Curious Words From The New Pope

The blurb opens up with,

In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.

Bret responds,

I’m sure the atheist Richard Dawkins is glad to hear this latest statement by Pope Francis, because now he can be forgiven as he follows his conscience in supporting pedophilia. Dawkins recently said,

Referring to his early days at a boarding school in Salisbury, the renown atheist recalled how one of the (unnamed) masters

    “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”

Dawkins said other children in his school peer group had been molested by the same teacher but concluded:

    “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

    “I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,”

Dawkins said.

Dawkins went on to say the most notorious cases of pedophilia involve rape and even murder and should not be bracketed with what he called

    “just mild touching up.”

So now, given Pope Francis’ insight, Richard Dawkins can be forgiven when he, and other unbeliever’s like him follow their conscience in “just mildly touching up” little children. Pedophilia never held so much promise.

Pope Francis weighs in

Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, 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.”

Bret responds while scratching his head,

Why would the one who does not believe in God go to a God they don’t believe in, with a sincere and contrite heart? The one we are talking about DOESN’T BELIEVE IN GOD.

The article continues,

Robert Mickens, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic journal The Tablet, said the pontiff’s comments were further evidence of his attempts to shake off the Catholic Church’s fusty image, reinforced by his extremely conservative predecessor Benedict XVI. “Francis is a still a conservative,” said Mr Mickens. “But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world.”

Bret responds,

Translated — “In an attempt to convert the world, the world has converted the Papacy and the ‘Church’.”

The article finishes,

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”.

In July, Francis signaled a more progressive attitude on sexuality, asking: “If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?”

In fairness to Francis, it was said that when Francis said this he was referring to celibate sodomites. Though, after this piece, I’m having my doubts about that Vatican post comment spin.

Required Course in Seminary Education — Justification

Reformed Weltanschauung; The Biblical Doctrine Of Justification

The purpose of this course is to teach the student the Reformed doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. In the course of the study the student will be able to distinguish the difference between the Roman Catholic analytic view of Justification and the Reformed view of Justification. The student will also be able to identify how all non Reformed Protestant versions of Justification either partake of Roman Catholic understandings of Justification or, failing that, become littered with contradictions reflecting the confusion that arises when one tries to combine Roman Catholic understandings with Reformed understandings. The student will be able to explain why Luther said that Justification was the “Article by which the Church stands or falls.”

This course will not negate the necessity for the larger category of Systematic Theology. Such a course will be developed later.

Main Text: The Doctrine of Justification by James Buchanan

Required Reading:

1.) Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification by R. C. Sproul
2.) The Doctrine of Justification by Faith by John Owen
3.) Justification by Francis Turretin
4.) Justification by Faith Alone Jonathan Edwards
5.) Not What My Hands Have Done Paperback by Horatius Bonar / Charles Hodge
6.) By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification by Gary L. W. Johnson
7.) The Work of the Holy Spirit (Chapter 6) — Abraham Kuyper
8.)A Reformation Debate Paperback by John Calvin, Jacopo Sadoleto

Video

1.) What Still Divides Us? A Protestant & Roman Catholic Debate: Are the Scriptures Sufficient? Are We Justified By Faith Alone? (Video Series) — Appropriate sections pursuant to Justification

Online

1.) http://carm.org/council-trent-canons-justification

Assignments

1.) Read the main Text book and write chapter summaries.

2.) Read book # 1 — This is a intro / primer book on the subject. Write a 5 page paper on the essence of Justification by faith alone.

3.) Read the canons of the Council of Trent on Justification, book #8 and view the video debate. Write a 5 page paper on the essence of Justification according to Roman Catholic thinking. Write a 8-10 page paper on where Roman Catholicism and Reformed theology part ways.

4.) Read books 2-5. Write a 10 page paper comparing and contrasting the views of Bonar, Hodge, Owen, and Turretin. Concentrate especially on any areas you might find where you notice that they disagree.

