Jesus Christ Is Lord

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Posts Tagged ‘sacrament’

Jesus-Is-Savior.com Calls Paul Washer, Ray Comfort And John MacArthur False Preacher Heretics!

Posted by Job on August 28, 2009

Beware of Paul Washer

Paul Washer’s Washed-up Gospel

Paul Washer’s FALSE GOSPEL!

Apparently the Jesus-Is-Savior people disdain all the talk about true Biblical repentance. Looks like another Calvinist/Reformed versus fundamentalist Arminianism debate. The latter is true because in their article denouncing Washer, they endorse Harry Ironside. About this Ironside:

Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to John and Sophia (Stafford) Ironside, who were both active in the Plymouth Brethren. From a very early age, Ironside showed a strong interest in evangelical Christianity and was active in the Salvation Army as a teenager before later joining the “Grant” section of the Plymouth Brethren. in 1924, Ironside began preaching under the direction of the Moody Bible Institute. In 1926, he was invited to a full-time faculty position at the Dallas Theological Seminary, which he turned down, although he was frequently a visiting lecturer there from 1925 to 1943. After a series of sermons presented at the The Moody Church, in Chicago, he was invited to a one-year trial as head pastor there in 1929. Almost every Sunday that he preached there, the 4,000 seat church was filled to capacity. While there, he continued traveling to other US cities during the week for preaching engagements. In 1932, he expanded his travels internationally. Ironside preached at the 1935 funeral of Billy Sunday, at Moody Church. In 1930, Wheaton College presented Ironside with an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree, and in 1942-06-03 Bob Jones University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Along with others such as Cyrus Scofield, he was influential in popularizing dispensationalism among Protestants in North America.

This is just an American version of the age old Baptist-Wesleyan (Methodist) dispute of post-Reformation England. In America, the Methodists basically won the debate, with Baptists co-opting many of their doctrines, and premillennial dispensationalism apparently playing a large role in that. It has reached the point where prominent fundamentalists openly denounce historic Protestant doctrines as heretical, while Wesleyan doctrines on soteriology and sanctification are now called the “Biblicist” position, as if Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, and Augustus Strong were ignorant of scripture or something.

The dispensationals refer to the doctrines of Washer to be “Lordship salvation.” Another site directly compares the teachings of John MacArthur to dispensational pioneer and giant Charles Ryrie. On Lordship salvation: “Its basic premise, that Jesus cannot be one’s Savior without also being his Lord, has been taken by some to mean that salvation is attained by works rather than by God’s grace.” The “some” who take this position are falsely distorting Reformed Baptist soteriology, building a straw man and knowingly making a false accusation. “Those who reject lordship salvation (e.g., Ryrie), believe that someone may have genuine faith in Christ, but the fact that he continues in his sin demonstrates that he has not made Jesus his Lord, only his Savior. According to Ryrie, just because someone sins or acts in disobedience (even habitually) doesn’t mean he doesn’t have saving faith.” So, it is the dispensational Ryrie who rejects “faith without works is dead.”

Check out what Ryrie claims. “Second, there is a repentance that is unto eternal salvation. What kind of repentance saves? Not a sorrow for sins or even a sorrow that results in a cleaning up of one’s life. People who reform have repented; that is, they have changed their minds about their past lives, but that kind of repentance, albeit genuine, does not of itself save them. The only kind of repentance that saves is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. People can weep; people can resolve to turn from their past sins; but those things in themselves cannot save. The only kind of repentance that saves anyone, anywhere, anytime is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. The sense of sin and sorrow because of sin may stir up a person’s mind or conscience so that he or she realizes the need for a Savior, but if there is not change of mind about Jesus Christ there will be no salvation” (p. 94, SGS).

“The only kind of repentance that saves is a change of mind about Jesus Christ.” Intellectual regeneration, confessional regeneration, decisional regeneration. Not only that, but a truly radical form of this doctrine that combines both conversion and repentance, which the Bible and historic Protestant doctrine hold refer to two related but separate things, into the single act of decison. Their position – what can be called the modern Wesleyan one that is the basic position of American evangelical Christianity (whether Baptist, Pentecostal, or nondenominational)  is that the free will decision for Jesus Christ is the primary and controlling factor where salvation is concerned. Now in theory – i.e. for systematic doctrinal purposes – the free will decision is not the sole factor. But IN PRACTICE, the decisional regenerationists do not wish to countenance anything that would challenge the  idea that the person who has made a decision for Jesus Christ has to be considered born again.

