Reformed Churchmen

We are Protestant, Calvinistic and Reformed Prayer Book Churchmen and Churchwomen. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; in 2012, we also remembered the 450th anniversary of Mr. (Bp., Salisbury) John Jewel's sober, scholarly, Protestant, and Reformed defense An Apology of the Church of England. In 2013, we remember the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. You will not hear these things in modern outlets for Anglican advertisement. Confessional Churchmen keep the "lights burning in the darkness." Although Post-Anglicans or Ex-Anglicans with sorrow (and contempt for many, especially the leaders), we maintain learning, faith, hope and reading. Mr. (Rev. Dr.) James Packer cited and applied this specific song for mishmash-muddler-Anglicans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGyPuey-1Jw. (Also, as a matter of policy, we do not post "anonymous posters," Give your real name and location. Many have been deleted which were otherwise good posts. We're old Marines here. Hiding is not courage.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended...


Easter Hymn - The Strife is O'er: National Cathedral


18 April 2014, Good Friday: Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr. on “Expiation” and “Propitiation”


18 April 2014, Good Friday:  Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr. on “Expiation” and “Propitiation”

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/two-important-words-good-friday-expiation-and-propitiation/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=ligonierministriesblog


What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?





When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words.

Expiation and Propitiation

Let’s think about what these words mean, then, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking away guilt through the payment of a penalty or the offering of an atonement. By contrast, propitiation has to do with the object of the expiation. The prefix pro means “for,” so propitiation brings about a change in God’s attitude, so that He moves from being at enmity with us to being for us. Through the process of propitiation, we are restored into fellowship and favor with Him.

In a certain sense, propitiation has to do with God’s being appeased. We know how the word appeasement functions in military and political conflicts. We think of the so-called politics of appeasement, the philosophy that if you have a rambunctious world conqueror on the loose and rattling the sword, rather than risk the wrath of his blitzkrieg you give him the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia or some such chunk of territory. You try to assuage his wrath by giving him something that will satisfy him so that he won’t come into your country and mow you down. That’s an ungodly manifestation of appeasement. But if you are angry or you are violated, and I satisfy your anger, or appease you, then I am restored to your favor and the problem is removed.

The same Greek word is translated by both the words expiation and propitiation from time to time. But there is a slight difference in the terms. Expiation is the act that results in the change of God’s disposition toward us. It is what Christ did on the cross, and the result of Christ’s work of expiation is propitiation—God’s anger is turned away. The distinction is the same as that between the ransom that is paid and the attitude of the one who receives the ransom.

Christ’s Work Was an Act of Placation

Together, expiation and propitiation constitute an act of placation. Christ did His work on the cross to placate the wrath of God. This idea of placating the wrath of God has done little to placate the wrath of modern theologians. In fact, they become very wrathful about the whole idea of placating God’s wrath. They think it is beneath the dignity of God to have to be placated, that we should have to do something to soothe Him or appease Him. We need to be very careful in how we understand the wrath of God, but let me remind you that the concept of placating the wrath of God has to do here not with a peripheral, tangential point of theology, but with the essence of salvation.

What Is Salvation?

Let me ask a very basic question: what does the term salvation mean? Trying to explain it quickly can give you a headache, because the word salvation is used in about seventy different ways in the Bible. If somebody is rescued from certain defeat in battle, he experiences salvation. If somebody survives a life-threatening illness, that person experiences salvation. If somebody’s plants are brought back from withering to robust health, they are saved. That’s biblical language, and it’s really no different than our own language. We save money. A boxer is saved by the bell, meaning he’s saved from losing the fight by knockout, not that he is transported into the eternal kingdom of God. In short, any experience of deliverance from a clear and present danger can be spoken of as a form of salvation.

Ultimately, Jesus died to save us from the wrath of God

When we talk about salvation biblically, we have to be careful to state that from which we ultimately are saved. The apostle Paul does just that for us in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, where he says Jesus “delivers us from the wrath to come.” Ultimately, Jesus died to save us from the wrath of God. We simply cannot understand the teaching and the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth apart from this, for He constantly warned people that the whole world someday would come under divine judgment. Here are a few of His warnings concerning the judgment: “‘I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment’” (Matt. 5:22); “‘I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment’” (Matt. 12:36); and “‘The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here’” (Matt. 12:41). Jesus’ theology was a crisis theology. The Greek word crisis means “judgment.” And the crisis of which Jesus preached was the crisis of an impending judgment of the world, at which point God is going to pour out His wrath against the unredeemed, the ungodly, and the impenitent. The only hope of escape from that outpouring of wrath is to be covered by the atonement of Christ.

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of a holy God Who’s wrathful

Therefore, Christ’s supreme achievement on the cross is that He placated the wrath of God, which would burn against us were we not covered by the sacrifice of Christ. So if somebody argues against placation or the idea of Christ satisfying the wrath of God, be alert, because the gospel is at stake. This is about the essence of salvation—that as people who are covered by the atonement, we are redeemed from the supreme danger to which any person is exposed. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of a holy God Who’s wrathful. But there is no wrath for those whose sins have been paid. That is what salvation is all about.

