Saturday, April 30, 2005

Where Did We Ever Get the Notion that the "Elements" of the Lord's Supper Constitute a "Supper"? (Part 2)

In the previous entry to this series, we looked at Paul's concept of "Lord's Supper" and concluded that the nomenclature he uses cannot refer to the bread and cup apart from the entire meal which the early Christians enjoyed as part and parcel of the Lord's Table. I want to continue with that line of thought by looking at other references to this meal in the New Testament.

The Agape in Jude 12
Tucked away in Jude’s short epistle is a singular reference to the Agape (agapais), often translated as “love feasts.” There may also be a reference to this “feast” in 2 Pet 2:13 (feasting with you”); in fact, the variant reading for apatais (“deceptions”) in this verse is agapais ("love feasts"), which is supported by not a few significant manuscripts including B, Ac, and psi. This feast in Jude (as well as in Peter) is included as a passing reference (not unlike Paul’s teaching on the bread and cup in 1 Cor 10:16-17). However, as with Paul, we may detect certain assumptions on the part of Jude for including it in the first place. It will be helpful, therefore, to survey the context in which this reference is found.

Jude’s letter is one of urgency; that much is evident from his greeting. Although he had originally planned to write a general letter dealing with issues of salvation, he felt constrained to write instead to warn his readers about certain heretics who had infiltrated the church (v. 3-4). He compares these heretics to some of the OT villains that incurred God’s judgment, including the rabble that Moses had to deal with, fallen angels, and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah (vv. 5-7). Beginning then in v. 8, Jude sets out to make application to the current heretics. They “pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings” (v. 8). They are compared, not only to the foregoing villains, but to Cain, Balaam, and Korah as well (v. 11). It is in this context that Jude mentions the Agape: “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm” (v. 12). The question is, Just what is this Agape?

Common Meal or Lord’s Supper?
On a purely contextual level, it seems evident that Jude is first referring to a common meal. Although the word agapais is quite literally “loves,” it is closely connected by Jude to the participial form of suneuôcheomai (“feast together”), which occurs only here and in 2 Pet 2:13. For this reason, and since Jude and Peter cite identical thematic content, it seems safe to assume that both writers have the same thing in mind. Aside from this evidence (and the witness of the early church in the post-apostolic era, to which we will turn shortly), no scholar seems to question that Jude is using agapais as an approximate term for a Christian feast. The disagreement is over whether agapais is a term that designates merely a common meal, or is, in fact, a synonym for the Lord’s Supper.

Some scholars (such as Kistemaker, Peter and Jude, 392, and to some extent J.N.D. Kelly, Peter and Jude, 269-70) view Jude’s reference here as nothing more than a common fellowship meal. This is not a widely held view, however, and most scholars (including Green, Townsend, Marshall, Spicq, Bauckham, and Blum) have adopted the view that Jude is here referring to none other than the Lord’s Supper itself. In Townsend’s words:
There is nothing . . . to suggest that this excludes the Eucharist itself . . . [and] . . . there seems [to be] no good reason why agapais here should not fulfill the same function as kuriakon deipnon does in 1 Cor 1120, where, as we have seen, it refers to the total complex of events, i.e., the Eucharist in its normal common-meal setting. . . . It is prima facie unlikely . . . that Jude 12 should refer to an Agape distinct from the Eucharist. (Townsend, “Exit the Agape?,” ExpT 90 (1978-79) 360).
With this Marshall agrees when he notes: “There is nothing to suggest that the love feast was a separate kind of meal from the Lord’s Supper, and it seems more probable that these were two different names for the same occasion” (Last Supper and Lord’s Supper, 110). It is indeed more difficult to understand Jude’s anxiety about ungodly men partaking of this meal if it is not the Lord’s Supper and if it does not include the bread and cup. It seems best, therefore, to view Jude’s Agape as the Lord’s Supper itself.

Jude’s relevance to the issue of the common meal in the Lord’s Supper is twofold. First, Jude offers non-Pauline corroboration about the Supper. The fact that Jude, in writing to his churches, can refer to a church practice that is similar to Paul’s is revealing in that it implies the universality of this practice. Not only was this participation in a common meal likely the practice of every Pauline church, it was, as Jude 12 indicates, likely the practice of every apostolic church. It seems best then to conclude that the Agape in Jude corroborates the "Lord’s Supper" in Paul as a common meal which served as a setting for the bread and cup, and which was practiced universally by the apostolic church.

Second, Jude reveals the importance of the Supper via a specialized term. While the mere practice of the Agape by the early church cannot be seen as the determining factor in whether or not this practice was considered normative (other factors including the underlying theology of the practice, the way in which the practice is presented by the NT writers, and the extent to which the practice is distinct from the practices of the surrounding culture and other religious groups must be weighed as well), it seems likely that since this practice had been given a specialized name (Agape) it was indeed considered a normative practice by the apostolic church itself. This is the basis upon which Bauckham and Lincoln (From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, ed. Carson, 221-250 and 343-412 respectively) view Sunday as the normative day of meeting for the church. Bauckham notes, for instance, that the regular, consistent practice of meeting on Sunday coupled with the use of the specialized term, Lord’s Day, “gives that custom the stamp of canonical authority” (Ibid., 240). With this Lincoln concurs:
That the first day of the week was given the title Lord’s Day suggests a matter of far greater import than convenience or practicality. . . . True, the designation “Lord’s Day” in [Rev 1:10] is incidental rather than being part of the primary didactic intent of the writer, but we are not using this passing reference in order to establish a precedent but to show that a precedent had already been set in the practice of at least John’s churches and evidently met with his approval. So in the case of worship on the first day of the week we have a pattern that is repeated in the New Testament, and as is shown by Revelation 1:10, the pattern had become established. (Ibid., 387-88).
What can be said here about the “Lord’s Day” applies with equal force to the “Lord’s Supper/Agape.” Indeed, we may claim even more evidence for a normative practice of this meal since much more is said about it in the NT than about the Lord’s Day. Moreover, as Lincoln has noted, John alone uses the title Lord’s Day. Yet, as Lincoln further notes:
Although we have evidence for this pattern from only some parts of the early church, its rationale is not one that was applicable only to those parts or indeed applicable only to the early church period but one that remains applicable throughout the church’s life. Hence the practice of Sunday worship can be said to be not merely one that recommends itself because it bears the mark of antiquity but one that, though not directly commanded, lays high claim to bearing the mark of canonical authority. (Ibid., 388).
This is likewise true in the case of the Agape. Although Jude alone uses this title, Paul, as we have already seen, refers to the same meal and calls it the Lord’s Supper. Neither writer gives a direct command to adhere to this practice of holding a meal; yet, as in the case of John and the Lord’s Day, each writer assumes, by virtue of the use of a specialized name, that the practice is an established, universal church custom. Moreover, as with the Lord’s Day, the “rationale” of the meal (inasmuch as it is part and parcel of the tradition that was handed down to Paul from the other apostles, and inasmuch as it is a “reproduction” of the Last Supper) must apply equally and in the same way to all churches.

Partial Correction On a Previous Entry

Yesterday I reported that Jack Van Impe and his wife were converting to Roman Catholicism, and I provided the video to two of their recent programs that indicate as much. Since then, a couple of people have approached me and expressed their feeling that the "conversion" is not from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism per se, but from hostility toward RCism to friendship with RCism. I can see why they think this, since the Van Impes did not overtly say they were becoming Roman Catholic. For the record, I accept that I might be wrong about the full-blown conversion. However, I think their most recent programs indicate more of a move toward RCism than simple friendship. The way they are currently talking bears all the marks of an eventual conversion. They missed the Easter deadline for this year, so maybe they're stringing their viewers along until next year to take as many with them as is possible. Time will tell--and then no doubt TIME will tell.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Where Did We Ever Get the Notion that the "Elements" of the Lord's Supper Constitute a "Supper"?

In 1 Cor 11:17-22, Paul says this about the Lord’s Supper:

"But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you."

In this passage, Paul addresses the Lord’s Supper as it relates to the unity within the assembly of the Corinthians. It is evident from Paul’s words in this passage that the Corinthians were partaking of an entire meal, not just the bread and wine. There are very few who dispute this. F.F. Bruce echoes a common belief among scholars that, “the Eucharist, then, was evidently taken in the course of a communal meal” (Bruce, First and Second Corinthians, 110). What is disputed, however, is the precise relationship between the Lord’s Supper and the Corinthians’ meal, and whether Paul in this passage gives any indication that he wants the Corinthians to put an end to their practice of eating a meal together or whether he wants them to continue.

The first step in deciding about the ongoing relevance of the meal-aspect of the Supper is to determine just what Paul means by the title “Lord’s Supper” in 1 Cor 11:20. This title (from the Greek, kuriakon deipnon) occurs only here in the NT. While deipnon occurs often in the NT, the only other place that kuriakon occurs is in Rev 1:10 in reference to “the Lord’s Day.” This phrase in all likelihood has as its referent Sunday, the day Christ arose from the dead and the day on which the church commemorated that resurrection. No attempt will be made here to defend this view—Carson’s work (From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation, ed. D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982) is definitive and the reader is referred there. The word kuriakon means roughly “belonging to the Lord.” In the case kuriakon deipnon it means “the supper belonging to the Lord.” Yet just what is this “supper”? Is Paul here referring to the meal of the Corinthians, of which the bread and wine are dominant features, or is he referring to the bread and wine alone? Put another way, could Paul have referred to the bread and wine as a “supper” apart from the meal?

