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Discussion in 'Cults & World Religions' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, Jul 24, 2012.
Thanks for picking up my slack. I fixed the link.
Thank you for pointing this out brother. It reminds me of something Herman Bavinck wrote in his work "The Certainty of Faith":
Brothers and Sisters of the PB:
It is the case, in the nature of things, that when someone leaves the Reformed faith for the Roman Catholic Church that such a person has come to find the Reformed faith inadequate and unsatisfying.
This is even more so when the one departing is a minister of the gospel. He is someone who has been trained in the Reformed faith particularly and the Christian tradition more broadly. Thus when a Reformed minister leaves, he does so rejecting the Reformed faith, having for some reason(s) found it inadequate and unsatisfying. He may say, “I do not find it true” or “I find greater comfort in Rome,” or the like, which is to say, he may give any number of reasons for departing.
Since it is our conviction here that the Reformed faith is essentially Christianity come into its own, we believe that for someone to know the faith, at least intellectually, to the degree that a minister has, and then to depart from it, is to be in error—we would say “serious error.” We wonder, as Reformed Christians who have found the gospel of grace so true and satisfying (with respect to our sin and Christ’s remedy for it, especially), why would someone leave it? Why would someone reject the truth as we know it and turn to something quite at variance with it? Why does the one who departs find, in other words, the Reformed faith inadequate and unsatisfying?
There are two answers from our perspective: he is unconverted or misguided. If he is not converted, he has been handling the truth of the gospel while remaining a “natural man” who has not “received the things of the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 2:14). His restless heart has never truly rested in God and he can no longer confess something that he does not truly believe.
The issue here, then, is one of faith. Faith is knowing, believing, and trusting in Christ and in Him alone. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives faith and if someone who professes the true faith does not truly believe it and trust in the Lord, it is unsurprising that, at some point, he turns from it to something else.
One may, on the one hand, turn away from any form of Christianity altogether. Or one may, on the other hand, turn away to something that professes to be the Christian faith, that indeed has within it a remnant of the true faith (as does Roman Catholicism), but has (as had Judaism at the time of Christ) amalgamated the true faith with many other things and thus become a form of idolatry. Rome particularly, while confessing many core Christian beliefs, presents a religion not of faith but of sight, an idolatrous form of Christianity.
This presents the second possibility: someone turns from the Reformed faith, from Christ, to Rome, because they are misguided, deceived by and about the claims of Rome. Somehow he has become blinded to what the truth really is, to what the Reformed faith really holds, and imagines in the idolatrous claims of Rome that he will find the truth and there be satisfied. Idols do afford some comfort—this is why our Jewish fathers turned to them—but only for a season. At some point, the misguided will be delivered from their delusions and return to the pure gospel. And those previously not converted may be truly converted—we are so thankful for this—and turn to the true gospel.
The answer for all is the gospel of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, presented in its purity in the Reformed faith, though sadly corrupted and compromised by Rome. Here is our comfort: “Nevertheless, the foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal: ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His,’ and ‘Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity’” (I Timothy 2:19).
Thank you, Dr. Strange, for that excellent statement. At this point, prayer, self-examination, and meditation on the Scriptures referenced are probably the best responses we can make to this situation and the discussion of it. Any additional questions about Roman Catholicism, church history, etc., can be tackled on new threads devoted to that purpose.
I do not believe I used a sledgehammer where a tack needed to be driven. The point was that the focus on debating "who owns the ECF's" can obscure the real issues and I was reminding you of the fundamental issues that led to the Reformation. I'm well acquainted with Church history. I don't claim to be a scholar but have interacted with Rome's anachronistic use of the ECF's as well as their selective use of not only the ECF's but also their dogmatic statements of the past that they have taken back up to declare new dogmas that are not only to be believed and held but presented as if it has always been the case that the Church has believed and held the things they dogmatically define.
I have affirmed the value of studying Church history (and I think you need to read more carefully if you have missed this clear point) and nowhere have I stated that we give up the stage of Church history for their claims of uniformity.
That said, one of the things that Christ's ministry (and later the Apostles' ministry) demonstrates is that when historical theology becomes the basis by which we begin our understanding of the Word, there is a veil that forms that eventually blinds those engaged in historical theology from even going to the Scriptures to keep the theology of the Church from shifting its foundation to the improper ground. There is a reason why King's and Webster's books are entitled Holy Scipture: The Ground and Pillar of our Faith and that is because the temptation is always to "quote the Rabbi" to the point that the Church gets to the point where a Teacher in Israel is being rebuked by Christ because they don't know the Scriptures.
