Augsburg Confession Article VI: About New Obedience

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This is my sixth post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession.  A full copy of which you can find HERE.  Three older blog posts which I would recommend reading if you have not are The Three Uses of the Law and Repentance.  Though I have not blogged much on defining good works those would be helpful for this topic.

 

“We teach that this faith must bring forth good fruits and that one must do the good works commanded  by God, in accord with God’s will. However, one must never rely on such works to earn justification in God’s eyes.  For we receive forgiveness of sins and justification only by faith. Christ himself says, “When you have done everything … say, ‘We are unworthy servants”‘ (Luke 17:10). The church fathers teach this same thing.  Ambrose says, “God has established that whoever believes in Christ freely receives the forgiveness of sins. He is saved without works, by faith alone.”– The Unaltered Augsburg Confession

 

We should expect that when we become Christians we will have the desire to do good works and for sin to be pruned from our lives.  We should also expect not to notice this personally.  You’re only going to become more convicted of your sin in the Christian life and actually feel a great deal of guilt.  This is why it is so important for us to hear the gospel as often as possible.

I don’t believe that we should “fruit check” people’s good works.  It’s my observation that such an outlook is a reflection on poor theology.  Specifically, I think that many protestants today treat good works as if they were sacraments.  Instead of looking to our works for assurance we should look to Christ.

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Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation: Dr. James White vs Trent Horn

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I have linked a two part YouTube debate below between Dr. James White (Alpha and Omega Ministries) and Trent Horn (Catholic Answers) on whether or not a believer can lose salvation.  This was an exceptionally good debate and I highly recommend watching it.  I have blogged on the topic in the past, you can find that post HERE.  Before getting started, I just want to point out that Dr White clearly won in the category of awesome bow-tie.

Below I am going to present some of the passages and arguments that both of the debaters used along with my own analysis.  I am not going to attempt to represent the entire arguments of any of these debaters.  If you want their whole presentation you will have to watch it yourself.

 

White’s Prooftexts

“39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” John 6:39 KJV 

“5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Rom 4:5-8 KJV 

 

There are some other passages that I either didn’t notice him reference or that he simply chose not to bring up.  For example I didn’t hear Dr. James White mention Romans 8:38-39 KJV as that is frequently cited as support for Perseverance of the Saints.  That being the case, the ones he brought up instead make his case better in my opinion.  Specifically John 6:39 as it is very compelling.

Dr. White emphasized many times that Jesus loses nothing, nada, zilch.  He also emphasized that Jesus doesn’t fail in what he has been given to do.  Finally, he ties this in to Romans 4 with the Blessed Man who is not imputed sin.

I actually don’t disagree with Dr. White on this at all, he is absolutely right in that the elect are predestined and that none go to hell in the end.  My understanding is that Trent even agrees with this as well.  I found that Dr. White’s arguments missed their mark here as nobody is arguing that anyone of the elect go to hell. Maybe an open theist would but none were represented in this debate.  It’s possible I simply misunderstood him and am open to correction but that’s how his argumentation came across to me.

 

Trent’s Prooftexts

 

“16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.; 17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.; 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.; 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:; 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Rom 11:16-22 KJV 

“29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb 10:29 KJV 

“19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:; 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1 Tim 1:19-20 KJV 

“4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:4 KJV 

 

By presenting more verses from Trent I’m not implying that his case was stronger, I just heard him cite more specific passages.  I also noticed that he left some out entirely which I think would have been helpful, specifically Hebrews 6:4-6.  He makes the same argument though with Romans 11 so perhaps he felt it would be redundant, I don’t know.

If you deny that a true Christian can lose their faith then you remove all meaning from passages like Rom 11 above.  The text plainly states that those part of and partaking of the tree are cut off.  If they were never truly Christians then that means nobody is and there is no elect because that which they were cut from cannot be Christ.

The same reasoning applies to Hebrews 6:4-6.  How can an unbeliever fall away?  If you assert such things the text loses it’s meaning.

Also look at 1 Tim 1:19 above.  How can you have no faith and make a shipwreck of your faith?  Such a notion is ridiculous.  It is plain as day to me that one who holds to perseverance of the saints has some very uncomfortable passages that they must tap dance around.  A more extreme example of this would be the way Seventh Day Adventists do backflips around Col 2:16-17.

 

Analysis – Methodological Error

I firmly believe that the most honest approach is to accept all teachings from scripture as true.  I will freely admit that I am appealing to the Lutheran tradition here so discern for yourself if you believe it is the best approach or not.

Thus it is most certainly true that Jesus desires to save all, ends up not saving all, but still loses none.  All of these are taught from scripture and we are free to attempt to reconcile but not to abrogate.  If this means you end up believing something paradoxical then so be it.

So, I would say that the elect are foreknown in eternity past and all of them will be in heaven.  But means of grace is still just as efficacious and accessible to all in the present.  Even those who are reprobate in eternity future.  A category of people are truly saved now in Christ but will fall away and damn themselves in Adam.  A sacramental understanding of means of grace is very helpful with this but not required as evidenced by the fact that many Zwinglian based protestant traditions still hold that a believer can fall away.

 

Analysis – Prescriptive vs Descriptive

 

During the debate White called out Trent for using descriptive passages prescriptively.  He then gave some examples of what he meant by that.  Trent then called out White for bending the meaning of prescriptive vs descriptive with his Calvinist tradition.  I have to say, I found White’s application of this distinction arbitrary as it relied too heavily on a subjective analysis of the texts rather than an objective one.

A fair objective definition of descriptive would be a story, like the book of Acts for example.  In a descriptive text we are seeing a narrative play out.  There are themes and principles that can be drawn out but they must be interpreted through prescriptive texts.  Romans would be a good example of that.  Some books have a mixture of the two like the Gospels for example.  But a degree of objectivity can be applied with that.  Dr White is taking verses like Matt 6:15 and saying they are descriptive.

 

“15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matt 6:15 KJV 

 

I’m sorry, but you don’t get more prescriptive than Matt 5, 6,  and 7.  Those are some of the heaviest law passages in all of scripture and to assert otherwise waters down your terms to the point where they have no meaning.  Any tradition that tries to make that descriptive is special pleading at best in my honest opinion.  Because of this I think that Trent was right to point out White’s appeal to tradition here.

In my opinion on this topic White is magisterially bending the text to keep it in line with his tradition.  Because of this I don’t find White’s handling of apostasy passages compelling as I don’t have a Calvinist tradition to defend.

 

Analysis – The word “He”

 

“29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb 10:29 KJV

 

This verse came up during the debate and during the question answer portion.  I agree with Trent that the plainest referent to “He” is the apostate not Jesus.  White brings up a good point with Leviticus 16, in how the priest also receives atonement.  But in my opinion this interprets the new testament with the old rather than the other way around.  Also there are other fair ways of understanding that, not least of which is the fact that the Aaron was a sinner.

If “he” is read as Jesus this ends up turning the sanctification of the cross into an ordinance, which confuses law and gospel.  Even if I am wrong though, even if “he” is Jesus, the last phrase at the end would negate irresistible grace.  Given the frame of the debate and the focus on this verse I find that interesting.

I do not believe I am wrong, I am convinced that “he” does refer to the apostate.  I think  anyone who says that it does is assuming their theology going into it.  But even with that understanding I wouldn’t use this verse to prove apostasy, it’s just extra evidence.

 

Conclusion

 

Overall I would say that I enjoyed this debate a great deal.  Like most of Dr. James White’s debates we are given a fair representation of both sides and how they interact against each other.  To get this perspective without a good debate one would have to extensively study the works of Catholics and Calvinists for years.

