Archive for May, 2014

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This image via Wickipedia

“A long heritage of reflection argues that if freedom of religion is progressively trimmed, it is only a matter of time before freedom,more comprehensively envisaged, is also progressively trimmed. It is not for nothing that freedom of religion is often called the first freedom – not merely in historical sequence, but in its foundational power.”
-Carson, D. A.. The intolerance of tolerance. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2012. Loc. 1669 of 2278, Kindle file.

The erosion of religious freedom is no trivial matter. If Christianity is forced into total privatization, rest assured “democratic tyranny” will lead to a type of political tyranny of a sort this nation has never known. When atheistic naturalism has eliminated the only moral voice opposing it (religion), freedom of religion will not be the only nor the last “inalienable right” to be alienated. My guess would be that the right to free expression or the right to bear arms will be targeted next.

This is what John Loeffler of the Steel on Steel radio program calls the “attack of the comma-buts”, which goes something like “yes you have the right to (fill in the blank), but (insert some supposedly conflicting right-legitimate or state-contrived) trumps that right.”

In a world without restraint from actual objective moral truth, to muzzle and kick-to-the-curb the only prophetic voice urging moral sanity, is opening the way for the worst of the prophetic passages of the Bible. To be silent now is to commit intellectual and political suicide.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

20140522-092146-33706680.jpg Image titled SCIENTIST PARKING ONLY by Evan P. Cordes used through a CC license

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.”
–Richard Lewontin, Evolutionary scientist, as quoted by J. Warner Wallace in Cold-Case Christianity

A surprisingly honest admission of bias by a scientist. Worldviews matter, people.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

Image via 499716-oh-so-i-m-a-judgmental-hypocrite-how-so-very-non-judgmentally-hypocritical-of-you

It is becoming nearly impossible for Christians to express an opposing viewpoint in the public square, thanks mostly to the redefinition of a very important word in our society: “tolerance”.

The original definition of tolerance had three important statements:

“1) Permitting or allowing
2) a conduct or point of view one disagrees with
3) while respecting the person in the process.” (1)

This whole process assumes disagreement over an idea. It is amusing, as well as frustrating, to be attacked personally with ad hominem attacks by people who are proclaiming tolerance.

The new definition of tolerance basically means:

1) accepting and embracing
2) a conduct or point of view which one can never disagree with,
3) while never respecting the person who transgresses point 1and 2.

It was Peter Kreeft who penned this little ditty:

“Be egalitarian regarding persons.
Be elitist regarding ideas.”

As a culture, the “spiritual not religious” crowd has turned this statement on its ear. From simple observation, one gets the idea that we are to be elitist towards persons, and egalitarian towards ideas.

I realize there have been Christians guilty of personal attacks against individuals, but in this author’s humble opinion, most Christians are only guilty of being elitist towards ideas. We are very aware of how painful it is to be labeled by the intellectually-lazy. It’s easy to hurl personal insults. It takes blood, sweat, and tears to do the homework necessary to engage someone honestly and civilly with an opposing view.

At the center of this redefinition is moral relativism. There is no objective moral truth. All points of view are equally valid, unless you disagree that all points of view are equally valid.

The other word that is hurled at Christians who believe in objective moral truth is “judgmental”. We are constantly being labeled judgmental, simply for the fact that we consider certain ethical and moral precepts to be binding on all people. Most of the time, these same precepts were considered normative less than a generation ago. Simply telling someone they’re wrong is enough to elicit outrage. Chastising someone for lack of self-control, either in their behavior or their language is equivalent to physical assault. We are “shoving religion down someone’s throat” for pointing out that said someone is morally responsible to God and man for their behavior. Cultural totalitarianism is setting us up for governmental totalitarianism.

The group most guilty of this “reverse intolerance” are the dabblers in religion. These are the “spiritual not religious”, who like to partake of superficial tidbits of the various religions of the world, without committing to any particular faith. They love to quote religious platitudes, but refuse to wrestle with the truth claims of the various religions. They post religious memes, but denigrate religious creeds. Their religion is “kindness”, but their attitude towards those with objective morals is anything but kind.

In light of this, I leave you with a few quotes that communicate my point in a much more eloquent manner.

“Judgment works both ways… If love means never making a judgment, shouldn’t that go both ways? It’s impossible to be neutral on important ethical issues.”
-Melinda Penner, Stand To Reason Blog

“A judicial action, a factual assessment, a hypocritical arrogance — all are judgments. Only the third is disqualified by Jesus. The first two are actually virtues in their proper settings and therefore commanded by Scripture. Those are the scriptural facts.”
-Gregory Koukl, Tactics: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions

“Most of what passes for tolerance today is nothing more than intellectual cowardice, a fear of intelligent engagement. Those who brandish the word “intolerant” are unwilling to be challenged by other views or grapple with contrary opinions, or even to consider them. It’s easier to hurl an insult—”you intolerant bigot”—than to confront an idea and either refute it or be changed by it. In the modern era, “tolerance” has become intolerance.”
-Greg Koukl, “The Intolerance of Tolerance”, http://www.townhall.com

