To be deep in history is to not be Charles Chaput

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Chaput

Roman Catholics have long quoted Cardinal Newman and his view of the errancy of Protestant history.  But Newman lived in a different age, an age where truth was a commodity whose usefulness was not universal.  And the pendulum of history has now swung back to where the certainty of history has been shown to be well, more Protestant.  And so it was with some great interest that I noted the estimable Archbishop of Philadelphia has written a piece in the May issue of First Things making the case for civic involvement.[i]    But he does so on an entirely Protestant foundation!  It’s almost as if Chaput either doesn’t know American history or he hopes his readers don’t. (In fact, I’ve written about Archbishop Chaput’s mistreatment of history in a previous post, The Death of Roman Catholic Tradition.)

Chaput begins, “As a nation, the United States is built on a religious anthropology.  It presumes a moral architecture shaped deeply by biblical thought and belief.”  Well that is certainly true as far as it goes.  But what he leaves unsaid is that that “anthropology” was exclusive of his denomination.  In other words to appeal to the “architecture” of the American founding is necessarily to exclude Roman Catholicism and appeal to a tradition that worked against his denomination.  (It must be admitted that the Catholics from Spain actually arrived on the North American continent before the European Protestants.  But as I show in the previous post – and what the archbishop continues in his recent offering – is his focus only on the Protestant Founders citing many of them by name.  When he refers to “the Founders” he obviously means the Protestants of New England.)

The Archbishop continues:

What we believe – or don’t’ believe – about God profoundly shapes what we believe about the nature of the human person and the purpose of human society.

So what did the Founders believe about God and the nature of the human person?   And does that bear any resemblance to what Chaput’s denomination holds?

If the average American citizen were asked, who was the founder of America, the true author of our great Republic, he might be puzzled to answer. We can imagine his amazement at hearing the answer given to this question by the famous German historian, Ranke, one of the profoundest scholars of modem times.  Says Ranke, `John Calvin was the virtual founder of America’.[ii] (emphasis added)

In fact, so profound was Calvin’s influence on the Founders that fully “80 percent of American Christians in the colonial period… were significantly influenced by John Calvin’s teachings.”[iii]  That number is simply astounding!  But it explains why 77% of the universities in America at the time of the adoption of the Constitution were “based on Calvinistic principles.”  So we may rightly assume that Founders’ idea of God, “the nature of the human person and the purpose of human society” were Calvinistic and antithetical to Roman Catholicism.

How so, you might ask?

The chief characteristic of the Calvinistic churches was their belief in the sovereignty of God.  And because God’s will guides and directs all of His creation there was no need of a “Magisterium” to do God’s work.  (This incidentally, is the foundation of Calvin’s doctrine of predestination which the Roman Catholic Church declared anathema at the Council of Trent.)  So the early Christian churches had no hierarchy. (And Christian churches today maintain that tradition!)

The Calvinist churches in early America divided labor between pastors, elders and deacons with presbyteries over geographical areas; but none was superior to the others.  This is precisely the arrangement that was built into the American government – a President, Senate and House of Representatives with a judiciary over geographical areas.  All performed their own function but none was superior to the others.  That structure, by the way, was specifically condemned by Pope Leo XII in 1895, more than one hundred years after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution![iv]    You see to the Pope at Rome, the proper form of government was to give to Rome the “favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”  In other words, the state should bow to the Pope.

(Apparently Archbishop Chaput is not even aware of his own sect’s history when he makes this further faux pas: “For Catholics, the civil order has its own sphere of responsibility and its own autonomy apart from the Church.”)

The lack of ecclesiastical hierarchy was based on the Calvinistic principle of the priesthood of all believers.  That is to say, that all of God’s children take part in the work of His kingdom equally.   The impact that this had on early America was that everyone – from a very early age – had to read and understand the Bible.  After all, how could one exercise his priestly office without knowledge?  And that had the further effect of causing Calvinists to build universities wherever they went.  God required that all of His people be educated in order to better serve him.  The Roman Catholic Church as is shown by Archbishop Chaput’s title is the antithesis of this.   Rome has always selected just a few to be “priests”.  And those priest act as an “alter Christus” which was anathema to America’s Founders.