5.) Read Kuyper on Eternal Justification. Write a 5 page paper giving your thoughts on Kuyper’s view on Eternal Justification

6.) Read book #6. After reading the book tool around on the internet and see if you can locate any Federal Visionists who toy with the doctrine of Justification by Faith alone. Locate their confusion.

7.) Interact 1 hour weekly with the Instructor regarding points of interest in the book that you are currently reading.

8.) Be prepared for pop quizzes or short essay requirements.

_________________

Were I to recommend books for the High Schooler from this list I would recommend the Sproul book followed by the Bonar / Hodge book as well as the video debate.

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends — # IV

Joshua Butcher is a young friend of mine who is finishing up his Ph.d dissertation while teaching in a Private School in Florida. In this entry he examines the distinctions between God’s grace to His elect and the God’s spiritual gift he distributes among His people. Along the way he accentuates the idea that all that we are in terms of our Character and personality is the result of God’s grace being prior to our choices. We become who we are because we can’t help but become who we become.

I was quite impressed with Joshua’s essay and I though my readers might be encouraged by it as well since it speaks so excellently of our Sovereign and Benevolent Father.

Luther on “grace” and “gift”; with a homily on electing love

Between grace and gift there is this difference. Grace means properly God’s favor, or the good-will God bears us, by which He is disposed to give us Christ and to pour into us the Holy Ghost, with His gifts. This is clear from chapter 5 [of Romans], where He speaks of “the grace and gift in Christ.” The gifts and the Spirit increase in us every day, though they are not yet perfect, and there remain in us the evil lust and sin that war against the Spirit, as Paul says in Romans 7 and Galatians 5, and the quarrel between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is foretold in Genesis 3. Nevertheless, grace does so much that we are accounted wholly righteous before God. For His grace is not divided or broken up, as are the gifts, but it takes us entirely into favor, for the sake of Christ our Intercessor and Mediator, and because of that the gifts are begun in us.

What follows is one part appreciation for Luther’s quote, and many parts tangential appreciation for something a bit different.

Martin Luther provides a helpful distinction between grace, defined as God’s favor, and gift, which is an expression (but not the entire expression) of that same favor. An analogous distinction could be made between Law, defined as God’s order, and precept, which is the expression (but not the entire expression) of God’s order.

Apart from being an excellent distinction between grace and gift, Luther’s quotation provokes an interesting question: How is it that God’s grace–the electing grace of which Luther speaks here–how is it that this grace is distributed equally and universally to all saints, whereas God’s gifts are distributed unequally and particularly? The answer, I think, exhibits the harmony of unity and diversity, of the One and the Many. Grace is the unifying principle, the One Thing that binds all of God’s redemptive activity toward Creation; and gift is the distributive principle, the Many Things that declare in innumerable ways the multi-faceted, varied character of God’s redemptive activity toward Creation. The summary term for all of these details concerning grace and gift is Electing Love.

We have access to God’s gifts by God’s grace, and our access to God’s grace is through our union with Christ, who is Himself the Elect Son of God, and the Elect Man of God, from before the foundation of the world.

There is a sense in which there are only two individuals considered in the decree of predestination and election. There is the First Man, Adam, in whom the decree of reprobation is represented (whether or not the individual man, Adam, is elect or reprobate; since Adam’s own representation need not remain in himself, though it remains in those who follow from him by natural generation), and the Last Man, Christ, in whom the decree of redemption is represented (whether or not the individual man, Christ, requires redemption, since his own representative status does not depend upon–indeed, rather would be destroyed by–his own possession of the condition of sin).

Now it is quite true that every human being has been decreed unto reprobation or redemption, individually. However, one of the key issues that people have with election is that it occurs apart from any individual’s own contribution (we might say, his own merit). How is it, it is asked, that any one person should be redeemed or reprobated apart from consideration of his or her own choices, which make up his or her identity? Must not the individual be free from any compulsion, so that, by one’s own choosing, he or she may love the God who gave His Son to redeem man from sin?

