Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Reformation Day

Today is Reformation Day.  495 years ago today, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg cathedral to start a debate.

Immense impact! It caused Roman Catholic political power over Europe to disintegrate. It led to political independence of individual nations like never before. It set in motion the tens of thousands of Christian splinter groups that exist today. It took rising individualism and put it into warp speed, democratizing religion. It would eventually facilitate the rise of secularism and higher criticism of the Bible.

I am a Protestant.  I think Popes and cardinals can be very spiritual people, but no more than any other Christian.  I believe God can raise up prophets from nowhere and the Spirit can reveal himself directly to anyone. I'm not fond of doctrines like purgatory, and I'm glad ministers can marry like everyone else.

Having said that, I hope we Protestants are allowed to be objective about our own tradition as well.  Is it not possible that the Roman Catholics scored some points in the debate or were more right than Luther in some areas? I come from the Wesleyan tradition, which came out of Anglicanism. I view Anglicanism as somewhat of a moderating form of the Reformation, somewhere in between the high Protestantism of the Lutherans/Reformed and Catholicism. As a Wesleyan I am more apt to critique Luther than some other Protestants are.

So despite the longstanding arguments between Wesleyan-Arminians and Calvinists, the Lutheran tradition is actually further away from us in some key respects than the Calvinist. For example, Luther drove an incredibly sharp wedge between faith and works, so much so that Lutherans don't like to talk about sanctification, about becoming more holy in this life.

By contrast, the Wesleyan tradition is closer to the catholic on this issue.  We believe not only that God wants to make us more and more righteous in this life.  We believe that you can walk away from God after he forgives you by deliberate acts of defiance.  With Paul, we believe that "We all must appear before Christ in court so that each person can be paid back for the things that were done while in the body, whether they were good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).

Do we believe in sola fide, "by faith alone"?  We would say we do. Lutherans and Calvinists might say we don't.  We would say we do because works never help a person become justified. They might say we don't because we believe that human will (by God's grace) cooperates with God's will in faith, and because our lack of cooperation with God's will, which leads to sinful deeds, can "unjustify" us. (By the way, Paul is on our side)

I would say that all Christians today believe in sola gratia (by grace alone) and sola Christi (by Christ alone), including the Roman Catholic Church.  This is an area where the RCC has itself reformed its understanding.  It is only by the grace of God that anyone can be saved.  No human could ever have enough merit on his or her own to deserve God's favor.  It is purely a matter of God's grace and anything we do is in response to that grace.

Similarly, it is only through Christ that anyone can be saved, by God's design.  Although the Roman Catholics have priests, sacraments, and heavenly intercessors like Mary, they are all understood to be channels through which Christ's merits flow.  The RCC today would agree that salvation is through Christ alone, mediated further through other channels.

Sola scriptura (by Scripture alone) is another one where the Wesleyan-Anglican tradition is more open to tradition, experience, and reason as channels of truth than some versions of Protestantism (the so called Wesleyan Quadrilateral).  Prima scriptura (Scripture first) might be a better designation.  Of course Luther and Calvin freely engaged the church fathers, so Wesley is probably not much different than them on that score.

But he lived during the Enlightenment, and so reason of that sort arguably flows in his veins more than them. Similarly, he was influenced by Pietists and was accused of being an "enthusiast," so experience of that sort arguably also flows in his veins more than them.  Can we just say that a Wesleyan might be more open to natural revelation and pneumatic exegesis than your average evangelical or fundamentalist?

So Happy Reformation Day!  Three cheers for Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Zwingli, Knox, Zinzendorf, Arminius, and Wesley!  [Add the fountain head of your Protestant group here]

74 comments:

Charlie J. Ray said...

Ah, so you think that the Roman Catholic anathemas are no longer applicable to Protestants? And you think that works do justify the Roman Catholics just as they claim they do?

It would seem that justification is not by faith alone and apart from works after all. If so, you really should join up with Rome. As Luther told Erasmus, the heart of the matter is not idolatry, extra sacraments, prayers to the saints, celibacy or anything else. Erasmus and Erasmus alone struck to the heart of the matter: free will. Libertarian free will, as Augustus Toplady called it, is the golden idol of Arminianism. Augustus Toplady also called Arminianism "Pelagian" and a "Jesuit plot". Looks like from your article that he was correct.

John C. Gardner said...

Thanks for the reminder and commentary. It is good to be reminded of our Protestant heritage and this significant day. I also remember that John Wesley wrote a Letter to a Roman Catholic which was a remarkable document for an 18th century Anglican clergyman. God bless all.

John Mark said...

Some thoughts: a)We have a rich heritage. b)I wish and long for the day when the body of Christ is truly one. c) This post was so good I was tempted to borrow parts of it and post it myself (with credit, of course). I'll just let a simple 'thank you' suffice.

Ken Schenck said...

Shalom Charlie! It's not lost on me that the Westminster Confession was written in London :-)

The RCC after Vatican 2 now considers us separated brothers, so we're no longer under the anathema. I've never worried about other traditions condemning me though... I only worry about my own bosses (and of course I know God completely agrees with everything I think already :-)

Shamby said...

