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Posts by Springfield Reformer

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  • From Jesuit to Jesus

    11/20/2014 10:46:18 AM PST · 63 of 64
    Springfield Reformer to Petrosius; daniel1212; BlueDragon
    SR: We do not assume that "priest" conveys in English the office described in the New Testament under the term presbuteros.

    P: It is not an assumption but an historical fact that the word "priest" was originally used to describe the office of presbuteros and has been in constant use as such since before the 12th century. That it also has a derivative meaning to describe any cultic sacrificial minister does not change what its original and continual meaning is.

    No, it is not a fact, but an assumption based on an incomplete set of facts plus the presence of a genetic fallacy.  Louw and Nida's lexicon based on semantic range describes the truly original sense of presbuteros as follows:

    53.77 πρεσβύτεροςb, ου m: a person of responsibility and authority in matters of socio-religious concerns, both in Jewish and Christian societies—‘elder.’ ὅπου οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι συνήχθησαν ‘where the teachers of the Law and the elders had gathered together’ Mt 26:57; ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς Μιλήτου πέμψας εἰς Ἔφεσον μετεκαλέσατο τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους τῆς ἐκκλησίας ‘he sent a message from Miletus to Ephesus asking the elders of the church to meet him’ Ac 20:17. In some languages πρεσβύτεροςb is best rendered as ‘older leaders,’ but in other languages the more appropriate term would be the equivalent of ‘counselor,’ since it would be assumed that counselors would be older than the average person in a group as well as having authority to lead and direct activities.

    67.27 πρεσβύτεροςb, α, ον: pertaining to a person who has lived in ancient times, that is to say, at a point long before the point of time of the discourse itself (πρεσβύτεροςb may also carry the implication of prestige)—‘of ancient times.’ ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι ‘for by this, those of ancient times won (God’s) approval’ He 11:2.
    This is based on sound semantic analysis of primary sources contemporaneous with the New Testament.  Note the complete absence of sacerdotal aspect.  

    SR: As Daniel has twice now pointed out, you are apparently relying on simply the raw etymology to sustain your theory of semantic continuity.

    P: Not so. I am relying on its original and continual meaning. What you and Daniel are trying to do is separate the present Catholic office of presbuteros from that mentioned in the Bible. Then you ask how do we translate this ancient term into modern English. But this ignores the fact that this office has continued to exist into the present time and that its received term in English, since at least the 12th century, is "priest."

    The functionality of how the priestly office operates under the Roman system, especially sacerdotally, does not have continuous existence, but evolved over time, no doubt fueled by an increasingly hierarchical view of the church, which was generally absent for most of the first two centuries. Assuming for the sake of argument "priest" is derived from presbuteros (not a universally accepted theory), that does NOT prove continuity of meaning all the way back to it's primary use in the Greek text. All it would prove is that at some point the role of "presbyter" had been successfully redefined by Rome to incorporate sacerdotal elements.  This in no way implies those sacerdotal aspects were there from the beginning.

    So you see, we are not ignoring the etymology.  We are disputing the semantic scoring of the etymology.  You are ranking it too high. Yes, we do contend there is a break in meaning, that a proper translation of presbuteros must be based on the meaning it derives from usage contemporaneous to it's appearance in the NT, and not on later acquisitions.  

    For example, how creditable would it be to translate a 16th Century English text by rendering literally every occurrence of "goodbye" as "God bless ye?"  Yet that is the etymology.  However, nearly everyone using it today is not referring to God at all, nor any kind of blessing, but only to the event of departure.  Likewise, to use "priest" where the Greek supplies "presbuteros" must be viewed as an illegitimate means to import the later acquired sacerdotal sense into the text, despite the fact such a sense is absent in the semantic range of the term as it was being used during the New Testament period.  Would any serious translator really insert the modern "goodbye" for all occurrences of the older "God bless ye," based purely on etymological considerations?  Never! Think of the translational chaos that invites!  Let's say the original text said, "She giveth him a cup of cold water, and he saith 'God bless ye.'"  Now let's insert our "etymologically correct but semantically wrong "goodbye:"  "She giveth him a cup of cold water, and he saith 'Goodbye.'"  Do you see how ignoring valid semantic concerns turns the story completely on it's head? 

    SR: Much of that language in the early Christian writers is directed at the docetists and others …

    P: Justin Martyr's First Apology was written to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, a pagan not Docetist.

    Irrelevant.  Neither party was trying to sort out questions of Aristotelian substance versus accidence.  Transubstantiation per se is not expressed until and unless those categories or something like them are used to describe the swapping of one substance for another, to arrive at a realism that runs well beyond the ordinary immersive metaphor common to the period.  But not only is such expression completely absent from the early period, but there are examples that explicitly refute depletion of the substantive bread-ness of the bread or wine-ness of the wine.  Theodoret comes to mind:

    Orth.— Although what has been said is enough for your faith, I will, for confirmation of the faith, give you yet another proof.
    Eran.— I shall be grateful to you for so doing, for you will increase the favour done me.
    Orth.— You know how God called His own body bread?
    Eran.— Yes.
    Orth.— And how in another place he called His flesh grain?
    Eran.— Yes, I know. For I have heard Him saying “The hour has come that the Son of man should be glorified,”  and “Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it die it brings forth much fruit.”
    Orth.— Yes; and in the giving of the mysteries He called the bread, body, and what had been mixed, blood.
    Eran.— He so did.
    Orth.— Yet naturally the body would properly be called body, and the blood, blood.
    Eran.— Agreed.
    Orth.— But our Saviour changed the names, and to His body gave the name of the symbol and to the symbol that of his body. So, after calling himself a vine, he spoke of the symbol as blood.
    Eran.— True. But I am desirous of knowing the reason of the change of names.
    Orth.— To them that are initiated in divine things the intention is plain. For he wished the partakers in the divine mysteries not to give heed to the nature of the visible objects, but, by means of the variation of the names, to believe the change wrought of grace. For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as grain and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace.

    Available here:  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/27031.htm
    In this hypothetical dialog, Orthodoxos represents what was widely accepted as orthodox Christian belief at the time of this writing (5th Century, I believe).  This also represents a direct, irreconcilable conflict with the central premise of transubstantiation.  A transformation of the Eucharist is admitted, but not one that vacates the nature of the visible objects, but rather adds to that nature grace. Thus, if the nature of bread remains, the bread is still bread, both in substance and accidence. As with the wine. This still represents an evolution from the simpler sense of the paschal meal in Scripture, but clearly cuts against the grain of the sense conveyed in Aquinas and later in Trent, and would doubtless be subject to the anathemas of Trent.  And yet it was obviously widely and uncontroversially accepted before Radbertus appeared to propose his novel and alien hyper-literalism.

    SR: For example, in the case of Justin Martyr, he specifically denies consuming human flesh and blood:

    P: He was responding to the Roman charge that Christians were consuming human flesh. By this the Romans were not thinking of the Eucharistic elements becoming the body and blood of Jesus but that the Christians were sacrificing humans and eating their flesh. This misunderstanding came about because the Christians were speaking of the Eucharist as eating the actual body of Christ.

    Exactly, and it was a misunderstanding, as he explains in that Second Apology, because he clearly states human flesh was not being consumed by Christians, that such "fabulous" accusations were false.  If he asserts it is false, you are left with choosing between these alternatives:  Either he is lying in his Second Apology, because he secretly "knows" they really are consuming the corporeal flesh of Christ, or he is telling the truth but rejecting that Christ is human, or he is telling the truth because he believes both that Christ is human and that his flesh is not being literally eaten by Christians.  

    SR: Again, Justin Martyr cannot be discussing transubstantiation, because Radbertus (9th Century) had not yet invented it, nor Aquinas perfected it, nor Trent anathematized the rejection of it.

    P: While the term "transubstantiation" was invented in the 9th century and the Aristotelian understanding of substance and accidents came latter, the early Christians did indeed believe that the bread and wine were changed in reality into the Body and Blood of Jesus as Justin Martyr attests.

    No.  Nothing you have shown so far demonstrates belief in a change of the corporeal reality of the elements.  At best you have an immersive metaphor, which in Justin Martyr's case only rises to the surface for conscious articulation when directly challenged as cannibalism. No honest person truly believing in the complete swapping of substances could have answered the charge as he did.  

    This is not to say there was no sense of reality or the special presence of Christ in the Eucharistic service.  But something being real is not the equivalent of it being corporeal.  As I have often said before, nothing is more real than God.  Yet God, in His divine essence, is not corporeal, but a spirit, as Scripture clearly teaches.  So it is entirely possible to have the language of reality, the totally unconscious acceptance of the metaphor as a vehicle for expressing the spiritual reality, without ever adopting anything close to the Aristotelian alchemy that came so much later.  As in the example from Theodoret, a change is admitted, but it is a changed frame of reference, not a literal change in substance, which literal change is specifically denied.  I have no doubt Theodoret includes this idea because as an apologist he recognizes error creeping in of a false idea of changed nature.  That this error existed prior to reaching full flower in Radbertus et al should not be too surprising, as Jesus' audience in John 6 was plagued by the same temptation to see spiritual realities in grotesquely materialistic terms.  Transubstantiation is just a sophistical accommodation to that very temptation.

    SR: If we do something over and over again, it doesn't matter if we can imagine the source of the repeated event as frozen somewhere in eternal timelessness (a dubious theory in its own right).

    P: The sacrifice of the Mass is not what we do but what Jesus does that is presented before us. As for a frozen eternal timelessness, eternity is rather the infinite encompassing of all time. Thus Jesus can say "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." All time to God is an eternal present. And this he can present to us. That God can present to us events in this eternity is shown by John's visions presented in Revelations.

    No, speculations on what time is to God must be grounded in Scripture.  Jesus did preexist Abraham, and He did so because He is identical in divine essence with the God of Israel who identifies Himself as "I AM," a profound ontological statement which addresses God's self-existence as Creator, but does not tell us how He views or interacts with time.  To leap from that to uncertain theories of static versus dynamic time is to venture into the kind of groundless speculations that have led in recent times to liberal, quasi-pantheistic theories of an Eternal Now, per Paul Tillich, that serve as a conceptual bridge to utterly pagan ideas such as timeless Nirvana and other expressions of pantheism.  I have personally traveled that path and I have no wish to go there again.  It is a dark and loathsome place.  Much preferable is to say about these hardest of things only what God has said, and to use the language He has given us to think about them.

    In the case of the atonement, we are always given to think of it as something finished, not as something that can be made "present" by linking two disparate time frames.  That cannot be accidental.  God has superintended the provision of His word to us.  If He wants us to think of this event as past, and sufficient in it's finished propitiary effect to atone for all the past, present, and future sins of all who believe on Him, then it is pure hubris to trot out some post-Newtonian conception of parallel time-worlds as a flimsy justification for denying, in practice, the completeness of His work.  God gave us this temporal frame of reference because of all possible ways of thinking about the atonement, He considered it the truest thing He could say to us. God does not lie.  And He does not mislead His children.  We are to remember His death till He comes.  That is a far cry from playing George McFly time travel games.  You may speculate as you see fit, but I will stick with the ordinary sense of the Biblical text and count myself quite happy to do so.

    As for prophecy, we know God is able to state the end from the beginning:

    Isaiah 46:9-10  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,  (10)  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
    But see how He says, "the things that are not yet done." So we have God speaking to us directly, saying the future things that He knows are coming, are not yet done.  He does not bother to distinguish between His time-world and ours.  What He wants us to know is that He has no trouble telling us all that will happen.  This is easily explained as a function of His omnipotence and omniscience.  It is simply unnecessary to invoke Einstein's manifold or any other hypothetical construct of static time.  How does it really work?  That's for God to know and us not to get too spun up about.  Perhaps in glory we will get better insight into this.  For now, if God tells John something is going to happen, that's good enough for me. I don't need to "help" God with my pitiful speculations about time.  I just need to believe what He says and act accordingly.

    Peace,

    SR


  • From Jesuit to Jesus

    11/20/2014 1:07:02 AM PST · 59 of 64
    Springfield Reformer to Petrosius
    What we are discussing is not what other Christian denominations use to describe their clergy but the English usage for the present office of presbuteros which is an historical continuation of of the ancient office described in the Bible. This office only exists today in the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the term that they use is "priest". This is even acknowledged in the Merriam-Webster definition that you quoted (albeit including the Anglicans) when it states: "specifically : an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyman ranking below a bishop and above a deacon." That some non-Catholic churches chose to translate presbuteros as "elder" for their newly created clergy has no bearing in what the English term is for the continuing office of presbuteros that exists in the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

    But that is begging the question, assuming the answer you favor in the framing of the discussion.  We do not assume that "priest" conveys in English the office described in the New Testament under the term presbuteros.  As Daniel has twice now pointed out, you are apparently relying on simply the raw etymology to sustain your theory of semantic continuity.  That is not good lexicography.  Semantically, the English "priest," thought it may represent a contracted, Latinized version of what started out in Greek as presbuteros (though I have seen arguments for other possible "genetic" histories of the term), in semantic usage presbuteros is far more accurately represented by the English "elder," as an ecclesiastical office, than by "priest," which in English carries with it all the sacerdotal baggage of the Roman evolution.

    While you might be able to make an argument that the Didache and perhaps Pope Clement are speaking metaphorically ...

    My argument is not that in the early Eucharistic practice we are talking about metaphorical sacrifice versus real sacrifice.  I do not reject the idea of metaphor.  I simply wasn't using it here.  Instead, I am saying the kind of sacrifice envisioned by transubstantiation was not at all in view in those early writings.  Rather, the sacrifice of praise is in view.  It is no less real, but the one is not a metaphor for the other.  They are of two different kinds altogether.  One involves a time-honored and entirely spiritual form of offering to God, not done in exchange for forgiveness, but simply to give oneself to God in love. The other involves a bizarre use of Aritstotelian categories to achieve a kind of realism for the paschal meal not contemplated in Scripture or the earliest Christian writers.

