Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Psalm 119, The Hate Psalm, and the Practice of Contemporary Christianity

You have biblical love chapters, 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4.  For every biblical love, there is a biblical hate, as in you cannot love health without hating disease.  This got my attention recently as we have been singing through Psalm 119 in our psalters in our Sunday evening service.  The hate came to my attention, so I went home and looked it up.

I did a search on all the times the Bible (KJV) uses the two successive words, "I hate."  Sixteen times you read, "I hate," in the Bible, and four of those are in Psalm 119.
Psalm 119:104, "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."
Psalm 119:113, "SAMECH. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love."
Psalm 119:128, "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way."
Psalm 119:163, "I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love."
You get the same results by looking up the Hebrew word translated, "I hate," saneh.  Psalm 119 is better known as the Word of God Psalm.  It seems that you cannot really love the Word of God without hating what contradicts the Word of God, so it is also the Hate Psalm.  I could ask, "Why is there not more hatred today?"  There is not enough hatred.

It seems that today people feel somewhat proud of their acceptance of something less than scriptural. They, you know, wouldn't do it themselves, but they aren't going to hate it when someone else does it. This is very large of them.  People like to hear it.  It sounds right to them, to keep acceptance of what they do, even if they know that you wouldn't believe it or practice it yourself.

When we look at just the four verses, you see hatred of (1) every false way, (2) vain thoughts, (3) every false way, and (4) lying.  "Every false way" pretty much covers everything that is unscriptural, whether in belief or practice.  If you hate every false way, it means that you aren't being neutral about beliefs and practices that contradict scripture.

Contemporary Christianity doesn't hate every false way.  Contemporary Christianity tries to find common ground by minimizing the differences.  It is a negotiation.  You do your best to ignore false ways for the purpose of the greater cause, getting along.  It isn't biblical unity.  It is capitulation based upon conventional wisdom.

I observe several reasons why the false way isn't hated in evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  One, they aren't sure of the true way.  They are unsure of the Words of God.  You will hear prominent, conservative theologians in evangelicalism say in the same speech or sermon, that the Bible "is without error" and "there are very few errors" in the Bible.  Two, they see the Bible as very often too difficult to understand.  They can't say it is clear enough to require agreement, except on a very few doctrines and practices.  Three, they see the true church, the body of Christ, as all believers, and God doesn't want any schism in the body.  To avoid schisms, only a few teachings that stray from scripture can be hated.  Most false teaching and practice can be accepted in order to associate and cooperate. If they confined themselves to only the text of scripture, they would see the true church as local only and, thus, avoid schisms in the body, while maintaining purity or scriptural unity. Four, there is such rampant lack of conversion among professing Christians, that this results in massive amounts of unbelief.  Five, men are exalted above God.  The psalmist hates the false way because it offends God by conflicting with His Word.  The contemporary Christian doesn't hate the false way so as not to offend men.

You can't love truth if you don't hate error.  You can't love goodness if you don't hate evil.  You can't love beauty if you don't hate ugliness.  You can't have both.  They are mutually exclusive.  God does not deny Himself and this is His world.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Are Passages on Old Testament Strangers A Legitimate Basis for Taking Refugees into the Country?

The ceremonial and judicial laws of the Old Testament do not mandate positions for modern government or church policy.  They apply in certain ways today, but not like they did to ancient Israel.  With this regard, I draw your attention to professing Christian organizations that use the statutes or precepts of Mosaic law to push a certain agenda on the acceptation of refugees into the United States.  The Lutheran World Federation writes:
The Torah makes thirty-six references to honoring the “stranger.” The book of Leviticus contains one of the most prominent tenets of the Jewish faith: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34). Further, the Torah provides that "You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9)
Many religious institutions and even evangelical church leaders used the same argumentation for accepting in refugees.  The following might not be their favorite "the stranger" verses.
Leviticus 24:16, 22, "And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death. . . . Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God." 
Numbers 1:51, "And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." 
Numbers 3:10, 38, "And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. . . . But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." 
Numbers 18:7, "Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office for every thing of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest's office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death."
In these verses, the strangers are put to death.  God expected His people to kill strangers too.  When? When they violated His laws.  To come and stay in the land, the stranger must assimilate.  The same people who like to quote Leviticus 19 would not favorably quote these passages.  You can't have the former without the latter.

Legal strangers are welcome.  Law abiding strangers are welcome.  It's easy to see that this was the policy of God, when one considers the Gibeonites.  If you read Joshua 9, you can see that Israel's leadership compromised what God commanded by allowing them into the land.  If you were a stranger, you had to convert in order to stay in the land.  There was a lot to which to acquiesce in the law of God, much more than what is required of someone to come to the United States.  However, it is easy to see that you can't use the example of "the strangers" of the Old Testament as a basis for accepting refugees into the country.

