Re: GMA, [Covenanted Reformation] Re: Historic Presbypics
- Hi Barry,Have you been on this list before, under a different name?Martin----- Original Message -----From: Barry FergusonSent: Wednesday, September 01, 2004 6:29 PMSubject: Re: GMA, [Covenanted Reformation] Re: Historic PresbypicsDear GMW:There's nothing wrong with your reading. I'm all over the map.Symptoms of a three year crash course - and a life-long of bewilderment - on trying to find a unifying strand among all the contestants down through the centuries who possessed a certitude on numerous side issues and did not cohere in a spirit of unity in the bond of peace on the larger issue of displaying Christian love before an unbelieving world.There is probably a method to my madness, however, in that I singled out the sacrament of Christian unity and pointed out that hair-splitting and theological precision on this very sacrament created faction where it may not have been, and probably is not, necessary.Several heretics died in Calvin's Geneva for incorrect theological opinion.Was this a demonstration of speaking the truth in love?Or was it a mild strain of "raging Calvinism"?If these Geneva martyrs were not orthodox Christians, were they not at least champions of the right to freely formulate and hold one's opinions under the liberty of conscience that God has granted to us all? I believe that clause is found somewhere in the Westminster Confession of Faith.I have been told by at least one authority that I might have Attention Deficit Disorder - my seeming incoherence may have a neurological foundation. My desire to interact isalso symptomatic of a need for stimulus.If you place any stock in that, then please bear with me in love as you would a stutterer.I'm counting on your rested mind and the soundness of the truth you hold to clear things up for me on these matters.Best wishes,grace and peace to you.Barry
gmw <raging.calvinist@...> wrote:
I very well may be having some trouble reading tonight (please
forgive me if this is the case) I've been really busy and I'm quite
buggy eyed, but... this post doesn't seem all that coherent to me.
--- In email@example.com, Barry Ferguson
> Dear GMW:
> Do you speak THE TRUTH... IN LOVE as an APOSTOLIC, UNIVERSAL
CHRISTIAN, or as a RAGING CALVINIST?
> Does love cover a multitude of "sins" against TRUTH - in a
spirit of grace? - "sins" such as Luther's ubiquitous Christ who
is "in, with and under" the consecrated bread and wine? Or
Thomas's "substance and appearance"? - Or the early father Ignatius,
who was fed to the Lions, who said that one of the signs of a
heretic, or a sectarian Christian group, was that they do not believe
(i.e., the heretics) that the eucharist is the flesh of Christ, who
died for our sins. (The Westminster confession can be read in this
> Calvin, in his reply to Sodeleto, got to the place where he
confessed the same - i.e., that the communion he participated in was
a participation in the flesh of Christ, who for our sins on the cross.
> There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the Lord's
Supper, which has been defined theologically by men trying to
clarify, as much as is humanly possible, precisely what that mystery
means. Do we suppose that Luther, Thomas, and Ignatius, were not
Christians or true to God's Truth as they understood it in His Word,
or to His Covenant, because they did not define this mystery in the
same way that the Westminster Divines did? How firm a handle do you
(or does anyone else) have on the inexhaustible mystery behind ("in,
with, and under") this TRUTH - I.E., how many human ways does it take
to exhaust Christ's mystical connection to Adam's fallen clan through
his incarnation, death, burial, ressurection and ascension?
> A great deal of theological wrangling has taken place over
this TRUTH, and various infallible interpretations have been held
forth as THE TRUTH. Luther departed from a scholastic
interpretation of the REAL PRESENCE. But he did not depart from the
real presence. If I read Calvin aright, he did not depart from the
real presence either. But he departed from Luther. And many
people who claim Calvin departed from Calvin, who wanted the Lord's
Supper once a week, not once a month or once a quarter - his TRUE
theology required it, and indeed he was correct, for this was early
apostolic practice. Many people who claim Calvin, however, departed
from Calvin and went with Zwingli, who thought they were the same,
and in going with Zwingli they simply severed their TRUTH from early
apostolic Christianity, as it was handed down through the
apostles. It takes patience - "love is patient" to wade through
all this stuff to try to find THE TRUTH out for yourself in all
> sincerity. And the more you do so, the more humility it takes to
acknowledge and understand the sincerity of those who differ with
you, with the legitimacy of various other ways of understanding this
mystery, and so on.
> It is no reason for schism, separation, wars, rumors of
wars, burning of heretics, so on and so forth.
> If I am walking on a fine line or a tight wire, then any
gust of wind stronger than my will power or my very human sense of
balance will easily blow me over.