    Similarly, the realism appealed to in Ignatius and the others is not the realism of transubstantiation.  It is not the ontological identity of Christ and the elements.  Much of that language in the early Christian writers is directed at the docetists and others that disparaged the physicality of Jesus, the aim being not to demonstrate that the bread is the very substance of Christ, but that Jesus was Himself a real, corporeal being, not a mere apparition, as some supposed, and that therefore the Eucharistic elements had that underlying reality, not in Aquinas' substance versus accidence sense, but closer to Augustine's sense, that the thing the sign pointed to, though not the sign itself, was nonetheless quite real.

    For example, in the case of Justin Martyr, he specifically denies consuming human flesh and blood:
    For I myself, too, when I was delighting in the doctrines of Plato, and heard the Christians slandered, and saw them fearless of death, and of all other-things which are counted fearful, perceived that it was impossible that they could be living in wickedness and pleasure. For what sensual or intemperate man, or who that counts it good to feast on human flesh,  could welcome death that he might be deprived of his enjoyments, and would not rather continue always the present life, and attempt to escape the observation of the rulers; and much less would he denounce himself when the consequence would be death? This also the wicked demons have now caused to be done by evil men. For having put some to death on account of the accusations falsely brought against us, they also dragged to the torture our domestics, either children or weak women, and by dreadful torments forced them to admit those fabulous actions which they themselves openly perpetrate; about which we are the less concerned, because none of these actions are really ours, and we have the unbegotten and ineffable God as witness both of our thoughts and deeds.

    Available here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0127.htm
    Again, Justin Martyr cannot be discussing transubstantiation, because Radbertus (9th Century) had not yet invented it, nor Aquinas perfected it, nor Trent anathematized the rejection of it.  If you reread him very carefully in the quote you gave, and set aside the artificial categories created for you by these later innovators, you will notice there is no affirmation of swapped substances, with only accidents remaining.  But rather his words are compatible with his assessment above, that the accusation of eating human flesh is false.  The later hyper-realism represented by transubstantiation is obviously unknown to him, or he would not have been able to make such an unqualified denial of eating human flesh, unless he were to deny the flesh of Jesus was human, which is of course absurd.  

    The fact that this comment rests at ease in the same mind with the other comment should suggest to us he is using some other model than transubstantiation to understand what it means for the bread and wine mixed with water to be the body and blood of Jesus.  And other such models exist that would be fully compatible with both the directness of the imagery and the uncomplicated rejection of eating human flesh.  One such model might be called an immersive metaphor, a way of seeing the elements as such a clear window to the underlying reality, that the mind barely notices the lens of the metaphor, but looks right through the lens to only see what the metaphor is pointing to.  Yet push come to shove, and accusations of cannibalism being given, he is easily able to cast off those charges as totally untrue. That is, untrue in any corporeal sense.  Because for Justin Martyr, as truly as the bread and wine are in some sense the body and blood of Jesus, it is equally true that no corporeal human flesh is consumed in the Eucharist.

    You are either misunderstanding or misrepresenting the Catholic teaching on the Mass as a sacrifice. The Mass is not a further sacrifice nor is it an additive to the one-time sacrifice of Christ, it is that one-time sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross made present to us. The Catholic Church has repeated this so often for the last 500 years that it is hard to believe that a Protestant in good faith can still make the false claim that Catholics believe that we are repeating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ or making a new sacrifice.

    I assure you it is not my intent to either misrepresent or misconstrue the Roman theory of the mass, and I welcome your offered refinements to my understanding.  However, I reject as invalid the time travel escape hatch so commonly used to avoid the charge of repeating the sacrifice of Christ in the mass.  Each time the once-for-all sacrifice is offered, it purports to have new propitiary effect, as if it's first effect was not enough. It is functioning as a new sacrifice each time it is offered. If we do something over and over again, it doesn't matter if we can imagine the source of the repeated event as frozen somewhere in eternal timelessness (a dubious theory in its own right). Repetition is about what we do within our own temporal framework, and in that framework, it is either done or it is not done, we are forgiven entirely when we believe or else forgiven incompletely, on the installment plan.  And if, to make up for our lack of feeling forgiven, we make the body and blood of Jesus "present" over and over again as a true sacrifice, each time with new propitiary effect to us, we really are repeating it in practice, though I understand that will be denied in the formal teaching.

    But we are not told by the Holy Spirit in Scripture to consider His death continuously present via time travel, nor to consider Christ a perpetual victim.  We are enjoined to consider the atonement done and over, the sin debt canceled, the sacrifice that accomplished it to be remembered in the paschal meal, but not to be literally revisited time and time again.  God has given us this temporal frame of reference in which we live. We cannot and should not attempt to circumvent it.  We only end up fooling ourselves with our fallen imaginations if we try.  In reality, this time travel theory is nothing but an inventive way to avoid a blazing obvious contradiction. Temporally speaking, Christ, in His human nature, is not on the cross right now, but in the presence of the Father, interceding for us, preparing to come again for us.  In remembering his death for us, we are being told to access, by memory, the past, the time when He was here.  We are not being told to access, by a miracle with no footprint in reality, an eternal present in which Christ is endlessly dying.  God has the authority to set the rules on how He is worshiped. If He has told us specifically to look to the past regarding Jesus' death, that is what we must do. 

    Peace,

    SR





  • Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing: How to choose?

    11/19/2014 1:33:16 PM PST · 39 of 39
    Springfield Reformer to 2ndDivisionVet

    Ping for later

  • From Jesuit to Jesus

    11/19/2014 10:16:38 AM PST · 53 of 64
    Springfield Reformer to Petrosius; daniel1212
    English, however, has failed to maintain two separate words

    That simply is not the case.  If one uses a dictioary approach to discovering modern English usage, the distinction in English initiated by Tyndale to reflect the distinction in Greek has now run for half a millennium and is still going strong.  From Merriam-Webster Online:
    Priest:  one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God; specifically :  an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyman ranking below a bishop and above a deacon

    Elder:
    1:  one living in an earlier period
    2
        a :  one who is older :  senior <a child trying to please her elders> 
        b :  an aged person
    3:  one having authority by virtue of age and experience <the village elders>
    4:  any of various officers of religious groups: as 
        a :  presbyter 
        b :  a permanent officer elected by a Presbyterian congregation and ordained to serve on the session and assist the pastor at communion 
        c :  minister 
    d :  a leader of the Shakers 
    e :  a Mormon ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood
    A case can be made that there can be overlapping uses of the two terms, such as when a Roman Catholic priest is described in terms of his non-sacerdotal duties, i.e., those that would be identical to any Presbyterian or Baptist elder or minister.  But when, as you concede, the Vulgate itself maintains the Greek's distinction between presbyter and sacerdos, why is it at all wrong for Tyndale and his progeny to provide a means of recognizing that distinction in English? Particularly when that distinction has been spectacularly successful in disentangling the Christian minister's duties of governance and spiritual oversight from the outmoded sacerdotal duties of the OT priesthood, rendered entirely obsolete by the only remaining arch-hiereus (high priest), Jesus Christ?  Only Jesus retains the sacerdotal aspect of the priestly office in fulfillment of the OT typology of priest and temple. Overseers and elders are caretakers of the Ecclesia, undershepherds of the one sheep-fold, but not mediators offering sacrifices on behalf of an invented underclass of believers.

    As for whether the early believers viewed the Eucharist as a sacrifice in the sense presented by transubstantiation, it is egregiously anachronistic to read back into those early texts a meaning that clearly took centuries to evolve.  For example, you cite to the Didache, but nothing in the text of that document suggests a sacrifice in the nature of an offering for sin.  Indeed, the name "eucharist" itself is an expression of thanksgiving.  The entire meal is viewed here, not in terms of propitiation, but in terms of thanksgiving.  This is reinforced by Scripture:
    Hebrews 13:15-16  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.  (16)  But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
    This is particularly significant coming from the writer of Hebrews because he has just spent the preceding 12 chapters disabusing his readers of the false idea that any further sacrifices of propitiation, i.e., for the removal of sin, are needed, in that Jesus accomplished the entire work of propitiation, once for all, past tense, obsoleting the entire OT sacerdotal system.  Therefore we can be absolutely certain that sacrifice (thusia)  as used here, while it has an etymological connection to animal sacrifice, is NOT being used as an additive to the one-time sacrifice of Christ for sins, but is describing instead a natural response of the believing heart, the desire to offer our praise to God in thanksgiving for all He has done for us.

    And such praise is a true sacrifice as against our fallen nature, because in our sin and pride we have ourselves as the centers of our universe, and tend to think we deserve the good things that come to us, and this discourages a spirit of thanksgiving and praise.  Very often, in our darkest moments, we are bitterly tempted to turn entirely inward, and even the thought of praise in those moments, because of our sin, can seem awkward and unnatural, insincere.  But it remains our duty, because no matter what we may be feeling due to our weakness of faith, His matchless glory is undiminished, He is still the mighty Savior, Who has rescued us and delivered us from the hand of the oppressor, and as such He is still worthy to be praised and thanked, most of all for the darkness and sorrow He Himself was willing to endure on our behalf, to give us life through His death. And so our praise is offered to Him, in good times and bad, for better, for worse, always, and under all circumstances, we offer to him from ourselves a willing witness and testimony to His goodness and love to us.  If this is our small sacrifice, it does not absolve us of sin, as His sacrifice for us does, but it is still a sacrifice, and still and always the right response of a believing heart.
    Romans 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

    Peace,

    SR




     
  • Reza Aslan Tells Christians That Gospels Are "Replete With Historical Errors"

    11/18/2014 2:03:10 PM PST · 14 of 26
    Springfield Reformer to Biggirl

    ping for later ...

  • How the Religious Right Scams Its Way Onto the New York Times Bestseller List

    11/18/2014 11:03:26 AM PST · 12 of 13
    Springfield Reformer to Busywhiskers

    Apparently the tactic is popular among those who use it to build a consulting constituency:

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323864304578316143623600544

    The trick is, the spike in sales is short-lived, but the status of “best selling author” can be played indefinitely. The “secret sauce” is how ResultSource manages to escape the bulk buying flag and make it look like their bulk purchase is actually a large number of individual purchases. If I were guessing, I’d say they’ve got some way to automate the purchases, so they can set the program for a given quantity, then have the automation buy them all individually. But that theory is not too good, because wouldn’t they all have to be different identities to the system they’re buying from? Different names and addresses? Curious.

    Anyway, yes, the author of this article is apparently just unloading on Driscoll because of ant-evangelical bias and stereo-type. Other kinds of people do this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ResultSource

    It’s not illegal, but it is arguably immoral, assuming the technique for gaming the system is designed to mislead both the list-makers and through them the public.

    Having said that, I think there’s some of that’s just built into how publishing works. The author is typically going to try to find some way to prime the pump and then build on that initial excitement. But that’s not the same as buying a spot on the best seller lists. Just good old fashioned sweat equity.

  • Where Fundamentalists Are Right: 5 Things Catholics Need to Take Seriously Again

    11/16/2014 1:52:43 PM PST · 164 of 234
    Springfield Reformer to ealgeone; dsc
    DSC: The Holy Spirit, which is one of the three persons in our One God, does what He does when He does it for His own reasons.
    Experience shows that the Holy Spirit comes upon people only infrequently, and that only on rare individuals.

     If you think the Holy Spirit is helping you understand what you read, and you have not had an earth-shattering, entirely unique, draining, and unmistakable supernatural experience, you are mistaken.

    EO: dude, do you read the Bible??


    What's even worse is that list of "symptoms" for having experienced the Holy Spirit would be equally applicable to demon possession or a psychotic episode.  This is the really sad thing about an epistemology based on human experience and authority as opposed to the objectivity of the divinely inspired word.  
    Romans 8:8-10  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  (9)  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  (10)  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
    From the above passage we see it is not even possible to be a Christian without the Holy Spirit.  But the idea that the presence of the Holy Spirit would produce some "earth-shattering" experience is only partly correct.  It is certainly earth-shattering to be a lost sinner in pursuit of direct evil, only to have some nameless stranger interrupt your plans then disappear into the night with the parting words, the Lord works in mysterious ways.  And it is earth shattering to think you've got no hope, then, like the prodigal son, wake up in the midst of your mess and realize that God is calling you to himself with a love so beautiful you think it must be a mistake, but no, it's true, God really wants you for Himself, and won't quite chasing you until you stop running away.

    But for the life of quiet godliness, to those who have come to Jesus, and been sealed by the Holy Spirit, the work of that Spirit is manifested in these more mundane exercises in the supernatural:
    Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  (23)  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
    None of these should be unique, one-time experiences, but they are all supernatural. We are dead sinners until we come to Christ. None of these things come naturally, that is, from our fallen nature.  They only come as God crafts us into greater and greater likeness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  But they are the birthright of all who name Him as their Savior, and it is a great tragedy to think that some would miss out on that for thinking the Spirit of God is as hard to come by as some earthly dignitary, when He is so close to each of us:
    Psalms 145:18-20  The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.  (19)  He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.  (20)  The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.
    Peace,

    SR




  • The Nature of the Mass and the need for Sacrifice

    11/13/2014 11:10:35 PM PST · 127 of 129
    Springfield Reformer to Claud
    A Consolidated Response:

    1. On Scripture as the Final Court of Appeal:


    Contrary to your assessment, Scripture is more than law.  Perhaps this is one of the unstated difficulties in crossing the divide between Sola Scriptura and Sola Ecclesia.  At any given moment in time, law is static, simply a set of words that require a human interpreter to explain and render decisions from.  If someone thought this is all the word of God was, I could see how they might regard it as subject to the whim of it's interpreters. But the word of God has its own voice, and if we listen it will tell us that it is not mere law, but the living manifestation of the power of God speaking with us. As you already surely know:
    Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    "Quick" here means "alive." (Greek "zon")  So the enscripturated communication of God to man is a living thing.  How does it live? Why should we not simply think of it as mere words on paper? Because God always sends it to a purpose, and that purpose is always accomplished, because it is carried forward by the intervention of God Himself through His Holy Spirit to its intended recipients, and will not fail to reach us.  Nothing can be more alive, nor more suitable to serve as both the measure and the adjudicator of truth for Christian faith and practice, than the epistle of the living God, the living expression of His own mind, written for and to His children, the sheep of His pasture, whom He has personally guaranteed will hear His voice, and will not follow another.

