Biologos, Theistic evolution, and the Pelagian heresy –

Biologos pelagian heresy –

“The Aquila Report” carried this powerful article as one of its “top 10″ this past week (April 1, 2014), but I also went to the original source, which is (cf. the link above).

creationvsevolutionThere you will find the complete article, “BioLogos, Theistic Evolution, and the Pelagian Heresy”, written by Richard Fangrad, CEO of Creation Ministries International-Canada. Fangrad makes a significant connection between the old heresy of Pelagianism and the “new” one of theistic evolution, especially that part of “TE” that now wants to deny the historical reality of our first parents, Adam and Eve.

I give you a portion of his article here; read the rest at this link.

May Fangrad’s thoughts show us even more clearly why we must reject all forms of evolutionism, root and branch. Not to do so leads one to forfeit the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, it IS that serious.

Today we Christians find ourselves at an interesting place in Church history. Although Scripture has been with us for 2,000 years (and is sufficient for determining how and when God created), we now have decades of research that supports what the Bible has always said. Today we are blessed with mountains of scientific evidence supporting the biblical record of a recent creation followed by a global flood and all humans originating with Adam and Eve. Despite all of this, aspects of an old heresy relating to the creation account are increasingly infiltrating the Church. This is the falsehood known as Pelagianism.

No Adam: no original sin, no need for the cross

The heresy of Pelagianism (see the box below for details) asserted that Adam’s sin had no effect on the human race, that we have not inherited a sin nature from Adam, and that all humans are born with the ability to live a sin-free life. This renders the work of Christ on the cross superfluous. If we can achieve Heaven without any work of God whatsoever (that is, if we have no sin) then there is no need (it is even nonsensical) for God to bear the penalty for our sin. The reality is that at the cross Christ died for us as a substitute. He paid the penalty that we incurred, in our place and simultaneously transferred His righteousness to us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes this double transfer. The sinless Christ pays for our sins in our place (so that we don’t have to!), and His righteousness is transferred to us. That single verse is Paul’s simple one-sentence summary of the Gospel. The whole Gospel message is contained in outline in those words and is, of course, detailed throughout the rest of Scripture.

Bible scholars at the time of Pelagius recognized the contradiction between his teachings and Scripture. As a result, Pelagianism was condemned as heretical at many church councils including the Councils of Carthage (in 412, 416 and 418), the Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Orange (529). The intervening 1600 years have merely strengthened and further refined the biblical truth confirming that Pelagianism is heretical. This rich history of the battle for truth is a great advantage for us today. When Pelagianizing tendencies infiltrate the church today we should simply look back at that history, remember the error of the past, and avoid repeating the same error. Unfortunately, Pelagianism is alive and well today. One of its modern forms, mutated and renamed, is called ‘theistic evolution’.

“Semper Reformanda” – The Reformation Isn’t Over – James White

The Reformation Isn’t Over by James White | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT-March2014On the last Sunday of March I finished reading the final articles of this month’s Tabletalk, including this fine one by Dr.James R.White. Since the March issue carried a Reformation theme (“John Knox & the Scottish Reformation” – see my previous Monday posts this month), it was fitting to have such a piece pointing us to the ongoing need of reformation in the church today, especially in the battle against Rome.

I pull a few paragraphs from the end of White’s article here, encouraging you as always to read the rest at the Ligonier link above.

Should the Reformation continue to hold a place of importance in the church that faces such immense opposition as that coming from radical, gospel-hating secularism? Wouldn’t a united front, free from partisan bickering, help the cause of Christ? The answer has to be, “Of course the Reformation remains important, and, in fact, its work must continue in our day, and into the future as well.”

