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In our I hope brief blog-versation, Doug Wilson has posted a couple more things to think about. In one he asks who our father/Father is. We either have God or the devil as our father. Well, yes and no. I’m with Doug in what he’s getting at, I think, but here again I’m not so sure about terminology. The devil as father was a liar from the beginning. Well, every child lies instinctively. You don’t have to teach kids to lie. Those little children that Jesus wanted to come to him were “of their father the devil” in some sense. So am I, since I still have an Adamic death-nature that messes with me — and as far as I’m concerned Romans 7 STILL is talking about that, even if I’m increasingly lonely in thinking so.

When Peter confessed Jesus as the son of the Living God, Jesus blessed him for listening to the Father. Five minutes later Jesus condemned him as a mouthpiece of Satan.

Also, of course, I had a physical father; and if I were a Presbyterian clergyman I would address Presbytery as “Fathers and Brethren,” acknowledging that older minister are fathers to younger ones. Every human being has God the Father as his father by creation; Adam as his father by generation; and the devil as his father by Adam’s decision to give the world to him. Christians have God the Father as father because they are in Christ, the Son.

Perhaps I should write “faithful Christians.” It seems to me that the Bible is telling us to be concerned about who is faithful, who trusts and obeys, and leave the heart (and “regeneration”) to God. (more…)

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The following material was published in 1984 in Christianity and Civilization No. 4: The Reconstruction of the Church, pages 6-9, and are reprinted here as grist for the mill of the discussion of “evangelicalism.” Footnotes have not come through, of course. Though this material is offered in connection with a concern for “evangelicalism” raised initially by Rev. Douglas Wilson, I am as certain as I can be that Doug would agree with what is written here about the dangers spoken of.  My point is that one of the several meanings of “evangelical” is precisely someone who would agree with Whitefield and the Methodists in connection with the problems of the Great Awakening. If you want to understand much of what is meant by “evangelicalism” in America, you need to understand the evils of the Great Awakening. — JBJordan

Beginning of citation:

As a result of all this [the inability of the Reformers to get full liturgical worship and weekly communion in place in the churches], protestant people came to think of preaching as the most important aspect of the institutional Church. This was a mistake, because God has not given many gifted orators to the Church. (St. Paul was ridiculed for his lack of oratorical skill, and Moses had the same problem; see Exodus 4:10ff. and Acts 20:7-9; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 10:10.) The proclamation of the gospel needs the pastoral context of the whole “body life” of the Church, and particularly needs the seal of the sacraments. By its exaltation of preaching as a charismatic art, the Reformation moved in the direction, subtly and unintentionally to be sure, of undermining the Church itself. (more…)

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During the last couple of weeks, Douglas Wilson has issued several posts over on his Blog and Mablog blog that deal with “evangelicalism” and who is and who is not an “evangelical.” In the course of these postings, Doug has written that while I am a fine Christian who has much to offer everyone, I’m not what he means by “an evangelical.” I’m a conservative Biblicistic protestant (my phrase), but not an “evangelical.” See here and here. None of this really bothers me, but I have received more than one request that I comment on the issue involved, including from Doug himself. Hence this first of a series of essays.

(The essay of mine to which Doug refers is Thoughts on Sovereign Grace and Regeneration: Some Tentative Explorations. Biblical Horizons Occasional Paper No. 32, January, 2003; available for $5.00 from Biblical Horizons, Box 1096, Niceville, FL 32588; or see here.)

First of all, then, what is “an evangelical”? That will be our topic in this posting. The use of the adjective “evangelical” as a noun is, to start with, a bit strange, but “Evangelical Christian” is the actual term, with “evangelical” being shorthand.

The usual and broad meaning of “an evangelical” in the United States (where it matters most) is this: someone who accepts that the truth claims of the Bible are without error not only doctrinally but also with respect to historical and spatial matters, who accepts the teaching that God is three equal persons in one Godhead, and who trusts in the work of Jesus Christ alone for his justification and salvation. This is the definition that will get you into the Evangelical Theological Society, of which I have been a card-carrying member since 1976. And in this sense, James B. Jordan is most definitely “an evangelical.” And I know that Douglas Wilson fully accepts that this is so.