I must say that I agree a great deal more with Trent Horn here.  Particularly in the manner of his presentation.  In this debate we saw a Calvinist use tradition against a Roman Catholic who was using Sola Scriptura.  Heaven help us when the papists are doing that better than the protestants are, but that’s what happened here.

Please don’t take away from this that I disrespect Dr. White,  I actually enjoy his debates and podcasts a great deal.  In the future I’ll try to make up for this by reviewing one of the debates he clearly won.

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Augsburg Confession Article V: About the Ministry

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This is my fifth post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession.  A full copy of which you can find HERE.  I have two older blog posts which I would recommend reading if you have not, which present both the office and means of grace from scripture.

 

“So that we might receive this faith, God established the ministry of teaching  the gospel and administering  the sacraments. For the Holy Spirit is given to people through the Word and sacraments,  the tools through which God works.  Whenever and  wherever it pleases  God, this ministry  creates faith in the hearts of those who hear the gospel.  And the gospel message is this: that not because of our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace because of what Christ did.

We condemn the Anabaptists and all others who believe that the Holy Spirit can come to people  without the external Word, through their own preparations, thoughts, and actions.”– The Unaltered Augsburg Confession

 

The idea is that God saves through means, and that the office God has given is here to provide these means.  It is not the means themselves which save, but God’s work in with and under them.  The most notable of which is the preaching of the Word.

 

“17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 1 Rom 10:17 KJV 

“2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Tim 4:2 KJV  

” 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:; 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matt 28:19-20 KJV  

 

When the confessions condemn the anabaptists it is because they are condemned by their false teaching in rejecting Monergistic means of Grace.  Just like Rome, they teach quite consistently that man must be prepared and disposed of himself to receive grace, usually in the form of making a decision.

Just like Rome does most protestants will use the false teaching of prevenient grace to get around the obstacle of original sin here.  Some these days won’t even bother to do that.  The great irony in my opinion is that much of Protestantism today teaches the same falsehood of Rome, they just set the bar lower that’s all.

I think this is very sad, and those who don’t have the comfort from scripture that they are fully and wholly saved by Christ without themselves at all are condemned in false teaching.  This doesn’t mean they are going to hell.  But it does create an unnecessary stumbling block at best.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross to lower the bar so that it is easier for you to save yourself.  Jesus took the punishment of sin for us entirely and gives this benefit to us.  We contribute nothing but the sin that made it necessary.  He has even sent others to find you and give it to you through means so that you can physically witness it happen and know that your salvation is a done deal.

 

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor 22:24 KJV 

 

You heard the Word of God preached in which God has promised to create faith in you.  You were baptized in which God has saved you.  You received the very body and blood of Christ in your mouth by which God has forgiven you.  There is no reaching within your heart to grope the devil and ponder whether or not you were saved.  You don’t have to try harder to make the decision right next time, it’s a done deal.

There is a great comfort and peace in this.  Many well meaning faithful Christians like the Anabaptists above of course receive this benefit but they miss out on the comfort that goes with it due to false teaching.

 

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The Office of Holy Ministry

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In the past I have presented two posts that I would categorize as Eccelsiology (Study of the Church).  The first one was a refutation of Modern Apostles and the second on the modern office of Pastrix.  Both of those posts rebuke false teachings.  In this one I want to present what is true from Scripture.

The Office of Holy Ministry (Pastor) can’t be properly presented without fitting it into an Ecclesiological framework.  So along with a positive presentation of the office I want to also present a Biblical exposition on Ecclesiology.  In my experience most seem to rely too heavily on their tradition here.  And I don’t mean just the Roman Catholics,  evangelicals do this too.  They just use modern traditions of their own invention instead of ancient Christian ones.

How you can tell when someone who claims Sola Scriptura is eisegeting their tradition is when they go straight to Acts for their Ecclesiology.  Acts is historic narrative and thus lends itself well to eisegesis.  This is why you will see me start in the gospels and epistles and work my way to Acts from there.

Below are the arguments that I am going to make in this post from scripture as a foundation for presenting the Biblical office of Pastor.

  1. The connection of the “keys” between the Apostles, the Church, and Peter.
  2. The “keys” that apply to the Apostles also apply to the Church.
  3. The office of the “keys” is given to the Church by God.

The “Keys” of the Christian Church

The three passages below use very similar language with regards to binding and loosing, forgiveness of sins, and the keys of heaven.  The first passage is addressed to Peter, the second to the Church, and the third to the Apostles.

This is most easily identified by the context and the word “you”.  Which for example, is singular in Matt 16 and plural in Matt 18.  Check the passages in the KJV and you will notice they use a different word for “you” to convey this properly.

“15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”Matt 16:15-10 ESV 

“15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matt 18:15-20 ESV 
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” John 20:22‭-‬23 ESV

What you do next is going to depend on your methodology.  If I take a Biblicist approach I would pit these verses against each other and then declare which one I believe is correct over and against the others.  Instead of doing that though I am going to believe that all are true and try to figure out how by comparing them to other scripture.

The manner I believe is most honest is to accept these teachings as the same keys being given to three different recipients equally.  The language is a bit different each time, but gives us a different perspective on the gift as a whole.

Aspects of the Keys

Peter

Church

Apostles

Keys of Heaven

X
Binding and Loosing

X

X

X

Forgiveness of Sins

 

 

X

Withholding forgiveness

X

To be clear, I would apply all four aspects of the keys to all three categories equally.  Peter, the Church, and the Apostles were given the same keys.  So when it’s all put together it would look like below.

Aspects of the Keys

Peter

Church

Apostles

Keys of Heaven

X  X
Binding and Loosing

X

X

X

Forgiveness of Sins

 X

X

Withholding forgiveness

X  X

X

Peter and the apostles are in heaven now so we don’t see them using these things today.  But the Church is still with us and thus so are these four aspects of the keys given by Christ.  Because of the connection between these three we can look at how the apostles used them make fair conclusions about what believers are called to do when using the keys.

The “Keys” of the Apostles

Peter and the Apostles had the authority given to them by Christ to forgive sins.  How did they do this?  The answer is the same as it is for the church today, through Word and Sacrament (Rom 10:17)(1 Pe 3:21)(Mat 26:26-28).  The only difference is that instead of being called by the Church to do it they were sent by Jesus directly.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18‭-‬20 ESV

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” Ephesians 4:11‭-‬12 ESV

We above see that Christ commissioned the apostles to give forgiveness of sins out with Baptism.  I have made the case in an older post on Justification that the same Gospel received in Baptism is the same as the one received in hearing the Word preached.

What am I saying?  I’m simply saying that Christ commissioned the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel in all its forms and that doing so is a use of the keys, specifically in the loosing of sins (Matt 16:15-10)(Matt 18:15-20)(John 20:22‭-‬23).  Just as the apostles had the commission and power from the Word to do this so does the Assembly of Believers today.

Below notice that to accomplish this commission the apostles established and directed Bishops and Elders in the Church with their apostolic authority given to them by Christ.  In addition to that, they also granted to the Bishops the ability to appoint elders.  As with above, I would then argue that the Church has the commission and authority by God to appoint the same functions with the same Keys.

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:1‭-‬3 ESV

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 ESV

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 ESV

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:23 ESV 

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:5‭-‬9 ESV

The office of the “Keys”

The Church has the authority to call Bishops and appointing Elders.  That said, these offices are Biblically defined.  The authority that the Church has to call people into these offices only extends as far as the scripture allows.

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:1‭-‬7 ESV

That is a long list of demands that sets the moral bar very high.  Does this mean Pastors should never sin?  I would argue that it means that they are to be sinless in Christ just as any believer is.  By that same token though this is the authority the scripture gives the Church to remove impenitent Pastors.