The above style of interpretation and application of scripture could be the SJW Bible, Social Justice Warrior, that plucks passages out of context and misinterprets them.  If someone came to Israel with the desire to convert to God's ways, they were to be welcomed.  We live in a country that has abandoned its founding principles, so it's no wonder anyone can arrive and stay with no assimilation. What is anyone supposed to assimilate to?

The laws of God placed upon Israel, to which the stranger must submit to stay, are far, far more strict than anything required of a legal immigrant to the United States.  Obviously the United States cares about the stranger.  Like almost everyone says, it is a nation of strangers.  But you can't use those Old Testament passages without the context of what welcoming a stranger means.  You must accept it all or none, if you are going to use it as any kind of authority for your position.

The way that religious folk handle their social justice passages is wrong and/or a lie.  It's a form of propaganda, but worse.  It is perverting scripture to use for their purposes.  However, it is also very much a portrait of evangelicalism with its emphasis on "love" and not holiness.  I say "love" in quotes, because there is no love without holiness.  God isn't going to welcome the stranger into heaven without receiving the truth, His truth, the only truth.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Keswick's Unintelligibility: in Keswick's Errors--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 16 of 17

Keswick unbiblically depreciates the importance of sanctification as a process, as progressive growth.  This fact is evident in direct statements such as that, for Keswick, “[s]anctification is primarily and fundamentally . . . no[t] a process”[1] and that the “conventional threefold division” which considers sanctification as positional, progressive,[2] and ultimate is not characteristic of Keswick in the way the crisis, gift, process division is.[3] This neglect of progressive sanctification also evidences itself in that Barabas spends only half a page on this aspect of the doctrine.  While he spends forty pages describing sanctification as a crisis and a gift, progressive sanctification gets 1.25% the treatment that the other aspects receive in Keswick.  Indeed, considering the entire scope of Barabas’s discussion of “God’s Provision For Sin” and “Consecration,” where the Keswick doctrine of sanctification as crisis, gift, and process is explicated and contrasted with the views he deems erroneous, the discussion of progressive sanctification receives attention only 0.75% of the time.[4]  This vast underemphasis stands in stark contrast to the tremendous amount of Biblical material dealing with progress in sanctification.
What Barabas writes in his half page on progressive sanctification is, however, sound; although it is not properly prominent, nonetheless Keswick is said to accept the classical doctrine that “experimental sanctification is the day-by-day transformation of the believer into the image of Christ, and is progressive in nature.  Beginning at regeneration, it continues all through life, but is never complete.”[5]  Barabas indicates his dependence in his discussion of progressive sanctification upon the exposition of The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life by Evan Hopkins.[6] Hopkins learned the Higher Life theology from William Boardman and Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith[7] and was brought to adopt Keswick theology after looking at the placid face of one who had received it,[8] having sat at the feet of the Smiths and Mr. Boardman from the time of the first spiritualist-hosted Broadlands Conference onwards[9] even to the last one.[10]  In fact, Hopkins “was for years the acknowledged leader of the Keswick teaching” and “the theologian of the movement. . . . He spoke at the first Keswick Convention, and appeared at Keswick as a leader for thirty-nine years without a break.  No one was regarded with greater respect there than he.”[11] While Hopkins was deeply influenced by the heretics surrounding him at Keswick and Broadlands, what he states in the section of his book on which Barabas depends[12] is as Scriptural[13] as what Barabas derives from him.  Hopkins even admirably affirms, quoting another writer, that in sanctification “the whole aspect of human nature is transformed.”[14]  Barabas claims Keswick acknowledges that the process aspect of sanctification includes “a soul that is continually increasing in the knowledge of God, and abounding in fruits of righteousness . . . [and] continued progress in the development of Christ-like character.”[15] Such an affirmation is certainly Biblical.
What is unusual about such affirmations by the Keswick advocate is that they sound remarkably like the statement by Warfield that the “Holy Spirit . . . cures our sinning precisely by curing our sinful nature; He makes the tree good that the fruit may be good,”[16] yet Barabas inveighs against Warfield’s doctrine as an unscriptural position that Keswick opposes.  If there is no real difference between the doctrine of Keswick and that of Warfield, Barabas’s attack on Warfield is, at this point, inexplicable and unjustifiable; if there is a difference, Barabas does not make its character clear at all.  It would have been of great value to see Barabas attempt to reconcile the classical model of sanctification as positional, progressive, and ultimate and the “more characteristic” division of sanctification by Keswick as process, crisis, and gift.  Had he successfully done so, one could not claim that such a reconciliation is impossible.  Unfortunately, Barabas simply asserts that Keswick accepts, although it deemphasizes, the classic model alongside of its usual and characteristic process, crisis, and gift model, without the slightest explanation of how the two apparently strongly divergent positions can both be true.  The palpable contradictions between the two models are ignored, probably because the “Convention is not interested in academic discussions of theology or ethics, or even adding to the store of Bible knowledge of those who attend”[17] and “Keswick furnishes us with . . . no carefully prepared, weighty discourses of a theological nature.”[18] Since the classic position that sanctification involves the progressive transformation of the believer into the image of Christ appears to directly contradict the Keswick position that God the Holy Ghost does not make the Christian himself more inwardly holy and less sinful, Keswick’s affirmations that “purity [is] never a state,”[19] and that “holiness does not consist in a state of purity”[20] seem utterly irreconcilable with the classic doctrine of progressive sanctification it claims to uphold.[21]  Keswick’s affirmations of both its characteristic crisis, gift, and process model and the classic doctrine of progressive sanctification appear unintelligible.