“It is better to be divided by Truth, than to be united in error. It is better to speak the Truth that hurts and then heals, than to speak a lie that will comfort and then kill. It is better to be hated for telling the Truth, than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the Truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. Better to ultimately die with the Truth, than to live with a lie.”
-Adrian Rogers

“These days it’s not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture today to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not bad enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept, but they now demand of us to celebrate it too.”
-Ravi Zacharias

“It is fashionable these days to claim to be spiritual but not religious. And why not? The dictionary tells us that the word religion stems from two Latin roots re + ligare, the latter of which means to bind, to tie up. To be religious means to bind oneself to a particular body of beliefs of which one is not the author. It means to accept that one is personally bound to a way of life and faith to which one submits or, more scandalously, to which one has been committed by others, most notably by one’s parents or sponsors at baptism.

This binding character of religion is difficult for our contemporaries to make sense of, given the modern predilection for attaching personal obligations to the voluntary principle and the concomitant suspicion of all duties we have not freely assumed. We would prefer to go up to the spiritual smorgasbord, sampling a little of “the Quran, Black Elk, Lao-tse or Starhawk” without actually becoming a committed Muslim, Native Spiritist, Taoist or earth goddess worshipper. Many of us like to dabble in exotic spiritualities without having to identify with any one of them.”
-David T. Koyzis, “THE DABBLERS’ INTOLERANCE”

http://www.firstthings.com/index.php?permalink=blogs&blog=firstthoughts&year=2012&month=10&&entry_permalink=the-dabblers-intolerance

1. Koukl, Gregory. “Gregory Koukl – The Intolerance of Tolerance.” townhall.com. Townhall, 14 Dec. 2006. Web. 22 May 2014.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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This is the Theological Hall in the Strahov Monastery in Prague. Image by Andreas Gohr, used through a CC license. This image has not been altered.

“The value of theological studies, in an intellectual point of view, does not consist so much in the amount of information as in the amount of energy imparted by them. The doctrines of theology, like the solar centres, are comparatively few in number, and while the demand they make on the memory is small, the demand they make on the power of reflection is infinite and unending. For this reason theological studies are in the highest degree fitted to originate and carry on a true education. There is an invigorating virtue in them which strengthens while it unfolds the mental powers, and therefore the more absorbing the intensity with which the mind dwells upon them, the more it is endued with power.
-William G.T.Shedd, Discourses and Essays, pg. 28, as quoted by Eric Parker

via http://feedly.com/e/PiQ8Sd38

Remember this the next time someone tells you that the study of theology is useless. There is a reason for the fact that at one time, theology was deemed “the queen of the sciences”. The study of Christian theology stimulated the minds of many scientists who have made great scientific discoveries. In point-of-fact, to eliminate theistic philosophy and theology is to stifle the greatest source of wonder and deeper reflection known to man.

Psalm 40:4-5, ESV

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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Image by Savio Sebastian through a CC license.

It’s not legalism or works-righteousness that drives the Christian to obey The Lord, but love and gratitude.

John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

“The imputing of Christ’s righteousness to us in justification ensures that there is nothing we can do to attain or maintain our just standing before God. But that should not hinder us from a bold call to obedience as well. Those who obey, do so, not not in order to be saved or maintain that standing, but BECAUSE they are saved… because we are born again. And when we fail to obey, thanks be to God, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, who forgives us our sins. Those who have the Holy Spirit will mourn over their sin. If we do not judge ourselves God will discipline us so that we will not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:31)”

-John Hyndrex

via http://feedly.com/k/1ikekxi

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Image by o5com through a CC license. No changes were made to this image.

1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

If you love The Lord and love truth, you will never misrepresent or belittle the beliefs of someone you disagree with. Be forceful in the defense of your beliefs, but remember that the other person has dignity and deserves respect as an image-bearer of God, however marred that image may be. Ask questions…restate their statements accurately to be sure you understand their position. Offer them a cup of coffee. Look them in the eye.

It could be that your thoughtfulness and respect will win the day when your arguments won’t. Just a thought.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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image by OUCHcharley through a CC license

We are always tempted to come to Christ according to our own merit (Justification), or to better ourselves through our own merit (Sanctification).

Because of our present abhorrence of biblical terms, we need to clearly define Justification. I define Justification as the legal action through which God declares a person as just or righteous.

But with God, we have to come empty-handed, or Grace will not be Grace. That’s the difference between the Reformers’ definition of justification (Sola Gratia and Sola Fide), and the Roman Catholic definition of Justification, which involves a complicated formula that consists of:

“Actual Grace, Faith, Good Works, Baptism, Participation in the Sacraments, Penance, Indulgences, and Keeping the Commandments.”[1]

I won’t get into the subtleties of Roman Catholicism other than to say that the Roman Catholic formula for Justification looks thusly:

Justification = Faith + Works

This is simplistic, but it does give credit to Roman Catholicism for the belief in Justification by Faith as a necessary element in Justification.