Charlie,
I have read both your comment here and your post on your blog. Wesley was particularly disgusted with the dangerous proximity of Calvinism to antinomianism. The so called neo-Calvinism apparently ignores Wesley's theological concerns. If God pre-determines some to perdition, then they are damned by God apart from any personal, moral guilt. How can they be held accountable to the Law when they are a priori destined to Hell? How does the Law offer any kind of pretext for damning the reprobate when it was never God's Will for them to follow it in the first place? You call Wesleyans Pelagian because we entertain that justification is contingent upon works. But you would say that contingency might as well be causation, and therefore you fail to allow Wesleyans to distinguish themselves from heresy, while denying that your position has any weaknesses in the opposite direction. Charlie, your response and your blog sound sarcastic, immoderate, and accusatory. Your apparent concern for the truth and the tone in which you offer it represent very well, the morally ambiguous character of the God you confess. You may be imitating this God (Eph. 5:1) but I do not hear your posture as being one of love for your enemies.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Ken, that would be odd since even the "neo" Calvinist, Michael Horton contends that the anathemas have not been lifted. The Canons and the Anathemas of Trent are still the official doctrine of Rome. And R. C. Sproul, Sr., says the same thing. In fact, Horton goes so far as to say that Rome officially condemned the Gospel.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I'm not a follower of the theology of paradox, i.e. the theology of Cornelius Van Til. I no longer regard Arminians as saved since you have admitted as much as that you approve of Rome's doctrine of infused righteousness over against the doctrine of the legal imputation of justification. Justification by faith alone is the doctrine by which a true church and a truly converted Christian stands or falls. It would seem that Augustus Toplady's accusation that Arminianism is pelagianism rehashed is a justified opinion.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Vatican II is an ambiguous statement and does not remove the official teaching in the Council of Trent, by the way.

Also, the Roman Catholic Church continues to insist that justification and sanctification are the same thing. Justification, according to Rome, is an inherent and infused righteousness. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that justification is a legal imputation or declared righteousness. Even Wesley taught that in his standard sermon on justification.

If our justification is based on works before, during or after our conversion and baptism, then one can only conclude that there can be no assurance of salvation whatsoever, particularly when no one is without sin as it is defined by God and not by Wesley. Sin is more than the willful violation of a known law of God. It is also what is wrongfully thought in the mind and the heart. Premeditation is as sinful as carrying out the premeditation. Hating your brother is as bad as murdering your brother in regards to sin before God.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, I am honored to be called an antinomian by the Pharisees. Those who are "righteous" need not a physician. On the other hand, when you realize that even the most "righteous Pharisee" fails to keep God's law perfectly (Matthew 5:17-48), it stands that everyone deserves hell, including the holiest and most entirely "sanctified" Wesleyan Arminian.

Unfortunately, the real "antinomians" are the Wesleyans. Matthew 7:21-23

Charlie J. Ray said...

It looks like Rome has not changed its view after all:

2018 Like conversion, justification has two aspects. Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, and so accepts forgiveness and righteousness from on high.

2019 Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.
Catechism of the Catholic Church: Justification

If sanctification is the same as justification, then it logically follows that good works save. Sanctification is what we do. Justification is what God did for the elect on the cross.

Ken Schenck said...

I'm sure that there are contradictions in Roman Catholic doctrine since even as they move forward they cannot completely do away with what preceded. But here is a relevant section from the catechism:

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers.... All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

Charlie J. Ray said...

But those who are "born" into those communities might also believe the same things taught by the original schismatics. That would be the case with confessional Lutherans and Calvinists. In fact, it ought to be true of Methodists since the "founder" of the Methodists was "allegedly" an Anglican minister and bound by the Anglican formularies, including the 39 Articles. Those Articles clearly reject justification by works, merits, or holiness. Article 9 rejects pelagianism. Article 11 asserts that justification is by faith alone and the Latin translation of the paragraph specifically uses the term "Sola Fide". Good works can never make us stand in God's judgment (Article 12). Good works validate a living faith and a lively profession of faith but the good works themselves contribute nothing to justification or to salvation. Good works, in fact, cannot prepare the heart for salvation prior to faith. It is only after faith is received from God as a gift that good works become pleasing to God. I could add that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer clearly rejected the semi-pelagian doctrine of free will and his words are preserved in Article 10. Article 18 teaches double predestination. George Whitefield was well aware of all this.

Charlie J. Ray said...

At any rate, getting back to the Roman Catholic issue, Rome still teaches what it taught in the 16th century on all points. It still claims to be the only true church on earth, despite your one reference.

You quite clearly ignored the overall context where Rome still claims to be the only legitimate church on earth:

816 "The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it.... This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."267

The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God."268
The Church Is One, Holy, Apostolic

Charlie J. Ray said...

Now compare that triumphalistic claim to be the one church on earth to this statement in Article 19 of the 39 Articles of Religion:

XIX. Of the Church.
THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.


If you really believe the Papists think you are separated brethren when you continue to perpetuate the same "errors" they have officially condemned at Trent, I have some swamp land for sale.

I should add that the Romanists still teach that it is possible to "merit" salvation, albeit that merit is accomplished by cooperating with common grace:

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. the fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life."60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due.... Our merits are God's gifts."62

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.


