clark.[5] Indeed, The Trinity Foundation (created principally for the purpose of keeping Clark’s work in print) has likewise taken issue with Schreiner’s book and included Brandon Adams’ criticism of Piper’s Foreword in a recent Trinity Review.

Unfortunately, however, because of Wilkin’s devotion to synergism and allegiance to anti-reformed soteriological presuppositions, he and the society he represents see repentance as essentially optional. The difference between Wilkin’s criticism of Schreiner’s book (and Piper’s waffling) and the criticism of Brandon Adams—though both are in agreement that justification is by faith alone—is that Calvinists have no need to maintain a diminished view of repentance (as Wilkin clearly does), nor do they see repentance as optional but regard it as a necessary consequence of having been born-again by the Spirit of God.

Wilkin insists that “God [has] a one-condition only requirement for entrance into His family” Of course, he is speaking of faith as that one condition. He chides Wayne Grudem, John MacArthur and John Piper for being inconsistent on this particular sola, because these men speak of the necessity of repentance. To Wilkin, such is incompatible with ‘justification by faith alone’. But in the particular quotes provided by Wilkin (Piper’s Foreword to Schreiner’s book not among them), there is no inconsistency, and I encourage the reader to assess them for himself. In contrast to Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society, the theology of these men demand the recognition of God’s regenerating grace as the causative agent of both faith and repentance. In other words, Grudem, MacArthur and Piper are able to speak of the necessity of repentance without violating sola fide because they are Calvinists, regarding both repentance and faith as gifts from God and knowing that God does not give one of those gifts to His children while failing to provide the other. Wilkin’s folly is in refusing to admit that the “one-condition only requirement” he speaks of is preceded by the regenerating work of God in the heart/mind of the individual. So while faith may be the only “condition” for justification, regeneration is the “condition” which must be met by God Himself prior to faith on the part of man, and that by the will of God alone (John 1:13; James 1:18).

Bob Wilkin’s error serves to illustrate why it is that if one adhere to the reformed soteriological order he is not confronted with the alleged dilemma regarding faith and repentance. The reformed “solution” is not new; it has simply been buried under centuries of synergistic strata. The NT text supports the view that there are no such “Christians” who believe the gospel yet refuse to repent. There are no carnal Christians, and there are no “believers” who obtain both justification and glorification yet are free to forego sanctification. We can say this with confidence, and it is not because Calvinists are advocating a sort of sinless-perfection. In commenting on chapter 15 of the Second London Baptist Confession, Sam Waldron notes that

“forsaking of sin is not the achievement of perfect or sinless obedience forever. It is a genuine ‘purpose and endeavor’ to this end.”[6]

Being born-again is the work of God alone, and this divine work (regeneration) precedes faith, contra Rome, Bob Wilkin, Dave Hunt, and synergists in general. If regeneration precedes faith, it also precedes repentance. Both faith and repentance are gifts of God given to His children who have been born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). Note that only the non-Calvinist who retains any regard for repentance finds himself in the aforementioned uncomfortable dichotomy because he views belief and repentance as actions one takes upon himself to do according to his own volition (not without a little help of the grace of God, of course) in order that he might be saved. So the question of what happens to a man who believes but refuses to repent is a legitimate one only for those who hold that faith precedes regeneration. How can such a person solve the problem of holding to Protestantism’s ‘justification by faith alone’ without neglecting the necessity of repentance? Since there is no consistent way to do this, men like Bob Wilkin are diligent to kick repentance entirely out of the conversion experience. Other synergists, like Wesley, have dealt with this problem by arguing for the necessity of repentance, with the possibility of losing one’s salvation, inadvertently treating ‘justification by faith alone’ not altogether differently from Trent’s repudiation of it.

Calvinism affords us the simple solution of regarding the ability to believe, repent, persevere and exhibit any other fruit of the Spirit as necessary consequences of having been regenerated by the Spirit of God. Such gifts are given to all whom God has called, “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Sam Waldron, in keeping with the Second London Baptist Confession, posits that

“…all believers repent and thus are given repentance by God…. By calling repentance a grace, the Shorter Catechism makes clear that it is a gift of God. It is a plant that grows in the renewed soil of the regenerate heart (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25)”.[7]

If someone regards himself as a believer but is blatantly and perpetually unrepentant, we feel no obligation to whisk their dead dry bones up to heaven with the simple caveat that they may miss out on some “heavenly rewards”. On the authority of Scripture we can regard such a one as an unbeliever—someone who has not actually been born from above. This is why Waldron can put it so bluntly:

“Is repentance, confession, and renunciation of sin, turning from it with grief and hatred for it, your constant, even daily, experience? If you are a true Christian, it is.”[8]

“But”, the objection comes, “so-and-so does believe; how can we say he is an unbeliever?” Here we must note carefully the oft-used and abused text from the Epistle of James. Many people have used passages like 2:14 to assert that faith alone is insufficient for being made right with God. But notice that James says “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” Note that the person says he has faith, but his lack of works testify to the contrary. There is no indication in the epistle that works—even repentance—combined with an otherwise “dead faith” would have wrought justification before God. The sooner we realize this the sooner we will see no tension between Paul and James. But the point for now is that not all who say they believe the gospel actually do believe it. They may be able to articulate its propositions. They may hold an orthodox doctrine of God. But it is quite possible that they do not actually believe that Christ died for their sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. This point is deserving of much greater attention, but for now, consider this short excerpt from fellow scripturalist Sean Gerety:

“Note carefully, for Calvin the question is not between those who have faith where one person’s faith is alive and the other’s is dead, as if they both had faith, but rather between the one who believes and the other who does not.  The distinction James is drawing is between the person who possesses genuine belief and the hypocrite.  Calvin rightly understands in describing faith as alive or dead that James is using a rhetorical device as he ‘disputes against those who made a false pretense as to faith, of which they were wholly destitute.’”[9]

God does not sanctify some of His children and not others. If faith and repentance are gifts of God, then we should rightly expect that God would grant both of these gifts to all of those whom He has graciously regenerated.

It may be helpful to see how Charles Hodge carefully contrasted Jacobus Arminius’ view of repentance within the soteriological order with that of the Reformers:

“…Whether any man does thus repent and believe, or, having believed, perseveres in a holy life, depends on himself and not on God. The purpose of election, therefore, is not a purpose to save, and to that end to give faith and repentance to a definite number of individuals, but a purpose to save those who repent, believe, and persevere in faith until the end.”[10]

Obviously, in such a system, repentance, belief and perseverance must be regarded as separate and distinct conditions which may or may not be met by the individual. It is the reason why the consistent Arminian holds that salvation must be kept by the individual, with actual apostasy of the Christian a real potentiality. Dave Hunt asked essentially, What Love is This that neglects to provide the potential for justification to an amorphous mass of humanity? But we ask, what justification is this that either, 1) cannot secure the individual for eternity via the imputed righteousness of Christ unless he perseveres with a certain level of repentance, or, 2) does not lead to sanctification because repentance is only realized by higher-order Christians, and that dependent upon their own volition?

If faith precedes regeneration, as the majority of evangelicalism today maintains, then the question of where repentance fits into soteriology is an unavoidable one. Wilkin simply eliminates it from conversion altogether. It is my contention that all non-Calvinistic solutions are problematic for sola fide, another example of one way in which synergists are necessarily at peace with Rome. The best they can offer is to say that the unrepentant is probably not really saved, but they cannot place repentance within a logically coherent and consistent soteriological construct.

If, on the other hand, regeneration precedes faith the problem of where to place repentance is no problem at all. It, like faith, is a gift of God. Our Heavenly Father graciously sanctifies all whom He has justifies. He puts into the heart of His children the desire to keep His moral law, that is, a desire to repent:

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 8:10-12).[11]

 

[1] Canon IX:  “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

[2] Clark, G.H., What is the Christian Life?, The Trinity Foundation, Unicoi, TN, 2012, pp. 37-38.

[3] https://faithalone.org/blog/justification-by-faith-alone-plus-repentance-and-good-works/

[4] Wilkin, R.N., The role of good works in justification: A review of chapter 16 of Thomas Schreiner’s Faith Alone—The Doctrine of Justification, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 28(55):18, 2015.

[5] Another free grace advocate even references Clark’s Faith and Saving Faith for support in his assertion that belief has to do with being “persuaded that a proposition is true” (Biery, R.M., Belief as a cognitive phenomenon, especially in regard to salvation: An expanded discussion, Journal of the Grace Evangelical 29(56):58, 2016).

[6] Waldron, S.E., A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession (5th ed. Revised and Corrected), EP Books, Welwyn Garden City, UK, 2016, pp. 240-41.

[7] Waldron, ref. 6, p. 233 & 235-37.

[8] Waldron, ref. 6, p. 241.

[9] https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/faith-alive/

[10] Hodge, C., Justification by Faith Alone, in Bonar & Hodge, Not What My Hands Have Done, Trinity Foundation, Unicoi, TN, 2005, pp. 269-70.

[11] Of course, the Dispensationalists have a way around the implications of this passage having regarded it as a prophecy for a future restoration of ethnic Israel. They do not seem to see that this attaches the New Covenant to ethnic Jews in the last days and not to the church. That is to say, Dispensationalists do not regard the New Covenant as the constitution of the church. Yet, “Every New Testament use of Jeremiah 31:31-34 [including this excerpt from Hebrews 8] relates it to a present fulfillment in the Church. Conversely, there is no justification anywhere in the New Testament for seeing its fulfillment as future and millennial” (Waldron, S.E. and Barcellos, R.C., A Reformed Baptist Manifesto, RBAP, Palmdale, CA, 2004, p. 21).

Rome’s evil doctrine of the Universal Destination of Goods, by Steve Matthews

Steve Matthews provides us with a series of articles and podcasts dealing with the current immigration controversy through the lense of Scripture. Steve is a Presbyterian and a scripturalist (following the theology and philosophy of Gordon H. Clark). In his 12th post in the series, Immigration, Citizenship, and the Bible, he provides an excellent summary of Thomistic economic theory and specifically addresses the Romish doctrine of the “universal destination of goods”.

For some biblical, constitutional, and level-headed thoughts on the subject of immigration absent the leftist emotive rhetoric, I recommend reading Steve’s previous posts in this series. In this article, Christians will benefit from learning a bit about the Roman Church-State’s theory of economics and why it is blatantly anti-capitalistic and wholly without biblical support. The Roman Church-State’s economic and political theory reaches well beyond the immigration issue and is particularly relevant in an age where communism (or communitarianism) is praised by both the papal antichrist and the Marxists in academia.

Due to time demands at work, it has been some time since the previous installment of my series Immigration, Citizenship and the Bible. Those circumstances now ended, it is my hope, Lord willing, to complete the final postings this spring. But before moving on to break new ground, it seems good to me to circle […]

via Immigration, Citizenship, and the Bible Part 12: Rome’s Evil Doctrine of the Universal Destination of Goods — Lux Lucet

Attacks on the Gospel’s exclusivity, by Mike Gendron

In light of the growing popularity of The Benedict Option and the evangelical intelligentsia’s love for compromise and anti-Protestantism, we reproduce an article from Mike Gendron’s most recent newsletter. Gendron leads Proclaiming the Gospel, a ministry geared toward the evangelism of Roman Catholics. For more information on the pervasive influence of this book by Rod Dreher, see the article by Pulpit and Pen here, the Polemics Report podcast here, and The Dividing Line podcast by James White here. For more information on contemplative prayer and Roman Catholic mysticism in general, I recommend the Lighthouse Trails Research Journal.