The Reformers made the distinction of “Faith Alone”. Their formula would look like this:

Faith = Justification + Works

For Roman Catholics, faith is a necessary component of Justification, but not a sufficient component. Just as oxygen is a necessary component of fire, but not sufficient on its own (fire requires oxygen and a fuel source), so faith is not sufficient on its own, but requires works (Baptism, Penance, etc.).

This is illustrated in the Council of Trent, Session 6:

“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 XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that it is necessary for every one, for the obtaining the remission of sins, that he believe for certain, and without any wavering arising from his own infirmity and disposition, that his sins are forgiven him; let him be anathema.

CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.”[2]

Until the Roman Catholic Church rescinds these anathemas, there can be no true reconciliation between themselves and Protestants. It doesn’t matter how many conciliatory documents are signed by well-meaning Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, the Council of Trent is binding.

The Roman Catholic doctrine of Justification can be summarized as follows:

“The Roman Catholic doctrine of justification may be summarized by the following points: 1. Baptism is the instrumental cause of justification.
2. Justification is by infused grace.
3. Believers must cooperate with and assent to grace to the extent that righteousness becomes inherent within them.
4. Faith is necessary for justification but not sufficient for it.
5. A person is justified until or unless he or she commits a mortal sin.
6. The second plank of justification is the sacrament of penance by which works of satisfaction must be done to gain congruous merit.
7. Believers who die without being pure must go to purgatory for cleansing before they enter heaven. 8. A person is justified by faith plus works.
9. A person is justified by grace plus merit.
10. Justification is effected scare mentally.
11. Sola Fide is rejected and anathematized as a false Gospel.”[3]

For the Reformers, Justification was forensic. That means that a person has been declared righteous. It doesn’t mean you are just in yourself, or that you are made to be just. It means that righteousness is imputed to you. You have been declared righteous by Divine Edict.

The Reformed doctrine of Double Imputation illustrates this point.

“In the atonement, God lays upon Jesus our sins. Jesus is the Lamb without blemish who receives our blemishes by imputation. He is our substitute, so that God pours out the wrath of his judgment on Christ who vicariously accepts the imputation of our guilt and sin. On the cross Jesus was simul justus et peccator in the opposite way from us in our justification. On the cross Jesus was just in himself and sinner by imputation. When Scripture speaks of Jesus becoming sin for us, it does not mean that he became in himself a sinner. If that were the case, he would not have been worthy to save himself, let alone us.”[4]

Imputation works one way for Christ, with our sins being imputed to Christ. It works for the sinner exactly opposite. Christ’s Righteousness is imputed or laid on us. It isn’t ours any more than our sins were Christ’s. That’s why Martin Luther called Christ’s Righteousness “Alien”, and “extra nos” (outside of us).

All of this begins for us when God gives us faith, and we believe God’s Word of Law and Gospel, and come to Him with empty hands. We have nothing He wants, we have nothing to offer that is untainted by sin, not even our very selves. This coming through Faith Alone, or Sola Fide, was so important that Martin Luther said it was “the article with and by which the church stands.”

Do not think that the difference between the Protestant and Roman Catholic doctrines of Justification is a minor point. The Reformers risked life and limb to bring the church universal back to the belief in Christ Alone, by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, according to Scripture Alone, for God’s Glory Alone.

Grace requires an empty hand. We have to let go of the idea that we can bring anything of worth to Him to merit salvation. Nothing means nothing…period.

I end this with the second and third stanzas of Rock of Ages, and a long quote by Charles Spurgeon.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

“God’s grace is powerful, and it brings full salvation to the soul of the person who despairs of anything other than free, unmerited grace. Grace cannot clasp the hand that carries within it ideas of merit, or good works, or any other kind of human addition to grace. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6). God’s wondrous grace cannot be mixed with human merit. The hand that holds onto its own alleged goodness, or attempts to sneak in a merit here, a good work there, will not find the open hand of God’s grace. Only the empty hand fits into the powerful hand of grace. Only the person who finds in Christ his all-in-all will, in so finding, be made right with God. This is why the Scriptures say it is by faith so that it might be in accordance with grace: in God’s wisdom, he excludes man’s boasting by making salvation all of grace.”

-Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace, as quoted by Dr. James White

via http://vintage.aomin.org/empty.html

1. Slick, Matt. “Attaining Salvation in Roman Catholicism.” Salvation in Roman Catholicism. CARM.org, n.d. Web. 5 May 2014.

2. “~The Council of Trent – Session 6~.” ~The Council of Trent – Session 6~. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014.

3. Sproul, R. C.. Justified by Faith Alone. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010. Print. Pg. 31, Kindle file.

4. Ibid, pg. 37, Kindle file.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams