Is the Romanist My Brother? No.

No Pope Here!Preliminary Complaint And Indictment…

I don’t usually join discussion groups on facebook, but for some reason I chose to join a putatively Reformed Baptist discussion several months ago. Since that time I hadn’t posted anything, but have only read some posts and followed some links given by the group’s members.

This week that changed, however, when I noticed that there were some Roman Catholic spammers posting pictures of the pope, as well as paintings of Mary. Now if you know anything about internet trolls, you should immediately know that when a person who adamantly believes x joins a group that profess to adamantly believe ~x, the person who believes is x is very likely only there to stir the pot.

Wikipedia defines an internet troll as follows:

In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. (source)

Having dealt with my own personal Roman Catholic troll, this bothered me. But I kept my discontent to myself. It wasn’t until I was notified of various attacks on the faith made by these trolls, as well as their harassment of my brothers in Christ, that I thought it was time to challenge the trolls. The trolls insisted on getting the Reformed Baptists to call them brothers in Christ, and repeatedly stated that we both (Romanists and Reformed Baptists) believe the same thing regarding the Gospel.

Anyone who has any inkling of an understanding of what Roman Catholics actually believe would know that such a claim is, quite frankly, Bovine Scat. Not only is it not the case that Protestants are considered Christians by the papacy, it is also not the case that we can be their brothers in Christ. Why? Because all who have been born again by the Holy Spirit have been baptized into the body of Christ. But the body of Christ is the body of all who have been justified by faith alone. Therefore, if any man claims to be a Christian and yet denies justification by faith alone, he is spiritually dead and outside of the body of Christ.

This is very plain in Scripture. We who have been justified by faith alone have been born again by the Spirit of God, have been united to Jesus Christ and to one another. Roman Catholics (i.e. those who believe the Roman Catholic Catechism’s teachings on justification by faith and works) do not bear these marks.

Returning back to my original focus, though, the group’s moderator asked me to not say that the Romanists are not my brethren. This, he contended, was not very friendly of me.

And here’s where the title of the blog post today comes in:

If you know what Romanism teaches about justification (not to mention its abominable doctrines concerning Mary, the veneration of saints, and its heresy of transubstantiation), and you claim to have personally come to know Christ as your only source of justifying righteousness (as Scripture teaches), then how on earth can you in good conscience call yourself the Romanist’s brother?

Why even call yourself Reformed, let alone a Reformed Baptist?

We are all sinners, and so I should have expected a professedly Reformed Baptist at some point in time, somewhere, to deny the very confession (i.e. The London Baptist 1689 Confession of Faith) with which they claim to be in agreement. But, again, we are sinners, and sometimes have an over-realized ecclesiology.

I asked the moderator for his reasons for allowing the Romanists to run free and vandalize the discussion group with pictures of the pope, but he didn’t answer. And by this point, I had only negative expectations of this man who claims to be a Reformed Baptist.

Why the Issue Matters

For anyone acquainted with the Roman Catholic institution, it is very well known that the papacy claims for itself infallibility. And, consequently, it cannot change any of its dogmas & doctrines. Thus, when ignorant Christians hear the papacy’s pleas for unity among Catholics and Protestants, and they think that the pope will renounce his idols and heresies, they are only deceiving themselves and being deceived. If the papacy renounces its idols and heresies, then it is not infallible (in its own eyes). It follows, then, that it is the Protestant who will either convert to Romanism or be treated as unbeliever. Point. Blank. Period.

Recently, there have been strong calls to unify with Rome. These calls have come from false brethren and false teachers in the visible body of professing protestants. Here are some examples you should know about:

Beth Moore

Kenneth Copeland

Rick Warren

James Robison

In addition to these obviously heretical teachers, it is worth remembering that there are movements within the Reformed tradition which are nothing more than thinly disguised Roman Catholic spawns. Consider the following movements:

New Perspective on Paul (N.T. Wright & Others)

-What’s Wrong with Wright? (Phil Johnson)

-The Arminius Paradigm (R. Scott Clark)

-The Justification Controversy: A Guide for the Perplexed (John W. Robbins)