18 Apr 246 AD: Cyprian of Carthage Baptized


18 April 246 A.D.   Cyprian of Carthage baptized.  Later Bishop of Carthage and Martyr of Emperor Valerian's Persecution .


“I am a Christian and cannot sacrifice to the gods. I heartily thank Almighty God who is pleased to set me free from the chains of this body." With these bold words, spoken in front of hundreds of onlookers, Bishop Cyprian of Carthage faced death under Emperor Valerian. Many of the pagans standing by were deeply moved.

Cyprian was well-known to them. As Bishop of Carthage, he was an eminent figure in North Africa. But even before becoming a church leader he had been a notable man.

Born into wealth around 200, Cyprian inherited a large estate. He trained in rhetoric. Curiously it was this training which brought him to Christ. Genuinely gifted as a speaker, he opened his own school. As part of the course, he debated philosophers and Christians. Convinced by the arguments of a Christian elder, he became a convert when he was about 45 years old. "A second birth created me a new man by means of the Spirit breathed from heaven," he wrote. Immediately he applied for admission to the church. With zeal, he gave away his wealth and devoted himself to poverty, celibacy, and Bible studies.

In those days it was popular for Christians to receive baptism at Easter. This has led scholars to argue that Cyprian received baptism on this day, April 18, 246, the Eve of Easter.

Upon the death of Bishop Donatus in 248, less than two years after Cyprian's conversion, and over his protests, the people elected him Bishop of Carthage. Pontius, one of his clergy, wrote an admiring biography telling how Cyprian handled himself. His countenance was joyous, he wrote, and he was a man to be both revered and loved.

But well might Cyprian protest his election! His task was never easy. Many older men felt slighted by his swift ascendancy and envied him his office. Among the clergy were others who neglected their duties. Cyprian disciplined them, and this increased resentment against him. In 250, a persecution by Emperor Decian broke out. The pagans shouted, "Cyprian to the lions!" But the bishop escaped into hiding. His presence in Carthage would intensify persecution, he explained. Writing letters, he tried to hold the church together in his absence. This was not easy, for the Christians who stayed and endured suffering looked down on Cyprian. In 251 Gallus became emperor and Cyprian returned to his church.

Those who had stood firm under suffering called themselves "the confessors." They gained great prestige from this. Others had renounced their faith. These were called the "lapsed." The church split over how to allow the lapsed back in. Cyprian's disagreement with the Bishop of Rome over the issue of the lapsed caused him to write an influential book, Unity of the Church. In it he argued that the church is not the community of those who are already saved. Instead, it is an ark of salvation for all men, a school for sinners. Today many Protestants accept this teaching but refuse to accept Cyprian's other claim that the bishops of the church, as the heirs of the apostles, are the agents through whom God dispenses grace. "He who has not the church for his mother, has not God for his Father," Cyprian wrote. His view is also opposed to that which makes the pope pre-eminent. Protestants argue that where two or three are gathered in Christ's name, Christ is with them and quote Peter to show that every Christian is a priest (1 Peter 2:9).

When a fearsome plague erupted in Carthage in 252-254, the pagans abandoned the sick in the streets. People rushed about in terror. Cyprian told his Christians to care for the sick, including dying pagans. The people obeyed, despite the fact the pagans blamed them for the disease and persecuted them. Soon afterward, Bishop Cyprian was brought before the pro-consul Aspasius Paternus. Aspasius banished him to a town by the sea. When Aspasius died, Cyprian returned to Carthage. He was seized by the new governor and condemned to death. At the place of execution, he knelt in prayer and tied the bandage over his eyes with his own hand. To the executioner he gave a piece of gold. Thus he was beheaded on September 14, 258, retaining his bold confession to the end.

Bibliography:

1.      Adapted from Christian History Institute's Glimpses #162.

2.      Aland, Kurt. Saints and Sinners; men and ideas in the early church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970.

3.      Ante-Nicene fathers: translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American reprint of the Edinburgh edition. Revised and chronologically arranged, with brief prefaces and occasional notes, by A. Cleveland Coxe. New York: Scribner's, 1926.

4.      Benson, Edward White. Cyprian: his life, his times, his work. London, New York, Macmillan, 1897.

5.      Chapman, John. "St. Cyprian of Carthage." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1908.

6.      "Cyprian, St." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.

7.      The Library of Christian Classics. Westminster Press, 1956.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

21 Apr 1521: Luther at Worms & (TEXT) of Leo X's Condemnatory Bull "Ex Surge Domine"


On 17 April 1521, Martin Luther rode into Worms for an Imperial Diet (Congress).  He had been condemned about a year earlier by Mr. (Pope) Leo X.  Here is the Papal Bull "Ex Surge Domine."
15 June 1520 A.D.  (TEXT) Leo X Issues Bull “Ex Surge Domine” Condemning Errors of Martin Luther


CONDEMNING THE ERRORS OF MARTIN LUTHER


Exsurge Domine

Bull of Pope Leo X issued June 15, 1520

Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.

Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above. Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.

We beseech you also, Paul, to arise. It was you that enlightened and illuminated the Church by your doctrine and by a martyrdom like Peter's. For now a new Porphyry rises who, as the old once wrongfully assailed the holy apostles, now assails the holy pontiffs, our predecessors.

Rebuking them, in violation of your teaching, instead of imploring them, he is not ashamed to assail them, to tear at them, and when he despairs of his cause, to stoop to insults. He is like the heretics "whose last defense," as Jerome says, "is to start spewing out a serpent's venom with their tongue when they see that their causes are about to be condemned, and spring to insults when they see they are vanquished." For although you have said that there must be heresies to test the faithful, still they must be destroyed at their very birth by your intercession and help, so they do not grow or wax strong like your wolves. Finally, let the whole church of the saints and the rest of the universal church arise. Some, putting aside her true interpretation of Sacred Scripture, are blinded in mind by the father of lies. Wise in their own eyes, according to the ancient practice of heretics, they interpret these same Scriptures otherwise than the Holy Spirit demands, inspired only by their own sense of ambition, and for the sake of popular acclaim, as the Apostle declares. In fact, they twist and adulterate the Scriptures. As a result, according to Jerome, "It is no longer the Gospel of Christ, but a man's, or what is worse, the devil's."

Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.

For we can scarcely express, from distress and grief of mind, what has reached our ears for some time by the report of reliable men and general rumor; alas, we have even seen with our eyes and read the many diverse errors. Some of these have already been condemned by councils and the constitutions of our predecessors, and expressly contain even the heresy of the Greeks and Bohemians. Other errors are either heretical, false, scandalous, or offensive to pious ears, as seductive of simple minds, originating with false exponents of the faith who in their proud curiosity yearn for the world's glory, and contrary to the Apostle's teaching, wish to be wiser than they should be. Their talkativeness, unsupported by the authority of the Scriptures, as Jerome says, would not win credence unless they appeared to support their perverse doctrine even with divine testimonies however badly interpreted. From their sight fear of God has now passed.

These errors have, at the suggestion of the human race, been revived and recently propagated among the more frivolous and the illustrious German nation. We grieve the more that this happened there because we and our predecessors have always held this nation in the bosom of our affection. For after the empire had been transferred by the Roman Church from the Greeks to these same Germans, our predecessors and we always took the Church's advocates and defenders from among them. Indeed it is certain that these Germans, truly germane to the Catholic faith, have always been the bitterest opponents of heresies, as witnessed by those commendable constitutions of the German emperors in behalf of the Church's independence, freedom, and the expulsion and extermination of all heretics from Germany. Those constitutions formerly issued, and then confirmed by our predecessors, were issued under the greatest penalties even of loss of lands and dominions against anyone sheltering or not expelling them. If they were observed today both we and they would obviously be free of this disturbance. Witness to this is the condemnation and punishment in the Council of Constance of the infidelity of the Hussites and Wyclifites as well as Jerome of Prague. Witness to this is the blood of Germans shed so often in wars against the Bohemians. A final witness is the refutation, rejection, and condemnation no less learned than true and holy of the above errors, or many of them, by the universities of Cologne and Louvain, most devoted and religious cultivators of the Lord's field. We could allege many other facts too, which we have decided to omit, lest we appear to be composing a history.

In virtue of our pastoral office committed to us by the divine favor we can under no circumstances tolerate or overlook any longer the pernicious poison of the above errors without disgrace to the Christian religion and injury to orthodox faith. Some of these errors we have decided to include in the present document; their substance is as follows:

1. It is a heretical opinion, but a common one, that the sacraments of the New Law give pardoning grace to those who do not set up an obstacle.

2. To deny that in a child after baptism sin remains is to treat with contempt both Paul and Christ.

3. The inflammable sources of sin, even if there be no actual sin, delay a soul departing from the body from entrance into heaven.

4. To one on the point of death imperfect charity necessarily brings with it great fear, which in itself alone is enough to produce the punishment of purgatory, and impedes entrance into the kingdom.

5. That there are three parts to penance: contrition, confession, and satisfaction, has no foundation in Sacred Scripture nor in the ancient sacred Christian doctors.

6. Contrition, which is acquired through discussion, collection, and detestation of sins, by which one reflects upon his years in the bitterness of his soul, by pondering over the gravity of sins, their number, their baseness, the loss of eternal beatitude, and the acquisition of eternal damnation, this contrition makes him a hypocrite, indeed more a sinner.

7. It is a most truthful proverb and the doctrine concerning the contritions given thus far is the more remarkable: "Not to do so in the future is the highest penance; the best penance, a new life."