See here for this entire study.

[1]              Pg. 88, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[2]              Barabas’s substitution of “experimental” for “progressive” in the division of sanctification into positional, progressive, and ultimate on pgs. 84-85 is noteworthy.  The term “experimental” does not carry within it necessarily the idea of progress and growth.
[3]              Pgs. 84-85, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[4]              Pgs. 61-127, So Great Salvation, Barabas, 66 pages.  0.5/66=0.75%.
[5]              Pg. 85, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[6]              Pg. 85, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[7]              Thus, Hopkins read “Dr. W. E. Boardman’s volume on The Higher Christian Life . . . [and] a series of papers by the American, Robert Pearsall Smith, on the subject of Holiness,” and then went to a meeting where he heard R. P. Smith preach.  Hearing Smith, Hopkins affirmed:  “I felt that he had received an overflowing blessing, far beyond anything that I knew”—and by means of Robert Smith’s self-testifying of overflowing Christian joy—although, in truth, Robert P. Smith was a miserable unconverted wretch who was promulgating sexual thrills as Spirit baptism at the time—Hopkins came to adopt the Higher Life doctrine of Boardman and Smith that was then promulgated at the Keswick Convention.  The key passage that led Hopkins to the Higher Life was Mr. Smith’s misinterpretation of 2 Corinthians 9:8, which was, Mr. Smith averred, an affirmation that Christ “would do all, and would live in [the Christian] His Own Holy Life—the only Holy Life possible to us,” not, as an examination of the context and grammatical-historical interpretation would affirm, an affirmation that God would provide physically for His people who give generously to the needy.  Mr. Smith’s view of 2 Corinthians 9:8 became “Mr. Hopkins[’s] . . . locus classicus, his Gospel within the Gospel, the sure ground where he had cast his anchor,” so that “[m]any a time, in the Conventions of the years that followed, Mr. Hopkins would read this text” and lead many others to the bright discovery of the Higher Life which was taught by it, when ripped from its context and interpreted allegorically (pgs. 52-55, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).  In 1875 Hopkins took over the work of Robert P. Smith’s magazine, The Christian Pathway to Power, after Smith’s public disgrace as a result of being caught in a woman’s bedroom teaching the erotic baptism.  Hopkins continued to edit the magazine until 1913, renaming the magazine The Life of Faith in 1883 (pgs. 73-74, Ibid).  Even forty years later in 1913, Hopkins testified at the Keswick Convention to the centrality of the teaching he had received from Robert P. Smith in 1873 (cf. pgs. 24-25, 38-39, Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future, Price & Randall).
[8]              Pg. 176, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Many at Broadlands, it seems, had special-looking faces that, at least in a culture strongly under the influence of Romanticism, validated the truth of the Higher Life theology, and formed part of the indissoluble link between Higher Life spirituality and the continuationistic Faith Cure—that is, the Higher Life for the soul and for the body.  “So many faces quite changed their character in those days” of the 1874 Conference (pg. 128, Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple).  The transformation was comparable to the miraculous “shining of [the] face . . . of Moses” (pg. 131, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscenses of the Broadlands Conventions, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  At Broadlands “Hannah Smith was radiant,” (pgs. 132-134, Memorials), for “her face gained a soft, Madonna-like beauty . . . her . . . sparking glance . . . [and] pure face spoke for her. . . . She looked as if she knew the [spiritual] secret.  Fair and pure and glad, a piece of nature fresh and racy, and simple, and full of vitality” (pgs. 49-50, 160, 222, The Life that is Life Indeed).
               Even many an “inspired face” was present at Broadlands (pgs. 132-134, Memorials & pg. 59, The Life that is Life Indeed).  It was not in Hannah Smith alone that the “inner light” shone in the “inspiration that came from her shining face” (pgs. 121-123, The Life that is Life Indeed).  The “face” of the universalist “George MacDonald . . . [was] very beautiful . . . very like the pictures of our Lord” (pg. 57, The Life that is Life Indeed), such pictures apparently being good, not sinful and idolatrous (cf. Exodus 20:4-6).  Indeed, “looks that were Christ’s . . . on human faces” were found at Broadlands, where “a desire for the heavenly light . . . sh[one] on [many an] uplifted face,” in line with truth learned from “Swedenborg” (pg. 82, Ibid).  Such glowing faces were similar to the faces of the cute baby-like cherubs that allegedly helped God make Adam out of dust, as seen in a painting of Michelangelo—“how their faces shine” as they usurp the uniquely Divine work of creation!  Like such mythic cherubs, the perfectionist “Amanda Smith” possessed a “glowing face” as she petitioned the moon and the stars to tell God that she was a sinner and ask Him to forgive her (pgs. 73-74, 130, The Life that is Life Indeed).  The hell-rejecting theological liberal F. D. Maurice was a paradigmatic example of the fact that the “faces of some of God’s children shine” (pg. 199, Ibid.  Italics in original.).  Ian Keith Falkoner had an “angel face.”  Theodore Monod possessed such a “glowing countenance” that one “felt” he was in the presence of a holy man, for “his face was transfigured” and “holy fervor and deep reverence were expressed in face and . . . revealed, in a way no words could do . . . the blessedness of communion with God.”  His face revealed communion with God in the way that no words could do, not even the words of Scripture, according to the Higher Life system taught at Broadlands.  Canon Carter of Truro had a “sweet, pure face with morning peace upon it.”  The “radiant . . . lovely face[s]” of the “queens of beauty of [their] time” were present at Broadlands; indeed, “the whole company” went “streaming through the garden with radiant faces” at the Conferences (pgs. 76, 85, 102, 130, 176, 221, Ibid).