The unquestioned assumption in the question is that one’s own identity is something determined by one’s own choices. This is the Existentialist philosophy of “Existence precedes Essence,” or “I am what I do,” or “I am that I choose.” Rather, we should recognize that an individual’s choices are a result of his or her identity, not a cause of it. An empirical examination does not seem to justify this claim, since we often discover that who we thought we were is different than what we think as a result of some choice or action. “I never though I could do X” seems to support the idea that my choices determine what I am. However, our identity is not made up of our self-knowledge, for, as the Apostle John declares, “we do not yet know what we will be” (1 Jn. 3:2). That our choices reveal to us an identity that heretofore was unknown does not prove that choice determines identity, but rather it shows the limitations of human knowledge. We may know ourselves truly, yet not completely–our identity is being shaped, but not by our choices.

What then shapes our individual identities, of which our choices are but partial revelations?

God’s omnipotence entails that no power, indeed, not even the power of an individual human will, is constituted or made effectual apart from God’s will. What I choose, what you choose, what anyone chooses according to the liberty of our highest affection, depends upon the exertion of God’s power entirely. What I choose on the basis of, that is, my identity, rests entirely upon the favorable or disfavorable willing of God. God wills unto one’s good, or one’s ill, and the choices one makes reveal to himself and the world whether he or she has God’s favor or not (though the full revelation of individuals is obscured in large part until the consummation of the Age and the Return of the Son in Judgment).

On what basis then does God constitute Those Favored and Those Unfavored?

Since it is God’s will that constitutes these two groups, there is no higher standard to which God could appeal, no standard upon which He could examine whether to choose X for reprobation and Y for redemption. Since no individual human will can act upon from God prior determination of that will, it is by God’s will alone that any subsequent will, wills. Therefore God’s will alone factors in the equation. The choice, for God, is arbitrary without being capricious. That is, God is free to choose without doing injustice in however He chooses.

Despite the arbitrary nature of God’s constituting the reprobate and the redeemed, there is another factor that liberates God from the charge of injustice, or even of unmitigated self-interest. The decree to elect and reprobate is not undirected, but has its end in the honoring of the Eternally Begotten Son. The Eternal Father desires to offer His Eternal Son an inheritance, therefore He elects unto the Son a people for Him to provide for, protect, and to glorify into His own image, just as the Eternal Son is the image of the Eternal Father. The Father is reproducing in giving His Son an inheritance what the Son will reproduce in His that inheritance–an honorable, glorifying imitation, which is the essence of divine love, which is the Holy Spirit (so much more could be said to unravel this seamless garment!).

The glorification of the Son, and consequently of the Father, is such that there must be an Enemy; an Enemy who possesses his own people to become an unholy imitation of his blasphemous nature. Such unholy anti-love is but the antithesis, the contrastive highlighting, of Divine Love. The darker the shadow of Satanic opposition, the brighter the light of the Son’s glorification.

The failure to appreciate the beauty of election is not due to any lack of aesthetic sensibility or faculty of recognition–for in nature, in artistic imitation, the use and appreciation for contrast is so universal as to be an unmistakable principle of beauty, even when it is not considered the sum and whole. No painter can achieve plays of light apart from contrasts in darkness. No musician can achieve the heights of a major tone apart from the lows of a minor. There can be no “is” without there also being an “is not.”

No, the rejection of God’s electing love (which include reprobation) stems from the universal recognition of one’s own status as one of the condemned. Each convict rails against the Just Judge, not because the convict can ultimately deny the justice of the verdict, or the power of the Judge to execute the sentence, but rather from the convict’s own dissatisfaction that he, the convict, cannot be, himself, the Judge. That motive characterizes the “old man,” “the flesh,” the child of darkness, the Satanic being–a motive that can only accuse the Maker of All Things of not doing everything according to the command of the Made.