The greatest attacks on the Gospel today are the frequent attempts by evangelicals to make it more inclusive to everyone who has ever been baptized. Many are seeking to broaden the narrow road by embracing and promoting apostate forms of Christianity. Some undiscerning Christians have been seduced by the pope’s aggressive ecumenical agenda to reverse the Reformation and unite all professing Christians under the papacy. Part of the pope’s strategy is to look for soft targets within the evangelical church who will promote Roman Catholicism as a valid expression of Christianity.

Tragically, his strategy has been successful and is gaining a great deal of traction. Most recently, Al Mohler, Carl Truman, Russell Moore and Matt Chandler have recommended a disturbingly popular book written by Rod Dreher, who is a major promoter of Roman Catholicism, ecumenical unity, and contemplative prayer. Dreher is a former Catholic who converted to the Eastern Orthodox religion, not because of Rome’s false gospel, but because of its sexual abuse scandal. His book,  The Benedict Option , calls people of faith to emulate a sixth-century Catholic monk as an example of how to live in a collapsing culture. Almost all the heroes of The Benedict Option  are Catholic monks who lived solitary lives in a monastery while participating in the daily sacrifice of a Eucharistic Christ.

Like most proponents of ecumenism, Dreher promotes subjective spiritual experiences over the objective truths of Scripture. He said he never had a problem with praying the rosary as a Catholic, and he now encourages his readers to practice contemplative prayer and mysticism. He said “my life is shaped around liturgy that’s been in our church for 1500 years” and “on all kinds of sensual ways that embody the faith.” His Eastern Orthodox religion preaches the same works-righteousness salvation as Catholicism and other religions. We are not to affirm or receive “anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ” (2 John 9-10).

For evangelical leaders to recommend a book that applauds the heretical people and traditions of Roman Catholicism during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is lamentable. The prevailing influence of these leaders, along with their reluctance to guard sound doctrine and reject false gospels, have left many Christians confused. They do not know if the Roman Catholic Church represents a huge mission field that needs to be evangelized or if it represents a valid expression of Christianity. They need to know that Catholicism has long been a bitter enemy of the Gospel of Christ. The apostate religion has not only condemned those who believe the Gospel, but  brutally tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of those who refused to compromise it. Evangelical leaders who are sanctioning ecumenical unity with Catholics must be lovingly confronted in their error with the truth of God’s Word.

In a troubling interview with Al Mohler, Dreher said, “the West owes an incalculable debt to those Benedictine monks.” Mohler does acknowledge there are differences between their two faiths, but he said evangelicals can learn from people of the Orthodox and Catholic faith who embrace a different gospel. The apostle Paul did not encourage Christians to learn from the Judaizers who were distorting the Gospel and leading them away from Christ (Gal. 1:6-9). Mohler says the book encourages living together in a way that is “truly Christian” yet he never defines what a true Christian is, or the Gospel that a true Christian must believe. Mohler stated, “The book is very important. I want to commend it to every thinking Christian. We ought to read this book, and we ought also to read far beyond the title.” Yet, there was a glaring omission both in the book and in the interview by Mohler and Dreher. Neither one referenced the most powerful tools Jesus Christ gave us to fight the cultural wars – His Word and His Gospel (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16).

Evangelicals who endorse a book that obfuscates the lines that once separated biblical Christianity from apostate Christianity are minimizing the powerful effect of error. The accommodation of doctrinal error and falsehood will always be dangerous to the life of the Church that is called to be sanctified by the truth (John 17:17). God’s Word warns us to “be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17). The critical issue in the church today is the purity of the Gospel. It is the rudder that must guide us through stormy waters that have been stirred up by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14). Either we seek the approval of God by protecting the purity of the Gospel or we seek the approval of men by applauding those who peddle another gospel. There is no “option.”

As blood-bought Christians, we must contend earnestly for the faith and challenge those who embrace a false gospel. If we fail to fight the good fight of faith, we leave our own convictions and beliefs open to question. There is so much more at stake than winning cultural wars. We are also fighting the age-old war against truth waged by the powers of darkness. The truth of God’s Word is our only hope in in a world spinning out of control. We must endeavor to defend the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, the purity of His Gospel, and the sanctity of His Church.

-Mike Gendron

[Article used by permission. Link to original at Proclaiming the Gospel]

Feminizing Jesus: the continuing sissification of the Son of God

“…Effeminacy grows in the mainline churches. Rome has shown the way.”[1]

On the same day when the radical leftists and “equality” obsessed feminists chose to “take a stand” (clearly oblivious to the complicit service they provide to the state in its war against the family) on “International Women’s Day”, proving to the world once again just how baseless, twisted and inane their ideology is, I was reminded of another more dangerous and deplorable form of feminism—or effeminism—on the rise. This variety occurs within the professing church and is therefore more deceptive than anything the world has to offer. I am speaking of what may be deemed the sissification of Jesus and His glorious gospel.

When I saw the above statement (“Jesus died because He didn’t want to live without you”) posted outside of a local church, the first thing that popped into my head was the song “How do I live without you”, made famous by LeAnn Rimes. Is it not enough that our social justice warriors, televangelists and limp-wristed neologians make every effort to turn the Last Adam—the spotless Lamb of God—into a peace loving, tree-hugging effeminate hippie by way of every media outlet available (consider The Shack, for a recent example)? We may have become numb to the reality that even mainline denominations have feminized the very gospel itself.

Moreover, it is a glorification of wretched, sinful perverse man to suggest that it is me that Christ just cannot bear to live without. God does not need me. There is nothing inherently desirable about me that would cause the glorified resurrected Savior to long for my presence with Him in heaven (in fact, according to the doctrine of impassibility, there is nothing that “causes” God to do anything at all). The truth is, the triune God who reigns from everlasting to everlasting would have gotten along just fine without you or me. Yet this is the sort of “gospel” we are often presented with, and it is in just such a context that Jesus is made to look like a desperate young girl infatuated with man’s awesomeness.

I am not looking to nit-pick the particular church that posted this lame slogan. It is only one of many such “inoffensive” signs (it is only inoffensive to the unregenerate, having no conception of who God actually is) I have seen posted over the years. Another nearby sign simply asserts, “GOD LOVES YOU”, period, with no further explanation nor exhortation to repentance. Well, if God loves me then what’s the problem? If that’s the end of the story then, I suppose, “Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).

In contrast to such man-centered sentiments, consider the biblical picture of the perfect God-Man alongside depictions of fallen-man provided in Scripture. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul lays out a more accurate assessment of the human race, you know, the one which God just couldn’t live without. According to the Bible, man is

“…filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29—32).

Note also that the introduction to the book of Hebrews describes One wholly unlike the limp-wristed Jesus fashioned by many in our day:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1—3).

Of course, many other relevant passages could be quoted.

In his book, The Church Effeminate, John Robbins traces the history and underlying philosophy of this feminizing trend. The tendency to neutralize the Godhead and the gospel is not a new phenomenon, and is ultimately rooted in the intentional subordination of the “mind” to the “heart” (or, the subordination of the intellect to the emotions).

Robbins explains how “the masculine Christianity of the Reformers has long been displaced by the effeminate Christianity of the moderns.”[2] While there were a number of circumstances and rising ideologies leading up to this point in church history, it is of particular interest to reference Robbins on this point:

“The revivalism of the nineteenth century, particularly the work of Charles Finney, transformed theology from Calvinism into Arminianism [more accurately pelagianism or semi-pelagianism], from the sovereignty of God to the free will of man. A God who sovereignly plans and omnipotently acts is just too masculine to endure. A God who pleads and pines is much more palatable to the modern mind.

“The death of Christ…became a way for God to affect the feelings of men, rather than to satisfy the justice of an angry God. God was a God of love, not truth, justice, or holiness. His primary characteristic became mercy, not sovereignty or justice. He had no wrath to be assuaged. The doctrine of the Atonement was transformed—from propitiation to moral influence.

“Under the process of feminization, the importance of doctrine gave way to the centrality of experience.”[3]

Considering the condition of post-Fall humankind described in Romans 1, we should not be all that surprised that a generation lacking the fear of God would descend into what we see in this nation’s current state of debasement and debauchery. To reverse this trend by fighting the “culture war” is an unbiblical and misguided effort. Where we can take immediate and effective action, however, is in contending for THE faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and that includes standing fast against all attempts to feminize Christianity. Some ways in which we can do this may be:

  1. Taking great care to address God with reverence in prayer,
  2. Being careful to accurately represent Him in our interaction with others, remembering that in His perfections He is in need of nothing,
  3. And recalling that love is not His only attribute.

Finally, may we all be reminded of Scripture’s admonition: “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

-Nick Sabato

[1] Robbins, J.W. (ed.), The Church Effeminate and Other Essays, The Trinity Foundation, Unicoi, TN, 2001, p. 234.

[2] Robbins, ref. 1, p. 237.

[3] Robbins, ref. 1, p. 268.

A vindication of reformed Baptists and their Protestant heritage

There is a tendency among many fundamentalist and reformed Baptists to want to distinguish themselves from “Protestantism” as a whole. Some Calvinistic Baptists—persuaded though they may be of God’s sovereign grace in salvation—take issue with the label “reformed”. The reason for this tendency is often due to the fact that while Presbyterianism’s roots (for example) are traced with ease to the Protestant Reformation, many Baptists think they owe very little to that great historical movement of God because they are convinced that their history does not depend on a developing separation from Romanism. Many Baptists tend to be under the impression that their roots run parallel and distinct from Reformation history and do not depend on it. Contrarily, I think it is plainly demonstrable that all Christians—particularly Calvinistic Baptists—owe a great deal to the glorious Protestant Reformation.

It is quite possible that many of us Baptists—whether fundamentalist or reformed—have taken for granted the truth of a proposition like the one put forth by John Henry Blunt when he wrote that, “…Anabaptists were the fathers of the modern English Baptists”.[i] In the margin of my facsimile copy of his work are the following handwritten words: “no connection whatsoever”. It appears that particular reader knew something of the Baptists’ Reformational heritage.

It is my contention that the terms “Protestant” and “reformed” need not be used exclusively of Reformed and Presbyterian churches and others who proudly admit to their sixteenth-century heritage. While I understand the argument of both sovereign grace Baptists and fundamentalists that we must trace our doctrine and practice directly to the NT, such a claim need not be antithetical to acknowledging and admitting the debt we owe the Reformers.[ii] Tom Ascol corrects a common misunderstanding concerning the history of the Baptists:

“Sometimes Baptists live under the mistaken notion that they came into existence with little or no influence from any other evangelical group. Some even believe that Baptist churches have existed from the time of John ‘the Baptist’ to the present. While the principles that Baptists hold dear originate in the Word of God and have been found in various degrees of purity throughout church history, our origin as a distinct group can be traced to the early seventeenth century. We are a Reformational people.”[iii]

Some typical objections

As a case in point of this “mistaken notion”, W.R. Downing’s paper, ‘A Vindication of the Baptists’[iv], is one such attempt at finding an unbroken succession of “Baptistic” churches linking modern Baptists with the Apostles. Such an attempt necessarily implies a diminished view of “reformed theology” even by Calvinists because the assertion is that Calvinistic Baptists can trace their roots to the Apostles without going through Luther and Calvin.