> Grace and truth comes by Jesus Christ, in that order. Love
covers a multitude of sins, and a great deal of human fallibility and
nonsense. The Reformation, if it taught us anything, is that God
alone is infallible and inerrant - the scriptures point to this truth
with matchless fidelity and utter reliability - they are sealed in
the blood of the martyrs of all generations. But faultlessly
inerrant scriptures are as relevant to God, and to us, as the
original autographs, which we have been able to do without for
> We hold this TRUTH in EARTHEN VESSELS, and if there is any
glory shining through, it belongs to God alone, not to men - and God
alone is faithful to the Covenant. Any faithfulness on our part is
His work from beginning to end.
> So where is boasting, the Covenanter's boasting, or anyone
> Those who have THE TRUTH need GRACE in spades - they don't
need to be on a tight-wire high above the ground. They need to be
firmly planted in the earth, the soil, the Rock, who is not limited
to our tiny parcel of land, but who fills heaven and earth and who
holds all things together from the center of the earth - He alone is
> He alone is The Truth.
> Not we ourselves.
> We can point to him, but we cannot possess the whole of
> Paul, who boasted of visions and revelations, also said he
sees throgh a glass darkly, and with this in view he held forth
faith, hope, and love, as the ultimate Christian virtues.
> Barry Ferguson
> gmw <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Barry Ferguson
> <gogon789@y...> wrote:
> > I have a Scottish lineage on my father's side and a Presbyterian-
> > pagan lineage (Christian Science), I suppose, in the gene pool.
> I assure you, this club is not about geneologies and lineages, and
> certainly hope it is not about pet-peave doctrines. This club is
> about nations and churches covenanting with God to uphold His True
> Religion and to testify against the contrary. Towards meeting the
> end of that Covenant, the Westminster Assembly was called, and they
> formed what was intended to be a very ecumenical and unifying
> Confession of Faith, system of Catechising, Directory for Worship,
> and Form of Church Government -- the Covenant was taken again
> afterwards. Sure, some find it petty that some still believe that
> God expects us to pay what was vowed to Him, but many of us do
> Over the years, many Presbyterian groups have either by neglect or
> outright contempt thrown off their Covenanted engagements. Some
> think that's just fine. But many of us believe that God's Word
> otherwise. Having said that, we must speak the truth IN LOVE, but
> must also be careful to SPEAK THE TRUTH in love. It's a tightrope
> we're called to walk.
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- Paul:I'm with the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.Is there any other?Why do you ask?Who are you with?I find that when I try to be "with" anything less than that people try to reduce me to less than that.People would prefer a more precise definition so that they can pack me up into a nice little box. They'd like me to be a Calvinist, or a Pentecostal, or an Eastern Orthodox, or a Covenanter, or an Anglican, or a Lutheran, or a "Roman" Catholic, or a Baptist, etc., etc., bam.I entered into "full communion" with Rome three years ago. I did not take this to mean that I was no longer in communion with the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church that includes the Protestant Churches, nor did I take this step with all the finality and certitude of these evangelical converts who think that Trent had it right on justification by faith alone and so on.I had many many questions that were not fully resolved that a priest fielded for me with clarity and grace - in a three way conversation with a Lutheran seminarian as well as with a local Lutheran pastor.I was at a time in my life that I basically crawled through the doors of "mother" church. Perhaps it was an overreaction to the circumstances of my life and my own sense of panic, unresolved guilt, etc, a need for a too-easy solution to a world that was shattered and fragmented and in need of a highly rational, systematic, coherent picture of objective reality.Perhaps it was also a genuine response to God's leading through providence.I am still sorting all of this out.Theologically I was able to answer many questions that rang true at the time.Rome says that Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc., subsist in this Catholic church, the body of Christ. So these are all my brothers and sisters in Christ - and they are all in his church. These all affirm that they, too, are "with" the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church (Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc).I've been through a great deal of confusion and free floating anxiety due to some of the circumstances I've had to deal with. I am also recovering from the grief and loss of divorce and am healing up day by day through God's love and tender mercy, as well as nature's healing processes - time heals all wounds.But if I create the impression that one day all of this is clear as a bell to me and the next day I'm in a fog, please don't scoff. Challenge my ideas, not my sanity, which is coming along quite well, thank you. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. That is my meat for the day.What I believe personally about a few doctrines that Rome holds as dogma is still being worked out in my own mind. Most of the ones that have given me problems can be answered quite simply.Is Mary the Theotokos, the God-bearer?Of course she is.Is Mary's name to be exalted as "blessed" throughout all generations? The scripture says this is so - it is a prophetic word spoken by a Hebrew prophetess, Miriam, the mother of our Lord.Who honors this prophecy - who has brought this prophecy to fruition on a day-to- day basis down through the centuries? Who exalts the name of Mary in practice, as a matter of respect and importance?Is it through Mary's "yes" that we have a Savior?Beyond dispute.Is Mary the mother of God?According to the ecumencial council that Calvinists, Lutherans, Anglicans, affirm, yes she is. She gave birth to God in human form.Is she the Queen mother of the church?She is the mother of our Lord, the crown prince of peace, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.She was given by Christ as mother to the church through John the beloved disciple at his hour of need and extremity - and as a consolation to her even as an excruciating sword passed through her traumatized soul.St. Paul said to give honor where honor is due.The Apostolic Catholic church does just that.Can her intercessions with Christ move the Lord to act on behalf of the needy and the joyless? Can her prayers make a festive Christian out of a kill-joy sour-puss at a Wedding Feast?Some wonders never cease to amaze!According to John's gospel so be it! That message was not just intended for our historical interest, it was the first of Christ's "signs."What, then, does it signify?The signs of Christ are significant for all times and all places, not just the first century in which he walked the earth.Christ not only responds to human need - he responds to his mother even when the request seems misplaced and ill-timed. That's at least one of the things that this "sign" signifies.A prayer request among fellow Christians is not anything like worship toward God. It is part of our Christian life, a request for prayer among fellow believers, and if Mary is the Queen mother of believers, then she is sitting in the catbird seat, in pretty close proximity to the crowned prince - remember, she waits on him - she has no power over his will. At the wedding feast the best she could do was drop a very feminine hint - here's the need, buster, now is there any Son of Man around here, a would-be Messiah, a Son of God, to take care of it for all these good people?She could not order that the water be turned to wine. Yet with the mere mention of a need, she has the Lord's ear.She does not boss Christ around. She drops hints. Offers suggestions, and then tells the servants to do as he says. She's pretty confident that her suggestions will receive some divine attention.The body of Christ is one, on earth and in heaven, and is composed of the triumphant no less than the militant saints. They all function as part of the one body of Christ -"But speaking the truth in love, (we) may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying itself in love." (Ephesians 4.15 - 16).Even on earth we are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians) -That was the whole point of Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper.Wasn't it?When we share our prayer requests with each other we are doing God's will "on earth as it is in heaven." Christ is not some ego-maniacal crank who can't stand seeing his people cooperating with each other and helping each other out and bearing one another's burdens and sharing each other's prayer requests - or honoring his mother with the respect that is due her.I doubt if he minds if we ask saints in heaven to pray for us. Christ is divine in all his members - each divinized member presents a different facet of Christ's full blown human nature, which bears and absorbs and liquidates sin in its members (the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness).If I ask you to pray for me, does that mean I don't trust Jesus as the one mediator between God and man? The head mediates through his entire body, on earth as it is in heaven. This is all that prayer to the saints means to me.All of the above I can concede.Is the Pope Catholic?He is solicitous toward the entire church on earth.Can anyone deny that?I have very strong proclivities, very strong sympathies, toward the Reformers, especially with Luther, and with Lutherans and with Presbyterians, which is where I come from. Because we have religious freedom in this country and a great deal of pluralism there is no one standing at the front of our churches with both arms folded, nor in front of the altars asking for name, rank, and serial number, so I am not kicked out of my Presbyterian Church when I attend with my parents, even though I was confirmed in full communion with Rome three years ago. I grew up in a church where all believing Christians from any background were invited to the Lord's table, and this is a deeply held conviction with me. There is no franchise, or corner, on the Lord's body and blood, or on faith in his name. His Spirit is free and cannot be roped off or boxed in - or controlled by men posing as sargeants-at-arms for Jesus. Like Minister Farrakhan's grim faced body-guards.Christ is not bought and sold and faith in Christ should not be coerced.Nor should those who have faith in Christ be excluded from the table in any church that professes the universal creeds.Where Rome disagrees with me on this matter I simply thumb my nose beneath my breath.I attend Catholic churches the same reason a bee attends to his nourishment.I'll take what I need and need and fly off by God's free spirit (Acts 8.34 - 40).What nourishes me will nourish also the entire body of Christ, and it will be salutory also for those who benefit from my growth in grace, in knowledge, in wisdom, in the love and the fear of the Lord and respect for, and kindness to, my neighbors.I have attended Lutheran churches and taken communion - and out of deference to what that means in some Lutheran churches I no longer do so. If I thumbed my nose in a Lutheran congregation I'd start a riot.I am very sympathetic to Luther because I have had horrible bouts of anxiety and scruples and his theological insights and his writings appeal to me on many levels. Calvin too appeals to me, but not as much as Luther.I enjoy many parts of the Westminster Confession and the Large and Small Catechisms, and I think about them on ocassion and pray about them. They do not separate justification and sanctification though they distinguish them. They parts in there about adoption and perserverance are very comforting and encouraging