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Re: [Covenanted Reformation] The Pope is very Antichrist.

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  • Barry Ferguson
    Glenn: I appreciate your cordial reply. I studied the early centuries out of my own confusion and my sincere desire to understand. I also studied the
    Message 1 of 32 , Oct 2, 2004
           I appreciate your cordial reply.
           I studied the early centuries out of my own confusion and my sincere desire to understand.   I also studied the Reformation for the same reason.
           The scriptures did not fall out of the sky.  
           The early apostolic church had only the Greek Old Testament - and various circulating letters from the apostles, and four authorized memoirs of the life of Jesus.
           Not every church had all of these memoirs and all of these letters.
           Most of these churches had all of the Greek Old Testament, as well as a living faith in the resurrected Christ and various practices and beliefs handed down from the apostles.
           All kinds of literature was running rampant about Jesus, various pseudo works and devotional fabrications regarding the life of Christ, most of them well-intentioned.   Various teachings about just who Jesus is were circulating as well.  
            WHO decided for the church on what was and what was not genuine?
            WHO sorted out these letters and memoirs and separated what was authentic from what was fallacious?
             Of course the Holy Spirit attests to the work and words of the triune God.
             But the Holy Spirit was a promise of Christ to the men commissioned by Christ.
             These were his successors, heirs under the New Covenant ratified in His blood.
             These successors all formed and established churches, and the churches that were formed by these successors had "apostolic" sanction and foundation.
             The churches of apostolic sanction were distinguished from groups or individuals who may have believed in Jesus but who believed what they wanted to believe, or believed some things that they liked about him that were true and mixed it with their own pet theories or practices.

              The churches of apostolic foundation had the information and the knowledge that was passed down directly from Christ, not only the material recorded in the Gospels and the epistles, but various things that can only be resolved by first hand knowledge of what was "handed on" - like a football handoff.  This handing down is called "apostolic tradition."
            The practice of baptising infants, for example, can be disputed and not fully resolved from a reading of the written works that the apostolic church subsequently defined as canonical (under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit).   Infant baptism cannot be resolved conclusively by an honest reading of the New Testament scriptures.
             The apostolic churches had this knowledge and this practice - baptism of the offspring of believers - from the outset.   It was common to these churches from the beginning and was never in serious dispute until the Reformation broke out. 
             Luther and Calvin both relied on the apostolic tradition in this matter - and this is why they retained infant baptism, which of course can be corroborated by scripture and is not inconsistent with scripture.   But Calvin and Luther's continuation of infant baptism was not derived from "Scripture alone" - and they were vehement about continuing this practice because they were both informed about the early centuries and they both knew the tradition (the beliefs and practices handed down to the successors of Christ in the apostolic churches) of the apostolic church.   
               Both Luther and Calvin were free to use "scripture alone" because in their own minds infant baptism and other legitimate apostolic practices was something they believed the whole Christian world took for granted.
               Luther was subsequently floored over the fact that there were so many ignoramuses about these matters, which is why his vehemence was not reserved for the Pope alone but was also directed to anabaptists and others - Zwingli, for example - who did not accept the things that Luther and Calvin understood was a "given" - such as the real presence of Christ through the supper.    Calvin signed the Augsburg Confession, which includes a description of the Lord's supper in very realistic terms.
              Calvin and Luther both retained the creeds that were defined by the successors to the apostles - they believed in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church - the church of the successors to the apostles (as opposed to the churches of all other people who believed in Jesus but who believed what they wanted to believe).