The reason is not hard to see, even if it seems hidden to many in our day. Wonderfully nebulous catchphrases like “the cause of Christ” often hide the truth: the cause of Christ is the glorification of the triune God through the redemption of a particular people through the cross-work of Jesus Christ, which is a rather Puritan way of saying, “The cause of Christ is the gospel.” Each of the emphases of the Reformation, summed up in the solas, is focused upon protecting the integrity and identity of the gospel itself. Without the inspiration, authority, harmony, and sufficiency of Scripture, we do not know the gospel (sola Scriptura). Without the freedom of grace and the fullness of the provision of the work of Christ, we have no saving message (sola fide). And so on.

The Reformation fought a battle that each and every generation is called to fight simply because each and every generation is made up of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam, and hence there will always be those who seek to detract from the singular glory of God in the gospel through the addition of man’s authority, man’s merit, man’s sovereignty. Is this not the meaning of semper reformanda, the church always reforming, always seeking to hear more clearly, walk more closely, to her Lord?

With the ebb and flow of human history, the forces arrayed against the church and her Lord and the particular front upon which the battle rages hottest will change. Rome’s theology has evolved and her arguments have been modified, but the issues remain very much what they were when Luther and Eck battled at Leipzig, only modified and complicated. God’s kingship, man’s depravity and enslavement to sin, and the insatiable desire of sinners to control the grace of God will always be present. And today, the sufficiency, clarity, and authority of Scripture are at the forefront, just as they were then. The need for the Reformation will end when the church no longer faces foes inside and out who seek to distort her purpose, her mission, her message, and her authority. Till then,semper reformanda.

Sunday Worship Preparation: Psalm 125

Psalm125To help guide our minds and hearts as we prepare for our worship in the Lord’s house of prayer this day, we turn to the sixth of the “songs of Ascent”, Psalm 125. As we read this portion of God’s Word, we can hear the men, women and children singing this song as Mt.Zion, the mountain of God, and Jerusalem, the city of God, come into view and the pilgrims begin making the climb to their destination. Listen to them:

Psalm 125

They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.

2 As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.

3 For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.

4 Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.

5 As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel.

Jerusalem-Ancient imageCan we picture it? With the help of a picture of Jerusalem built on Mt.Zion, one of the seven peaks in that area, we can. And then we can understand why this metaphor entered the psalmist’s mind and became the inspiration for writing this psalm, under the guidance of the Spirit of Christ.

The people would have come a long way by the time they reached the holy city, and they would have come through many dangers. The site of the mountains around Jerusalem pointed the saints to their temporal and eternal security in the Lord their God. Jehovah, their mighty Savior and strong Defender, surrounded them in His grace and love. In Him they were safe in the face of all natural dangers and spiritual evils. Their arrival at the gates of Jerusalem proved that to them.

And seeing the mighty hills of God around Jerusalem and seeing the temple on Mt.Zion taught them to place all their trust in this God alone, v.1. They must live by faith and not by sight. That faith would be rewarded in their worship, as they would receive from the Lord God the assurance of their salvation from and security in Him.

It is no different for the NT church and people of God. Though we no longer go up to the physical city of Jerusalem when we worship, we do go up to the spiritual mountain of God’s presence and we do enter the spiritual city of God’s sovereign rule and protection in Jesus Christ. Wherever God’s church gathers, even if it is only two or three saints and in a flimsy shelter or open field, God surrounds her and is in the midst of her; she cannot be moved (Ps.46:5). Yes, wherever we meet today today, our King is with us and around us, and we are safe and secure by sovereign grace and the Spirit of our Lord! Nothing and no one can take us away from our God or remove us from His saving presence! The gates of hell cannot prevail against Christ’s church (Matt.16:18)! Are we conscious of this today as we go up to the hill of our God?

But then we too must trust in Him, v.1! Not the safety any building affords us or the security any earthly ruler may grant us must give us our confidence. Our hope and trust must be in the Lord alone! Our faith must be in the One Who surrounds us in Christ! We must look up, not to any physical mountains, but to the Lord and His sovereign presence with us! Are we doing that, even now as we prepare for worship?

