Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Unbelieving Arguments That Don't Add Up

I'm getting ready to do several home improvement projects and to prepare I've been watching some how-to videos at youtube.   Some kind of system at youtube causes unrelated videos to show up in the sidebar, and one popped up with Christopher Hitchens, the famous atheist, answering a question in one of his debates.  Hitchens, who died this last year of cancer, was well read and very talented rhetorically, yet unconvincing.   Aristotle divided up persuasion into three aspects:  ethos (character), logos (reasoning), and pathos (emotion).  Hitchens utilized pathos very well.  He didn't bring anybody with him, just entertained those already with him and made everyone else mad.

Since I live near Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area, I talk to atheists at a more regular clip than most, and if I get any to talk to me (they normally won't), there are a couple of typical lines of thought they take.  One I had a couple of months ago.  He was angry at the truth of one plan of salvation.  He didn't like the idea that Jesus was our only salvation and everyone else was condemned to Hell.  I asked him if would also be angry if there was only one cure for a deadly disease.  Nope.  That froze him.  He couldn't work up the intensity over that.  However, that "argument" is a typical atheist argument.  Salvation through Jesus Christ can't be true, the Bible can't be true, because there is no way that God should condemn people if they won't believe in Him.  They're OK if "nature" condemns someone to death who won't take advantage of the one cure that's available.  They have a bias against the God of the Bible.  They start with rebellion as a default position.

Another popular Hitchen's screed I'd watched him give again and again with memorized talking points polished by multiple usages is one about the God of the Bible or Christianity taking away freedom and giving people only the one point of view.  He likened God to Big Brother, the point being, of course, that if you didn't like Big Brother, then you wouldn't or shouldn't like the God of the Bible or Christianity.  Again, it's not really an argument that Hitchens offers, just a well-worded complaint.  Complaining isn't an argument, except for liberals.  I bring you back to pathos again, which works well in the era in which we live.  Hitchens delivered his complaints with utter disdain of the God of the Bible and believers.

God is Who He is.  He's told us Who He is.  And He is God.  We've got to accept the One, the actual One, the only One we've got.  If you don't accept Him, it's not like you can go find another one you like better, when there's only one.   

Hitchens simply offered the only alternative to the God of the Bible, what you liked better.  Someone asked him what his purpose for life was, and I thought it was ironic, because it was in fact what Jesus said would be the purpose of any unbeliever, that being, eat, drink, and be merry, or in other words, no purpose.  Hitchens wanted to eat, drink, and be merry, and get away with it.  With the God of the Bible, he couldn't, so he just dismissed God.  He couldn't complain and mock God out of existence any more than anyone could Hitchens.

Atheists like Hitchens resign themselves to all sorts of inevitability:  death, pain, the common cold, headaches, gravity, sunburn, insect bites, dripping faucets, and traffic.  In other words, a lot about their lives doesn't go like they want it to go.   They choose to put up with a lot in order to keep living.  But they won't put with God if He's sovereign.  They won't be told what to do, even by their Creator.

Hitchens writes a book.  He's the owner.  Do you think he would put up with people using his creation for whatever or however they wanted?  Of course not.  He created it.  He wrote it.  It's his property.  He's Big Brother over whatever it is he made.  He's a bigger dictator over his own material than God is over what He made.  He wouldn't stand for not doing what he wanted with his own property.

Like I said, the unbelieving arguments don't add up  They aren't true and that's also why they don't work.  It's God's world.  He created us, and that's why even unbelievers act like Him, and then they complain when He acts like Him.  God is justified in how He acts and on most occasions unbelievers aren't justified in how they behave.  But they feel entitled to act as His judge.

We are God's.  That was an argument that Jesus made when He said 'render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.'  Caesar's image was on the Roman coin, so Caesar could require taxation.  God's image is on us, so He can require submission to Him.  We should assume that we're better off doing what He said.  And even if we don't assume that, it's still true.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Worship and the Ark Narrative of 1 Chronicles, pt. 4


The individual psyche of a post-exilic Israelite was wrapped up in national hope (real hopey-changey).  In addition to explaining again how they had gotten there, it provided a basis for confidence for the nation.   The God of the ark narrative (1 Chronicles 13-16) was the LORD (Jehovah), the covenant keeping God of Israel.  His mercy (lovingkindness, Old Testament love) endured forever.  God would deliver out of faithful love for His people.  We will see this point made in the psalm of 1 Chronicles 16.

The central figure of God's plan is David, featured as the main character of the genealogies (1-9), superseding Saul (10), and divinely enthroned via mighty men (11-12).   The Davidic covenant pointed to the eternal king, who would sit on David's throne, a buoy of hope to an Israelite treading water in a diminished new national era.  Recorded as David's first act is bringing the ark to Jerusalem, an attempt met by great failure.  Again in the final chapter (16), that defeat came from a wrong thinking about God, a necessary underpinning for the true and eternal worship God sought from men.

I believe an amazing statement is made by David in his fruit of repentance (15:2):  "None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the Lord chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever."  Last part.  The Lord chose the Levites "to minister unto him for ever."  Forever.  You read that right.  If God chose the Levites to minister unto forever, that meant that (1) God wasn't through with Israel and (2) He wanted to be and would be worshiped for ever.  This worship in this period of Israel's national history was a cross section or microcosm (whichever way you might choose to look at it) of eternal worship.  The Levitical worship was a shadow of the eternal reality.  And, of course, Jesus makes us both kings and priests.  Perhaps we see here that worship in the eternal state might be an eternal reality reflected in the Levitical worship.  We know that a similar worship will occur in the millennial kingdom.  Whatever worship we're doing now even in our churches operates within a larger context of perpetual worship of God.  We're in a line of worshipers with God's purpose fulfilled in worship.

David went back to God's Word to remember what God had said.  Remembering, functioning based on inspired written record, is a primary message of the ark narrative.  The priests bore the ark on the staves "as Moses commanded according to the word of the Lord" (15:15).  The LORD had chosen them to carry the ark of God.  David was God's choice as king.  Others were God's choice for other tasks.  Worship required different offices of men (the male gender) who met specific qualifications.

