Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The "Tabernacle of Witness" and Objective Aesthetic Meaning

In Stephen's sermon to the Sanhedrin in Acts 7, his theme is that God speaks and Israel's leadership and predominately Israel doesn't listen.  They "do always resist the Holy Ghost: as [their] fathers did, so do [they]" (7:51) and "they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (7:52).  The evidence in Old Testament history is Abraham and Joseph (7:9-16), Moses (7:17-37), the law (7:38-43), and then the tabernacle or temple (7:44-50).  Their not listening to Stephen was now a long line of not listening to God, which was not listening to God-ordained authority.

Israel didn't listen to Joseph, Moses, the law.  And the tabernacle or temple?  What was the tabernacle saying that wasn't being heard by the people?  By the time of Stephen's day, it was a veil rent and shortly before, a few cleansings by Jesus and the threat of destruction.  The temple was still testifying.  Stephen said the temple was talking too, a "tabernacle of witness" (7:44).  Moses made "it according to the fashion that he had seen" (7:44).  "Fashion" is tupon, which is transliterated "type," but BDAG says it is "a mark made as the result of a blow or pressure," "embodiment of characteristics," and "technically design, pattern."  All of this says language, like something that expresses a message.

God through the human author of Hebrews says in the first verse (1:1, 2):
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past. . . . Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.
The tabernacle and temple were two such diverse manners by which God spoke. And God's people didn't hear, according to Stephen's assessment. Even when the greatest manner, His Son, spoke, they took the same tact.  As much focus the leaders of Israel had on the temple, they disrespected it even as they eliminated its witness or testimony in its type of Christ.  They disregarded this divers manner in which God spoke to them through its objective aesthetic meaning.

Stephen contrasts the Lord's tabernacle in 7:44 with the tabernacle of Moloch in 7:43.  The two could be distinguished, and the Lord's was set apart by a pattern that was revealed in God's Word.  The two, although both tents, were antithetical.  God's tabernacle was a witness to God’s presence with His people, His gracious willingness to forgive as testified by the connected sacrificial system, and it foreshadowed the heavenly realities of Christianity as a type of Christ in His incarnation (John 1:14, Hebrews).  Each piece of the tabernacle had layers of meaning to portray the Lord and His relationship with men.  Moloch was a cheap knock-off, a reprobation that presented an entirely different message from which was borrowed later by Jeroboam in Israel's downward trajectory.

The nature of God receives characteristic expression in the arrangements of the tabernacle, the perfection and harmony of the character, the symmetry and proportion.  God created within man, made in His image, the qualifications to enjoy these attributes.  The harmony of the tabernacle design is shown in the balance of all its parts and in the choice of the materials employed. The three varieties of curtains and the three metals correspond to the three ascending degrees of sanctity:  the court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies, all related to the proximity to Jehovah.  So much more could be said about the mathematical precision of the rooms and the craft and coverings and furniture.  The aesthetics of the tabernacle point to the perfection and character of God.  Edmond de Pressensé writes on the temple of the Lord in the Pulpit Commentary:
This idea of consecration ran through the whole plan of the building. Without having recourse to a minute and fanciful symbolism, we see clearly that everything is so disposed as to convey the idea of the holiness of God.  In the Centre Is the Altar of Sacrifice. The holy of holies, hidden from gaze by its impenetrable veil, strikes with awe the man of unclean heart and lips, who hears the seraphim cry from beneath their shadowing wings, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!" (Isaiah 6:3.) The temple of holiness is not the temple of nature of colossal proportions, as in the East, nor is it the temple of aesthetic beauty, as in Greece. It is the dwelling place of Him who is invisible, and of purer eyes than to behold evil (Habakkuk 1:13.) Hence its peculiar character. It answers thus to the true condition of religious art, which never sacrifices the idea and sense of the Divine to mere form, but makes the form instinct with the Divine idea. Let us freely recognize the claims of religious art. The extreme Puritanism which thinks it honours God by a contemptuous disregard of the aesthetic, is scarcely less mistaken than the idolatrous materialism which makes beauty of form the primary consideration. It was not for nothing that God made the earth so fair, the sky so glorious; and it was under Divine inspiration that the temple of Jerusalem was reared in such magnificence and majesty as to strike all beholders. Only let us never forget to seek the Divine idea beneath the beauty of the form.
The meaning to which I'm referring in the tabernacle and the temple of God are not communicated by means of words, but the message was still necessary for Israel to inculcate.  Israel's resistance to the Holy Spirit was also contention with the declarations or articulations of the tabernacle, its testimony or witness.

God reveals to Moses in Exodus 28:40:
And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.
These things that were made as designed and described by God expressed glory and beauty, two thoughts tied together in scripture.  Isaiah hears the angels in God's throne room express in Isaiah 6:3:
Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
The glory of the LORD is the character of God on display, showing the perfections of His attributes.  In Exodus 33:18-19 Moses asked God, "[S]hew me thy glory," and God answered Him, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee."  The glory of the Lord is visible showing of God's goodness and the proclamation of His name, which is the expression of all of His attributes.  Psalm 19 says that God declares His glory through the handiwork of His creation.  We can see God through the aesthetics of God's visible creation.  The coats and girdles and bonnets worn by the priests in the tabernacle also communicated the character of God.

When children bring glory to their parents, they are living in a manner consistent with their parents' values.  When we bring glory to God, we live according to God's attributes.  These values are objective.  They are not whatever pleases a child or pleases us.

Like something is good because it proceeds from God with an objective standard, so is beauty.  Just because I'm pleased doesn't make something good.  Just because I'm pleased doesn't make something beautiful.  What is true to me is true or what is good to me is good is the essence of postmodernism.  Our responsibility as worshipers and followers of God is to find pleasure in what God does.

The pursuit of certainty according to modernism spurred by the enlightenment no longer relied on the objectivity of God's revelation as authority.  The subject was assumed to be neutral so could access truth, goodness, and beauty out of pure reason or feeling.  With man as the new measure of all things, postmodernism took this one step further to not even needing a standard.  A person's personal pleasure or satisfaction were as good or true as anything or anyone.