Then we too will not want the rod of the wicked to rest on us, v.3. We will not seek the rule of evil in our midst, lest we join the wicked around us and stretch out our hands to iniquity. Many churches and people have done exactly that, as they have fallen into unbelief and departed from the good ways of God’s Word and covenant. Israel of old did too and was severely chastised. And we are certainly capable of that sin of apostasy. Let us learn and be warned! Let us seek only the Lord and His ways of truth and righteousness! Let us continue in the ways of His covenant, walking in the friendship and fellowship of our God!

And so, let us pray, as the saints did in this song, v.4: “Do good, O LORD, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.” “Good” by grace alone, of course. For we know well the curse of the Lord that comes on those who turn aside and walk crookedly, v.5. We want the peace of God on Israel. And that can be only when God is good to us in Christ, pardoning our sins, making us holy so as to delight in His ways, and preserving us unto our eternal home. For that we must pray. Daily. On the Lord’s Day too. Shall we?

May you and I, in the way of trusting in this mighty God of grace, experience this peace and security today.

If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, we give you this versification of Psalm 125 and point you to this page where you may also find piano accompaniment so that you may sing along.

1. Like Zion’s steadfast mount are they
Who in the Lord confide;
Secure, immovable they stand,
Forever to abide.

2. As round about Jerusalem
The mountains give defense,
Jehovah is His people’s guard,
Their lasting confidence.

3. No tyrant’s scepter o’er the good
Shall undisturbed abide,
Lest righteous men, oppressed by wrong,
To evil turn aside.

4. O Thou Jehovah, to the good
Thy goodness now impart,
Thy lovingkindness show to them
That upright are in heart.

5. All those that turn from righteousness
With wayward, wandering feet,
With sinners God will lead them forth,
The sinner’s doom to meet.

6. O Thou Who are Thy people’s shield,
Their helper and their guide,
Upon them let Thy grace and peace
Forevermore abide.

And a New “Standard Bearer” – Dec.1, 2013 Issue

SBLogoThis weekend I also received the latest issue of The Standard Bearer, published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association, with close ties to the PRCA. While the previous issue was the annual special Reformation issue, containing the speeches of the recent Heidelberg Catechism conference (See this post.), this issue returns to the regular rubrics and articles.

Rev.James Slopsema has the meditation this time, based on 1 John 3:2-3 and titled “The Hope of the Sons of God.” Prof.Barry Gritters has a thought-provoking article under the attention-grabbing title “Rare as a White Crow”. To what is he refering? To a lack of discipline in the contemporary church world, something Abraham Kuyper decried in his own day with these very words. I read this article yesterday and it is essential reading for pastors, officebearers, and church members.

Rev.Cory Griess continues his series on Reformed, covenantal worship by treating “The Element of Singing”. Rev.James Laning pens a new article for “Taking Heed to the Doctrine”, this time on the the contemporary issue of “Redefining Election”. For his rubric “All Around Us” Rev.Nathan Langerak addresses issues taking place in the Reformed churches of the Netherlands (always of concern to us who stand in the line of the Dutch Reformed). Rev.A.den Hartog writes a second installment about “Disciplining Our Covenant Children in Love”, and missionary-pastor R.Smit pens an intriguing article under the title, “Queen Esther: A Model for Foreign Missions Today?”

And finally, Rev.W.Langerak writes one of his fine little surveys of key words in the Bible (“A Word Fitly Spoken”), this time on the word “exceeding”. You may find this article along with many others in this series on the PRC website here. This is how he opens this one:

Among the many wonderful virtues of the true, eternal, and living God is that He is exceeding. We might be inclined to think of the word ‘exceeding’ merely as some ordinary adverb or adjective. But in Scripture, ‘exceeding’ is  a perfection of God. God exceeds in everything (except sin and unrighteousness, of course). And although Scripture applies ‘exceeding’ to many different things and activities, it also makes clear that ultimately only God is exceeding. Whatever or whoever else Scripture may call exceeding is always exceeded by God Himself. Whereas  nothing can or does exceed Him, p.109.