From 15:3 to 15:26, the Levites are listed who led this worship.   You cannot miss music here.   They carried the ark.  They played music.  Singers.  Instruments of music.  Psalteries.  Harps.  Cymbals of brass.  Trumpets.  Chenaniah "instructed about the song, because he was skilful" (15:22).   Someone could judge whether people were good or not.  For there to be skill, there must also be a lack of skill in some.  The unskilled were excluded.  I read that once or twice a year, W. A. Criswell, at First Baptist Church in Dallas, had a night where an hour or two of special music was sung by people who wanted a chance to sing a solo. That's how he dealt with that unique problem.  Churches have strayed widely from the point of music in worship.

The Levites had a process of sanctification they went through.  They had a means God ordained to set themselves apart for this task for God.  These worship tasks should not be seen as ordinary or mundane.  They are holy to God.  The worship of churches becomes more and more casual, more worldly, and purposefully so.  It's called contextualization.  Man has become the center of church worship instead of God.  We don't know who God is killing because of it, like Uzzah, but He isn't happy with it.

Sanctification related to proximity to God.  The ark not only represented God's presence, but His special presence was in fact there, like God's presence was in the burning bush with Moses. Moses had to take off his shoes, not because there were different elements in that ground, but because he was nearer the special presence to God.  The approach to God must be different, special, sacred.  To have something be sacred, something must be able to be sacred.  There must be something sacred.  We can know what the sacred is.  We've known it in the past, because we cared about the sacred.  Today churches are rushing to the common.

The worship of fundamentalism and evangelicalism has in large become common and profane, driven by man-centeredness.  Much of this relates to what is convenient to and comfortable for men.  Another idea is that it is evangelistic, and a perversion of the incarnation is placed upon it with a term, incarnational.  The church is becoming like the world like Jesus became man by taking on a human body.  This is a deep, dark, twisted deviation from God.  It's bad enough that they are doing it, but even worse that they think of a theological justification that attacks the incarnation of Christ.

The profanities of fundamentalism and evangelicalism are different.  Fundamentalism has often taken to the kitsch, the carnival and merry-go-round, Western bumpkin every man.  The idea has perhaps been accessibility to a certain segment of people, who are entertained by a toe-tappin' hoe-down, and somehow equivocate that with some spiritual happening or revivalist tradition.  Evangelicalism just sent the worship form and method to the non-essential and almost anything goes.  They will use the most vile and profane with almost nothing barred from acceptability.  These are violations of sanctity.  The sacred is lost and God is not worshiped, despite what the intentions might be.

(more to come)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 5



Reformed confessional statements continued to link the sacrament of baptism and the forgiveness of sin in the manner of John Calvin. The Second Helvetic Confession, composed by Zwingli’s successor Bullinger in 1562, the most widely adopted and authoritative of continental Reformed symbols after the Heidelburg Catechism and the official creed of the Reformed communions in Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, and Bohemia, states that “to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God . . . to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins . . . God . . . adopts us to be his sons, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself . . . all these things are assured by baptism. . . . We condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that newborn infants of the faithful are to be baptized” (Article 20).  The extremely influential Heidelburg Catechism of 1563, drafted by Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, and the chief symbol of German and Dutch Reformed churches, affirms that “Christ appointed this external washing with water . . . [of] holy baptism . . . adding thereunto this promise, that I am as certainly washed by his blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away. . . . Christ promised us that he will as certainly wash us by his blood and Spirit, as we are washed with the water of baptism . . . In the institution of baptism, which is thus expressed . . . ‘he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’ This promise is also repeated, where the scripture calls baptism ‘the washing of regeneration, and the washing away of sins.’[i] . . . [T]he external baptism with water [is not] the washing away of sin itself . . . for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost, cleanse us from all sin. . . . [but] the Holy Ghost [doth] call baptism ‘the washing of regeneration,’ and ‘the washing away of sins’ . . . [with] great cause, to wit, not only thereby to teach us, that, as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; but especially that, by this divine pledge and sign, he may assure us that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really as we are externally washed with water.”[ii] The Belgic Confession of 1561, prepared by Guido de Brès, and revised by Francis Junius, a student of Calvin, became the recognized symbol of the Reformed Churches of Holland and Belgium.  It stated:

The sacraments . . . seal unto us [God’s] promises . . . thereby assuring and confirming in us the salvation which he imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works in us by the power of the Holy Ghost. . . . [T]he number of sacraments . . . are two only, namely, the sacrament of baptism, and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Jesus Christ . . . having abolished circumcision . . . has instituted the sacrament of baptism instead thereof; by which we are received into the Church of God, and separated from all other people and strange religions, that we may wholly belong to him, whose ensign and banner we bear: and which serves as a testimony to us, that he will forever be our gracious God and Father. Therefore . . . as water washes away the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized, when sprinkled upon him; so does the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath, unto children of God. . . . Therefore the ministers, on their part, administer the sacrament, and that which is visible, but our Lord gives that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts, and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of his fatherly goodness; putting on us the new man, and putting off the old man with all his deeds. Therefore we believe, that every man, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we cannot be born twice. Neither does this baptism only avail us, at the time when the water is poured upon us, and received by us but also through the whole course of our life; therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, whom we believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised, upon the same promises which are made unto our children.[iii]

If baptism is a testimony to infants that God “will forever be [their] gracious God and Father,” and God conveys and seals through it the invisible grace of “washing, cleansing and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness,” and the sacrament continues to be means of saving grace “through the whole course of our life,” and we ought not to be baptized twice because “we cannot be born twice,” it is clearly a channel of conveying salvation.  This explains why the Belgic Confession affirms, as did Calvin, that “there is no salvation outside of . . . [the] congregation” (Article 28), the location where the sacraments are administered (Article 29);  those outside of the church, the baptized community, are lost.  Those who grow up in Reformed families, on the other hand, can properly believe that God is already their own Father because they have been baptized, and consequently they are under no necessity to, as lost sinners, personally and consciously repent and believe in Christ;  God already performed the work of regeneration on them in their infancy, and this salvation was sealed to them in baptism.