               Mr. Mount-Temple gained, through the truths proclaimed at Broadlands, a “sacred illumination of face, too sacred to speak of . . . [which] was noticed . . . and tenderly recorded . . . [a] blessed face . . . placid and often illuminated with wonderful flickerings of light from beyond” pgs. 132-134, Memorials).  After all, at especially spiritual times “a radiant, joyous, wondering glow often lights up the face of [those] who have soared beyond the shadow of our night” (pg. 170, Ibid), even as “such brightness [had] appeared in [the] angelic face” of the Catholic monk “St. Cuthbert” (pgs. 7-8, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conventions).  Thus, the generality of the “goodly company” at Broadlands “were beautiful, and what an attraction there always is in beauty! . . . [P]hysical beauty is . . . a source of real bliss, and . . . it takes the impress of the spiritual . . . Beauty always attracts us; we enjoy it, wish for it . . . beauty is truly an expression of character” (pgs. 35-36, Ibid).  Consequently, the shining faces at Broadlands proved the truth of the Higher Life, since “[s]uch faces are truly . . . windows, through which we see the soul” (pg. 46, Ibid).  Such validation of Higher Life teaching by shiny faces and other similarly utterly unauthoritative and extra-Scriptural chimeras passed through Broadlands to the Keswick movement.
[9]              Both the Smiths and Boardman were Higher Life teachers at Broadlands, as well as at the Oxford and other Higher Life gatherings; cf. pg. 20, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck; pg. 20, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Note the lists of names of those who met at Broadlands, where Evan Hopkins, Webb-Peploe, and other early Keswick leaders are listed along with the Pearsall Smiths, on pgs. 118, 148, of Memorials [of William Francis Cowper-Temple, Baron Mount-Temple], Georgina Cowper-Temple.
[10]             Pg. 202, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910.  Thus, Hopkins regularly was present and preached often at at the Broadlands Conferences, as he was present and preached at the Keswick Conventions.
[11]             Pgs. 158-159, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Polluck affirms that Hopkins, after skipping the first Keswick Convention, attended the next forty-one, not thirty-nine as Barabas stated, without a break (pg. 39, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention, Polluck).  Hopkins learned the Higher Life doctrine “after listening to Robert Pearsall Smith on the subject of Holiness,” and an address by Hopkins “was the means of winning T. D. Harford-Battersby,” co-founder of the Keswick Convention with the Quaker Robert Wilson, “over to the Higher Life movement” (pgs. 158-159, So Great Salvation; cf. pgs. 75ff., Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).
[12]             Pgs. 99-102, The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life, Hopkins.
[13]             Unfortunately, other things Hopkins taught were not a little less Scriptural; for example, his preaching at the Oxford Convention that one must “begin” in the Higher Life by rejecting the active obedience of Christ in redemption (pg. 93, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874), is, one hopes, simply loose language.
[14]             Pg. 101, The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life, Hopkins.
[15]             Pg. 123, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  While Barabas does not have a specific section on sanctification as a process other than half of pg. 85, scattered statements about process are occasionally found within his comparatively massive discussions of sanctification as gift and as crisis.
[16]             Pg. 71, So Great Salvation, Barabas, quoting Warfield, Perfectionism Vol. 2, pgs. 579-583.
[17]             Pg. 108, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[18]             Pg. 51, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[19]             Pg. 47, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[20]             Pg. 49, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  The page adds the qualifier “apart from Christ,” but its point in context is not simply to assert the obvious fact that Christ is the Author of all spiritual strength, life, and growth.  Rather, it denies the progressive inward renewal of the believer and the progressive death of the principle of indwelling sin to affirm that nothing happens within the Christian besides counteraction.
[21]             Barabas does not clearly set forth the insufficient view that progress in sanctification is merely an increased appropriation of Christ, while the person himself remains unchanged—indeed, his quotation of Hopkins appears to deny this view—but other Higher Life writers have done so.  Warfield refutes this position while discussing the doctrine of the German Lutheran Higher Life leader Theodore Jellinghaus (who affirmed typical Lutheran heresies, such as baptismal regeneration and opposition to eternal security, among other very serious errors on the way of salvation).  Jellinghaus had learned of the Higher Life from Robert Pearsall Smith and his associates.  Keswick’s leading to the rise of German Pentecostalism brought Jellinghaus to renounce the Higher Life as he saw its fruits more clearly.  Warfield records:
