Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

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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 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

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photo via http://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Resurrection_of_Christ.jpg by Hendrick van den Broeck

On this most holy of days, may you stop and contemplate the fact that God tabernacled among us in human flesh. He was one Person with two natures-Divine and human.

We are in such dire straits…dead in our trespasses and sins, that we can’t save ourselves. Our crime is rebellion against an infinitely Holy God. The debt must be paid by an Infinite Being. We don’t fit-the-bill.

But God, being rich in mercy, didn’t leave us as we deserve.

The Trinity, before there was anything but their three Persons in one Being, decided to save for Themselves a people.

When the time was right, God the Father sent His Eternally-unique Son to actively fulfill His Righteous Commands in His Life, and passively suffer our punishment in His Passion.

He suffered our punishment, He died our death. He was put in a borrowed tomb, for borrowed sins. When He cried “it is finished!” (gk. Telestai-the debt is paid in full), it truly was.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end with just having our sin-debt paid. On Easter morning, our Savior rose from the grave.

He secured for us more than a reboot to Adam’s state in the garden. He secured for us an Eternal future with immortal bodies like His. He secured for us a future devoid of the penalty, power, and presence of sin. He secured for us a closeness to the Father that Adam never had. Wherever Jesus will be, we’ll be with Him. When the Father looks at us, He sees Us through His Beloved Son.

Celebrate with me, and remember the words to these wonderful hymns:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain:
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure?
The saints’ and angels’ song!

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

He is alive, and He is Lord,
Now crowned with heaven’s highest name;
And there in Him, by love restored,
With all creation we’ll proclaim:
“Worthy the Lamb, the Great I Am,
All glory, power, and might.”
With joy we’ll trace His boundless grace
In all its depth and height.

And finally,

1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

2. Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

5. Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

6. King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

Happy, glorious Easter!

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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Jesus giving the Farewell Discourse (John 14-17) to his disciples, after the Last Supper, from the Maesta by Duccio, 1308-1311.

There really is a false dichotomy being promoted in modern Evangelicalism, epitomized by Rick Warren’s creed (sic), “…deeds, not creeds…”

We cannot practice the Christian Faith without knowing what we’re doing. It’s like trying to build a house without a blueprint. Sure you could start building immediately, but I wouldn’t want to live in it.

We should never be forced to choose between loving God with our minds, and loving God with our hearts, or loving God with our hands. All three are necessary.

We would rather do than think. Google has made us stupid, because we don’t know the steps to critical thinking, and intelligent inquiry.

‘Tis laziness that compels us to bypass theology for practice. Avoiding either step is detrimental to our maturity as believers.

“The modern dichotomy between doctrine and life, theology and discipleship, knowing and doing, theory and practice has had disastrous consequences in the life of the church and it’s witness in the world.”

— Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, Loc 111, Kindle File

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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I’m a ‘Bama fan, but the Aggie’s tradition of the 12th man intrigues me. It seems in 1922, during a hard fought game, A&M’s reserves were low, but the coach remembered an unsuited squad man who was in the press box. The mans name was E. King Gill. He suited up but never played. At the end of the game, he was supposedly quoted as saying, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”1

I went through all of that to get to the point of this post.

Last year, I sat through the entire Bible miniseries, self-inflicting myself with hoarseness and a possible aneurism, much to the consternation of my family (I yelled at the tv a lot).

One of the most irritating parts of the whole debacle was the ever-presence of the woman named Mary wherever Jesus was. She’s in the boat when Jesus calms the storm. She’s with Him even in the private conversations He has with His Disciples. She goes into the tomb of Lazarus with Jesus (which neither did). She’s the wisest and most outspoken of all the followers of Christ. She is portrayed at the Crucifixion as the bravest of souls, and she’s the first on the scene at The Resurrection of Christ.

Now, I will be the first to proclaim that Jesus is the best thing to happen for women in all of history. He ministered to women as equals in His Compassion. Many of His miracles were in response to women, and there were actually three ladies at the Empty Tomb.

However, to make this generic “Mary” the 13th Disciple , was totally uncalled for. The symbolic meaning of the 12 Disciples just doesn’t work with a 13th added in to represent the feminists. All you have to do is think about the fact that there are no 13th floors in buildings to get the idea. The feminine gender was well-represented in the Gospels. We don’t need the super-imposition of a “Mary”. In fact, to add to the words of Scripture carries a hefty penalty in the book of Revelations

The tradition of the 12th man is great for the morale of the Aggie’s, but a 13th disciple just to please the culture warriors amongst us is not necessary.