Merit Looks like Rome has not moved an inch.

I could cite references to show that those who obstinately refuse to believe the Roman Catholic Church after being made aware of their teaching, are under the anathemas. The separated brethren thing doesn't hold up under closer scrutiny.

Those who teach that justification is by the means of faith/belief alone, apart from good works, are still condemned by the RCC as schismatics. The Canons and Anathemas of Trent are still in effect and I challenge anyone to show me anywhere that Vatican II specifically repudiates the Canons and Anathemas of the Council of Trent.

Archbishop Cranmer was burned at the stake because he refused to say that Christ's body and blood were literally the bread and wine in the Eucharist.

Charlie J. Ray said...

True unity, according to the Papists, is for you to give up being Methodist and join up with Rome:

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

Toward unity

820 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time."277 Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me."278 The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit.279


The Church is One

Shamby said...

Hi Charlie,
I'm not sure how the reference substantiates your claim regarding antinomianism, but I am curious how I can be considered both antinomian and Pelagian at the same time.

In any case, I'm having trouble discerning the genuineness of your honor at the suggestion of antinomianism by a "Pharisee". Do you consider yourself to be required by God to obey, for instance, the Ten Commandments? And if your answer is yes, could you explain to me how this requirement is not a work which is done in confirmation of your justification?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Rome says that justification is sanctification and that justification is "infused", not imputed. Wesley rejected that view:

II. 1. But what is it to be "justified" What is "justification" This was the Second thing which I proposed to show. And it is evident, from what has been already observed, that it is not the being made actually just and righteous. This is "sanctification;" which is, indeed, in some degree, the immediate fruit of justification, but, nevertheless, is a distinct gift of God, and of a totally different nature. The one implies what God does for us through his Son; the other, what he works in us by his Spirit. So that, although some rare instances may be found, wherein the term "justified" or "justification" is used in so wide a sense as to include "sanctification" also; yet, in general use, they are sufficiently distinguished from each other, both by St. Paul and the other inspired writers. Justification by Faith Looks like even John Wesley disagrees with confusing justification and sanctification. Would that modern Wesleyans followed Wesley!

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, I can accuse Pelagians of antinomianism because Arminians lower the demands of God's moral law so that they can meet it on their own terms. Scripture, on the other hand, says that God demands "absolute" obedience and perfect obedience. Sin is not just a willful violation of a "known" moral law. Sin is anything you think, do, or leave undone that violates God's law. It includes sins done in ignorance of God's law and anything else that offends God. By that definition, even good works are sinful and offensive to God if they are not done by faith in Jesus Christ and for God's glory alone. Soli Deo gloria! Whatever is not of faith is sin. The point of Matthew 7:21-23 is that men wish to take credit for their many wonderful works and THIS amounts to self-righteousness and the glorification of self. It is idolatrous to do that. furthermore, since no good work could ever justify even one sin or pay for one sin before an infinitely holy God, it is virtually antinomian to claim to have kept God's law. He demands perfect obedience and sinlessness: Matthew 5:48. Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom. Have you ever been angry with your enemies? Sin. That's tantamount to murder. Sin proceeds from the heart and defiles the man from the inside. Sin is not just action. It is a corruption of the mind/heart.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Take a gander some time of the confession of sin in the Morning and Evening Prayer services in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. And the confession in the Lord's Supper in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Those prayers were said weekly by Anglicans, including Wesley. And one of the sentences of Scripture preceding that prayer of confession is 1 John 1:8-9. Those verses are written to Christians, not unbelievers. "If we say that we have not sinned, we lie and the truth is not in us..."

Charlie J. Ray said...

Pelagianism is defined as denying that man is inherently sinful, totally corrupt, and in rebellion against God and His moral law. Pelagians claim to have "free will" in the "libertarian free will" sense. So simply denying that you are sinful and a sinner automatically makes you a liar and an antinomian according to 1 John 1:8-9. Check out Psalm 130:3 and 143:2. Those are also opening verses in the Morning and Evening Prayer services of the 1662 BCP.

Charlie J. Ray said...

By the way, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer reads the Decalogue in EVERY administration of the Lord's Supper. Does YOUR church do that? If not, maybe the charge of "antinomian" is appropriate for your church.

See: Lord's Supper

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Charlie you cannot beat an Armimian. We apprecaite your attempt at piety and reverence. You and i are all of a libertarian free-will sense. Christ is liberty. And the spirit of the law is greater then the letter. Again Charlie: it is Calnivists that our 'closer to Rome' in the point you are trying to make. You Calvinists are as prima donnas...Chosen like a Jew, with the fatalism of a Papist. Regardless Charlie, we Protestants are all in spiritual unity. There is no spiritual unity with Rome...nor the defeated and dark East.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, no. The Reformed view says that Scripture is the source of all truth, not your subjective pietism or experience. You have more in common with Mahatma Ghandi and Buddhism than with biblical Christianity. Mystical experience is no source of truth. Sorry.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I do not believe in "libertarian free will." All of the Protestant Reformers without exception rejected free will. Luther's treatise again Erasmus was the shot that was heard around the world. There is no contingency with God. If God foreknows the future, then He obviously predetermined it. (Romans 9:11-13).

John Mark said...