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The Nicene Creed states that the Holy Spirit “spoke through the prophets in (or into) one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Contrary to usual translations, neither the Greek nor the Latin originals say “I believe in one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” As written, the thought of the authors seems to be that as the Spirit spoke through the prophets in depositing the Bible for all time, so He continues to guide the Church into all truth.  Either that, or taking “in” as “into,” the Spirit spoke the Bible into that church.

What kind of church is it that the Spirit works in? A church that is united, holy, catholic, and apostolic. No church is fully these things, and so the thought has to be that to the extent that the church functions in this way, to that extent the Spirit guides her.

So, is the church today one? Hardly. Of course, sectarians will say that she is one, because they exclude everyone with whom they disagree. Landmark Baptists and “Baptist Bride” Baptists of all stripes will recognize the rest of us as “separated brethren,” but not as fully “in” the church. This same hypersectarian mentality is found in Romanism, Orthodoxy, and in nose-bleed-high Anglicanism. Authentic churches, however, recognize others as real though flawed. The great Scottish Presbyterian Samuel Rutherford was a pains to insist that Roman Catholic ordination was real and that no converted priest was to be “re-ordained” in the Scottish church. Sadly, Hyperbaptists, Papists, Orthodox, and too much of Anglicanism cannot say the same. Some goofy sectarian Presbyterians are the same. Churches function as part of the ONE when they recognize one another’s orders and sacraments and discipline. This is not always easy, but real churches do it. When someone comes to us from a Baptist or Catholic church and wants to join, we phone up the pastor/priest and talk to him. We find out what the story is. We honor other churches, however wayward we think they are.

Is the church today holy? Well, that definitely depends on the church. Those who define holiness as mysticism and shamanism can tolerate all kinds of immorality. In Rome and Orthodoxy and Pentecostalism, holiness inheres in various charmed objects and persons. These semi-churches will discipline someone who rejects these talismans, but turn a blind eye to Tsars, mafiosos, pederasts, adulterers, and royalty. Imagine what would happen if a priest in the Church of England refused communion to one of their adulterous royalty? Well, you can’t imagine it, can you? It cannot happen. Anyone who reads the Pauline epistles or chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation knows that kicking people out for immorality is at the top of Jesus’ demands for a faithful bride. Can anyone point to an instance of that’s happening in Anglicanism, Orthodoxy, or Rome? One thing these churches are not is “holy.” It seems that it is only in those churches that trace back to the Reformation, including the Baptists, where the holiness that Jesus wants can be found, however partially.

Is the church today catholic? This is similar to asking if she is one. The test of catholicity is an open communion table. From early times the church has failed to be charitable in this regard. In his book Jesus Wars, John Philip Jenkins describes the horrible treatment of “Monophysite” and “Nestorian” Christians at the hands of savage “Orthodox” monks; and vice versa. Rodney Stark’s wonderful book on the “crusades,” God’s Battalions, shows how the eastern Christians welcomed the Moslem invaders as deliverers from vicious oppression at the hands of Byzantine Christianity. We’ve grown up a bit since those days, but it is still the case that sectarian groups deny communion to baptized believers simply because they don’t sign on the dotted line. Hyper-Lutherans deny communion to anyone who does not confess what is often called “consubstantiation.” Now, think about this. The Eucharistic Meal is not what you or I think it is or may be; it is what Jesus does. If I’m wrong about the theory, does that mean Jesus is not present? Real Lutherans say, yes, there is “real presence” as they define it, but even if you don’t understand that, Jesus is still there for you if you trust him and are baptized.

Catholicity of practice is, sadly, missing from Orthodoxy, Hard-core Baptists, the Church of Christ, and most of Rome. Rome won’t “rebaptize” Protestants, but neither will she give us communion unless there happens to be no Protestant church in the area we can attend. This is at least an improvement over how things were when I was a child, before Vatican II. Orthodoxy says our baptisms stink, and have to be cleansed by “chrismation,” a ritual nowhere found in the apostlolic scriptures. As Peter Leithart wrote recently on his blog, anyone who is truly committed to catholicity will have a hard time joining one of these sects.