To subscribe to The Standard Bearer, visit the website. You will not be disappointed :)

An Overview of the 13th Century Church – Nick Needham

The 13th Century by Nick Needham | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT-Sept2013Are you, as I was, in need of a refresher course on church history during the 13th century, the heart of the Medieval period? Need to know about Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) and his significant policies which further centralized the Roman Catholic Church? Need to learn about the 4th Lateran Council (1215) and the first official RC statement on transubstatiation? What about the Waldensians and Cathars, a couple of the dissenting groups during the Middle Ages? the rise of the Inquisition, that heresy-hunting committee? And, lest we forget, what do you remember about scholastic theology?

Then the excellent summary article of this period of church history by Nicholas R. Needham linked above will be of great benefit to you. The significant items I linked above are just some of the topics he treats in this month’s Tabletalk,  now available on the Ligonier website. I read this article before worship services yesterday, and found that, though the Medieval period of the church as often viewed as dry and drier, Needham makes it come alive in covering these important aspects. I give you this introduction to Needham’s treatment of two dissenting groups in the Medieval church and encourage to to work your way through the various topics he treats. You will have a much better view of what the church of the 13th centruy was about. And it will make you appreciate all the more the reforms that were needed at the time of the great Reformation in the 16th century – reforms which were already being prepared by the sovereign Lord of history.


This loss of the sense of security and belonging, and the development of great social inequality produced a fertile soil in which new religious movements could flourish. The two most widespread of these movements were the Waldensians and the Cathars. The Waldensians originated in Lyons in the 1170s as a movement of lay preachers, whose inspirational founder seems to have been named Valdes. Friction with local episcopal authority, however, eventually drove the Waldensians out of the church. Rather than extinguishing the movement, this enabled it to grow rapidly and spread widely. Unconstrained now by the need to conform to Roman Catholic orthodoxy, the Waldensians evolved into an embryonically “Protestant” movement, anticipating many of the concerns of the sixteenth-century Reformation.

The Cathars are a more controversial movement. A previous generation of Protestant scholars saw them as essentially akin to the Waldensians—an Evangelical movement of dissent. This, then, gave way to the view that they were a basically gnostic movement. Now some modern scholars deny they existed at all. I take the view that they did exist and were basically gnostic. One reason for taking this view is that there was a parallel movement in the Eastern Byzantine world, the Bogomils, who were gnostic—the Eastern Cathars, as it were, whose existence I see no reason to doubt. The Cathars flourished outside the confines of the church (which they denounced as the “Great Whore of Babylon”), and they made a notable impact on southern France, where they were known as Albigensians.

Dr. Nick Needham is senior minister of Inverness Reformed Baptist Church and tutor in church history at Highland Theological College in Dingwall, Scotland.

‘The Bible Belt Is Collapsing;’ Christians Have Lost Culture War – Russell Moore

‘The Bible Belt Is Collapsing;’ Christians Have Lost Culture War, Says ERLC President Russell Moore.

On Saturdays in the past, I have liked to reserve this space for comment on the “Christian and culture” or “Reformed worldview” issues. The news item below was posted on Monday of this week (Aug.19, 2013) and grabbed my attention.

We all sense, I believe, that the influence Christianity has had on the culture of this country has waned considerably in the last few decades, and even more so in the last 5 years. Not all of the blame for that falls at the feet of the secular arena (the unbelieving and ungodly world). Much of the church world too has lost her way, departing from the foundational truths and moral standards of the Word of God and caving in to the culture of the world. And for too long those who have sought to be faithful to God’s standards have trusted in the means of power and politics to influence our country for good. It IS good for the church to be the “prophetic minority”, for this is her true place in this world. May we realize our pilgrim and prophetic place in this present world and continue to speak (and live!) as God’s holy lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation (Phil.2:14-15).

Here is the first part of the Christian Post report; read all of it at the link above or at the end of the quote here.