I do not interact here with William Downing because he is a soft target. He is not. He is a most brilliant pastor, theologian and scholar, and has authored numerous excellent and robust theological works. I would recommend reading as much as you can get your hands on by Downing (some of which is available for free here). He is a dear brother in Christ and I have learned a great deal from his books. I published a very positive review of his epistemological tome The Bible and the Problem of Knowledge and have regarded his Lectures on Calvinism and Arminianism as one of the best resources available on soteriology both for its theological depth and acuteness and detailed historical survey. Downing has also written textbooks on Hebrew and Greek as well as many other scholarly works. Even the book from which this paper on Baptist history is taken is highly recommended for all of its other fine content. I chose to interact with Downing on this subject because he is not a decisional regenerationist, he is not an SBC traditionalist, he is not a fideistic fundamentalist, he is not an evidentialist and, according to his own testimony on Iron Sharpens Iron [time stamp: 17:52], he is not a Landmarker.[v] He is a consistent Calvinist with a high view of Scripture and holds to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith with minor reservations. We are dealing with someone who is both “in our camp” and exceedingly qualified to speak to these subjects. So, in the big picture, of course, this is a minor point of disagreement I have with Downing. I simply use his paper as a launching pad to deal with some of the arguments put forth by modern Baptists as to their alleged non-Reformational heritage.

Downing takes issue with the term “reformed” Baptist because he believes we should trace our roots through the remnant of believers in history from apostolic times until now. Like many other Baptists, he takes issue with the term Protestant as it is applied to Christians in general (as opposed to Romanists):

“[We are] Baptists not Protestants. We did not come from the Protestant Reformation. Our forefathers, known under different, often derogatory names, have existed from the time of the New Testament. Modern Baptists are the inheritors and progeny of countless hundreds of thousands who have held to the evangelical faith, believer’s baptism and freedom of conscience through the ages.”[vi]

It is worth noting that in many ways the seventeenth-century Particular Baptists deliberately followed on the heels of the Westminster divines making no attempt to distinguish their Calvinistic theology and heritage from the Reformation. Greg Nichols notes that “the Reformed Baptist fathers were not embarrassed to copy verbatim from the Presbyterian fathers of the previous generation when they could do so conscientiously”.[vii] One would think if such a clear line of succession back to the Apostles were discernible three-hundred years ago, these early reformed Baptists would have capitalized on that historical data to help them justify their separatism and theological distinctives. Rather, consider the following by Kurt Smith:

“From an historical standpoint, Baptists have always been known as ‘people of the Book.’ By this identification, Baptists (since their emergence in 17th century England) had gained the reputation of being that Christian body within Protestantism, whose declaration of doctrine and practice was solely governed and ruled by the Word of God. In fact, the great Reformation principle of sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) can be argued as finding its fullest expression with Baptists than with any other Protestant group.

This is why church historian, Robert G. Torbet, in his History of the Baptists, made the case that:

‘Baptists, to a greater degree than any other group, have strengthened the protest of evangelical Protestantism against traditionalism. This they have done by their constant witness to the supremacy of the Scriptures as the all-sufficient and sole norm for faith and practice.’[viii][ix]

Smith, following Torbet, rather than separating Baptists from Protestantism at large, is quick to point out that they were the most scripturally devoted body “within Protestantism”, and admits their seventeenth-century heritage.

The simple fact is, in order for anyone to trace Calvinistic Baptists (or any other Christian group) back to the Apostles, they are forced to go through a series of very questionable sects. Considering the preponderance of anti-trinitarianism amongst many so-called Anabaptist groups, “questionable” is putting it mildly. Not only is it unprovable that all of these various groups actually held to believer’s baptism by immersion, their doctrinal aberrations should more than disincline us to forcibly trace our roots through them. Consider the broad and diverse groups Downing must list in order to assert that Baptists can trace their roots to the Apostles:

“These believers and churches have been known by various names in history, such as Montanists, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Vaudois, Paterines, Albigenses, Berengarians, Bogomili, Cathari, Gezari, Arnoldists, Petrobrusians, Poor men of Lyons, Waldenses, Lollards, Wyclifites, Bohemian Brethren, Hussites, etc.”6

This list contains some dubious groups indeed. We will not examine the doctrinal distinctives of each of them here, partly because of the lack of information available, partly for the sake of space, and partly because it simply cannot be proven that all of these groups held to believer’s baptism by way of immersion anyway. It is true that many have been lumped into the broad and practically useless category, Anabaptist, but even that label does not prove that they practiced baptism by immersion! More accurately, there have been various people branded Anabaptists simply because they were antipaedobaptists. Their aversion to infant baptism (Romish, or otherwise) did not imply that they held to the doctrine, mode and method of baptism that post-Reformation Baptists adhere to. Ronald Cooke, drawing largely on the work of Baptist historian Albert Henry Newman, writes:

“Newman…says here, plainly, the method by which the first Antipedobaptists of the Reformation were baptized was affusion, not immersion. One of the other Baptist historians…mentions in connection with this decisive step of the Antipedobaptists, that the first group to be baptized were baptized out of a bucket of water…. It is difficult to document immersion before the Reformation times” [emphasis mine].[x]

Church historian George P. Fisher likewise maintains that, “The practise [sic] of immersion was not in vogue at first among the Anabaptists.”[xi] And Earle E. Cairns points out that even the esteemed Anabaptist theologian Balthasar Hubmaier, along with three hundred of his followers, “were baptized by affusion.”[xii]

The lack of documentation that can even substantiate a clear history of immersionists prior to the Reformation alone discredits the idea that a direct path can be traced from modern reformed or fundamentalist Baptists through to the Apostles. Anabaptists were a mixed-bag. With no consistency in their mode of baptism and total absence of doctrinal parameters, the term, “Anabaptist” is rendered practically useless for our purposes. It tells us very little about any particular group, and most of the groups placed under that label are not ones any orthodox Christian would want to be associated with.

It is true that amongst the varied and diverse people Downing lists there existed true believers, but it cannot be sustained that they all practiced believer’s baptism by immersion, simultaneously holding to other Baptist distinctives. To acknowledge this is to acknowledge that Presbyterians and evangelicals can equally claim this “pilgrim church”[xiii] as fellow brethren belonging to the true bride of Christ, being a testimony to the truth that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. The existence of these pre-Reformation Christians only proves that God has always preserved His remnant. It does not prove that Baptists have the right to disregard the importance of the Reformation when discussing their history and theology. Furthermore, as we will see, many antipaedobaptists employed methods and embraced doctrines that any Bible-believing Christian would deride as unscriptural. Is it even worthwhile, then, for us to attempt to trace our roots through them?

Note that some of the groups Downing lists to support his thesis are at the least unorthodox or at most, completely heretical. These groups’ particular method of baptism and view of church-state separation becomes irrelevant at this point since primary doctrines (such as the trinity or proper Christology) were sometimes outright rejected by many of the so-called Anabaptists in history. It is surprising that a Calvinistic confessional cessationist[xiv] like Downing would want to share a common bond with montanists, for example, all for the sake of trying to establish an unbroken doctrinal succession to the Apostles.[xv]

In this paper, Downing has nothing critical to say of the Montanists and says that the “movement was orthodox in its doctrine”.[xvi] He makes no mention of the excesses and charismatic chicanery practiced by those within the movement. I think those not so inclined to trace their doctrine and practice in a continuous line to the Apostles would give a more objective assessment of the Montanists. While Downing claims that Montanists predate Montanus himself, I am not sure that such would insulate the group he is referring to from the charismatic behavior which has come to be identified with Montanism in general.

Regarding Montanus, it is noteworthy that like modern charismatics, “[he] gave utterances as though the Lord were speaking directly to him.”[xvii] Victor Budgen quotes such examples of Montanus’ twisted “revelations” and says, “Here was a man who was undoubtedly, in his own estimation, on a hot line to heaven.”[xviii] If it weren’t for Downing’s strained effort to find early Baptists in church history, we could be sure that Downing would himself repudiate practically everything they taught as recorded in the Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics.[xix]

The error of imagining a line of Baptists right through church history is more characteristic of fundamentalists, traditionalists and Plymouth Brethren then it is of confessional Calvinistic Baptists. Let us not fall into the same trap. There is no shame in our Protestant, reformed heritage, and acknowledging it means we don’t have to sidestep doctrinal aberrations and make excuses for heretical trends in history. Downing exhibits a very high view of the Reformers and the Protestant Reformation in his Lectures on Calvinism and Arminianism, but in discussing Baptist history the importance of the Reformation is diminished.

Given the choice, I think any Christian would be wise to embrace the heritage they owe to the Reformation over inventing a lineage that must necessarily pass through various antitrinitarians, montanists, violent social radicals and theocrats and other heretics who have all been put under the heading Anabaptist (so labeled simply because they repudiated paedobaptism). Following the clear NT pattern, it is very likely that early Christians baptized in the method of the Apostles and restricted the ordinance to believers only. Certainly, I am convinced along with Downing that such is the biblical method. But we must stop short of asserting what cannot be legitimately established with regard to Baptist history. We have limited knowledge of many of the early groups Downing lists, and often what we do know is not very good.

Downing admits that “the distinctive doctrines of the Donatists were identical with the Montanists and Novatians before them”. David Christie-Murray’s assessment is much the same, noting that the Novatian movement “was heretical in so far as it allied with the Montanists”, and that “the Donatists were in the main orthodox, although some of them were tinged with Arianism….”[xx] Should we not be at least a bit cautious in trying to trace our roots through these groups? I am not consigning all of these men and women to hell. There was most definitely a remnant that existed through the ages that never submitted to the mongrel faith-works monstrosity of Rome. I am simply trying to state the obvious; that much of the information available concerning these people would be enough to exclude them from membership in Downing’s own confessional church. If Downing wants to include Montanists in his Baptist family tree, it follows that he would likewise be obliged to extend their modern counterparts in charismania the right hand of fellowship. I do not think that is something he is prepared to do.

Cooke notes that there was a strong tendency toward antitrinitarianism even amongst many of whom Baptist historian Albert Henry Newman calls the “sounder” Baptists. He notes that Newman’s sympathies to the concept of an unbroken line of succession force him to have a sympathetic tone concerning the heretical nature of their teachings. Cooke writes:

“Some non-Baptists would not describe men who denied the Trinity as being sound in their theology. To say they ‘fell considerably short of the orthodox view of the Person of Christ’ is a euphemistic way of saying that they denied the humanity of Christ. And to say that such men who taught the Adoptionist Christology were like many of the medieval evangelicals is again stretching the point in an effort to save them from the charge of heresy. For some non-Baptists would be more apt to call such medieval men heretics rather than evangelicals. Yet, this is the line to which any Baptist unbroken line must be linked.”[xxi]

We have seen some of the difficulties in formulating an historical line of succession from the Apostles to modern Baptists. I will briefly address one more point with regard to our theological heritage.

Baptist covenant theology has a Reformational heritage

Coming out of dispensationalism, some of us held a low view of the historic creeds and confessions and possessed an abysmal knowledge of church history. I believe this was no accident, for to know church history would be to admit the newness of dispensationalism as a “unified interpretive scheme”[xxii].  I, for one, was merely Baptist by default. That is, I found no evidence of infant baptism in the NT and that was enough to dismiss such a practice as unbiblical. “Believer’s baptism”, seemed to be the method employed in the book of Acts, but I had no real grasp of the other historic Baptist distinctives.