Now this is the rub. Their objection to those like Washer and MacArthur is not in a SPIRITUAL or DOCTRINAL sense. Objecting in a spiritual sense, where humans can claim to profess with 100% certainty that someone is born again when the Bible says that God knows the heart, is not the sort of Roman Catholic thing that these people are after. And they are also not creating or defending any doctrine to the effect of “if a person accepts Jesus Christ AND REALLY MEANS IT then he is saved.” Instead, their objection is in a practical and ecclesiastical sense. As far as practice is concerned, well listen to enough sermons by Paul Washer, John MacArthur and their fellow travelers long enough and it will be difficult to continue relying on the sinner’s prayer and similar evangelism methods (even if Ray Comfort, who largely shares their beliefs, still does). And in an ecclesiastical sense, their doctrines make it extremely difficult to put someone on a church roll after a decision for Jesus Christ. Washer and MacArthur (if not necessarily Comfort) demand a little more effort, a little extra step out of their evangelism methods and before people are allowed as members of their church in good standing. And even after requiring a little more, Washer and MacArthur regularly and frequently acknowledge that many members of their own churches are not born again.

That is offensive to someone who really, truly believes in decisional regeneration, which quite honestly does teach that a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit upon their heartfelt decision for Jesus Christ. People who make a decision for Jesus Christ and remain unsaved; their only recourse is to claim that the decision was false, insincere, made without adequate understanding, etc. Further, one cannot spend too much time thinking about just how often these “flawed decisions” (decisions for Jesus Christ that did not result in true conversion) because having to consider a large number of flawed decisions means working out how decisional regeneration works in practice (i.e. methods of producing decisions for Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit will always – or at least almost always – honor) and incorporating that practice into evangelism and ecclesiology.

Now in times past, meaning the earlier Wesleyan and fundamentalist movements who A) taught that one could lose his salvation and B) had a strong moral/ethical/works component, this was not a problem. In those cases, you were dealing with a person who had lost his salvation and needed to confess and apologize for his sins and make a new confession of faith, and further the emphasis on morals and ethics (called “legalism” by some) acted as a control on church culture that reduced the need to have to deal with this unpleasant situation. However, as the modern movements have adopted more Biblical positions concerning the preservation of the saints and on grace, they cannot simply deal with this tough issue by saying “Well he made a valid decision for Jesus Christ, lost his salvation, and needs to be saved anew.” Instead, the position has to either be “he was never saved in the first place because his decision for Jesus Christ was flawed or ineffective” or “he is saved based on his decision for Jesus Christ, but he still has problems with sin.” Now as stated earlier, choose the former and the “decision for Christ” doctrine and the church systems based on it have real problems. So, they have no choice but to choose the latter, even if it means explicitly embracing the idea that a decision for Jesus Christ results in Holy Spirit regeneration in even the absence of Biblical repentance (what the Bible means when it says being “pricked in the heart” in Acts 2:37 and similar) and/or rejecting the Lordship of Jesus Christ (despite the fact that it is plainly impossible to make a decision for Jesus Christ when you do not know the identity or nature of the Jesus Christ that you are making a decision for or what Jesus Christ requires of you; anything less is making a decision to a false Jesus Christ, which is a false god or idol that does not exist and is no god at all).

By making decisional regeneration – or more accurately decisional conversion – the agent that results in the Holy Spirit’s justifying and regenerating a sinner, it makes the human free will decision of Jesus Christ a sacrament, a human ritual or action that imparts God’s grace (or results in God’s deciding to impart grace by honoring the initiative and actions of man). This can be compared to the sacramentalism of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church claims that by being the body of Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit (yes, the Roman Catholic Church does teach that the very institution is the body of Jesus Christ and contains within it the power and sovereignty of Jesus Christ) it has vested within it the power and authority to perform rituals that confer grace through its appointed representatives. So, the Roman Catholics believe that rituals performed by their priests save people, because through the ritual the priest is dispensing the saving grace using the Holy Spirit that the indwells the church. In other words, the ritual performed by the Catholic church saves you because the Catholic church is the body of Christ, contains the Holy Spirit, and as a result has the authority and the ability to dispense saving grace through its sacraments just as Jesus Christ had the ability to tell the paralytic man “thy sins are forgiven” and tell the penitent thief on the cross “this day you shall be with me in paradise.” (Consider in the last case, Ryrie’s position is that the thief in question never had to repent of his sins – which he plainly did when he confessed them and stated that he deserved the punishment of death for them – or call Jesus Christ Lord and submit to Him on that basis, but rather that the thief only had to ask Jesus Christ to save Him.)