Finally, is the church Apostolic? Here again, we have sects that claim something called “apostolic succession,” a notion that cannot be found in the Bible. In fact, Paul is at pains repeatedly to deny any succession from the earlier apostles. I’m happy with the notion of ministers ordaining ministers and Christians baptizing Christians, but ultimately the succession in the Church is by the Spirit. It cannot be otherwise. “Apostolic” in the Nicene Creed means “faithful to the apostles.” Well, do the apostles anywhere teach that icons can be used as charmed objects with which to communicate with the dead? Do they tell us to chat with, or to offer prayers to, our “heavenly family members”? Surely, if the Apostolic Church had changed the earlier rules against consulting the dead and worshipping through images and man-made objects, it would have been controversial. But we see nothing of that. The controversial changes were about circumcision, calendar, food, and Jewish exceptionalism. In fact, the early Church teachers (“fathers”) were death on using images in worship, and it was only in the 700s that ignorant monks were able to overwhelm the authentic clergy and bring this garbage into the church. No Apostolic church has anything to do with prayers to the goddess BMEV (Blessed Mary Ever Virgin) or any other god-saints. No Apostolic church bows down to pieces of wood and brass, to images whether flat or in the round.

It is because I am a member of the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church that I cannot imagine joining one of these giant sects. The fact is that God the Holy Spirit fixed these problems half a millennium ago in the Protestant (pro-test = stand for) Reformation. Protestantism has now run its course, but what will come in its place will be more Biblical, more Catholic, more Unified. It will not be a return to Monophysitism, Nestorianism, Orthodoxy, or Romanism.

People who despair of Protestant churches as they have experienced them — and many are pretty awful today — and who go into Rome or Orthodoxy may do so for two reasons. One, they may become idolators, pure and simple. Such is the case with Scott Hahn, who decided to worship Mary and then converted. Or, two, they may hold their nose at many things but go into these churches because they think (erroneously in my view) that this is where God is going to act in the future. This is an understandable reason, and I think godly men like Louis Bouyer are in this category. For myself, however, I think remaining in the Protestant world is the best option, however chaotic it is right now. God does not go back. The future, which we cannot really imagine, will come out of what He has done most recently, which is the Reformation.

You Romanists, Nestorians, Monophysites, HyperBaptists, HyperLutherans, and Orthodox are welcome at the Lord’s Table in authentic Protestant churches such as the ones I attend. Come on in. The fire’s warm. The roast is in the oven. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape is decanted. We’d love to see you.

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One of the latest sectarian movements to arise around the fringes of the Christian religion is something called “family integrated churches.” What this seems to mean, depending on the advocate, is that youth groups are bad, age-segregated Sunday Schools are bad, families need to sit together in church, and even the notion that husbands should serve their wives and children the Lord’s Supper (a practice that was a capital offense in the Bible; Exodus 35:2-3; Numbers 16).

 

One understands where some of this comes from. I gather that most of these people are Baptists or come from hip-hop PCA churches and want something better. They rightly are opposed to “children’s church,” a practice unknown to Lutheran and Episcopal churches and only found in Baptist and Bapterian churches. They are also concerned about the breakdown of the family in our society. Their cure, however, is not much better than the disease. What is needed is a return to Reformation worship, with full sung liturgy and genuine psalmody. In such a context, Sunday Schools and Youth Ministries are no threat to anyone.

 

The simple fact is that for 2000 years, the Holy Spirit moved the church to have men and women sitting separately during divine worship. This is because in heaven there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage. There is neither male nor female, bond nor free, child nor parent. Hence, ascended worship, taking place seated in the heavenlies, involves an affirmation of God’s Family and a setting aside of the earthly family. As a matter of fact, if you want God to give you a healthy family, let Him take it apart and put it back together each week, for that is how God always glorifies and empowers His people (Hebrews 6:12-13 + Genesis 2:23-24). I have a lecture on this that can be heard here: http://www.trinvalp.com/ The message is titled “The End of the World.”

 

Functioning beneath the surface with such groups as Vision Forum and the like is a form of idolatry. We read that the family is the foundation of civilization. That is a fairly ridiculous notion, since the family is a highly temporary social unit. The Bible commands that a child leave his father and mother when he marries (Genesis 2:24). Moreover, as children grow up, they move from an orientation toward parents (imaging the Father), to an orientation toward older young people (imaging the Brother) and finally move out and become oriented toward mentors (imaging the Spirit). This is perfectly natural, and is why wise churches have youth groups in which young people growing away from their parents receive reinforcement from older teens. The notion that a 15 year old must relate to his parents in the same way as a 5 year old is implicitly unitarian. God has designed the family to be temporary, and has designed us to begin to look outward from our initial foundation.