8. By no means may you presume to confess venial sins, nor even all mortal sins, because it is impossible that you know all mortal sins. Hence in the primitive Church only manifest mortal sins were confessed.

9. As long as we wish to confess all sins without exception, we are doing nothing else than to wish to leave nothing to God's mercy for pardon.

10. Sins are not forgiven to anyone, unless when the priest forgives them he believes they are forgiven; on the contrary the sin would remain unless he believed it was forgiven; for indeed the remission of sin and the granting of grace does not suffice, but it is necessary also to believe that there has been forgiveness.

11. By no means can you have reassurance of being absolved because of your contrition, but because of the word of Christ: "Whatsoever you shall loose, etc." Hence, I say, trust confidently, if you have obtained the absolution of the priest, and firmly believe yourself to have been absolved, and you will truly be absolved, whatever there may be of contrition.

12. If through an impossibility he who confessed was not contrite, or the priest did not absolve seriously, but in a jocose manner, if nevertheless he believes that he has been absolved, he is most truly absolved.

13. In the sacrament of penance and the remission of sin the pope or the bishop does no more than the lowest priest; indeed, where there is no priest, any Christian, even if a woman or child, may equally do as much.

14. No one ought to answer a priest that he is contrite, nor should the priest inquire.

15. Great is the error of those who approach the sacrament of the Eucharist relying on this, that they have confessed, that they are not conscious of any mortal sin, that they have sent their prayers on ahead and made preparations; all these eat and drink judgment to themselves. But if they believe and trust that they will attain grace, then this faith alone makes them pure and worthy.

16. It seems to have been decided that the Church in common Council established that the laity should communicate under both species; the Bohemians who communicate under both species are not heretics, but schismatics.

17. The treasures of the Church, from which the pope grants indulgences, are not the merits of Christ and of the saints.

18. Indulgences are pious frauds of the faithful, and remissions of good works; and they are among the number of those things which are allowed, and not of the number of those which are advantageous.

19. Indulgences are of no avail to those who truly gain them, for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of divine justice.

20. They are seduced who believe that indulgences are salutary and useful for the fruit of the spirit.

21. Indulgences are necessary only for public crimes, and are properly conceded only to the harsh and impatient.

22. For six kinds of men indulgences are neither necessary nor useful; namely, for the dead and those about to die, the infirm, those legitimately hindered, and those who have not committed crimes, and those who have committed crimes, but not public ones, and those who devote themselves to better things.

23. Excommunications are only external penalties and they do not deprive man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church.

24. Christians must be taught to cherish excommunications rather than to fear them.

25. The Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, is not the vicar of Christ over all the churches of the entire world, instituted by Christ Himself in blessed Peter.

26. The word of Christ to Peter: "Whatsoever you shall loose on earth," etc., is extended merely to those things bound by Peter himself.

27. It is certain that it is not in the power of the Church or the pope to decide upon the articles of faith, and much less concerning the laws for morals or for good works.

28. If the pope with a great part of the Church thought so and so, he would not err; still it is not a sin or heresy to think the contrary, especially in a matter not necessary for salvation, until one alternative is condemned and another approved by a general Council.

29. A way has been made for us for weakening the authority of councils, and for freely contradicting their actions, and judging their decrees, and boldly confessing whatever seems true, whether it has been approved or disapproved by any council whatsoever.

30. Some articles of John Hus, condemned in the Council of Constance, are most Christian, wholly true and evangelical; these the universal Church could not condemn.

31. In every good work the just man sins.

32. A good work done very well is a venial sin.

33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.

34. To go to war against the Turks is to resist God who punishes our iniquities through them.

35. No one is certain that he is not always sinning mortally, because of the most hidden vice of pride.

36. Free will after sin is a matter of title only; and as long as one does what is in him, one sins mortally.

37. Purgatory cannot be proved from Sacred Scripture which is in the canon.

38. The souls in purgatory are not sure of their salvation, at least not all; nor is it proved by any arguments or by the Scriptures that they are beyond the state of meriting or of increasing in charity.

39. The souls in purgatory sin without intermission, as long as they seek rest and abhor punishment.

40. The souls freed from purgatory by the suffrages of the living are less happy than if they had made satisfactions by themselves.

41. Ecclesiastical prelates and secular princes would not act badly if they destroyed all of the money bags of beggary.

No one of sound mind is ignorant how destructive, pernicious, scandalous, and seductive to pious and simple minds these various errors are, how opposed they are to all charity and reverence for the holy Roman Church who is the mother of all the faithful and teacher of the faith; how destructive they are of the vigor of ecclesiastical discipline, namely obedience. This virtue is the font and origin of all virtues and without it anyone is readily convicted of being unfaithful.