--TDR



[i] The catechism is misinterpreting Mark 16:16; Titus 3:5; and Acts 22:16.

[ii] Question 69, 71-73.

[iii] Article 33, 34

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Worship and the Ark Narrative in 1 Chronicles, pt. 3

Despite wonderful intentions and likely a very good heart, David had been wrong on the outward appearance, the actual doing of the worship with the ark in 1 Chronicles 13 (part one).  He could have concluded that God was done with him, but God communicated that He wasn't finished through various means in 1 Chronicles 14 (part two).  These are the first two chapters of the ark narrative in 1 Chronicles, which sits at a pivotal place in the book, so as to emphasize worship of God.  And what is the emphasis in this emphasis on worship?

The emphasis isn't the spirit of the worship, although that is likely why David's good intentions did matter in that certain way.  If he didn't care, he could have been a replay of Nadab and Abihu.  David put a lot of oomph into his worship effort with the musicians and the rest of the display of ceremonial grandeur.  He's not going to stop that.  However, the emphasis is on what is that people are doing, what they are actually giving God.

We live in an era in which people deny objective beauty.  This smacks in the face of Christian history.  It also defies logic and natural law.  If there is no beauty, then there is no ugliness, and then it doesn't really matter what we serve up to God, except that we like it.  In the modern and postmodern anthropocentric world view, beauty is a matter of personal taste.  It was never thought that way by Christians until those of this age.  It wasn't even how people thought in Western Civilization until the Enlightenment.  What this does for church growth is attract unbelievers, because they are totally into personal taste.  The church relates with the world more than ever.  Much more to say here, but let us move on within the ark narrative itself.

One sort of odd point in chapter 15 is the first verse, and only the first half, which takes a brief detour to David making him houses.  Houses, plural.  Whaaat?  Likely this emphasizes the polygamy of David and the distraction that way.  I believe it is a mini shot at David and a small reminder of something that threw him off his game.  There is a contradistinction with David's "houses" and God's tent.  David would lose out on opportunity to please God with his self-gratification.  Narcissism does that kind of thing.  Let that be a lesson.  Our own agenda can be a distraction from the necessary time required not to skip things like priests carrying the ark on poles.  Putting that aside then, we move on to the subject at hand, the ark moving to Jerusalem.

We see David adjusting his initial approach, this time paying attention to what God had said about worship.  He prepared a place to put the ark, a tent.  Later would come the Solomonic temple, but for now, it was the same house as had served during the trek through the wilderness.  That had worked because it was Scriptural.  David wanted something more extravagant, but he would never have that opportunity.

In v. 2, we see David get back on the right track by taking care of some of the detail he had missed the first time as non-essential.  The Lord chose only certain people to do certain things.  For instance, He hasn't chosen certain people to pastor churches, as seen in 1 Timothy 3.  People are disqualified, including all women.  Protesting that doesn't help men or women.

And then we see that part of the worship was gathering.  A lot is put into that in chapter 15, listing various peoples and groups that were part of the assembly.  Corporate worship requires getting together.  People have to deem God worth it.  Today we're seeing less gatherings, more emphasis on convenience.  Some will say that they don't think they need to assemble to worship God.  When worship is actually gathering, not gathering eliminates the worship, no matter what the intentions might be while someone sits at home maybe watching Charles Stanley or listening to Chuck Swindoll.

(to be continued)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Worship and the Ark Narrative in 1 Chronicles, pt. 2

As we read Scripture, we not only look to find out what the words say, but what the balance of them says.  You really do want to emphasize what you see the Bible emphasize, because God is emphasizing it.  As I mentioned in part one, you get the genealogy of David, the fall of Saul, the enthronement of David, the explanation of David's rise, and the action of David in his kingship is a worship act, as represented by the ark narrative.   Based on the flow of 1 Chronicles, you can see that the ark and worship is the emphasis.  It is given the position and space, as if everything up to that point was leading to the ark story.  The reign in Israel is about worship.  God is seeking for true worshipers.

We left off with chapter 13.  The vuvuzelas take a melancholy aimless slide to a few helpless bursts of exhalation and then silence.  The long, quiet march home, vacant stares, incredulous head wags, looking like refugees seeking asylum.  Chins dragging on the ground.  The approach is rejected.  God is distant.  And there is no plan B.

David is now at a very productive square one.  Introspection.  Sent back to the sacred writings he should have pored over in the first place.  This wasn't for him.  It was for God, and no amount of sincerity can replace truth.  God desires what He does, and He is God, not us.  Worship recognizes who He is and gives Him what He wants.

How bad are we?  How horrible have we been?  Will we not hear the voice of God again?  Is God through with us?  Do we never again enter His presence?  Are we destined to never ending emptiness?  We deserve punishment.  We shouldn't just assume God's fellowship.  He is righteous.  He is holy.  There is none like Him.  And who are we?

The scent of cedars accompanies God's make-up message.  From a delivery of lumber and the arrival of masons and carpenters, David perceives the confirmation of the Lord.  Sweet confirmation from God.

The Philistines align themselves for invasion, David inquires of the Lord, and God answers.  He did as God commanded, Israel smites the enemy, and fear falls upon all the nations.  By the grace of God, he's ready to move the ark again.  God seeks for true worshipers.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 4


Ulrich Zwingli was closer to the Anabaptist position that baptism, like the Lord’s supper, was not a means of receiving salvation, but he still retained elements of the Catholic and Protestant connection of infant baptism and forgiveness.