             For centuries the churches with apostolic foundation and sanction operated in faith and in practice without a "fixed" canon.    What we all now know as New Testament Scripture was not the "only" rule of faith and practice - because the New Testament scripture was still in formation and was not clearly decided upon in the Apostolic churches until a few centuries after the resurrection of Christ. 
            Some of the books that we now consider scripture were in dispute among many learned men who all believed they had the Holy Spirit.
            What Protestants call the Apocrypha was part of the written material that most of the apostolic churches read in their Sunday gatherings.
             Augustine included the Apocrypha in his canon and read it as sacred scripture, and so did many of the fathers in the apostolic churches.  
            Jerome included this Apocrypha in his "sub" canon - it was good to be read for instruction but was not good to define doctrines (such as purgatory) - so it was not sacred scripture in Jerome's mind.
             Jerome was the man commissioned by the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) to translate the Greek (and Hebrew) scriptures into the vulgar language of the people (The Vulgate).
             It is one of the ironies of history that the church that defended the Apocrypha as sacred canon (at the council of Trent) also established Jerome's version as "the official" scriptures of the church.
             I wonder how Jerome would have felt about this inclusion of the Apocrypha?
             The Protestants went with Jerome.
             The Catholics went with Augustine.
             But in the early apostolic churches the only writings that were legitimate were writings that bore witness to the Incarnate Word of God, the risen Christ.   Scripture was not the "only" rule for faith and practice.   It was the supreme rule - nothing drawn for doctrine could contradict or subvert scripture.
             Traditions such as infant baptism were part of the faith and practice of church, as was "ordination."    The successors authorized successors and laid hands on them.  Paul speaks to Timothy about not laying hands on someone hastily.   In other words, ordain men to apostolic authority after careful scrutiny.   The laying on of hands ensured the legitimacy of apostolic succession.
             Scripture was the supreme norm of the church, but was not the sole norm, because the church had to pass judgement, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, on several books contending for canonical status.   The apostolic church, under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, defined which books were, and which books were not, going to be canonical - i.e., normative - for all the churches in communion with the the successors to Christ.    
             The creeds were a component of the faith and practice of the church, as was its liturgy.   This included the WEEKLY celebration of our redemption by way of the Lord's supper, which not only symbolized and memorialized but renewed our restored communion with the Father through our "participation in the body and blood of Christ." (Paul to the Corinthians).
             Calvin, who was aware of THIS tradition, also called for a WEEKLY celebration of our redemption through the Supper, which he considered to be a true communion with God through a true participation in the body and blood of Christ - through the instrumentality of "consecrated" bread and wine - i.e., bread and wine set apart from common use and sanctified for God's purposes.
              Luther was also aware of THIS tradition, which is why he was so vehement about the REALITY of the "real presence" of Christ in the communion banquet.
              Those who did not know this apostolic tradition, or those who did not care for it for whatever reason, went their own way - Anabaptists, Zwingli, several modern day Protestants - even many practicing Catholics in America no longer believe in the real presence of Christ (they are in error) in the eucharist.
              The creeds were defined by some of the brilliant minds of the churches of the apostolic succession, but these were not invented or dreamed up.   They rather reflected the faith and practice of the church - which included the belief about Christ that was passed down from the beginning.    When the council at Chalcedon, for example, described Christ as the incarnate God, one divine person who assumed a human nature from the virgin Mary, this was not the vindication of some clever theologians.   The people in the streets were hailing Mary as the "theotokis," that is, the God-bearer, which meant to them that Jesus is God incarnate in a fully human nature - and Mary is to be honored, not worshiped, as the "mother of God."  
             The "primacy of Peter" was part of this apostolic tradition, attested to not only with the predominance of Peter in the Gospels and in his great confession of the faith of the church (thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God), but also through the traditions passed down with respect to the church at Rome.    The East and West have disputed the precise nature of this primacy, and I believe that we saw the distortions of that role during the middle ages - which is precisely why the Reformation broke out.
             Calvin and Luther both provided a very strong dose of medicine to this over-reach in the Bishop of Rome, whose role has been relativized greatly since the Reformation.
             The purpose of Calvin and Luther was not to abolish the role and the function of legitimate apostolic traditions, but rather to correct deviations in the tradition in light of the witness of the writings elevated by the apostolic church as the supreme "canon" to which these churches voluntarily subjected themselves. 
              The tradition about priestly celibacy, for example, was not something that was directly handed down from Christ, for the apostolic churches of the East have married priests.   
              In Paul's epistles he says that a bishop should be the husband of one wife - this means that the earliest apostolic tradition does not call for the enforced rule of celibacy. 
              Celibacy was a discipline of the Western churches that emerged out of a neo-platonic preference that has more to do with the culture of the first few centuries than with the wisdom of Christ.   
               One of the very first recorded miracles of Christ was the healing of Peter's mother-in-law - and apostolic tradition claims Peter as the first Pope.
                So tradition can deviate from the norm, and this deviation is what Luther and Calvin fiercely fought to recover.   That does not mean that all apostolic tradition should be thrown out the window - the baby with the baptismal tank!
                I did as much reading on the Reformation as I did on the early church, and no one in their right mind, either inside or outside of the Catholic Church, believes that the Reformation was not necessary.
                I also believe that the churches of the Reformation still provide a powerful critique and a challenge to the church which claims the Bishop of Rome as its chief pastor.
                They would provide a much more vital critique if they lined up more fully with the mindset and the wishes of Luther and Calvin, as well as retaining some of their genuine regard for the genuine traditions of the apostolic church.
                 I understand the way in which g.m.w. describes the Pope as the anti-Christ, but only in a very technical way do I understand his meaning.
                I compare it to how he understands Mary as the Mother of God in a very technical way.  
               He does not like the affective connotation of that word - because it can confuse Mary with the Deity, which is a legitimate concern. 
                 In the same way it is highly inflammatory to call the Pope the anti-Christ.
                 It creates and stirs up bigotry.
                 It is much fairer to criticise practices or teachings or the Pope or the church of Rome that do not square with scripture - AND GENUINE APOSTOLIC TRADITION.
                 I have never heard the Pope raise a protest against people "exalting" the name of God or the idea of God - as this "man of sin" in Thessalonians is said to do.
                 The Pope is a convinced Theist, he is a trinitarian theologian, he exalts Jesus is the Savior of the World, he is against abortion, against same sex marriage (he does not hate homosexuals), against consumerism and communism and capitalism that is not checked by just and humane values.
                  He does not consider himself God and does not want people to worship him as God.   People kiss his ring - that is just an old Italian custom that on old Pollack has to get used to (:).
                  He also confesses his sins every week.
                  To use "anti-Christ" in this passage in Thessalonians is simply a mis-use of Paul's intentions and is ripping this passage out of context for polemical purposes.  It is a misuse of sacred scripture to justify and extend a bias.
                  To severely criticise the Pope on other scriptural grounds is perfectly legitimate.