The fact that Roman Catholicism was so far outside the purview of early American Christianity is made clear by Dr. Mark Noll’s description of the country nearly seventy years after the Founders had completed their work:

They (Protestant Christians of British descent) regarded Roman Catholicism not as an alternative Christian religion but as the world’s most perverse threat to genuine faith.  To most American Protestants, Catholicism seemed as alien to treasured political values as it was antithetical to true Christianity.[v]

How a modern Roman Catholic prelate can opine about a “religious anthropology” that would have excluded his denomination as though it hadn’t is really quite perplexing.

The Archbishop continues:

Our history as a nation is steeped in religious imagery, convictions, and language.  The idea that we can pull those religious roots out of our political life without hurting our identity as a nation is both imprudent and dangerous.

But it is equally dangerous to graft Catholic doctrine onto “those religious roots” where they never existed to begin with especially when the Catholic ideals were nowhere to be found in our “identity”.

Four paragraphs before the end apparently the Archbishop had a twinge of conscience:

It’s worth recalling that the roots of the American experience are deeply Protestant, and that these roots go back a very long way, to well before the nation’s founding.  Catholics have little reason to remember the Puritans fondly.

And apparently Catholics have little reason to remember any other of America’s founding groups either.

In the end, I suppose a couple of questions weigh on me:

  1. Is it legitimate for a Roman Catholic Archbishop to lay claim to ideas and principles that his denomination has rejected?  And then to use same as a basis for a call to action?
  2. Should we allow the Archbishop to so cavalierly dismiss his own church’s history while at the same time appropriating Protestant history as though it were his own?
  3. Can we as American Christians allow such God honoring doctrines as His Sovereignty and man’s depravity to be commingled with an institution that has historically stood against them?
  4. Is it prudent or even “American” to support this man when the goal of his denomination, as stated by the Pope at Rome, is to subject the state to the church?

If we are going to heed the Archbishop’s call to action we must surely get our history right first.  Or insist that he does.

 

[i] Chaput, Charles J. (2014, May 1) “We Can’t Be Silent”.  First Things.

[ii] Eidsmoe, John, “Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers” (Grand Rapids: Baker Books. Kindle book loc. 68-70

[iii] Holmes, David L.  “The Faiths of the Founding Fathers” (New York: Oxford University Press. 2006)  Kindle book loc. 225-227

[iv] http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_06011895_longinqua_en.html   Specifically, Leo said: “it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced… but she would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”  In other words the state should bow to Rome.

[v] Noll, Mark A.  “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.”  (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press.  2006.  P. 18)

Pope Authorizes Reading the Qu’ran at the Vatican

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Screen-Shot-2014-06-06-at-4.23.10-PM

 

Well, that’s not something you see everyday.

http://bit.ly/1ibz9Ic

I wonder if the Pope will let them read Surah 9:29?:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

Or maybe Pope Francis will approve of this Qu’ranic jewel:

Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture (i.e. Christians and Jews) and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures. (emphasis added)

I don’t know, maybe the Vatican is seeking support for its traditional suppression of women.  Perhaps the Imam might share this with His Holiness:

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. (emphasis added)

It’s always interesting to see the contest between the two “One True Church” – es.

I wonder if the Bible is being read at Mecca this Sunday.    Naaaa.

 

Blessings,

 

 

Are Protestants more Roman Catholic than Catholics?

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Catholic opinion survey vs Evangelical Protestants

Darryl Hart has picked up on an interesting work by Patricia Miller, here.  He notes how Catholics are leaving Rome for “another” Catholic church and how this exodus is being fueled by the great divide between Rome and (at least some of) her adherents.

 

The Catholic-Evangelical (Non-)Coalition | Religion Dispatches.