The contribution made by Zwingli and the Anabaptists was on the whole the negative one of attacking the prevailing notion that the external element could itself accomplish an internal cleansing.[i]  The Anabaptists in particular had no very positive doctrine to substitute for the rejected teaching.  Although they maintained with truth that it is the blood of Christ which cleanses from sin,[ii] they did not think of baptism as in any way a means of grace, but only as a sign of grace, and more especially as a sign of individual conversion.  Zwingli did not altogether share this view.  As he saw it, baptism in the full sense embraces the inward baptism of the Spirit as well as the outward baptism of water.  Where the two are conjoined in true believers, the effect of baptism is a genuine inward purgation.  If Zwingli erred, it was in his too harsh divorcing of the two aspects or ‘natures’ of the sacrament.  The union which he envisaged was only an incidental union suspended entirely upon an operation of the Spirit which was sovereign and unpredictable.  At this point the sacramental theology of Zwingli betrays both the strength and the weakness of his doctrines of providence and the incarnation.[iii]

Schaff states, “Zwingli stood midway between Luther and the Anabaptists. He regarded the sacraments as signs and seals of a grace already received rather than as means of a grace to be received. They set forth and confirm, but do not create, the thing signified. He rejected the doctrine of baptismal regeneration and of the corporal presence.”[iv]  Bromiley maintains that “Zwingli compared the external sign of baptism to the badge worn by patriotic supporters of the Confederation.  Indeed, he refused to ascribe to it, as an external sign, anything more than the psychological value of a reminder and profession.[v]  His successors, however, were more concerned to work out the difficult question of the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit in baptism, and they could almost take for granted its effect as a call to Christian discipleship.”[vi]  Bromiley also contrasts the baptismal theory of Zwingli with that of Luther and of Calvin:

The revolt against the [absolute necessity of baptism for infant salvation] was not against the principle that the sacrament itself is a means of grace.  It was against the tacit assumption that baptism is the only means of the divine operation, the claim that grace is bound to this sacrament by an indissoluble bond. . . . Luther himself did not make any clear or definite stand against the traditional doctrine of necessity. . . .So striking was this emphasis . . . upon the ordinary necessity [of baptism for salvation] . . . that opponents could mark off his teaching on the subject from that of Bucer and Calvin.
With Zwingli the matter was otherwise.  He did of course defend infant baptism, and to that extent he could urge the importance of its administration.  But his very defense carried with it a denial of the absolute necessity.  Christian children had a right to the sign of the covenant because by divine election they were already members of the covenant.  The sign itself did not effect covenant-membership:  it merely signified a covenant-membership already existing.  If the sign lacked, the covenant-membership, and therefore salvation, still remained. . . . [This view of Zwingli] reduced [baptism] to a mere sign of grace, and . . . not in any sense a means of grace.  Zwingli himself unashamedly admitted this fact, as far as the external action is concerned, for he argued that the outward sign is not able either to cleanse from sin or even to confirm faith.  On the other hand he did not preclude an inward operation of the Spirit in fulfillment of the sign or even in conjunction with it.  What he denied was that they external rite is indispensable to that inward operation . . . Zwingli commit[ed] himself to what is virtually a denial of original guilt. . . . Zwingli retorted not merely that water-baptism cannot cleanse from sin, but that there is no original sin to be cleansed. . . . [unlike] Hübmaier [the Anabaptist, who] retained some doctrine of original sin . . . Zwingli could hold out hope for the children of the heathen, as well as for those who had the privilege of a Christian descent. . . . [In contrast, for] Calvin . . . baptism . . . [had] certain specific promises . . . annexed to it.  It was, moreover, a definite means of grace.  Therefore ‘if anyone of his own accord abstains from the use of the sacrament . . . he contemns Christ, spurns His grace, and quenches His Spirit.’[vii]

Zwingli’s defense of the baptism of the infants of believers precluded the necessity of the rite for heaven, based on his doctrine that they are already partakers of salvation.  However, an acceptance of this Zwinglian position also precludes, as does the doctrine of Calvin, the necessity and even the reasonableness of personal conversion.  The child of Christian parents, as one who is already a partaker of God’s covenant, never needs to come to a point where he recognizes himself as a lost, hell-bound sinner, who then must repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and so be born again.  His view is consistent with the declaration of the modern Protestant Reformed Church, that it is a “sin against God’s covenant . . . that covenant, baptized, Reformed young people are made the objects of an ‘evangelism’ that treats them as unsaved sinners who must be saved by accepting Christ.  If this is what is meant by the conversion of the child, Reformed parents and the Reformed church reject it in the name of the covenant of God sealed to their children in infancy.”[viii] Zwingli “insisted that baptism, like circumcision by which it was foreshadowed, was a sign, a simple form of action which was of itself certainly not necessary for salvation.  There was also a spiritual or internal baptism, given by God in man’s heart, presuming and requiring faith.  Not only did baptism not wash away sins, but its recipient was not then or later sinless; Christ alone did this.  It was an indication that an obligation to live a Christian life had been accepted by, or on behalf of, the recipient.[ix]  Baptism was thus a public assurance that children would receive a Christian education, and an initiation ceremony to show their future allegiance.  “Baptism . . . was simply a token of membership of the Christian community, a public advertisement, an initiation and an acceptance (by deputy in the case of infants) of the obligations of the followers of Christ.”[x]  If infants were already members of the Christian community and followers of Christ before baptism, they never need to come to a point of personal admission of an unconverted state or an experience of evangelical repentance.[xi]  This fit in with Zwingli’s personal life;  he gradually moved to his position of reformation doctrine, without having a personal point of conversion.  Furthermore, the association of infant baptism and salvation was not absent even in Zurich, since “in the Baptismal Order at Zürich prayer could be offered for incorporation into Christ.[xii] . . . The initiation [of baptism taught there] was into the church as the family of God, or the body of Christ.  The sacramental entry taught clearly the divine adoption and sonship.  Baptism was not merely the historical sign or badge of external church-membership.  It was an entry into the people of God.”[xiii]  