God created the world in which we live assigned by Him with its own meaning.  No human comes to His world with neutrality because many varied forms of intervention have occurred including the corruption or perversion of sin.  Man is depraved.  He must depend on God for His understanding and interpretation, and He can.  Just because I want something or I think it is good for me doesn't mean that it is.  Beauty involves pleasure, and it is neither beautiful because it pleases me, but because it pleases God according to the perfections of His attributes.  That's what brings glory to Him and for us it is of the highest value.

God has created man to judge objective meaning through an aesthetic.  God created men with imaginations able to read symbols -- words, pictures, gestures, sounds, and shapes --- and they point beyond themselves to a higher reality by which reality itself becomes meaningful for us.  This is a reality made evident by the revelation of God in His Word and in the new nature God gives the regenerated man.

Man can, should, and must distinguish and make a distinction between what is holy and what is common or profane.  When Paul writes both "be not conformed to this world" (Rom 12:2) and "think on these things . . . whatsoever things are lovely" (Philip 4:8), and Peter, "as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance" (1 Pet 1:14), they are teaching to examine, prove, and test and "hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess 5:21).

The religious leaders of Stephen's day had profaned the temple, while pretending to exalt it or God through it.  This was a witness against them like the integration of popular culture into the church and the lives of professing saints of God.  Theirs is the tabernacle of Moloch.  Israel frequently fell into terrible idolatries because they accepted the symbols and the expressions of the cultures around them.  God gave them the tabernacle of witness, but they preferred something nearer and dearer to their own personal taste, nothing so objective as was laid out in the Word of God.  When they did so, their own God, the true God, was rejected in their imaginations, meanwhile their thinking that they continued accepting or receiving Him, so self-deceived.  When Jesus came to them, they didn't even recognize Him as God because they had already so turned away from God in their imaginations.

When I look at the ugliness, the trash, the silliness, the coarseness, the superficiality, and the disrespect accepted by professing believers today, it reflects a reality in their soul.  They have a form of godliness only as defined by their own pleasure.  There is a base pride about knowledge, doubting the truth but with almost absolute certainty about personal opinion, that embraces what pleases self and counts it as sacred.  Their feelings from their sensuous experiences they deem as authentic just because they themselves have felt them.  Acceptance is a prism of their lust.  This is the worship of the creature above the Creator.

What's the problem?  First, someone needs to admit a need.  To do that, he also must listen to someone else, who sees the problem.  Very few people take correction well, but millennials are notorious for not wanting any judgment, only acceptance, a recipe for disaster.  They surround themselves with those who will accept them how they are.

Second, the source could be unbelief, someone who doesn't know the Lord Jesus Christ at all, but it's at least someone who is feeding at the hog trough of this world.  The influence comes from two primary places.  First, the focus is on self, the regular attention on what he wants, looking at everything from his own point of view, guided by his own desires and with hardly a braking system to impede his personal taste.  Second, he sees and hears, like Lot in Sodom (2 Pet 2:8), the trashy sights and sounds of television, movies, the internet, and popular music, forming a distorted imagination and salving, searing, or desensitizing his conscience, today such profanity as Game of Thrones, foul language, lewd or insipid lyrics, and nudity. He slurps up the culture with the world running down his chin.  With such alliances as preconditions, he can't interpret the world to which to apply scripture.

The vulgarity of passions reveals an internal emptiness very often masked by incessant noise and useless chatter, bouncing from one cheap encounter or activity to the next.   It is the mindless fish swimming in the dragnet, not considering the shortness of its days (cf. Mt 13:47-50).  I see this in countless millennials today, yearning for a "like" but forsaking the mercies of God, some of whom I love very much, and I think of the warning of James in James 5:1, "weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you," and then of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:9, "Turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God."

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Seeds of Apostasy: A Personification of Heresy

Gaius wasn't someone Diotrephes would tolerate, because Gaius was someone the Apostle John loved (3 John 1:1), who walked in the truth (1:3).  When Gaius came along, he would not be accepted into the midst of the church to which John had written according to his third epistle (3 John 1:9a).  Diotrephes in 3 John is the personification of heresy and in his qualities are the seeds of apostasy.  John indicts Diotrephes on at least three counts, one of which stands above the rest.

First, John had written to the church, so when John writes, Diotrephes "receiveth us not," he meant that Diotrephes did not accept and distribute the contents of his letter.  That's how he doesn't receive John.  I have found in my lifetime that I'm not received because someone is not receiving what I say, not because it isn't the truth, but because it is.  Like Diotrephes, someone doesn't want to hear the truth.

John was an Apostle.  What he sent and would send was authoritative, either scripture or like scripture, because it was apostolic.  Diotrephes suppressed and opposed it.  Why?  Because he had greatest affection for himself, what John communicates: "who loveth to have the preeminence."  This translates a compound Greek word (philoproteuo), which is made up of two words, phileo, "to have strong affection," and proteuo, "to be first."  Whenever scripture, the truth that John taught and in which Gaius walked, clashed with Diotrephes strong affection for putting himself first, he chose himself above the truth.

Heresy is dividing from the truth, causing a faction, and this relates to apostasy, which is turning from the truth.  Heretics and false teachers, teaching or preaching heresies, are nameless, no one in particular, so enigmatic or obscure.  Diotrephes though is a real person, hence a personification of heresy in scripture.  In him we see an example of what the other heresy and apostasy passages, such as 2 Peter and Jude, teach.  What one reads in those epistles and the example of Diotrephes are not contradictory.

What is "strong affection to be first" in Diotrephes is walking according to lust in 2 Peter and Jude.  In 2 Peter and Jude, this means eliminating any competition to that lust, whatever authority  that says, "No."  John would be one.  Gaius would be another.  Anyone who walked with John and Gaius and behaved liked they did.  Being first meant having your way and the truth would be a casualty to lust when it needed to be.

So Diotrephes actively suppressed and opposed scripture, and it is implied that truth in particular that clashed with Diotrephes.  Second, he was "prating against us with malicious words" (3 John 1:10).  "Prating against" is literally to make false accusations.  The same word in 1 Timothy 5:13 is translated, "tattlers."  Tattlers tell tales, false, unfounded accusations, to cause people to distrust the authority, the leadership, the teacher, who is saying something different than what they want to hear.  They don't want their teaching and then they undermine them by saying things about them to others that are false.