Therefore we, in this above enumeration, important as it is, wish to proceed with great care as is proper, and to cut off the advance of this plague and cancerous disease so it will not spread any further in the Lord's field as harmful thornbushes. We have therefore held a careful inquiry, scrutiny, discussion, strict examination, and mature deliberation with each of the brothers, the eminent cardinals of the holy Roman Church, as well as the priors and ministers general of the religious orders, besides many other professors and masters skilled in sacred theology and in civil and canon law. We have found that these errors or theses are not Catholic, as mentioned above, and are not to be taught, as such; but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and against the true interpretation of the sacred Scriptures received from the Church. Now Augustine maintained that her authority had to be accepted so completely that he stated he would not have believed the Gospel unless the authority of the Catholic Church had vouched for it. For, according to these errors, or any one or several of them, it clearly follows that the Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit is in error and has always erred. This is against what Christ at his ascension promised to his disciples (as is read in the holy Gospel of Matthew): "I will be with you to the consummation of the world"; it is against the determinations of the holy Fathers, or the express ordinances and canons of the councils and the supreme pontiffs. Failure to comply with these canons, according to the testimony of Cyprian, will be the fuel and cause of all heresy and schism.

With the advice and consent of these our venerable brothers, with mature deliberation on each and every one of the above theses, and by the authority of almighty God, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we condemn, reprobate, and reject completely each of these theses or errors as either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth. By listing them, we decree and declare that all the faithful of both sexes must regard them as condemned, reprobated, and rejected . . . We restrain all in the virtue of holy obedience and under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication....

Moreover, because the preceding errors and many others are contained in the books or writings of Martin Luther, we likewise condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said Martin, whether in Latin or any other language, containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. They will incur these penalties if they presume to uphold them in any way, personally or through another or others, directly or indirectly, tacitly or explicitly, publicly or occultly, either in their own homes or in other public or private places. Indeed immediately after the publication of this letter these works, wherever they may be, shall be sought out carefully by the ordinaries and others [ecclesiastics and regulars], and under each and every one of the above penalties shall be burned publicly and solemnly in the presence of the clerics and people.

As far as Martin himself is concerned, O good God, what have we overlooked or not done? What fatherly charity have we omitted that we might call him back from such errors? For after we had cited him, wishing to deal more kindly with him, we urged him through various conferences with our legate and through our personal letters to abandon these errors. We have even offered him safe conduct and the money necessary for the journey urging him to come without fear or any misgivings, which perfect charity should cast out, and to talk not secretly but openly and face to face after the example of our Savior and the Apostle Paul. If he had done this, we are certain he would have changed in heart, and he would have recognized his errors. He would not have found all these errors in the Roman Curia which he attacks so viciously, ascribing to it more than he should because of the empty rumors of wicked men. We would have shown him clearer than the light of day that the Roman pontiffs, our predecessors, whom he injuriously attacks beyond all decency, never erred in their canons or constitutions which he tries to assail. For, according to the prophet, neither is healing oil nor the doctor lacking in Galaad.

But he always refused to listen and, despising the previous citation and each and every one of the above overtures, disdained to come. To the present day he has been contumacious. With a hardened spirit he has continued under censure over a year. What is worse, adding evil to evil, and on learning of the citation, he broke forth in a rash appeal to a future council. This to be sure was contrary to the constitution of Pius II and Julius II our predecessors that all appealing in this way are to be punished with the penalties of heretics. In vain does he implore the help of a council, since he openly admits that he does not believe in a council.

Therefore we can, without any further citation or delay, proceed against him to his condemnation and damnation as one whose faith is notoriously suspect and in fact a true heretic with the full severity of each and all of the above penalties and censures. Yet, with the advice of our brothers, imitating the mercy of almighty God who does not wish the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live, and forgetting all the injuries inflicted on us and the Apostolic See, we have decided to use all the compassion we are capable of. It is our hope, so far as in us lies, that he will experience a change of heart by taking the road of mildness we have proposed, return, and turn away from his errors. We will receive him kindly as the prodigal son returning to the embrace of the Church.

Therefore let Martin himself and all those adhering to him, and those who shelter and support him, through the merciful heart of our God and the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by which and through whom the redemption of the human race and the upbuilding of holy mother Church was accomplished, know that from our heart we exhort and beseech that he cease to disturb the peace, unity, and truth of the Church for which the Savior prayed so earnestly to the Father. Let him abstain from his pernicious errors that he may come back to us. If they really will obey, and certify to us by legal documents that they have obeyed, they will find in us the affection of a father's love, the opening of the font of the effects of paternal charity, and opening of the font of mercy and clemency.

We enjoin, however, on Martin that in the meantime he cease from all preaching or the office of preacher.