Not being a scholar, I hesitate to enter this fray. But I do have to ask, Charlie, do you think Jesus really wept real tears over Jerusalem? Do you think he was telling the truth when he said he would have gathered them to himself, but they refused? I don't have God figured out, as you seem to, but passages such as the above speak pretty strongly to me.

Charlie J. Ray said...

If you don't have God figured out then why are you presuming to know what the text means when Jesus wept over Jerusalem? We both know you do have an opinion and your attempt at a put down is a bit hypocritical, don't you think? So instead of using a fallacy called "ad hominem" why don't you just speak to the issue?

The answer to the point of the text is that Jesus was both human and divine, of course. The divine nature of God is such that God is a personal God who has one divine nature/being and is three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son of God took upon Himself a human nature with a reasonable human soul. Therefore, it logically follows that Jesus is weeping because He was human and could feel emotions.

The orthodox position on the divine nature, however, is that all references in the Bible to God having body parts are called "anthropomorphisms". The texts that attribute human emotions to God, such as jealousy, love, hate, wrath, etc., are "anthropopathisms". God cannot literally be moved with passions or emotions.

In fact, the 39 Articles of Religion, allegedly Wesley's doctrinal statement as well, states in Article 1:

I. Of faith in the Holy Trinity.
THERE is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


Since I'm not a Methodist I don't remember if the Methodist articles preserve this. Oh, I checked. And wonder of wonders, the references forbidding the attribution of body parts and human emotions to God are removed:

Article I—Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, the prohibition of God's having body and body parts is still there anyway. But the prohibition against anthropopathisms is removed.

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that the Kuyperian Calvinists believe in the three points of common grace and the free offer of the Gospel to the reprobate and God's earnest desire to save those He has predetermined to hell. Irrationalism and paradox makes it possible for neo-Calvnists to be both Calvinists and Arminians at the same time. Isn't that wonderful? :)

OK, I'll get back to the text. You mentioned Jesus crying over Jerusalem, presumably over even those predetermined to reprobation in the city.

Did I tell you that in English Bible classes and exegesis classes at Asbury teach that context matters? If you're going to properly interpret the particularization in the verse you mention, namely Matthew 23:37, Jesus laments that Jerusalem was "not willing." Now it would appear that a libertarian free will would mean there is an equal choice between two equal possibilities. But that isn't what the context indicates. In fact, the context indicates the exact opposite. The Pharisees were saying that if they were there in the OT they wouldn't have killed the prophets. YET they refused to believe Jesus. Just before verse 37 Jesus calls them a "brood of vipers"! The context is not that Jesus thinks they could be saved. Just the opposite. He is saying they cannot believe and they are doing exactly what they said they would not do if they were there in the OT days.

Yet, the city of Jerusalem continues to murder the prophets today! Jesus is weeping out of indignation, not pity. At least that's the opinion of John Calvin in his commentary on the verses in question.

John Mark said...

Charlie, thanks for the push back. It seems to me you showed up here looking for a debate....and you have pretty much accused anyone who disagrees with you of heresy, with all that implies.
As I said, I am not a scholar, and not a great debater at that :). I'll never convince you, of course, but I simply don't think the Calvinist view of God presents the God who revealed himself to Moses as compassionate and gracious....
But I'll give you the last word, as they say, and wait 'til we get to heaven [I think I'll make it :)] and God can straighten us out.

Charlie J. Ray said...

@Ken, at least you're honest when you say you "think" God agrees with you. Trouble is you're not the pope either:) That's why classical Calvinism (and classical Anglicanism) admits that Scripture alone is the final authority. The reason creeds and confessions of faith are necessary is precisely because there is no "private" interpretation of Scripture. (2 Peter 1:19-21). The creeds and confessions "draw their most certain warrant from Holy Scripture.

Article VIII
Of the Three Creeds
The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius' Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture. 39 Articles of Religion

Charlie J. Ray said...

John, actually, I didn't show up look for a debate. I showed up to point out that Ken's view of the Reformation as just a small misunderstanding on a few minor points of doctrine is obviously wrong.

But my view of God is determined first by Scripture and second by the Reformed standards. In the case of the Anglican Formularies (39 Articles, 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the Homilies, and the Ordinal), I stand on solid ground when I say that the English Reformers were Calvinists with a Lutheran view of the Law and Gospel distinction thrown in. And it should be noted that Luther's view of predestination was every bit as strong as Calvin's if not more so.

As I pointed out, the 39 Articles (and the Westminster Confession) deny that God is moved by passions. In other words, the anthropomorphisms in the Bible do not indicate that God literally has emotions. That would be to lower God to the level of the creature. The Incarnation of Christ is obviously not idolatry since the human nature is assumed into the divine nature.

Charlie J. Ray said...

You might be interested to know that I became a Calvinist while at Asbury! Jerry Walls diatribe against Calvinist "compatibilism" was so irrational that I actually came out of the class thinking that Calvin was right. In addition, I took a class with Thomas O'Malley where we read Calvin's Institutes. The logic Calvin displayed was irrefutable in my opinion. And anyone who reads Luther's Bondage of the Will can clearly see that Luther's arguments against Erasmus apply equally to Arminianism.