    But this is a topic which for apologetic purposes we actually are in practical agreement, sort of, and so should probably not invest too much time going over the same old arguments.  If you bring your testimony to one who adheres to Sola Scriptura, you must either undermine the authority of Scripture for that person, in order to offer your own source of authority, i.e., the theories of the Roman schism.  Or you must attempt to build your case from Scripture, in which you at least temporarily consent to use Scripture as a "common ground" authority.  Inasmuch as it is completely incoherent to try and undermine Scripture with Scripture, the more typical approach is to try and build a case from Scripture for the unique features of Roman Catholicism versus a more generic Christianity. The problem with that theory is that those unique distinctives do not emerge from the Biblical text, but surface later, in post-apostolic history, which lacks the presumption of God-breathed divine communication. Let God be true, but every man a liar. Thus, at every turn, you are compelled to attempt to advance your case from Scripture, and that's fine with me, as it is the only starting point I would accept anyway.


    2. On Signs and Eucharistic History:

    Because we have a provisional agreement that the patristic testimony on the Eucharist is mixed, I will not inundate you with a wall post full of quotes favorable to the symbolic view.  That has been done and is available for those who wish to find it.  Instead, you seemed to be saying no single passage could be found which directly conflicts with transubstantiation (and if I have misunderstood you in this, please feel free to correct me).   I offer you this passage in Augustine as evidence of direct conflict with Aquinian transubstantiation:
    13. Now he is in bondage to a sign who uses, or pays homage to, any significant object without knowing what it signifies: he, on the other hand, who either uses or honors a useful sign divinely appointed, whose force and significance he understands, does not honor the sign which is seen and temporal, but that to which all such signs refer. Now such a man is spiritual and free even at the time of his bondage, when it is not yet expedient to reveal to carnal minds those signs by subjection to which their carnality is to be overcome. To this class of spiritual persons belonged the patriarchs and the prophets, and all those among the people of Israel through whose instrumentality the Holy Spirit ministered unto us the aids and consolations of the Scriptures. But at the present time, after that the proof of our liberty has shone forth so clearly in the resurrection of our Lord, we are not oppressed with the heavy burden of attending even to those signs which we now understand, but our Lord Himself, and apostolic practice, have handed down to us a few rites in place of many, and these at once very easy to perform, most majestic in their significance, and most sacred in the observance; such, for example, as the sacrament of baptism, and the celebration of the body and blood of the Lord. And as soon as any one looks upon these observances he knows to what they refer, and so reveres them not in carnal bondage, but in spiritual freedom. Now, as to follow the letter, and to take signs for the things that are signified by them, is a mark of weakness and bondage; so to interpret signs wrongly is the result of being misled by error. He, however, who does not understand what a sign signifies, but yet knows that it is a sign, is not in bondage. And it is better even to be in bondage to unknown but useful signs than, by interpreting them wrongly, to draw the neck from under the yoke of bondage only to insert it in the coils of error.

    Available at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/12023.htm
    In the above passage Augustine is drawing a contrast between being in carnal bondage to a wrongly interpreted sign, versus the spiritual freedom of recognizing that to which the sign refers, and giving honor to that "truth behind," and not the sign itself, as if it were anything in itself.  So as the patriarchs and prophets labored under various signs before Christ came to fulfill them, yet those signs were ordained for their good, providing they did not do so in weakness, confusing the temporal sign with the divine reality it expressed.  So too in the New Covenant, we have signs in the form of rites, including the celebration of the body and blood of Jesus, and we also have the reality, the living Christ, to which the signs refer.  Thus, Augustine's analysis is reduced to a pile of nonsense IF the sign and the thing to which it refers are the same thing, for then there is no distinction in honor, honoring the reality by means of the sign, but not the sign itself, which is the focal point of this paragraph.

    Notice here Augustine is not making fine ontological distinctions.  A modern Roman theorist might try to rehabilitate Augustine by suggesting he is only discussing the accidence of the bread and wine, the superficial appearance, but that the essence or substance might be the same, and so you could preserve both sameness and difference (a masterful use of doublespeak, I might add).  The problem with that creative theory is that Augustine simply doesn't make those fine distinctions.  Like a bull in a china shop he just goes crashing through to his point that these two things are really different, and that recognizing the difference in them is essential to using them rightly in support of Christian faith.  In this he is making a statement that is irreconcilable with the ontological identity transubstantiation proposes between the signs and the thing they represent.  

    Therefore, by Aristotle's Law of Non-contradiction, this is a real contradiction. X cannot also be Not X in the same way at the same time.  If Aquinas is right, the sign and the reality are the same, not just in name, or in descriptive attributes, but in absolute essence, substance.  If Augustine is right, the sign is a figure precisely because it does NOT share the same essence/substance with the underlying reality, but exists only to point to that reality, i.e., a metaphor, which by its name and descriptive attributes, teaches us what we need to know about the truth behind it, the living Christ:

    One more offering in this regard:
    Orth.— Although what has been said is enough for your faith, I will, for confirmation of the faith, give you yet another proof.
    Eran.— I shall be grateful to you for so doing, for you will increase the favour done me.
    Orth.— You know how God called His own body bread?
    Eran.— Yes.
    Orth.— And how in another place he called His flesh grain?
    Eran.— Yes, I know. For I have heard Him saying “The hour has come that the Son of man should be glorified,”  and “Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it die it brings forth much fruit.”
    Orth.— Yes; and in the giving of the mysteries He called the bread, body, and what had been mixed, blood.
    Eran.— He so did.
    Orth.— Yet naturally the body would properly be called body, and the blood, blood.
    Eran.— Agreed.
    Orth.— But our Saviour changed the names, and to His body gave the name of the symbol and to the symbol that of his body. So, after calling himself a vine, he spoke of the symbol as blood.
    Eran.— True. But I am desirous of knowing the reason of the change of names.
    Orth.— To them that are initiated in divine things the intention is plain. For he wished the partakers in the divine mysteries not to give heed to the nature of the visible objects, but, by means of the variation of the names, to believe the change wrought of grace. For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as grain and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace.

    Available here:  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/27031.htm
    In this hypothetical dialog, Orthodoxos represents what was widely accepted as orthodox Christian belief at the time of this writing (5th Century, I believe).  This also represents a direct, irreconcilable conflict with the central premise of transubstantiation.  A transformation of the Eucharist is admitted, but not one that vacates the nature of the visible objects, but rather adds to that nature grace. Thus, if the nature of bread remains, the bread is bread both in substance and accidence. As with the wine. This still represents an evolution from the simpler sense of the paschal meal in Scripture, but clearly cuts against the grain of the sense conveyed in Aquinas and later Trent, and would doubtless be subject to the anathemas of Trent.  And yet it was obviously widely and uncontroversially accepted before Radbertus appeared to propose his novel and alien hyper-literalism.


    3. On Truth versus Really True Truth:

    I recommend you read the following essay in it's entirety: http://www.the-highway.com/trueandtruth_Vos.html.  It is by Reformed theologian Gerhardus Vos, and I found it very helpful and quite edifying.  I will be drawing on it somewhat to respond to your claim of support from the difference between alethes versus althinos as two distinct senses of "true," as if this could help you avoid the clear use of metaphor in John 6.

    From both Trench and Vos, who appear to be in general agreement, the adjective "alethes" means "true" in a generic sense, whereas "alethinos" is the intensified form, "true" on steroids.  By patterns of usage we further discern that alethinos is not a strict contrast with false, but often is used to point out a typological relationship, a lower truth versus a higher truth.  For example:
    John 6:32  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
    Here, alethinos does not deny the corporeal reality of the manna that fed the children of Israel in the wilderness, but instead points to the underlying truth for which the manna was simply a type or figure, which Jesus then clarifies as being Himself.  He is the antitype to which the type of the manna pointed.

    Similarly, as you have pointed out, Jesus presents Himself as the True ("alethine") Vine, again, as with the bread, not that other, physical vines are false, but that we may learn from the analogy about how we as dependent branches are to rely on Him as the true source of our nutrition.  It is very clear that in both passages, the headline metaphor (Vine, Bread) draws an analogy between Jesus and some well-known means of providing nutrition.  Yet no one is arguing that Jesus should be thought of as a literal vine, or that there is any literal vine that becomes Jesus on command of a priest.  

    Whereas John 6:55 uses "alethes,' which is the more generic, unintensified form:
    John 6:55  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
    However, it is important to observe, as Vos does, that what we are seeing here are not two absolutely distinct terms, but the same term at different levels of intensity.  This means that you can sometimes get semantic overlap, where the sense of alethinos is not appreciably different from alethes, which connotes more of a binary true/false relationship to the subject under discussion:
    John 4:37  And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
    What this means for John 6:55 is that when He says "true food" and "true drink," we are looking at the unintensified, generic "true/false" assertion.  In that lesser sense, the manna was "true food," in that it met the physical hunger for which it was designed.  But Jesus has raised the stakes, and is confronting the confusion in his audience.  They know the bread He fed them with from the loaves and fishes was true food, in that it met their physical hunger.  But now they are hearing Him speak of His body and blood as food, something they know, under the law, and by natural law, they have neither right nor inclination to eat, and they are challenged about whether this offer of food is sincere.  How can it be true food, if the thing being offered cannot be eaten, at least not under the rules as they understood them?

    Jesus addresses this by pressing the metaphor.  He has already given them the breakout clue in verse 35, that coming to Him will cure their hunger, permanently, and believing in Him will quench their thirst, permanently.  Thus, under the rules of the metaphor, belief in Him and coming to Him are the same, and both of those things stand in the place of feeding on Him.  But they are blocked from accepting that very easy and natural conclusion, because they not at all ready to believe in Him, or feed on Him spiritually.  So they grope about in spiritual darkness, coming up, just like Nicodemas, with an unresolvable conundrum, "We can't eat you physically?  How is that supposed to work? That's no kind of food?" Yet He lays it on the line, Oh yes it is real food, alethes, verifiable as real sustenance.  But, as He hints in verse 63, you have to be thinking about the spirit to get this.  If you stay stuck on the flesh, you're going to miss it.  And most of them stayed stuck on trying to solve the "true food" problem as a physical question. They literally did not believe Him when He told them His words are spirit. Except of course for the apostles. They got it.

    So regardless of the semantic subtleties of alethes versus alethinos, we see in the end the problem is with the false assumption that "true" or "real" must mean physical.  God is real, but He is a spirit, and not corporeal at all.  And what does Jesus say when Satan is goading Him to create physical bread to satisfy His physical hunger?  Man does not live (satisfy his hunger) by (physical) bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. An entirely spiritual food for an entirely spiritual hunger.  And in John 4:34 we hear Jesus say His food is to do God's will and accomplish the work God.  We could not say such food is unreal or untrue.  But it is clearly not physical.  

    Therefore, the simple assertion that Jesus' body and blood are true food or true drink does NOT imply they are physical food or drink.  They are physical by nature, but their power to give life is bound up in the substitutionary offering of the atonement.  The life-giving forgiveness of God that flows from the death of Christ is taken into the soul, not the stomach, by faith, and not by physical eating.  Believe on Jesus, and you have your spiritual hunger met, and being filled with the life of Christ, you will have eternal life, because He is eternal, and it is His life within you. If you believe.


    4. On the Question of Gnawing versus Merely Eating:

    Some have thought it significant that John's uses "trogo" (eat, munch, gnaw) in verse 56, as though it were proof that the eating must be literal, because the other two Scriptural instances of that word, occurring outside of John 6, describe literal eating.   However, this entirely misses the point of what a metaphor is.  Metaphor is not bound up in specific words, as though there were a class of things that can be metaphor, and a class that cannot.  This is simply false.  Any two objects and/or actions can be set in a metaphorical relationship to each other.  In fact, if the complaint is that the term "trogo" seems too vivid, that is exactly what makes it a great candidate for a dramatic metaphor.  The more vivid the better.  A good teacher always goes for what is most memorable, and this word would certainly be memorable if Jesus used it to describe intense spiritual eating as a metaphor for faith in Him.

    And indeed that very vivid mode of eating is exactly how Tertullian decribes eating Christ by faith.  Speaking of John 6, he says:
    He says, it is true, that “the flesh profiteth nothing;” 7525 but then, as in the former case, the meaning must be regulated by the subject which is spoken of. Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, “It is the spirit that quickeneth;” and then added, “The flesh profiteth nothing,”—meaning, of course, to the giving of life. He also goes on to explain what He would have us to understand by spirit: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” In a like sense He had previously said: “He that heareth my words, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but shall pass from death unto life.” 7526 Constituting, therefore, His word as the life-giving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appellation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, 7527 we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith.
    So we have at least one patristic writer who would take no offense at the word "trogo" being used as an intense metaphor for spiritually feeding on Christ.