[The Higher Life doctrine of Jellinghaus is that] [a]s we received forgiveness of sins at once on our first believing, so do we receive our full deliverance from the power of sin at once on this our second believing. But, along with this, emphasis is thrown on the continuousness of both the cause and the effect. Jesus saves us now—if I believe now; and the believer is to live in a continuous believing and consequent continuous salvation. This is, of course, the well known “moment by moment” doctrine of the Higher Life teachers. The main purpose of this teaching is to prevent us from supposing that the source of our holiness is in ourselves. But it has the additional effect of denying with great emphasis that the seat of our holiness—any of it, at any time—is in ourselves. It thus makes our holiness in all its extent purely a holiness of acts, never of nature. What we obtain by faith is Christ—as a Preserver from sinful acts. By continuous faith we obtain Him continuously—as Preserver from sinful acts; and only from those particular sinful acts with which we are for the moment threatened. We do not at any time obtain Him as Savior from all possible sins, but only as Savior from the particular sinful acts for protection from which we, from time to time, need Him. Thus we are never made “holy” in any substantial sense, so that we are ourselves holy beings. And also accordingly we are never made “holy” in any conclusive sense, so that, being holy in ourselves, naturally we continue holy. This is the way Jellinghaus expresses himself . . . [w]e are, says Jellinghaus, like a poor relation living in a rich man’s house as a dependent, and receiving all he needs day by day from his benefactor, but never being made rich himself.
The purpose in view here is to emphasize our constant dependence on Christ. But this is done so unskillfully as to end in denying the possibility of our sanctification. We never are ourselves made holy; only our acts are provided for. We ask nothing and we get nothing beyond the meeting of our daily needs in sustaining our struggles on earth. As for ourselves, we remain unholy, apparently forever. . . . There is a confusion here between the source and the seat of [sanctification]. . . . [Jellinghaus writes,] “The Christian can be pure only as a member of Christ our Head, as a branch of the vine. In himself every Christian is a branch of sinful humanity and is prone to sin. Only through implantation into Christ’s death and resurrection can he be and remain holy. Separated from Christ and His purifying blood (blood signifies the life of Christ given in death and resurrection), he is sinful and has sin.” . . . If this be true then salvation is impossible. We are never saved. We only seem to be saved, because Christ works through us the works of a saved soul. That is not the way John conceived it, or Christ. Naturally most painful results follow from such representations. For example, our aspirations are lowered. We are never to wish or seek to be holy ourselves, but are to be content with being enabled to meet in our unholiness the temptations of the day. We lose the elevating power of a high ideal. And we are to be satisfied with never being “well-pleasing to God.” . . . What the Scriptures teach is that we shall be more and more transformed into Christ’s image until at last, when we see Him as He is, we shall be like Him, and therefore in ourselves—as He has made us—well-pleasing to God.
There is expressly included in this doctrine a provision for a progressive sanctification, along the ordinary lines of the teaching of the Higher Life Movement in this matter. We have seen Jellinghaus in passages just quoted limiting the ability of the Christian to enter “immediately” into the victorious power and peace-bringing leading of Christ, by such phrases as “according to the measure of his knowledge,” and “for the needs of which he is presently conscious.” The Christian is freed from all the sinning which at the stage of Christian knowledge to which he has attained he knows to be sinning; and as his knowledge grows so his objective sanctification increases. It is apparently also repeatedly suggested that it depends entirely on the Christian’s own action whether or not he retains his hold on Christ and so continues in his sanctifying walk. Undoubtedly this is in accordance with Jellinghaus’ fundamental conception of the relation of the Christian to Christ and the way of salvation. He continually suggests that our standing in Christ depends absolutely on ourselves. Those that believe in Christ, he tells us for example, “have in Him forgiveness and righteousness, and also shall retain it so long as they abide in Christ.” It is, he continues, like a king granting public amnesty in terms like these: He who appears within a year at a particular place, lays down his weapons, and swears fealty—to him then shall be handed an already prepared diploma of pardon, and he will remain pardoned so long as he maintains his loyalty. . . . Our continued justification depends therefore absolutely on our continued faith, and the implication is that this is left wholly in our hands. Justification cannot therefore be made to cover our future sins—the sin, for example, of failing faith. . . . What Jellinghaus is really laboring for here is to make room in some way for “falling from grace.” He is possessed with the fear that if he does not limit the scope of justification, at least with respect to the grosser future sins, he will give license to sin, which in the end means merely that he has more confidence in man’s efforts than in God’s grace. What he has succeeded in doing is only to destroy all possibility of assurance of salvation. Men are cast back on their own works, whether of faith or of conduct, for their hope of ultimate salvation. God’s justification is valid only if they maintain their faith and commit no sins of malice aforethought, or of conscious indifference, or unlovingness. (pgs. 386-390, Warfield, Perfectionism Vol. 1, Warfield, “The German Higher Life Movement in its Chief Exponent.”)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Travel Ban Roll-Out Versus Oroville Dam Evacuation