It is an interesting fact that every other instance of deipnon in the NT refers to nothing less than a full meal, and in many (arguably, all) cases it refers to a banquet or feast. (see Matt 23:6; Mark 6:21; 12:39; Luke 14:12, 16, 17, 24; 20:46; John 12:2; 21:20; 13:2, 4; 1 Cor 11:20, 21; Rev 19:9, 17). It would be odd in light of this to maintain that Paul has in mind the so-called “elements” (i.e., the bread and wine)—apart from the meal—when he refers to the kuriakon deipnon. On the contrary, what Paul calls the “Lord’s Supper” is itself the meal with the bread and wine.

Paul has in this one instance revealed to us his concept of the Lord’s Supper. The bread and wine by themselves can no more be called the Lord’s Supper (nor, indeed, a deipnon in any case) than can the meal without the bread and wine. Any attempt to view kuriakon deipnon as a title for a symbolic supper is refuted on the grounds that the Corinthians themselves were not partaking of a symbolic supper but rather a real supper. This seems clear from Paul’s corrective of their abuses: “ When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk” (1 Cor 11:20-22). It would be difficult to know just how some of the Corinthians could be getting drunk and satisfying hunger by partaking of a symbolic meal.

One way to determine whether or not Paul considered the meal-aspect of the Lord’s Supper to be a crucial part of the Supper is to take a closer look at the tradition he received about the Supper. Paul tells us about this tradition in 1 Cor 11:23-26:

"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes."

Several important points can be made about Paul’s words here. First, the order of consumption is, for Paul, bread/supper—cup. Paul does not say just when they began eating the meal; only that the cup came after. The “cup” referred to here is likely the “cup of blessing” which in Jewish custom was consumed after eating, since, as Fee has noted, this phrase was in use as “a technical term for the final blessing offered at the end of the meal” (Fee, I Corinthians, 468; so also Barrett, I Corinthians, 231). Paul, in fact, uses this phrase for the cup of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor 10:16 (to poterion tes eulogias = “the cup of blessing”).

Second, we may assume, since Paul makes the point that the cup was distributed after supper, that the saying about the bread took place either immediately before the meal (to initiate the meal) or during the meal. It is therefore likely that, in Paul’s Lord’s Supper tradition, the loaf of bread is distributed at the beginning or during the meal and the cup follows the meal. What is significant about this order is the inclusion of the mention of an actual meal within the tradition itself. Why does Paul include this? Doubtless there were many things that took place at the Last Supper that are not included in the Lord’s Supper tradition. Yet Paul speaks of the meal-aspect (“after supper”) as an integral part of his tradition. Given the other ways this tradition could have stated the same phrase—for instance, meta to phagein, “after the act of eating” rather than meta to deipnesai, “after the act of supping” (the former implying the eating of bread only, the latter implying a full meal); or simply, “then he took the cup”—the early church must have understood the meal-aspect to be an integral part of the Lord’s Supper to have included it; for as even Fee (1 Corinthians, 554) concedes, this phrase forms an “otherwise unnecessary role in the tradition.” Hence, this passing reference to the deipnon does not bespeak the unimportance of the meal, but rather the assumption that the meal is to be included in the practice of the Lord’s Supper.

Fourth, the question must again be asked, What does Paul mean by “supper” in this passage? Does he have in mind here a symbolic supper consisting only of bread and wine? Or, does he have in mind an actual meal as would be expected of one recalling the events of the Last Supper of the Lord and his disciples? Paul uses the same word (deipnon) that he used in v. 20 (although in the verbal form this time). It seems then that Paul sees the meal-aspect as part of his tradition, and that the meal with the bread and cup form the Lord’s Supper.

Many who concede that the Corinthians were, in fact, partaking of an actual meal have postulated that Paul’s purpose for writing this passage is to put an end to the meal-aspect. This is alternatively based on the assumption that Paul sees this meal as the source of the Corinthians’ divisions, or that Paul does not view the meal as an essential aspect of the Lord’s Supper to begin with, or a combination of both. Evidence that can be adduced in favor of the view that Paul is here putting an end to the meal-aspect of the Lord’s Supper includes: (1) Paul tells the Corinthians that their meal is not the Lord’s Supper (v. 20) and that the Lord’s Supper consists only of the bread and cup to which Paul refers extensively in vv. 23-28; (2) Paul implies that he wants them to cease practice of the meal-aspect by his statement, “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in?” (v. 22); and (3) Paul ends this section with the words “if anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment” (v. 34). Here, it is argued, is the “Pauline Precedent” that initiated the cessation of the meal-aspect of the Lord’s Supper once and for all.

Against point (1) it may be noted that the seeming emphasis Paul places on the bread and cup in vv. 23-28 is not intended to de-emphasize the importance of the meal-aspect. Even Fee (who subscribes to the cessationist view of the meal-aspect) concedes this point: “The context makes it clear that ‘to eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord’ means simply to participate in the meal known as the Lord’s Supper. Paul is not trying to give special emphasis to the bread and wine per se” (Fee, 1 Corinthians, 560). In addition, Paul’s statement “it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat” (v. 20) is not intended to deny that the Lord’s Supper consists of a meal; rather that the Corinthian meal, at one time regarded as the Lord’s Supper, can no longer be regarded as such because of the abuses associated with it. This is clear from Paul’s explanation of his statement in the very next verse: “for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk” (v. 21). In other words, what would under normal conditions be the Lord’s Supper, the Corinthians by their divisions have turned into their own Supper. Paul is not here attempting to separate the meal from the bread and wine; rather whatever points he makes about the meal are applied equally to the bread and cup (vv. 29-30).

Against point (2) above we may again question the common assumptions regarding Paul’s intent. Barrett is right when he notes about v. 22:
On the surface this seems to imply that ordinary, non-cultic eating and drinking should be done at home, contradicting the inference drawn above [from vv. 20-21] that the Corinthian supper included an ordinary meal. But Paul’s point is that, if the rich wish to eat and drink on their own, enjoying better food than their poorer brothers, they should do this at home; if they cannot wait for others (verse 33), if they must indulge to excess, they can at least keep the church’s common meal free from practices that can only bring discredit upon it. (Barrett, 1 Corinthians, 263).

This same observation may be made against point (3) above. There it is argued that Paul’s closing words for this section (“if anyone is hungry, he should eat at home,” v. 34) imply Paul’s desire that the meal-aspect of the Lord’s Supper should cease. Yet, as Barrett notes above about v. 22, Paul’s concern is to put an end, not to the meal itself, but to the abuses that accompanied the meal (see also Bruce, First and Second Corinthians, 116). This seems clear on two counts. First, Paul uses the singular pronoun and the singular imperative in this verse rather than the plural—lit., “if anyone (tis) is hungry, let him eat (esthietô) at home.” This suggests strongly that Paul’s point is simply that if any individual cannot restrain himself from eating the Supper before the poor arrive, then that individual should eat something at home so that he won’t be tempted to hoard that which rightly belongs to the entire body. Second, the verse that immediately precedes v. 34 seems to preclude any notion that Paul here intends to put an end to the meal-aspect: “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other,” (v. 33). If Paul means to abolish the meal-aspect of the Lord’s Supper then it is odd that he would make a closing statement which assumes that the Corinthians will continue the meal as they have been (minus, of course, the abuses). Indeed, the only modification of the Supper that interests Paul is that the Corinthians “wait for each other” so that all may partake of the meal together.

Another Apostasy in Progress

Jack Van Impe and wife Rexella have decided to apostatize to Roman Catholicism. The details are here:

April 16 Program

April 23 Program

You foolish Van Impe's, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

One of the reasons he gives for his conversion is the "30,000 Protestant denominations" argument--the stock "Catholic Answers" drivel that has been refuted time and again. Jack Van Impe will be in for quite a shock when he finally realizes he won't be allowed to spout his hyper-dispensational views from the pulpit anymore without being in conflict with the eschatology of Roman Catholicism. At first he'll be rattled by that. But then he'll find out that there really is no unified Roman Catholic belief after all, and that he is at liberty to subscribe to any one of the 30,000 various views found in the Roman Catholic denomination.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

How "Generous" are the Emergents?

Great analysis of the Emergent approach by Thomas Howe at the Syntax Repair Shop. I thought this quote from Dr. Howe was particularly insightful, not only with regard to emergents and pomos, but also with regard to those who are but won't admit they are:
In [his] book [A Generous Orthodoxy], [Brian] McLaren turns out to be no different, methodologically, from those with whom he takes issue. He is generous with doctrine, but he is exclusivist with methodology. Anyone who does not think like him is vilified and ostracized from McLaren’s clan.

The Lord's Table is Not a Funeral

Many, many years ago I wrote a masters thesis on the Lord's Supper, titled The Table of the Lord. In preparation for writing that thesis, I wrote several articles on various aspects of the Lord's Supper that led to certain "unconventional" conclusions--but unconventional only in terms of how most churches view the Lord's Supper, not how the early church viewed it. Over the next few days, I'll be posting the gist of these conclusions, and answering questions such as:

1. What is the setting of the Supper? (Or, Where did we ever get the notion that "elements" constitute a "Supper"?)

2. Who gets to partake of the Supper? (Or, Where did we ever get the notion that the Supper needs to be "protected"?)

3. What is the mood and focus of the Supper? (Or, Where did we ever get the notion that the Supper is a funeral procession that merely "looks back" on the death of Christ?)

4. What is the expected frequency of the Supper? (Or, Where did we ever get the notion that the Supper could become "too common" simply by celebrating it weekly?)

5. What is the point of "self-examination" in 1 Corinthians 11 (Or, Where did we ever get the notion that we have an obligation--or, indeed, a right--to abstain from the Lord's Table due to personal unworthiness?)

. . . and much, much more. I have no doubt that my series will raise a few eyebrows and generate a few responses in the coming days. If it stimulates some into rethinking the Supper, it will have been well worth it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Are the “Focused” Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

Recently James Dobson has had to defend his conflicting alliances with Roman Catholicism and Albert Mohler, a member of the board of directors at Focus on the Family. In March 2000, Dr. Mohler told Larry King:

"I believe that the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel. And indeed, I believe that the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."