    However, all of this may be moot. The evidence is starting to trickle in that "trogo" may have lost the vividness it had in classical Greek and by New Testament times become more like a synonym to "phago."  This helps us understand why John may be using it as the term of choice for describing eating in the present as opposed to the aorist tense.  It simply meant "to eat," but had acquired a grammatical attachment to present tense expressions. This is borne out by the recent and quite excellent semantic range lexicon by Louw-Nida, in which it is lumped together as a synonym to a number of other terms for eating which have no special claim to vividness:
    23.3 τρώγω; γεύομαιb; βιβρώσκω; βρῶσιςa, εως f: to consume solid food—‘to eat, eating.’
    τρώγω: ἦσαν … τρώγοντες καὶ πίνοντες ‘people ate and drank’ Mt 24:38.
    γεύομαιb: ἐγένετο δὲ πρόσπεινος καὶ ἤθελεν γεύσασθαι ‘he became hungry and wanted to eat’ Ac 10:10.
    βιβρώσκω: ἐκ τῶν πέντε ἄρτων τῶν κριθίνων ἃ ἐπερίσσευσαν τοῖς βεβρωκόσιν ‘from the five barley loaves of bread which the people had eaten’ Jn 6:13.
    βρῶσιςa: περὶ τῆς βρώσεως οὖν τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων ‘concerning the eating of meat sacrificed to idols’ 1 Cor 8:4.
    Either way, the impetus to arrive at a literal meaning is not compelled by the text itself, but by the need to retroactively justify the later speculations of transubstantiation, which in reality have no bearing on this passage whatsoever.  Jesus is doing what He always does in the Gospels, inviting lost, hunger sinners to find everything they need in Him, by coming to Him in faith, and feeding on the grace of God that flows from the cross of Jesus.

    Peace,

    SR

  • EWTN - The Journey Home - November 10, 2014 - Dale Ahlquist, convert from being a Baptist

    11/13/2014 6:41:24 PM PST · 265 of 342
    Springfield Reformer to Heart-Rest

    Some Baptists may use study guides. I’ve lived among Baptists for over half a century, and I never saw that study guide. It’s completely misleading to say “the Baptists” use any one particular guide. We use our Bibles. Seriously, I’m not kidding.

    Peace,

    SR

  • EWTN - The Journey Home - November 10, 2014 - Dale Ahlquist, convert from being a Baptist

    11/12/2014 4:22:26 PM PST · 236 of 342
    Springfield Reformer to boatbums

    Amen. Excellent observations all. And “appeal to consensus” is exactly correct. For al the huffing and puffing, it comes down to “the herd must be right.”

  • The Nature of the Mass and the need for Sacrifice

    11/12/2014 12:23:17 PM PST · 117 of 129
    Springfield Reformer to Claud
    The vast majority of Christians who walked upon this earth for 2000 years have accepted on simple faith that "this is my body" and "this is my blood" and "do this in memory of me" mean literally what they say.

    Last I checked, Christian truth is determined by God, not by majority vote of fallen humanity. But even so, the notion of "literal" presence as "explained" by transubstantiation is alien to the first few centuries, and nothing identifiable as transubstantiation appeared until Radbertus circa 9th Century. Here's the problem with that.  Until an issue like this gets hashed out by vigorous, Scripturally grounded debate, as happened with Athanasius (contra mundum, no less), ambiguities exist in the meaning of the early writers.  They did not have the conceptual template of the later generations, least of all Aquinas' use of Aristotle to describe the removal of the substance of the bread and wine. When an early writer speaks of the bread as the body of Christ, are they doing so with substance swapping in mind? Or are they simply asserting that what the symbol represents, what lies in back of it in history, is real, or is somehow made manifest through the elements of the sacred meal, with no effect on the actual substance of  the bread or the wine?  

    If you follow these arguments on FR for any length of time, you come to realize that for every patristic writer who seems to speak in literal terms, there is another who speaks in more symbolic terms, and sometimes the same writer will use both frames of reference.  This is an important clue that their model (or models) for thinking about the Eucharist are not obedient to modern models, nor consistent with transubstantiation, even when taken as merely explanatory (though Trent compels the use of that "explanation" on pain of anathema for failure to do so).

    Which is why the court of first and ultimate resort must be the divine teaching of Scripture. The early patristic testimony is helpful but not decisive. Augustine further confounds the matter by being decidedly against key principles of transubstantiation, favoring the symbolic sense. So we are not talking about some tiny backwater of the ancient world, but a central figure in the early formation of the Christian model of truth. Thus Protestants see many of their own beliefs represented as threads that at first dominate the early writings, but over time must compete with other threads evolving toward a more literal sense. So rejection of a hyper-literal, anti-linguistic realism does have very early roots, and unlike transubstantiation is not grounded in human theories of time, or categories of substance versus accidence, but most primitively in the plain words of Christ, when He Himself explained the puzzle could only be solved in spiritual terms, not fleshly.  See John 6:63.  I'm sure you've seen it before.

    And if you try to counter this by charging that using metaphorical analysis is "vain human philosophy," I will respond that you are (doubtless unintentionally) saying the entire teaching ministry of Christ is vain philosophy, because when did He not teach in public using parables?  And what are parables but extended metaphors?  And how may we understand a metaphor without recognizing it as such? Indeed, metaphor is so basic to human thought and language I doubt we could say much of anything without it.

    Again, I'm reasonably certain you know the drill. We both know Jesus is not a door or a vine, etc. Yet He taught that He was. And He was telling the truth. The metaphor conveyed truth. The human mind has no trouble with this way of accessing truth.  We spot the cross-mapping between two distinct domains, and immediately pick up on the transferred attributes, the teaching about one thing using another thing.  Thus, to reject at least the possibility of metaphor in these teachings on Christ's body and blood is to reject a central feature of human communication as God Himself designed it to work.  It is anti-linguistic, and a severe case of special pleading, because the rules applied here are not applied equally in less controversial matters where metaphor does no harm to later-developed doctrinal speculations. Double standards are no friend of good doctrine.. 

    One of my favorite examples is this metaphor from Shakespeare, where Romeo says of Juliet, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day." Here the metaphor is indirect.  The fact that a comparison is being made is set forth explicitly in the word "compare."  The teaching value is that we can learn about Juliet, whom we don't know, by comparing here to a pleasant summer day, which we do know.  That's the whole point of metaphor, learning about something of which we have no direct experience, by comparison with something we have experienced.

    But direct metaphors are just as useful as a teaching device and just as easy to spot. If I show you a paper map of Texas, and say to you, "This is Texas," you would have no trouble whatsoever recognizing that the paper I'm holding isn't really Texas.  That's because you're wired for metaphor, just like everybody else. It's how God made you. You see "is," the verb of being, linking two very different types of objects, and you immediately spot the direct metaphor.  You realize the paper stands for the geometry of the boundary of Texas, and you can therefore learn something about Texas by studying the paper. And that's just garden variety metaphor, found everywhere and all the time in human communication. It's not vain philosophy.  It's a hard, empirical fact about how our minds work, how we learn about things with which we have no direct experience.

    The reality is, if the Roman system had not evolved away from Scriptural usage, this would be uncontroversial.  No one would have trouble with Jesus' "Bread of Life" discourse. He is using bread to teach about Himself. Bread satisfies the hunger of the stomach.  Jesus satisfies the hunger of the heart.  Our bodies will pass away, as will all the hungers thereof.  But our spirit is eternal. It is our spirit that feeds on Christ as our nutrition. We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Like Jesus, our favorite food is to do the will of our Heavenly Father. Which is why Jesus must redirect the confusion of his listeners, who were not learning from the metaphor, because they didn't really believe in Him. He tells them this isn't about the flesh, but the spirit, that His words are spirit.  Sit and digest that for a moment. In the end, Peter understood: There is nowhere else to go; only Jesus has the words of eternal life.

    And this rendering is consistent with Jesus' teaching style, following closely the pattern of His other metaphorical teachings.  Consider for example His teaching on the new birth to Nicodemas. Remember in that passage Nicodemas also has trouble mixing up spiritual and fleshly categories. He thinks Jesus is saying something about going back into his mother's womb and coming back out again, which, taken literally, makes no sense whatsoever.  Jesus has to disabuse him of his hyper-literalism and remind him to distinguish between the corporeal and the spiritual, exactly as He does in John 6.
    John 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
    Come to Jesus, and you wil never hunger.  Believe on Him, and you will never be thirsty. His words are spirit.  And they are life.  If you believe.

    My time is up for now.  There is more to say, but perhaps later.

    Peace,

    SR

  • In Third Video, Obamacare Architect Talks About ‘Basic Exploitation’ Of American Voters [VIDEO]

    11/12/2014 9:39:22 AM PST · 44 of 70
    Springfield Reformer to C19fan

    Ping for later

  • EWTN - The Journey Home - November 10, 2014 - Dale Ahlquist, convert from being a Baptist

    11/11/2014 10:45:49 PM PST · 187 of 342
    Springfield Reformer to Heart-Rest

    lol! Well, in my six decades I’ve known plenty of Protestant Christians, mostly Baptist. But I still don’t know any, not one, who specifically uses any kind of KJV study guide. Thompson chain reference counts, maybe, but it’s not actual commentary. Someone gave my son one of those. Just an index in the center column pointing to related verses. I gave up on Bibles with study guides after quitting Scofield’s dispensationalism. I guess there’s still an active market for them. Just no one I know uses them. They would, like me, consider them intrusions, unwanted interlopers on the pages of Scripture.

    Bottom line, when I want to know what God says, I go to my Bible. When I want to know what other godly teachers have thought about a given passage, I go look for a good commentary. Or better still, break out the Hebrew or Greek, with morphology tags, along with some good lexicons. But there is no substitute for regular, reflective, reverent reading of the pure words of God in Scripture. All the explanatory notes or catechisms or confessions or language aids in the world won’t do any good if God isn’t right there along side you helping you understand His own words.

    Peace,

    SR

  • EWTN - The Journey Home - November 10, 2014 - Dale Ahlquist, convert from being a Baptist

    11/11/2014 1:02:10 PM PST · 140 of 342
    Springfield Reformer to Iscool; NKP_Vet

    My KJV doesn’t have a study guide. What’s he talking about?? Now my dad had a Scofield reference Bible. But not me. Not most Christians I know. Puzzling ...

  • The Nature of the Mass and the need for Sacrifice

    11/11/2014 12:35:16 PM PST · 107 of 129
    Springfield Reformer to caww
    ...there are many stories I could share of those who have been involved with everything from cults to false religions and those of Hinduism, New Age, and clubs/organizations who have various ‘rituals’ they involve themselves in, who do not come away from these unscathed.

    Yes. I look forward to the time when all the sorrowful memories of this life will be displaced by the joy of meeting Jesus face to face. In those moments when I think it is too much to bear, I can rest in the certain knowledge that every tear will soon be wiped away. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

    Peace,

    SR

  • EWTN - The Journey Home - November 10, 2014 - Dale Ahlquist, convert from being a Baptist

    11/11/2014 12:13:44 PM PST · 134 of 342
    Springfield Reformer to NKP_Vet; daniel1212
    Almost all protestant faiths are shrinking in the United States. Catholicism, far and away the largest Christian denomination, is not only growing in the United States, but is growing worldwide. Why is that? Inquiring minds want to know.

    The Great Apostasy? When I was a youth I was taught that one day the simplicity of the Gospel in Jesus Christ would be abandoned, that everyone would press to join an ecumenical super-system that would be a Trojan horse for old Rome, that we should expect as simple believers to undergo terrible persecution under such a system, that the Reformation was the wounding of this beast, and that it would recover in the days just before Jesus' return, and we needed to be prepared for becoming a beleaguered minority, at least until the day of His return, when God Himself would come riding to our rescue, and the millennium of Jesus' direct rule on earth would begin.

    So whether that was all correct or not, I've been expecting there to be a massive falling away, and it would not surprise me to see it in this evil time in which we live. For my own part, I am happy to believe the word of God with or without the support of "well-credentialed teachers" or "majority religious status." It's utterly meaningless to me.

    To put this in perspective, how many people were in the "right denomination" the day Noah's flood began to come upon the earth? Eight souls? Just sayin ...

    Peace,

    SR

  • The Nature of the Mass and the need for Sacrifice

    11/11/2014 5:33:22 AM PST · 102 of 129
    Springfield Reformer to Claud
    I’m no theologian, but unless I miss my guess you seem to be suggesting that God experiences aeveternity—simply time extended, whereby the past is truly past and God undergoes some kind of change in state:

    No, although I see how you could have thought that from what I said.  We know as a basic principle that God is immutable.  But in Scripture this immutability is never defined in terms of static time.  It always has God acting or having His being in relation to time, with what is constant about Him being His nature and attributes, not His relationship to the coming into being of events in sequence:

    Psalms 102:24-27  I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.  (25)  Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.  (26)  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:  (27)  But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
    So to say He is "completely changeless" is to say He does not truly act.  Time is how we experience change.  There is a moment in our time before God speaks from heaven, as He does in the Gospels, and a time after.  Nothing in the purposes or character or knowledge or holiness or perfection of God changed, but He did introduce Hiimself as actively participating in our temporal existence.  He spoke from Heaven in time.  His speech, as all speech is, was controlled changed, a modulation of sound waves caused by His direct action among us as a Person.  His love for us occurs in time, is expressed in time.  And in our time, there is a moment called Now, which both God and we understand as distinct from all other moments, which is constantly advancing through the sequence of events that describe our reality.  

    All this comes to the difference between intrinsic versus extrinsic change.  We accept that intrinsically, God cannot change, else we admit of imperfection, or limitation under the control of created things.  But extrinsic change, of the kind implied by a God who acts in time, and is personal, capable of relationship with other persons, unlike the pseudo-deities of pantheism or deism, is not only possible but necessary to our understanding of God as the God of redemptive history.

    But before we ask whether this means God is time-bound, we need to first ask whether this history in which we live is itself "time bound."  Time is an artificial construct we use to describe our relationship to events of change.  Time therefore appears to be unreal, in that it is not a created substance in itself, but is a device of the mind to comprehend change.  To say God is outside time because He created time is to misunderstand what time is.  In the priority of all things, the first fact is that God exists.  One of the outcomes of God existing is His introduction of extrinsic change by creation of our universe.  Exterior to our universe and the story of it's progress, God exists.  He is the great "I Am," the one Whose ways are as far above us as the heavens are above the earth, unsearchable, and unknowable except as he reveals them.  

    This divine state, this infinite "aboveness," is nether about time nor timelessness. It's rather like asking whether God uses inches or centimeters to measure space.   Those are our constructs, handy for the tiny tasks of tiny minds, but wholly inadequate to describe God.  