 

A good discussion is found here: http://www.weswhite.net/2011/04/family-integrated-mathis/ I don’t usually recommend visiting this site since the men involved are opposed to Reformation theology, but on this point they are right. The discussions below the essay are interesting, because you can see the kind of fanaticism this movement entails.

 

Another aspect of this business is dealt with here: http://www.patriarchy.org/church/membership.html

 

Finally I recommend this paper, which deals with how this familistic movement is an enemy of the church: http://trinity-pres.net/essays/THECHURCHANDHERRIVALSversion3.0.pdf

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This is a fine hymn by John Mason Neale, based on an ancient Greek church hymn. The opening question is particularly powerful: “Christian, dost thou see them on the holy ground, how the powers of darkness compass thee around?” Yes, the devil strikes in the very church and her worship as much as he can, just as he struck in the holy garden in the beginning.

Good words, but too often cheesy goofy music by John Bacchus Dykes. You may know the tune:

Spooky, spooky, spooky; spooky, spooky, spoooooook.

Spooky, spooky, spoooookeeeey; spooky, spooky, spoooook.

Happyhappyjoyjoy, happyhappyjoy!

Happyhappyjooooyjooooy, happyhappyjoy!
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This syrupy piece of marijuana-haze hymnody is found in the hymnals of churches that have substituted sentiment for orthodoxy and worship. Hence you don’t find it in older Presbyterian hymnals, but in the Trinity Hymnal. Nor do you find it in Episcopal and Lutheran hymnals until very recently in some Lutheran books.

The song would be much improved if the spacy refrain were omitted. I don’t know if Horatio Spafford actually wrote this refrain in his original poem or if it were added by Philip Bliss in his gooey music, but I do know that if I smoked marijuana I’d love it. It drifts along in a haze that is so far unlike anything God enjoys, as seen in the book of psalms, that is might as well be Hindu.

Happily, two of Spafford’s stanzas are usually omitted:

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
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4. The Three Basic Phases of the Covenant

We have introduced the three phases of the covenant, from childhood to adulthood to full maturity. Let us look more fully at each of these three phases.

The Bible speaks of the Church as Daughter in this Old Creation phase: Daughter Zion, Daughter Jerusalem, and for converted nations, Daughter Tyre, etc. This is a time of childhood, of immaturity. We think of immaturity as something bad, but it is not. It is a gift of God appropriate for our first phase of life. We have said that the Son has eternally “become” mature, but this also means that the Son is also eternally moving from being immature. There is nothing wrong with such immaturity. It is what being a son means: to look up to one’s father. The Son is eternally immature, being a Son to his Father. He is eternally becoming mature through the Spirit. And he has eternally become mature, so that he is fully like his Father.

We need to remember the difference between created time and the Divine eternity. In time and history, maturation is a process, while in eternity it is a condition.

Thus, in the Old Creation we are like the Son in his Divine immaturity. We are under the Father, who has sent the Son to us as his Angel (messenger) to teach us the rules we are to obey during our childhood: the Law. The Father has sent his Spirit to cause us to grow up into adulthood. He wants us to become fully mature, just as his Son is eternally mature.
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Risky Business

I was once a church-planting candidate in the largest conservative Reformed denomination in America. During my seminary preparation I watched as prospective church-planters jumped through various hoops, including raising money. At the time, it was not unusual for a single church-planter on the West Coast to have to raise $500,000 but I have heard recently that the amount needed to execute a church-plant, before the first worship service is ever planned, is over $1 million in some metropolitan areas. Is this a good and desirable thing?

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, being interviewed by Radio Bremen in 1962, said the following:

Money corrupts. If I have to solicit great foundations for money for my research, then I have to propose something which is already obsolete for me. I know no researcher who in the first moment of a new inspiration could have found the sympathy and approval of the establishment. Whether it’s Galileo, Copernicus, Fichte, or I myself, it’s always the same: the new thought has to break through in battle against the vested interests, the power of the establishment, the conception of squandered money, against money itself—in short, against power of all sorts.