Instead of regarding Presbyterians as compromising Christians who simply hadn’t purged a residual Romish tradition, a mere “trapping of popery”[xxiii], it would have been far more beneficial to have pursued a basic knowledge of the theory employed to justify infant baptism. In other words, I think many twentieth-century Baptists were merely Baptists in the sense that they immersed believers. They were unaware of the rich hermeneutical system which seemingly undergirded both the practice of paedobaptism and Baptist opposition to it. Only recently are we reclaiming our confessional and covenantal heritage. Today there is a wealth of literature available detailing the specifics of Baptist Covenant theology.[xxiv]

Downing embraces and defends Baptist covenant theology in multiple books and properly distinguishes it from both paedobaptist covenant theology and dispensationalism. But I think he would be hard-pressed to uncover a chain of local churches through which he might trace this comprehensive theological system back to the early NT church. We do believe that covenant theology (with its Baptist distinctiveness) is thoroughly biblical and extremely useful as a hermeneutical framework. But just like eschatological schemes, not all hermeneutical systems and doctrinal frameworks were formally and systematically worked out by the first-century church. Downing should simply admit what reformed Baptist author Pascal Denault notes, that “this approach to Scripture [Baptist covenant theology] was born of the Protestant Reformation”[xxv], and, unlike many modern Baptists, seventeenth-century Baptists

“were concerned with identifying themselves with the heritage of the Reformation. This explains the close relationship of their official documents to those of the other reformed movements. This desire for unity did not keep them from stating their distinct convictions within these same documents. Nevertheless, they always did it with irenic attitude.”[xxvi]

Conclusion

I close off this post with a final quote from Dr. Ronald Cooke:

“The Baptist movement of the sixteenth century was a great hodge-podge of many different ideas and teachings, some of which would definitely be classed as heretical today by just about every believer in a fundamental Bible-believing church. And there is scarcely one man, whose teachings we know anything about it detail, whom any Fundamental Baptist would agree with today. In other words, the only link that Baptists today would have with such men is water baptism, and even some of those, whom Newman classes as the sounder biblical Baptists of the sixteenth century practised [sic] affusion, not immersion….

“To say that we never came out of Rome because we were never in Rome cannot be documented at all by any historical evidence which now exists. Almost everything we know about the men of the lower middle ages, the men of the higher middle ages, and the sixteenth century dissenters, suggests that the reformatory movements came out of the hierarchical Church, or from some man who had separated from it.”[xxvii]

“…It was not until the time of the Protestant Reformation that a clear break was made which was based upon a sound hermeneutical approach to the Scriptures, and which resulted in a sound theology which taught clearly salvation by grace alone, justification by faith alone and that Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to the believing sinner by faith alone.”[xxviii]

Fellow Baptists, let us celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with our Presbyterian and reformed brethren and rightly recognize the great debt we owe those theological giants who went before us. I do not think I am being too liberal with the term “Protestant” in saying that we who adamantly protest the abominable false gospel of Rome should highly regard the Reformers’ protest and all of its fruits.

I, for one, consider myself both a Protestant and a reformed Baptist.

-Nick Sabato

[i] Blunt, J.H., The Reformation of the Church of England: Its History, Principles and Results, Vol. 1 A.D. 1514—1547 (8th edition), Longmans, Green, and Co., New York, 1897, p. 551.

[ii] Ryle, J.C., What Do We Owe the Reformation?, Protestant Truth Society, London, Obtain a reprint here.

[iii] Ascol, T.K., From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist Convention: What Hath Geneva to do with Nashville? (revised edition), Founders Press, Cape Coral, FL, 2013, p. 11.

[iv] Downing, W.R., Selected Shorter Writings, PIRS Publications, Morgan Hill, CA, 2013, pp. 231—283.

[v] “Landmark Baptists particularly emphasized the local, visible congregation as being the church in its true form, and they opposed the idea of an actual universal church” (Bush, L.R., and Nettles, T.J., Baptists and the Bible, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1980, p. 378). In contrast to Landmarkism, the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith 1677/1689 affirms the existence of a universal church. This is partly why Downing has an affinity for the First London Baptist Confession of Faith (1644/1646) (see Downing, ref. 4, pp. 257—59 and ref. 14, pp. 165 & 461). Sam Waldron comments that “The New Testament does speak of a universal church (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 1:22; 4:11—15; 5:23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32; Colossians 1:18, 24; Hebrews 12:23). Such passages refute Landmarkism and its denial of a universal church” (Waldron, S.E., A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith [5th edition: revised and corrected], EP Books, UK, 2016, pp. 366-367). While Downing claims he is not a Landmarker, it is sometimes difficult to see precisely where he differs from Landmarkism.

[vi] Downing, ref. 4, p. 236.

[vii] Nichols, G., Covenant Theology: A Reformed and Baptistic Perspective on God’s Covenants, Solid Ground Christian Books, Birmingham, AL, 2011, p. 5.

[viii] Robert G. Torbet, History of the Baptists (revised edition), Judson, Valley Forge, PA, 1963, p. 483.

[ix] Smith, K., The only rule, Founders Journal 104, March 14, 2016.

[x] Cooke, R., Some Modern Baptists and the Protestant Reformation, Truth International Ministries, Max Meadows, VA, 2007, p. 15.

[xi] Fisher, G.P., History of Christian Doctrine, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1916, p. 319.

[xii] Cairns, E.E., Christianity Through the Centuries, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1981, p. 306.

[xiii] Broadbent, E.H., The Pilgrim Church (1931), Gospel Folio Press, Port Colborne, ON, 2009.

[xiv] Downing, W.R., Theological Propaedeutic, PIRS Publications, Morgan Hill, CA, 2010, p. 162.

[xv] Again, Downing does not claim to be a Landmarker, but his arguments here seem to be characteristic of that camp.

[xvi] Downing, ref. 4, p. 262.

[xvii] Budgen, V., The Charismatics and the Word of God (2nd ed.), Evangelical Press, England, 1989, p. 116.

[xviii] Budgen, ref. 17, p. 117.

[xix] Clifton, C.S., Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, Barnes & Noble, New York, 1992, pp. 98—99.

[xx] Christie-Murray, D., A History of Heresy, Oxford University Press, New York, 1976, p. 96.

[xxi] Cooke, ref. 10, pp. 20—21.

[xxii] Erickson, M.J., Christian Theology (2nd edition), Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998, p. 1168.

[xxiii] While I agree with this assessment of paedobaptism by Shaun Willcock (Trappings of Popery, New Voices Publishing, Cape Town, South Africa, 2007, pp. 20—24), to ignore the particular version of covenant theology used to undergird the practice by Presbyterians means we have failed to interact with them at any intellectual level. Some of the strongest opponents of Romanism have retained paedobaptism not because they have some innate desire to retain papal traditions but as a “necessary” consequence of their own particular covenant theology.

[xxiv] Consider the work of Reformed Baptist Academic Press and Founders Ministries.

[xxv] Denault, P., The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology, Solid Ground Christian Books, Birmingham, AL, 2013, summary page.

[xxvi] Denault, ref. 25, pp. 10—11, footnote 13.

[xxvii] Cooke, ref. 10, p. 23.

[xxviii] Cooke, ref. 10, p. 24.

Antichrist’s Ecumenical Endeavors, by Thomas Juodaitis

The following article by Thomas W. Juodaitis was first published in the September/October 2016 issue of the Trinity Review (pdf available here). On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it is important to note that while Rome’s dogmas have by and large remained intact in their persistent opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Mystery Babylon’s tactics have changed over the centuries to accommodate Protestant resistance, or lack thereof.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Rome’s strategy toward Protestants changed from the open hostility of the Counter Reformation’s anathemas against Protestant “heretics” to the covert co-opting of “Separated Brethren” since Vatican II. Instead of Antichrist openly persecuting true Bible believers, which he did when he had both the political and religious power to do so, his diabolical scheme has changed to deceive Evangelicals through his ecumenical efforts to bring the “Separated Brethren” back into the fold of Rome. Satan used the same scheme in the history of the early church. For the first three centuries he tried to stamp out the church through both religious and state-sponsored persecution. When that failed, and the church continued to grow, he turned to co-opting it by amalgamating paganism and Christianity, and the Roman Catholic Church-State was birthed. “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and then take them over. For the next eleven centuries Rome increased and exercised her power not only over rulers of nations, but also over dissenters who believed the Bible and not Rome’s damnable heresies. Then in the darkness, when the light of the Gospel seemed to be snuffed out, God raised up Martin Luther and others who recovered the Gospel from the Word of God, and Rome’s ecclesiastical power was broken. This also led to her political power being greatly curtailed, as Rome and her Antichrist received, as it were, a mortal wound. Though she tried by force and persecution to stamp out the Reformation, she could not, and the Gospel and Biblical Christianity spread throughout the world. Thus, lacking the power of force to put down the Reformation, she sought by her craft to co-opt and destroy it from within through her ecumenical endeavors. In her efforts she has received help from some well-known “Evangelicals,” a term that used to mean one who believed in sola scriptura and sola fide, but today it has become a wax nose to mean almost anything, and thus means nothing. Thus, as the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation approaches, Rome is doing all it can to eviscerate it, usher in a one-world religion, and she has the help of many from within “Evangelicalism” to do so.[1]

 

Vatican Council II: Decree on Ecumenism

The Second Vatican Council met from 1962-1965 under the pontificates of John XXIII and Paul VI. In its official decrees is a decree on ecumenism – the unity of the church. Notice the imperial language – Bible believing Christians have creeds and confessions – statements of what is believed among us, but Rome issues decrees as to what is to be believed. Though the Council of Trent was upheld, the tone and strategy especially toward Protestants had changed considerably – heretics are now separated brethren, and followers of other religions and even atheists will now be saved through Rome.[2] What follows is a selection of quotations from the Decree on Ecumenism from Vatican Council II.[3]

From the Introduction

The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ….

Everywhere large numbers have felt the impulse of this grace, and among our separated brethren also there increases from day to day a movement, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of unity among all Christians….[4]

Notice the importance of the Mass from Chapter 1: “In his Church he instituted the wonderful sacrament of the Eucharist by which the unity of the Church is both signified and brought about” (453). Later in section 4: “The results will be that, little by little, as the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, into the unity of the one and only Church, which Christ bestowed on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the [Roman] Catholic Church[5] as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time” (457).

Other [Roman] “Catholic Principles on Ecumenism” from Chapter 1 are as follows:

In this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts (Cf. 1 Cor. 11:18-19; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Jn. 2:18-19 – footnoted in original), which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable (Cf. 1 Cor. 1:11 ff.; 11:22 – footnoted in original). But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church—for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the [Roman] Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers…. Without doubt, the differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the [Roman] Catholic Church—whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church—do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. (455)

It follows that the separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from the defects already mentioned, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the [Roman] Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those to whom he has given new birth into one body…. For it is through Christ’s [Roman] Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation (sic.), that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. (456)

The term “ecumenical movement” indicated the initiatives and activities encouraged and organized, according to the various needs of the Church, and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity. These are: first, every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult. Then, “dialogue” between competent experts from different Churches and communities; in their meetings, which are organized in a religious spirit, each explains the teaching of his communion in greater depth and brings out clearly its distinctive features…. In addition, these communions engage in that more intensive cooperation in carrying out any duties for the common good of humanity which are demanded by every Christian conscience. They also come together for common prayer, where this is permitted. (456-457) …

Nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. (458, emphasis added)

From Chapter II “The Practice of Ecumenism”:

Church renewal therefore has notable ecumenical importance. Already this renewal is taking place in various spheres of the Church’s life: the biblical and liturgical movements, the preaching of the Word of God and catechetics, the apostolate of the laity, new forms of religious life and the spirituality of married life, and the Church’s social teaching and activity. All these should be considered as promises and guarantees for the future progress of ecumenism. (459-460)

Here in a nutshell is the blueprint for Evangelicals and Catholics Together I and II and the Manhattan Declaration. Ersatz Evangelicals are joining with Roman Catholics on social issues, meanwhile the Gospel is being denied all for the sake of making America moral again. This is made even more explicit in section 12:

Before the whole world let all Christians confess their faith in God, one and three, in the incarnate Son of God, our Redeemer and Lord. United in their efforts, and with mutual respect, let them bear witness to our common hope, which does not play us false. Since cooperation in social matters is so widespread today, all men without exception are called to work together; with much greater reason is this true of all who believe in God, but most of all, it is especially true of all Christians, since they bear the seal of Christ’s name. Cooperation among Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant. (462)

Finally, from Chapter III, Subsection II, “The Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West” come the following quotations:

The Churches and ecclesial communities which were separated from the Apostolic See of Rome (sic.) during the grave crisis that began in the West at the end of the Middle Ages or in later times, are bound to the [Roman] Catholic Church by a specially close relationship as a result of the long span of earlier centuries when the Christian people had lived in ecclesiastical communion. (467) …

We are indeed aware that there exist considerable differences from the doctrine of the [Roman] Catholic Church even concerning Christ the Word of God made flesh and the work of redemption, and thus concerning the mystery and ministry of the Church and the role of Mary in the work of salvation….