President of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore, says “the Bible Belt is collapsing” and Christians have lost the culture war in America. However, the latest developments in the U.S. just “might be good for the church,” he explained.

In a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, Moore conceded that traditional Christian values no longer define mainstream American culture the way they did up-to 20 years ago, but it could be good for the church because “we are no longer the moral majority. We are a prophetic minority,” he said.

He explained that mainstream culture has moved away from traditional views on issues like gay marriage, abortion and even “basic religious affiliation,” and the church now needs a new approach to attract and retain believers and influence politics.

Read more at 

Preaching on the Heidelberg Catechism (1)

HC-CRCBookletFrom the December 15, 1961 (Vol.38, #6) issue of The Standard Bearer:

One of the oldest customs in Reformed Churches is the practice of preaching once a Sunday from the Heidelberg Catechism. It is said that the practice began as early as 1566. Twelve years later the Synod of Dordt decided that after the Lord’s Supper had been served on Sunday afternoons the minister should proceed to preach on the Catechism as usual but it was not until 1586 that a synodical decision governing this matter was incorporated into the Church Order. At that time the Synod of ‘s Gravenhage adopted the following:

“The ministers shall everywhere on Sunday, ordinarily in the afternoon sermon, explain briefly the summary of Christian doctrine contained in the Catechism, which at this time has been accepted in the Netherland Churches, in such a way that this explanation may be finished annually following the division of the Catechism itself as made for this purpose.”

If we bear in mind that the Catechism was not written and adopted by the synod until 1563 and, according to the intention of Frederick III who had requested its composition, it was originally designed to be used for the instruction of the youth in the churches and schools, it is rather remarkable that this practice of preaching from the Catechism sprang up so soon.

At first, however, this practice was not generally accepted. In his “Church Right” the Rev. Ophoff (George M.Ophoff, professor in the Protestant Reformed Seminary at the time -cjt) tells us: “But in many places the congregations did not like it, so that, when the preaching was from the Catechism, the attendance was small. In some places no one went to church when there was Catechism preaching. The result was that many ministers stopped preaching Catechism sermons. That the Netherland Reformed Churches of that time included a large carnal element is evident from the complaints of the churches of Vriesland and Overijsel on the International Synod of Dordrecht, 1618-19. They complained about the failure of the ministers to preach Catechism sermons, among whom were also those, they said, who held but one service on the Sabbath and that in the morning. They complained about the failure of many ministers to admonish the people to attend divine services, and of the difficulty of keeping the people on the farms from their play and work on the Sabbath; and about the dislike of the Remonstrants to Catechism preaching. They complained too about the lethargy of the government in maintaining the rest of the Sabbath and its allowing work on the farms.”

It appears from this entire quotation that the real cause for opposition to Catechism preaching was not the dislike of that kind of preaching as such but is rather to be found in the general spiritual condition of the church at that time. The “volkskerk” was very weak. Many had joined the Reformation movement who did not belong with it. There was a lack of real spiritual hunger for the Word of God. They simply did not care to go to church more than once on Sunday. In our day this spirit of spiritual laxity and indifference is also very much present. Churches are crowded for the morning service and the Sunday School but the evening services are but sparsely attended. No wonder that some Reformed Churches have all but eliminated Catechism preaching in preference to the popular topical preaching. Others are about to do so—a mark of still further decline.

-penned by Rev.G.Vanden Berg, PRC minister, on Article 68 of the Church Order (of Dordt) under the rubric “Decency and Order”


Don’t forget to make plans to attend the special Heidelberg Catechism Conference sponsored by the Protestant Reformed Seminary and hosted by Hudsonville PRC on October 17-19, 2013! Visit the website for all the details!

On Andy Stanley’s “Deep and Wide” – C.Trueman

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – Reformation21.

Last night I received in my email box the latest article by Dr.Carl Trueman posted at “Reformation21″. Immediately I started reading, as his articles rarely disappoint. With sharp wit and equally sharp Reformed apologetics, Trueman exposes all that’s bad in modern evangelicalism and modern culture today (As you will have noted from my frequent references to his writings.).  And, not to my surprise, I discovered another great Trueman piece in this new article.