"Malicious words" are harmful ones that have that intent, of causing harm to the person.  They want to harm that person's reputation, to make him of enough disrepute that his teaching won't be trusted, trashing him so that they will be free of him.

Third, Diotrephes personified heresy by also not being receptive to those like-minded with scripture.  There are people in agreement, see things the same way as John, love the Lord, and these people are not received—they are rejected.  This is expressed in 3 John 1:10 as "neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would."  Whoever agrees with John and his teaching can't be allowed or received, nor anyone who would else who would accept those who agree with John.

In the way of Diotrephes, a personification of heresy, are the seeds of apostasy.  John says in 1:9, "if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth."  John says, I'm going to expose the man if I come. I will make it an issue of his conduct in the church because it is an issue for discipline. I'm not going to overlook this. Something is going to be done about it.

The heretic, the one turning from the truth to whatever varied degree, doesn't want to hear that he's going to be dealt with, only that he's going to be tolerated and be allowed to continue however he wants to be.  When a Diotrophes isn't dealt with, however, his belief, attitude, and behavior will influence others, spread, and turn the church a different direction than it is.  Someone who cares about the truth, like John, won't allow it to continue.  He will deal with a Diotrephes because the truth is more important than the potential grief that comes from the unjust, malicious accusations that come from a man who is most interested in having his own way.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Knowing the Trinity: Practical Thoughts for Daily Life, by Ryan M. McGraw: A Review

Dr. Ryan M. McGraw has written a valuable book entitled Knowing the Trinity: Practical Thoughts for Daily Life (Lancaster, PA: Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, 2017).  I asked (and received) a review copy of the book and believe that it is a valuable book on the Christian's fellowship with the Triune God.  Too many Baptists and other professing believers recognize the Trinity as an important doctrine, but Trinitarianism has little impact on their practical lives or on their view of Christian piety.  This is a very unfortunate and unbiblical situation.

The chapters of Dr. McGraw's book are as follows:

Table of Contents:
1. What Is Trinitarian Piety?
2. The Trinity in the New Testament
3. The Trinity and the Plan of Salvation

Knowing the Father
4. The Trinity and How the Father Saves Us

Knowing the Son
5. The Trinity and How the Son Saves Us
6. The Trinity and Christ’s Incarnation
7. The Trinity and Christ’s Life and Ministry
8. The Trinity and Christ’s Death
9. The Trinity and Christ’s Resurrection
10. The Trinity and Christ’s Ascension

Knowing the Spirit
11. The Trinity and How the Spirit Saves Us
12. The Trinity and Adoption
13. The Trinity and Prayer Meetings
14. The Trinity and the Church
15. The Trinity and Spiritual Gifts
16. The Trinity and Worship
17. The Trinity and the Gospel Ministry
18. The Trinity and Baptism
19. The Trinity and the Lord’s Supper

20. The Blessing of the Triune God

Appendix: Triadic Passages in Scripture

The twenty chapters are brief, as the book is only 137 pages; thus, it is easier to follow and grasp than John Owen's tremendous classic Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (summarized here), to which McGraw acknowledges his indebtedness.  McGraw writes his book with the "aim that believers will recover the rich Trinitarian theology of the New Testament that will lead to devotion to the Triune God. . . . The Lord has used this book to promote this goal in my family, in my former congregation, and in myself" (pg. 14).  I believe that the book would be helpful to men to leading their families in family devotions, as well as useful for Christians in general.  (We went through it in our family worship and it was a blessing to us.)  The truths in the book should be ones with which all pastors and teachers should be very familiar, but too many are not.  I would consider assigning it were I to teach my college class on Trinitarianism again as a simple summary of how the Trinity influences so much of Biblical Christianity, and knowledgeable leaders could use it, and the study questions following each chapter, in connection with Sunday School, although I would not recommend giving copies to everyone in Sunday School or assigning it to everyone in church because of the following problems.

While the book is valuable, Dr. McGraw, as a Puritan-type Presbyterian who teaches at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, in a few areas allows erroneous doctrine to influence his book.  Occasional references to limited atonement (pg. 44), a wrong view of Spirit baptism and Luke 11:13 (pgs. 68-69; see the study of Spirit baptism and Luke 11:13 here for the true view), of the office of the evangelist (pg. 90; in contrast to McGraw, the evangelist is one who evangelizes for the purpose of seeing new churches established), a failure to affirm the Filioque, the truth that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (although it is not denied either, pg. 96), highly problematic statements on baptism connected with the false doctrine that it is a seal of grace (pgs. 100-104) and the false doctrine of the Lord's Supper as a seal (pgs. 105-107), connected with the idea that baptism and the Supper are sacraments, not ordinances, and use of Bible versions other than the KJV (pgs. 115-137) should be noted. (See the exposure of these errors in the ecclesiological studies here.) There are also some distracting typos.

If one watches out for the problems mentioned in the paragraph above, the Biblical truth in Dr. McGraw's book could be instrumental in the Father's strengthening discerning Christians spiritually through the Son by the Holy Ghost.  I would recommend anyone buying a copy from the large online bookstores to click through portals such as the ones here first to reduce the (relatively low) price of McGraw's book, although portals do not work for buying hard copies from a publisher such as Reformation Heritage Books. With the qualifications mentioned in the paragraph above, I recommend the book highly.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Who Is Semipelagian? Does Someone Need to Be a Calvinist Not to Be Semipelagian?

Church historians will say that a big part of the history of the church is a reaction to major heresies or at least strains of heresy that caused major problems in the church.  The true church starts with the truth, and a heresy would be a deviation or detour off that path.  A heresy would be a false teaching that diverts from true teaching, so some kind of perversion of the truth.  Pelagianism is identified as one of these major strains of heresy in the history of the church.

Before I get to that point, I digress.  Are there really only five strains of heresy in the history of the church like some pose:  Judaizers, Gnostics, Arians, Pelagians, and Socinians?   One old one, seen through the New Testament, and then throughout church history, but especially today in professing Christianity, is antinomianism, where grace is used as an occasion of the flesh, what seems to be the grace of modern Christianity.  Now back to the point of this post.

Pelagianism gets its name from Pelagius, a fifth century British monk.  Pelagius taught something contradictory to established truth of scripture and his position became prominent especially in its conflict with a contemporary, Augustine.  Wikipedia gives a suitable definition of the essence of Pelagianism:
Pelagianism, also called Pelagian heresy, is the Christian theological position that the original sin did not taint human nature and mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid or assistance.
The novelty of the doctrine which he taught is repeatedly asserted by Augustine, and is evident to the historian; but it consisted not in the emphasis that he laid on free will, but rather in the fact that, in emphasizing free will, he denied the ruin of the race and the necessity of grace.
In the 16th century, Protestant reformer Theodore Beza coined the term, "Semipelagianism," targeting Roman Catholicism.  Just being honest, even though Augustine was Roman Catholic, Beza recognized that infant sprinkling didn't leave its object with only an inclination to sin.  Semipelagianism to Beza attributes salvation partly to God’s grace and partly to human effort, which is a doctrine of Roman Catholicism.  He was targeting a Roman Catholic perversion with his term.  As a reaction, certain Roman Catholics embraced a late fifth century modification of John Cassian, a Syrian monk who moved to Marseilles, France and staked out a middle position between Augustine and Pelagius that was widely accepted, in essence accepting Beza's analysis.

"Semipelagianism" was weaponized after Beza to label any degree short of complete or hard determinism.  Using logic as an explanation, they work anything smacking of "synergism" back all the way into Pelagianism, barely slowing down at Semipelagianism.  The line follows:  no one can make a decision or it is actually Pelagianism, which is a type of salvation by works because then someone not totally depraved can then be saved by works.  With Beza, semipelagianism was the invention that original sin could become just an inclination to sin with water sprinkled on a baby's head.

Today I've noticed that Calvinists are fine with people who behave like Pelagians and call themselves Calvinists.  This is widespread.  Does the grace of God actually change someone or is he left with only an inclination to sin?

If a person is not a Calvinist, a lot, probably a large majority, of Calvinists would call him a Semipelagian.  This would be one of those weaponized usages of the term several iterations after Beza.  In my reading of Calvinists, someone is a Semipelagian if he is the ultimate decider (with the crucial adjective, "ultimate")?  There can be only one ultimate decider and that is God, so if someone thinks a person needs to or can decide to be saved, then he's Semipelagian.

I think someone has to decide to be saved.  And I'm saying I'm not Pelagian or Semipelagian.  I can agree to original sin.  I reject infant sprinkling.  Total depravity.  I don't believe man initiates salvation.  Salvation is of the Lord.  Faith isn't a work.  We love God because He first loved us.  I don't seek after God, but God works in me to will.  God gets all the credit and the glory for my salvation.  But I still will.  I still decide.  I turn from idols to serve the living and true God.

Especially in the United States, most professing Calvinists trace the size of their church back to their methods, their music, how good the preaching is, the conveniences, and their relevance.  The fruit of what I just described is all over Calvinist belief and practice today.  All that matters is a Calvinist doctrinal statement and verbal profession, essentially joining the Calvinist club.  All of the human means of coercing a bigger church contradict their major, if not primary, thesis.

As I write this, I watch three Calvinists in a podcast, dedicated determinists with the hard rock music theme song, tipping back their beers, and oozing with machismo, interview another Calvinist about heresy.  In the discussion, they laugh over the recognition of most Baptists as especially semipelagian.  In the midst of the questioning, the hosts ask how that statism especially is Pelagian.  They could see the connection, I think, in light of the "woke church" today that favors socialism.  Socialism doesn't fit their postmillennial view of the future.  Statism proceeds from Pelagianism, he explains, because the state thinks people are good and so it governs as if it can change people.  I was asking myself, what about state churchism, both Roman Catholic and Protestant?  Isn't that statism too?

I understand people's heads spinning over pigeon holes and applied labels.  It matters if you reject original sin.  It matters if you believe in salvation by works or baptismal regeneration or easy prayerism or pragmatism or denying eternal security.  In other words, anything that disagrees with or violates scripture is a problem.  If someone calls you a semipelagian.  That doesn't matter.  Even if it did, you couldn't do anything about it.  Everything is predestined.  You don't have a choice.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Selective Relativism: Love Isn't Acceptance or Toleration

In 2011 I attended incognito the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in San Francisco, and listened to Robert P. George in a session entitled, "Ethics in an Age of Relativism."  He described students in general in today's colleges and universities as selectively relativistic.  They become very absolute usually only when they judge a personal offense.  They know you've offended them.

As an example, love has an objective meaning that proceeds from scripture.  It doesn't mean acceptance or toleration, yet that's the definition most accept today.  "Love is acceptance" gets 115,000 results when you google it.  Many call this "unconditional love" (21 million results) about which someone wrote:
The practical extension of the theories of unconditional love is a permissive attitude and a morally nonrestrictive atmosphere.
I've read several say that millennials don't want to be judged.  They don't want to be preached to or told what to do.  A fifth of Americans claim to be religiously unaffiliated, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, which categorizes them as “nones.”  Millennials are less devout than any other age bracket polled and describe Christianity as “hypocritical” and “judgmental.”  Both those words are common for millennials.

Hypocrisy of any kind is ironic for someone who doesn't want to be judged, doesn't want you to be judgmental.  Hypocrisy requires a standard.  No one can be a hypocrite when there is no standard, unless he is selective.  They apply hypocrisy to you because you have a standard.  They then feel entitled to have no standard because you have violated your own, meaning that it doesn't matter to keep it.  They have a standard of which they are only sure when they are offended.

Judgment is an important aspect of actual Christianity, so this is where selective relativism enters.  They want to be accepted based on who they want to be and what they want to do without judgment.  That is the new love.  They can't be "authentic" if they can't live exactly how they feel without recrimination.  This isn't love.

Love as we know it today originated from the Bible.  As it began to be used in English discourse after the translation of the Bible into English, love took on a biblical meaning, because that's where the idea came from.  It maintained biblical parameters, until words started taking on new meanings to adapt to the inclinations or views of the reader.  Usage of the word "love" then changed.

A millennial might tell you that you don't love him, but he doesn't mean biblical love when he says love.  Today fellow millennials know what the other means.  When he says you don't love him, he means you are judging him and you aren't accepting or tolerating his behavior.  This is the "unconditional love."  In fact, if you do love him, actually love him, you can't tolerate or accept all of his behavior.

Love that proceeds from scripture, the only actual love, is of God, like John wrote in 1 John 4:7, "love is of God," which is one of the first verses we had our children learn.  Love is an attribute of God.  He defines love, which is why John also wrote, "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 18).  If something clashes with God, it can't be love.

Love assumes standards, because something that violates the standards of God is not love.  The ten commandments, which are standards, are reduced in the Old and New Testaments to two standards, love God and love your neighbor.  You aren't loving God when you disobey and dishonor Him, and you aren't loving your neighbor when you are disobeying and dishonoring God.  God explains what it is to love your neighbor.

In the love chapter, Paul writes that "love rejoiceth not in iniquity" (1 Corinthians 13:6).  Consider these two verses:
Proverbs 3:12, "For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth."
Hebrews 12:6, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
Those two verses are a millennial nightmare.  They clash with unconditional love as much as possible.  They would read instead, For whom the Lord loveth, he accepteth. In Ephesians 5:26, using the Lord's love for the church as an example of how a husband loves his wife, the Apostle Paul says that Christ loves and gives himself to the church
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.
So loving is sanctifying and cleansing using the Word of God.  Sanctifying is separating and cleansing is removing dirt or corruption.

Of course, love includes encouragement, time spent, cheerful words, thanks, and gifts.  When there is wrong behavior, that violates God's standard, love brings correction, reproof, chastening, cleansing, and sanctifying.  Love is of God and God is love.

A millennial may want the love that he wants, acceptance and toleration, which he deems to be love out of his selective relativism.  When you violate that standard, his requirement to accept and tolerate, he will judge it not to be love.  He's judging too, just based on selective relativism.

Scripture requires love of God and others.  Paul said, cursed is any man who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 16:22.  If you are messed up on love, because of selective relativism, you are cursed.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: the Christ-Life and Quietism (part 5 of 22)

While Mrs. Penn-Lewis’ Spirit baptism produced a kind of bodily healing that fell far short of the apostolic pattern, it produced a spiritual state that far exceeded what was experienced by the Apostles, for, she wrote, “I have never had to fight a battle of ‘surrender of will’ from that time,”[1] having entered by Spirit baptism into a realm of spiritual experience higher than any promised in the Bible or experienced by men like the Apostle Paul in their lifetime (Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:14-25).[2]  It is noteworthy that even John Wesley, while preaching Methodist perfectionism, “never claimed the experience for himself.  He was a very honest man.  He taught this perfectionism but he would never say that it was true of himself.”  Indeed, for “many years he had great difficulty of producing any examples of it,” although at one point “he felt he could produce 30 such people; but only one of the 30 seemed to persist—the others fell away.” [3] Mrs. Penn-Lewis, however, once having received her second blessing, was one of the very, very few who—in their own opinion, at least—seems to have kept it.
However, while her entry into the Higher Life came to her, she affirms, directly by a revelation and mystical experience—one of the vast numbers of supernatural revelations and visions she received[4]—she also had the help of “Madame Guyon,” who was most “influential”[5] upon Mrs. Penn-Lewis when introduced to her by “Mrs. Evan Hopkins”[6]  as Jessie sought Spirit baptism and Higher Life sanctification in 1888.  Penn-Lewis did not compare Guyon’s writings with the Bible to see if they should be trusted (Acts 17:11; 2 Peter 1:16-21), but adopted Guyon’s spirituality because “the Lord spoke” to her and told her that “this is the path.”[7]  Having discovered by revelation from the spirit world the value of Guyon’s writings, Penn-Lewis testified:  “I owe a great deal to the books of Madame Guyon, and the way she showed me the path to life ‘in God’ . . . her ‘Life’ . . . [led me to] clearly s[ee] the way of the Cross . . . [and the need for] ‘dying’ not ‘doing’ [to] produce spiritual fruit.”[8]  That is, Penn-Lewis learned from Guyon the alleged truth of Quietism, “an effortless spiritual life” that is “stripped of [even the] vestiges of self”[9] by passing beyond “effort or feeling or even faith”[10] to mystical union with the Divine, “the Christ-life,”[11] where “your own personality as a separate identity [is] merged in Him,”[12] and “God is—we are not.”[13]
.  It is noteworthy that “Christ-life” phraseology was in use among the metaphysical and New Thought cults of the late nineteenth century.  For example, at Emerson College, where “New Thought metaphysics” were taught rather than “historical Christian orthodoxy,” in “praise of the faculty at his graduation in 1896, one student remarked, [‘]You have taught us not only how to think but what to think.  You have taught us not only how to live but what to live.  You have broadened our horizons, and made of us larger and better men and women, so that we shall go out from here better equipped to live the Christ life.’”[14]  The terminology of the Christ-life was also employed by Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science cult, in testimonies that could be phrased in an identical way by advocates of the Keswick theology through the substitution of “Higher Life” or “Keswick” for “Christian Science.”  For example: “Through the practice of Christian Science Jesus demonstrated the Christ-life, and every application of Christian Science has for its fruits Christ-like living, and tends to lift man above sin, sickness, and death.  Is there anything the Christ-life does not satisfy, any heights or depths it cannot touch, any misery it fails to alleviate, any sin it will not destroy, any aspirations it does not fulfil?  That Christian Science does supply these human needs today is the testimony of thousands of men and women.[15]
After all, “Christian Science so includes and enforces th[e] vital trut[h] of . . . a living of the Christ-life . . . that every Christian Scientist finds [himself] renewedly and increasingly emphasizing [it] in his thought and life.”  After all, the Christ-life is key, for “it is the normal work of the Christ-life to heal us of sickness as well as sin.”[16]
 Connecting her Quietism to the teachings of the “old Quakers” and her peculiar view of the soul and spirit, Mrs. Penn-Lewis taught that one must reject “creaturely activity . . . [which] is manifestly the energy of the creature being used in the service of God rather than the creature seeking in spirit to co-operate with the Holy Spirit given to him as the Gift of the Risen Son of God.”[17]  The Quietism learned from Guyon and the spirit world that produced her writings brought Penn-Lewis “into the stream of life at Keswick . . . in one spirit with . . . all” the ministers and spiritual teachings at the Keswick Convention of 1892,[18] where speakers included the annihilationist George Grubb.[19]  Penn-Lewis also “prepared reprints of works by . . . Madame Guyon”[20] to spread Guyon’s Roman Catholic mysticism to others.


The following are the parts of this series:

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick and Welsh Revivalist, Quaker and Freemason (part 1 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Conversion (?) and Higher Life (part 2 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Spirit-Baptized Woman Preacher (part 3 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Keswick Faith Healer (part 4 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: the Christ-Life and Quietism (part 5 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Her Inspired Writings (part 6 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired Woman Preacher (part 7 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: her mystical false god (part 8 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Worldwide Keswick Impact  (part 9 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Welsh Revival and Pentecostal Preparation (part 10 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: War on the Saints (part 11 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Christians Demon Possessed (part 12 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Warfare Prayer and the 1914 partial Rapture (part 13 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding Satan (part 14 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Binding and Loosing (part 15 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: “My Demon Possession Key to My Keswick Teaching” (part 16 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Inspired “Truth” on Demon Possession (part 17 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Throne Life / Power and the Higher Life (part 18 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis: Soul Force, Only the Human Spirit Regenerated, And Other Bizarre Foolishness (part 19)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, I (part 20 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, II (part 21 of 22)
Jessie Penn-Lewis and Evan Roberts: Applications From Their Lives and Doctrines, III (part 22 of 22)

[1]              Pg. 22, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[2]              It is noteworthy that even John Wesley, while preaching Methodist perfectionism, “never claimed the experience for himself.  He was a very honest man.  He taught this perfectionism but he would never say that it was true of himself.”  Indeed, for “many years he had great difficulty of producing any examples of it,” although at one point “he felt he could produce 30 such people; but only one of the 30 seemed to persist—the others fell away” (pg. 311, The Puritans:  Their Origins and Successors, D. M. Lloyd-Jones).  Mrs. Penn-Lewis, however, once having received her second blessing, was one of the very, very few who—in their own opinion, at least—seems to have kept it.
[3]              Pg. 311, The Puritans:  Their Origins and Successors, D. M. Lloyd-Jones. 
[4]              E. g., pgs. 82-90, 114, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones, describe an assortment of her “ecstatic and mystical states,” visions, voices, and other phenomena from the spirit world.
[5]              Pg. 16, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.  Books such as Guyon’s Autobiography, Spiritual Torrents, and Short Catechism are specifically mentioned as influential (cf. pgs. 16, 22, Ibid.).
[6]              Pg. 34, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard.
[7]              Pg. 34, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary N. Garrard; pg. 16, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[8]              Chapter 4, The Centrality of the Cross, Jessie Penn-Lewis; cf. pgs. 34-35, Mrs. Penn-Lewis:  A Memoir, Mary Garrard.
[9]              Pg. 16, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.  Compare the discussion in the excerpt above from “A Warning Exhortation Against Pietists, Quietists, and all Who in a Similar Manner have Deviated to a Natural and Spiritless Religion under the Guise of Spirituality,” by Wilhelmus à Brakel.
[10]            Pg. 61, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[11]            Pg. 63, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.  It is noteworthy that “Christ-life” phraseology was in use among the metaphysical and New Thought cults of the late nineteenth century.  For example, at Emerson College, where “New Thought metaphysics” were taught rather than “historical Christian orthodoxy,” in “praise of the faculty at his graduation in 1896, one student remarked, [‘]You have taught us not only how to think but what to think.  You have taught us not only how to live but what to live.  You have broadened our horizons, and made of us larger and better men and women, so that we shall go out from here better equipped to live the Christ life.’” (pg. 37, A Different Gospel, citing John M. Coffee, Jr. and Richard L. Wentworth, A Century of Eloquence:  The History of Emerson College, 1880-1890, quoting Albert Armstrong, Emerson College Magazine (May, 1896), pg. 108).  The terminology of the Christ-life was also employed by Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science cult, in testimonies that could be phrased in an identical way by advocates of the Keswick theology through the substitution of “Higher Life” or “Keswick” for “Christian Science.”  For example:
Through the practice of Christian Science Jesus demonstrated the Christ-life, and every application of Christian Science has for its fruits Christ-like living, and tends to lift man above sin, sickness, and death.  Is there anything the Christ-life does not satisfy, any heights or depths it cannot touch, any misery it fails to alleviate, any sin it will not destroy, any aspirations it does not fulfil?  That Christian Science does supply these human needs today is the testimony of thousands of men and women. (pg. 218, “What is Truth?” by Charles D. Reyholds, in the Christian Science Journal, XXII:4 (July 1904). 193-256)
After all, “Christian Science so includes and enforces th[e] vital trut[h] of . . . a living of the Christ-life . . . that every Christian Scientist finds [himself] renewedly and increasingly emphasizing [it] in his thought and life.”  After all, the Christ-life is key, for “it is the normal work of the Christ-life to heal us of sickness as well as sin” (pg. 474, Christian Science Journal XXII:8 (November 1904) 457-536)
[12]            Pg. 323, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[13]            Pg. 335, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[14]            Pg. 37, A Different Gospel, citing John M. Coffee, Jr. and Richard L. Wentworth, A Century of Eloquence:  The History of Emerson College, 1880-1890, quoting Albert Armstrong, Emerson College Magazine (May, 1896), pg. 108).
[15]         Pg. 218, “What is Truth?” by Charles D. Reyholds, in the Christian Science Journal, XXII:4 (July 1904). 193-256.
[16]            Pg. 474, Christian Science Journal XXII:8 (November 1904) 457-536.
[17]            Chapter 3, Soul and Spirit, Jessie Penn-Lewis.
[18]            Pg. 35, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones.
[19]            Pg. 35, The Trials and Triumphs of Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Jones; cf. pg. 274, Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals.  Since Hannah W. Smith was a universalist, it should not be surprising that other heretics who rejected the doctrine of hell were embraced and promoted at Keswick.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Why Didn't Jesus or Paul Try to Stop Slavery?

Whenever I get to a slavery passage when teaching the Bible, I like to talk about slavery.  I taught Ephesians this year in our school and I had to talk about it in Ephesians 6:5-9.  I couldn't just say, let's talk about the employer-employee relationship, since it starts with slaves being obedient to their masters in verse 5.

Slavery is actually a big part of the Bible.  In the New Testament, the noun form of "slave" (doulos) occurs 127 times, and its verb form occurs 25.  Scripture doesn't hide the fact of slavery.  It's right there again and again.