A love and reverence—almost a cult—of Holy Scripture leads our brethren to a constant and diligent study of the sacred text. (468, emphasis added) …

Although the ecclesial communities separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us which flows from baptism, and although we believe they have not preserved the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory. For these reasons, the doctrine about the Lord’s Supper, about the other sacraments, worship, and ministry in the Church should form subjects of dialogue. (469, emphasis added) …

And if in moral matters there are many Christians who do not always understand the Gospel in the same way as [Roman] Catholics, and do not admit the same solutions for the more difficult problems of modern society, they nevertheless want to cling to Christ’s word as the source of Christian virtue and to obey the command of the Apostle: “Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Hence, the ecumenical dialogue could start with the moral application of the Gospel.

This sacred Council urges the faithful to abstain from any frivolous or imprudent zeal, for these can cause harm to true progress toward unity. Their ecumenical activity cannot be other than fully and sincerely [Roman] Catholic, that is loyal to the truth we have received from the Apostles and the Fathers, and in harmony with the faith which the [Roman] Catholic Church has always professed, and at the same time tending toward the fullness in which our Lord wants his Body to grow in the course of time. (470, emphasis added)[6]

The Roman Catholic Church-State tapped into the ecumenical movement already begun, as witnessed by the cooperation between Roman Catholics and Billy Graham and his “Crusades” in the late 1950s, where Roman prelates were on stage with Graham, and those in the audience who came forward identifying themselves as Roman Catholic were steered back to the Roman Catholic Church-State. This assumes that Roman Catholicism is a legitimate branch of Christianity, and thus there is no need to evangelize Roman Catholics, but that “Evangelicals” and Romanists can work together in co-belligerency on social issues was enshrined in Vatican II, as witnessed in the quotations above. Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism paved the way for Evangelicals and Catholics Together I and II and The Manhattan Declaration. But Rome had not changed, especially concerning doctrine; rather, instead of open hostility and persecution, her strategy toward “heretic” Protestants became more seductive and dangerous, and many “Evangelicals” have fallen for her deceptions. As witness that Rome has not changed on her doctrines, Trent has continually been upheld by Rome, and in 2007 questions were asked if Vatican II had changed her understanding of the church, to which she replied, No.[7]

 

Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Francis I) and His Ramped Up Ecumenical Efforts

Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio took for his papal name Francis I upon ascending the papal throne, and he has been busy in his pontificate trying to unite the major world religions. If the “separated brethren” are duped into this ecumenical Babylon, then they will certainly be separated, but their separation will be from Christ. Francis has been pushing for a one-world religion since the beginning of his pontificate, but 2016 has seen his efforts go into overdrive. In Francis’ first ecumenical meeting he made clear his agenda, following through with what Vatican II set in motion:

And now I turn to you distinguished representatives of the Jewish people, to which we are joined in a very special spiritual bond, since, as the Second Vatican Council affirms, the Church of Christ acknowledges that “the beginnings of her faith and her election are already, according to the divine mystery of salvation, in the Patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets” (Declar. Nostra aetate, 4). Thank you for your presence and I am confident that, with the help of the Almighty, we will be able to continue profitably that fraternal dialogue that the Council advocated (cf. ibid.) and that has actually been accomplished, bringing many fruits, especially in recent decades.

I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.

The [Roman] Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – I wish to repeat this: promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – it also attests the valuable work that the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue performs. It is equally aware of the responsibility that we all have towards this world of ours, towards all of Creation, that we should love and protect. And we can do much for the sake of the poorest, those who are weak and who suffer, to promote justice, to promote reconciliation and to build peace.[8]

In June 2014 Francis invited Israeli and Palestinian presidents to meet in a prayer meeting with him on the Vatican grounds. The meeting “will mark the first time that Jewish, Christian and Islamic prayers will be held in the tiny city state that is the headquarters of the 1.2 billion member Roman Catholic Church[-State].”[9] The article also noted that Bartholomew, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church will also be attending at the invitation of Francis “to show that the two main branches of Christianity that split in 1054 can work together for peace.”

In early 2014, Francis sent a video message to Kenneth Copeland and his conference of prosperity-gospel / Word of Faith preachers in which he called them brothers and emphasized two ideas, “his joy at their desire to worship together in prayer to the Father for the Spirit to come and his yearning for Christians to become one again.” Francis concluded by telling them to pray for him, and Copeland was more than happy to oblige. The meeting was facilitated through the efforts of Tony Palmer, an Anglican, who in his introduction to the video from Francis stated, “The protest is over.”[10]

Francis spoke in St. Patrick’s cathedral in September 2015 in his visit to the United States. In his opening remarks he said, “I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer.” Later in his speech he said, “In the words of the book of Revelation, I know well that you have come forth from the great tribulation and I accompany you at this time of pain and difficulty. And I thank God for your faithful service unto his people, doing so in helping you to persevere on the path of fidelity to Jesus Christ.”[11] Oh, the irony on so many levels! During the same visit, Francis addressed the full House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States Congress as well as the United Nations where he continued to push his agenda of Socialism, one-world religion, and one-world government, all the while castigating capitalism.

The year 2016 though has seen Francis’ interfaith and unity activities ramped up. Starting in January, Francis released a short video clearly stating his desire to unite the world’s religions into a new one-world religion combining elements of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. In the video Francis repeats, “we are all children of God.” Francis also stated that the majority of the people on Earth profess some sort of religious belief, which he said, “should lead to a dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.” Also in the video are clips from clergy from the four world religions: a female Buddhist proclaims, “I have confidence in Buddha”; a Rabbi avers, “I believe in God”; a priest declares, “I believe in Jesus Christ”; and a Muslim cleric states, “I believe in Allah.”[12] Then on January 17, Francis visited Rome’s Great Synagogue, which was his first visit to a Jewish place of worship.[13] Later in January, Francis was invited to the mosque of Rome, one of the largest outside the Arab world.[14]

In February, Francis became the first pope to meet a patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, when he met Patriarch Kirill in Havana, Cuba. “The two men embraced, kissing each other twice on the cheeks and clasping hands before taking seats. ‘Now things are easier,’ Kirill said. Francis responded, ‘It is clear now that this is the will of God.’ … For Francis, the meeting was an ecumenical and diplomatic coup that eluded his predecessors…. Addressing the schism between their religions, the two also declared, ‘It is our hope that our meeting may continue to the re-establishment of this unity willed by God.’”[15]

 

Together 2016

On July 16, 2016, Francis addressed via video a crowd of “Evangelical” Christians gathered at the Washington Mall before the Washington Monument, an obelisk measuring 6,660 inches in height with a base of 660 inches. There was even more occult symbolism at the conference. In the Together 2016 logo, the “o” is actually an ouroboros, an “emblematic serpent of ancient Egyptand Greecerepresented with its tail in its mouth, continually devouring itself and being reborn from itself. A gnosticand alchemicalsymbol, Ouroboros expresses the unity of all things, material and spiritual, which never disappear but perpetually change form in an eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation.”[16] This occult symbol was also on the stage, and the speakers and performers stood in the middle of it. Confirmed speakers included Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell (both of whom also signed the Manhattan Declaration), Ronnie Floyd, Francis Chan, Tony Evans, and Mark Batterson, and a whole host of contemporary Christian musicians and bands (and speakers) affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation. In Francis’ video address, he held up a t-shirt with the Together 2016 logo on it, encouraging everyone to put it on, and told the crowd,

I know there is something in your heart that moves you, and that makes you restless, because a young person who is not restless is an old person. And you have youthfulness and youthfulness breeds restlessness…. What is your restlessness? Do you know what it is or do you not know? Do you want to know what your restlessness is? … Find the One who can give you an answer to your restlessness…. God does not leave anyone disillusioned. Jesus is waiting for you. He is the One who planted the seeds of restlessness in your heart.[17]

Event organizers were hoping for a crowd of one million Christians to come together to pray for revival. With the occult symbolism and the pope addressing the crowd, to whom were they praying for revival? The event was supposed to go until 9 P.M., but due to heat in excess of 90 degrees, the event was cut short about 4:30 P.M. Was this God’s mercy mixed with irony? There is much about this event, the organizer, the venue, and some of the sponsoring ministries, that provokes many questions about what was really going on at this event. The organizer, Nick Hall, is “the founder and lead communicator of PULSE,” and his message is “reset,” which also was the title of a book he authored in 2016 – Reset: Jesus Changes Everything. The book is described as “an invitation to a second chance—a do-over—to get beyond past missteps and refocus our lives around the power of Jesus to change everything.”[18] The cover of the book as well as the website has the ouroboros prominently displayed. The Scripture says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), and “[W]e are not ignorant of [Satan’s] devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11), but one wonders how many of the speakers, performers, and attendees lack knowledge especially about Satan’s devices.

 

Amen: Three Great Monotheistic Religions Coexist

Finally, and to be as current as possible, Amen must be discussed. For one week during the month of September 2016 from the 4th through 11th during the festival of Mekudeshet (Hebrew for “holy” or “sanctified”), held from September 4 – 23, 2016, a part of Jerusalem’s Season of Culture Initiative, an interfaith place of worship known as Amen is set to open for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to pray and to spiritually gather together for what is called “Amen – A House of Prayer for All Believers.” The Alpert Youth Music Center will be transformed into AMEN, “a place of worship for the three Abrahamic faiths sharing ‘a passion for Jerusalem in which they will co-exist temporarily under the wings of the Almighty.’”[19] “The Amen event will seek to bring together Christians, Jews and Muslims who share a belief in one God and a boundless love for Jerusalem so that they can dialogue, study, sing and pray in one temporary house of worship. Amen will create both a physical and metaphysical space to encourage commonality, rather than to sanctify age-old divisions, say Mekudeshet organizers.”[20] Also of note, “With a motu proprio issued on September 15, Pope Francis has amended the canon laws of the Roman Catholic Church to bring them into harmony with the canon law of the Eastern Catholic churches.”[21]Additionally, “A joint Catholic-Orthodox theological commission has approved a statement on the primacy in Church history. … The agreement on the historic function of primacy is significant because the question of papal primacy is one of the key stumbling blocks in Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical discussions. The statement acknowledged that the Bishop of Rome enjoyed primacy, while also noting that synods set directions for the Church. The document reportedly says that the Pope did not exercise canonical authority over the Eastern churches, but acted as ‘first among equals.’”[22]Completely lost on such “ecumenical Babylonians” is the enmity that God put between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). For true Bible-believing Christians there is no spiritual coexistence with false religions. Even though Christians are mentioned in the titles and throughout the articles, they are really talking about Roman Catholicism, which is not Christian. What these three great monotheistic religions have in common besides murdering each other throughout their history is their history of persecuting true Bible-believing Christians.[23]

What are Bible-believing Christians to do? The Scriptures tell us clearly.

Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” [Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20:34, 41]. “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” [2 Samuel 7:14]. (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18)

And I heard another voice from Heaven saying, “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4)

In closing I wish to quote the conclusion from Richard Bennett’s article mentioned in footnote 1 above:

The Reformers proclaimed in their Biblical teaching that God alone is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in His being, goodness, holiness, justice, power, truth, and wisdom. Thus, He alone hears prayers; He alone is the all Holy One; He alone is the Holy Father; in a word, to God alone be the glory. Thus, plans for Pope Francis to visit Sweden on October 31, 2016, and the Archbishop of Westminster hosting an evening service at the former home of King Henry VIII, are obvious examples of the Roman Church’s apostasy. In 2016, sin indeed abounds. The holiness of God, the fear of God, the conviction of sin, and the gospel of grace are necessary. With all this abounding sin and deception, how do we live and reign with Christ Jesus at this time? The Scripture gives us the answer, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one;much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one,Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). As you receive the abundant grace given by Christ, you are redeemed from the dominion of death; you will live and reign with Christ as you are sanctified daily through His Word by the Holy Spirit, and by constant fellowship with Him.  Also with Him, you shall reign forever and glorify Him for all eternity.  Believe on Him alone and you will be secure in Him, “to the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).

It is by the power of grace of the Lord Jesus Christ alone that we can truly live the Christian life, as did the Reformers in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. The Lord’s sacrifice is for the believer, in that He substituted Himself in the place of sinners who would come to believe, and thus satisfied the law on their behalf. So authentic was this substitution that His sacrifice for them eliminated all necessity of punishment. In becoming the substitute for His people, Christ Jesus took their legal responsibility. In the wonderful words of Scripture, “when the fullness of the time was come,God sent forth his Son,made of a woman,made under the law,to redeem them that were under the law,that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4, 5). The Lord God has promised to be a Father to true believers—that they shall be His sons and daughters. This is the greatest honor possible. What rank ingratitude that anyone should slander such a gift and spurn Christ Jesus and eternal life in favor of the apostate Roman Catholic Church. Hence, the Lord promised, “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me;and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Those who come at the call of God are given to Christ, because it is through His blood alone that they can be saved. The Lord God, by His Spirit, convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment those who acknowledge their iniquity and their need of salvation. Is the Lord God calling you? Only in the Lord Jesus Christ is found freedom and eternal life! By His grace believe on Him and Him alone, “for by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

The Trinity Review, Number 337, ©2016 The Trinity Foundation, Post Office Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692, Telephone: 423.743.0199 Fax: 423.743.2005

 


[1] For further reading, see Richard Bennett, “Roman Catholic Endeavors to Overturn the Reformation,” http://www.bereanbeacon.org/new-blog/2016/5/24/roman-catholic-endeavors-to-overturn-the-reformation, May 24, 2016.

[2] See Michael Day, “Pope Francis Assures Atheists: You Don’t Have to Believe in God to Go to Heaven,” The Independent, September 11, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-francis-assures-atheists-you-don-t-have-to-believe-in-god-to-go-to-heaven-8810062.html, September 14, 2016. In an open letter responding to questions published by Eugenio Scalfari, founder of La Repubblica, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. … Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.” Jiminy Cricket could not have said it better. The article also stated, “In a welcoming response to the letter, Mr Scalfari said the Pope’s comments were ‘further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all.’” (Emphasis added.)

[3] All quotations from Vatican Council II are taken from Vatican Council II: Volume 1 The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, Austin Flannery, O. P., General Editor, Northport, New York, Costello Publishing Company, Inc., [1975], 1996.

[4] Vatican Council II, Decree on Ecumenism, 452.

[5] Another notable change at Vatican II was the name change of the Roman Catholic Church to the Catholic Church, as Rome seeks to bring the whole world under her “universal” sway again. Thus, Roman has been supplied back into the name in brackets.

[6] For more about Rome’s view of the church see Robert L. Reymond, “Roman Catholicism’s Recent Claim That It Is the True Church,” The Trinity Review, January 2008.

[7] See footnote 6 above. For more in depth analysis of ECT I and II, see John W. Robbins, “Bleating Wolves: The Meaning of Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” The Trinity Review, October-December 1998, and John W. Robbins, “Healing the Mortal Wound,” The Trinity Review, March-May 1998. For more in depth analysis of The Manhattan Declaration see Richard Bennett, “The Roman Catholic Agenda Embedded in the Manhattan Declaration,” The Trinity Review, May-June 2010.

[8] “Pope’s Address to Representatives of the Churches, Ecclesial Communities and Other Religions,” Zenit, March 20, 2013, https://zenit.org/articles/pope-s-address-to-representatives-of-the-churches-ecclesial-communities-and-other-religions/, September 14, 2016. Emphasis added. See also Michael Snyder “12 Times Pope Francis Has Openly Promoted a One World Religion or a New World Order,” July 31, 2016, http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/12-times-pope-francis-has-openly-promoted-a-one-world-religion-or-a-new-world-order, September 14, 2016.

[9] Reuters, “First Ever Jewish, Muslim, Christian Prayers at Vatican,” June 8, 2014, http://nypost.com/2014/06/08/first-ever-jewish-muslim-christian-prayers-at-vatican/, September 14, 2016.

[10] Dale M. Coulter, “Pope Francis and the Future of Charismatic Christianity,” First Things, February 20, 2014, https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/02/we-know-pope-francis, September 14, 2016.

[11] Emily Shapiro, “Read What Pope Francis Said at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” ABC News, September 24, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/US/read-pope-francis-yorks-st-patricks-cathedral/story?id=34023376, September 14, 2016.

[12]See http://www.romereports.com/2016/01/06/this-innovative-video-of-the-pope-is-causing-a-sensation, September 14, 2016, emphasis added.

[13] Philip Pullella, “Pope Visits Rome Synagogue, Condemns Violence in Name of Religion,” Reuters, January 17, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-synagogue-idUSKCN0UV0V1, September 14, 2016.

[14] Papal Visit to Great Mosque of Rome Likely Taking Shape,” Zenit, January 20, 2016, https://zenit.org/articles/papal-visit-to-great-mosque-of-rome-likely-taking-shape/, September 14, 2016.

[15] Jim Yardley, “Pope and Russian Orthodox Leader Meet in Historic Step,” New York Times, February 12, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/13/world/americas/pope-arrives-in-cuba-for-historic-meeting-with-russian-orthodox-leader.html?_r=0, September 14, 2016, emphasis added. Apparently, the writer knows that the pope is both a religious as well as a political leader.

[16] “Ouroboros,” Encyclopædia Britanica, August 16, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ouroboros, September 14, 2016.

[17] Brandon Showalter, “Together 2016: Pope Francis Urges Millennials to ‘Find the One Who Can Give You an Answer to Your Restlessness,’” Christian Post, July 16, 2016, http://www.christianpost.com/news/together-2016-pope-francis-urges-millennials-to-find-the-one-who-can-give-you-an-answer-to-your-restlessness166598/#q0LzrS5JSEvtIxmu.99, September 14, 2016.

[18] See http://resetmovement.com/, September 14, 2016.

[19] See JNS, “Muslim, Christian, Jewish Leaders Plan Interfaith Worship Center in Jerusalem,” July 1, 2016, http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/70931/muslim-christian-jewish-leaders-plan-interfaith-worship-center-jerusalem/#IZ9z5C17FzjfyMOy.97, September 14, 2016. Emphasis added.

[20] See “Historic House of Prayer Uniting Christians, Jews and Muslims,” The Philadelphia Jewish Voice, August 12, 2016, http://pjvoice.org/2016/08/12/historic-house-of-prayer-uniting-christians-jews-and-muslims/#.V-LQczX3hER, September 14, 2016. Emphasis added.

[21] “Papal Document Brings Code of Canon Law into Line with Law of Eastern Catholic Churches,” Catholic World News, September 15, 2016, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=29354, September 22, 2016.

[22] “Catholic-Orthodox Commission Reaches Agreement on Primacy,” Catholic World News, September 22, 2016, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=29420, September 22, 2016.

[23] See John W. Robbins, “Religious Wars of the 21st Century,” The Trinity Review, August, 2006.

To the Protestants I became as a Protestant…; Jerry Walls’ Jesuitical deception and the logical consequences of unlimited atonement

Jerry Walls is probably best known for his 2004 book with Joseph Dongell titled, Why I am not a Calvinist. He has since written a number of other books, and if I were a continuationist exercising my prophetic prowess I might predict a future publication by Walls entitled, Why I am not a Christian, for it seems he has altogether departed from the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

Jerry Walls provides us with a perfect example of what can and often does happen when the doctrine of particular redemption is displaced in favor of a more general, potential or universal atonement (making “salvation available to every single person”). In a previous post, I noted how Arminianism (more accurately, synergism generally) necessarily lends itself toward Rome’s false gospel because it introduces variables into the soteriological order that man, not God, controls. As it turns out, Jerry Walls’ other recent publications set out to defend the Romish heretical doctrine of purgatory (Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation [2011]; Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things That Matter Most [2015]). Strategically scheduled for release in October 2017 is, Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation (I’m gonna go out on a limb here and make the wild speculation that “unity” will be the thing alleged to “remain at stake after 500 years”). So, to honor the Protestant Reformation, Jerry Walls will undoubtedly repudiate it.

2016 saw the release of Walls’, Does God Love Everyone?: The Heart of What’s Wrong with Calvinism. As of late, Wipf and Stock Publishing has been pumping out books by mystics, anti-Protestants, social gospelers and various other heretics faster than Benny Hinn can discharge rounds from his Holy Ghost machine gun. This book likewise fulfills the apparent publication requirement of promoting heterodoxy. From the back cover:

“Does God truly love all persons? Most Christians think the obvious answer to this question is, ‘Yes, of course he does!’ Indeed, many Christians would agree that the very heart of the gospel is that God so loved the whole world that he gave his Son to make salvation available for every single person. This book shows that one of the most popular and resurgent theological movements in the contemporary evangelical church–namely, Calvinism–cannot coherently and consistently affirm this vital claim about the love of God. While some Calvinists forthrightly deny that God loves everyone, more commonly Calvinists attempt to affirm the love of God for all persons in terms that are compatible with their doctrines that Christ died only for the elect–those persons God has unconditionally chosen to save. This book shows that the Calvinist attempts to affirm God’s love for all persons are fraught with severe philosophical and theological difficulties. Calvinism, then, should be rejected in favor a theology that can forthrightly and consistently affirm the love of God for all persons. Nothing less is at stake than the very heart of the gospel.”

Note the immediate and obvious Scripture twisting: “Many Christians would agree that the very heart of the gospel is that God so loved the whole world that he gave his Son to make salvation available for every single person.” Indeed, this claim is likely true. That is, that many Christians would agree with this erroneous statement. But note carefully what is being purported by Dr. Walls. The proposition that “God so loved the whole world that he gave his Son to make salvation available for every single person” appears to be his primary axiom, used to justify his anti-Calvinism. Indeed, according to Walls, this is “the very heart of the gospel”. Dr. Walls wants us to accept his primary axiom and subsequent accusation that Calvinists are guilty of compromise because one must somehow find a way to reconcile particular redemption with universal, general, potential salvation for all. What Walls doesn’t seem to understand is that we are under no such obligation to reconcile particular redemption with universalism. His primary axiom is not found in Scripture.