Sorry, but it struck me that holiness movement simply teaches self righteousness rather than humility.

Ken Schenck said...

Feel free to comment any time. I learn a lot... and I won't tell Jerry Walls or O'Malley :-)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Oh, we both know you don't agree, Ken. :) But I am thankful that I did go to Asbury. The reason being that no one can accuse me of not knowing your position. I heard it often and emphatically. Trouble was, it didn't convince me. Genesis 1-11 is an inspiring myth and a story? Or just maybe the Bible isn't captive to higher criticism and modern science?

Ken Schenck said...

You must be mixing me up with someone else on that one, but you are right about my Arminianism...

Charlie J. Ray said...

Must have been Lawson Stone:) Anyway, for what it's worth, Ken, I did enjoy your Hebrew class. You were a genuinely nice fellow. I also liked Joseph Dongell.

But then being a good or nice person doesn't get anyone to heaven. I think even Wesleyan Arminians would agree that good Muslims are not saved.

Jerry, was also a really nice fellow. Couldn't play billiards very well, though. Maybe it was because billiards were prohibited before he became a philosophy professor? hehe

Peace,

Charlie

Mr. Mcgranor said...

"Well, no. The Reformed view says that Scripture is the source of all truth, not your subjective pietism or experience. You have more in common with Mahatma Ghandi and Buddhism than with biblical Christianity. Mystical experience is no source of truth. Sorry."

"I do not believe in "libertarian free will." All of the Protestant Reformers without exception rejected free will. Luther's treatise again Erasmus was the shot that was heard around the world. There is no contingency with God. If God foreknows the future, then He obviously predetermined it. (Romans 9:11-13)."

I am quite objective. Many a church and theology has been built on a mans subjective piety. The bible is the source of all truth Charlie. There is no 'mysticism', only God--The Holy Spirit.

----


Luther had some personal issues that were not by God. His contempt for Zwingli..for one. Not grasping that he himself was combatting his free-will verus God's. If you think The Reformation was born in a seminary, then you aint got it right. If you think it was up to Luther; then you aint hip. Here's where i take Erasmus by the hand and dance: God told Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree; and they ate. God gave Israel a continual chance to change...Sorry Charlie.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

P.S. We Arminians do not believe that we are sinless. I say men very regarding their nature. Total depravity is a rationale for license and tyranny.

Charlie J. Ray said...

If truth is subjective it is also relative. Welcome to liberalism. What's true for you is true for you and what's true for me is true for me. Unfortunately, that's not true:) Let God be true and every man a liar. (Romans 3:1-8).

Mr. Mcgranor said...

No, Mr. Ray. No ones got it wholly right perhaps. Still relative and inordinate subjectivity is out-of-place. It is as if we were presenting our piety and character to the Lord, and the Lord accepts us all.

Shamby said...

Charlie, on your last comment, you say that subjective also means relative. These are philosophically different words and do not mean the same thing.

Faith takes a believing SUBJECT. Faith is subjective because it is the self that believes it. But that does not mean that faith is relative to the self. Faith comes to the subject not within him or herself but from outside--or shall we say, it resides in someone else, namely the Holy Spirit. In knowing that, the subject is assenting to the terms of faith--a believe that objective reality in fact operates in a certain way that correlates to this faith.

I see this as being logically necessary, unless you are so "hard" a Calvinist that you are suggesting that God overrides our mental faculties. But be careful if this is what you are saying, because then I really don't see how you can deny that God would be animating sinners to do evil...as if operating a drone to perform a missile strike.

By the way, the ad hom. fallacy is when you insult someone, for instance by calling them a name, rather than concentrating an argument on the issue. John Mark did not insult you, so your label is a misnomer. And contrary to your accusation of hypocrisy (which is an ad hom.), I heard him to be conducting himself with some epistemic humility, given that none of us has God "figured out".

Shamby said...

And on your last response to me:

I still haven't heard you put a direct answer to my question, I'll quote it here: "Do you consider yourself to be required by God to obey, for instance, the Ten Commandments? And if your answer is yes, could you explain to me how this requirement is not a work which is done in confirmation of your justification?"

Nevertheless, ritual lip service to the 10 Commandments is hardly doing them. I think we would agree on that, so I'm not sure why you launch heretical invectives at the community I shepherd, on that basis...or at all for that matter. And it is not MY church Charlie, it is Christ's Church. I remember a story where Jesus warned some Pharisees of blasphemy for attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, so you may want to be careful with your heresy cannon.

Also, you are defining Pelagianism by what it negates without explaining what it positively said. Understanding a system of thinking through its antagonism to another system will leave you with a distorted view--which in turn leads you to match apples to what you think are other apples. It would be like an atheist saying, Pelagius believed in God, Calvinists believe in God...so there you go, Calvists are Pelagians. Of course that is not true, it is also beside the point. In lumping Wesleyans with Pelagians because of free will is no allowing Wesleyans to qualify and distinguish what we mean. So let me add to what you already said about Pelagius and make the relevant distinction.

Pelagianism taught that humans are not born with original sin, but neither are they born good. They are morally neutral and therefore, Pelagius taught his followers to use their free will to live the rigorously ethical life they were naturally capable of living in conformity with the example of Christ.