{And even though the love of righteousness and virtue did not take him away from sin and the hope of forgiveness did not lead him to penance, perhaps the terror of the pain of punishment may move him. Thus we beseech and remind this Martin, his supporters and accomplices of his holy orders and the described punishment. We ask him earnestly that he and his supporters, adherents and accomplices desist within sixty days (which we wish to have divided into three times twenty days, counting from the publication of this bull at the places mentioned below) from preaching, both expounding their views and denouncing others, from publishing books and pamphlets concerning some or all of their errors. Furthermore, all writings which contain some or all of his errors are to be burned. Furthermore, this Martin is to recant perpetually such errors and views. He is to inform us of such recantation through an open document, sealed by two prelates, which we should receive within another sixty days. Or he should personally, with safe conduct, inform us of his recantation by coming to Rome. We would prefer this latter way in order that no doubt remain of his sincere obedience.

If, however, this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices, much to our regret, should stubbornly not comply with the mentioned stipulations within the mentioned period, we shall, following the teaching of the holy Apostle Paul, who teaches us to avoid a heretic after having admonished him for a first and a second time, condemn this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices as barren vines which are not in Christ, preaching an offensive doctrine contrary to the Christian faith and offend the divine majesty, to the damage and shame of the entire Christian Church, and diminish the keys of the Church as stubborn and public heretics.}* . . .

* Webmaster comment: This added text in italics was obtained from a secondary source, translator Hans J. Hillerbrand, ed. "The Reformation in its own Words" (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1964), pp80-84

17 April 1987 A.D. Mr. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) Cornelius “Uncle Cornie” Van Til Passed to Glory


17 April 1987 A.D.  Mr. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) Cornelius “Uncle Cornie” Van Til passed to glory.

Cornelius Van Til (May 3, 1895 – April 17, 1987) was a Christian philosopher, Reformed theologian, and presuppositional apologist.

Biography


Van Til (born Kornelis van Til in Grootegast, Netherlands) was the sixth son of Ite van Til, a dairy farmer, and his wife Klasina van der Veen.[1] At the age of ten, he moved with his family to Highland, IN. He was the first of his family to receive a higher education. In 1914 he attended Calvin Preparatory School, graduated from Calvin College, and attended one year at Calvin Theological Seminary, where he studied under Louis Berkhof, but he transferred to Princeton Theological Seminary and later graduated with his PhD from Princeton University.

He began teaching at Princeton Seminary, but shortly went with the conservative group that founded Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught for forty-three years of his life. He taught apologetics and systematic theology there until his retirement in 1972 and continued to teach occasionally until 1979. He was also a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church from the 1930s until his death in 1987, and in that denomination, he was embroiled in a bitter dispute with Gordon Clark over God's incomprehensibility known as the Clark–Van Til Controversy in which, according to Van Til's pupil John Frame, neither man was at his best and neither quite understood the other's position.

Thought


Van Til drew upon the works of Dutch Calvinist philosophers such as D. H. Th. Vollenhoven, Herman Dooyeweerd, and Hendrik G. Stoker and theologians such as Herman Bavinck and Abraham Kuyper to bring together a fresh, decidedly Reformed approach to Christian apologetics, which opposed the traditional methodology of reasoning on the supposition that there is a neutral middle-ground, where the non-Christian and the Christian can agree.[2] His attempted contribution to the Neo-Calvinist approach of Dooyeweerd, Stoker and others, was to insist that the "ground motive" of a Christian philosophy must be derived from the historical terms of the Christian faith. In particular, the Trinity is of indispensable and insuperable value to a Christian philosophy.

In Van Til: The Theologian, John Frame, a sympathetic critic of Van Til, describes Van Til's contributions to Christian thought as comparable in magnitude to those of Immanuel Kant in non-Christian philosophy. He indicates that Van Til identified the disciplines of systematic theology and apologetics, seeing the former as a positive statement of the Christian faith and the latter as a defense of that statement – "a difference in emphasis rather than of subject matter." Frame summarizes Van Til's legacy as one of new applications of traditional doctrines:

Unoriginal as his doctrinal formulations may be, his use of those formulations – his application of them – is often quite remarkable. The sovereignty of God becomes an epistemological, as well as a religious and metaphysical principle. The Trinity becomes the answer to the philosophical problem of the one and the many. Common grace becomes the key to a Christian philosophy of history. These new applications of familiar doctrines inevitably increase [Christians'] understanding of the doctrines themselves, for [they] come thereby to a new appreciation of what these doctrines demand of [them].[3]

Similarly, Van Til's innovative application of the doctrines of total depravity and the ultimate authority of God led to his reforming of the discipline of apologetics. Specifically, he denied neutrality on the basis of the total depravity of man and the invasive effects of sin on man's reasoning ability (as per the usual Calvinistic understanding of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans), and he insisted that the Bible, which he viewed as a divinely inspired book, be trusted preeminently because he believed the Christian's ultimate commitment must rest on the ultimate authority of God. As Frame says elsewhere, "the foundation of Van Til's system and its most persuasive principle" is a rejection of autonomy since "Christian thinking, like all of the Christian life, is subject to God's lordship".[4] However, it is this very feature that has caused some Christian apologists to reject Van Til's approach. For instance, D. R. Trethewie describes Van Til's system as nothing more than "a priori dogmatic transcendental irrationalism, which he has attempted to give a Christian name to."[5]