-The New Perspective on Paul (Louis DeBoer)

Federal Vision (Doug Wilson, Steve Schlissel & Others; Also known as the Auburn Avenue Theology)

-The Auburn Avenue Theology: A Biblical Critique (Brian Schwertley)

-Why Heretics Win Battles (John W. Robbins)

-For Those Just Tuning In: What is the Federal Vision? (R. Scott Clark)

-Federal Vision (David Engelsma)

I mention these movements for the sake of showing that the leaven of Romanism is currently traveling around the body of Christ, even in Reformed circles, and should not be comprised with. Those who hold to Romanism are not brethren in Christ; and those who hold to a doctrine of justification that is identical to Rome’s (i.e. faith and works), no matter how they slice things, are not brethren either.

As for Rome’s failure to even hold together logically, let alone biblically, consider the few things I’ve written:

Romanism

Contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Soli Deo Gloria

-h.

Two Justifications?

hiram:

Very helpful quote from Francis Turretin regarding the erroneous doctrine of dual justification espoused by those who embrace the heretical doctrine of justification espoused by N.T. Wright and his admirers (e.g. Doug Wilson, Richard B. Gaffin, Federal Visionists, etc).

Originally posted on The Reformed Reader:

Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Volume 2 Some in broader evangelicalism (New Perspectives on Paul) and in broader Reformed circles (Federal Vision) have talked about a future justification based on works in a way that is out of step with historic Reformed theology.  Of course, the Reformers debated Rome over this issue as well.  Francis Turretin (d. 1687) described the historic Reformed “sola fide” position well:

“Although our justification will be fully declared on the last day (our good works also being brought forward as the sign and proof of its truth, Mt. 25:34-40), still falsely would anyone maintain from this a twofold gospel justification – one from faith in this life (which is the first); the other (and second) from works on the day of judgment (as some hold, agreeing too much with the Romanists on this point).”

“The sentence to be pronounced by the supreme Judge will not be so much a new justification, as…

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Some Random Observations on Isaiah…

isaiah the prophet, sonJust Some Random Observations that I Found Enlightening and Helpful

I. ch. 24:16b – Yahweh is called the Righteous One; cf. Acts 3:14, 7:52, & 22:14, Jesus Christ is called the Righteous One.

II. ch. 24:20 says: “The earth staggers like a drunken man;it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.”

cf. Luke 6:46-49, which says: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

[Note: The comparison of “the earth” to an unstable hut that falls and does not rise again parallels Jesus' comparison of the individual unbeliever's life being a house built upon a shallow foundation and collapsing under the beating waves of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Also, cf. Matt 7:24-27. The takeaway? Jesus Christ is equating his Word with Yahweh's. Belief in the Word of Yahweh and belief in the Word of Christ result in salvation. Rejection of Yahweh's Word brings death. Rejection of Jesus' Word brings death. Even his parable is implicitly claiming that Jesus is God.]

III. Isaiah 30:19-21 identifies Yahweh as the Teacher of Israel who will appear in Israel to teach His people and guide them in “the way.”

Jesus says: “…you have one Teacher…” and “Neither be called instructors (i.e. teachers), for you have one instructor (i.e. teacher), the Christ.” – Matt 23:8 & 10 [Note: Jesus is the Teacher of Israel]

No Man Can Serve Two Masters; Ergo, Jesus is God

dope sonThis Sunday, I preached on Mark 1:16-20, detailing just how intricately the doctrine of Jesus’ deity is woven into the text of Scripture. In this post, I want to articulate a very simple, but powerful, proof of the deity of Christ. I’ve found it helpful. I hope you do, too.

1. Absolute Disjunction

In Matthew 6:24, Christ argues the following:

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The disjunction here leaves no middle ground: If someone claims to have two masters (in this case, God and Mammon/Money), then he is lying or deceived. This means that it is impossible for a person to have two masters.

But what does it mean to have two masters? In the context of Christ’s argument, the master is the one who exercises control over the thoughts and concerns of the one considered to be a servant. More specifically, Jesus is identifying those who worry about financial concerns as possibly loving and being devoted to money, treating financial concerns as a master. This is what is known as covetousness. And covetousness, Paul tells us, is idolatry (see Gal 3:5b).