    Which is why there is prudence in limiting oneself to the revealed record, rather than impose on it artificial constructs born in the imagination of fallen human beings. If God has revealed that something has occurred at a specific point in past time, why undo that?  When Jesus tells us to "Do this in remembrance of me," why can we not simply accept what God has said and leave it at that?  I will tell you why.  We are sinners, and we are hell-bent on treating God as if He left out something important.  This is our rebellious nature at work. This is the root of Adam and Eve's disobedience.

    But in fact all we are told of the purpose of the sacred meal is that it is done to remember His offering of Himself on our behalf, not to reach around time and try to literally be there again.  Indeed, the writer of Hebrews specifically enjoins us, under the power of the Holy Spirit, to think of the event as done.
    Hebrews 10:9-12  Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.  (10)  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  (11)  And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:  (12)  But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
    So again, God does not ask us to choose between static or dynamic time, or some magic sci-fi conduit between the temporal and the atemporal.  He simply tells us the deed is done, the propitiation of our sin accomplished, past tense, in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, and that we may rely upon it for the forgiveness of our sins.  In other words, whatever speculations we may have about time, God has given us specific instruction to think of the offering of Christ on our behalf as a past event, upon which may be built our present and future redemption.

    This is reiterated in the instruction to the disciples for the Lord's Supper, in which remembering is the central activity, not the material consumption of material flesh and blood disguised as bread and wine.  Remembering is a time-bound activity.  We only remember what is past.  Thus we are enjoined by the very words of Jesus Himself to treat His sacrifice as a past event, which He sealed even further by uttering "It is finished" from the cross, because if this event is timeless, it is never finished, and the words of Christ are untrue.  

    But God forbid that the words of Christ should ever be construed as untrue.  Nor those of the Holy Spirit inspired writers of Holy Scripture.  We cannot allow the shiny trinkets of vain human philosophy, however much they may appeal to our imagination, to distract us from our written marching orders.  Christ died for our sins, so that if we but believe in Him, apart from any ritual or theoretical constructs of man, we will be saved.  But whoever trusts in the devices of man, or human imagination, will find the results very disappointing on the day off God's judgment.

    However, all this aside, I don’t think any of this represents the true reason so many of you find this doctrine so viscerally repulsive. I will address that in the next post.

    I saw your subsequent post, and believe it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of our view of the atonement.  You suggest we view it all as wrath, and not as love.  I don't know where that comes from.  There is an abundance of evidence in Protestant writing, preaching, hymnody, etc., that the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf is viewed as both the expression of God's wrath, and the revelation of the most amazing love that could ever be, from the heart of God direct to us.  

    I still remember when I first seriously contemplated what Jesus did for me, hanging there on the cross, seeing me in all my wretched filth, giving Himself for the very sins that were destroying my life, dying for me, personally, individually, known to him by name from before the foundation of the world, as the unworthy object of His undying love.  It moved me to tears, and still does.  It is what I remember about Him when I partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine, at that moment joined together in spirit with all other Christians of all ages, by the same Spirit of God who indwells everyone who believes, all because of the amazing grace of the eternal God, who loved us, and gave Himself for us.

    Peace, SR

  • Jonathan Gruber Obamacare Deception Video Goes Viral (Newsbusters Was First!)

    11/10/2014 5:31:41 PM PST · 8 of 32
    Springfield Reformer to PJ-Comix

    Ping for later

  • ST. PETER'S PRIMACY

    11/10/2014 9:06:05 AM PST · 19 of 22
    Springfield Reformer to Jim Noble
    People who say Peter’s appointment by Christ to lead the apostles is “unbiblical” are being dishonest.

    To prove that assertion, you would have to be able to show that the advocate of such a position doesn't really believe what they are saying.  It's one thing to be wrong.  Altogether something different to be actively deceptive.  Unless you have a "smoking gun" confession that someone really believes the text portrays Peter as the chosen leader, but pretends otherwise, you don't have a case.  I for one honestly believe the text, taken as a whole, leaves the question of apostolic leadership open. Peter received a lot of attention during the ministry of Christ, but by Acts 15 James appears to be the one doing the leading.  In Matthew 16 Peter is told he will, future tense, receive the keys of the kingdom, explained in terms of binding and loosing, but in Matthew 18, when the same binding and loosing is conferred, it is done to all the apostles without differentiation.

    Furthermore, we know that Jesus specifically avoided setting up the church as an authoritarian hierarchy, but said that the truest leaders would be the greatest servants, not lording it over others, or acquiring the titles or insignia of human religious leadership (Rabbi, Father are forbidden titles), or dividing the church into classes of priest and non-priest.  Based on the Biblical record as we have it, an argument can be made that no apostle was a greater servant to the early Christian community of faith than Paul, and in fact the recorded imprint of Paul on Christian doctrine is far greater than that of any other apostle, and as such reflects a greater leadership role for all Christians throughout the ages than any of the other apostles.  Yet having said that, I would still not say that any one apostle was explicitly made the leader of any of the others, and I don't see how that could happen, given Jesus' specific teaching of an inverse hierarchy of servant leadership.

    What about Peter as the Rock?  If you would say it is dishonest to view the Rock as either the confession of Peter's faith, or Jesus Himself, but not Peter, then you would have to accuse Augustine of dishonesty:
    2. For men who wished to be built upon men, said, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas,”  who is Peter. But others who did not wish to be built upon Peter, but upon the Rock, said, “But I am of Christ.” And when the Apostle Paul ascertained that he was chosen, and Christ despised, he said, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”  And, as not in the name of Paul, so neither in the name of Peter; but in the name of Christ: that Peter might be built upon the Rock, not the Rock upon Peter.

    See Augustine, Sermon 26 on the New Testament, available here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/160326.htm
    Which avoidance of Peter as the Rock may be found in numerous other passages of both Augustine and many other early Christian teachers.  And if Peter is not the Rock, and the keys of binding and loosing are given to all apostles without distinction in Matthew 18, then how can someone trying to be honest with the text conclude that any such thing as an office of unique Petrine supremacy has been created?  And of course you are correct that the problem of succession of that supposed office to later individuals is entirely speculative, and we also now know due to the extraordinary research of Peter Lampe and others, that no such succession can be found in primary sources describing the life of the churches of Rome for the first 160 or so years after the founding of the Ecclesia by Christ.

    In truth, what I honestly believe, is that the spirit of division Paul rebuked in Corinth metastasized slowly into the schism we now call the Roman Catholic Church:
    1 Corinthians 1:11-13  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  (12)  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  (13)  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
    You see from the passage above that Paul explicitly rejects any division in the body of Christ based on a particular apostolic pedigree. Jesus made it plain.  We don't have any but one Master.  Him.  That's it.  Yes, we have earthly masters after the flesh.  But none who supplants the role of Christ as the true governor of our lives, the object of our faith, devotion, obedience, and love.  Any lesser fidelities, should they rise to prominence, become competition with Christ, who said we cannot serve two masters.  To paraphrase Paul, Peter didn't die for me, nor was I baptized in Peter's name, so I am not "of Peter," I am Christ's, a generic Christian, bound in love and unity by the Spirit of God with every other authentic Christian in the world, and not divided, as the Roman schismatics who constantly post here would like everyone to believe.

    Peace,

    SR
  • ST. PETER'S PRIMACY

    11/09/2014 11:51:39 PM PST · 11 of 22
    Springfield Reformer to saradippity
    if his wife was alive I doubt she would let her mother get up from her death bed (even thought she was cured) and allow her to wait on the “men”.

    Why not?  It was probably as good and springy as she had felt since she was young.  God's miracle healings don't go half-way, like the televangelist's.  So even if Peter's wife was present, his mother-in-law probably would have insisted on doing whatever she could as an expression of her gratitude:  
    Matthew 8:14-15  And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.  (15)  And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
    As for whether Peter was a widower, the text doesn't say one way or the other.  He would live for another thirty years or so after this time, so he was probably a relatively young man when his mother-in-law was healed.  Statistically, I would wager the vast majority of young men with wives were NOT widowers, so it is more likely than not that Peter's wife was still alive at this time. So it really shouldn't surprise you too much if most readers of the text above assume she is alive at the time of the healing incident.  It is the more likely scenario.

    Furthermore, the probability his wife is still alive is raised dramatically by this statement of Paul:
    1 Corinthians 9:5  Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
    In the preceding chapter, Paul has just explained how we sometimes pass up doing what we have a right to do, because it may be necessary to avoid giving offence to weaker Christians. In that context, Paul has opted to not be supported by the churches, so no one can accuse him of doing this work for financial gain. Nevertheless, he wants the Corinthians to know he has the right to that support, because as an apostle he has a right to be married, to eat, to drink, rights which the other apostles had exercised. Thus not only Cephas (aka Peter) had a wife, but the other apostles did as well, and were receiving support, not just for themselves, but for their families also.

    In sum then, the far more strained reading is to read the later restrictions of Rome regarding marriage back into a text which knows nothing of those restrictions.

    Peace,

    SR





  • The Nature of the Mass and the need for Sacrifice

    11/09/2014 2:57:04 PM PST · 57 of 129
    Springfield Reformer to Claud; Iscool

    There is nothing in the revelation of Scripture, nothing at all, to suggest something like the “eternal now,” though there are modern philosopher/theologians who suggest it. Paul Tillich, for example, who also introduced other concepts, such as the quasi-pantheistic notion of God as the “ground of being.” Such anti-Biblical notions have been a “gateway drug” leading some to theological liberalism and even atheism. It was a cause of great spiritual harm to me personally, though my path into the Christo-Buddhistic matrix was through Bultmann. By God’s grace, I was rescued from that nonsense, but not without considerable pain.

    But we do know God relates to time differently than we do. A thousand years being as a day, etc. But this is not timelessness. This is eternal spirit not being hemmed in by decay and demise like we are. We have our fleeting moments and return to dust. A thousand years is really beyond our imagination. Not so God. He acts in time and history and never wearies and never grows old. He never has less time to do what he plans.

    But none of this is the artificial construct of the Eternal Now. In Scripture, we are told Jesus died for our sins, once for all. Past tense. That is the revealed truth God wanted us to have. To remake that by force fitting it into an artificial construct of time, in order to justify an artificial construct like transubstantiation, defies both reason and Scripture.

    Peace,

    SR

  • Watch: Chris Matthews Turns Against Obama In Spectacular Fashion

    11/09/2014 4:22:29 AM PST · 19 of 77
    Springfield Reformer to IChing

    Ping for later

  • NYT: GOP ESTABLISHMENT GEARS UP FOR CIVIL WAR AGAINST TEA PARTY

    11/08/2014 7:02:36 PM PST · 23 of 53
    Springfield Reformer to juggernaut

    Agreed. GOPe is playing defense. This is exactly the time to keep pressing them. The Tea Party worldview is framing the debate.

  • Sources of the Protestant Devolution

    11/08/2014 9:14:22 AM PST · 330 of 450
    Springfield Reformer to RFEngineer
    Nobody knows the fate of their soul upon their death. Anyone who tells you they know the fate of their own soul, much less the fate of anyone elses soul does so for their own earthly motive.

    Do you believe these words of Jesus?
    Luke 11:9-13  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  (10)  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  (11)  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  (12)  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  (13)  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
    Notice the consequence of asking is receiving.  God is not duplicitous.  And if God gives us His Holy Spirit, what does that mean?
    Ephesians 1:12-14  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.  (13)  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  (14)  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
    And what do you think about God honoring His guarantees, which Paul says the Holy Spirit is to us who believe?  Will God keep His word? Of course He will:
    John 10:27-29  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  (28)  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  (29)  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand
    So why do we make it harder than that?  I've thought long and hard about this, because I had issues with it myself for many years.  One thing that will kill our sense of assurance is unresolved sin.  God did not save us so we could live under bondage to sin:
    John 8:31-35  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  (32)  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  (33)  They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?  (34)  Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.  (35)  And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
    If we are servants of sin, i.e., we have ongoing, unresolved, sin, without repentance, we have no reason to believe we are sons and daughters of God:
    1 John 3:9  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
    And yet the promise is so simple:
    John 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
    And we know if we come to Him we will not be rejected:
    John 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
    How do we resolve this apparent dilemma?  Some try to get their assurance by finding some way to "pay their dues."  This is a dangerous trap. It is a covert way to express doubt. Jesus has already paid our dues for us. Like Abraham, we have to believe the promises of God. If we go to the courthouse and try to pay for our own sins out of our own resources, our payment will not be accepted.
    Romans 4:20-25  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;  (21)  And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  (22)  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.  (23)  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;  (24)  But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;  (25)  Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
    So we see then that our uncertainty, if we have it, is no fault of God the Father, who draws us to Himself, and will not reject us if we come to Him, nor the fault of God the Son, who loved us enough to die for all the sin that might condemn us, nor the Holy Spirit, who is given to us as an unbreakable promise of God, that we will come into the inheritance He has prepared for us:
    John 14:2-3  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  (3)  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
    The fault then that makes us uncertain, and drives us to carnal means of establishing certainty, is our own lack of faith in the promises of God.  And that is a real problem, because without faith, we have no basis of assurance:
    Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
    So do you see the catch-22 here?  Jesus says that believing in Him has a definite and reliable result, eternal life.  We further know that we obtain this eternal life, not through our own shabby pretense at righteousness, but through the atonement for our sin provided by the death of Jesus.  But if we doubt any part of that, we lack faith in God and His promises, just as much as Eve did in the garden, and there are consequences to that doubt:
    John 3:18  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    So assurance then is the natural companion of saving faith.  Even the doubter Thomas was not allowed to remain that way, but was graciously given abundant opportunity to be certain of the promises of God in Christ:
    2 Corinthians 1:19-22  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.  (20)  For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.  (21)  Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;  (22)  Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
    And it is no accident that Paul here relates the affirmation of faith in God's promises to the assurance of being established in Christ, sealed unto God, and given the promise of entire fulfillment of those promises by the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. It is the same faith by which we trust in Christ that we also have faith to trust His promises to those who believe, that He will not fail us, but will do all His word:
    Hebrews 10:38-39  Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.  (39)  But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
    Peace,

    SR

  • Prosperity Preaching Is Not Christian (Osteen)

    11/07/2014 12:29:51 PM PST · 144 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to don-o; Mrs. Don-o
    Are you quite certain that you are not reasoning from your conclusions? What can be the meaning of His prayer for His Apostles in John 17, especially verses 21 - 23? (Not a big fan of block quotes of Scripture, but this was important when I went searching.)