A connection between baptism and salvation was maintained by Zwingli’s successor at Zürich, Heinrich Bullinger, who “described baptism as ‘the seal of the righteousness of faith’”[xiv] and said “Baptism is a visible sign and seal of our ingrafting into the body of Christ.”[xv]  Bullinger also continued Zwingli’s denial of the necessity of personal conversion for those baptized in infancy, since “In Bullinger’s Decades . . . the text ‘Of such is the kingdom of heaven’ was used to prove infant discipleship:  ‘He manifestly calleth the littler ones, not yet able to confess, believers.’”[xvi]  If infants are already disciples and believers, they never need to recognize themselves as lost unbelievers and repent.  Zwingli’s fellow-reformer, Martin Bucer, also “could not agree either that the sacraments are ‘naked and bare signs,’[xvii] or that they are ‘such instruments or channels of grace as that they bring grace with whatever mind or faith you partake of them.’[xviii]  They have a real, instrumental efficacy, but that efficacy is dependent upon two interrelated facts:  first, the divine election, and second, the faith of the individual recipient.  Sign and grace together constitute the one true baptism where the Holy Spirit uses the means of grace and the response of faith is either evoked or confirmed.”[xix]  Bucer taught that for non-elect infants, for those who lived and died in opposition to the Christian faith in later life, the baptismal sacrament did not convey salvation, but for elect infants baptism was a real, effective vehicle, as the “sacrament of regeneration,”[xx] of conveying God’s saving grace.

The analysis above deals with the later Zwinglian position on infant baptism; in earlier years, the Reformer had affirmed, “Nothing grieves me more than that at present I have to baptize children, for I know it ought not to be done.”[xxi]  Article 18 of Zwingli’s 67 articles stated that baptism was originally designed for people of mature, responsible years.[xxii]  Zwingli knew that “if we were to baptize as Christ instituted it then we would not baptize any person until he has reached the years of discretion;  for I find it nowhere written that infant baptism is to be practiced.”[xxiii]  However, Zwingli’s recognition that, “if however I were to terminate the practice [of infant baptism] then I fear I would lose my prebend,” and his recognition of the necessity of the administration of the ordinance to infants to support a State-Church union, led him in 1525 to change his mind, and in 1530 to deny that he had ever spoken against infant baptism, despite affirmations such as “The error [of believer’s baptism] also misled me some years ago, so that I thought it would be much more suitable to baptize children after they had arrived at a good age.”[xxiv]  He did not oppose the decree of the magistrates of Zurich in 1525 that all who would not have their children baptized were to be exiled, nor their drowning of the Baptist Felix Manz in the Limmat River in A. D. 1527.  His angry outburst, “Let those who talk of going under go under indeed!” gave rise to the method of death by drowning for Anabaptists.[xxv]  

While the earlier Zwinglian position on baptism repudiated infant baptism entirely, even the later Zwinglian doctrine was the furthest from the explicit, unabashed doctrine of infant baptismal salvation of Catholicism and the closest to the Anabaptist denial of a salvific character of the ordinance, although Zwingli was by then far enough from the Baptists that he would have them put to death.  Reformed theology after his death continued to feel his influence, but generally was closer to the sacramental baptismal theology of Calvin, although Reformed respect for the Bible and its affirmations of justification by faith apart from any religious rites continually called the Calvinist movement, and especially the elect with Reformed roots, to the Scriptural and Baptist position away from the sacramentalist salvation propounded by its founders and standard Reformed confessions.

--TDR



[i] Corpus Reformatorum, IV, pg. 215, 627

[ii] Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandia, II, pg. 280, IV, pg. 44.

[iii] Pg. 173, Baptism, Bromiley.

[iv] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 8 (3rd. revised ed), chap. 3, sec. 27, “The Eucharistic Controversy.  Zwingli and Luther.”

[v] Corpus Reformatorum, IV, p. 210ff.

[vi] Pg. 169, Baptism, Bromiley.

[vii] Pg. 52-54, Baptism, Bromiley. Quote from Calvin is from Tracts, II, pg. 85.

[viii] Pgs. 21-22, The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers, David J. Engelsma, South Holland, IL: Evangelism Committee, Protestant Reformed Church, n. d. 

[ix] Huldreich Zwinglis Sämtlich Werke, hg. V. E. Egli, G. Finsler, W. Köhler, O. Farner, F. Blanke, L. v. Muralt, E. Künzli, R. Pfister, J. Staedtke, F. Büsser.  Corpus Reformatorum,  (Berlin/Leipzig/Zürich, 1905-), IV, 199-201, 229-231.

[x] pg. 189, 192, Zwingli, G. R. Potter (London: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

[xi] A modern Reformed presentation of this Zwinglian method of nullifying the gospel is seen in “The Notion of Preparatory Grace in the Puritans,” Martin McGeown (pgs. 83-84, Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, November 2007 (Vol. 41, #1):  “[I]t is intolerable cruelty to demand of people a dramatic conversion experience before they can be assured of their salvation.  Such obstacles may not be placed before believers who grew up in the church, who were taught to pray on their mother’s knee, who were catechized and who therefore do not know of a time when they did not believe in Jesus Christ.  To demand of such that they describe a dramatic conversion experience before they are allowed to confess their faith [take the Lord’s Supper, etc.] is to grieve Christ’s little ones. . . . This is the Reformed doctrine of conversion as set forth in the Heidelberg Catechism (Lord’s Day 33).”

[xii] Pg. 423, Documents of the Continental Reformation, Kidd.

[xiii] Pg. 17, Baptism, Bromiley.

[xiv] Pg. 12, Baptism, Bromiley, citing Bullinger, Parker Society Series, IV, pg. 323.

[xv] Pg. 17, Baptism, Bromiley, citing Bullinger, Parker Society Series, IV, pg. 399.

[xvi] Pg. 105, Baptism, Bromiley, citing Bullinger, Parker Society Series, IV, pg. 385.

[xvii] Land, Art. In Evangelical Quarterly, I, 2, pg. 159f.

[xviii] W. Goode, The Effects of Baptism in the case of Infants, pg. 167.

[xix] Pg. 188, Baptism, Bromiley.

[xx] Pg. 213, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, Leonard Verduin (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 1964), citing Urkundliche Quellen zur hessischen Reformationsgeschichte, 4 Band (Widertäuferakten, 1527-1626), von Günther Franz (nach Walter Köhler, Walter Sohm, Theodor Sippell bearbeitet, Marburg, 1951), pgs. 226f.