So what is really being expressed by Jesus is a universal principle, namely the first commandment. Christ is telling the people that they can either worship the one true God who is aware of their needs and desires for food and clothing, etc, or they can worship money – but they cannot do both. This can be restated as follows:

“You shall have no other gods before [Yahweh].” (Ex 20:3)

So the argument that one cannot serve two masters does not mean that a person cannot have God as their Master, in the ultimate sense, and have a master, in the sense of an owner or boss or earthly authority higher than themselves. Rather, the argument is telling us that one can only be fully devoted in love and service to one God.

2. Jesus is our Ultimate Master

Considering the above exposition of the argument presented by Jesus in Matt 6:24, therefore, the unitarian (e.g. Jehovah’s Witness, Christadelphian, Arian, and so on) faces a problem. For the Scriptures teach us that Jesus Christ is “our only Master and Lord.” (Jude 1:4c) We are also told that Jesus Christ is the Master of earthly slaves/servants and their earthly masters (Eph 6:5-9). And in the parallel passage to Eph 6:5-9, Paul says that we have a Master in heaven (Col 4:1), reminding us that Christ is our one Master. Likewise, Jesus himself says that it is right to call him Master and Lord (in Gr. the text reads διδάσκαλος καί κύριος, or “Teacher/Rabbi and Master”).

If Jesus is not God in the flesh, then his own disjunction in Matt 6:24 renders the Scriptures internally contradictory, for the Scriptures teach that God alone is our Master and that Christ is our only Master. Therefore, if the unitarians are correct in asserting that Jesus Christ is merely a man, then they are implying that the Scriptures are inherently self-contradictory. And this further implies that the Scriptures are false. And this further implies that the Scriptures are not the Word of God, for all that God speaks is true.

Thus, in denying that Christ is God, the unitarian position renders Christ fallible, the Scriptures self-contradictory and false, and thereby calls the entirety of the revelation of God to man in the Bible into question. If Jesus is not God, as the unitarians foolishly assert, then the Bible is not even a reliable source for knowing who God is and what responsibilities man has toward God.

3. Answering an Objection

The unitarian impervious to logic may still hold his ground and confidently shout: “But Jesus is a different kind of Master!” Now, given the fact that Jude calls him our only Master, the unitarian’s outcry is without any merit. But to put the issue to rest, let us consider the following declaration of Jesus to the crowds who claimed to be his servants. He states:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

The words spoken by the Son of God are logically equivalent to a command: “You shall love me with a love that is greater than the love you have for your very parents, spouses, siblings, and children.” If Christ is not God, then he is commanding these followers to sin against God by breaking the fifth commandment (“Honor your father and mother…”). For the Scriptures not only say that man is to honor his father and mother, but that the one who reviles (hates) his father or mother shall be put to death! (Matt 15:4b) Not only this, but if Christ is commanding his followers to love him with a greater love than they have for their very own parents, would he not be a hypocrite for condemning the Pharisees for doing the same thing? (Matt 15:1-9)

Yet the Word of God declares very clearly that Christ “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21) and that he was “without sin” (Heb 4:15b). The unitarians cannot have a sinless savior if they reject the idea that Jesus Christ is God Almighty in the flesh, for they would not only not have an infallible revelation from God (see points 1-2, in conjunction with this point!), they also would have a savior who commands them to sin and so renders himself unfit for the role of being a sinless and perfect sacrifice for the sins of the people of God.

Thus, if the unitarian declares that Scripture is the infallible Word of God, then he must also identify Jesus as God Almighty in the flesh.

Likewise, if the unitarian declares that Jesus Christ is the perfectly sinless substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of God’s people, then he must also declare that Jesus Christ is Almighty God in the flesh.

If he rejects the truth that Jesus Christ is no mere creature but the very incarnate Second Person of the Trinity, then he cannot have any part of the Christian faith whatsoever.

Soli. Deo. Gloria!

-h.