Augustine rightly criticized Pelagius' starting point (that humans are morally neutral). Wesleyans agree with the rightness of this criticism, humanity is conditioned by total depravity and incapable by their own free will of saving themselves i.e. Wesleyans do not teach or say what Pelagius said.

Shamby said...

One more thing. You said: "The answer to the point of the text is that Jesus was both human and divine, of course" and "Therefore, it logically follows that Jesus is weeping because He was human and could feel emotions."

Christ is risen! Your past tense verbs do no fit the present situation of the second person of the Trinity. Christ is still human and divine. As human, Christ still reflects human emotions. That situation has not changed concerning the Triune God, since the Incarnation. And that is a significant fact to remember in theology, as many Reformed brethren have reminded the Church.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It's hard to obey the moral law if you don't know the Ten Commandments. As I said before, if the Ten Commandments are not part of your liturgy, what is? Answer: Antinomianism:)

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Charlie, unfortunatley for some: God will reject--and condemn. There are people, a group easily identified by a reactionary. They are called Catholics. In the postmodern view of inordinate subjectivity, and its loss of an affinity with history, tradition and reason, is an abstract and remote belief. These believers do not see the Papist soul. So with that Charlie, and since i cannot see you personally; were you baptized Catholic originally, or in any time of your life?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, justification is before God alone, not before men. God already knows our condition and standing. His knowledge isn't contingent. Your problem is you're looking at everything from below. True theology is God centered, not man-centered liberalism.

The answer to your question is that God expects you to have perfect obedience to ALL of His moral laws, including the Decalogue and the Law of Christ delivered in the Sermon on the Mount and in the New Testament. the moral law of Christ is even higher than the law of Moses.

If you sin even once BY GOD'S definition, then you deserve HELL. That leaves out ALL Wesleyans and Arminians since not one of them is absolutely sinless. God does not grade on a curse. So the moral law convicts you as miserable sinners, not holy saints because of your works, merits and level of "sanctification."

Those who emphasize Law stupidly condemn themselves as law breakers.

In short, your "confirmation" is only confirmation that you deserve hell.

That being said, a true and lively (living) faith is evidenced before "men" and the church by a valid profession of faith, not by sinless perfection since no man is capable of that in this life. The only sinless man is a dead man, excepting Jesus Christ.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Article 12 shoots your view down:

XII. Of Good Works.
ALBEIT that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.


I understand that you have not been taught that the creeds and confessions of faith have a secondary authority to Scripture. But let me say that if you want to understand my view of sanctification and justification you need look no further than than the Westminster Standards and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. They express clearly my position. In fact, the Westminster Standards are the derivative of Bishop Ussher's Irish Articles of Religion, the Lambeth Articles of 1595, and the original 39 Articles. Of course, Cranmer's 42 Articles were even more Reformed and Protestant.

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>Nevertheless, ritual lip service<<< This one cuts both ways since ALL litury is ritual. The question is how biblical is your liturgy and your ritual? Regarding most Puritan and Wesleyan churches these days, I have to say not very. The Anglo-Catholics and the Tractarians are even worse. The most Evangelical and Reformed liturgy there is available is the 1662 BCP. Samuel Leuenberger wrote a fantastic book on that theme called, The 1662 Book of Common Prayer: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's Immortal Bequest.

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>And it is not MY church Charlie, it is Christ's Church.<<< So "you" say. It might be that your church, like Rome, is a synagogue of satan. That being said, you "claim" to believe in the total depravity of all mankind out of one side of your mouth and out of the other said you say, "But...." In other words, your doctrine of Wesleyan "prevenient grace" is a negation of the doctrine of the bondage of the will and total inability. If all men without exception have prevenient grace that thereby "enables" libertarian free will, then your theology has defaulted back to the Pelagian position. That's probably why Augustus Toplady wrote his tract against free will as the golden idol of Arminianism. In short, you can't have it both ways. The law of contradiction forbids it. Either mankind is totally unable to do good or turn to Christ or they are able. If the latter, then anything you say about sin is merely following the bad example of Adam. Pelagianism raises its ugly head once again. Is it any wonder that Wesley borrowed heavily from the theology of deification in Eastern Orthodoxy? Does the name William Law ring a bell?

I can openly say these things because I am not a hireling. Truth matters. The only "boss" I'm concerned about is the Triune God and His written Word. Of course, I am a confessional Reformed believer as well:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Article IX. Of Original or Birth Sin.
ORIGINAL sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I'm familiar with the sidestepping of Arminians that they are not "really" Pelagians. But semi-pelagianism is still Pelagianism no matter how you slice it. Luther fired the shot heard around the world. "There is no free will."

THIS, therefore, is also essentially necessary and wholesome for Christians to know: That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will. By this thunderbolt, "Free-will" is thrown prostrate, and utterly dashed to pieces. Those, therefore, who would assert "Free-will," must either deny this thunderbolt, or pretend not to see it, or push it from them. .The Bondage of the Will: Divine Sovereignty.