[xxi] Pg. 198, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, Verduin, citing Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer, VIII Band, Balthasar Hubmaiers Schriften, von Westin-Bergsten (Gütersloh, 1962), pgs. 184f..

[xxii] Pg. 261, Landmarks of Church History, Robert Sargent.  Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n. d

[xxiii] pg. 199, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, Verduin.

[xxiv] pg. 152, Newman, Henry Albert, A Manual of Church History, vol. 2 (Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publishing Society, 1908), cited on pg. 261 of Landmarks of Church History, Robert Sargent.  Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n. d

[xxv] Pg. 229, Landmarks of Church History, vol. 1, Robert Sargent.  Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n. d.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halfway Measures

1662 began the modern church growth movement.  Not exactly, but sort of.  Church attendance was shrinking in the colonies, so Puritan pastor Solomon Stoddard concocted a new measure to increase the numbers, which was called the half-way covenant.  The half-way covenant provided a partial church membership for the children and grandchildren of church members. Puritan preachers hoped that this plan would maintain some of the church's influence in society, and that these 'half-way members' would see the benefits of full membership, be exposed to teachings and piety which would lead to the "born again" experience.

The half-way covenant attempted church growth by the invitation of unsaved people to church.  The idea was that if you got unsaved people into the church, into the assembly, they would get saved and the churches would get bigger.  Just the opposite occurred.  Churches turned worldly and then dead, because it brought the world into the church.  The world turned the church upside down, when the Jerusalem church had accomplished the reverse of that.

The short term effect of the half-way covenant was that the churches had more bodies in the pew and looked more successful.  Families were likely happier too.  It seemed like a good idea, one that today Stoddard could share in a church growth seminar.  It worked, so was "practical," and if you're getting bigger, you could say that "the Lord was working" or "blessing."

We can judge the long term effects of the church growth strategy of the half-way covenant.  Bringing more unsaved people into the church did not bring more true conversions, but deadened the churches.  Churches are not to bring the world into the church, but get it out of the church.  Rather than the saved people impacting the unsaved visitors, the unsaved visitors harmed the saved people.

In one sense, the half-way covenant was missional and contextual, terms you hear today as favorable in evangelicalism, as well as a new measure, to use the term of Charles Finney, for his innovations for church growth.  Scripture is sufficient in debunking modern church growth philosophy, but the half-way covenant provides historical documentation against it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Worship and the Ark Narrative in 1 Chronicles, pt. 1

1 and 2 Kings reminded or explained to captive Israelites how they got into their trouble.  1 and 2 Chronicles gave their post-exilic brethren hope for their future, wrapped around the Davidic covenant.  So the first 9 chapters establish David's credentials.  Chapter 10 erases the reign of Saul, man's choice.  In chapter 11, enter David himself, passing through the intermediate reign in Hebron, moving to the throne in Jerusalem.  How God accomplishes His choice?  Mighty men --- chapter 12.  We get David on the throne and what's the first thing God wants freed captives to think about?  Worship.

Worship is central in God's plan for Israel and what made David a man after God's own heart.  David immediately wanted to move the ark to Jerusalem.  This section between chapters 13 and 16 is the ark narrative.  It speaks of the presence and proximity of God to His people.  The ark represented---was---God's presence.  Nothing excited David more.  God's Scriptural prescriptions for worship surrounded the ark.

David had what most evangelicals and even fundamentalists think is most necessary for a successful worship experience:   good intentions.  He was sincere.  He choreographed a tremendous event with the right stage lighting.  He even built special transport.  A new oxcart was practical.  Sturdy.  Fast.  Nothing in Scripture said it was wrong to use an oxcart.  That would make it a liberty, right?  If it's not wrong, then it's right, right? And all the business about how to carry the ark in other passages had to be non-essential.  It didn't relate to soteriology per se, so God could just agree to disagree, or at least we should, even if God is angry about it, right?  The passage about essentials and non-essentials is in the same book as the one that talks about the use of oxcarts.

Most today don't get a speedy, plain western union about worship like David did.  They just have to accept what they read in the Bible and then find out at the end whether any of what they did counted for anything.  David's oxcart wasn't just neutral.  It was wrong, and Uzzah died because of the novelty.  Autopsy said learning the hard way.  

So David parked the ark right where it was, and went back to square one.  That was good.  Most evangelicals and fundamentalists just attack the critics.  They attempt to belittle them, marginalize and castigate them, like Cain when his offering was disrespected.  They turn the criticism into the fleshly deed and justify their variations from Scripture as helpful innovations.

For the released captives, this first chapter of the ark narrative did remind them about how they got in their mess in the first place, so as not to repeat the mistakes of history.  As they read on, they would see further and more egregious aberrations that left a scorched earth.

David was afraid that day.  Now evangelicals and fundamentalists will share the powerpoint with you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 3


Calvin also held that all those who received remission of sins as sealed in baptism were secure;  those God made true Christians in their infancy in accordance with the baptismal covenant could not later fall and be finally lost.  This was contrary to the Catholic and Lutheran doctrines that the regeneration given in baptism could be lost by subsequent sinning,[i] so that a true Christian could fall from a state of grace and be eternally lost on account of acts of post-baptismal transgression.  Calvin held that the saving power of baptism affected one’s entire life, rather than only communicating grace at the moment of its administration.  “Nor is it to be supposed that baptism is bestowed only with reference to the past, so that, in regard to new lapses into which we fall after baptism, we must seek new remedies of expiation in other so-called sacraments, just as if the power of baptism had become obsolete. To this error, in ancient times, it was owing that some refused to be initiated by baptism until their life was in extreme danger, and they were drawing their last breath, that they might thus obtain pardon for all the past. Against this preposterous precaution ancient bishops frequently inveigh in their writings. We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. For though, when once administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it wipes and washes away all our defilements.”[ii]  When a follower of Calvin’s theology sins, he does not need to fear that he is again lost;  by recalling that in baptism he was washed and purified once for his whole life, he can feel certain and secure of the remission of his sins—at least until he stands before God, when he finds out that his whole system is a diabolical lie.