Mohler is, of course, correct; and he is to be commended for his stance on this. But Dobson has been courting Roman Catholics and publicly praising the pope—both former and current. Here is where Dobson looks rather mambly pambly, in fact, downright cowardly in terms of the gospel. If the pope, the head of the Roman Catholic church, can stand by his statements against Protestantism in Dominus Iesus—in which he states that Protestant denominations are "defective," and that they are not "proper churches"—then why can’t Dobson reciprocate? In his statements defending Mohler during his appearance on Hannity and Colmes, why did he dismiss Mohler’s statement by saying, “He's a Southern Baptist, for Pete's sake. You expect a Southern Baptist to say that he does not honor the pope in the same way the Catholics do. It's a different theology.” Why did he not say instead, “I agree with Mohler’s assessment of Roman Catholic theology. We are evangelicals, for Pete's sake, and evangelicals do not honor the pope, period”? Why didn’t he make it clear that the Roman Catholic denomination is “defective” and not a “proper church”? Why the need to downplay the differences in national press coverage and focus on “political agreements” instead? (You may be certain that the Roman Pontiff is certainly not focusing on agreements!).

Here’s why. Because evangelicals like James Dobson are more committed to politics than they are to the truth of the gospel. They think it's more important to get social laws passed to increase their own comfort in this life than to make sure that people are not deceived by a false gospel and perhaps increase the comfort of many in the next life. Dobson thinks he represents evangelicalism when he is interviewed by the national press; he thinks he represents the “evangelical agenda.” He doesn’t. Far worse, the national press thinks he represents evangelicalism. Dobson and his ilk are far, far removed from representing the concerns of true evangelicalism; namely, contending for the "once-for-all-time-delivered-to-the-saints faith." He buckles—and embarrassingly so—when asked to defend that kind of thing. He’d just rather not talk about it. He’d rather allow others to believe that the pope is just another Christian leader, that Roman Catholicism is just another Christian denomination, and that we are all just Christians fighting tother for the same political causes. If Dobson, Graham et al can’t get it right and can’t be faithful in defending the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ--when asked about it no less!--they should just stop making appearances on national media.

Friday, April 22, 2005

What is Exegesis? A Belated Response

A couple of weeks ago I was engaged in a dialogue at Jonathan Prejean's blog. That dialogue has since been closed, but during the latter stages of it, I wrote a response to Tim Enloe on the discipline of exegesis that I opted not to post at that time, since it appeared the dialogue was going nowhere. In the interest of answering what I think are the foundational disagreements between our approach to the Scriptures and "Reformed Catholicism"'s approach, I thought I would go ahead and post my response here:

Tim wrote:

“Eric, I do not believe the Church started in the 13th century and that an education in Medieval history is the master key to unlocking the Scriptures. Please stop saying this, because it isn't true.”

That was hyperbole. Perhaps I should have said that your behavior and emphasis suggests you believe the church started in the 13th century.

Tim wrote:

“Furthermore, I agree that the term "grammatical-historical method" is a good thing, and you certainly correctly state its aim (to get at the original author's mind). Where I think you go wrong is in apparently thinking that the author's mind is fully expressed in the bare Greek words of the biblical text under examination.”

Nor do I, Tim; and it is a misrepresentation of the historical-grammatical method to suggest otherwise, especially since “the bare greek words” covers only the “grammatical” part of “historical-grammatical.”

Tim wrote:

“On the contrary, nobody's worldview is reducible to single texts, or even a handful of texts. You can't necessarily understand what Galatians means just by exegeting the actual text of Galatians. Language isn't mathematics.”

Tim, I just don’t know where you get the idea that what you just described is exegesis. Exegesis involves much more than the bare analysis of words. It involves context, train of thought, historical considerations, situational considerations, cultural considerations, etc. The anaysis of words is merely the starting point.

Tim wrote:

“You can prooftext Paul all day long about the lack of value of "worldly" things, but that is exactly the point I am making against you.”

This, again, is simply a wrong reading of my view. Go back and read what I said. I did not say that Paul spoke of the lack of value of “worldly things.” I said he spoke of the lack of value of “worldy wisdom” and “worldy knowledge”--those things that are used to undermine or replace the wisdom of God in Scripture.

Tim wrote:

“You cite Paul from Corinthians apparently running down worldly wisdom. Well, nice. Paul was himself in several of his epistles, including the Corinthian ones, making use of classical rhetorical techniques to fight the Sophists of the Second Sophistic Movement, who had infiltrated the Corinthian Church and attempted to conflate Christian categories of discipleship with Sophistic categories of masters / followers. Paul had quite the "worldly" education, and he put it into the service of the Gospel instead of dichotomizing it from the Gospel.”

While I disagree with your analysis of what Paul is doing here (although he certainly does do something like this in Acts 17 and elsewhere), this explanation is much closer to engaging in the type of exegesis that I would like to have seen from you in the earlier stages of this discussion. Why have you shied away from this sort of thing up to this point?

Tim wrote:

“Your remarks about the supposed worthlessness of "worldly" things are also exactly my point against you. You have the typical Fundamentalist-Evangelical Pietist dichotomy between "worldly / spiritual", which while it superficially matches biblical language falls very far short of actual reality in God's world. Not everybody is called to be an exegete,”

Since I didn’t suggest otherwise, I’m tempted to forego this point. I’ve already explained that I did not say anything about pursuing “worldly things.” In fact, O specifically said it was “fine” if someone wanted to do it. My concern was expressly directed to situations in which the wisdom accrued is upheld as a replacement for Scripture.

Tim wrote:

“and as you indicate from the example of the 14 year old boy in your class, it is entirely possible to have a great deal of biblical knowledge without gaining a mastery of Greek exegesis. This seems to cut directly against your point against me re: your mastery of exegesis supposedly making you a holder of superior biblical knowledge.”

My scenario assumes one is immersed in Scripture and has gained that biblical knowledge through that immersion. It does not apply to those who don’t fit those criteria.

Tim wrote:

“In many cases, I think it's evident that what you think of as "superior" biblical knowledge on your part are merely begged questions about what is "clearly" said in the Scriptures. E.g., you state that I don't know the Bible very well, but only books ABOUT the Bible merely because I don't agree with your ramped-up "RCs-as-Judaizers" reading of Galatians.”

Not at all. Neither does Paul Owen agree with my view of the Galatian error, but I don’t conclude that he is lacking in biblical knowledge because of that. I just think he is in error. Indeed, the very reason I was able to dialogue with him on this point was because we shared the common assumption that each point should be argued and examined using exegetical specifics. There is no guarantee that one view is going to come out the clear winner in such a dialogue—indeed, that scenario is the exception rather than the rule. But one view usually emerges as the stronger view; and in this case I think my view proved to be the stronger view exegetically.

Tim wrote:

“At any rate, the Reformation doctrine of vocation has it that all of life, every single area, and any legitimate activity under the sun, may be used to serve and glorify God. This is why when a humble shoemaker, confused by the Medieval dichotomy between "worldly" and "spiritual" once approached Luther and asked him what he should do now that he had become a Christian, Luther said "Make a good shoe, and sell it a fair price."

Tim, I have owned a business for over fifteen years. I think I understand this concept fairly well by now. You have misunderstood my reference to “worldly things” as a reference to earthly living. Those two things are not the same.

Tim wrote:

“I appreciate your clarifications to Elliot (Cog) about how you view Scripture. Ironically, I agree with pretty much everything you wrote.”

I’m glad to hear that.

Tim wrote:

“I just don't think you have mastered the discipline the way you think you have mastered it.”

And you conclude that merely on the basis that you disagree with my conclusions. And since you disagree with my exegetical conclusions, I wouldn’t expect you to think otherwise. However, your questioning of my mastery of the discipline is without foundation, since I do have a doctorate in it—no one is awarded a doctorate in any discipline without first having mastered it.

Tim wrote:

“And I think that because contra your slurs of me, I actually have read some things about first century Judaism and the various sects of the day, and the philosophical and cultural milieus, and so on. No doubt I've not read as much on those subjects as you, I have read some. In fact, it's what I have read about first century Judaism that gives me a strong impression that your "Judaizer" reading of Galatians is wrong.”

Would that reading happen to be from primary sources, or from N.T. Wright?

Tim wrote:

“If you're so big on first century context, why don't you talk about the table fellowship / Gentile inclusion in the covenant context that is right there on the pages of Galatians itself? I see lots of big talk about a "Gospel" that is about "not adding one tiny work to faith", but I don't see anything from you about the issues that jump right off the pages of Galatians,”

While, again, I appreciate the fact that you are at least finally getting into the actual text of Scripture, you say this as though this observation would somehow overturn my thesis. Can you tell me how you think the table fellowship issue in Galatians contradicts my understanding of the issue of the gospel?

Tim wrote:

“I don't read everything you write, so it is entirely possible I've missed you discussing such issues as I mentioned. Can you point me to where you have? Thanks.”

My masters thesis was on table fellowship in the NT, and that passage was key.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Shaun Pierce Responds

Shaun Pierce, WORD-FM's Roman Catholic producer of the talk show of former and fired host, Marty Minto, has responded to yesterday's blog entry, and so I thought I would offer a few comments by way of response.

For the record, I would expect anyone belonging to any denomination to whole heartedly believe that theirs is the true Church. If you do not, you are wasting your time. I am not ashamed of my faith. I also do not seek to force it upon those who disagree.
First of all, my comments yesterday were not directed to Shaun Pierce--they were directed to the gutless postmodern hypocrites of WORD-FM, particularly the GM, Chuck Gratner. As a committed Roman Catholic, Mr. Pierce, of course, has every right to believe and propagate what he does. The hypocrisy is on the part of WORD-FM, who allows a Roman Catholic in their hire publicly to make the kinds of statements Mr. Pierce makes on his PUBLIC website, but fires an Evangelical who makes similar comments--but from the perspective of biblical truth rather than the papal error.