Don’t even get me started on the whole “Peter, just give me an hour and I’ll give you a whole new life”, or “we’re going to change world” exchange with Peter.

I cringe every time Hollywood attempts a “Jesus movie”, or any Biblically-based film. This one, I think, was the worst if all. The worldview of it’s trifecta of ecclesiastical consultants (Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and T.D. Jakes), is all too apparent throughout.

If you start out with a theologically-flawed script to begin with, adding a Roman Catholic mystic and a New-ager as the two producers, along with a culturally-sensitive entertainment complex is not going to bolster confidence to Biblically-oriented believers.

And yes, I have turned into the Biblical curmudgeon, who is just too uptight to appreciate what one radio host has called “Vidal Sassoon Jesus”.

I have not shilled out for the movie The Son of God. I don’t have to. If you watched The Bible miniseries, you have basically seen the movie. It’s just a cinematic regurgitation.

For an interesting review of the movie, go here

Chris Rosebrough gives a great review of Nancy o’Dell’s creepy interview with Jesus here, starting somewhere around the 9 minute mark.

1. http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/team/12thman.html

Roll Tide!

Read your Bible!

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

b964f7d547c61761d25c6e8aa3b3b72b37852bd4b39e0f698d395a11ccffebf1

This means that theology is absolutely vital. Think about it: if theology was irrelevant, it wouldn’t matter what we believed. It would be of no consequence whether we were Muslims or Mormons (all of whom hold religious ideas which include a role for Jesus). But Christ is worth honoring and serving precisely because of who he is and what he has accomplished, and that is what the task of Christian theology is all about.  Indeed, true faith rests on the foundation of certain doctrinal claims – and theology protects us from errors and defines the boundaries of our thoughts concerning God.

Ultimately theology cannot be avoided – it is an inescapable concept. Everyone has a theology. It is never a question of theology or no theology; it’s always a question of what theology: biblical theology or unbiblical theology, good theology or bad theology. So what type of theology do you have? The good news is that it can always be improved – there is always more to learn. Make a decision today to disciple your mind. And determine to be the best Christian theologian you can be!

via Why every Christian needs to be a “theologian” – the discipleship of the mind | Pastor Dominic.

simul iustus et peccator, 

 
Eric Adams 
Rossville, GA 
godsguy12@comcast.net 
christianreasons@gmail.com 

The logical outcome of preaching a Prosperity ...

In my previous posts in this series, I have been tracing the influences in the Word of Faith Movement, and in turn, its influence on myself. I have spent several posts delineating the streams of influence on Watchman Nee, for a couple of reasons.

One, because of his influence on my own theology, and two, because these influences on Nee also turn out to be singularly influential on the entire Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, and more specifically, the Word of Faith branch of those theological rivers.

Today, I intend to discuss Hannah Whitall Smith. It is not my intention to bash Mrs. Smith, or the Keswick Movement. There is much to be commended in both. It is the theological implications involved that I am discussing. I don’t particularly enjoy disagreeing with any of the persons mentioned in this series, but I have to put my personal feelings aside and address how these folks influenced later movements. 

There is a cumulative effect when it comes to American Christianity. The rise of Revivalism in the 19th century, the rise of the Holiness Movement, the arrival of Liberal Christianity, and the incorporation of American distinctives, (such as Pragmatism, and the American Dream), all coalesce to develop the present state of American Evangelicalism, and specifically, the Word of Faith Movement.

What this means, in my case, is that I inherited the previous theological perspectives by succumbing to aberrant Word of Faith philosophy and doctrine. Watchman Nee was not a heretic, but he absorbed questionable lines of thought from Roman Catholic mystics. Hannah Whitall Smith had many theologically sound things to say, but her Quaker background, coupled with the influence of revivalists culture and men such as Boardman, led to an ultimate turn to universalism in Mrs. Smith. It is that stream that I intend to explore here.

Hannah Whitall Smith

Hannah Whitall Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hannah Whitall Smith

Hannah Whitall Smith was born Feb. 7, 1832, into a strict Quaker home in Philadelphia. She spent her early childhood as a deeply religious, and introspective person.