Sure they have the Scriptures memorized and can tell you what the Scriptures say but, over time, the meaning of the Scriptures is not determinied by a hermeneutical principle that is grounded in the belief that our hearts wander and that God's Word is eternal but in the belief that successive commentaries and teachings on what the Scriptures say eventually control the reading of the text.
When Paul was rebuking the Galatians, he did not present them with a historical-theological argument to demonstrate the line of Rabbis that agreed with his reading about the Messiah through the centuries. In large measure he expressed amazement that people who once would have been willing to give him their very eyes because they loved the hearing of the Gospel so much were turning aside from it.
I grew up Roman Catholic. I was very devout and even read my Bible and prayed often. I still have family who are very much devout and pray and meditate on the Scriptures daily. I'm not speaking as one with no knowledge of the Church nor as one with no love for those within the RCC. Can I engage the historical argument? Yes. Have I? Of course.
But at the end of the day, it's not really demonstrable that one will find a line of historical thinking one way or another that will "seal the deal". History, again, is too complicated and even historians, at best, can provide us some general contours but they can't hope to really express all the thoughts and intentions of men in any era. Men are too complex for systems of thought. We can generally classify what many believe but, even within my own denomination and time I know well, I could not hope to properly characterize any person with great accuracy. Even within my own congregation I have to spend much time to get to know people to understand what they understand and I can only exhort what the Scriptures teach and let God be the one who performs the work that He reserves to Himself.
Consequently, while I don't cede the historical argument to either the RCC or the EO, at the end of the day my plea to men was as the Apostles was. I strike the chords of the Gospel and the announcement of a finished work and trust that the Holy Spirit will work through those means so that men and women resonate to its beauty. The Solas of rhe Reformation are not merely a polemic toy but draw a stark dividing line so that we can get to the ground of what we're really saying the Scriptures teach about men and their salvation. It is good, after all, to be pursued for a good thing and I want my pursuit to be for the Gospel and not that men would be deceived by a fictitious account of historical uniformity that they might be confirmed in their idolatry. I want men to come to a saving knowledge of Christ and press in daily lest they be deceived by flattering and empty deceit.
I would also encourage you to consider that many disciplines come to bear in these kind of issues. As I said earlier, men have long twisted the Scriptures and it is not a matter of them consciously doing so in most cases. The basic hermeneutical ground is where a man or woman goes to determine the grid through which all Scripture is to to be understood. If the starting point is that the doctrine is correct then the Scriptures are bent to a hermeneutical rule that allows for Solomon's mother's request to be a picture of the mediatorial work of Mary. Paul's admonition to preachers of the Word concerning our worthless pursuits in this life and the refining fire of the Lord is used as demonstration of the fires of purgatory. This is but one of many disciplines of the theological sciences that are corrupted by a priori commitments and so I watch and pray, even for my own soul, that I would putting sin to death in my members and that my own heart (prone to idolatry) would not be led astray by seemingly plausible arguments.
At the end of the day, it is not a matter of whether or not we need a bit of spackling or a few "tacks" to round out our theology but the Christian must be desperate for the perfected work of Christ to keep and perfect him. We must never be so prideful as to think that we'll each remain committed to a body of doctrine but the Christian life is a race, with all of Christ's saints here on earth, encouraging and exhorting one another because the trials are severe and the temptations to shrink back are ever present. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the days of rebellion. We're not called to meditate day and night upon what our forefathers of the faith said about the Scriptures (as valuable as it is) but to meditate day and night upon the Scriptures themselves.
Thank you Alan. I believe this to be the case as well. My very first post in this thread was to note a concern that we remain, each of us, fixed upon evangelical graces as our anchor and not upon our own strength. I have been careful as well not to call out any one man. Even if this was precipitated by a blog entry we are fools to attack a single man as if he is of a species we do not recognize in our own hearts was not the power of Christ through His Word keeping us. My prayer is that men and women will see not in us an attempt to set ourselves apart as more intelligent or more wise or better men because of the theological choices we have made but as beggars who have laid hold of a perfect Savior and as simply saying: "Come to Christ! Cast off your heavy burdens. His yoke is easy and His burden is light."