      Glenn Ferrell <gferrell@...> wrote:

      I have followed your posts with interest and would enjoy talking with you.  Unfortunately, I've been traveling during the last three weeks and have had little time to engage in discussion here or elsewhere.

      The problem with the Bishop of Rome and the church he rules is he goes beyond any Scriptural warrant for his authority and mandates.

      If specific authority is not given in Scripture or deduced from it by good and necessary consequences, the church has no mandate to legislate in doctrine, polity, discipline or worship.  Read Westminster Confession of Faith I:vi.  There is some flexibility in the circumstances of these things, but "circumstances" must be limited to those things i) of no liturgical significance, ii) of which Scripture could not have spoken, or iii) what does not injure tender consciences.

      The Bishop of Rome and the ecclesiastical system he represents goes beyond Scripture in doctrine, polity, discipline, and worship, making themselves as God.  Of course, to a lesser degree, many Protestant groups, ecclesiastical courts, congregations, ministers and elders do the same and thereby participate in the power of the anti-christ.  The Bishop of Rome and the Papal system yet remains the best candidate for the man of sin Paul describes.


      Barry Ferguson wrote:
           You've only twisted my arm (:).
           Your theory makes sense if the Bishop of Rome is not in subjection to the Spirit and the Word of God in obedience to Christ.    If he is, however, and he is who he thinks he is, then you could be resisting God's leadership - or His Spirit - in your own life.
           Your scripture about the "man of sin" is misapplied to the Bishop of Rome, and if we brought the Apostle Paul into this forum, I am sure he would tell you he had someone else in mind in this passage, for he opposed Peter to his face and in doing so he did not call Peter the anti-Christ, he just called him an outright hypocrite, who he also called a  "reputed pillar" of the church - meaning that Peter had some authority that Paul begrudged, if we take "reputed" in a sarcastic sense.

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    • Barry Ferguson
      Dan: Blessings to your and your loved ones as well. Barry ... I don t know. I m still a novice in Greek and Hebrew. Ask me again in about 30 years. Right
      Message 32 of 32 , Oct 8, 2004
             Blessings to your and your loved ones as well.    

        Dan Fraas <fraasrd@...> wrote:

        >      Are there any errors in the K.J.V.?

        I don't know.  I'm still a novice in Greek and Hebrew.  Ask me again
        in about 30 years.  Right now I find the KJV to be the most accurate
        and most skillful translation among all English translations which I
        have studied. 

        >       Calvin and King James are both first rate, but are there no
        contemporary translations or commentaries you can safely recommend?

        The New King James Version is not bad.  I'm not as well-read in newer
        commentaries compared to the older stuff.  I hear that James M. Boice
        has some good stuff. 

        Blessings in Christ,


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