From her diary, made in the year 1848:

“Sixteen years of my life have passed, and, as I look back at the bright and happy days of my childhood, and at the quieter but more earnest enjoyments of my youth, my heart feels almost bursting with gratitude to my kind and gracious Creator who has filled my cup of joy almost to overflowing. Truly my life has been one fairy scene of sunshine and of flowers.” [2]

Later, in the same chapter, Mrs. Smith writes:

“But the chiefest charm of my life was that I possessed the most delightful father and mother that ever lived. In the narrow Quaker circle into which I was born, very few of the opportunities for amusement of excitement that come to young people nowadays, were open to us, and all the fun we could extract from life was of the most simple and innocent kind…” [2]

Hannah’s predilection for introspection and internal religious fervor can be demonstrated from the following quotation she takes from her diary at age 16:

“Anna wrote me a little note in reply to my letter. Never had I received one which thrilled me more stirringly than that! She begged me to give up all to my Savior, to pray for strength, and to strive earnestly after holiness no matter what it may cost me. ‘Oh, dearest Hannah’,  she said, ‘ do let us try. Let us seek to journey together towards the glorious kingdom! Let us struggle for a portion of His spirit.’

Oh, that I could follow her advice! I sat here alone in my study and tried to feel as if I could give up all. I could not even feel repentance for the many, many sins I have committed; and, far worse than all, I could not feel as if I really loved God. It is dreadful. What shall I do? I must repent, I must love my Heavenly Father, or I shall be eternally ruined. But I cannot do it myself. God alone can help me, and I know not how to pray. Oh what shall I do? Where shall I go? It is said, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive’. But I cannot become really righteous until I repent, and I cannot repent.” [2]

There is nothing alarming in what she says. We all have those inner struggles of faith, but you are beginning to see the seeds of revivalism beginning to form in her thoughts. She will later refute these internal feelings in favor of trust in the written Word, but the  influence never really left her.

Quakerism 

I will let Miss Hannah describe the 19th century Quaker community she was raised in:

“There was, as I have said, very little direct religious teaching to the young Quakers in my time. We were sometimes preached to in our meetings, when a Friend in the gallery would exhort the ‘dear young people’ to be faithful to their Divine Guide; but no doctrines or dogmas were ever taught us; and, unless one was especially awakened in some way, none of the questions that exercise the minds of young people in the present day were even so much as dreamed of by the young people of my circle, at least so far as I knew; and a creature more utterly ignorant of all so-called religious truth than I was up to the age of sixteen, when my awakening came, could hardly be conceived of in these modern times.”

Isn’t this remarkably similar to the mindset of much of today’s younger Christianity, especially those from the postmodern, or Charismatic wing of Evangelicalism that knows little of historic Christian doctrine, but somehow wants to retain personal, internal spirituality? That is a very dangerous place to be, because modern-day Pentecostal/Charismatic/Emergent Christianity lacks the same safeguards of Quakerism built into their theology and practice, to keep the weirder elements of subjective-only religion from taking on the more radical form that we see today. Biblical ignorance leads to aberrant Christianity, inevitably. I am a perfect example.

One of the reasons I am spending so much time on Mrs. Whitall Smith, is that I find much in common with my own personal struggles, and in a wider sense, the struggles of 20th-21st century American Evangelical mainstream. 

 I am going to include some lengthy quotes from Mrs. Smith in her autobiography, and make some comments as I go. See if you can follow my train of thought and see the influence, or just outright similarity, (whether it be caused by Quakerism, or merely coincidental), between her exposure to Quakerism, and today’s American Evangelicalism, so thoroughly steeped in Word of Faith theology.

Quakers' Meeting

Quakers’ Meeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“One of the truths they (Quakers) had got hold of far ahead of their time was in regard to the equality in the sight of God between men and women. They gave their “women Friends” an equal place with “men Friends” in the work of the ministry, and in the government of the Society. There were women Preachers, and women Elders, and women Overseers, who sat in equal state with the men Preachers, and Elders, and Overseers, on the raised benches in solemn rows, facing the body of the meeting, the men on one side of the middle aisle, and the women on the other. The preachers, (or Ministers, as we called them), sat at the head of these solemn rows, the oldest and weightiest nearest the top, and gradually tapering down to the younger neophytes, whose gifts had only lately been “acknowledged”. [3]

Not to be persnickety here, but many of the Complementarian crowd, (of which I am a member), would point out that yes, in Christ we are all equal, however, each gender has specific roles in the church, but Pastoring, and Eldership would be a function given to men alone. For we complementarians, this is no small matter, since it deals with Christian ministry, which should not be considered a secondary level discussion.