(more…)

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Obama as Fool

It is clear now that Barack Obama is a fool. This was clear to anyone with Biblical wisdom during the campaign, but it is now becoming clear to everyone. The following analysis of this narcissist is invaluable:

  http://www.globalpolitician.com/25109-barack-obama-elections

 These rather radical comments are also worth considering:

 http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/print.asp?ID=9668

What is telling is that this is a man with absolutely no executive experience in any area of life, and also a man who has never undergone death and resurrection. In Biblical religion, both of these things are necessary for a person to exercise “knowledge of good and evil,” that is, rule over others.

Saul was a fool. Saul may have had a bit of executive experience, but he did not demonstrate it when he ordered his army not to eat anything during battle, and then sought to put fellow-warrior Jonathan to death for having partaken of the “sacramental” flow of honey offered by God’s land. (1 Samuel 14). Additionally, Saul had never undergone death and resurrection. By way of contrast, David had fought lion and bear, spent time learning executive wisdom at Saul’s court (from other men, presumably), and then was driven out into the wilderness for several years, threatened repeatedly with death, before rising to the throne. David was not a perfect ruler, but he was not a fool.

If we look at the campaign in the US last autumn, the Christian voter’s position is pretty much crystal clear. Neither Democratic candidate had any executive experience. Joe Biden is a notorious liar, who delivered no fewer than seventeen blatant lies during his debate with Sarah Palin. He is a man completely devoid of shame and morality, who has vociferously advocated the murder of inconvenient people throughout his career but who showed up last Wednesday was ashes on his forehead. No Christian could vote for such an obvious hypocrite, unless there were simply no other choice.

By way of contrast, Sarah Palin has a lot of executive experience. The numerous lies told about her in the mainstream media, blogosphere, and leaked by the “moderate” and homosexual element in the Republican campaign, only testify to her power as a knowledgeable and competent person. She was hated because she had committed the two unpardonable sins: She willingly gave birth to a downs syndrome child (95% of whom are murdered in the womb), and she did not have her pregnant daughter murder her unborn child.

By the same token, John McCain is a man who has been through death and resurrection. He is a man who understands the horrors of war, unlike Obama and Biden. He is the man who got the US out of the quagmire of Iraq by coming up with the “surge.” McCain had some unfortunate beliefs, like the superstition of man-made global warming, but he is a man of some wisdom, unlike the fool we now have in office.

It was clear to the Christian community that the Republican Party ticket last autumn fulfilled, however imperfectly, the Biblical standards for rule, while the Democrat Party ticket was a pair of fools. The Christian choice was clear, and Christians made it.

(Note: by Christians I do not mean Evangelicals. Evangelicalism in America is a species of mostly gnostic religion. There is no wine in communion. There are no psalms, and certainly no warfare psalms. Evangelicals mostly believe the blasphemy that Jesus is going to fail in His announced programme of discipling all nations. Evangelicals are anti-Bibliocratic. And evangelical academics are so compromised that they cannot understand the first chapter of the Bible. With their rock and roll jazz worship, they are irrelevant. That some evangelicals may have supported Obama is no surprise.) [On evangelicalism and gnosticism, see Philip Lee's classic Against the Protestant Gnostics, and my own Creation in Six Days.]

Obama announced clearly during the campaign that he would increase the systematic murder of inconvenient people (that is, Jews, I mean babies). He would seek to sodomize the military, as he is seeking to do. He has introduced racism into his administration, in addition to filling it up with tax-cheating crooks. If all of this resembles Nazi Germany, it is no surprise. And if there are “German Christians” (I mean, “with-it evangelicals”) who support this, that is also no surprise.

God has given the US into the arms of fools, and this is a judgment. It is a judgment first of all on the Church, which has refused to exercise any kind of ecclesiastical discipline for several generations. The book of Revelation shows that when the Seven Churches start dealing with sin and rebellion, God begins to change the world. With “evangelicals” deciding that church discipline is unimportant, and even joining hands with the wicked to vote Obama into office, knowing his desire to increase the murder of Jews inconvenient babies, it is clear that judgment is needed. The sooner God destroys the world of evangelical gnosticism, the sooner authentic Christian churches can begin to do what we are called upon to do.

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