I don’t think it says that they must be married, my understanding is that in the Greek the meaning is “one-woman-man”.   This would mean though that we cannot forbid a pastor to marry (1Tim 4:3).

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Source: Biblehub

My point is that the Church has the authority granted by God to appoint a Pastor into the office defined above.  If you redefine the office then it’s not the Biblical office of Pastor, it’s something else.

This is very similar to the qualifications of an Elder, which from what I understand, works as an assistant to the Pastor.

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:5‭-‬9 ESV

Even though the Church has the authority to call pastors and elders, they ultimately oversee us with the authority given to them in that office.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 ESV  

The concept of Elder is similar to Pastor, we can appoint someone into that office but we cannot redefine it.  If we do so we end up with something different even if we call it by the same name.

What am I getting at here?

Well many Churches today practice women’s ordination.  To do that though you have to water down all the passages that actually define the office of pastor, so you don’t really have an office to call anyone into at that point.  I’m not slamming on women, I’m just slamming on the false teaching, it is not a matter of intelligence or physical ability.

Can the Church create other offices and fill those how they please?

Of course we can, there is nothing in scripture forbidding that.  Church secretary and grounds keeper are good examples, and we can fill them however we like.  The church can and does do this on many different man made offices.  Much of these come and go from one generation to the next but the Biblical office of Pastor remains the same.

There is no scripture forbidding that we add requirements to the office of Pastor either.  A masters degree in divinity from an accredited seminary wasn’t a thing in Paul’s day but it’s something most Churches require now.  This is a good thing too, shouldn’t I expect my Pastor to be an educated man the same as I would a doctor or lawyer?  Why should the bar be higher for a secular profession than a religious one?

Conclusion

In the future I intend to blog on Church authority.  What I have given here is more on the local Church congregation than it is anything else.  But there are good Biblical reasons which tie into what I have represented for larger bodies of believers that need an overseer of pastors and congregations at large.  That can wait though.

At the end of the day God has given his assembly of believers the same authority that he did the apostles in calling and appointing Pastors and Elders, who in turn have a divine authority over us granted by the Word.  Obviously other man made traditions have been incorporated over the millenia, probably to help protect the Church from error and schism.  But in spite of those traditions the teachings from scripture remain over them.

Where Word and Sacrament are present we can expect that the Church is also present.  And where the Church is present the ability to call some into the teaching office of the Holy Ministry exists.  Even if a missionary travels in a Godless land he has no calling to the office of Pastor until believers there recognize and appoint him either formally by a written letter or informally by paying his salary and submitting to his authority.

Additionally, when someone says they were “called” to the ministry it is fair to ask what they mean by that.  Was it a funny feeling in their heart or did they receive a letter in the mail from a Church formally calling them to an office?  Because the letter is an example of a Biblical call and the fuzzy feeling is a man made tradition. #ShotsFired

 

 

Below are my extra Biblical sources for the study outlined in this post…

Christian Dogmatics Vol III, Pg 397-427, F. Pieper

My Pastor Ken Burton III for breaking this topic down for me in plain english

Lastly, a well done video by Rev. Jonathan Fisk which you can find below:

 

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Augsburg Confession Article IV: About Justification

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This is my fourth post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession.  A full copy of which you can find HERE.  In my opinion this is the most important article of the Augsburg Confession.  The Gospel itself hinges on this doctrine, the minute you start adding the merits of man to salvation the Gospel is swallowed up by the Law.

 

“Our  churches  also  teach  that  humans  cannot  be justified before God by their own power, merits, or deeds. Rather, they are freely justified for  Christ’s sake  through faith. By faith we mean this: that they believe that they are both received into God’s favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. For by his death, Christ has paid the debt for our sins. Thus God views the person who has this faith to be righteous in his sight (Romans 3 and 4).”– The Unaltered Augsburg Confession

 

I have very lengthy posts on Faith, Grace, and Justification which I recommend reading if you’re unfamiliar with the topic.  The idea though is that God gives faith to man as a gift.  Man doesn’t have to be prepared for it or contribute to it, he just receives it.

 

“17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10:17 KJV 

“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:; 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9 KJV 

“1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?; 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.; 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.; 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.; 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Rom 4:1-5 KJV 

“9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faithPhp 3:9 KJV 

 

In the blog posts that I linked above I dig into this in greater depth.  But the idea from scripture that is confessed at Augsburg is that we are saved by faith alone.  Using the word “only” in a theological confession is a bold thing.  As you may have noticed with the confessions on the Trinity and such one cannot say “only” very often.  Instead you have to accept all teachings as true though paradox exists.  With justification however there is a very clear “only”.  I have highlighted some of the key words above that make this the only possible interpretation of Pauls teachings.  Furthermore, Paul ties this to the Gospel itself and anathematizes those who teach otherwise.

 

“8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:8 KJV 

“1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.; 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” 1 Cor 15:1-4 KJV 

 

Either Paul is a anathema or the synergists are, there is no third option.  And since Paul so carefully and clearly defines Justification as something that is imputed to us through faith without works at all, I do believe that the word “only” is necessary here.  Works of man cannot be added to Justification.

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Augsburg Confession Article III: About the Son of God

reading-the-bible-on-bench

This is my third post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession.  A full copy of which you can find HERE.

 

“Our churches also teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, took upon himself human nature in the womb of the blessed vir-gin Mary.  Therefore, he has two natures, one divine and the other human. They are united in one person and cannot be sepa­rated. Thus there is only one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the virgin Mary. He truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried. He went through all this so that he could restore us to peace with the Father and be a sacrifice, not just for original sin, but also for all other sins.

The Word [Christ] also went down into hell, and truly rose again the third day. Afterward he went up into heaven so that he might sit on the right hand of the Father. There he rules forever and  has  power over  all creatures,  making  holy all  those  that believe in him.  He does this by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts  to rule, comfort,  and make them alive, as well as defending them against the devil and the power of sin.

This same Christ will openly come again to judge the living and the dead, etc., as the Apostles’ Creed says.”– The Unaltered Augsburg Confession

 

The above is simply what the scriptures teach about Jesus Christ.  I have written before on such topics in several posts at great length.  You can find them below:

  1. The Deity of Christ
  2. Two Natures of Christ
  3. Two Natures of Christ: Zwinglian or Lutheran
  4. Decent to Hell

 

Below are some common passages to support the things taught in Article III.

 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.;  The same was in the beginning with God.; All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3 KJV

“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” Heb 1:8 KJV

“And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.” Matt 4:2 KJV 

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52 KJV 

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” 1 Tim 2:5 KJV 

“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:; 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison1 Peter 3:18-19 KJV 

 

As is the case with all Christian paradox, Christology depends on accepting all scriptures as true.  When you come to two teachings that don’t make a lot of sense the temptation can be to abrogate one with the other.  This is how most denominations are formed in my opinion.  Instead of doing that we should accept all teachings in scripture as true.  We can use logic to try and put them together, but we should also be honest and concede when we cannot.

Just as Jesus “increased in wisdom” he is also omniscient.  Just as he tired and hungered he is also omnipotent.  He is fully man and fully God.  With Lutheran theology particularly, it is my understanding that we do not separate the two either.  There is communion between the two natures, thus we would expect Jesus to walk on water with his human flesh and raise the dead with his human voice, just as we also expect that he is omnipresent in the Eucharist.  This is explained better in greater detail in Solid Declaration VIII.

