Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Returning to His Roots"


If you think the subtitle above the graphic is my own invention (sardonically stated), you're wrong--it's part of the headline of an article that appears in the Fall 2006 (vol 2, no 3) edition of Denver Seminary Magazine. Denver Seminary, formally known as "Denver Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary" (monikers the seminary proudly bore as recently as forty years ago, but would certainly disavow today), used to be a sound, reliable evangelical institution that stood for and upheld truth. It now boasts, "Although the Seminary has roots in the Conservative Baptist denomination, since its beginning, Denver Seminary has been broadly evangelical and has served students from many denominations and backgrounds. " In other words, we're embarrassed to have so narrowly defined ourselves, and our current-day glory is in our shame--and we have demonstrated that by proudly extending the right hand of fellowship to adherents and defenders of a false gospel!"

That the seminary has disavowed its roots is obvious enough from the differences between the CBA Statement of Faith (their originating organization), and Denver Seminary's preferred adherence to the comparatively anemic NAE Statement of Faith (that stalwart institution that selected Ted Haggard as its leader). But it is even more obvious from the recent article referenced above, in which former "evangelical" Matt Boettger is championed for his decision to return to Rome. The article approvingly states:
A May 2006 graduate of Denver Seminary, Matt’s not giving himself much downtime. Having completed a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in New Testament, he’s ready to tackle his next goal: earning a Ph.D. He one day hopes to teach New Testament at a Catholic University. Catholic? Yes, because Matt is a Bible-believing Christian who also happens to be Catholic.
The article continues:
He experienced a season of rebellion while he was anundergraduate at the University of Nebraska. His junior year, he rediscovered Christ through his involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. This was his introduction to “evangelicalism” and while he plunged head first into this new life, two years later he was drawn back to Catholicism. . . . After this fervent study of his Catholic roots, he concluded that he wanted to return to the Catholic church.
But the most revealing part of the article comes when Boettger is asked to define the similarities between Evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism:
"We both believe in a great personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and we both believe that obedience to Christ as Lord is very important. Evangelicals and Catholics both believe that all of our good works flow from faith. We can start there. Both are convicted of the fact that no good work can come outside of the context of the grace of God.” He added, “If these similarities come as a shock, then it may be due to a significant misunderstanding of the Catholic doctrine of justification by many non-Catholics and Catholics alike."
Yes, the separation is always due to a simple "misunderstanding" of the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification, isn't it? Martin Luther, John Calvin, and all the rest of the Reformers just did not understand that Rome really teaches justification by faith alone. And the framers of the council of Trent just did not understand what the Reformers' big objection was when they defined their doctrine of justification. It was all a big misunderstanding, and the Reformation was completely unnecessary!

. . . And gullible. misinformed "Evangelicals," like those at Denver Seminary, will always fall for that line.

The article continues:

In spite of these similarities, Boettger shared that in conversations with Evangelicals—including those within the Seminary community—few can correctly articulate Catholic theology as it is understood by the Catholic Church, and such misunderstandings make finding common ground difficult. . . . Boettger believes that the division is due to misunderstanding. “There’s no reason to have the big chasm between the two of us,” he said.“There really are two theological grids by which we interpret Scripture, but if Evangelicals would try to understand the Catholic faith as expressed by the official documents, I really believe we would be much closer than we are now,” he explains. “The majority of tension is because of misrepresentation. If only we’d be willing to try and understand each other.” [italics mine]

For the sake of both Boettger and the gullible Evangelicals at Denver Seminary, here are the "official documents" that define Roman Catholic belief on this issue (from Trent's Sixth Session):

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIV.-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 XXXII.-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,-if so be, however, that he depart in grace,-and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

As with Paul and the Galatian chuches, one can forgive the sheep who are led astray by error. They merely need exhortation and correction back to the truth of the gospel. But one can hardly forgive the willful ignorance of those who position themselves as representing the evangelical faith when they gleefully embrace a system of justification against which Paul issued the harshest of condemnations:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:6-9)


HT: Pastor Jim Brooks (www.crossroadsbiblechurch.org)


Friday, November 10, 2006

New Resource Page Added

Our Research Tools page, which has been blank for the past year, is now rebuilt and contains several tools for Bible study. If you are currently viewing the NTRMin site, just click the link at the left to access it. If you're reading this blog sans NTRMin, click the here instead. We will be constantly revising and updating this page. If you would like to submit a site for consideration (keeping in mind this is not a reciprocating links offer), email us at webmaster@ntrmin.org.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John MacArthur Interviewed on Albert Mohler

If only more evangelical pastors were faithful ministers of the gospel instead of pandering prophets. John spoke at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His two addresses can be found here.