Kuyper–Warfield synthesis


Fideism accurately describes the view of fellow Dutchman Abraham Kuyper, who inspired much of Van Til's thought. Van Til is seen as taking the side of Kuyper against his alma mater, Princeton Seminary, and particularly against Princeton professor B. B. Warfield. But Van Til described his approach to apologetics as a synthesis of these two approaches: "I have tried to use elements both of Kuyper's and of Warfield's thinking."[6] Greg Bahnsen, a student of Van Til and one his most prominent defenders and expositors, wrote that "A person who can explain the ways in which Van Til agreed and disagreed with both Warfield and Kuyper, is a person who understands presuppositional apologetics."[7]

With Kuyper, Van Til believed that the Christian and the non-Christian have different ultimate standards, presuppositions that color the interpretation of every fact in every area of life. But with Warfield, he believed that a rational proof for Christianity is possible: "Positively Hodge and Warfield were quite right in stressing the fact that Christianity meets every legitimate demand of reason. Surely Christianity is not irrational. To be sure, it must be accepted on faith, but surely it must not be taken on blind faith. Christianity is capable of rational defense."[8] And like Warfield, Van Til believed that the Holy Spirit will use arguments against unbelief as a means to convert non-believers.[9]

Van Til sought a third way from Kuyper and Warfield. His answer to the question "How do you argue with someone who has different presuppositions?" is the transcendental argument, an argument that seeks to prove that certain presuppositions are necessary for the possibility of rationality. The Christian and non-Christian have different presuppositions, but, according to Van Til, only the Christian's presuppositions allow for the possibility of human rationality or intelligible experience. By rejecting an absolutely rational God that determines whatsoever comes to pass and presupposing that some non-rational force ultimately determines the nature of the universe, the non-Christian cannot account for rationality. Van Til claims that non-Christian presuppositions reduce to absurdity and are self-defeating. Thus, non-Christians can reason, but they are being inconsistent with their presuppositions when they do so. The unbeliever's ability to reason is based on the fact that, despite what he believes, he is God's creature living in God's world.[10]

Hence, Van Til arrives at his famous assertion that there is no neutral common ground between Christians and non-Christians because their presuppositions, their ultimate principles of interpretation, are different; but because non-Christians act and think inconsistently with regard to their presuppositions, common ground can be found. The task of the Christian apologist is to point out the difference in ultimate principles, and then show why the non-Christian's reduce to absurdity.[11][12]

Transcendental argument


The substance of Van Til's transcendental argument is that the doctrine of the ontological Trinity, which is concerned with the reciprocal relationships of the persons of the Godhead to each other without reference to God's relationship with creation, is the aspect of God's character that is necessary for the possibility of rationality. R. J. Rushdoony writes, "The whole body of Van Til's writings is given to the development of this concept of the ontological Trinity and its philosophical implications."[13] The ontological Trinity is important to Van Til because he can relate it to the philosophical concept of the "concrete universal" and the problem of the One and the many.[14]

For Van Til, the ontological Trinity means that God's unity and diversity are equally basic. This is in contrast with non-Christian philosophy in which unity and diversity are seen as ultimately separate from each other:

The whole problem of knowledge has constantly been that of bringing the one and the many together. When man looks about him and within him, he sees that there is a great variety of facts. The question that comes up at once is whether there is any unity in this variety, whether there is one principle in accordance with which all these many things appear and occur. All non-Christian thought, if it has utilized the idea of a supra-mundane existence at all, has used this supra-mundane existence as furnishing only the unity or the a priori aspect of knowledge, while it has maintained that the a posteriori aspect of knowledge is something that is furnished by the universe.[15]

Pure unity with no particularity is a blank, and pure particularity with no unity is chaos. Frame says that a blank and chaos are "meaningless in themselves and impossible to relate to one another. As such, unbelieving worldviews always reduce to unintelligible nonsense. This is, essentially, Van Til's critique of secular philosophy (and its influence on Christian philosophy)."[16]

Karl Barth


Van Til was also a strident opponent of the theology of Karl Barth, and his opposition led to the rejection of Barth's theology by many in the Reformed community. Despite Barth's assertions that he sought to base his theology solely on the 'Word of God', Van Til believed that Barth's thought was syncretic in nature and fundamentally flawed because, according to Van Til, it assumed a Kantian epistemology, which Van Til argued was necessarily irrational and anti-Biblical.

Influence


Many recent theologians have been influenced by Van Til's thought, including John Frame, Greg Bahnsen, Rousas John Rushdoony, Francis Schaeffer, as well as many of the current faculty members of Westminster Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and other Reformed seminaries.