Deep&Wide-AStanleyThis time he goes after popular pastor Andy Stanley and his new book. Needless to say, Trueman’s review is sharp and stinging. But it needs to be. And when you read what both of these writers have to say, you will understand why. Below is the first part of the review. Read all of it at the “Ref21″ link above.

For this month’s column, I thought I would offer a few reflections on Andy Stanley’s recent book, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. Here’s a classic passage which represents in miniature an entire universe of erroneous thinking.
People are far more interested in what works than what’s true. I hate to burst your bubble, but virtually nobody in your church is on a truth quest. Including your spouse. They are on happiness quests. As long as you are dishing out truth with no here’s the difference it will make tacked on the end, you will be perceived as irrelevant by most of the people in your church, student ministry, or home Bible study. You may be spot-on theologically, like the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day, but you will not be perceived as one who teaches with authority. Worse, nobody is going to want to listen to you.
Now, that may be discouraging. Especially the fact that you are one of the few who is actually on a quest for truth. And, yes, it is unfortunate that people aren’t more like you in that regard. But that’s the way it is. It’s pointless to resist. If you try, you will end up with a little congregation of truth seekers who consider themselves superior to all the other Christians in the community. But at the end of the day, you won’t make an iota of difference in this world….
With so much promising material, where should one start the critique? Perhaps with the unintended irony of a man warning his readers about feeling superior while at the same time assuring them that he has better insight into the way their spouses and congregations think than they do? Or with the odd way in which he berates his audience for making the mistake of assuming that other people are just like them rather than realizing that they are actually all just like Andy Stanley? Sorry to – as you would put it – ‘burst your bubble’, Andy, but the people I know are not on a happiness quest. I suspect they are not that ambitious: they simply want to find a decent bottle of cognac so that they might temporarily dull the pain of existence with a little touch of old world class. At least, I have always assumed they are just like me.
One might also look at the travesty of scriptural teaching it contains. The problem of the teachers of the law, for example, was not that they were spot on; it was that they were completely wrong. That is why Jesus spent such a lot of time berating them for their errors of interpretation. And as to Jesus playing to people’s expectations of happiness, one wonders why he made such ‘play’ of the havoc which following him would wreak on families, of the need to take up one’s cross, and of the expectation of persecution to come.
Dr. Carl Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church.

What We Talk About When We Talk About God – Rob Bell Reviewed at “Ref21″

What We Talk About When We Talk About God – Reformation21.

WhatWeTalkAbout-RBellPerhaps you have heard – the infamous postmodern “Christian” (heretical) teacher Rob Bell has a new book out: What We Talk About When We Talk About God (HarperOne, 2013). Perhaps you don’t care, based on his previous heretical publications. But you should, not because his book is “must reading”, but because we should know what postmodernists like Bell are doing to and saying about the Christian faith. Indeed, we must defend the faith against those on the outside (such as the new atheists) but also against those on the inside (heretics), who claim to speak for the Lord and for His church. Bell does not, and he must be exposed as such.

As a brief introduction to this book, this is how the publisher describes it on the back cover:

How God is described today strikes many as mean, primitive, backward, illogical, tribal, and at odds with the frontiers of science. At the same time, many intuitively feel a sense of reverence and awe in the world. Can we find a new way to talk about God?

Pastor and New York Times bestselling author Rob Bell does here for God what he did for heaven and hell in Love Wins: he shows how traditional ideas have grown stale and dysfunctional and reveals a new path for how to return vitality and vibrancy to how we understand God. Bell reveals how we got stuck, why culture resists certain ways of talking about God, and how we can reconnect with the God who is with us, for us, and ahead of us, pulling us forward into a better future—and ready to help us live life to the fullest.