    No one is free of the risk of circular reasoning. Any skeptic reading these Protestant/Catholic debates doubtless sees even our shared assumptions about belief God and His holiness as circular reasoning in some respects.  We don't address those because we hold those assumptions in common. Someone once said (I forget who, might have been Aristotle)  that circular reasoning is fine, as long as the circles are small enough.  By that we mean axiomatic, self-evident truth.

    But as between each other, we have a discrepancy in axioms.  That's kind of like having a split in the federal circuits, which must then be resolved by appeal to the Supreme Court.  We see that unity of which Christ spoke as a real, spiritual bond that exists between all who are born of the spirit, who have a share in the Holy Spirit, are led by the Spirit and mind of Christ, and as a consequence of that spiritual unity, have substantial unity in matters of faith and practice as grounded in Scripture.  

    And this is a practical unity.  I have encountered many believers over the course of my six decades and am repeatedly amazed at the bond of love we share in Christ, regardless of the superficial trappings of most denominational labels, which most often have more to do with history than doctrine.  These are people who supposedly are total strangers, yet we both know and love Him, and His word, and that makes all the difference.

    Whereas, without attempting to read your mind, I surmise that you view unity as self-evidently requiring a shared human organization, complete with a corporate headquarters in Rome, and the pedigree of an apostolic genealogy.  In which case you must build into your interpretation of Scripture these badges of unity from your denomination's later history, which will then be used to confirm your authority to define and interpret those very Scriptures. Dizzying.

    Which means that, the Roman paradigm for unity is self-defining. Rome defines what unity  is, mostly a paper fiction, as the rank and file are always so "poorly catechized," and then claims to have the unity it defined for itself, eliminating, on paper, any outliers as "not true Scotsmen anyway." Very cozy.  

    So it becomes an unfalsifiable system. And that's a problem.  Something that can't be falsified can't be shown to be true either.  At least with a claim of adherence to Scripture, there is some hope of falsification.  Someone who claims to follow Scripture, yet denies the virgin birth, or the deity of Christ, or the resurrection, or the traditional family, or the sanctity of human life, can be refuted, from Scripture, in a manner that will appeal to men and women of good conscience.  We can test their claims to fidelity to divinely inspired truth, and reach a place of satisfaction that their claim is true or false.

    Now, I know this isn't even a beginning of a good comparison between Catholic and Protestant epistemologies, but I hope you can see we are impeded by the problem of seriously divergent axioms.  We see all the extra baggage Rome has taken on in the name of doctrinal development, and it is staring us in the face as self-evident that it doesn't match the generic Christianity described in such detail in Scripture, that Rome is therefore the schismatic.  We then look at the unfalsifiable claims of Roman unity, and they roll off our back like nothing, because unity itself means nothing if not grounded in truth, in accordance with Jesus' teaching that the true worship of God is a matter of spirit and truth, not geography or pedigree.

    But then the standard Catholic response kicks in, which begins not with Scripture but with Rome, that we have drawn conclusions from Scripture to which we are not entitled, and therefore our grounds for rejection of Rome don't have ... wait for it ... the sanction of Rome, and must therefore be invalid.  To which we cry, "Orbis Magnus!" Big Circle, because that response draws the orbit of its logic around the earth, beginning and ending at Rome,  a temporal association of mortal men and women, and not around the eternal Son of God, and the word of God that reveals Him to us.  Catholic epistemology is still in need of that spiritual Copernican revolution. A great deal now that seems unduly complex will resolve to an elegant simplicity, once you have the center right.

    This idea of "oneness" means something or He would not have mentioned it. Acts 15 shows us that it meant enough to the Apostles that they had to come together to consider two radically different ideas about what was needful to be a Christian.

    It is always going to be in the nature of the Ecclesia to have to fight back against error, and nothing in the fundamentally spiritual nature of being the Ecclesia precludes its members from coming together in human associations of those who share the faith of the Gospel to decide how best to present a united front against error.  Quite the opposite.  We would expect the love of Christ for His sheep to appear in the form of guidance from the undershepherds, including cooperation among them.  But not only them, but all those of the flock who hear His voice and will follow only Him. And never would we expect those transient, fallible human associations, if truly guided by Christ, to take on a life of their own, an empty organizational unity, quite capable of running without godly leadership at the helm, a ghost ship sailing forward with no clear reliance on the Spirit of God or the mind of Christ.

    It meant enough to St Ignatius of Antioch, believed to be taught by St John, that he repeatedly commands unity with the Bishop.

    Three things about Ignatius:

    1) My understanding is he may or may not have been a direct disciple of John.  There is a tradition to that effect, but the epistles between them do not confirm it

    2) But more to the point, his words do not have the sanction of divine inspiration.  It is worth considering what he says, but our contention all along has been that the Roman schism began in small steps as a move away from a sound, Biblical ecclesiology, and so we expect to find departures from Scripture appearing in various post-apostolic leaders.

    3) But it may be too great a burden to lay that blame on Ignatius, because in context, his advice appears to be directed to respecting the overseer of the local congregation, not some vast as yet unformed pyramid of ecclesiastical overlords capped off with a pope. As such, his instruction would be acceptable in any number of Bapitistic or Reformed settings.

    These men did not have the luxury of spiritualizing the plain words that our Lord had left them. Their words and their actions reveal a clear fidelity to the unity idea that they had been given.

    It is no luxury, but a matter of necessity of conscience, to take the abundant testimony of Scripture seriously concerning the explicitly spiritual nature of the Ecclesia. The idea that the living stones of Christ's temple could become totally identified with an earthly organization defined in carnal terms and tied to a geographic center such as Rome is antithetical to the Biblical record. You suggest I am reasoning from my conclusions (always a valid concern, BTW, and I take no offense at the charge, though I deny it), but if one assumes that Christian oneness must look like Rome's definition of it, and reads that back into both John and Ignatius, that is circular reasoning.

    (I hope my comment is not taken as "mind reading". I am asking questions.)

    No problem. Charges such as circular reasoning or excessive spiritualization are fair game in these debates, as the claimed basis is analysis of an openly presented argument, not the secret places of the heart before God.  So we're good. :)

    Peace,

    SR
  • Prosperity Preaching Is Not Christian (Osteen)

    11/07/2014 6:11:26 AM PST · 139 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to don-o; Mrs. Don-o
    MRSD: Based on Biblical history and a Biblical insight into the divine nature and character, I find it's dubious to assume that the Our Lord would let nigh unto 100% of His Church go disastrously astray for, say, 1500-2000 years.

    MRD: Nail, meet hammer. Reminds me of how Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal when they could not invoke him to their sacrifice. (Maybe he fell asleep. Maybe he's in the bathroom.")

    Blithe dismissal of the first 1500 years after our Lord walked this earth must accept that God was stymied by men in carrying out His program.

    And, why He promised to send the Holy Spirit (to lead into all truth) instead of a book; which promise was fulfilled fifty days after His Ascension.

    But, none are as blind as those who refuse to look.

    We haven't refused to look, and we are not "blithely dismissing" anything, but have such a different view of what the Ecclesia IS, that we cannot help but to view the history of it in an entirely different way than you do.  That is not dismissal.  That is acceptance of the teaching of Jesus.  We make a different set of assumptions about the scope and nature of the Ecclesia BECAUSE Jesus invites us to look not at superficialities like geography or outward appearances, but inwardly, to the spirit, and to truth, as the grounds of proper worship of God.  As a result, we understand that our parochial views of history do not validate Scripture, but Scripture validates (or fails to validate) those views of history.  As the Scripture says, let God be true, and every man a liar.  There are many human institutions which claim divine authority, and give formal assent to many things that are true, and yet they are not the Ecclesia. This is the threshold we look to, the single, narrow passage into the spiritual building, the true Ecclesia, to which we seek admittance: "Ye must be born again."

    Peace,

    SR

  • Prosperity Preaching Is Not Christian (Osteen)

    11/06/2014 1:45:37 PM PST · 105 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to flaglady47
    Who were the stewards of that Bible

    For the first 160 years or so, the stewards of Scripture were generic Christians, Pre-Catholic, Pre-Protestant.  None of the uniquely Roman Catholic distinctives had surfaced yet. Nevertheless, Polycarp, as early as the first quarter of the Second Century, was using nearly the same collection of New Testament Scriptures we use today.  The later addition of chapters and verses is a triviality, with no authority of divine inspiration.  They aren't in the original and they can be downright misleading in where they break the material.  The Bible is God's work, not man's.  If one group or another had the use of it for a while, or provided navigational aids, that does not secure the validity of that organization. Remember in the book of Revelation how the assemblies listed, which we know were all at one time true to the faith, were at risk of losing their candlestick, the representation of the presence, blessing, and authority of Jesus.  None of those churches were told, "But because you are of Rome, of the chair of Peter, you don't need to worry about your candlestick being taken away."  No such thing.  It was what then? Faithfulness to the first love of Christians of all ages, Jesus the Christ, and His Gospel of redemption. Faithfulness, not pedigree.  Pedigree was the error of the Pharisees, who also were, for a time, the stewards of Scripture.  But Jesus communes with those who worship Him, not in Jerusalem, or Rome, or Geneva, but in spirit, and in truth.

    Peace,

    SR
  • Prosperity Preaching Is Not Christian (Osteen)

    11/06/2014 1:16:40 PM PST · 103 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to daniel1212; cva66snipe

    I still remember like it was yesterday this conversation I heard on the radio decades ago. Some radio preacher was talking to a caller who was blind, and had prayed for healing, and he was telling her she was at fault for not assuming God would certainly heal her, that she should act as if He had, to show her faith. And it made me angry. It is nothing but spiritual abuse to browbeat someone over a decision that can only be made by God. Perhaps God will heal the blindness, and perhaps greater faith is needed. But to actively lie to oneself in the name of faith? If the healing hasn’t happened, it hasn’t happened. Pretending it has would be the absolute worst way to deal with it.

    Not to leave things on the downside, I also recall a story I heard (also on the radio), told firsthand by the Baptist missionary to whom it happened. He was in Mogadishu, a missionary to Muslims, with little to show for it. But then he befriended a local imam. The imam offered to let him speak at his mosque (that in itself something of a miracle), and he did. After his talk, a father brought his little girl to the front and asked the missionary if Jesus could heal her. He was carrying her in his arms. Her legs were withered, and she couldn’t walk.

    The missionary answered that yes, Jesus can heal her, but we don’t know what His will is. The girl’s father resigned himself to that answer, thanked the missionary, and turned to leave. As he was walking away, the little girl looked steadfastly at the missionary and began to urge her father to put her down. When he did so, she walked. The mosque erupted in praise to the name of Isa (Arabic for Jesus), and many conversations followed. Eventually, the imam converted and became a Christian.

    The point is, when God wants to act, there is no stopping Him, and there is no hiding from the reality of His miraculous intrusion into the humdrum of our ordinary lives. But it is always to a purpose, to glorify God, and to set the name of Jesus above every name. He denied healing of Paul three times over that “thorn in the flesh,” to the purpose of demonstrating to Paul the sufficiency of His grace. Yet He healed the man born blind.

    God does as He sees fit. It is a grave error to turn Him into some impersonal force that can be manipulated to our private benefit. Those who teach such things will share in the reward of all the false prophets that have gone before them.

    Peace.

    SR

  • Prosperity Preaching Is Not Christian (Osteen)

    11/06/2014 11:05:22 AM PST · 94 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to Mrs. Don-o

    Yet at one point the faithful in all the world numbered only eight. These were hid from judgment in the ark as the world drowned. Yes, Revelations shows an enormous number of the redeemed praising God, but there has never been so many alive in all of history as there are right now. God will find His numbers. That’s really not our problem. We are called to be faithful, even if, like Noah, our numbers are weak for a time. The Lord knows those who are His.

    Peace,

    SR

  • 5 Ways Liberals Are Consoling Themselves After Devastating Midterms

    11/06/2014 10:30:28 AM PST · 25 of 27
    Springfield Reformer to MissNomer

    Thanks. BTW, my apologies for pinging you on that other thread. My error.

  • Prosperity Preaching Is Not Christian (Osteen)

    11/06/2014 10:23:36 AM PST · 91 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to Poison Pill; metmom; MissNomer
    Your question was "how did Judas die," was it not? Your question assumes he is already dead. Do you not believe that?

    As for "multiple versions," I never said that. I recited multiple theories of interpretation. There is no error in Scripture, but as long as there are any two people on earth, there can always be two or more theories about meaning.  Some theories are better than others. Weak theories fail to account for the totality of the facts. Good theories cover all the bases, and appeal to our conscience as a just handling of the text, i.e., we haven't left out things that seem at first to conflict with our most treasured assumptions, but rather we give due consideration to every relevant fact.

    But our own ability to see different possibilities in a text does not reflect on the presence or absence of error in the text. You start with a principle, a belief about God, that He does exist as perfect in holiness and in every other way, and therefore if He is perfect His self-revelation to us will reflect that perfection. Eve went off the rails when she rejected that principle.  She did not infer the perfection of the Father's nature as being applicable to His words also, which she should have trusted implicitly.  But instead she allowed the evil one to insinuate a discrepancy, a defect in God, by which she lost her faith in His words.