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Augsburg Confession Article II: About Original Sin

jesus-thorns-cross-sculpture

This is my second post in a series on the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.  A full copy of which you can find HERE.  Original Sin is more controversial in Christianity than it should be.  This is because in our day a lot of Churches are functionally if not confessionally Pelagian or at least Semi-Pelagian.

 

“Our churches  also teach that since Adam’s fall into sin, all men who are fathered in the normal physical way are conceived and born  with sin. This means  that they are born  without  the fear of God, without trust in God, and with evil desires.  This disease,  or original  sin, truly  is sin. It condemns  and  brings eternal death to those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Our churches condemn the followers of Pelagius and all others who deny that original sin is truly sin. Such people argue that humans can be justified before God by their own strength and rea­son. This lessens the glory of Christ’s work and its benefits.” The Unaltered Augsburg Confession

 

Above the writers of the Augsburg Confession is making it clear that those they speak for are not Pelagians.  My understanding is that Pelagius taught that we are born perfect and in time fall away in the commission of sins.  This is why he didn’t teach that Baptism was necessary until around the age of two or three.  The Bible teaches however that we are born with the guilt of sin.  This is taught in many places but is most obvious in two particular passages.

 

“5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalms 51:5 KJV 

“3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Ephesians 2:3 KJV 

 

Notice above that David teaches he was “shapen in iniquity”.  This is powerful imagery of sin itself knitting with his very flesh as he is growing in his mothers womb.  Also, with Paul in Ephesians it is taught that we are “by nature” children of wrath.  There are many passages which corroborate this teaching that a blog contributor detailed in an older post you can find HERE.

The reason I focus on those two verses above though is because they are the clearest and most obvious as identifying our guilt in sin at the time of conception.

I personally find it interesting though that most protestants will agree with me in rejecting the Roman Catholic teaching of the sinlessness of Mary, but then will go and teach that billions of Christians have been born and died sinless before the age of accountability.  I think this demonstrates an inconsistency on their part at the very least.

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Augsburg Confession Article I: About God

MartinLutherPreachingtoFaithful1561noticechasublecrucifix_zps9669e67a (1)

This is my first post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession.  A full copy of which you can find HERE.  What is the Augsburg Confession?

“The Augsburg Confession, also known as the “Augustana” from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the primary confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran Reformation.” Wikipedia

 

For the purposes of not starting a bar fight most will point to October 31st 1517 as the kick off of the reformation.  But historically speaking it would be more accurate to date it to June 25, 1530 when the 28 articles were presented to the Emperor in Augsburg.

**Shots Fired**

This is because the 95 theses themselves were simply a call for debate, which was a common thing to do back then.  It was really only the combination of the political context at the time and the printing press that set events leading to the Augsburg Confession in motion.

In my opinion other traditions that came later are just other traditions that came later. I wouldn’t even classify them as part of the reformation.  Too harsh?  Maybe, but I’m just calling it like I see it.

For each post on the Augsburg Confession I am going to present one article at a time.  I attempt to back each one up with scripture.  If I have a post on it already I’ll provide a link and some key proof-texts.  If I don’t have a post on it already I will take a more comprehensive approach or link to someone more knowledgeable that already has.  All analysis will be my own.

 Article I: About God

“Our churches  are united  in  teaching  what  the Council of Nicaea decreed: it is true that there is only one divine being, but there are three persons; and that this should be believed without a doubt.  In other words,  there is one divine being, which is called God and which truly is God. He is eternal, has no body, has no parts, has all power, wisdom, and goodness.  He is the maker  and  preserver  of all  things,  both  visible  and invisible.

Yet there are also three persons-the Father, the Son, and the Holy  Spirit.  They  are  of  the  same  being  and  power  and  are equally  eternal. We use the word person in the same way  the early Christians  used it.  It does not mean a part or quality of another being but something that exists in and of itself.

Our  churches  condemn  all  heresies  that  have  sprung  up against this teaching, such as the Manicheans, who taught there were two divine  beings, one good and the other evil. We also condemn the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Muslims, and all others like them. We also condemn the ancient and modem followers of Paul of Samosata. They claim that there is only one divine person.Through clever and ungodly reasoning, they argue that the Word [Christ] and the Holy Spirit are not distinct per­sons,  but  that  “Word”  means  only  a  spoken  word,  and  that “Spirit” refers to a movement within created beings.” – The Unaltered Augsburg Confession

 

Essentially what I see above is a brief confession of the Trinity.  The writers of the Augsburg Confession are letting everyone know that they are Trinitarian.  This is actually a big deal, generally cults that break off of Christianity have always been antitrinitarian on some level.

I have demonstrated the doctrine of the Holy Trinity from scripture in an older post which you can find HERE.  The idea is that the Bible teaches three clear theses about God.

  1. One Being
  2. Three Divine Persons
  3. Same Substance

No matter what language you use to confess this all three must be confessed to be Biblical.  This paradox gives us a key for understanding the Bible too, because we know that we should approach it in such a manner that all teachings are true rather than pick one over the other.

 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” Deut 6:4 KJV

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” Matt 28:19 KJV

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodilyCol 2:8-9 KJV

 

Cults and offshoots will typically deny one of the three teachings above in favor of one of the others they prefer.  This isn’t the case though at Augsburg.  Say what you like about these men but they were clearly Trinitarian, and anyone claiming to be Lutheran today is only being honest if they are too.

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Church Fathers on Baptism

 

baptism

It is important to study and consider the writings of Christians who came before us.  Especially those of the Early Church Fathers.  Jesus taught that hell itself would not overcome the Church (Matt 16:18), therefore its fair to reason that true Christian teachings should be found throughout Church history.

For this post I want to ask and answer the following questions

  1. Did the Early Church Fathers believe in baptismal regeneration? Or,
  2. Did the Early Church Fathers believe that baptism does nothing at all and has to be done by immersion only to be a sign one has made a decision for Jesus?

In order to find out where they land on this I have assembled a large collection of Patristic quotations that I originally found HERE.  Though I am borrowing the source from that book all analysis is my own.

 

“After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. If  you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If  you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” —Didache 7:1 Date: 70 A.D.

“Regarding  [baptism],  we have the  evidence of  Scripture that Israel would refuse  to accept the  washing  which  confers the remission  of sins and would set up a substitution of their own instead [Ps. 1:3–6]. Observe there how he describes both the water and the cross in the same figure. His meaning is, ‘Blessed are those who go down into the water with their hopes set on the cross.’ Here he is saying that after we have stepped down into the water, burdened with sin and defilement,  we come up out of it bearing fruit, with reverence in our hearts and the hope of Jesus in our souls” —Barnabas, Letter of Barnabas 11:1–10 Date: 74 A.D.

“I have heard, sir,’ said I [to the Shepherd], ‘from some teacher, that there is no other repentance except that which took place when we went down into the water and obtained the remission of our former sins.’ He said to me, ‘You have heard rightly, for so it is” —Hermas,  The Shepherd  4:3:1–2 Date: 80 A.D.

“As many  as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”—Justin Martr, First Apology 61 Date: 151 A.D.

“For since you have read, O Trypho, as you yourself  admitted, the doctrines taught by our Saviour, I do not think that I have done foolishly in adding some short utterances of His to the prophetic statements. Wash therefore, and be now clean, and put away iniquity from your souls, as God bids you be washed in this laver, and be circumcised with the true circumcision… The  command of circumcision,  again, bidding [them]  always  circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision,  by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ”—Justin Martyr,  Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew 18 & 41 Date: 160 A.D.