The confusion here leads to some interesting conclusions. I have yet to find, to my knowledge, any denomination, which has fudged on the gender-specific role of Pastor/Elder/Preacher, (whatever you want to call it), that has failed to fudge on other doctrinal grounds, and have leaned…or maybe jumped, into full-blown Christian Liberalism. Think about it honestly, and tell me I’m wrong. We will visit this”acknowledging” a little later.

They accepted, as the only true equipment for the work of the ministry, the declaration contained in Matthew 10:18-20, and they believed its promises would be literally fulfilled to every faithful soul, whether man or woman, young or old, learned or unlearned.

‘And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak, for it is not ye that speak but the Spirit of you Father which speaketh in you.’

This promise contained for them the Quaker “Call” and the Quaker “Ordination”; and to “study for the ministry” in colleges or out of books, or to be ordained by the laying on of human hands, seemed to them the rejection of the only Divine call and ordination, and to result in what they termed a “man-made ministry”. In their view Ministers could be made only by God, and the power to preach was a direct “gift” bestowed by Him alone. All that could be done was for the Elders and Overseers of the meeting to watch the development of this gift; and, when it seemed to them that the speaking bore unmistakable signs of a Divine “unction”, they would meet together and decide whether or no to record on their meeting-books that they “acknowledged” so and so to be a Minister. This act of “recording” or “acknowledging” did not make the speakers Ministers; it was only the recognition and acknowledgment of the fact that God had already made them such. When this had been done, they were called “acknowledged Ministers”, and were felt by us young people to have been admitted into the hierarchy of heaven itself.” [3]

There are several things to note here. First, and foremost, is the use of MT 10″8-10, to the exclusion of other Scriptures, such as:

2 Timothy 2:14-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

An Unashamed Workman

“14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,”

Or, how about…

Titus 1:8-9

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”

To isolate a single Scripture, and make it dogma in practice, while ignoring clearer passages, is a case of not remembering the 3 rules of interpretation: Context, Context, Context…!

The second thing to notice is the anti-intellectualism going on here. Just as today’s brand of anti-intellectualism leaves most Christians impotent to deal with the more virulent attacks upon Christianity, Scriptural ignorance in Mrs. Whitall Smith’s day was institutionalized.

Ephesians 4:9-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

The third thing to notice is, in spite of the Quaker’s anti-intellectual bent, they are ordaining Ministers, whether they call them”acknowledged Ministers” or “ordained Ministers”. The end result is the same. They were turning out men and women who were ignorant of church history, ignorant of Protestant doctrine, and ignorant of the very Scriptures so necessary for “sound doctrine”. We see the same anti-intellectual trend today, when, instead of a liberal arts degree, (either a Masters or Doctoral) in theological study, many ministers have a minimum of 1 year of Bible School, and buk000s of marketing and leadership reading, while all the time trusting in their own personal charisma, and supposed inner “leadings” of the Holy Spirit. Part of this is the fault of the laity for demanding fluff and consumerism; while part is due to he cost of a liberal arts degree, (especially  a Masters and above), and the general buying into the “moved by the Spirit” philosophy so common in our churches today.

i are a doofus.

i are a doofus. (Photo credit: LynstarFC)

Add to this the laziness of a general population that insists on ‘instant’ everything, including theology, and you have a generation, (or several generations), of dumbed-down, Scriptural ignorant, culturally dominated, “spiritual-but-not-religious” people who couldn’t reason their way theologically out of a corn maze.

I am ranting now, and this post is getting long, so I will continue this discussion in my next entry in this series.

Whoever said blogging was easy was seriously misleading. I don’t know how people do this more than once a week. It takes me a long time to come up with what I want to say, and a longer time to read, research, and back up what I say with confidence…plus the fact that I am in the single digit reader’s club, and I wonder what I’m doing this for. Still I cry “Excelsior!”, and laugh out loud.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric “dazed and confused” Adams

Rossville, GA…Br549

1.  “Hannah Whitall Smith (American Evangelist and Reformer).” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/549750/Hannah-Whitall-Smith&gt;.

2. Smith, Hannah Whitall. The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It. New York: Garland Pub., 1985. Print. Kindle file.

3. Smith, Hannah Whitall. “Quaker “Truth” and Quaker “Ministry”” The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It. New York: Garland Pub., 1985. N. pag. Print. Kindle file.