I do wish to make one thing perfectly clear. This site is my own personal site. I represent no one but myself. It is not owned, edited, run or even approved by the company I work for. It is very important that you understand what are my words and the words of others. I always try to make that clear.

Until I posted my entry yesterday, Shaun Pierce's "Powerblog" purported to be a forum that would allow listeners of the show to continue the discussion of topics raised on the show. Yesterday, he changed the description of his blog to this:

Welcome to Powerblog! hosted by Shaun Pierce. Feel free to read and post your comments. Opinions expressed herein are exclusive to Powerblog and are not do not represent the views of of any employer, organiztion or outside entity. Content remains private property and may not be published, copied or broadcast with written consent. All rights reserved. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO CLICK ON OUR SPONSORS. You will help support this site! Thanks to all who help spread the word about POWERBLOG!
The misspelled words in the new description are a dead give-away: they betray the fact that Mr. Pierce threw up this new disclaimer posthaste. Moreover, how does Mr. Pierce's new disclaimer exonerate him from liability, when in fact Marty Minto's show regularly made this same kind of disclaimer on his own show; namely, that the views he expressed do not represent the views of WORD-FM? Again, hypocrisy raises its ugly head.

But make no mistake: Mr. Pierce's blog was indeed advertised as a forum for listeners to continue discussions from the show, and he certainly used that to his advantage directly after Marty's firing when making his unsubstantiated innuedos that there is "more to the story" that he is not at liberty to divulge. He repeats that innuendo in his response to me:
It is unfortunate you do not know the entire story and I am not at liberty to share it with you.
Mr. Pierce, the issue is not currently about you, but that can change. It is a disgraceful thing for you to make this kind of breezy, unsubstantiated charge. Either have the courage and fortitude--and commitment to the truth--to back up your innuendo, or restrain yourself from poisoning the well by suggesting something sinister in the minds of your readers. If you are not at liberty to elaborate on the details, then neither are you at liberty to suggest there are other details.
It is my hope that despite the differences we have, all of us can return to the single belief that unites us all as Christians and that is the saving message of Jesus.
If we were "united" in a belief regarding "the saving message of Jesus," there wouldn't have been a firing, now would there?

I welcome you and invite you to join the discussion. Together we will discover the Truth. Not my truth, or your truth, but THE TRUTH.
Well, thank you for the invitation, Mr. Pierce, but when you are in the truth you don't need to discover it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Irony of Ironies

WORD-FM's own Roman Catholic producer Shaun Pierce

In the aftermath of two events: (1) the firing of Marty Minto for "alienating" his listeners by having the audacity to suggest, based soley on the New Testament, that John Paul II might not have made it to heaven, and (2) the election of a conservative pope, we have this little piece from the blog of Marty Minto's former Roman Catholic producer, Shaun Pierce. Commenting on Dominus Iesus, a statement issued by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2002, Piece says:
The statement implies that "Churches such as the Church of England, where the apostolic succession of bishops from the time of St. Peter is disputed by Rome, and churches without bishops, are not considered 'proper' churches." They suffer from "defects." This statement includes all denominations of Christianity with the exception of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. . . . The document is infallible since it was "explicitly approved and confirmed by the pope." Since the Church teaches that a very lengthy interval in Purgatory or an eternity in Hell awaits the unsaved, the adverse consequences of an individual following another religion (or a Christian denomination other than the RCC) are severe --perhaps infinite infinite in nature. Some of you may be outraged by these statements but there is really nothing new in the document. It reflects long-standing inclusivist beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church: that the Church alone possesses the full truth; all other faith groups have only elements of truth.
I see. So it's okay for someone representing WORD-FM to agree and restate unequivocally that Protestant churches are not "proper" churches, have serious "defects," and that the "adverse consequences" of the individual members of those churches "are severe --perhaps infinite in nature," so long as that belief is "really nothing new" in that "it reflects long-standing inclusivist beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church: that the Church alone possesses the full truth; all other faith groups have only elements of truth." But if you say the same thing about Roman Catholics vis-a-vis the biblical gospel, you get fired.

Shameful; utterly shameful. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling rather alienated.

An Evil and Adulterous Generation . . .

. . . seeks after a sign (Matt 16:4):

The deceived multitudes venerate a stain in the concrete.

Some Thoughts in the Aftermath of the Papal Election

The new pope has been installed and now it’s left to see what the implications of his papacy will be. Some on the Protestant side have lamented over the fact that a more liberal pope was not selected. I understand the rationale. A liberal pope would likely have resulted in the disillusionment of many conservative Roman Catholics, who as a result may have left the Roman Catholic church and defected into Protestantism. While that initially sounds good, I’m not certain it would have worked out in just that way, nor that it would have been the best scenario for Reformed Protestantism. Only conservatives would have been disillusioned, and they most likely would have sought refuge in the traditionalist camp, or the sedavacantist camp. And we could never be certain about the genuineness of the few who might have defected into Protestantism. What would their true motive be? Certainly, if their true motive had been a commitment to the truth of the gospel, wouldn’t they have come into the fold apart from consideration of who the pope turned out to be? If instead their true motive was some ethereal concept of “absolute truth,” that in itself does not have the sticking power needed to keep one in the faith (witness all the popular "evangelical"-turned-Roman-Catholic apologists). The last thing Protestantism needs is a plethora of people who like absolute truth but don’t understand the gospel, since their next defection from the truth is a mere “conservative pope” away.

Others have speculated that the fact that the cardinals chose such an aged man indicates there will be a continuation of JP II’s policies. While that is certainly the conventional wisdom, it does not take into consideration the fact that Ratzinger chose to adopt the name Benedict XVI rather than John Paul III. The new pope names himself after a previous pope whose legacy he plans to continue. Moreover, while the cardinals may indeed have intended Ratzinger to carry on the work of JP II, the real question at this point is not what the cardinals intended, but what the agenda of Ratzinger is. In comparison to JP II, Ratzinger is assertive, outspoken, direct, straight forward, and doesn’t seem to mince words. He is a hard-line conservative who formerly headed the successor organization to the Inquisition. He is leery of Protestants, and does not readily and fully include them in the church. I think there is a good reason he chose a different name than John Paul; I do not think he intends to carry forth JP II’s initiatives.

In my opinion that’s a good thing, because it will more clearly define the true rift between Roman Catholicism and Reformed Protestantism. Ratzinger is much more the straight shooter than JP II ever was, and that means there may at last be clarity on what Roman Catholicism actually believes (i.e., what is the right interpretation of the interpretation?). I’m looking forward to this clarity so that we can nail down the Roman Catholic teaching and snatch it from the hands of the Postmoderns on both the Roman Catholic side (who think Protestants are now brothers in the church) and the “Reformed” Catholic side (who think Roman Catholics are now brothers in the church). At the very least, the Roman Catholic errors should become clearer. That will ultimately deepen the divide between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, but that is a move in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Wow, Was I Wrong!

Along with many other analysts of the proceedings, I had predicted Dionigi Tettamanzi of Italy or Francis Arinze of Nigeria to be the choice for the next pope. The conclave instead chose a cardinal that I had specifically eliminated as unlikely based on his conservative views.

The new pope is Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger, former Dean of the College of Cardinals and Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, was formerly responsible for keeping the purity of the RC faith intact. He is known as a hard-line conservative among Roman Catholics. Oddly, the papal name he chose is Benedict XVI. Everyone expected that the next pope would name himself after John Paul II if he planned to carry on JP II’s initiatives. Instead he named himself after Benedict XV (1914), who is known for his moderate reforms after the traditionalist papacy of Pius IX, but who nevertheless condemned the errors in modern philosophical systems his first encyclical. The significance of Ratzinger taking that name is unclear. It is doubtful that Ratzinger would become even more moderate than JP II, who propagated a universalism unlike any of his predecessors. What it may mean instead is that in the same way Benedict XV “moderated” (swung away from) the initiatives of his predecessor, so also Ratzinger will “moderate” (i..e., swing away from) the initiatives of JP II and lead Roman Catholicism down a more conservative path. In any case, this choice is likely to thrill the conservative and traditionalist wing of Roman Catholicism.

The Ents Have Spoken

White smoke from the chimney of the Chapel, indicating that a new pope has been chosen, is being reported on Fox News. In about an hour we'll know who it is.

On Paul Owen's "5 Reasons"

I have dialogued with Paul Owen in the past on the issue of the Galatian heresy. To remind the reader, here are the links to the past dialogue on this issue:

Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

It now appears Dr. Owen has forgotten the content of that dialogue. He has recently written an article titled, "5 REASONS WHY PAUL’S ANATHEMAS AGAINST THE JUDAIZERS IN GALATIANS 1:8-9 DO NOT APPLY TO OUR ROMAN CATHOLIC BRETHREN."

Here are those "5 reasons" in a nutshell, each followed by my brief comment:
1. The Judaizers taught that we are justified by the works of the Law, not by faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16). Roman Catholics teach that we are justified by faith in Christ (CCC 1991, 1993), and not by the works of the Law (Sixth Session of the Council of Trent, Chapter I, and Canon I).
Not true. Owen is citing only those parts of the Decree of Trent that deal with initial justification. Subsequent justification in Roman Catholic theology is through works (Sixth Session of the Council of Trent, Chap 16 and Canons 24, 29, 31, & 32). This has been pointed out to Owen before. Why then does he misrepresent Trent by citing it selectively? Similarly, the problem with the Galatians was that they were being persuaded to maintain their justification through works ("Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Gal 3:3).
2. The Judaizers taught that righteousness comes through the Law, and not through the death of Christ (Gal. 2:21). Roman Catholics teach that we are justified through the death of Christ (CCC 1992), and not through the Law.
This, again, is a gross misrepresentation. First of all, Owen is alone in his thesis that the real issue in Galatians was that the Judaizers were teaching a non-atoning death of Christ (see the links above for my prior discussion with him on this issue). Second, here is what Trent actually says is the means of justification:

"If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema" (Canon 24).