Want to understand the degree of bias there is in the media and in our communications institutions, which really includes schools?  I think 109 were inconvenienced in their travel situations with the travel ban, and the media goes bonkers to make Trump look incompetent.  Here in the People's Republic of California, we have to evacuate 200,000 people, including whole cities, because of massive incompetency, had to leave their homes and in many instances live for days in absolute squalor.  They don't care about saving water.  Why?  I think you could see how that drought is good advertisement for global warming.  You almost hate water if you want something for your propaganda.  Perpetual state of drought because we have crumbling infrastructure.  The money goes to a vortex of bloated bureaucracy. You get almost zero blame for the Bolshevics here.  Geraldo Cafe (Jerry Brown) does not get called down or called up for not doing his job.  The political class and the media are in cahoots people. This is what people mean by fake news.  You can't count on these people to report with accuracy. They have an agenda.  Count on it.  Believe it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

An Analysis and Review of Kevin Bauder's "Landmarkism", pt. 7: What Marks a True, Actual Church?

Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six

It's now been a few months since I last wrote in my analysis of one chapter, "Landmarkism," in a book, Baptist Distinctives, by Kevin Bauder.  The next section in this chapter he entitles, "Baptists and Other Denominations."  Bauder sees what he identifies as Landmarkism as having a positive effect for all churches that call themselves Baptist, namely that it forces them to consider how to view other denominations.  He writes, "Much of the debate revolves around the marks of a true church." The rest of this section talks about this subject and is a helpful discussion.

Bauder says that one must judge between what is at least a true church and then what is a healthy church.  What marks distinguish churches from non-churches?  At what point does something that calls itself a church dip below the standard for being an actual church?  Bauder thinks there are at least three characteristics that allow a church still to at least cross the bar of being a church:  (1) "pure preaching of the Word," (2) "correct administration of the ordinances," and (3) church discipline.  I have found myself not calling certain institutions, "church," which self-identify as a church.

For number one above, Bauder sees this as the preaching of a true gospel, not a false gospel.  If a church isn't preaching a true gospel, then it is likely a church full of unsaved people.  He relates number two to the gospel too by saying that a disqualifying administration of the ordinances is observing them in a way that rejects or denies the gospel.  Bauder says number three is gospel related too, in that church discipline disallows members to live in discord with the gospel.  Bauder doesn't prove his three from scripture.  He doesn't mention a single verse, but it is an interesting discussion.

There isn't a chapter or verse in the Bible that says, this is a church and this isn't a church.  However, we know from Revelation 2 and 3, that there is a point where a church slips below Jesus' criteria for a church to be one, because He removes His candlestick from that church.  He threatens that with the church at Ephesus (Rev 2:5) and Jesus Himself isn't in the church of the Laodicians (Rev 3:14-22).

I can't judge what Bauder himself would do.  I am pleased that he has such a high view of church discipline, but many churches, who self-identify as a church, do not practice church discipline.  It is rare to see what calls itself a church still practice church discipline.  I would imagine that there are churches that do not practice church discipline that Bauder still calls a church, since there are so many, including many to possibly most of fundamental Baptist churches.

Bauder argues for his marks of a true church in his next section, "Baptist Definitions of a Church," quoting various historical sources in their definitions of a church.  He parks on a quote by Augustus Strong in his systematic theology in which Strong says that we should call "churches" those which we might not think match up to that designation, such as Presbyterians.  Since they call themselves a church, then it would be a matter of politeness for us to call them that, he posits.  However, Strong continued by saying that Baptists shouldn't call something a "regular church" if that group doesn't follow Christ's laws.  Bauder picks up on this use of "regular," the idea being that it might be a church, but it might not be a "regular church."