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>Christ is still human and divine. As human, Christ still reflects human emotions. That situation has not changed concerning the Triune God, since the Incarnation. And that is a significant fact to remember in theology, as many Reformed brethren have reminded the Church. <<< So you're saying that the Divine Being or Nature was changed by the Incarnation? That would be odd since the orthodox position is that the human nature does not change the divine nature even in the hypostatic union. Both natures remain absolutely distinct, though perfectly united. It is the Son who was incarnate,not the Father or the Spirit. Your view has obvious problems too numerous to go into here.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, my position is indeed the "hard" Calvinist position since that is the position taught in Scripture in many proof texts. (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6; Proverbs 16:4; Romans 9:18-22; et. al.).

Secondly, simply because faith is the instrument God uses to apply the benefits of the atonement and justification to the elect does not make salvation "subjective." Salvation was accomplished for me 2,000 years ago on the cross. It is absolutely objective. Secondly, Scripture is not open to subjective and relativistic interpretation. If so, then what's the point of having Scripture in the first place? Scripture is an objective revelation of God in objective form and rational/logical propositions. It is not something to be "experienced". Rather Scripture makes objective doctrinal and rational truth claims that you must believe to be saved. Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. John 14:6; Acts 4:10, 12. There is no other path to heaven except through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 1:6-9.

Only those who are first regenerated by God the Holy Spirit are able to believe in the first place. John 3:3-8; John 6:37-44; 65. Dead cannot hear the Word of God without a spiritual resurrection. John 5:24-25; Ephesians 2:1-8

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>No ones got it wholly right perhaps.<<<< So we don't know anything the Bible says is right. Thanks for admitting that your view is nothing more than skepticism and relativism. No wonder the United Methodist Church is liberal:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

I should ask you how you learned the Bible verses you know? I guess you never repeated them? Learning by rote is always "lip service"? How did you learn the ABCs or the multiplication tables? How did you learn the Pledge of Allegiance or the Lord's Prayer?

Just as computers store information on hard drives, Christians learn orally by rote memorization. The right application of that storage of information is another matter.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Only those who are first regenerated by God the Holy Spirit are able to believe in the first place. John 3:3-8; John 6:37-44; 65. Dead men cannot hear the Word of God without a spiritual resurrection. John 5:24-25; Ephesians 2:1-8

Charlie J. Ray said...

Mac, I was born a Pelagian like everyone else:) I have never been Roman Catholic. Ever.

You cannot see my "heart", Mac; Nor can I see your heart. But I can know what your doctrine is since you are continually telling me what it is. Doctrine is essential to saving faith. Unless all religions lead to God? Socinianism raises its ugly head once more.

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>By the way, the ad hom. fallacy is when you insult someone, for instance by calling them a name, rather than concentrating an argument on the issue.<<< No, the ad hominem fallacy is when you try to misdirect the issue to the person rather than the logic of the issue itself. I might be a heathen unbeliever pretending to be a Reformed Anglican. But that isn't what is at issue here. What IS at issue is the logic and the strength of the arguments being made. Implying that I was once a Roman Catholic or that I'm an antinomian or etc., etc., says absolutely nothing about the Calvinist position or the logic of its apologetic. It's merely a thinly veiled personal attack.

Ok, I admit calling you all a bunch of Pharisees and a brood of vipers somewhere above. I plead guilty. But the charge of Pelagianism is not ad hominem.

Charlie J. Ray said...

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3 NKJ)


Frequently cited refs (sorted by frequency)
Psa 143:2 Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
Job 9:2 "Truly I know it is so, But how can a man be righteous before God?
Nah 1:6 Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him.
Mal 3:2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap.
Rev 6:17 "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"

Less frequently cited refs
Ezr 9:15 "O LORD God of Israel, You are righteous, for we are left as a remnant, as it is this day. Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!"
Job 9:3 If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand.
Job 9:20 Though I were righteous, my own mouth would condemn me; Though I were blameless, it would prove me perverse.
Job 10:14 If I sin, then You mark me, And will not acquit me of my iniquity.
Psa 76:7 You, Yourself, are to be feared; And who may stand in Your presence When once You are angry?
Pro 20:9 Who can say, "I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin"?
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Gen 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
1Sa 6:20 And the men of Beth Shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?"
Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!
Job 15:14 "What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?
Job 25:4 How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?
Psa 40:12 For innumerable evils have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; They are more than the hairs of my head; Therefore my heart fails me.
Psa 90:8 You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
Ecc 7:20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin.
Isa 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
Jer 2:22 For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, Yet your iniquity is marked before Me," says the Lord GOD.
Mic 7:2 The faithful man has perished from the earth, And there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; Every man hunts his brother with a net.
Mic 7:19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.
Rom 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Gal 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
1Jo 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jo 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

Charlie, you weren't even baptized Catholic with no participation afterwards?

Shamby said...

">>>Christ is still human and divine...That situation has not changed concerning the Triune God, since the Incarnation...<<<So you're saying that the Divine Being or Nature was changed by the Incarnation?...It is the Son who was incarnate,not the Father or the Spirit. Your view has obvious problems too numerous to go into here."

IS Charlie! Is incarnate! Not "it is the Son who was incarnate", as if Christ stopped having flesh after the Resurrection. You are making a mistake in your verb tenses. Christ is incarnate, He has been incarnate since the Incarnation. That is what I am saying has NOT changed. And beside all that, do you interpret Scripture the way you interpret me? Because I can see why you would be confused.