"If any one saith, that he, who has fallen after baptism . . . is able indeed to recover the justice which he has lost, but by faith alone without the sacrament of Penance, let him be anathema" (Canon 29).

"If any one saith, that the justified sins when he performs good works with a view to an eternal recompense; let him be anathema" (Canon 31)

"If any one saith, that the good works of one that is justified are in such manner the gifts of God, as that they are not also the good merits of him that is justified; or, that the said justified, by the good works which he performs through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life . . . and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema" (Canon 32).
3. The Judaizers taught that the Law of Moses was always able to impart life (Gal. 3:21). Roman Catholics deny that the Law of Moses could ever impart life (Sixth Session of the Council of Trent, Chapter I).

Owen is playing semantic games here. We've already shown that Trent regards the works of a man as his own works and that they themselves produce an increase in justification. What Owen is attempting to do is make a distinction between the "Law of Moses" and all other good works, without recognizing that the reason Paul uses the law of Moses in his illustration is not only because the Law of Moses is the "works system" chosen by the Judaizers, but also because it represents the quintessential "good work" (as Jesus commended to the rich young ruler who wanted to earn eternal life: "you know the commandments," said Jesus, Lk 18:20). If the Law of Moses can't save a man, then no work can save a man.

But fine; let's grant that distinction for the moment. What Owen then seems to be conceding is that while Roman Catholics don't believe they are justified by keeping specifically "the Law of Moses," they do indeed believe they are justified by performing good works. Is Owen suggesting for one moment that Paul would have allowed those types of works as a means of justification when he so vehemently denied that one can be justified by keeping the Law--that that is somehow an acceptable form of the "gospel"? Such a suggestion is ridiculous.

4. The Judaizers taught the necessity of circumcision (Gal. 5:2) for justification. Roman Catholics deny that circumcision is necessary for justification.

Again, this is just a silly distinction--as though Paul would go to the carpet to this extent over a single human act of obedience to the Law (circumcision), but then ignore an entire sacramental system that in the end replaces that single work of "circumcision" with a complex system of works that are required to maintain, win back, and increase justification--such that the latter makes the former look easy to attain! If this is what Owen really believes, then he has completely missed the mind and heart of Paul.

5. The Judaizers denied that justification was effected by the Spirit of God, through faith (Gal. 5:5). Roman Catholics affirm that justification is effected by the Spirit of God (CCC 1994), through faith (Sixth Session of the Council of Trent, Chapter VIII).

Owen's continued use of Paul's characterization of the Judaizers' belief as a precise tool for determining how the Judaizer's themselves would have characterized their own belief is just plain naive. No Judaizer would expressly claim his justification was not effected by the Spirit of God, anymore than he would concur with Paul that his beliefs "make us slaves" (2:4), or that he was "setting aside the grace of God" (2:21). This problem plagues Owen's thesis, especially with regard to his insistence that the Judaizers expressly denied the efficacy of Christ's atonement. Yet, nearly every tenet Owen thinks the Judaizers literally held is based on Paul's statements about the logical implications of the Judaizers' belief, rather than on the Judaizers actual beliefs. When Paul says that they are "setting aside the grace of God," we do not thereby conclude that the Judaizers themselves believed they were setting aside the grace of God, but rather that in the logical outworking of their beliefs that is in fact what they were doing. Similarly, when we say that the Roman Catholic system is a works-based system, we are not thereby saying that the Roman Catholic himself would state it in such terms, but rather that it is the logical outworking of that system. Paul is not so much interested in reproducing the doctrinal statement of the Judaizers as he is in exposing the unexpressed but very real implications of their doctrine.

Owen states his five points in such a way as to give the impression that unless a religious system matches the Galatian heresy in every detail, we cannot make a parallel between those two systems. But that's too stringent. No one on this side of the fence is saying that Roman Catholicism is the Galatian heresy. What we are saying is the that the same principles that led Paul to anathematize the Galatian heresy are operative in the Roman Catholic system as well. Paul was certainly not trying to say that a religious system must specifically coerce circumcision on its adherents and must specifically deny the efficacy of the atonement before it is in error. His broader principle is his warning against the addition of works to faith in justification--and this he calls "another gospel," which is not only powerless to save but actually condemns its proponents.

But, just for the moment, let's grant Owen's thesis in toto. Even if we were to adopt Owen's entire thesis, does that thereby vindicate Roman Catholicism? Absoultely not. If you read the links provided above, you will see that Owen actually concedes "justification by faith alone" (or sola fide) is the accurate representation of Paul's gospel. But if he concedes that, then he also must concede what Paul explicitly states about that gospel in Gal 1:8-10; namely, that if anyone preaches "another gospel which you have not received, let him be eternally condemned." In other words, once one concedes that sola fide IS the gospel, he must ipso facto reject any different gospel (as Rome's gospel surely is) as one that condemns a man--otherwise he is being unfaithful to Paul. Rome explicitly denies sola fide. It is amazing to me, therefore, that Paul Owen is so harsh on the Judaizers (who surely would not have agreed with Paul on his characterizations of their beliefs), but is so kind to Roman Catholicism, which has issued explicit statements that it not only disagrees with the gospel of the Reformers, but actually condemns it.

Hence, when you read Paul Owen's articles on this, keep in mind you are not reading the work of a dispassionate observer who is merely stating the facts. Rather, you are reading the work of a man who is actively promoting ecumenism with the purveyors of a false gospel, and is placing the best possible spin on the teachings of modern-day Judaizers.

The Ents of St. Peter's Square

If you're familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then you know how slow ents can be. In the scene in which Pippen and Merry thought the council of the ents were trying to decide whether to go to war against Isengard, after hours of deliberation Treebeard turns to the hobbits and says (very slowly), "We've made a decision. . . . we've decided that you are not orcs." When the hobbits said, "yes, but what about the war?", Treebeard responded--again, very slowly:

"Patience, little hobbits. It takes a long time to say anything in old Entish, and we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say."

If you watched the coverage of the conclave procession yesterday, then you probably realized that the election of the new pope was not going to be a quick process. First of all, no one walking through the door of the Sistine Chapel (save the priest-servants who accompanied them) was a young man. But to make matters worse, these elderly men must follow the pomp and ceremony that surrounds the event, such as each one individually having to walk down to the podium, place his hand on "the gospel," and swear his oath to secrecy. Whatever happened to "let your yes be yes and your no, no"? Is there an implicit assumption that these men are not to be trusted with a simple request not to divulge their knowledge of the proceedings?

In any case, if you;re wondering why black smoke has once again risen from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, keep in mind that Roman Catholic cardinals are much more like ents than hobbits. In the spirit of Treebeard (read very slowly): "It takes a long time to do anything in a conclave, and we never do anything unless it is worth taking a long time to do."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Black Smoke Pours from the Chimney of the Sistine Chapel

Which, translated, means no pope tonight. At least a vote was actually taken (against the predictions of most); but no candidate garnered the 2/3 vote needed to seal the deal. Look again tomorrow.

Who Will Be the Next Pope? (Part 3)

Well, it’s finally here. The first day 115 cardinals from 52 different countries gather together to form the conclave that will eventually select the next pope? No—well that’s here too, but I had in mind the third part of my series on the papal elections. If you missed them (or forgot what they said) here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

In fact, the cardinals are currently moving into the Sistine Chapel as I write this. If you have read the first of this series, then you know that all eyes are fixed on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. What are they looking for? A lot of smoke, that’s what. The cardinals have already taken the “oath of secrecy,” will be identifying the 117 voting cardinals, are then will continue in prayer to discern the next pope. They may take an initial vote at the end of (their) day, or may decide to wait until day two. Once the vote has been taken, they will burn the ballots in the stove (that’s the smoke we’re looking for). If that smoke is white (the ballots having been burned with straw), that indicates that the Roman Catholic denomination has a new pope. If instead the smoke is black, that indicates no candidate received two-thirds vote and the cardinals are at an impasse. Historically, if the black smoke appears, the cardinals will take another vote immediately. If no candidate gets two-thirds vote, then the cardinals will continue this process for three more days, or until two-thirds vote is reached. If no pope is selected during that time, then the cardinals take a day off from voting for discussions, and the voting process commences again.

The real question is, Who will likely be the next pope? In the second part of this series, I broke down the likely candidates but didn’t comment at that time about the frontrunner. Even now, there is no real frontrunner, but I think we can safely eliminate several of the hopefuls from consideration. In that blog entry I initially profiled eight hopefuls. Of those eight we can, I think, safely eliminate some.

Christoph Schonborn, the 60 year-old from Austria, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, the 62 year-old from Honduras, and Angelo Scola, the 63 year-old from Italy may all be eliminated from consideration due to their ages. They are too young to follow the long reign of John Paul II. Keep in mind that Roman Catholics are now referring to JPII as “John Paul II the Great.” His reign was exceedingly long, and his legacy will be in mind when the cardinals choose the new pope. They won’t likely choose someone who might eclipse the long reign of JPII. They’ll rather prefer a pope who won’t be around very long.