Bibliography


Some of Van Til's writings (ranked in order of importance by K. Scott Oliphint) include:

  • A Survey of Christian Epistemology (In Defense of the Faith, vol. II; available online for free) ISBN 0-87552-495-8
  • An Introduction to Systematic Theology (In Defense of the Faith, vol. V) ISBN 0-87552-488-5
  • Common Grace and the Gospel ISBN 0-87552-482-6
  • A Christian Theory of Knowledge ISBN 0-87552-480-X
  • The Defense of the Faith ISBN 0-87552-483-4
  • The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought ISBN 0-87552-497-4
  • Christian-Theistic Evidences (In Defense of the Faith, vol. VI), Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1978
  • The Doctrine of Scripture (In Defense of the Faith, vol. I), Copyright denDulk Christian Foundation, 1967
  • The Sovereignty of Grace: An Appraisal of G.C. Berkouwer's View of Dordt, Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1975
  • The New Synthesis Theology of the Netherlands, Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1976
  • The Case for Calvinism ISBN 0-87552-476-1
  • Essays on Christian Education ISBN 0-87552-485-0
  • Psychology of Religion (In Defense of the Faith, vol. IV) ISBN 0-87552-494-X
  • The New Hermeneutic ISBN 1-112-86264-1
  • The Intellectual Challenge of the Gospel (pamphlet) ISBN 0-87552-487-7
  • Why I Believe in God (pamphlet; available online for free), Philadelphia, Pa.: Westminster Theological Seminary, no date
  • Paul at Athens (pamphlet), Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1978
  • Karl Barth and Evangelicalism (pamphlet), Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964

Additionally, Eric Sigward has edited The Works of Cornelius Van Til, 1895-1987, CD-ROM (ISBN 0-87552-461-3), a comprehensive collection of Van Til's writings in digital form that also includes images and extensive audio recordings of Van Til.

Secondary sources


  • William White, Jr. (1979). Van Til, defender of the faith: An authorized biography. T. Nelson Publishers. ISBN 0-8407-5670-4. 
  • John Frame (n.d.). Van Til the Theologian. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Pilgrim Publishing Company. ISBN 0-916034-02-X. 
  • E. R. Geehan, ed. (1971). Jerusalem & Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til - a Festschrift. Presbyterian and Reformed. ISBN 0-87552-489-3. 
  • John Frame (1995). Cornelius Van Til: An Analysis of His Thought. P & R Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87552-245-6. 
  • Greg Bahnsen (1998). Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis. P & R Publishing. ISBN 0-87552-098-7. 
  • Jim S. Halsey (1976). For a Time Such as This: An Introduction to the Reformed Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed. 
  • Rousas John Rushdoony (1959). By what standard? An analysis of the philosophy of Cornelius Van Til. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed (reprinted by Chalcedon, 2003). ISBN 1-879998-05-X. 
  • Thom Notaro (1980). Van Til and the Use of Evidence. Presbyterian and Reformed. ISBN 978-0-87552-353-8. 

Further reading


  • Hoeksema, Herman (1995). The Clark-Van Til Controversy. Trinity Foundation. ISBN 0-940931-44-3

References



2.      Jump up ^ James N. Anderson, Van Til Frequently Encountered Misconceptions, I.3, 2004

3.      Jump up ^ John Frame (n.d.). Van Til the Theologian. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Pilgrim Publishing Company. ISBN 0-916034-02-X. 

4.      Jump up ^ "Van Til and the Ligonier Apologetic," p. 282

5.      Jump up ^ A Critique of Cornelius Van Til, p. 15

6.      Jump up ^ The Defense of the Faith, p. 20

7.      Jump up ^ Van Til's Apologetic, p. 597

8.      Jump up ^ Common Grace and the Gospel, p. 184

9.      Jump up ^ A Christian Theory of Knowledge, p. 19

10. Jump up ^ Greg Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic, pp. 107-15

11. Jump up ^ Van Til's Apologetic, pp. 275-77

12. Jump up ^ Van Til says, "We may therefore with Kuyper speak of twofold science and yet also speak of the unity of science. When Kuyper speaks of the twofold science he contrasts the principle of those whose primary aim is to serve and worship the creature, with the principle of those whose primary aim is to serve and worship the Creator" (The Doctrine of Scripture, p. 129).

13. Jump up ^ The One and the Many, p. 32

14. Jump up ^ "The ontological Trinity will be our interpretative concept everywhere. God is our concrete universal; in Him thought and being are coterminous, in Him the problem of knowledge is solved. If we begin thus with the ontological Trinity as our concrete universal, we frankly differ from every school of philosophy and from every school of science not merely in our conclusions, but in our starting-point and in our method as well. For us the facts are what they are, and the universals are what they are, because of their common dependence upon the ontological Trinity. Thus, as earlier discussed, the facts are correlative to the universals. Because of this correlativity there is genuine progress in history; because of it the Moment has significance" (Van Til, Common Grace and the Gospel, p. 64, para. break deleted).

15. Jump up ^ Introduction to Systematic Theology, p. 10

16. Jump up ^ Cornelius Van Til, p. 74

External links