    But we have so much more than Eve had. We have direct apostolic testimony that He does not fail in reaching us with what we absolutely must know:
    2 Timothy 3:15-17  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  (16)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  (17)  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
    So while it may be entertaining (in a certain morbid way) to speculate about the exact biological sequence of Judas' self-inflicted death, it's clear from every relevant passage that it did occur, it wasn't pretty, and it occurred in accordance with divine prophecy, as part of the plan God used to provide us redemption in Jesus.  I would ask then in what way the exact physical nature of Judas' death is in any way relevant to the primary facts we must know for our salvation, that Jesus, who died as a result of that betrayal, has by His death provided us with a means of being forgiven and restored to eternal life, through our debt of sin being canceled by payment in His holy blood, if we put our faith in Him, and in Hs totally reliable word.

    Peace,

    SR  

  • Prosperity Preaching Is Not Christian (Osteen)

    11/06/2014 8:18:08 AM PST · 78 of 148
    Springfield Reformer to Poison Pill; metmom
    Presumably, since you appear to be mounting an attack on Biblical inerrancy, you suppose there is a contradiction between these two accounts:
    Matthew 27:4-5  Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.  (5)  And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
    Versus:
    Acts 1:16-19  Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.  (17)  For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.  (18)  Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.  (19)  And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
    Your problem is that these two passages are rather easily reconciled, and not only so, but there are a number of theories by which to do it.  The most typical is that Matthew describes the proximate cause of the death.  But for the fact of hanging himself, he would not have died at that time.  Whereas Peter in Acts is describing the same event in it's more notorious aftermath.  The scenario would have played out like this:  Judas finds a tree near a cliff, throws a rope over a branch, secures it, then ties the other end around his neck, and jumps off.  This is an amateur job, and so any number of outcomes are possible.  Did the rope hold? Maybe the knot slipped and he fell onto some sharp rocks below.  Or possibly the rope and the knot held, and he hanged there dead for days, dangling in the sun, during which time his body would have swollen, his skin integrity lessened until he finally came apart and hit the ground, bursting open like an easily ruptured water balloon.  

    As an attorney, I have to take and assimilate testimony that sometimes seems to contradict, but is actually just the natural byproduct of the different perspectives and histories of the witnesses. Indeed, what actually makes an attorney wonder whether he's being lied to is when the stories line up too perfectly.  That just doesn't happen with what I call natural truth.  Everybody leaves their own personal fingerprint on the stories they tell, no matter how objectively true they are.

    BTW, another interesting theory is linguistic, that the Greek behind the expression "hanged himself" can, albeit rarely, be a reference to extreme grief, a sorrow so deep it leaves one "choked up," as it were.  If this were true, then we could even say Matthew does not describe Judas' death at all, but his emotional reaction to his own sense of guilt.

    But whichever theory seems best, the posit of an unequivocal contradiction is destroyed, as there are multiple possible ways to reconcile the data in a manner consistent with the premise that any God-breathed writing is assuredly accurate, else we accuse God of being unable to deliver His own perfect word through imperfect people, thus undermining any confidence we might have in His message to His people.  But we need not listen to the serpent asking "hath God said," but may with confidence proclaim His word as "thus saith the Lord."

    Peace,

    SR
  • 5 Ways Liberals Are Consoling Themselves After Devastating Midterms

    11/06/2014 3:52:30 AM PST · 22 of 27
    Springfield Reformer to lucky american

    No, she’s not right. She is expressing the quasi-religious belief held by leftists in general that history is evolving naturally and inevitably toward the Marxist utopia, but this is false. Human cultures do change over time, but apart from divine intervention, the change is toward whatever the aggregate of individual self-interest produces as a target. In that sense it is undirected change, and can as easily slip into patterns of chaos rather than order, or harmful order versus beneficial order. It is this delusional faith in progressive social evolution that sustains the left in doing irrational acts such as opposing natural variation in outcomes. Their “faith” enables them to idealize these harmful, irrational acts as somehow, magically, building toward that utopia that can never exist under the rules of reality. The Marxist genocides all come from this. But it is false. Human nature tends toward entropy, just like everything else. Unless God helps us, we tend toward chaos.

  • Washington Archdiocese Warns Pastors of Demonstrations, Disruptions at Catholic Churches

    11/05/2014 2:11:23 PM PST · 15 of 21
    Springfield Reformer to af_vet_1981

    You mean like these guys?

    http://streetevangelization.com/

    See, even Catholics use street evangelism. Legit evangelists are always respectful of the target demographic. Westboro and others who are doing something closer to demonstrations against something (in Westboro’s case apparently for profit) are in a different space than classic street evangelism. When you really want to win someone over, you don’t make them targets of hostile harassment. Makes no sense. Like my dad used to say, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  • Mia Love’s Remarkable Win in Utah Is One For the History Books (victory speech included!)

    11/05/2014 8:25:48 AM PST · 30 of 32
    Springfield Reformer to God luvs America

    Ping for later

  • **Election Day 2014 - LIVE THREAD**

    11/04/2014 4:50:30 PM PST · 608 of 2,906
    Springfield Reformer to Dan in Wichita; All
    It is too soon to say, but a wave may be building

    Definitely something going on. Here in Central Illinois (much redder that the north end of the state), our sleepy little hamlet delivered over twice the usual number of voters. I was there at about 6:30, and the poll workers were rejoicing that the polls were closing soon, because they'd been working so hard all day to keep up. Paper ballots, BTW.

  • **Election Day 2014 - LIVE THREAD**

    11/04/2014 9:51:34 AM PST · 231 of 2,906
    Springfield Reformer to RKBA Democrat

    Ping for later ...

  • Pope Francis 'called us his brother bishops,' says Protestant pastor from Mobile, who lunched, swapp

    11/02/2014 11:01:52 PM PST · 84 of 162
    Springfield Reformer to Arthur McGowan
    Pro-abortion politicians are not “automatically excommunicated.” Only those directly involved in an abortion incur an automatic excommunication.

    One more thing. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that you don't have to actually commit murder to be spiritually guilty of it. How unjust is it that these politicians, whose glib talk and death-dealing votes can facilitate the murder of millions, get a pass, but the rank and file, who are just living according to what their leaders tell them is permitted, get the ax?  Isn't there an ancient principle in the law, Lex Talionis, that teaches punishment should be proportional to the crime?  If a politician is fostering evil on a grand scale, yet his hands are technically "clean," how does it escape the judgment of the Roman magisterium that his is the greater guilt than any low-level pawn following his lead?  Who was held accountable at Nuremberg?  Only those grunts who personally killed defenseless, individual prisoners of war?  Or did the guilt run up all the way to the top, engulfing everyone involved in causing it to happen, even if they were only arms-length facilitators?

    Peace,

    SR
  • Pope Francis 'called us his brother bishops,' says Protestant pastor from Mobile, who lunched, swapp

    11/02/2014 10:36:11 PM PST · 81 of 162
    Springfield Reformer to Arthur McGowan
    Pro-abortion politicians are not “automatically excommunicated.” Only those directly involved in an abortion incur an automatic excommunication.

    Who said I was talking about politicians?  I've got family in the Chicago area, all Catholics in good standing, who have both advocated and participated in the murder of unborn children, who to this day look down from their lofty Catholic perch on me as the Bible-thumping backwoods Baptist who sides with that evil misogynist Paul over the reproductive rights of women.

    Pro-abortion politicians ARE notorious grave sinners. It is a mortal sin for a bishop and/or priest to give them Communion. Most of the bishops in the U.S. are chronically in the state of mortal sin because of their insistence that pro-abortion politicians be given Communion.

    Chronic sin is a sign of spiritual death:
    1 John 3:8-10  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  (9)  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  (10)  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
    Lest anyone think this is advocating sinless perfectionism, it is not. The verbs in the Greek indicate ongoing action, "chronic sin," as you put it.  God does not produce stillborn children.  John puts it out there plain: A true child of God will display the attributes of his or her Heavenly Father. So if the admission is to chronic, ongoing sin, that's admitting quite a lot.

    The rationalization for allowing them Catholic funerals is that they had a priest around as death approached. In my opinion, any pro-abortion politician should be presumed NOT to have repented unless he made a PUBLIC declaration of repentance. And a big, public funeral is scandalous.


    Cardinal O’Malley, by his fawning over Obama and the Kennedys, signaled very clearly that he is unoffended by abortion.

    In these last points we have no disagreement.  It is a tragedy for all concerned, and a deeply felt one for me personally.

    Peace,

    SR
  • Pope Francis 'called us his brother bishops,' says Protestant pastor from Mobile, who lunched, swapp

    11/02/2014 4:34:52 PM PST · 70 of 162
    Springfield Reformer to boatbums; daniel1212

    It’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy on steroids. It’s a last ditch effort to hang on to an unsustainable assertion, in this case that the only reliable source of theological truth is Rome, by pruning off of Rome whatever seems to conflict with the assertion.

    So when we see them giving tolerance to unrepentant baby killers, we are supposed to understand those folks are “automatically excommunicated,” even if in reality they suffer none of the real world consequences of excommunication.

    And when we see the supposedly unifying leadership of the supreme pontiff, well advertised here as allegedly a superior value in the Roman model, fracturing the church instead, we are to understand him to really be a Protestant and not just a liberal Roman schismatic who will in fact suffer no consequences for the crime of rending the Roman church asunder.

    It’s really all too convenient. The poor Scotsman after whom the fallacy is named would blush for how his Roman counterparts have outdone him.

    Peace,

    SR

  • Rising number of Muslims reporting dreams about Jesus

    11/02/2014 9:07:10 AM PST · 41 of 44
    Springfield Reformer to knarf

    Christian baptism of believers (not infants or others incapable of expressing belief) is almost always performed upon a verbal profession of faith. The baptism is simply making that profession public, where we identify with Christ in His death (going under the water), and in His resurrection (being raised out of the water). So baptism itself is a statement of faith visually, and is preceded by a statement of faith verbally. If a Muslim is baptized as a Christian, this is considered apostasy from Islam, and is typically punishable, up to and including death. Anyone willing to risk death to identify with Jesus Christ has a better profession of faith than most modern American Christians. We’ve had it easy here. That is probably changing soon. I am glad for those whom Christ is calling to Himself. I hope and pray I am as faithful as they have been should that ultimate test come here.

    Peace,

    SR

  • A Reformation Day homily

    10/31/2014 2:43:50 PM PDT · 3 of 14
    Springfield Reformer to chajin

    Good read. Thanks for posting ...

  • 9 Ways to Restore All Things in Christ

    10/31/2014 6:01:32 AM PDT · 12 of 231
    Springfield Reformer to cherry; punditwannabe; daniel1212
    was Mary the mother of Jesus, yes or no?.....

    Requiring a simple "yes or no" answer is very often used as a way to bypass the critical step of defining terms. As an attorney, if I had a client being asked that question in a deposition, I would at this point insist on some clarifications before proceeding.

    For example, how is "mother" being used here? Strictly in a biological sense? To which I would expect a response of "No," because Jesus acquires more than human biology through Mary, but human nature, albeit with no inclination to sin.

    But the divine nature never had a time when it didn't exist. It is this essence of Godhead that cannot have a mother in the genetic sense. Else we are talking about something less than true deity.

    This is why Jesus tells us His true family, in any sense in which it might be beneficial to be related to Him, is conformity to the will of God, which is independent of biology, and transcendent of human nature, but requires the new birth, which is possible only through the work of God's own Holy Spirit. That is the only "genetic" connection that matters to Jesus, the likeness of our spirit to that of our Heavenly Father, Who is spirit.

    Peace,

    SR

  • #Muslim apologists becoming more aggressive proselytizers, targeting #Christians

    10/30/2014 1:35:39 PM PDT · 7 of 36
    Springfield Reformer to Teófilo

    ping for later

  • The Pope Would Like You to Accept Evolution and the Big Bang

    10/29/2014 7:57:12 PM PDT · 120 of 126
    Springfield Reformer to Trailerpark Badass
    Sorry, creating all of existence, including the souls of all sentient beings, from an infinitesimally dense, infinitesimally small bit of matter, according to a program in which everything is known at the beginning, and right now, and forever, is pretty darn miraculous to me.

    Maybe all y'all have some other standard of "miracle," you're welcome to it.


    Words mean things. If I use "miracle" to describe all of nature, I have basically defined it out of existence.  Maybe you're OK with that.  I'm not.    Anything God does is amazing to us, but miracles are more than just God acting.  They are God revealing Himself to us by showing His supernatural authority over natural things.  He created us in a miracle and then told us about it in another miracle.  Yes, the revelation of God's mind to us through Scripture is a miracle too. Scripture would not have happened had God not intervened directly to create it. That's what we mean when we say it is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  It would not have happened as a byproduct of natural processes, but only happened because he led men of God to write specific things.  And in that revelation He tells us we were not the product of any other preceding living thing, but were made directly from dirt. I can live with that, because I have no problem with God occasionally bypassing the secondary causes of nature and taking things in some new direction right here and now. 

    SR: So we do not exist as a result of the ordinary, natural behavior of dirt, mixing with lightening and water and whatever else the "primordial soup" is supposed to have contained, all running along their natural, predictable path of being.

    TB: Again, "natural" and "predictable" to whom? You?  Predictable to you.  Yes, really.  Try this.  If you point a loaded .45 at center mass of some innocent person and pull the trigger three or four times, what will happen?  Is that really so hard for you to predict? No, it's very deterministic.  And it's that very determinism which allows you to form a moral judgment about whether you should do it in the first place.  Many other things are presumed reliable in your life (and mine and everybody else's).  You get in your car and drive to work.  A million things had to work predictably for that to happen.  Someone you love gets a terminal illness. They will die. And we all get old and die anyway.  Very predictable. So I don't know what you mean by "predictable to whom."  Natural things are natural because they are predictable as secondary causes to most any rational mind.  Once you know the rules, you can tell what will happen.

    WHom do you think made those things "natural" and "predictable?"