Therefore, Go Ye Into All the World and Tell Them About Yourselves….

One of the complaints I have about the Roman Catholic Church in which I grew up is how “man-centered” its teachings are.  After all, the sacerdotal system is all about “you” going to Mass; “you” going to confession; “you” blindly following the Magisterium.   So it was with some little surprise that I saw this tweet today from Pope Francis:

 PontifexMe

 Yep.  Evangelization to Roman Catholics is apparently all about “you”, too.

Don’t be fooled, friends.  Evangelization is about giving witness to Jesus Christ.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Emphasis added; Matthew 28:18-20)

Soli Deo Gloria.

THE BONDAGE OF RELIGIOUS DECEPTION

Mike Gendron has posted an excellent piece which I am recreating here.  There is a link to his blog below.

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Many former Catholics have looked back on their experience of participating in the weekly Sacrifice of the Mass as a “prison sentence.” It was something they were forced to attend to avoid the penalty of a mortal sin. Others remember it as a mindless ritual of standing, sitting, kneeling and reciting responses as the priest performed his religious duties. All Catholics are obligated by the laws of their church to attend church every week: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], para. 2180). With this law so explicit and demanding, the question begs an answer: Why is participation so compulsory for Catholics? The answers are complex and controversial.

According to the Catechism, “The Mass is…the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated” (CCC para. 1382). “The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents the sacrifice of the cross….the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: The victim is one and the same. In this divine sacrifice…the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner” (CCC para. 1366,1367). Catholics express their faith in the real presence of Jesus by genuflecting as a sign of adoration of the Lord.

Catholics are given no choice but to believe these oppressive dogmas. The Lord Jesus Christ cannot be physically present in the Eucharist on altars all over the world at the same time. Yet Catholics are between a rock and a hard place. If they deny the presence of Jesus, they are condemned by their church. “If anyone denies, that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ…let him be anathema” (Canon 1, Council of Trent). On the other hand, if they worship the Eucharist as the Lord Jesus, they commit the most serious sin of idolatry, similar to the sin of the Israelites, who worshiped a golden calf as the true God who delivered them out of Egypt. God’s wrath burned hot against this sin and 3000 were put to death (Exodus 32:1-28).
 
Catholics are taught their redemption comes not from the perfect and finished sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary’s cross, but through the repetitious sacrifices on altars. “Every time this mystery is celebrated, the work of our redemption is carried on” (CCC, para. 1068, 1405).  This blatantly denies the testimony of Scripture. Jesus “entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).
 
The sacrifice of the Mass clearly violates God’s Word and is a powerful deception that holds Catholics in bondage. Catholics should heed Paul’s sermon in Acts 17:23-30, “The God who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in tabernacles made with hands; neither is He offered with human hands…the Divine Nature is not like gold, or silver or stone.” In other words, the Divine Nature is not like flour and water, or an image formed by the thoughts of man. Furthermore, Jesus Christ cannot be offered by the hands of sinful priests. Jesus Christ, the perfect High Priest, offered Himself, the perfect sacrifice, once, to a perfect God who demands perfection. Then He cried out in victory, “It is finished!” There are no more offerings for sin (Hebrews 10:18). In light of all of this, we must call our Catholic friends and loved ones to repentance and faith in the true Christ who secured eternal redemption for His people.

 

 

 

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225 Years Ago Today…

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George Washington

Today marks the 225th anniversary of our first president’s first inaugural.  And it therefore seems fitting to remark on the text of his inaugural address and the priorities with which he set about as our first federal head:

 

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

 

Washington began his term with what is essentially a prayer.  His “fervent supplicatons to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe…” were bold and necessary, in his view, to ensure the “liberties and happiness of the People of the United States….”  Further, Washington was not renegade in his pronouncements.  He was merely confirming the general sentiment of those people who had elected him to govern.

And he ended his address with yeat another prayer.  A prayer that God and His blessing be “conspicuous” in the actions of the new government:

…I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favour the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparellelled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.