What I have linked you to above (top of the post) is a solid, straight-forward review by Dr.Michael Kruger, President and professor of NT at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. It appeared yesterday (May 6) at the “Reformation21″ website. Here are a couple of points Kruger makes (Read all of his review at the “Ref21″ link above.):

…Of course, Bell’s method of defending Christianity is not by stripping it of its supernatural elements (that was the issue in Bultmann’s day). On the contrary, Bell is quite keen to remind the reader of the supernatural–God is everywhere, busy at work, in us and in our world.   Instead, Bell’s makeover method is to change Christianity into a broad “spirituality.”  His book downplays (and in some instances, simply ignores) many of the key doctrines that make Christianity distinctive. He simply turns Christianity into vague, general, theism. Whereas Bultmann demythologized the faith, Bell has detheologized the faith.

…In the end, my overall concern about this volume is a simple one: it is not Christian. Bell’s makeover of Christianity has changed it into something entirely different. It is not Christianity at all, it is modern liberalism. It is the same liberalism that Machen fought in the 1920′s and the same liberalism prevalent in far too many churches today. It is the liberalism that teaches that God exists and that Jesus is the source of our happiness and our fulfillment, but all of this comes apart from any real mention of sin, judgment, and the cross. It is the liberalism that says we can know nothing for sure, except of course, that those “fundamentalists” are wrong. It is the liberalism that appeals to the Bible from time to time, but then simply ignores large portions of it.
Bell’s book, therefore, is really just spiritualism with a Christian veneer. It’s a book that would fit quite well on Oprah’s list of favorite books. What is Rob Bell talking about when he is talking about God? Not the God of Christianity.

C.Trueman on Rome, Justification, and Lord’s Day 1

trueman-fools.inddIn the eightenneth chapter of his book Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear to Tread, Dr.Carl Trueman treats not only areas of (rare) agreement between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants but also the areas of obvious disagreement, including the authority of Scripture, the sacraments, justification, and assurance. That last one may surprise you, but it is significant, and at the end of his treatment of this point of difference with Rome Trueman makes a great reference to Q&A 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Here’s the relevant quotation:

But the difference on justification leads to a fundamentally different view of the Christian life. For the Catholic, assurance of God’s favor is a non-issue; indeed, assurance can be a dangerously subversive thing, encouraging moral laxity and poor churchmanship. For the Protestant , however, it is absolutely crucial: only as we are assured of God’s favor can we understand his holiness without despairing, and do good works – live as Christians! – in a manner that is not servile but rather affiliative and familial. Catholics and, indeed, Protestants who have a faulty understanding of justification, are at the very least losing out on the sheer joy and delight of the assured Christian life.

…If, however, you value the Protestant tradition on justification, and its concomitant pastoral point, that of the normality of the individual’s assurance, you may, indeed, you should, appreciate much of what Catholicism  and Protestantism share in common, but you should remain at Geneva and not head to Rome. For me, the right to claim Question One of the Heidelberg Catechism as my own, as the most profound statement of a truly childlike faith and ethic, is too precious to cede either to the numpties of postmodern evangelicalism or the geniuses of Rome, even the great Newman….

And then he quotes that first Q&A of the catechism, which I will also do, only from the long-standing English edition (used by the PRC):

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer. That I with [a] body and soul, both in life and death, [b] am not my own, but belong [c] unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious [d] blood, hath fully [e] satisfied for all my sins, and delivered [f] me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me [g] that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair [h] can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be [i] subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me [j] of eternal life, and makes [k] me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. 

[a]: 1Cor. 6:19,20
[b]: Rom. 14:7,8,9
[c]: 1Cor. 3:23
[d]: 1Pet. 1:18,19
[e]: 1John 1:7
[f]: 1John 3:8; Heb. 2:14,15
[g]: John 6:39; John 10:28,29
[h]: Luke 21:18; Matt. 10:30
[i]: Rom. 8:28
[j]: 2Cor. 1:22; 2Cor 5:5
[k]: Rom. 8:14; Rom. 7:22


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