Bromiley provides an insightful analysis of John Calvin’s baptismal theology:
Calvin referred to baptism as “an incorporation into Christ, an entry into the divine Sonship.”[iii]  He said “we are baptized for the mortification of our flesh, which is begun in baptism [note by this writer:  consider that Calvin does not say that mortification begins at the point of faith, prior to baptism, but at the moment of baptism itself], is prosecuted every day, and will be finished when we depart from this life to go to the Lord.”[iv] Calvin said that the necessity of precept of baptism, was not an absolute necessity, so that it was not true “that all who have not obtained baptism must perish.”[v]
The teaching of Calvin . . . like Bucer . . . repudiated the traditional “enclosing of the grace and virtue of the Spirit by the external sign.”[vi]  But he avoided the opposite extreme of denying that there is any connection between the sacraments and the grace which they signify.[vii]  He emphasized three main facts:  first, that God has ordained the sacraments as means of grace;  second, that repentance and faith are indispensable to their proper use;  and third, that their efficacy depends ultimately upon the divine election.  The sacrament of baptism does have a real effect, but only as it is sovereignly used by the Holy Spirit and received and understood in faith.
It may be noted that there are many affinities between the doctrine of Calvin and that of the Schoolmen, for they started from the same fundamental principles.  But they applied the principles in very different ways and with widely divergent results.  On both sides, for example, it was held that God Himself is the true and sole author of baptismal grace.  But while the Schoolmen deduced from this that God will inevitably operate through the means which He Himself has instituted, Calvin contended for His continuing freedom and sovereignty as “the internal master.”[viii] Again, both sides could admit the indispensability of repentance and faith, but whereas the Schoolmen conceived of repentance and faith narrowly and negatively, and argued that even the insincere and unbelieving will receive at least a spiritual impress, Calvin regarded repentance and faith positively as themselves the creative work of the Holy Spirit by which baptism has its effect and without which it can never be more than the external sign.[ix]  And although he did not dispute that in baptism an offer of grace is made to all, and that “the grace of baptism may resume its place” at any time when there is true repentance, he could not accept either the artificial concept of a baptismal character or the view that grace itself is present even when obstructed by insincerity or unbelief.  As Calvin saw it, “the promises are common to all, but the ratification of them is the gift of the Spirit.”[x] . . . With the believing . . . as they received the sign they perceived Christ Himself, and therefore they enjoyed the grace.  In the normal course, it was the specific function of the sacrament to confirm the faith in Christ already evoked by the word, but in the case of infants baptism could be a powerful adjunct to the word even in the evocation of the faith by which its benefits were subsequently received and enjoyed.
Along lines such as these Calvin was able to hold a definite doctrine of sacramental efficacy without slipping into that static conception which meant an automatic efficacy and a practical denial of the free sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.  The presentation of his doctrine varied to some extent with his successors, but not in any important particular. . . . The lesson had been well learned that although there is a sacramental union of sign and grace it must be understood in a dynamic rather than a static sense, related on the one hand to the sovereign freedom of God, and on the other to the individual faith of the recipient.[xi]

The insistence of Luther and Lutheranism on the real presence and oral manducation in the Lord’s Supper, not Lutheran insistence on baptismal regeneration, was the reason for the inability for the Lutheran and the Reformed denominations to combine, either at the Colloquy of Marburg during the disputation between Luther and Zwingli, or in later times.  “‘In regard to the Confession of Augsburg [which affirms, “baptism . . . is necessary to salvation,” Article IX], [Calvin] says in his Last Admonition to Westphal, ‘my answer is, that, as it was published at Ratisbon (1541) [in this version Luther’s position on communion was moderated], it does not contain a word contrary to our doctrine.’”[xii]  Baptismal regeneration was not a primary matter of disagreement between Luther, Calvin, and the denominations that adopted their theologies, because all involved held to the doctrine.  Calvin’s view that a possibility of salvation existed for those infants of Christian parents who died without the sacrament in the rare situations where it was not possible to have it performed, and other secondary differences from the position of Luther, did not alter the primary agreement between these Reformers that the sacrament of baptism was a means of bestowing grace and regeneration on infants and others who received it.

In agreement with Luther, John Calvin advised that “Anabaptists . . . should . . . be put to death.”[xiv]  The Baptist doctrines of justification by faith apart from sacraments, the necessity of personal conversion, and believer’s baptism, were anathema to him.  Calvin and the Baptists were by no means partakers of a common Christian faith.

The lack of Reformed dissent from and contention against the Lutheran doctrine of baptismal regeneration (“The only serious doctrinal difference which divided Luther and Zwingli at Marburg was the mode of the real presence in the eucharist,” History of the Christian Church, Schaff, vol. 8, 3rd rev. ed.) continued after the time of the Reformation into later centuries and down to modern times.  The position expressed by Charles Hodge, the famous Presbyterian theologian of old Princeton, as seen in his Systematic Theology (vol. 3, Soteriology. Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson, 2003, reprint ed., pg. 522-523, 517, 604), is representative.  After a stirring denunciation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of baptismal regeneration, including declarations such as “Any one, therefore, who teaches that no man can be saved without the rite of baptism, and that by receiving that rite he is made a child of God and heir of heaven, is antichrist,” Hodge declares that his “remarks are not intended to apply, and in fact are not applicable, to the Lutheran system,” despite the fact that both “the Lutherans and Romanists . . . hold that the sacraments are necessary means of grace, in the sense that the grace which they signify is not received otherwise than in their use.  There is no remission of sin or regeneration without baptism [in the Roman and Lutheran view],” and Hodge knows very well that “the Lutheran standards . . . the Augsburg Confession . . . the Apology for that Confession . . . the two catechisms of Luther, the larger and smaller . . . [affirm] that the baptism of infants is not in vain but necessary and effectual to salvation.”  The Reformed have constantly opposed the Roman doctrine of infant salvation, but pronounced no denunciation against the Lutheran doctrine of baptismal regeneration.  It is not much different than the Reformed view.
-TDR



[i] The Catholic Council of Trent declared “that the received grace of justification is lost, not only by infidelity whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever” (Session VI, Chapter 15).  The Lutheran Augsburg Confession “condemn[s] the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost.”