That leaves five to consider. Of those five, we may eliminate the following:

Jean-Marie Lustiger, 78, from Paris is an ethnic Jew. The conclave will likely select a pope who will carry on the legacy of JPII, part of which was to make inroads into Islam. No Jewish pope will succeed at that, and so Lustiger will likely be eliminated from consideration.
Moreover, keep in mind that 50% of the voting cardinals are European. That is a significant consideration since there may be a political motive to choose one of their own. Also, it may mean a priori elimination of all non-European cardinals from consideration, such as Claudio Hummes, 70, from Brazil and Francis Arinze, 72, from Nigeria (although the latter may be included back in the mix for other reasons detailed below). That would leave two (or, perhaps, three) to consider:

Before considering the finalists, I need to comment on the current speculation by some that Cardinal Ratzinger may be selected. I just don’t see that happening. Ratzinger has a reputation as a conservative—much more so than JPII—and I just don’t think that will fare well among the 50% of voting European cardinals, most of whom would no doubt prefer a more liberal candidate. In short, Roman Catholicism has outgrown conservatism, and I don’t see the cardinals making what they would certainly perceive as a “backward” move by selecting someone who might impede the trajectory of liberal reforms initiated at Vatican II.

With that in mind, they may decide on Godfried Danneels, 71, from Belgium. Danneels is surely a favorite of moderates and liberals. However, he may be a bit too liberal at this stage in the trajectory. If he’s not chosen, then Dionigi Tettamanzi, 70, from Italy may be a shoo-in, since not only is he a European but is also seen as someone who would carry on the legacy of JPII.

Having said all this, Francis Arinze, 72, from Nigeria may be selected after all, based solely on his work with Muslims, Hindus, and other major religions. He, too, will be seen as one who would carry on the legacy of JPII.

Hence, given these candidates only, the frontrunner is either Dionigi Tettamanzi of Italy or Francis Arinze of Nigeria. Of course, both of these may be bypassed if the conclave decides to go with someone outside the current frontrunners. We may see later today or tomorrow. In either case, if I'm wrong on the selection, you'll read about it first on the RC discussion forums. : )

Friday, April 15, 2005

Marty Minto on MSNBC's Scarborough Country

Thanks to Jason Engwer for this update. Marty Minto was interviewed on MSNBC by Pat Buchanan, himself a staunch Roman Catholic, who was filling in for Joe Scarborough. Jason posted the transcript of that interview on the NTRMin Forum and I thought I'd post it here as well. So far, WORD-FM's take on this has not been substantiated.

WORD-FM Issues Its Official Line

I received a form letter response from my email letter of protest to WORD-FM over their firing of Marty minto. I know it's a form letter because I received two identical letters in response to two different emails sent to two separate email addresses for WORD. Here is the official line as of Friday, April 15:
Thank you for your email. I’d like to respond to your concerns.

The story in Thursday’s Pittsburgh Tribune Review would lead you to believe that we ended Mr. Minto’s program because “He questioned if the pope’s Roman Catholic beliefs would impede his entry to heaven.” This statement did not come from the management of WORD-FM. A similar headline accompanied an AP wire story that unfortunately was not fact checked. We have never placed any restrictions on subject matter for the talk show. Mr. Minto knows that. The decision to release Mr. Minto had been under consideration for an extended period, primarily because of our concern that he tended to unnecessarily alienate listeners; and was finalized well before the pope was in the news. The conclusion that he was released because of his views on the pope is completely without foundation. We regret that you were left with a perception that is false.

We always appreciate hearing from our listeners. Again, thank you!
At this point, I'm not buying it. It sounds too much like the station is attempting to cover its actions. There are still too many questions left unanswered. In what way was Mr. Minto "alienating listeners"? Just who are the listeners he was alienating? Do they happen to be the Roman Catholic and evangelical sympathizers of Roman Catholicism who have been posting their parting shots toward Marty Minto at the weblog of the show's Roman Catholic producer, Shaun Pierce? And why did Chuck Gratner, the general manager of the station, feel a need to call the Roman Catholic diocese to inform them that they had fired Minto? If there's a legitimate reason for the firing, why not be forthcoming about what it is? Why all the secrecy? Come clean, WORD FM--you still smell bad.

Update on Marty Minto and WORD-FM

Jason Engwer, who actually lives in PA and listens to WORD-FM, has offered this update on the Marty Minto situation. I will be adding more on Monday (or sooner if the news warrants it).

WORD-FM Pittsburgh To Release Press Statement

I have it from a reliable source (why do I suddenly feel like a reporter?) that Chuck Gratner, general manager for WORD-FM "Christian" radio, will be issuing a statement later today on the Marty Minto firing. We will keep you abreast.

The Firing of Marty Minto

This may come as a shock to some who read this blog, but I don't typically write in anger. I'll admit, I sometimes write with irony; sometimes with sarcasm; sometimes with a bit of frustration--and of course, I always write with passion. But these moods are really something different from anger.

But at the moment, I'm angry. I'm angry because of this headline being reported on “Pittsburgh Live.”

Pittsburgh talk-radio host Marty Minto says he spent most of his time on the air last week doing what he always does -- discussing current events from the perspective of an evangelical Christian. Following a week's worth of conversation on his WORD-101.5 FM show that questioned whether Pope John Paul II's Roman Catholic beliefs could be an impediment to entering heaven, station management pulled the plug. Minto was fired Friday, ending a three-year stint as host of the radio station's only locally produced show, which aired from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays.
Most of you have already heard that Marty Minto, who is also a pastor of a 100-member church, was fired from his position as a talk-show host—at a “Christian” radio station. Why? Did he commit some sin that would make it shameful for him to continue? No. Did he violate some biblical principle that would bring disgrace upon the reputation of the Christian radio station where he worked? No. Was he engaged in some kind of unchristian behavior? No.

What did he do? He had the unmitigated temerity to raise a question about the former pope’s eternal status based on the pope’s beliefs and teachings vis-à-vis the Scriptures!
"I was called into the office after my show Friday and told that I was being let
go because I was alienating the listeners," said Minto, 39, of New Castle,
Lawrence County. "As far as I'm concerned, I was doing what I've always done on
the radio -- look at events around the world from a biblical perspective," said
Minto. "I've always been willing to talk about controversial subjects.”
So just what did Minto say that resulted in his ouster?
During the week in which the news was dominated by the death and funeral of the pope, Minto discussed with callers John Paul II's deep devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Catholic beliefs, such as purgatory. "I made it clear that the discussion was not an attack on the character of the pope but, rather, a look at the teachings -- not only of John Paul, but the Catholic Church in general," Minto said. Minto said he responded to a question about whether the pope would go to heaven with the belief held by many evangelical Christians that a person must be "a born-again believer." "I said the question of whether a person is born again is something personal, something between an individual and the Creator," Minto said. "I believe it was a legitimate topic to discuss."
That’s it? That’s all he said? He merely raised a question about the pope’s salvation based on the pope's Roman Catholic teachings and beliefs, and he is fired? Just so we have the story straight, here’s his employer’s take on the situation.

Chuck Gratner, general manager of WORD-FM for the past 14 years, said the station does not dispute Minto's account of events. "We ended our relationship" with him because of differences in how he conducted his show, Gratner said. "WORD-FM needs to function in this city in support of the entire church -- that means everybody -- and not focus on denominational issues," he said.
Did you get that? The radio station affirms--and does not dispute--the fact that Marty Minto was fired for daring to suggest, based on the biblical gospel, that the pope might not be saved.
Chuck Gratner wants to be “supportive” of the “entire church.” What is the entire “church,” Chuck Gratner? Does it include Mormons too? They listen to the show, too, you know. Does it include Jehovah’s Witnesses? You certainly don’t want to exclude them from the “entire church.” Why? Well, because they might be listeners! So now the church consists of just anyone who listens to WORD-FM, regardless of whether their beliefs contradict the New Testament’s teaching of salvation by grace through faith apart from works? You know, that gospel for which Paul was imprisoned and eventually put to death? That gospel . . . remember that gospel? The one that stands alone among all the other “gospels” that cause a man to be “eternally condemned”? Remember that one, Chuck Gratner?

Be honest, Chuck Gratner. It’s really about money and sponsors, isn’t it Chuck Gratner? It’s really about how much you and your station can line your pockets, isn’t it Chuck Gratner? It’s really about the embarrassment and shame that accompanies the truth of the gospel, isn’t it Chuck Gratner? It’s really about not having the courage to stand for truth that’s no longer popular in an spiritually adulterous generation, isn’t it Chuck Gratner? That’s just a bit too much to ask, isn’t it? So, as a result you end up being darkness in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, and you end up cloaking the word of life so that the hapless followers of false gospels can be confirmed in their error and feel good about that error. Isn’t that really what it’s all about, Chuck Gratner?

A man lost his JOB! And for what?

Because his theologically naïve, spirit-of-the-age boss, Chuck Gratner—who would rather be politically correct than theologically correct, and who would rather be in the world than in the truth—cowardly decided to sell his birth-right and sing Kumbaya with a man who his entire papal career proclaimed a "gospel" that is antithetical to the apostolic gospel and cannot therefore save anyone, who led millions down the path to destruction by means of that “gospel,” and who in the end relied on Mary to save him. Is there any doubt in the mind of anyone who takes the Scriptures as his final authority that the pope can’t possibly be in heaven? NO ONE goes to heaven based on the Roman Catholic “gospel,” even if some make it there in spite of that gospel. NO ONE goes to heaven who relies for his salvation one the mother of the One mediator between man and God!


Is this what evangelicalism has really come to? Is this what evangelicalism is about? Is this what it stands for? Since when? You can’t even proclaim the truth on a “Christian" radio station anymore? My goodness, the same radio station broadcasts John MacArthur’s “Grace to You.” If their audience was going to be offended by someone, I know of no one better to do it that John! Have they not been listening? Will they now pull the plug on John MacArthur as well? A man gets fired because he says something that is actually right? He gets fired because he simply states the teaching of the New Testament? He gets fired because he says something that is truthful, and desperately in need of saying to balance the shameful, stupid, idiotic statements regarding the pope that have been coming from the mouths of the so-called evangelical "leadership" who have appeared on Fox News over the past couple of weeks?