Repeat:  the proposition: “God so loved the whole world that he gave his Son to make salvation available for every single person” is not in the Bible. It is not stated explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It is not “expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scriptures” (Second London Baptist Confession), nor is it a proposition which by “necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture” (Westminster Confession). So much for his primary axiom. I could end my post here, but we need to see the consequences of his faulty starting point.

Perhaps he is hoping that since the beginning of his misquote sounds like John 3:16 we will be foolish enough to let his Scripture twisting slip by. When Walls is interviewed by Episcopalian host Ronald Way on Author Talk his aversion not only to Calvinism but Protestantism in general becomes all the more evident (transcript available here). The Protestant Reformation has been rightly called the greatest movement of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost by many pastors, theologians and church historians. Not surprisingly, Walls doesn’t see it that way. He says:

“The protestant reformation is…in many ways unfortunate, but still I think necessary split in the western church when a number of people recognized the deep corruption that was prevalent in the Roman Catholic Church in terms of financial abuse, spiritual laxity, and so on.”

So the Reformation was not a glorious awakening to the truth of the gospel which sets the captives free and led a world dominated by Romish superstition out of spiritual darkness, it was, according to Walls, unfortunate. Then he does what other ecumenists have done when describing the “necessity” of the Reformation; he pretends it was a necessary evil; a house-cleaning of sorts. In other words, it wasn’t the accumulation of false doctrines and dogmas and papal perversions of gospel truth that was concerning to the Reformers, it was merely some financial and moral corruption. And once the corruption got cleaned up, “Holy Mother Church” was good to go, and the dissenters should have returned to her fold instead of creating the alleged “34000 denominations” that exist today.[1] Walls goes on in the interview:

“What I’m saying is, if this is what … If this is the case, there’s no meaningful sense in which God loves everybody. That’s the heart of the problem, and if God doesn’t truly love everyone, he’s not a truly good being, he’s not a God of perfect love, he’s not a God of perfect goodness. The problem of Calvinism is the way it depicts the character of God. It makes him fall far short of the biblical view of a God whose heart is love, who desires the salvation of all of his children.”

Firstly, it should be noted that God does in fact desire the salvation of His children. So much so that he secured their salvation at the cross of Calvary. But Walls makes the same error that unbelievers make when they regard the entire human race as “God’s children”. Nothing in the Scriptures would indicate that such is the case, however. The Scriptures teach that since the Fall we are “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3), and that the designation “children of God” is reserved only for those who believe in Him:

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13).

Secondly, Dr. Walls’ presumption that God’s goodness is predicated upon the extension of His redemptive love to every member of the human race, is wholly without biblical justification. God’s goodness is intrinsic to His being, and He was free to secure the salvation of whomever He chose when the covenant of redemption was inaugurated in heaven.[2] God’s love is satisfied within the triune godhead; He requires nothing outside of Himself to satisfy His love. To put it plainly, why did God extend salvific love to a remnant of His fallen creation? Because He wanted to.

God’s love is not quantified by the number of people who end up in heaven. But even if we were to grant Walls’ erroneous premise for the sake of argument, one could argue thus: If it holds that God’s love can indeed be quantified by the number of people He desires to save due to His universal love, but in reality most people reject His love and subsequently don’t make it to heaven, then God is actually quantitatively less loving than the sovereign God of the Calvinists. But don’t worry. We will soon see that Walls has a solution for this dilemma extending from his first premise.

Note firstly that He makes the same errors as Dr. David Stone regarding “freedom”:

“The view that I hold is that God sincerely desires to save all persons. He enables all persons to be saved. He truly prefers them to respond to his grace, and accept his grace, but here’s the point, a genuine relationship of love and trust cannot be caused by God. Not even God can do that. If he gives us genuine freedom, and genuine freedom is the necessary condition for genuine love, genuine faith, genuine worship, genuine relationship. Given that is the case, necessarily if we choose not to trust, not to love, then we separate ourselves from God, and choose not to receive the good that God offers us and gives us. God enables all persons to respond, desires all persons to respond, but by nature, given the fact that we are truly free human beings that God calls us to be in a relationship with him, we can decline that. If persons are lost, it is because they will not accept the grace and love that God sincerely, genuinely extends to them.”

I will not reiterate the points I made to Dr. Stone on this topic (see here and here), but will simply add the following: If the concept of freedom as Jerry Walls is espousing here—that fallen man can reciprocate God’s love uncoerced and prior to divine regeneration— is not actually taught in Scripture, then the rest of the argument falls apart. If man’s alleged freewill is taken out of the equation (seeing that his will is in bondage to sin), there is apparently nothing that remains in the way of God’s obtaining His desire (since for Walls man’s freedom is the obstacle to Him obtaining what he desired, i.e., the salvation of all). It seems to be quite an affront to the sovereign God of the Bible to maintain that driveling, vile and putrid worms armed with our “freedom” should thwart God’s eternal desire, no less His immutable decrees. If Walls’ argument ended here, one would have to suppose that God must live eternally in perpetual misery, or at least in some blasé melancholy state, because His universal desire has been filibustered by His own creation. Rather, the Scriptures teach that “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3), and, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isaiah 46:10). God does get what He desires because fallen man in all his vileness can do nothing to stop Him.

Well, fair enough. Jerry Walls rejects Calvinism. That’s no surprise and that in and of itself does not put him outside the camp. But what is important to note is the logical consequence resulting from his false premises. The interview goes on:

Ron: “What about Christians who would say that if you seek God with an open heart, whether through Christ or not, whether you’re a Buddhist, or Hindu, or Muslim, or Taoist, you find the presence of the Divine? It’s my guess that you’d say that they’re not Christians, and they’ll all be condemned. Is that true?”

Jerry: “That is not in fact what I would say.”

Ron: “Good.”

Jerry: “Again, I’ve written about this in my books on hell. I believe God desires the salvation of all persons. I believe Christ died for all persons. They may not know about Christ. They may not know who he is, but he knows who they are, and they may not know that he died for them, but he did anyway. Many persons have not heard the gospel of Christ, but they’re still responding to whatever light, or understanding, or grace that they have, and so the point of the matter is this, I believe that God is drawing every single person to himself, using whatever resources are available in terms of light and revelation that they have. If persons are responding to the light that they have, I think they will ultimately come to see the truth in Christ.

“What I believe is that God will give every person every opportunity, even if that includes postmortem opportunities for repentance and salvation. I don’t think people are condemned for not believing a truth to which they’ve not had access. If people are responding to the truth that is available to them, if they’re sincerely responding to the grace of God … Again, I’m not saying this is a matter of works, but I believe God’s grace is at work drawing all persons, and I believe Jesus died for all persons, again, whether they know it or not, and so grace is extended to all persons, and I think there are a lot of people who are responding to Christ, who are coming to Christ even though they may not be aware of it until maybe after their death.”

Can it be any more evident that Jerry Walls has completely departed from Christian orthodoxy? He pats himself on the back for not crediting man’s salvation to his own “works” all the while defending the idea of postmortem repentance and salvation, and all detached from belief in the gospel. Walls’ defense of purgatory as a logical consequence of postmortem repentance is evident, and is articulated in his other books. Ron Way, in accordance with his own apostate religious tradition, closes the interview with this gem:

“I was happy to hear that Dr. Jerry Walls said that he thinks that good people of all faiths might still be saved. That’s a wonderful thing, and I appreciated that. I choose to believe that this is what Jesus meant when he taught so long ago that we’re all God’s children, no matter our tradition or faith, when he was asked, ‘What is the most important thing about his teaching?” He said, “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and secondly love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I suppose Ron Way thinks that he— as well as every fallen man from every pagan religion— has the innate ability to keep this commandment.

Dr. Jerry Walls has not descended into heresy because he rejects Calvinism. He has descended into heresy because his unbiblical primary axioms used to justify his rejection of Calvinisim, when brought to their logical extension, drive him to heretical conclusions. This explains why synergists never have a truly systematic and logically coherent theology. They have to cry “paradox” before they let their axioms drive them to universalism. Dr. Jerry Walls, who has passed himself off as an evangelical Christian, has grossly perverted the Scriptures by affirming universalism, defending purgatory and postmortem salvation, and denying justification by faith alone. As a former professor at Notre Dame and currently a scholar in residence and professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University, Jerry Walls must make the Jesuit pope proud.

-Nick Sabato

[1] For example, see James R. Payton Jr., Getting the Reformation Wrong, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2010, p. 253, footnote 4. This is a bogus number often paraded by Romanists and ecumenists in order to ridicule and deride the results of the Reformation. For a refutation of this myth, see James White’s article here.

[2] For a simple treatment of the covenant of redemption, see Blackburn, E.M. (ed.), Covenant Theology: A Baptist Distinctive, Solid Ground Christian Books, Birmingham, AL, 2013, pp. 26-30.

Roman Catholic Endeavors to Overturn the Reformation, by Richard Bennett

The following is an article by former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett (above). Bennett’s work has been a tremendous blessing to me, and his website is a storehouse of information pertaining to Romanism’s history and heresies as well as other subjects. At the end of this article he asks the reader to share and post it on the internet. A link to the original is here.

Roman Catholic Endeavors to Overturn the Reformation

by Richard Bennett

May 24, 2016

Just as the primary response of the Roman Catholic Church to the Biblical faith of the Reformers was the Counter-Reformation through the Jesuits, now Pope Francis a Jesuit leads the Roman Church’s endeavors to overturn the Reformation. Thus it is of vital importance that we understand want is involved in these endeavors so as not only to impede them but to advance Reformation faith.

In the sixteenth century, the most important response of the Roman Catholic Church to the biblical faith of the Reformers was the Counter-Reformation through the Jesuits.  In an aggressive manner, they led a movement to restore to the Roman Catholic Church the political and ecclesiastical power it had before the Reformation.  The Jesuits led the main Counter-Reformation efforts for four centuries by upholding Papal authority, restoring the sacramental system, and promoting mysticism along with superstitions to those many nations that had been touched by the biblical principles of the Reformation.  They sought out persons of position and power and worked at gaining favor by those who were in their circles of influence, particularly by teaching their children.

This Jesuitical practice was incorporated into Vatican Council II of 1962-1965.  Its major accomplishment was a planned strategy of false ecumenism.  The resolve was that all other “Christian” institutional denominations and their members are now to be drawn back into full communion under Papal Rome.  Thus, since Vatican Council II, Papal Rome has been working tirelessly to have itself recognized as the only Christian Church.  All others, especially Evangelicals, are designated as “separated brethren.” and may only obtain recognition as authentic Christians by returning to union with the Mother Church.  Thus the Roman Church continues to work towards the time when she will be accepted as in fact the Head of Christendom.

Endeavors to Overturn the Reformation through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)

In 2016, the skilled Jesuit, Pope Francis, leads the Roman Church’s latest activities to overturn the Reformation.  It is of vital importance that we understand what is involved in these activities so as not only to obstruct them but also to advance Reformation faith.  On January 25, 2016, the Catholic News Service reported that Pope Francis would visit Sweden on October 31, 2016,

“to participate in an ecumenical service and the beginning of a year of activities to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  Pope Francis will lead the ecumenical commemoration in Lund alongside Bishop Munib Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation, and the Rev. Martin Junge, federation general secretary, said a joint press release by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the LWF.”[1]

The apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation has already been attested to, when on October 31, 1999, they together issued an accord entitled, “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.”[2]  The official common statement under the heading entitled, “The Justified as Sinner,” stated, “We confess together that in Baptism the Holy Spirit unites one with Christ, justifies, and truly renews the person.”[3]

Biblical truth, however, is that the believer’s faith cannot be based on any physical work whatsoever, as true faith is in Christ Jesus’ perfect life, and sacrifice alone justifies a person by grace alone through faith alone.[4]  To claim that the causative effects “in Baptism” justifies an individual before the Holy God is to attempt to negate the Lord’s grace and His finished work on the cross.  It is “to preach another gospel.”[5]  Justification by God’s grace alone through faith alone was Martin Luther’s great principle, the very principle that the Lutheran World Federation totally compromised in 1999 through an extended ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.  