Bauder quotes John Dagg as advocating a general use of the word "church," like the Greek word, ekklesia, had a broader meaning.  It might not be a New Testament church, but it is still assembling for some purpose, so it must be an ekklesia, or a church.  Bauder also refers to Hiscox's very generous inclusion of any church within the "catholic church," that is, any evangelical assembly.

It is true, and as Bauder asserts, that Baptist churches through history have denied an institution to be a church if it rejected a true gospel.  This criterion could be actually strict today, because the gospel has become so diminished for various reasons that a near majority of Baptist churches have perverted the gospel to the extent that it is a non-saving message.  Those are still called churches.  There are Baptist churches and their leaders that for sure put more emphasis on closed communion to determine the veracity of a church, than the particular gospel a church preaches.

In is conclusion to the section on "Baptist Definitions of a Church," Bauder writes:
The Landmark approach -- refusing to accept baptism from anything other than a Baptist church -- is surely mistaken.
Bauder admits too though that there isn't unity among Baptists on this subject.  He does know, however, that Baptists are surely mistaken for refusing to accept other than Baptist baptism.

Baptists who were not calling themselves Landmarks, decades before Graves among the 19th century Southern Baptists, would accept only Baptist baptism.  A reason for the exclusion, as has already been discussed in this series, is because someone's baptism did not have proper authority.  Is someone truly baptized without authority?  No.  If you have a group of people then that are not really baptized, because they lack authority, then are they a church?  No.  A church forms through salvation and then baptism.  Without the latter, it still isn't a church.

The issue isn't whether a church is Baptist or not.  The issue is, does the baptism have authority?  Any church that comes out of Rome does not have authority, which leaves only those churches that preached a true gospel and stayed separate from Rome.  Those are the Baptists.

Even reading Bauder on this chapter, one can see the contradictions of any other position but the historical Baptist position, what he calls Landmark.  There is no agreement among the non-Landmark churches on the marks that distinguish a true church.  The "catholicity" of these churches revolves around their willingness to accommodate differences.  The unity proceeds from overlooking doctrine and practice.

Is a church a church if it doesn't have baptism?  It can't be. People are baptized and added to the church (Acts 2:41).  If someone is not baptized, he is not added to the church.  He is not baptized without proper authority.  The trajectory of proper authority runs through independent, New Testament assemblies separate from the state church.  Those are Baptists.  True churches are Baptist churches.

Are all Baptist churches true churches?  Definitely not.  Many professing Baptist churches are liberal. Some of the churches reject a true gospel.  Church membership is regenerate membership.  A false gospel is not regenerate.  It is apostate.  Those are not true churches.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Interpretation of Trump's Travel Ban and the Interpretation of Scripture

Very big in the news, maybe even huge, has been the travel ban, executive order, issued by President Trump (yes, he's the president).  Executive orders are supposed to be constitutional.  I was going to write, "must be constitutional," but in light of the condition of the judiciary of the United States, it is better right now to stick with "should be."  They don't have to be any more, as seen in the previous administration.  If a president can get away with breaking the law, then he is free to break the law.  In this case, the judicial branch is very interested in a executive order.

The Trump travel ban order, as most sentient human beings now know, temporarily bans almost everyone from six countries, that are Muslim countries, from entering the United States.  They are also countries with very unstable governments with massive numbers of refugees and very little vetting capacity of their emigres.  I could take this a totally different direction than what I'm writing, and I would enjoy that, but I'm going to stick with the primary point here without digressing too much.  President Trump, it would seem, has three big constitutional aspects going for him.

One, the Trump travel ban fits the text of already accepted law of the United States.  It's very old, the text of it is very forthright, and it has been practiced now many times by presidents.  Two, the executive branch is in charge of foreign diplomacy and has immense immigration power according to the constitution. Three, the president is the commander in chief and is in charge of the national security of the United States again according to the constitution.  That's why all these departments, homeland security, etc. fall under his domain.  He's in charge of that according to the constitution, the one he swore to protect and defend, as did the judges.  On a very practical note, many have said that it is definite that there will be terrorists among the refugees from these countries.  Many others have said that many of these people, refugees and most of the others, hate the United States and would kill Americans if they were in their countries.

I believe I am correct in thinking that the perspective of liberal activist judges is, of which there are many right now in the U.S. judiciary, just oppose Trump.  Just make it difficult for Trump to do anything no matter what it is.  Slow him down.  Muck up his work.  Create diversions.  Make life harder so that he gets less done, maybe gets nothing done, even if you as a judge are violating your oath of office and deserving of impeachment.  When Trump says, "so-called judges," which Bill Mahr said was crazy, he means that they are no longer judging.  Judges judge legality.  They don't stop the execution of the law because of their own personal views.  They were not voted into their positions.