But to those who have been constituted in Christ, and have been realized as such in history (i.e. the Spirit of adoption has testified to their spirit that they are indeed, sons of God with the Son), there is all of joy and marvel at the beauty of God’s electing Love–that He would include such lowly and dependent creatures in the glorification of the Most Exalted and Eternal Son! Had God wanted to, it would have been enough for Him to have allowed all humanity to enjoy the few years of pleasure on this most magnificent orb of joyous beauty–even that much would be more than we deserve as His enemies. Yet even the joys of earth were not enough an expression of the Love of Our Great God, who was neither so mean nor so impoverished as to keep even the most self-debasing and rebellious of His creatures from participating, after their own creaturely fashion, in the Divine nature.

Christian, what can you but do than exclaim, “Marvelous! Wonderful! All Too High and Lofty Design! O, Beauty and Love Immeasurable Great! Worthy, Worthy, O Most Worthy God; Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen!”

The Contemporary Western Church’s Handling of “God’s Love.”

“Verses like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” give abundant proof that the redemption which the Jews thought to monopolize is universal as to space. God so loved the world, not a little portion of it, but the world as a whole, that He gave His only begotten Son for its redemption. And not only the extensity, but the intensity of God’s love is made plain by the little adverb “so,” — God so loved the world, in spite of its wickedness, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for it. But where is the oft-boasted proof of its universality as to individuals?

This verse (John 3:16) is sometimes pressed to such an extreme that God is represented as too loving to punish anybody, and so full of mercy that He will not deal with men according to any rigid standard of justice regardless of their deserts. The attentive reader, by comparing this verse with other Scripture, will see that some restriction is to be placed on the word “world.” One writer has asked, “Did God love Pharaoh? (Romans 9:17). Did He love the Amalekites? (Exodus 17:14). Did He love the Canaanites, whom He commanded to be exterminated without mercy? (Deuteronomy 20:16). Did He love the Ammonites and Moabites whom He commanded not to be received into the congregation forever? (Deuteronomy 23:3). Does He love the workers of iniquity? (Psalm 5:5). Does He love the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, which He endures with much long-suffering? (Romans 9:22). Did He love Esau? (Romans 9:13).”

~ Loraine Boettner

The Great Heresy of the church in the West today is the heresy of the “Love” of God. Countless times, when the character of God is presented people will say, “My God would never be that way,” or, “My God would never do that.” But regardless of who the god of such people is, the God of the Bible is a God who is just and who is angry with the wicked every day and who hates workers of iniquity. The fear of God is absent from people precisely because there is nothing in God, as He is typically represented, over which anyone should have any fear. Why should a god who’s love is the love of a whore be a god whom men should be in awe of? Why should a god who’s love is all sentimental pious gush be a God whom men should honor?

It is the current doctrine of the “Love of God,” that is destroying the Christian faith. Because of this salacious “love of God” doctrine I have read articles recently that speak about the necessity of the Church to rethink accepting Transvestites and Transgender people into the Church as members. Through the invocation of this “love of God” doctrine I’ve read articles that apologize because the early Church adopted a creed that found God damning people for not believing in Him as He reveals Himself in Scripture.

The chanting of John 3:16 and similar type texts, as if they are some kind of Hindu mantras that prove that God is love the way a whore is love has destroyed the Church in the West.

The Lord Christ

The Lord Christ

The Word spoken at Creation
The Captain of His people’s Salvation
The Promised blessings unto the Nations
Our Elder Brother

The Body and Blood as Bread and Wine
Very Man and very Divine
Of Mary’s Seed and David’s line
The Lamb of God

He who would crush the Serpent’s Head
He who would bring life from the Dead
The Warrior who would go on Ahead
The Great High Priest

Giver of Meaning and Quencher of Thirst
New Wine means old wine-skins Burst
The first shall be last and the last shall be first
Our Propitiation and Mercy Seat

A Warrior who demands surrender of all
Adam’s successor, reverse of the fall
Those who come, are those who He calls
The Great High King

We walk now in terms of His Victory
No surrender for those with eyes now to see
His Knowledge shall cover from sea unto sea
His Present Kingdom shall come