“our Christ, by being crucified on the tree, and by purifying  [us] with water, has redeemed us, though plunged in the direst offenses which we have committed, and has made [us] a house of prayer and adoration… “the mystery of saved men appeared in the deluge. For righteous Noah, along with the other mortals at the deluge, i.e., with his own wife, his three sons and their wives, being eight in number, were a symbol of the eighth day, wherein Christ appeared when He rose from the dead, for ever the first in power. For Christ, being the first-born of every creature, became again the chief of another race regenerated by Himself through water, and faith, and wood, containing the mystery of the cross; even as Noah was saved by wood when he rode over the waters …I mean, that by water, faith, and wood, those who are afore-prepared, and who repent of the sins which they have committed, shall escape from the impending judgment of God.” —Justin Martyr, Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, a Jew 18 & 41 Date: 160 A.D.

“Then  said  Jesus  unto them, ‘I have been given  all authority in heaven and earth; and as my Father has sent me,  so I also send you. Go now into all the world, and preach my gospel in all the creation; and teach all the peoples, and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and teach them to keep all whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you all the days, unto the end of the world”—Tatian the Syrian, The Diatesseron 55 Date: 170 A.D.

“Moreover, those things which were created from the waters were blessed by God, so that this might also be a sign that men would at a future time receive repentance and remission of sins through water and the bath of regeneration—all who proceed to the truth and are born again and receive a blessing from God”—Tehophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus 12:16 Date: 181 A.D.

“And when we come to refute them [the gnostic], we shall show in its fitting- place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian]  faith…For the baptism instituted  by the visible Jesus  was  for the remission of sins” —Irenaeus, Against Heresies 21:1-2 Date: 189 A.D.

“And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” —Irenaeus, Fragment 34 Date: 190 A.D.

“When we are baptized, we are enlightened. Being enlightened, we are adopted as  sons.  Adopted  as  sons,  we  are  made perfect.  Made perfect,  we become immortal . . . ‘and sons of the Most High’ [Ps. 82:6]. This work is variously called grace, illumination,  perfection, and washing. It is a washing by which we are cleansed of sins, a gift of grace by which the punishments  due our sins are remitted, an illumination by which we behold that holy light of salvation”—Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 1:6:26:1 Date: 191 A.D.

“Now faith occasions this for us even as the Elders, the disciples of the Apostles, have handed it down to us.  First of all, it bids us to keep in mind that we have received baptism for the remission of sins in the name of God the Father and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was incarnate, died and rose again, and in the Holy Spirit of God.  This baptism is the seal of eternal life and the new birth unto God that we should no longer be the sons of mortal men but of the eternal and perpetual God.” — Irenaeus, The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, Date: 192 A.D.

“Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life. . . . But we, little fishes after the example of our [Great] Fish,  Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes—by taking them away from the water!” —Tertullian, Baptism 1 Date: 203 A.D.

“Baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged into the water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from our sins.” —Tertullian, Baptism 7:2 Date: 203 A.D.

The apostle indeed teaches, in his Epistle to the Colossians, that we were once dead, alienated, and enemies to the Lord in our minds, whilst we were living in wicked works; that we were then buried with  Christ in baptism, and also raised again with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. “And you, (adds he), when ye were dead in sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” And again: “If ye are dead with Christ from the elements  of the world, why, as  though living in the world, are  ye subject  to ordinances?” —Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh 23 Date: 211 A.D.

“And the bishop shall lay his hand upon them [the newly baptized], invoking and saying:  ‘O  Lord God, who did count these  worthy of  deserving  the forgiveness of sins by the laver of regeneration, make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit and send upon them thy grace [in confirmation], that they may serve you according to your will” —Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition 22:1 Date: 215 A.D.

“When the one being baptized goes down  into the water, the one baptizing him shall put his hand on him and speak thus: ‘Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?’ And he that is being baptized shall say: ‘I believe.’ Then, having his hand imposed upon the head of the one to be baptized, he shall baptize him once. Then he shall say: ‘Do you believe in Christ Jesus . . . ?’ And when he says: ‘I believe,’ he is baptized again. Again shall he say: ‘Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the holy Church and the resurrection of the flesh?’ The one being baptized then says: ‘I believe.’ And so he is baptized a third time” —Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition 21 Date: 215 A.D.

“After his resurrection he promises in a pledge to his disciples that he will send them the promise of his Father; and lastly, he commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the three persons, at each several mention of their names” —Tertullian, Against Praxeas 26 Date: 216 A.D.

“[P]erhaps someone will ask, ‘What does it conduce unto piety to be baptized?’ In the first place, that you may do what has seemed good to God; in the next place, being born again by water unto God so that you change your first birth, which was from concupiscence, and are able to attain salvation, which would otherwise be impossible. For thus the [prophet] has sworn to us: ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you are born again with living water, into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy  Spirit, you shall not enter into the kingdom  of heaven.’ Therefore, fly to the water, for this alone can extinguish the fire. He who will not come  to the water  still  carries  around with him the spirit  of insanity for the sake of which he will not come to the living water for his own salvation”— Hippolytus, Homilies 11:26 Date: 217 A.D.

Baptism  washes away all,  absolutely all,  our  sins, whether of deed, word, or  thought, whether  sins  original or  added, whether  knowingly or unknowingly contracted” —Augustine, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians 3:3:5 Date: 420 A.D.

“But you will perhaps say, ‘What does the baptism of water contribute toward the worship of God?’ In the first place, because that which has pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because when you are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men,  is cut off, and so . . . you shall be able to attain salvation; but otherwise it is impossible. For thus has the true prophet [Jesus] testified to us with an oath: ‘Verily,  I say to you, that unless a man is born again of water . . . he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” —The Recognitions of Clement 6:9 Date: 221 A.D.

“That unless a man have been baptized and born again, he cannot attain unto the kingdom of God. In the Gospel according to John: ‘Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” —Testimonies Concerning the Jews 3:2:25–26 Date: 240 A.D.

“While I was lying in darkness . . . I thought it indeed difficult and hard to believe . . . that divine mercy was promised for my salvation, so that anyone might be born again and quickened unto a new life by the laver of the saving water, he might put off what he had been before, and, although the structure of the body remained,  he might change himself  in soul  and mind. . . . But afterwards, when the stain of my past life had been washed away by means of the water of rebirth, a light from above poured itself  upon my chastened and now pure  heart;  afterwards, through the Spirit  which is breathed   from heaven, a second birth made of me a new man” — Cyprian of Carthage, To Donatus 3–4 Date: 246 A.D.

“Then Probus . . . leapt into the water, saying, ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, and everlasting God, let all my sins be taken away by this water.’ And Paul said, ‘We baptize thee in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost.’ After this he made him to receive the Eucharist of Christ” —The Acts of Xantippe and Polyxena, Acts of Xantippe and Polyxena 21 Date: 250 A.D.

“As to what pertains to the case of infants: You [Fidus] said that they ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, that the old law of circumcision must be taken into consideration, and that you did not think that one should be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day after his birth. In our council it seemed to us far otherwise. No one agreed to the course which you thought should be taken. Rather, we all judge that the mercy and grace of God ought to be denied to no man born…. If, in the case of the worst sinners and those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held  back from baptism and grace,  how much more, then, should  an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin, except  that, born of  the  flesh  according  to Adam, he  has  contracted  the contagion of that old death from his first being born. For this very reason does he  [an infant] approach  more  easily  to receive the remission of  sins: because the sins forgiven him are not his own but those of another”— Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 64:2 & 64:5 Date: 253 A.D.

“He [Jesus] commanded them to baptize the Gentiles in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. How then do some say that though a Gentile be baptized . . . never mind how or of whom, so long as it be done in the name of Jesus Christ, the remission of sins can follow—when Christ himself commands the nations to be baptized in the full and united Trinity?”—Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 73:18 Date: 253 A.D.