How can this be? Who’s next? Will someone else get fired for daring to say that Mormons aren’t true Christians? You bet he will! Oh, perhaps not today or tomorrow. But it’s coming, mark my words. As soon as the shameful evangelicals who betrayed the gospel by holding a love-fest for the pope finally turn their lust toward Mormonism and decide to bed the Mormon “apostles” as their next lover, you can bet people are going to get fired over questioning the salvation of Mormons.

I am beyond disgusted.

I encourage everyone to contact WORD-FM and make your voice heard. Write them; call them; fax them; email them; contact them any way you can and let them know how disgusted you are over this. Here is their contact information:

WORD 101.5 FM
7 Parkway Center, Ste. 625
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
Tel: 412·937·1500 Fax: 412·937·1576
Talk Show Line: 412·921·8255
Station email:
Talk email:

I also encourage you to email Marty Minto at, a faithful pastor who has earned my respect for his stance for the truth of the gospel. Contact him and let him know how much you appreciate his stance for the truth, and for remaining faithful to the gospel, even to the point of losing his job at the hands of an unfaithful "Christian" radio station general manager who is more interested in pleasing men than pleasing God. I also encourage you to visit Marty's website.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Interesting Posts by Jonathan Prejean

Those of you familiar with my blog will automatically assume that I'm about to write a rebuttal to something Jonathan Prejean has posted. I'm happy to say that I won't be doing that this time, precisely because what Mr. Prejean has posted is spot on. Click here to read for yourself, and see how well Mr. Prejean has nailed the "reformed catholic" crowd on the issue of "vagueness." He certainly hasn't won any admirers at "reformed catholicism dot com." My hat goes off to him. Oh, and be sure to read the comments section--and if you appreciate what he wrote as much as I do, I encourage you to post a comment and let him know that.

I will be addressing the Marty Minto firing tomorrow. And yes, as some of you have reminded me, I still have not finished my series on the pope. I will finish that shortly.

The Sectarian Gnosticism of "Reformed" Catholicism Dot Com

. . . Or rather the sectarian gnosticism of one of its founders--and by implication the rest of that group.

Recently, I’ve been having an exchange with Tim Enloe at Jonathan Prejean’s blog, discussing his usual anti-baptist rantings. See this link, and this one as well to get up to speed with the discussion so far.

During the course of that discussion, I reminded Tim of his anti-baptist history by pointing him back to an earlier dialogue we had with him at the NTRMin Forum. During that discussion, Tim clearly showed himself to hold a glaringly inconsistent view. Here are the relevant links to that dialogue.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Anyone reading the entire dialogue will soon discover that Tim contradicts both himself and his denomination’s confederation (Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals or CRE), which includes Baptists. I have in my most recent dialogue with him continued to remind Tim of that contradiction. Here is how he responded on Jonathan’s blog:

The problem is that what describes your unity is nothing more than a single radicalized piece of the biblical revelation--that is, a piece removed from organic connection with the rest, abstracted out of space and time and placed in some airy-fairy mental land called "Soteriology"
The only thing thing that has been “abstracted out of space and time” is Tim’s ability to communicate to a twenty-first century audience. His woven metaphors sound so lofty until you realize that they don’t actually make any sense because they have no basis in reality. No one is “abstracting” or parcelling out the biblical revelation. And since no one is doing that, I won’t need to comment on it here.

and made into a stark dichotomizing principle that is far less about "exegesis" than it is about what Calvin called "immoderate severity" that causes people to fancy themselves departing from the assembly of the wicked whilst really they are turning traitor to Christ by leaving the lawful Church because it swarms with errors.
No, it’s exegesis. When Paul devotes an entire letter to the issue, that means he thinks it’s an important issue and that there are dangers to avoid. When Tim Enloe minimizes those dangers, we can rest assured that Tim Enloe does not share Paul’s mind.

Your description of Paul's Gospel as being a couple of propositions about not adding any works to faith, which you then so ruthlessly apply to the world that it causes you to hive off from everyone who even remotely appears to be "compromising" the dualism of your view, is a rather shallow way of reading Paul. I don't care how good you are at manipulating Greek symbols; you are NOT in the head of the original author with that sort of view.
I suppose if you mischaracterize your opponent long enough you’ll start to believe those mischaracterizations yourself. And there is a difference between someone who spends hours daily poring over the Scriptures, and someone who just talks about them in general terms but doesn’t actually get his feet wet. When Tim speaks of “shallow readings” of Paul, keep in mind this is a man who has never actually done exegesis, and does not see importance in dedicating one’s life, energy and time to the study of Scripture. How does he know mine is a “shallow reading” of Paul? Does he have first-hand knowledge of the right reading of Paul? Of course not. No one who deemphasizes the import of Scripture in ascertaining truth the way Tim Enloe does can speak about “right readings” or “shallow readings” of the Scriptures and hope to be taken seriously, simply because no one who avoids Scripture as much as he does can possibly know what the differences between those two things are. He thinks one can discover the mind of Paul simply by reading Mark Noll. That’s the extent of the “Bible study” Tim does.

At any rate, in the paradigm you hold, of course, I am "sectarian" because I divide up the precious unity of the sixteen or seventeen people who properly understand "the Gospel". Mea culpa, you got me there.
No, I think Tim is sectarian because of his deep-seated hatred of all things Baptist, who are, in his mind, nothing more than radical sectarian gnostics enslaved by the enlightenment. That’s a far cry from what I find in CRE, which embraces Baptists. Hence, even by their standards Tim is indeed sectarian.

As for the "tripe" about the failed Baptist experiment, well, you're remark seems to indicate you didn't even read the article I pointed you to. How you could say it's "tripe" is thus quite an interesting question.
Tim, of course, missed my point entirely. When the title of a work one is pushing on people is “The Baptist Failure,” and he accompanies that recommendation with his usual Baptist-hate-fest rhetoric, then it is clear to all that his sectarian mindset is out of step with his denomination’s mindset to include Baptists in their fold as members in good standing.

And of course, since you don't read historical books by Roman Catholics because Roman Catholics don't have the spiritual insight to properly interpret history, you miss out on some very compelling exegesis of the historical decline of Protestantism throughout the 19th century
And since Tim doesn’t read exegetical works by Evangelicals and other NT scholars, he misses out on actually knowing what real exegesis is. Once again, Tim merely presumes to know what I have and have not read, and that’s gotten him into trouble in the past. My entire doctoral dissertation is nothing if not constant interaction with the exegetical and historical works of major Roman Catholic scholars, both NT and patristic. And if Tim had bothered to look at my book on Mary—which I know he has because I sent it to him—he would know that.

The CREC contains Leithart. Leithart argues that baptist theology is secularism. The CREC does not explode over such things, but stays together and patiently works through difficult issues, trusting that one day God will bring unanimity.
Well, that’s my entire point. They don’t explode, but Tim clearly does (as everyone who has witnessed Tim's degeneration can readily testify). They stay together, but Tim clearly doesn’t—he’d rather separate from Baptists. They patiently work through difficult issues, but Tim clearly does not. He’d rather engage in Baptist bashing. Tim just keeps proving my point that he is a sectarian in this regard.

Now, what does CRE actually stand for? Here are some excepts from their Constitution:

The name of this confederation of churches is the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CRE). As a confederation, we intend to form a broad connection between churches which, with respect to polity, is representative, being neither hierarchical nor autonomous. By reformed, we call to mind the need to restore the church from many contemporary abuses, as well as testify that we stand in the stream of historic Protestant orthodoxy. As evangelicals, we desire to confess the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in both love and doctrinal integrity. Our gathering of churches is not intended as a separation from other orthodox believers who confess the name of Christ, but rather as a gathering within that broader church, in order to work together effectively for reformation.
Two points here. First, the members of CRE call themselves “evangelicals.” Tim, as we all know, has renounced that term and expressly states that he is not an evangelical. In fact, he has posted an article in which he explicitly states that he "hates evangelicalism." Hence, Tim is a sectarian by the standards of his own denomination’s confederation. The other glaring difference is CRE’s use of the phrase “doctrinal integrity.” That sounds an awful lot like another phrase Tim has mocked in the past. You see, Tim doesn’t believe “doctrinal integrity” should be the measure of anything precisely because “doctrinal integrity” is so subjective and one of those "catch phrases" that easily marks us “Gnostic sectarians.” Recall Tim’s love for mockingly placing the phrase “doctrinal purity” in quotation marks when characterizing us. The phrase “doctrinal integrity” comes awfully close to that dreaded “doctrinal purity” that Tim so despises. Are they close? Let’s find out. The Constitution continues:

Our desire is simply to acknowledge, preserve and manifest unity, preserve purity, and advance Christ’s kingdom in orderly and reasonable way, resulting in mutual edification, accountability, and spiritual discipline.
Hmmm . . . it sure sounds as though the CRE is at least bordering on being radical sectarian Gnostics. Ah, who am I kidding . . . that is far too kind. If we use Tim Enloe's standard, then it is absolutely clear by their pursuit of “doctrinal purity” that the members of CRE are indeed nothing more than "RADICAL SECTARIAN GNOSTICS who just want to FLEE FROM THE MATERIAL WORLD"! As soon as he sees this, I’ll expect Tim to be looking for another denomination in which he can comfortably extol the virtues of throwing off this brand of "modernistic nonsense." I’ll also be watching his blog closely for his “coming out” letter in which he decries the "modernistic thinking" of the members of CRE. The constitution continues:

Consequently, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we charge you, the generations who will follow us in this confederation, to submit to the Scriptures with sincere and honest hearts, and to the standards of this confederation as consistent with the teaching of Scripture. When a portion of our order and confession is found to be out of conformity to Scripture, we charge you to amend it honestly, openly, and constitutionally, as men who must give an account to the God who searches the hearts of men.
Here again we find a much different mindset than we see in Tim Enloe. The members of CRE expect to be judged by and conformed by the Scriptures, not by some confession, which they expect future generations to evaluate and change as needed. That’s not at all the mindset of Tim Enloe, who would lose his breath at the idea that the historic confessions he holds could somehow be "amended" by later generations who may understand the Scriptures a bit better than their forerunners. The enlovian fear of such a departure from "historic orthodoxy" is that we would then be operating in our "modernist culture" without submitting to the “historic church.” But that’s not the attitude of the CRE men, who expect to be corrected by a later generation’s understanding of Scripture. CRE is open to correction from the Scriptures; Tim Enloe is not.