[ii] Institutes, 4:15:3.

[iii] Pg. 17, Baptism, Bromiley.

[iv] Pg. 29, Baptism, Bromiley, citing Institutes, IV, 15, 11.

[v] Pg. 54, Baptism, Bromiley, citing Harmony of the Evangel., pg. 387.

[vi] Tracts, II, pg. 574.

[vii] Tracts, II, pg. 87.

[viii] Tracts, II, pg. 214; Institutes, IV, 14, 9.

[ix] Tracts, II, pg. 343.

[x] Tracts, II, pg. 342-343.

[xi] Pg. 189-190, Baptism, Bromiley.

[xii] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 8 (3rd. revised ed), chap. 15, sec. 133, “Calvin and the Augsburg Confession.”

[xiv] Vol. 1, Chapter 15, A History of the Baptists, John T. Christian,
1922, 1926. 
Way of Life Literature electronic edition (Oak Harbor, WA), May 2003, citing Froude, History of England, V.99.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

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This is going to be the stand alone page for ordering all of our books, which are the following:

THOU SHALT KEEP THEM


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A PURE CHURCH

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SOUND MUSIC OR SOUNDING BRASS


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cult-Like Tendency in Modern Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, part two

The faith was once and for all delivered.  Some will depart from the faith, not all. The gates of Hell will not prevail.  Certain doctrine could be better explained or better defended, but at this point, it shouldn't be new.   Cults are characterized by having the new teaching, you know, like Jesus came to North America, and that's what He meant when He said 'He had other sheep that were not of this fold.'

Some might think or say, "What about dispensationalism, that's new?"  No, it isn't new.  It's just an explanation for premillennialism, which is biblical and has been believed in the past.

In part one, I explained that evangelicalism and fundamentalism (E & F) have a tendency now to change things and create new doctrines to adapt to the new world and its philosophies.  I think I'm being nice in calling it a tendency.   E & F should be called for what they do, but they've got willing accomplices.   In the first edition of this series, I talked about the changes in bibliology that have been accepted.  This post will just accentuate the first one, with hopes of getting to new examples in the future, based on a post that was written recently by Dan Wallace at his blog, entitled, Fifteen Myths about Bible Translation.

King James Version supporters must get under Wallace's skin, because 8 of his "myths" relate to King James Onlyism (numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11).  I should probably write a whole post just answering the myths about the myths, but I'm going to deal with only one of his list here, because it fits this series and what I wrote about in the first offering, and that is his number 11:

11.    Essential doctrines are in jeopardy in modern translations. Actually, no doctrine essential for salvation is affected by translations, modern or ancient—unless done by a particular cult for its own purposes. For example, those Englishmen who signed the Westminster Confession of Faith in the seventeenth century were using the KJV, yet it is still a normative doctrinal statement that millions of Protestants sign today even though they use modern translations.

His first statement is rather loaded, with its "no doctrine essential for salvation," implying and admitting that doctrines do change, just not ones essential to salvation.  This is untrue in major fashion.  Doctrine is affected.  We have a whole chapter on that in our book Thou Shalt Keep Them (See Order Buttons on Right).  Many doctrines, including the doctrine of salvation, are changed by the introduction of the changes in the new versions.  However, I'm not talking about that in this post---I just thought it needed to be pointed out.

Wallace is attempting to make some kind of a historical point in the second sentence in a very subtle way.  If you read the first section of the WCF on Scripture, you'll have a hard time finding exactly that to which Wallace refers.  Where in that statement is a point made about doctrines being what's important to have preserved in a new translation?  I can't find it anywhere.  You've got various concepts in there, that if pieced together just like Wallace wants them, you could read his point into the WCF.  The point he's making though is not in fact in there anywhere.

You would have to piece it together like the following.  In Roman numeral VII. of the section on Scripture, the divines wrote that the Bible will be able to be understood at least as it pertains to salvation.  Since what was a priority for plain meaning and understanding is the doctrine of salvation, then all that matters in word alterations is if you still have the doctrine of salvation.  Other doctrinal changes in a translation do not contradict the WCF.  Therefore, somehow modern translation supporters can sign off on all the doctrine of this section of the WCF, even if they don't believe Scripture has been preserved word-for-word even to the extent that they really think that certain doctrines, exclusive of salvation, have been changed.

Here's another flow of his argument.  The Westminster divines used the KJV.   The Westminster divines taught something in the WCF about the preservation of Scripture.  People who sign the WCF today use modern versions.  Therefore, the Westminster divines and those who sign it today believe the same way on the preservation of Scripture.  They wouldn't have signed off on it if it meant something that would forbid them from accepting a modern version!!

Wallace presents a very weird way to approach historical doctrine.  Your goal in historical theology is to understand what the historical figures were writing.  You don't get an understanding of what they were writing by studying the people who agree with them today.  You understand what they meant by looking at other writings that they wrote in their day.  This is also how we are to interpret the constitution as a historical document. We want to know original intent, not read into it what people today want it to mean.  That is a form of liberalism, that takes a loose constructionist view.

So would the historical bibliology of the Westminster divines result in the acceptance of modern versions, if they were available to them in that day?  No.  Of course not.  They wouldn't want to change Scripture.  They believed that they had received all the Words.  The WCF teaches perfect preservation of Scripture in the language in which it was written.  That doesn't parallel with believing in more than one and varied bibles, which have different words from a different textual source.

Just because men both use modern versions and sign off on the WCF doesn't mean that the use of modern versions is buttressed by the WCF.  Reading into the WCF something that isn't even there is the way that doctrine is altered.  This is the cultic tendency I was talking about.  If the WCF doesn't even mean what Wallace says, that's OK.  If you sign off on it, even though you don't even believe it, he's saying that it now counts as meaning the same thing as you believe.  It's magical.  That's the leap we've got to take to believe Wallace.  It's too big a leap for me.  It really should be too big a leap for anyone with a cerebrum.  There is no ladder that will span the chasm Wallace wants us to cross.