Peter showed and vindicated the unity of the church by commanding and warning that we can be saved only through the baptism of the one church. Just as in that baptism of the world by which the ancient iniquity was purged, the one who was not in the ark could not be saved through water, so now anyone who has not been baptized in the church cannot be saved, for the church has been founded in the unity of the Lord, as the sacrament of the one ark. —Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 74.11. Date: 253 A.D.

“[When] they receive also the baptism of the Church . . . then finally can they be fully sanctified and be the sons of God . . . since it is written, ‘Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” —Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 71[72]:1 Date: 253 A.D.

“And in the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with his divine  voice, saying, ‘Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit,  he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ . . . Unless therefore they receive saving baptism in the Catholic Church, which is one, they cannot  be saved, but will be condemned with the carnal in the judgment of the Lord Christ” —Seventh Carthage, Date: 256 A.D.

“If Zipporah has circumcised her son with the temporal circumcision and has averted death, will not death with much more reason be banished by the true baptism? The one baptism into Christ puts on the Living One who vivifies the whole world.”- Nisibene Hymn, Date: 4th Century

“We believe . . . each of these to be and to exist: the Father, truly Father, and the Son, truly Son, and the Holy Ghost, truly Holy Ghost, as also our Lord, sending forth his disciples for the preaching, said, ‘Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ Concerning whom we confidently affirm that so we hold, and so we think, and so we have held aforetime, and we maintain this faith unto the death, anathematizing every godless heresy” —Eusebius of Caesarea, Letter to the People of His Diocese 3 Date: 323 A.D.

“And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”—Nicene Creed, Council of Nicaea, Date: 325 A.D.

“From baptism we receive the Spirit of Christ. At that same moment in which the priests invoke the Spirit, heaven opens, and he descends and rests upon the waters, and those who are baptized are clothed in him. The Spirit  is absent from all those who are born of the flesh, until they come to the water of rebirth, and then  they receive  the Holy Spirit. . . . [I]n  the second  birth, that through baptism, they receive the Holy Spirit” —Aphraahat the Persian, Treatises 6:14:4 Date: 340 A.D.

“Since man is of a twofold nature, composed of body and soul, the purification also  is  twofold: the  corporeal  for the corporeal  and the  incorporeal  for the incorporeal. The water cleanses the body, and the Spirit seals the soul. . . . When you go down into the water, then,  regard not simply  the water, but look for salvation through the power of the Spirit. For without both you cannot attain to perfection. It is not I who  says this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power in this matter. And he says, ‘Unless a man be born again,’ and he adds the words ‘of water and of the Spirit,’ ‘he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” —Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 3:4 Date: 350 A.D.

“[A]s we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened” —Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians 3:26 Date: 360 A.D.

“And the whole faith is summed up, and secured in this, that a Trinity should ever be preserved, as we read in the Gospel, ‘Go ye and baptize all the nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost’ (Matt. 28:19). And entire and perfect is the number of the Trinity —Athanasius, On the Councils of Arminum and Seleucia 2:28 Date: 361 A.D.

“For prisoners, baptism is ransom, forgiveness of debts, the death of sin, regeneration  of the soul, a resplendent  garment,  an unbreakable  seal,  a chariot to heaven, a royal protector, a gift of adoption” —Basil the Great, Sermons on Moral and Practical Subjects 13:5 Date: 379 A.D.

“But not yet perhaps is there formed upon your soul any writing good or bad; and you want to be written upon today. . . . I will baptize you and make you a disciple in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; and these three have one common name, the Godhead. And you shall know, both by appearances and by words that you reject all ungodliness, and are united to all the Godhead” —Gregory of Nazianz, Orations 40:45 Date: 380 A.D. 380

Who is the one who is born of the Spirit  and is made Spirit? It is one who is renewed in the Spirit of his mind. It is one who is regenerated by water and the Holy Spirit. We receive the hope of eternal life through the laver of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. And elsewhere the apostle Peter says: “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” For who is he that is baptized with the Holy Spirit but he who is born again through water and the Holy Spirit? Therefore the Lord said of the Holy Spirit, “Truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born again by water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” And therefore he declared that we are born of him into the kingdom of God by being born again by water and the Spirit.”—Ambrose of Milan, Of the Holy Spirit 3.10.64 Date: 381 A.D.

“[S]eeing that a man, baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, becomes a temple of the Lord, and that while the old abode  is destroyed a new shrine is built for the Trinity, how can you say that sins can be remitted among the Arians without the coming of the Holy Ghost? How is a soul purged from its former stains which has not the Holy Ghost?” —Jerome, Dialogue Against the Luciferians 6 Date: 382 A.D.

“There  came out from his side  water and blood.” Beloved, do not pass  this mystery by without a thought. For I have still another mystical explanation to give. I said that there was a symbol of baptism and the mysteries in that blood and water. It is from both of these that the church is sprung “through the bath of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” through baptism and the mysteries. But the symbols of baptism and the mysteries, water and blood, come from the side of Christ. It is from his side, therefore, that Christ formed his church, just as he formed Eve from the side of Adam. —John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 3.17 Date: 387 A.D.

“The  Church was  redeemed  at the price of Christ’s  blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:11–12)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the  kingdom of  heaven  except  through the  sacrament  of  baptism.  . .‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” —Ambrose of Milan, Abraham 2:11:79–84 Date: 387 A.D.

“This, too, is plain, that in him who is baptized the Son of God is crucified. Indeed, our flesh could not eliminate sin unless it were crucified in Jesus Christ.… And to the Colossians he says, “Buried with him by baptism, wherein you also rose again with him.” This was written with the intent that we should believe that he is crucified in us, that our sins may be purged through him, that he, who alone can forgive sins, may nail to his cross the handwriting which was against us.”—Ambrose of MilanConcerning Repentance 2.2.9 Date: 388 A.D.

“Do you have an infant child? Allow sin no opportunity; rather, let the infant be sanctified from childhood. From his most tender age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Do you fear the seal [of baptism] because of the weakness of nature? Oh, what a pusillanimous mother and of how little faith!”…“Well enough,’ some will say, ‘for those who ask for baptism, but what do you have to say about those who are still children, and aware neither of loss nor of grace? Shall we baptize them too?’ Certainly [I respond], if there is any pressing danger. Better that they be sanctified unaware, than that they depart unsealed and uninitiated” —Gregory of Nazianz, Oration on Holy Baptism 40:7 & 40:28 Date: 388 A.D.

“Such is the grace and power of baptism; not an overwhelming of the world as of  old, but a purification of  the  sins  of  each  individual, and a complete cleansing from all the bruises and stains of sin. And since we are double-made, I mean of body and soul, and the one part is visible, the other invisible, so the cleansing also is twofold,  by water and the Spirit; the one received visibly in the body, the other concurring with it invisibly and apart from the body; the one typical, the other real and cleansing the depths”—Gregory of Nazianz, Oration on Holy Baptism 7–8 Date: 388 A.D.

“You see how  many  are the benefits of baptism, and some think its heavenly grace consists only in the remission of sins, but we have enumerated ten honors [it bestows]! For this reason we baptize even infants, though they are not defiled by [personal] sins, so that there may be given to them holiness, righteousness, adoption, inheritance, brotherhood with  Christ, and that they may be his [Christ’s] members”—John Chrysostom, Baptismal Catechesis in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21 Date: 388 A.D.