Article I. Authority of Scripture
The Scriptures are always the ultimate and inerrant court of appeal. . . . Because this is a constitutional document, a certain emphasis must be placed on creeds and confessions in what follows. . . . However, in no way is it our intention to set such confessions of faith above or alongside the Scriptures. Our expectation is that all our churches will routinely teach and preach the whole counsel of God as expressed in Scripture (Acts 20:27; Matt. 4:4), and in all matters of doctrinal discussion and debate, an appeal to Scripture will always be the first resort. In accordance with our creedal and confessional standards, we acknowledge the preeminence of Scripture.
I think this one is evident on its face. CRE upholds the Scriptures to be the final authority—by which they necessarily mean our understanding of Scripture, of course. Tim Enloe does not. He thinks rather that ancient creeds and confessions stand over our understanding of Scripture, much the same way that Roman Catholics believe councils and magisterium stand over our understanding of Scripture. And in any case, Tim Enloe's "appeal to Scripture" in "doctrinal discussions and debate" is never a "first resort." Nor is is a second, third, fourth--or even last--resort. Once again, we see Tim’s departure from a constitution to which his denomination most certainly subscribes.

Article II. Local Congregations
Controversies within a local congregation regarding matters arising from differences between our various confessions will not be adjudicated beyond the local church level. All churches agree to work cheerfully and carefully in their study of doctrinal differences, and to strive for like-mindedness with one another.
“Work cheerfully and carefully” in doctrinal differences and “strive for like-mindedness with one another”? I don’t think anyone can accuse Tim Enloe of doing that; otherwise, he’d be one of those “Bapterians” he has ridiculed in the past. Once again, the mindset and approach of Tim Enloe and those of CRE are worlds apart.

Article VI. Ministerial Calling
The CRE affirms the need for spiritually-disciplined, well-educated pastors, qualified in their households, grounded in rigorous and wise handling of the Scriptures, and exhibiting a thorough understanding of the biblical world and life view.
“Rigorous and wise handling of the Scriptures”? “Exhibiting a thorough understanding of the biblical world and life view”? Hasn’t Tim Enloe gone on record stating that this kind of thing can’t be done? Sounds like exegesis to me; and we all know that’s not something Tim Enloe would be caught dead doing.

Any candidate for pastor, minister, or teacher within the CRE will be examined by a local session of elders with regard to his manner of life, knowledge of Scripture, and doctrinal understanding. The presbytery will also examine him with regard to his manner of life, knowledge of Scripture, and doctrinal understanding.
Wow; there’s certainly a lot of emphasis placed on “knowledge of Scripture” and “doctrinal understanding.” Don’t they know, via Tim Enloe’s articles, that this is not the really important thing; and that you can’t attain it even if it were important?

Oh, and look what else the CRE Constitution includes:

An Evangelical Statement (Adapted from the National Association of Evangelicals)
1. We believe the Bible to be the only inerrant Word of God. It is our only ultimate and infallible authority for faith and practice.

2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is omnipotent, that is, He is all-powerful. He is omnipresent, that
is, He is present throughout all Creation but not limited by it. He is omniscient, that is, nothing is hidden from His sight. In all things He is limited by nothing other than His own nature and character.

3. We believe the God we serve is holy, righteous, good, severe, loving and full of mercy. He created the heavens and earth, and everything in them, in the space of six ordinary days, and all very good. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of everything that has been made.

4. We believe in the true deity and full humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father and in His personal return in power and glory.

5. We believe in the full deity of the Holy Spirit, acknowledging Him together with the Father and the Son in the works of creation and redemption.

6. We believe that because of Adam’s sin all mankind is in rebellion against God. For the salvation of such lost and sinful men, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary.

7. We believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone, and that faith without works is dead.

8. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.

9. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and lost; those who are saved to the resurrection of life, and those who are lost to the resurrection of damnation.

10. We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine that: a “set of propositions” that CRE and Tim’s denomination thinks is important. That's an awful lot of "we believes." Does Tim believe they are important as well? Well, fortunately we don’t have to guess; we have Tim’s past writings to guide us. Tim has written enough on how much he despises “theological propositions” over the years to fill a warehouse. Moreover, this is a doctrinal statement created by the National Association of Evangelicals. Tim has denied he is an evangelical. He despises evangelicalism. I wonder, does he agree with the NAE statement of faith? Perhaps he's an evangelical after all and just doesn't know it because he doesn't really know what it means. Does he approve of CRE’s use of it? Does he find his views and mindset--indeed, his faith confession--to be consistent with those of the members of CRE and his own denomination? Oh, and notice statement number seven: “We believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone, and that faith without works is dead.” Imagine that. A “couple of propositions” that CRE and Tim’s denomination thinks are essential to the faith. Does Tim think they are essential as well? Again, we know by his voluminous writings on this issue that he does not.

Here is how one CRE member church characterizes the “Classic reformed works” that Tim thinks are the sine qua non of Christianity:

That “Classic Reformed works” should form the foundation of theological study requires qualification. . . . [It] can result in two dangers. (1) It potentially stifles fresh and creative thought as respects the biblical text; it is a practical denial that new light is always breaking forth from the Word of God and a denial of several of the Reformation’s most vital principles: ad fontes (“to the sources”), sola scriptura (Scripture alone), and ecclesia reformata ecclesia semper reformanda est (“the Reformed church is always reforming itself”). (2) Church historical issues are too often allowed to set the agenda of exegesis. In other words, we are told beforehand what conclusions must be avoided at all costs (this could be termed “peer pressure hermeneutics”).
In my past dialogue with Tim, it became clear that he views the word “Reformed” as something like “holding to the same doctrine of the Reformers” (which is the same mistake made by all those at reformed catholicism dot com, even though none of them holds to the same doctrine of the Reformers in all respects, and in fact cannot do so since the Reformers themselves held mutually exclusive views on things), rather than “holding to the same principles of the Reformers,” including ad fontes, sola scriptura, semper reformanda. These are things that neither Enloe nor any of his cohorts hold. They don’t believe we should go to the sources—that was solely the prerogative of the Reformers. They don’t believe we should uphold Scripture alone—sola scriptura to them is something like “scripture only as interpreted by the “historic church” (whatever that means—the “historic church” also found a pope and purgatory in the Bible), which principle we have already seen is denied not only by the CRE statements on the authority of Scripture but also by the views of this particular member church ("Church historical issues are too often allowed to set the agenda of exegesis. In other words, we are told beforehand what conclusions must be avoided at all costs"). And they certainly do not believe that the church should always be reforming itself (in conformity to the Scriptures). In fact, believe it or not, Tim Enloe specifically intimated this to me in my early discussions with him on this issue. He actually proposed that only the Reformers had the right to reform, and we don’t. He could give me no basis for that assertion, of course, but that’s what he believes.

The CRE member-church article continues:

In all this, are we setting aside Systematic theology as illegitimate? No. There will always be a place for topical study of the Bible, along with a reply to the various non-biblical answers to life’s basic questions. If we believe that the Word of God abides forever, then we believe that it must address the burning issues of every age. However, we are warning against an overestimation of its importance. Systematic theology, at least in my view, is not the crowing achievement of all theological endeavour, to which the other departments of theology contribute. It must itself be informed and disciplined by exegesis and Biblical theology. Systematic theology and the church’s confessions are useful tools for teaching, but they must remain as flexible as our growing understanding of the purposes of God in the history of salvation. The danger of an undue emphasis on Systematic theology is that it becomes the hermeneutical control over subsequent study, thereby occupying an unwarranted place in the hermeneutical circle.
The entire article can be found here. The bold text is obviously juxtaposed to what Tim Enloe believes on these things; in fact, he violates every one of those principles. He doesn't think we can "overestimate the importance" of Classical Reformed works. He doesn't believe that our agreement with the Reformers "must itself be informed and disciplined by exegesis and Biblical theology." He doesn't believe historical confessions are mere "useful tools for teaching." And he certainly does not believe those confessions are subject to our "growing understanding of the purposes of God in the history of salvation."

Which leads me to my conclusion (stated throughout this entry): Tim Enloe’s view is incompatible with the views of his own denomination, with their CRE Constitution, and with the views of the CRE member churches. Tim stands alone. He is a sectarian (and presumably a Gnostic one since he seems to have some "enlightened" condition that none of the other members of his denomination has—and, unlike Tim and his cohorts, I’m using the word "Gnostic" in its historically accurate sense). His views, approach, attitude and mindset stand in stark contradiction to those of his own denomination. I hope they are able to call him back to his senses, as the rest of us have been unsuccessful at that.

Oh, and by the way; through all this Tim Enloe has still not told us in just what way he is accountable to his leaders. If he does not submit to their purposes in CRE--making their purpose his, their burden his, their goal his, their attitude and mindset his, their emphasis on the preeminence and authority of Scripture his, their emphasis on the "integrity and purity of doctrine" his--then just how and in what way does he think he's submitted to them and is therefore accountable to them? We'll never know, of course, because he'll never answer this. Indeed, he can't answer it because to answer it will mean betraying the inherent contradictions of his own views.