The Rome Church Advances its Ecumenical Grip on the Church of England

Furthermore, on February 9, 2016, the same Catholic News Service reported that,

“…[the] archbishop of Westminster hosted an evening service at the former home of King Henry VIII.  It is the first time a service has been conducted at the palace’s Chapel Royal according to the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in more than 450 years.”[6]

This latest intrusion was predictable since Pope Benedict XVI made a Papal visit to the United Kingdom in September of 2010.  The visit was called “an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the United Kingdom and the Holy See on global initiatives, as well as the important role of faith in creating strong communities.”[7]  The Pontiff addressed the British civil society at Westminster Hall [both houses of Parliament].” [8]

Although King Henry VIII broke politically with Papal Rome, he personally never renounced Roman Catholic doctrine.  Consequently, the present-day Church of England, represented by the Archbishop of Westminster and mimicking Roman Catholic doctrine, is being ever more closely united with the apostate Roman Church by ecumenical dialogue, precisely as Vatican Council II document No. 32 stated is the Papacy’s objective.[9]  

Now, in 2016, the two reports that we have documented announce the realization of 500 years of papal efforts to “nullify” the Reformation.  It is necessary, therefore, to review the historical facts of the Reformation in order to demonstrate that the intended Roman Catholic ecumenical meetings with both the president of Lutheran World Federation {LWF) and the Archbishop of Westminster are specifically intended to promote apostate betrayals of the Reformation faith. 

Authentic Reformation Faith

Martin Luther in Germany; John Calvin, Lefevre, and Farel in France; and Zwingli in Switzerland all represent authentic Reformation faith.  The essential nature of their Reformation faith was salvation before the Holy God by His grace alone.  United by the truth of God’s Word, they believed that each individual is saved by God’s grace alone as Scripture states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”[10]  They each taught the biblical truth that,  “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…that he [God] might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”[11]

The Reformation possessed definite characteristics, many of which set it apart from any other revival in history.  One of the distinguishing features was its territorial outreach.  It began simultaneously and independently in various European countries.  Men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Lefevre, and Zwingli preached in unison against rituals of Romanism and exalted faith in Christ alone as the sole means of salvation.  Although Luther is called the originator of the Reformation, the other Reformers, also proponents of Scripture alone, being the basis of truth, preached the same gospel of grace.

Sola Scriptura: The Power Principle of the Reformation

After what seemed endless years floundering in the heretical Papal Tradition, seeing the light of the Reformation, Europe began to come to biblical Christian faith.  Martin Luther spoke eloquently to the heart of God’s people when he said, “Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason–I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other–my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen.”[12]  Indeed, Luther had simply discovered what had been the standard attested to by our Lord and His Apostles.  In the wilderness temptation, the Lord Jesus three times rebuffed the prince of the devils, saying, “It is written.”  For example, “he answered and said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”[13]  In stating, “It is written,” the Lord used the precise phrase that is used eighty times in the Holy Bible.  This repeated phrase underlines its importance.  The Lord’s complete acceptance of the authority of the written Word is evident in His words, “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.”[14]  So elsewhere it is written, “Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name.”[15]  The Reformers bowed in submission to the sole authority of God’s Word, as the Apostle Paul had taught them, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”[16]

Thus, Luther and the Reformers whom the Lord raised up at that time knew that a person’s conscience is bound to God’s written Word: “Thy Word is truth.[17]  Indeed, all true disciples must acknowledge that there is an absolute standard by which a thing may be judged to be truth or falsehood, and afterward pleasing or displeasing to God.  It is not possible to own Jesus Christ as Master or Lord and simultaneously refuse the rule of the Father’s Word in and by Him.  If a person loves God he will love His Word alone; that is, without the contamination of tradition.  “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.[18]  A person cannot say he loves God and not love His Word; for the marks of authentic spiritual affection are obvious in Scripture: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.”[19]

Having placed their faith in subjection to God’s written Word, the Reformers could not do otherwise than condemn the false Roman Catholic dogma that “Sacred Tradition” was essential to the knowledge of the truth.  Yet this untrue belief remains the system of belief of the Church of Rome as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states, “And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.”  “As a result the [Roman Catholic] Church…does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone.  Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”[20]

Learning the Way of Truth and Life for the Reformers

At the time of the Reformation, scholarship and the pursuit of truth had become a staple of life.  A great friendship and fraternization developed among the Reformers, as the movement grew across Europe and the British Isles.  A frequent interchange of ideas ensued, and hospitality was freely extended.  One of the surprising features of the Re-formation was this extent of contact and cooperation among the Reformers as they encouraged each other in their efforts.  The Reformation spread with great rapidity.  Of course consolidations, refinements, and extensions were inevitable; but it is difficult to imagine so tremendous a revival on such a vast scale could be executed in so short a time, bringing with it a complete change in thought and in peoples’ lives.  This was necessarily providential; for at that time there were educated men who knew the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek necessary to read the Bible as it then existed.  And it was essential that the Bible be translated into the common language of each country so that the people would have the privilege of reading the Scriptures in their own tongue.  This task demanded scholarship.  All the preaching of many Luthers, Latimers, Zwinglis, Knoxes, and Wisharts would have failed to accomplish the Reformation if, at the same time, the Bible in the common language had not been provided for the people.  If at the moment Latimer was preaching at Cambridge, it had not happened that Tyndale, who had fled to the Continent, was smuggling back thousands of copies of the English New Testament so that every Englishman could read the way of salvation for himself, there would have been no Reformation in England.  A similar situation occurred in Germany, France, and other countries.

The Reformation proper, the break with Roman Catholic totalitarianism, was accomplished in a relatively short time.  The Reformation was a constant, all-encompassing moving of the Holy Spirit.  It was truly a glorious spiritual awakening when multitudes were freed from bondage of the superstition and ritualism of an apostate Papacy, and converted by the Gospel of Grace.  The recovery of the sole authority of Scripture led to obedience to God and His Word, just as the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone led every true believer into direct and personal contact with the God of revival.

The Heritage of the Reformation

What then is the heritage of the Reformation?  How are we to learn from it for our time?  The Reformation itself was a revival, grounded not only in the Word of God, but also in prayer as each previous and subsequent revival has been.  Spurgeon clearly described the prayer that was the support sustaining the Reformation.  Spurgeon said, “Think not that Luther was the only man that wrought the Reformation! There were hundreds who sighed and cried in secret, ‘O God, how long?’: in the cottages of the Black Forest, in the homes of Germany, on the hills of Switzerland, in the palaces of Spain, in the dungeons of the Inquisition and the green lanes of England.”[21]  Thus, prayer was the bedrock of this great movement as the dedicated prayer requests of numberless hearts across Europe pleaded the Lord to send a mighty moving of His Spirit.

The first great awakening after the Reformation occurred in the 18th century in both America and Britain, which was associated with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.  Prior to the outpouring of the Lord’s grace, we find prayer in the lives of these men and in the lives of their associates.  Also, in Ulster Northern Ireland in 1859, and the end of the 19th century, and in the beginning of the 20th century at Wales, prayer anticipated these Reformations.

Conclusion

The Reformers proclaimed in their biblical teaching that God alone is eternal, infinite, and unchangeable in His being, goodness, holiness, justice, power, truth, and wisdom.  Thus, He alone hears prayers; He alone is the all Holy One; He alone is the Holy Father; in a word, to God alone be the glory. Thus, plans for Pope Francis to visit Sweden on October 31, 2016, and the Archbishop of Westminster hosting an evening service at the former home of King Henry VIII, are obvious examples of the Roman Church’s apostasy.  In 2016, sin indeed abounds.  The holiness of God, the fear of God, the conviction of sin, and the gospel of grace are necessary.  With all this abounding sin and deception, how do we live and reign with Christ Jesus at this time?  The Scripture gives us the answer, “For if by one mans offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”[22]  As you receive the abundant grace given by Christ, you are redeemed from the dominion of death; you will live and reign with Christ as you are sanctified daily through His Word by the Holy Spirit, and by constant fellowship with Him.  Also with Him, you shall reign forever and glorify Him for all eternity.  Believe on Him alone and you will be secure in Him, “to the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved.”[23]

It is by the power of grace of the Lord Jesus Christ alone that we can truly live the Christian life, as did the Reformers in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.  The Lord’s sacrifice is for the believer, in that He substituted Himself in the place of sinners who would come to believe, and thus satisfied the law on their behalf.  So authentic was this substitution that His sacrifice for them eliminated all necessity of punishment.  In becoming the substitute for His people, Christ Jesus took their legal responsibility.  In the wonderful words of Scripture, “when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”[24]  The Lord God has promised to be a Father to true believers—that they shall be His sons and daughters.  This is the greatest honor possible.  What rank ingratitude that anyone should slander such a gift and spurn Christ Jesus and eternal life in favor of the apostate Roman Catholic Church.  Hence, the Lord promised, “all that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”[25]  Those who come at the call of God are given to Christ, because it is through His blood alone that they can be saved.  The Lord God, by His Spirit, convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment those who acknowledge their iniquity and their need of salvation.  Is the Lord God calling you?  Only in the Lord Jesus Christ is found freedom and eternal life!  By His grace believe on Him and Him alone, “for by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”[26]

Please make the article below known to your family and church members, and if possible have it posted on the Internet.

I would like to have your response to the article with any proposals that you may have. You can email me at; richardmbennett@yahoo.com  Or else send your comments to Pastor Glenn with whom I work at; bereanbeaconmail@yahoo.com

Thank you,

Richard Bennett

[Link to original here]

[1] www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/01/25/pope-francis-to-visit-sweden-for-reformation-commemoration/   2/23/2016

[2] www.bereanbeacon.org/new-blog/2015/10/17/the-catholic-lutheran-accord

[3] Lutheran-Catholic Accord, “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,” October 31, 1999, Sect. 4.4

[4] John 6:29; Romans 2:28, 29; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Colossians 2:11; Romans 3:21-26

[5]  Galatians 1:9

[6] www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3439293/Hampton-Court-Palace-chapel-holds-Catholic-service-Henry-VIII-broke-away-Rome-16th-century.html  5/18/2016

[7] https://zenit.org/articles/uk-queen-government-welcome-papal-visit

[8] http://www.zenit.org/article-28654?l=english

[9] Vatican Council II Document “Reflections and Suggestions Concerning Ecumenical Dialogue”  August. 1970

[10] Ephesians 2:8-9

[11] Romans 3:23-24, 26

[12] http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1501-1600/martin-luthers-most-noble-words-11629925.html

[13] Matthew 4:4

[14] Matthew 5:17-18

[15] Psalm 138:2

[16] 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

[17] John 17:17

[18] Psalm 119:140

[19] Jeremiah 15:16

[20] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Para. 80, 81 and 82

[21] www.the-highway.com/revival-reformation_Lamb.html 2/23/2016

[22] Romans 5:17

[23] Ephesians 1:6

[24] Galatians 4:4-5

[25] John 6.37

[26] Ephesians 2:8-9