I'm not assuming something of you that is untrue, am I...are you really disinclined to confess that Christ is NOW, presently incarnate in his resurrection body?

Because that is the only point I meant to be getting across to you, there.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Mac, since I'm not a Papist, why would I be baptized as a Roman Catholic? Hello?

I'm a true catholic. Since Calvinism IS the catholic faith, your question is irrelevant. But if you're wondering if I have been baptized, the answer is yes. Three times. Which time did it take? hehehe

Charlie J. Ray said...

Is incarnate! Not "it is the Son who was incarnate"<<< Oh, so you're a modalist? You don't believe in the Trinity?

Also, please explain to me how the human nature is now divine, according to you? The last I checked to confuse the two natures is a heresy called the "monophysite" error. Your view essentially makes the Jesus have one nature and you seem to think that nature is divine. So you have divinized the human nature so that Jesus is either not fully human or the divine nature is now less than divine because it's now combined with a created nature. The divine nature is uncreated, remember?

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>are you really disinclined to confess that Christ is NOW, presently incarnate in his resurrection body?<<< Not at all. Jesus sits on the right hand of the Father. That's in the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. But I do object to your confusing of the two natures into one nature. Remember that Jesus has a reasonable human soul and that soul is not replaced by the Logos. To say that His soul was replaced by the Logos is the heresy of Apollinarianism.

Jesus, you will recall, has two wills, a divine will and a human will. Although His human soul and the Logos are hypostatically united in one subsistence, the two natures cannot be confused. He is one Person yet the Logos does not replace the human soul.

God cannot be moved with the emotions. That is anthropopathism. Also, God does no suffer or bleed or die. God cannot do any of those things. But Jesus, the God/man did experience those things in His human nature and in the incarnation.

Systematic theology and dogmatic theology are obviously not your forte.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Obviously I did not mean that Christ is no longer incarnate, Shamby. That would be obvious since Anglicans recite the Nicene Creed at every communion service. I know you low church Methodists don't like to remember anything the creeds say, though. The Morning and Evening Prayer services both recite the Apostles' Creed. And at least once a year the Athanasian Creed is read.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, thanks. And may God grant you the grace to believe the Gospel of sovereign grace and justification by faith alone through the grace of Jesus Christ alone.

Shamby said...

You are right, Charlie. They are not my strong points. I've studied them for years--I've made it my particular focus and contribution to the Church and I still struggle to assimilate all that there is to know and understand in this field.

You are good for me, Charlie. You challenge me to be patient and you give me pause to heed my own blindness and insensitivity toward others.

Have a nice day, Charlie.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

If you were baptized Catholic, Charlie. You cannot change it. No wonder you tried to get baptized twice after.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Shamby, the point I was making is that the incarnation does not give God "passions". The incarnation is a hypostatic union, not a confusion of the two natures. That's why I'm not a Lutheran. The body and blood of Christ cannot be present in and under the creatures of bread and wine. Why? Because Jesus' incarnate and resurrection body is in heaven, not ubiquitously present everywhere.

It's also why Calvinists and even Archbishop Thomas Cranmer rejected the Lutheran view. Cranmer's view is that Christ is present in the sacrament by faith and only in the mind/heart of the true believer. Unbelievers partake only of empty signs.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Likewise, Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace. Even Wesley kept that doctrine. Without regeneration there is only an empty sign.

Ken Schenck said...

I go away for the day and look what happens!

Charlie J. Ray said...

Heidelblog: Has Rome Really Changed?

Paul said...

ARMINIAN
Help required at http://www.christianforums.com/f83/

Defenders of the true faith are in a minority on this closet calvinist recruiting forum.

Please join up and help out the beleaguered Christians there defending the true Bible.

Paul said...

ARMINIAN
Help required at http://www.christianforums.com/f83/

Defenders of the true faith are in a minority on this closet calvinist recruiting forum.

Please join up and help out the beleaguered Christians there defending the true Bible.

Christian Man said...

I've been reading a lot of the stuff on this site and others, and it amazes me that folks actually think that Rome is a christian institution. The fact is, they have NEVER been christian. From the beginning of the cult by Constantine (NOT Peter) until now, they have only used Christ as a way to manipulate multitudes through the use of their control tactics to build up their kingdom. It was by the grace of God that people like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther and Calvin were delivered from this Babylonian cult. Jesus warned about these deceivers, and they are pushing hard at this present time to bring the "separated brethren" ( something God's people have never been ), back under their control. Anyone that has an ounce of discernment knows what they are up to, and there is a need for the saints of God to take a stand for the truth. Rome has murdered MILLIONS of precious souls for not agreeing with their heresies, and up until recently, books like Foxes Book of Martyrs and The Two Babylons by Hislop were available for anyone that wanted to make the connections. So why even bother to continue to attempt to find something good in anything Rome has to offer? The "Holy Mother Church" is not going to repent of their centuries of mass murders of the Hugenots, Waldenses, and miriads of other lovers of the one true God and His only mediator, Christ Jesus. My prayer is that there will be a great exodus from that system of spiritual darkness into the glorious light of Christ's love, and that many will TRULY be born again into the Kingdom of God.