to me. They clearly understood about the weakness and the infirmities that remain in the flesh of the beliver, and sections about this made me feel inside the range of genuine Christian experience - this was very encouraging to me at some very bleak and black moments.There is much in American and Evangelical Christianity that is so cocksure about salvation and so on that if you feel the slightest doubt about yourself or about your failures and so on you begin to doubt that you are "saved." Lutherans find comfort in baptism and the Reformed find comfort of providence but loose canon evangelists come around saying with conviction from who knows where that even if you've been baptised you have not been "born again." My reading of the Christian tradition tells me that baptism was called "the laver of regeneration."When Luther was afflicted in a furnace of doubts he would simply tell the devil that he's been baptised. Evangelicals keep pointing us to our own subjectivity - to our own "experience" rather than turning our eyes on some clear and palpable assurance provided through our tradition and our scripture, to our sacraments and to promising Words from Almighty God our Father.Would a Covenanter kick me out of church for holding these beliefs?A Covenanter may kick me out of a Covenanter Church, but he has no authority to kick me out of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Ultimately, only Jesus can do that - and Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, who has never left me nor forsaken me through my worst moments of social ostracism and self doubt. Just at this place he has reminded me that he did not come for the righteous, that he is the friend of sinners, the friend of fiesty little farts like Zaccheus and self-willed red-necks like Saul the Apostle.As for the trinity, I will respectfully ponder the catechism, as suggested to me by gmw.But I recite the Nicene Creed every Lord's day, and I reflect on it as a basic math student would reflect on particle physics. I'm not very good at it, but I've been given a few insights, that I might share with you some day. I've got a little book in possession called "my way of life" by St. Thomas Aquinas, and the part in there about the trinity is a gem of loving contemplation. I might write it down and enclose it in another dispatch for this group.Given what was prevalent in Luther's day I can see why he gutted the sacrificial component of the mass. He did this on the basis of his reading of St. Paul. Luther's simplified liturgy helps put to rest any notion that God needs anything from us but thanksgiving.The Catholic offering up of our bodies "in, with, and under" our head ("through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours almighty Father, forever and ever, amen) is our reasonable service, not our Sunday obligation.But I doubt that Luther would have gutted all the things that have been thrown out - things that he took for granted, including a very strong devotion to Mary, the sign of the cross, the celebration of the Supper every Lord's day.Calvin wanted the Lord's Supper celebrated every Lord's day. Calvinists have never followed through on this, at least not the ones that I know of. Once a month, or once a quarter.I read somewhere that Luther had a private confessor till his dying day.All the things that the Apostolic Catholic Church holds are drawn out from scriptures and are consonant with scripture, including the primacy of the Petrine office. This primacy was held in honor until the ultimate clash between east and west, and it staggered but did not fall at the time of the Reformation.A little healthy competition never hurt McDonald's, so why should it hurt the "Roman" Catholic church?The Pope goes to confession every Saturday.He's a man, a Christian man, and a sinner, and he knows it right well, better than most of us.How many of us confess our sins frankly and routinely to another brother or sister in Christ, that we might be healed? ("Confess your sins one to another, that you might be healed.")Are you with the same church as I am, Paul, or do you distinguish yourself as an Anglican by way of historical accident - and the wilfull obstinacy of good old King Henry? Is the King of England the rightful head of the Apostolic church in England?Is the Anglican church alive and well, vital and throbbing through all parts of the globe? Do you have a sample Anglican church to hold out as exemplary before my eyes here in Southeast Michigan?What about a Covenanter congregation in these parts?I am not trying on samplers, mind you, I just want to be in tune with a larger picture of the universal body of believers scattered throughout the globe - as the Lord would have me see it, or as a "far-seer" or an overseer would see it.I am still preparing an answer for Whit, and I may send it concurrent with this answer. If it displays the mind of a simpleton, or confusion, then so be it. That would be a good argument for recourse to the overall mind of the teaching office of the church. Is there such an office?Where do I look for it? In Scotland? In Missouri (Missouri Synod Lutheran Church)? In the Westminster Confession? In the Book of Concord? In the writings of the early church fathers? In Luther's Works? In Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics? In the modern catechism of the Catholic Church? In the documents of the Second Vatican Council?Of course I've prayed about all of this till I've been blue in the face.Christianity presents unity in diversity for those who look at things in a positive light. For those who are more skeptical, it presents a babel of confusion."Which church are you with?" sums it up quite well.We are not presenting to the world the united front of
"One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic" church.Are we?Are we supposed to?Barry Ferguson.
In a message dated 9/13/04 5:40:22 PM Central Daylight Time, gogon789@... writes::
(Oops, did I just say free spirits?)
What church are you with?
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