    Of course God made them that way, but that's the way they are now, and if God intervenes on those things after they've already run for a while on their own, then what's wrong with that?  The whole point of modern creationist study is to show that natural processes work within predictable limits, and that no matter how far back you run the clock, those processes, by themselves, do not explain our current state, that necessarily God must have intervened in His own created order as a way of giving us a clue it was really Him doing it, and not just some giant, soulless machine running it's course.

    So He made these things predictable for us, for our benefit, so we would understand it was Him speaking when a true miracle happens.  Look at the time Jesus was with His disciples on the boat and it was being battered by the weather.  He simply says, "Peace, be still," and what happens?  Even the winds and the waves obey Him.  But what happened to the disciples?  They start to get it.  Jesus is no ordinary prophet.  He's way past that.  He's able to act in nature with the full, supernatural authority of the Creator Himself.  

    Bottom line, it is God who has established this contrast between nature and supernature, not me. We just have to decide whether we want to believe it when He tells us He made us from dirt. I don't know. Is that just too big a miracle for some to believe? If, as you rightly say, He can make the whole universe out of nothing, why then is He suddenly NOT able to make us straight from dirt if He wants to, and then tell us about it in a book?

    Peace,

    SR

  • The Pope Would Like You to Accept Evolution and the Big Bang

    10/29/2014 5:30:38 PM PDT · 118 of 126
    Springfield Reformer to Trailerpark Badass; Ethan Clive Osgoode
    If the entirety of man's appearance, to include his development from single-celled organism to a being with a soul made in the likeness of his Creator, was set in motion by an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God from nothing, with no other agent of influence upon it other than that Creator, then ALL of it is supernatural.

    If everything is a miracle, then how do miracles serve as signs of the special providence of God?  Under that reasoning, no act of God can be distinguished from any other act of God.  The word "natural" loses its meaning completely.  Or conversely, the word "supernatural" and "natural" refer to the same thing, and there really are no miracles that can convey the intervention of a personal God.  

    But we see in Scripture that miracles are those things which DO convey a special action by God.  That is their whole intent in the narratives in which they appear.  It is not natural for a man dead and buried four days to come back to life.  It is not natural for a pot of water to be suddenly filed with high quality wine.  It is not natural for a man born blind to suddenly begin seeing.  So then according to the testimony of Scripture, "natural" and "supernatural" are distinct after all. There can be no supernature without there first being nature. A pot of water is minding it's own business, just being water and sloshing around in the pot. Then the Son of God speaks and the water's materiality is exposed as an unclosed system, that there exists a back door through which the Creator can, without violating natural law, introduce unexpected causation by a short cut, and bring new things into being ex nihilo, and make them part of the things that already have their being, which is what we normally mean by "miracle."

    Which is precisely why they are part of the narrative of Immanuel, God with us.  Miracles are the signature of God's presence with us. Only God can make that which never was, and call it into being for the first time.  But after it has it's being, it is real.  It has it's own existence.  It is distinguishable from the Creator. It is creature. And it behaves according to the principles of it's being reliably.  Unless a miracles occurs, unless the Creator takes a lump of already created dirt and breathes life into it.  He might have breathed life into anything, or pressed upon any creature the image of Himself, as those creatures were already there, all created before man.

    But that's not what the narrative says.  He ignored all those other created, already living things, wonderful as they were, and set his focus on a lump of dirt.  And it was this dead dirt which He formed into a lifeless man, and into that stillness He breathed the breath of life, and Adam came to be, as a living soul. If we take that narrative seriously, we cannot see some precedent chain of lesser living creatures, but only dead dirt, created ex nihilo some days ago, but now having it's own continuous and rather boring existence, and coming suddenly to life only after God intervenes ex nihilo once again, by a new miracle, a miracle of intervention in the existing order of nature, and therefore an act of supernature.

    So we do not exist as a result of the ordinary, natural behavior of dirt, mixing with lightening and water and whatever else the "primordial soup" is supposed to have contained, all running along their natural, predictable path of being.  We exist as a result of God intervening in His own created order to introduce something that order could never otherwise expect to see.  We are the surprise package snuck in through the back door.  Nature, even as God created it, never saw us coming. Born of a miracle, and born again by an even greater miracle, by the God of infinite surprises.

    Peace,

    SR
  • The Pope Would Like You to Accept Evolution and the Big Bang

    10/29/2014 10:55:23 AM PDT · 110 of 126
    Springfield Reformer to Campion; P-Marlowe
    Sorry, I don’t see your “simple” conclusion. But if Genesis is to be taken completely literally, the universe is about 6,500 years old, meaning either (a) huge chunks of science are completely wrong; or (b) God is an elaborate hoaxer who built a universe that lies to us. Neither conclusion is very compatible with faith.

    Except that created things can only tell the truth they know.  Inanimate objects  don't "know" anything.  They just are what they are. The only one who would actually know how creation occurred would be the Creator.  If He created everything with, as Augustine suggests, rational principles of continuous operation, why is that incompatible with those same objects supernaturally coming into being ready-made with those principles? There is no lie in that. It's simply a model for design.  

    For example, Jesus turned water into wine, a process that ordinarily takes significant amounts of time.  Does that make the wine a liar? No. But it does point us back to the Creator.  Do we believe Him when He tells us He made this wine just minutes ago? If we have the divine grant of faith, this is not a problem. And not only that, but the cause of a positive worship, to see His great power at work is a joy to every believing heart.  But if we are told incessantly, from childhood, that no such manufacture of instant wine is possible, with no exception made for God, and if we have a doubting heart, we may choose to believe the fallible creation babbling on about things they don't understand, rather than believe our Creator that He took ordinary water and in moments gave it the fullness of a long-established life.  

    So nature cannot lie.  It simply is.  It can have no "intent to deceive," without which a lie is morally impossible.  And we know that the Creator did not lie, first because it is impossible for God to lie, and second because we have Him on record in Scripture telling us exactly what He did. So we have no excuse. Our only real problem is choosing who to believe, either our mortal, fallible, sinful teachers, or Him, the One who was there when it happened, the One into whose hands we have entrusted our immortal souls.  For me, this is a no brainer ...

    Peace,

    SR
  • The Pope Would Like You to Accept Evolution and the Big Bang

    10/29/2014 10:03:28 AM PDT · 99 of 126
    Springfield Reformer to Campion; SoFloFreeper
    Lest anyone get the wrong impression, Augustine was no friend of evolutionary processes or long earth ages.  In fact, his view was more radical that even young earth creationism.  I suppose you could term him an "instant earther." See Augustine. THE LITERAL MEANING OF GENESIS, Book IV, Chapter 33 God created all things simultaneously.
    51.  But if the angelic mind can grasp simultaneously all that the sacred text sets down separately in an ordered arrangement according to causal connection, were not all these things also made simultaneously, the firmament itself, the waters gathered together and the bare land that appeared, the plants and trees that sprang forth, the lights and stars that were established, the living creatures in the water and on the earth? Or were they rather created at different times on appointed days?

    Perhaps we ought not to think of these creatures at the moment they were produced as subject to the processes of nature which we now observe in them, but rather as under the wonderful and unutterable power of the Wisdom of God, which reaches from end to end mightily and governs all graciously.[66] For this power of Divine Wisdom does not reach by stages or arrive by steps. It was just as easy, then, for God to create everything as it is for Wisdom to exercise this mighty power. For through Wisdom all things were made, and the motion we now see in creatures, measured by the lapse of time, as each one fulfills its proper function, comes to creatures from those causal reasons[67] implanted in them, which God scattered as seeds at the moment of creation when He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created.[68]

    52.  Creation, therefore, did not take place slowly in order that a slow development might be implanted in those things that are slow by nature; nor were the ages established at the plodding pace at which they now pass. Time brings about the development of these creatures according to the laws of their numbers, but there was no passage of time when they received these laws at creation. Otherwise, if we think that, when they were first created by the Word of God, there were the processes of nature with the normal duration of days that we know, those creatures that shoot forth roots and clothe the earth would need not one day but many to germinate beneath the ground, and then a certain number of days, according to their natures, to come forth from the ground; and the creation of vegetation, which Scripture places on one day, namely the third, would have been a gradual process.

    And then how many days were necessary for birds to fly, if they proceeded from the earliest stages through the periods of natural growth to the sprouting of feathers and wings? Or perhaps were eggs only created, when on the fifth day, according to the scriptural narrative, the waters brought forth every winged bird according to its kind? If this can be maintained on the ground that in the liquid substance of the eggs there already existed all that grows and develops in the required course of days, because there were already present the numerous reason-principles implanted in an incorporeal manner within corporeal creatures, why could not the same thing have been said before the appearance of eggs, when in the humid element these same reason-principles were produced, from which winged creatures might be born and develop in the time required for the growth of each species?

    In this narrative of creation Holy Scripture has said of the Creator that He completed His works in six days; and elsewhere, without contradicting this, it has been written of the same Creator that He created all things together.[69] It follows, therefore, that He, who created all things together, simultaneously created these six days, or seven, or rather the one day six or seven times repeated. Why, then, was there any need for six distinct days to be set forth in the narrative one after the other? The reason is that those who cannot understand the meaning of the text, He created all things together, cannot arrive at the meaning of Scripture unless the narrative proceeds slowly step by step.

    Available here: http://www.andrsib.com/ch/litgen.htm
    As anyone can see from the above quote, Augustine's "accommodation theory" is grounded in the idea that God spoke of days because we would not be able to comprehend the instant formation of everything all at once with built-in principles of orderly growth and development for each species.  As for the actual age of the earth, he's one of us backwoods types, a true young earther.  From his City of God, Book 12:
    Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. For some hold the same opinion regarding men that they hold regarding the world itself, that they have always been. Thus Apuleius says when he is describing our race, Individually they are mortal, but collectively, and as a race, they are immortal.  And when they are asked, how, if the human race has always been, they vindicate the truth of their history, which narrates who were the inventors, and what they invented, and who first instituted the liberal studies and the other arts, and who first inhabited this or that region, and this or that island? They reply,  that most, if not all lands, were so desolated at intervals by fire and flood, that men were greatly reduced in numbers, and from these, again, the population was restored to its former numbers, and that thus there was at intervals a new beginning made, and though those things which had been interrupted and checked by the severe devastations were only renewed, yet they seemed to be originated then; but that man could not exist at all save as produced by man. But they say what they think, not what they know.

    They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed. And, not to spend many words in exposing the baselessness of these documents, in which so many thousands of years are accounted for, nor in proving that their authorities are totally inadequate, let me cite only that letter which Alexander the Great wrote to his mother Olympias, giving her the narrative he had from an Egyptian priest, which he had extracted from their sacred archives, and which gave an account of kingdoms mentioned also by the Greek historians.

    Available here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120112.htm

    So while we may be impressed with the idea of "accommodation" (I personally am not) as a way to reconcile the fleeting theories of mortal men with the eternally true revelation of God, it is an ill fit to use Augustine as a support for such compromise (a better term), when the whole of his argument was that God has sufficient power to perform creation of all things instantaneously, and does not need "stages" or "steps," but imbues His creations with internal laws, the same sort of laws that set boundaries on the Genesis kinds, but allow those same "kinds" to grow and thrive in the environment for which He created them.

    As for Augustine being a proto-Protestant?  Sure, why not.  Much of what he has written would be welcome in many a Baptist pulpit (or Presbyterian, Reformed, Lutheran, etc).  Not everything, to be sure.  If he were alive today and a nearby neighbor, we'd invite him over to a one of our pot-luck picnics and have a friendly chat about some problem areas, but also rejoice in the many important things we held in common, not the least of which was his keen desire to harmonize his teaching on Genesis with Scripture, not with fad pseudo-science:

    Whoever, then, does not accept the meaning that my limited powers have been able to discover or conjecture but seeks in the enumeration of the days of creation a different meaning, which might be understood not in prophetical or figurative sense, but literally and more aptly, in interpreting the works of creation, let him search and find a solution with God's help. I myself may possibly discover some other meaning more in harmony with the words of Scripture.

    Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis 4.28.45, as quoted in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 32/4 (December 1989) p 464, available here: http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/32/32-4/32-4-pp457-464_JETS.pdf  
    (BTW, interested readers are recommend to download rather than open the pdf directly, as it was hanging my browser until I just gave up and downloaded it.  I'd have used a more direct citation, but couldn't find a complete copy of "Literal Meaning of Genesis" anywhere.)
    Peace,

    SR





  • Dems desperate in Illinois

    10/28/2014 3:53:52 PM PDT · 16 of 22
    Springfield Reformer to stiguy

    Ping for later

  • Why would anyone become Catholic?

    10/28/2014 12:54:13 PM PDT · 3,525 of 3,549
    Springfield Reformer to CynicalBear; editor-surveyor; metmom

    I am familiar with leader-protective doomspeak. I had a loved one involved in following a cultic leader. This person briefly considered Hebrew Roots as well. Certain personalities are just attracted to this sort of thing, and the defensive shields do not come down until some sort of personal disillusionment occurs, hopefully sometime before they bring out the “special Kool-Aid.”

    In any event, the leader is typically pretty easy to debunk, so the defense mechanism is to run for shelter in the doomspeak, on the premise that attacking the leader is putting you in great spiritual danger. And as there are a number of Biblical stories that can be deployed in support of this (Moses versus Korah, for example), it is an effective defense mechanism, even if the person being defended is undermining Scripture itself.

    It is said in the last days of the Jim Jones cult, he was telling his people to use their Bibles for toilet paper. Satan always goes there. He knows where the real threat to his power is. Those who would rescue the ensnared one must hold forth the divine truth of Scripture confidently no matter what doomspeak is thrown at them, knowing we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against invisible creatures of enormous evil, who cast their shadows over human souls and lock them away in darkness, and take no pity on them.

    Yet among those prisoners are those whom God means to free by His grace in Jesus, and who knows but what someday a light might shine through and drive away the shadows and the door opened and the dark things, now exposed, will slither away, looking for somewhere else to hide. It is a wonderful thing to see when it happens, and it does happen. God’s arm is not too short to reach and save anyone.

    Peace,

    SR