“You have read, therefore, that the three witnesses in baptism are one: water, blood, and the Spirit (1 John 5:8): And if you withdraw any one of these, the sacrament of baptism  is not valid. For what is the water without the cross of Christ? A common element with no sacramental effect. Nor on the other hand is there any mystery of regeneration without water, for ‘unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” —Ambrose of Milan, The Mysteries 4:20 Date: A.D. 390

“Circumcision is no longer performed with a knife,  Paul  says, but in Christ himself; for no human hand circumcises … but the Spirit. The Spirit circumcises the whole man, not simply a part.… When and where? In baptism. And what Paul calls circumcision, he again calls burial.… But it is not burial only: for notice what he says, “Wherein you were also raised with him, through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” —John Chrysostom, Homilies on Colossians 6 Date: 395 A.D.

“Circumcision” refers to the life of immortality embraced through baptism, just as “uncircumcision” is the old life of mortality. Commentary on Colossians.” —Theodore of Mopsuestia, TEM 1:287, Date: Early 5th Century

Through baptism comes the stripping away and circumcision  of sins.… Those being baptized in the blood of Christ confess that they share in his death through baptism and that following this they enjoy the resurrection. Resurrection is used here in a twofold sense, the one spiritual and the other physical. All persons will rise through the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Those, however, who have not been baptized in Christ but have died without faith will share in the general resurrection. However, they will not enjoy the promise of redemption.… As many  as were baptized into Christ, these have freely benefitted before the general resurrection from the spiritual resurrection, for they have already risen from the death of sins. Thus, Paul also says: “in whom you were raised,” not “in whom you will be raised.” —Severian of Gabala, Pauline Commentary, Date: Early 5th Century

“Baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost has Christ for its  authority, not any man, whoever he may be; and Christ  is the truth, not any man” —Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:24 [57] Date: 400 A.D.

“What the universal Church holds, not as instituted [invented] by councils but as something always held, is most correctly believed to have been handed down by apostolic authority. Since others respond for children, so that the celebration of the sacrament may be complete for them, it is certainly availing to them for their consecration, because they themselves are not able to respond” — Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:24:31 Date: 400 A.D.

“Be ye likewise contented with one baptism alone, that which is into the death of the Lord [Rom. 6:3; Col. 2:12–13]. . . . [H]e that out of contempt will not be baptized  shall  be condemned  as  an unbeliever  and shall  be reproached  as ungrateful and foolish. For the Lord says, ‘Except a man be baptized of water and of the Spirit, he shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.” —Apostolic Constitutions 6:3:15 Date: 400 A.D.

“The  custom  of  Mother  Church in baptizing infants  is certainly  not to be scorned,  nor is  it to be regarded in any way as  superfluous,  nor is  it to be believed that its tradition  is anything except apostolic” —Augustine, The Literal Interpretation of Genesis 10:23:39 Date 408 A.D.

“O Lord our God, we believe in you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. For the truth would not say, ‘Go, baptize all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ unless you were a Trinity” —Augustine, The Trinity 15:28[51] Date: 408 A.D.

“Cyprian was not issuing a new decree but was keeping to the most solid belief of the Church in order to correct some who thought that infants ought not be baptized before the eighth day after their birth. . . . He agreed with certain of his fellow bishops that a child is able to be duly baptized as soon as he is born” —Augustine, Letters 166:8:23 Date: 412 A.D.

“If anyone wonders why children born of the baptized should themselves be baptized, let him attend briefly to this. . . . The sacrament of baptism is most assuredly the sacrament of regeneration”—Augustine, Forgiveness and the Just Deserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 2:27:43 Date: 412 A.D.

“It is this one Spirit  who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought  to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, ‘Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents’ or ‘by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him,’ but, ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.’ The  water, therefore, manifesting  exteriorly  the sacrament  of grace,  and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam” —Augustine, Letters 98:2 Date: 412 A.D.

“[W]hoever says that infants fresh from their mothers’ wombs ought not to be baptized, or say that they are indeed baptized unto the remission of sins, but that they draw nothing of the original sin of Adam, which is expiated  in the bath of regeneration . . . let him be anathema [excommunicated]. Since what the apostle [Paul] says, ‘Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so passed to all men, in whom all have sinned’ [Rom. 5:12], must not be understood otherwise than the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith even infants, who in themselves thus far have not been able to commit any sin, are therefore truly baptized unto the remission of sins, so that that which they have contracted from generation may be cleansed in them by regeneration” —Council of Mieum II, Canon 3 Date: 416 A.D.

“If any man  says that new-born children need not be baptized, or that they should indeed be baptized for the remission of sins, but that they have in them no original sin inherited from Adam which must be washed away in the bath of regeneration, so that in their ease the formula of baptism ‘for the remission of sins’ must not be taken literally, but figuratively, let him be anathema; because, according  to Romans 5:12, the sin of Adam has passed upon all.”—Council of Carthage to Investigate Pelagianism, Canon 2 Date: 416 A.D.

If the forgiveness of sins were not to be had in the church, there would be no hope of a future life and eternal liberation.  We thank God, who gave his church such a gift. Here you are; you are going to come to the holy font, you will be washed in saving baptism, you will be renewed in “the bath of rebirth.” You will be without any sin at all as you  come  up from that bath. All the things that were plaguing you in the past will be blotted out.” —Augustine, Sermons 213.8 Date: 417 A.D.

“If any man  says that new-born children need not be baptized, or that they should indeed be baptized for the remission of sins, but that they have in them no original sin inherited from Adam which must be washed away in the bath of regeneration, so that in their ease the formula of baptism ‘for the remission of sins’ must not be taken literally, but figuratively, let him be anathema; because, according  to Romans 5:12, the sin of Adam has passed upon all.”—Council of Carthage, Canon 2 Date: 418 A.D.

“Those who, though they have not received the washing of regeneration, die for the confession of Christ—it avails them just as much  for the forgiveness of their sins as if  they had been washed in the sacred font of baptism. For he that said, ‘If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit,  he will not enter the kingdom of heaven,’ made an exception for them in that other statement in which he says no less generally, ‘Whoever confesses me before  men,  I too will confess him before my Father, who is in heaven —Augustine, The City of God 13:7 Date: 419 A.D.

“This is the meaning of the great sacrament of baptism, which is celebrated among us: all who attain to this grace die thereby to sin—as he himself [Jesus] is said to have died to sin because he died in the flesh (that is, ‘in the likeness of sin’)—and they are thereby alive by being reborn in the baptismal font, just as he rose again from the sepulcher. This is the case no matter what the age of the body. For whether it be a newborn infant or a decrepit old man—since no one should be barred from baptism—just so, there is no one who does not die to sin in baptism. Infants die to original sin only; adults, to all those sins which they have added, through their evil living, to the burden they brought with them at birth” —Augustine, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love 13 Date: 421 A.D.

 

I did try to find Patristic evidence for the belief that baptism doesn’t do anything but has to be done by immersion only as a sign of making a decision for Jesus.  I wasn’t able to, from what I can see this is a teaching that didn’t appear in Christianity until about 500 years ago.

This of course doesn’t do the work all on it’s own, one has to appeal to scripture as the ultimate authority.  I would say however, that if one believes that all of Christianity was wrong on this all the way back to the first century then they must also not believe that the Bible is sufficient enough to speak clearly.  It shouldn’t take 1500 years for anyone to understand a text that speaks clearly.

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The False Christ of Ellen White

buddy_christ

Before reading this post I would recommend that one read the Two Natures of ChristDeity of Christ, and the Holiness Wrath and Love of God.  Those are some fundamental Christological doctrines presented from scripture that the reader will need to understand for this post.  Summarized, the incarnate Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.  He is not a demi-god or a super-man.  Both natures are true, yet he is one Christ.

If someone is teaching a Jesus different than that they are teaching what is called a false Christ.

“24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matt 24:24 KJV 

What about Ellen White?  Does she teach a false Christ?  To be fair, I’ll present a few quotes from her writings on each topic.

A False Christ of No Wrath

“Christ Himself did not suppress one word of truth, but He spoke it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact, and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes.”  – The Desire of Ages, Pg 353, Ellen G. White

My problem with the quote above is that it leaves out the authority, power, and wrath of God.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying the love of God either.  Both are true, as I presented in an older post which you can find HERE the Holiness, Wrath, and Love of God are connected to each other.  If you pull one out you lose the others.  Instead of presenting the authority and wrath of Christ accurately Ellen White has scaled it back for us.

To demonstrate this I will compare how Ellen White presents his “scathing rebukes” with the way the Bible does.

“15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.; 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” John 2:15-17 KJV 

Instead of something closer to the Biblical text Ellen White gives us imagery of a voice cracking in tears.  I think it’s fair to say that Ellen White and I are not thinking about the same person.

Wrath and Authority

Tears in voice

the-expulsion-from-the-temple-1 images

This theme continues beyond aesthetics though.  The Jesus that Ellen White talks about doesn’t hold to the “heresy” of eternal torment.

“Untold evil has come from the heresy of eternal torment. It takes the religion of the Bible, so full of love and goodness, darkens it by superstition and clothes it with terror. Satan has painted the character of God in false colors, making people fear, dread, and even hate our merciful Creator. The repulsive views of God that have spread over the world from the teachings of the pulpit have made millions of people skeptics and unbelievers.” –The Great Hope, Pg 28, Ellen G. White

Notice that she pits love against wrath as if one abrogates the other.  The expression of the Love of God is found in the cross in which God himself dies and in doing so satisfies the Wrath of God.  Only an infinite love can quench an infinite wrath.  Ellen White however pits the two against each other deleting wrath altogether.

The topic of Hell is something that I break down Biblically in an older post which you can find HERE.  The quote she has given is just silly though, one must assert that the passages below teach heresy.

“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:11 KJV

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10 KJV

I realize that there are other ways of interpreting these passages above, and that some people read them very differently.  While I disagree with those interpretations and went into length as to why in my post on hell, keep in mind Ellen White is saying that it’s a heresy to read them plainly.  The average Annihilationist would not call me a heretic for believing in eternal conscious torment, nor I they.  Clearly to go out on that limb she is teaching a very different God entirely than the one we get a picture of when we take the Bible at face value.

A False Christ Who Could Sin

I argue in an older post that Ellen White taught that Jesus Christ did in fact sin, you can find that HERE.  In addition to that though she also plainly teaches that Jesus was susceptible to sin.  This is either a denial of the Holiness of God or the Deity of Christ.  You can’t have both if you have a moral susceptibility to sin.

“The temptations to which Christ was subjected were a terrible reality. As a free agent He was placed on probation, with liberty to yield to Satan’s temptations and work at cross-purposes with God.” EGW, Selected Messages, Bk. 3, p. 131.

“For a period of time Christ was on probation. He took humanity on Himself, to stand the test and trial which the first Adam failed to endure. Had He failed in His test and trial, He would have been disobedient to the voice of God, and the world would have been lost.” EGW, Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899.

The above passages are clear enough, in them we see that in Ellen White’s Jesus there is a possibility of Christ failing entirely.  He might just not pull it off but he is gonna try really hard.

Below it get’s even worse as she entertains the idea of the possibility of Christ refusing to fulfill the will of God.  It would be fair for her to point out perhaps that we are seeing the weakness of the human nature in Christ at Gethsemane.  We know that Christ also tired and hungered and things like that.  But to extend that to a chance that he might fail crosses the line into the territory of a false Christ by denying the divine nature.

Am I supposed to be happy that the SDA false Christ barely pulls through in the end?  Really??

“The awful moment had come—that moment which was to decide the destiny of the world. The fate of humanity trembled in the balance. Christ might even now refuse to drink the cup apportioned to guilty man. It was not yet too late. He might wipe the bloody sweat from His brow, and leave man to perish in his iniquity. He might say, Let the transgressor receive the penalty of his sin, and I will go back to My Father… He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood… He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin. His prayer now breathes only submission: ‘If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.’ ” – The Desire of Ages, Pg 690, Ellen G. White

A False Christ With No Atonement

Ellen White teaches us about a False Christ that rather than providing a vicarious penal substitutionary atonement, dies to give you the power not to sin in this life so that you can pass probation without a mediator.

“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediatorTheir robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.”  The Great Controversy, Pg. 425 Ellen White

To be clear, instead of teaching about a Christ that will be with us “always” she gives us a false Christ that leaves us hanging at probation.

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 28:20 ESV 

All we get from the SDA False Christ is a shot in the arm to help us be perfect on our own during probation.  Notice below that instead of Christ taking God’s wrath on our behalf he is simply empowering us.  This is what Martin Luther calls a “theology of glory” rather than a “theology of the cross”, something I may blog more on later.

“When Christ gave His life for you, it was that He might place you on vantage ground and impart to you moral power.” EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 74.

“The glory of Christ is his character, and his character is an expression of the law of God. He fulfilled the law in its every specification, and gave to the world in his life a perfect pattern of what it is possible for humanity to attain unto by cooperation with divinity.” EGW, Signs of the Times, Dec. 12, 1895.

The Jesus Christ in the Bible came to save us from death and hell not to make us special.  It’s obvious to me that Ellen White is talking about someone else.  Just read the passages below and see what the Bible says Jesus died for.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2: 24 KJV

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.;  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6 KJV

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” 1 Cor 15:3 KJV

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Rom 4:25 KJV

Why would you want to turn this into a story of how awesome you are?  That doesn’t even make sense.  This is about Jesus and what he has done for you and me.  This is the real Jesus.

A False Christ That was Created

Ellen White teaches that Jesus was “made” by the Father at some point before creation.  This is a holdout of her arianism.  I have explored it at length in older blog posts which you can find HERE and HERE.

“The Eternal Father, the unchangeable one, gave his only begotten Son, tore from his bosom Him who was made in the express image of his person, and sent him down to earth to reveal how greatly he loved mankind.” EGW, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 07-09-1895, “The Duty of the Minister and the People,” Par. 14

“The exaltation of the Son of God as equal with the Father was represented as an injustice to Lucifer, who, it was claimed, was also entitled to reverence and honor.” EGW, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 37

“The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” EGW, Letter 32, 1899, quoted in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129

This isn’t the Jesus Christ that the Bible teaches us though.  In the Bible we see that Christ created “all” things.  If he were created then one would have to also believe that Christ created himself.

Also, Jesus speaks of the Glory that he had with the Father before the world was.  Since time itself is part of creation one would have to place a sequence of events in time to place the creation of Christ outside of time.  It’s not Biblically or intellectually tenable.  This is just a sample, for more on the Deity of Christ please click HERE.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” Col 1:16 KJV 

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” John 17:5 KJV 

Conclusion

It is obvious above that Ellen White is teaching a false Christ , one that she made up, instead of the one that is in the Bible.

  • No wrath and no authority.
  • Who could have sinned and probably entertained the idea once or twice.
  • Didn’t die for our sins in any meaningful way and leaves us to fend for ourselves at the close of probation.
  • Was created and or formed rather than eternal.

Essentially, she gives us no Christ at all.  Ellen White isn’t the only one who has done this, like Jesus warned us, many false Christ’s have gone out into the world.  She just gives us one of them.  To the reader I urge you to study the scriptures and what they teach about the real Jesus Christ.

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