Crazy is a subjective term anymore, just like an activist judge is subjective.  Most crazy people, and there are more than ever, I would say, are reprobates, who are deluded.  They can't think straight, so they are as good as crazy.  They think that a good argument is a string of expletives.  Romans 1 says their foolish hearts are darknened.  They can't see straight because of the darkness.

The activist judges also do not judge based on the law.  They give new definition to "opinion."  A solicitor general from the Reagan administration is still alive, and he says that President Trump will win the court case if the judges judge based on the four corners of the law.  It's called a four corners interpretation.  I really do like the term, "four corners."  If they just stay with the law, and not go outside of that, wander creatively into their own ability to judge motives, etc., then they will rule for the president.

The judges are supposed to judge based on the constitution and based upon laws written by Congress and signed by the president.  They don't judge based upon perceived motives or various contradictory statements made by politicians.  They don't judge based upon what kind of outcome they think that the decision will make.  They aren't supposed to let their life experience make their decision or based upon their strong feelings for those affected by the laws.  They don't look at what other nations do, to see how they are working there.  The ones writing the laws legislate.  When judges do, this is what is called "legislating from the bench."

I recognize what the judges are doing in the travel ban as a common practice in the interpretation of the scripture today all over Christendom.  Like the solicitor general put it, churches and their leaders should judge scripture "within the four corners," purely on the text.  What I see happen is that they will read something into the text because of the effect it will have on the people, as if it is their prerogative to rewrite scripture with a faulty interpretation.

Consider the idea of people's feelings being hurt or that their lives will be upended in some way.  The refugees can't come.  The relatives of the refugees here aren't happy.  People hate Trump and they don't want anything he does to succeed.  A lot of factors could enter into interpretation outside of just what the text says.

Many churches don't want to evangelize, so rather than the many, many passages in the Bible on evangelism guiding those churches, their repulsion with evangelism instead directs the interpretation of those evangelism passages.   Professing Christian women often don't like their role or the symbolism of their roles in passages of scripture that teach on the designed distinction in dress. Those passages were interpreted and applied only one way through centuries and now change in meaning to conform to the worldly thinking.  Now they mean something they have never meant, because the interpretation is no longer in the four corners of the text.  Activist Christians or churches legislate into the text of the Bible their own preferences or personal tastes.

The activist approach to scripture changes who is in authority.  This fits the definition of apostasy in 2 Peter 2.  Men follow their lusts and they change scripture or attack the authority of scripture to make space for their lifestyle.  People who preach scripture according to its text are marginalized with attacks, being spoken evil of.  In the country, it's Trump.  Among churches, it is the disfavored interpretation that requires a change in lifestyle.  Rather than live the scriptural teaching, attack the teacher, so that his teaching means nothing anymore.

When the feelings or opinions or desires of men guide interpretation, the Bible no longer has authority.  God is still the Lawgiver.  Punishment for the violation of His law still stands.  Some would redefine grace here.  God's grace reaches out to people who don't want to obey His laws in order to say, 'you don't have to do that, because God is gracious.'   But that isn't the grace of God.  God's grace isn't license.  God gives grace to the humble.  The humble are those who love God's law.  They love His ways.  Grace isn't a means by which someone can take a different way than what God says.

We live in a country that doesn't want to follow law.  The laws must follow the present whim of society.  Whoever says otherwise is now an enemy, who must be silenced.  This has already been occurring in churches.  Churches, who most are to represent the way of God, have prepared the path for what we are seeing.  If churches can't respect the laws of God, as His subjects, but expect God to acquiesce to their own opinions, how could anyone expect the world to do otherwise?

On the right in America, you hear the cries for constitutionalism, strict constructionism, and textualism from Scalia-like judges.  I like that.  I want respect for the constitution.  Ted Cruz is one known for it.  I would join Cruz in that.  Certain Mormons even believe that the constitution is inspired like God's Word.  However, are Cruz and those like him the same with the Bible? On the Bible, you see a tremendous amount of license with the same men who revere the constitution.  The respect for the constitution should proceed from the respect for the Bible.  If men believe we derive our rights from God, then they would respect His Word even more, but that is not the case today.

We are hopeless as a nation if we won't take the Bible seriously.  If we go to scripture with an activist presupposition, we will conform the Bible to feelings, worldly accomodation, among other self-will. The liberal activist judges conforms the constitution his life experience.  What will work?  Who will be hurt?  He doesn't really have authority to leave original intent.

The Bible deserves more respect than the constitution, the highest possible reverence. We don't get to challenge its interpretation and obvious application with what people want to do.  This is a form of apostasy and will culminate in total apostasy.

I don't like what has happened and continue with our judiciary in the United States.  I hate worse what is occurring in churches and with church leaders.