This week Nike, the shoe company, canceled its Betsy Ross Flag Sneaker, which had a rendition of the flag of the original thirteen states on its heel.  Colin Kaepernick, who works for Nike, objected.  Vox, a site sympathetic to him, reported:
This early version of the flag, he argued, is pulled from the era of slavery and doesn’t warrant celebration.
Many are predicting sales of Nike will increase based upon this decision.  July 4th and this story got me thinking again about slavery.

Neither Jesus or Paul tried to stop slavery.  Did they approve of it?  Both did.

Slavery in the Bible isn't an overly complicated issue, but I want to give what I believe are the cliffs notes on it.  It's worth understanding, because there is good and bad here.

One, slavery itself is acceptable to God.  Two, slavery is regulated in the Bible by God and violating His regulations is sinning against Him.  Three, ending slavery isn't a target for the church, even as it wasn't for Jesus and Paul.

Those three points are hard for the modern American mind.  The institution of slavery doesn't exist in the United States any more, but as seen in the Nike controversy above and others like it, it's still an issue.  Thinking about slavery in a biblical way is of the greatest value.

I want to start with the regulations.  Kidnapping is wrong, so capturing someone and making him a slave is a violation (Exodus 21:16).  That would prohibit a slave trade and involuntary slavery.  Having a racial component to slavery is wrong, because the Bible teaches against racial superiority.  Everyone is equal in essence in the sight of God.  All the other regulations of slavery would fit the regulations in scripture for how anyone treats another human being.

A lot of the society of Jesus and Paul violated scripture.  The mission of the church superseded stopping what was wrong in the culture.  The focus was the permanent perfection of everything under the reign of Jesus Christ.  The priority is the kingdom of the Lord over all temporal, short-term human institutions.  The nature of change is important in scripture.  For a Christian, the successful long term changes of a society or culture depend on belief of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The world doesn't understand the last point.  Nothing could be more important to the world than its seventy to one hundred year lifespan on earth.  However, not to God.  Jesus or Paul don't attempt to upheave social institutions, which include marriage and government.

If you are slave, be the best slave for Jesus Christ.  If you are wife to an unsaved husband, be the best wife for Jesus Christ.  If you are in an oppressive government, be the best citizen of the state for Jesus Christ.  The Bible treats this life like the short life that it is.  I don't assume that living according to scripture won't turn the world into the best possible place even in the short term.    The permanent though should not be sacrificed on the altar of the immediate.

The Bible teaches that Christians have their identities in Jesus Christ.  They are not  a Jew or Gentile, but they are a Christian.  They are not male or female.  They are a Christian.  They are not bond or free, but Christians.  That brings me back to the first point.

The Bible teaches slavery.  Believers are slaves of Jesus Christ.  Every person is a slave to something or someone.  Paul said you were either a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness -- you are either one or the other and not both at the same time.

The hierarchy of slavery isn't wrong.  An earthly master isn't better than his slave, but he has authority over him.  All men are created equal, like Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence.  Submission to someone in authority over you doesn't mean he is better than you.  His position is greater even as God the Father is greater than God the Son.

The kind of slavery before the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation and the series of constitutional amendments ratified after the Civil War doesn't exist any more in the United States.  Maybe that history of slavery is still a concern to unbelievers, but it shouldn't matter to a Christian.  The slavery issue is a distraction from what the real problem is.  Christians shouldn't cooperate with that distraction as they so often do today, so that they will appear to be "woke."

Anyone who rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ will go to Hell.  Hell will be worse for everyone than any other form of slavery that exists on earth.  Rescuing people from sin and Hell must far outweigh any other cause.  Nothing is worse.

There are things worse than slavery that violate biblical regulation of slavery.  If we can't be more concerned about those things over the slavery issue, then our values are truly perverse.

 In one sense, everyone is owned by God as a submissive slave, or as a rebel against, following his own way.   On the other hand, believers are voluntarily slaves of Jesus Christ.   Believers do not do well to cooperate with a general dislike of the concept of slavery.   We want to encourage slavery to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  If someone doesn't acquiesce to the Lordship of Christ, he'll be a slave anyway to the world, the flesh, and the devil and meet a damnable end.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Apostasy and the Meaning of Stephen's Sermon in Acts 7 with Special Application to Millennial Apostates

In the first half of Acts 6 Stephen along with seven others was chosen to service the Grecian widows of the Jerusalem church.  In the second half of Acts 6, the focus stays alone on Stephen with his courageous gospel disputations in the Hellenistic Jewish synagogues.  He is charged with blasphemy by them, which then gains the attention of the Sanhedrin.  When he is called before that august council in Acts 7:1, Caiaphas asks him a question about the charges of the synagogue leadership:  "Are these things so?"  The rest of the mammoth chapter records Stephen's answer to the high priest's question.

The accusation against Stephen was blasphemy and he turns that on its head against his accusers.  The English word "blasphemy" transliterates the Greek noun, blasphemiaBDAG says that it is "speech that denigrates or defames, reviling, denigration, disrespect, slander," and in particular denigates or degrades God.  The Hebrew word that translates "blaspheme" means essentially the same.  Very often blasphemy is associated with taking the name of the Lord God in vain, breaking the third of the ten commandments, which is blasphemy.

In Acts 6:11, Stephen is accused to have spoken blasphemous words against Moses and against God.  Part of what Stephen is doing in Acts 7 is defending himself, but he does it in a cohesive manner so as to prove that his accusers were the ones guilty of blasphemy.  He uses the entire Old Testament to prove the apostasy of Israel and its leaders.  Blasphemy and apostasy come together, but what is it?

Key to understanding the sermon of Stephen in Acts 7 is in the conclusion to it in verses 51-53:
51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
This is the theme of Stephen's presentation.  His audience, he says, always resists the Holy Spirit, as their forefathers did.  They did that by persecuting the prophets, ending in the slaying of the Just One, Jesus, so having received the law, they have not kept it.

Stephen's present accusers and their forefathers denigrated God, blasphemy, by not hearing or heeding the voice of God through His spokesmen.  They denigrated them all the way up to the greatest spokesman of and for God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is something Jesus also had proven to them while He preached during His ministry.

What I'm writing here reinforces a theme I've been asserting in recent posts here on apostasy, authority, and heresy.  In his epistle about apostasy in 2 Peter, Peter equates the apostasy with the despising of government and speaking evil of dignities, and in Jude's epistle also about apostasy, "despise dominion."  "Despising," "speaking evil," and again "despise" are to "denigrate" or "defame."

A person, including a professing Christian or Israelite, can imagine or fancy himself respectful of God.  He has formed or fashioned his god in his imagination into one who accepts his lifestyle.  This is what Jude calls 'turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.'  Meanwhile, this person defames actual God by denigrating God's representative human authorities that this person cannot morph into what he wants.

The denigration of the human authority is what Stephen specifies to evince blasphemy of God.  When Jesus came, He was God in human flesh.  They couldn't get away with this separation of God from human authority.  Jesus was human.  They had to deal with something concrete with which they were unable to pass off through their fancies and mere imagination.  Here was God before them.  Who was it before?

Well, according to Stephen, before it was first Joseph.  Yes, Joseph.  The last fifteen chapters of Genesis  areabout Joseph.  Stephen said about Joseph, "God was with him."  I looked into who else that was said about in the New Testament.  One time.  Acts 10:38.  It was said about Jesus by Peter.  Joseph and Jesus.  God was with them.

The parallel for Stephen among the Patriarchs were the twelve tribes, the sons of Jacob, who envied Joseph.  This related to lust, another theme for Peter in 2 Peter and Jude in Jude.  They weren't getting what they wanted and Joseph was in the way.  What they wanted wasn't what God wanted and God was with Joseph.

At the end of Genesis, Joseph says God meant it for good (Gen 50:20).  That didn't relieve the responsibility of the twelve, according to Stephen.  They were opposing God nonetheless, like whom?  Like Judas for one, another apostate, whom Stephen's accusers used to betray Christ.

There are thousands and thousands of millennials today, who feel justified in changing their own views about God, because of their problem with human authority, maybe a parent or a pastor.  The human authority is the one saying, no, and punishing them when they do wrong.  They want their way.  Instead of succumbing to the human authority, whom God is with, whether they like it or not, they speak evil of it and despise it, while thinking they are loving God.  This is blasphemy.  They are blaspheming God by blaspheming, denigrating and defaming human authority.  I know about this personally and painfully.  They are not loving God, because this is how God works -- through people, human authority.  They have merely shaped a new god in their minds who rejects their human authority -- like Joseph's brothers.  Their new god, who isn't actual God, agrees with them, and actual God, Who speaks through human authority, doesn't agree with them.  They are blaspheming Him.

Stephen moves on from there, but that's how he makes his case in Acts 7.  It would be good for you to understand that.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Sing the Nicene Creed in Greek

Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed, A. D. 325/381 

(with Filioque) on the holy Trinity

(sung to the tune of “Of the Father’s Heart Begotten”)

Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν
Πατέρα παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ
καὶ γῆς, ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων.        

Καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ιησοῦν Χριστόν,
τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ,
τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα
πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων,

θεὸν ἐκ θεοῦ, φῶς ἐκ φωτός,
θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ,
γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα,
ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί·

δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο·
τὸν δι’ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους
καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν
σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν
καὶ σαρκωθέντα

ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἅγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου
καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα, σταυρωθέντα
τε ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ
Ποντίου Πιλάτου,
καὶ παθόντα

καὶ ταφέντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα
τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ κατὰ τὰς γραφάς,
καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς,
καὶ καθεζόμενον
ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ πατρός,

καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης
κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς·
οὗ τῆς βασιλείας οὐκ ἔσται τέλος. 
[repeat] οὐκ ἔσται τέλος.

Καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον,
τὸ κύριον, καὶ τὸ ζωοποιόν,
τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τὸν Υἱὸν

τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ
προσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον
τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν· . . . .

I believe in one God
the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven
and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of the Father before all worlds,

God of God, Light of Light,
true God of true God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;

by whom all things were made;
who, for us men
and for our
salvation, came down from heaven,
and was incarnate

by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man; and was crucified
also for us under
Pontius Pilate;
he suffered

and was buried; and he rose again
the third day according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sits
on the right hand of the Father;         

and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge the living and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end,
[repeat] whose kingdom shall have no end.

And [I believe] in the Holy Ghost,
the Lord and Giver of Life;
who . . . from the Father and the Son

who with the Father and the Son
is worshipped and together glorified;
who spake by the Prophets. . . .

The text above, while commonly called the Nicene Creed (A. D. 325), is actually the text of the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed of A. D. 381, where a more detailed statement about the Deity of the Holy Spirit was added to the original formulation. Furthermore, the song above only includes the portion of the Creed on the holy Trinity, not the portion of the Creed on ecclesiology and eschatology, which briefly followed.  Also, the Filioque is included in the text above, because the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son as from one principle is the teaching of Scripture.

In addition to the verses of Scripture in Greek I posted about before that we are singing in my first year New Testament or Koine Greek class, we are also singing the glorious Biblical truth contained in this creed in Greek.  I would encourage you, if you are a student or a teacher of the Greek language, to praise the Triune God in the words of this great classic creed as well as praising the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with the New Testament Greek Scripture-songs I posted earlier.  You should be able to see the class singing these verses and this creed in Greek at the beginning or the end of the class lectures on YouTube (as of the time this post was composed, there are still quite a few lectures left to post) or at the appropriate section of the college courses section on my website.

As I pointed out in my class on Trinitarianism, not only the early proto-Catholics but also the ancient Anabaptists held to the same Trinitarianism.  When the Catholics were in power, they used the power of the State to persecute the Arians because they were anti-Trinitarian and also persecuted the Anabaptists because they rejected Catholicism's many false doctrines.  When the Arians were in power, the used the sword of the Roman government against both the Catholics and Anabaptists because they both shared the same Trinitarianism.  Thus, the fact that Biblical ecclesiology is Baptist or Anabaptist, and the type of church Christ founded is Baptist and not Roman Catholic or Protestant is no reason for members of historic Baptist churches to fail to rejoice in the glorious Biblical truths about the Trinity taught in the creeds of the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople.


[1]           The portion of the creed on ecclesiology and eschatology is omitted in this song.