Washington began his address by acknowledging God in the establishment of this country and closed his speech with another “supplication” that He be readily apparent in the workings of this new government.

The success that our country experienced after its founding can surely be seen as an answer to Washington’s – and the peoples’ prayers.  And at a distance of 225 years, we would do well to emulate our first President.

“Peterborough: Islamic Rape-Wave Continues in Great Britain”

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This is truly one of the more disturbing stories I’ve seen in a while and kudos to David Wood for shining a light on it.  Apparently Islamic gangs seek out young British girls, ply them with drugs and them rape them.  It’s almost too much to write…..

Please make yourself aware of this and share it with your followers.

Attribtution:  the title of this post and the image used therein were taken from David’s blog which can be found here:  http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2014/04/peterborough-islamic-rape-wave.html

Is Roger Olson a Marcionite? Part 2

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A while ago, I asked the question, “Is Roger Olson a Marcionite”? I did so with no malice but the question was genuine in light of Dr. Olson’s pronouncements about the impossibility of Calvinism. Dr. Olson believes that the Calvinist doctrine of double predestination is untrue because it requires, in his estimation a God who is not “good”. Interestingly enough, Dr. Olson has continued his pitch here:

Must a truly good person give everyone under his or her influence an equal opportunity to flourish and succeed, to avoid disaster and failure? No. Such a good person must only give every person under his influence sufficient opportunity to avoid disaster and failure. That the “Arminian God” has done.

But I renew my earlier question. Does not this definition of “good” require the ignorance of the Old Testament?

I received a providential reminder of this today as I was meandering through one of the Bible apps on one of my mobile devices. (Life seems sometimes needlessly complicated, doesn’t it?) At any rate, when I clicked on “Start a Reading Plan” one category of plans took me immediately to 1 Samuel 15. And I was immediately struck how Dr. Olson’s definition of good could not in anyway apply to God in this story, the work of the prophet Samuel or the message of the text!

1 Samuel 15 is the story of God’s command to Saul, through Samuel to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” And Saul nearly accomplished his appointed task. Save for the Amalekite king and a few sheep and cows, all were destroyed – including “children and infants”.

Is Dr. Olson prepared to say that God was not good for His command?

The story continues with God’s displeasure that Saul did not complete his task as ordered. God was so incensed with Saul that He removed him as king of the Israelites and sent Samuel to personally kill Agag, the king of the Amalekites. What’s I find interesting from Dr. Olson’s perspective is that neither the “children and infants” nor King Agag was given a “sufficient opportunity to avoid disaster and failure”.

And Dr. Olson continues his clarification here:

Still, the point is that, according to Romans 1 and classical Arminian theology, God has given everyone sufficient opportunity to be saved. He has not closed the door in anyone’s face without them pulling it closed from their side.

So what is the point of 1 Samuel 15? Did not God “close the door” in the face of the infants? Women?

One of the main problems with the Arminian position is that it presupposes that man can have a comprehensive knowledge of God. But as Calvin rightly quotes from Scripture, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing.” (Proverbs 25:2) By not recognizing that God has revealed His goodness while hiding its appearance in some circumstances is to deny Scripture. Scripture is very consistent that God is good (Psalm 100:5; 136:1) whether we understand it or not (Isaiah 55:8-9). And what is God’s meaning in Job if it’s not that we are not able to understand the totality of God’s goodness:

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:3)

At the end of it all, we can only know what God has revealed to us – and that He is eternally good. He has also revealed to us that His decrees are effective and accomplish His will (Isaiah 46:10). And lastly He has revealed that evil exists. To go beyond that and to ascribe some definition of “good” that makes sense of the means and ends of God is sinfulness.

And nobody has put the matter more eloquently that John Calvin, himself:

Therefore, in order to keep the legitimate course in this matter, we must return to the word of God, in which we are furnished with the right rule of understanding. For Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which as nothing useful and necessary to be known has been omitted, so nothing is taught but what it is of importance to know. Every thing, therefore delivered in Scripture on the subject of predestination, we must beware of keeping from the faithful, lest we seem either maliciously to deprive them of the blessing of God, or to accuse and scoff at the Spirit, as having divulged what ought on any account to be suppressed. Let us, I say, allow the Christian to unlock his mind and ears to all the words of God which are addressed to him, provided he do it with this moderation—viz. that whenever the Lord shuts his sacred mouth, he also desists from inquiry. The best rule of sobriety is, not only in learning to follow wherever God leads, but also when he makes an end of teaching, to cease also from wishing to be wise. The danger which they dread is not so great that we ought on account of it to turn away our minds from the oracles of God. There is a celebrated saying of Solomon, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,” (Prov. 25:2). But since both piety and common sense dictate that this is not to be understood of every thing, we must look for a distinction, lest under the pretence of modesty and sobriety we be satisfied with a brutish ignorance. This is clearly expressed by Moses in a few words, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever,” (Deut. 29:29). We see how he exhorts the people to study the doctrine of the law in accordance with a heavenly decree, because God has been pleased to promulgate it, while he at the same time confines them within these boundaries, for the simple reason that it is not lawful for men to pry into the secret things of God. (Institutes III:21:3).

By ignoring the clear admonition of the Old Testament it appears to me that Arminians in general and Dr. Olson in particular are vulnerable to the charge of Marcionism.

If I’ve missed something or worse, if I’ve misstated something, I would love to hear about it.

Blessings,

 

 

 

Is Roger Olson a Marcionite?

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It may be recalled that Marcion was that early 2nd century fellow who applied an external concept of “good” to the God of the Bible and found Him wanting. In fact, Marcion’s concept of goodness led to him to completely reject the God of the Old Testament and the God of most of the New. God just didn’t measure up.

And so it was with great interest that I found Dr. Roger Olson’s latest post entitled, Why (High) Calvinism is Impossible. Now it’s no secret that Dr. Olson is no fan of Calvinism but what impresses me is his method of attacking Calvinism in general, and double predestination in particular. Because PD is pointed to in several places in the Scriptures, Dr. Olson has to develop his own hermeneutic:

Analysis of the Bible “presupposes belief that God is trustworthy, that God cannot deceive. But this assumes that God has a stable, enduring, eternal character that is “good” in a way analogous to our highest and best intuitions of “goodness”—whatever their source may be.”

That is simply striking to me. Why must God be analogous to man in any way? Now we know that man is analogous to God, that is we are created in His image and likeness, but I’m not sure that analogy is a two way street. And it certainly isn’t if we are to make God subject to our “highest and best intuitions”. And can God deceive? The Apostle Paul certainly believed so:

So God will send great deception upon them, and they will believe all these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for not believing the truth and for enjoying the evil they do. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Not only can God deceive, but He plans to do exactly that, according to Paul! Even Marcion would have known that.

Then Dr. Olson expands his conception of “good” so that it becomes the standard by which we can determine God’s trustworthiness:

Put another way, negatively, if one believes that God’s goodness is nothing like our best intuitions of goodness, that God’s goodness is possibly compatible with anything capable of being put into words (i.e., ultimately and finally mysterious), then there is no good reason to trust him. Trust in a person, even God, necessarily requires belief that the person is good and belief that the person is good necessarily requires some content and not “good” as a cipher for something totally beyond comprehension and unlike anything else we call “good.”

Here we see Marcion writ large. For God has surely told us that His goodness is, in fact, “nothing like our best intuitions of goodness”. Consider Isaiah 55:8-9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

How could Dr. Olson not know that? The plain fact is that God’s goodness is part of His nature. Therefore, it is not negotiable or subject to human scrutiny. As the Psalmist writes, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” (Psalm 136:1)

But all of the evidence I’ve presented is from the Old Testament. If Dr. Olson is not aware or has chosen to disregard the OT, is he a Marcionite?