However, the decisional conversion-regeneration position states that a person acting on his own power and authority can make a decision that the Holy Spirit (indeed the Holy Trinity) is unconditionally bound to honor, and further that the Godhead must accept that person’s decision even if that person rejects repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. So where the Roman Catholic position is that as the Body of Christ being indwelt by the Holy Spirit it has the sovereign prerogative and ability to confer grace and the regenerative workings of the Holy Spirit on a sinner (Catholic sacramentalism), decisional conversion-regeneration holds that a person outside fellowship with Jesus Christ (and indeed is at emnity with Jesus Christ, spiritually dead, no interest in spiritual things, and all the other things that the Bible says about his condition of original sin and totally depraved state – doctrines which again the original Wesleyans and Arminians somewhat denied but modern dispensationals have mostly adopted) can perform a sacrament that dispenses grace upon himself.

While I do not take the position that Wesleyan dispensationals are in a false and heretical apostate movement and hence cannot be considered Christians – which incidentally is the position that I take with Roman Catholics – allow me to say that at least Roman Catholicism have an explanation for how it is possible for their priests to perform sacraments that dispense grace to sinners: that the priests are acting as representatives of the body of Christ that is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and therefore have the necessary access to the Holy Spirit and its grace to give to sinners. (Please note: the Roman Catholic Church actually holds in theory that it institutionally has the right to deny salvation to sinners, but it is exceedingly rarely done in practice, especially in modern times. However, in times past there was this pope who excommunicated the king of Britain until the king caved to the pope’s political demands. The pope kept this king waiting outside begging in the snow for days before the pope decided to allow this king back into heaven. Again, do not mistake this for an endorsement of Roman Catholicism in any way.) However, decisional conversion-regeneration holds that a sinner unreconciled with God and thus not part of the Body of Christ (note that I capitalized “Body” with respect to Protestants and not Catholics, and yes it was by design) and hence is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit is able to impart saving grace upon himself – or to be more accurately compel the Holy Spirit that does not indwell him to impart its saving grace – through the “decision for Christ” sacrament. Now I am not going to say that the Catholic position is more Biblical or that it even makes more sense (especially when you consider that Catholic sacramentalism cannot be taken in isolation, but must be considered in the context of their other mystical, pagan doctrines) but at least the Catholics have an explanation for how a priest can save someone by sprinkling him or giving him a communion wafer. The modern Wesleyan evangelical has no explanation for how the decision of an unpenitent sinner who rejects the Lordship of Jesus Christ places the Holy Spirit under unconditional compulsion to save the sinner. The reason for this was stated earlier: deep consideration of the issue of salvation resulting entirely from human initiative, from human intellectual decision, can only result in serious problems for the entire doctrinal system. So, in order to prevent such examination from taking place, their only recourse is to call Paul Washer a heretic for insisting that Biblical repentance is a requirement for salvation, and that salvation results in a person becoming a new creation whose evidence is a changed moral character that reflects and communicates God’s holiness.

When boiled down to its core, the system of Ryrie, Ironside, and Jesus-Is-Savior.com holds that becoming a new creature simply means switching allegiances, changing minds. Then again, as this doctrine rejects Biblical repentance and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, becoming a new creation simply means deciding to allow Jesus Christ to save you. And since it is the sinner who decides to allow Jesus Christ to save him, then it is the sinner who performs the new birth, the new creation through the exercise of his free will, or the changing of his free will. Now of course, the people holding the doctrines similar to Ryrie and the folks at Jesus-Is-Savior.com are not in the business of admitting this fact to people. As a matter of fact, they haven’t even admitted this fact to themselves. (I am serious … they really, truly have not taken this doctrine to its logical conclusion, of thinking about what salvation based on the free will decision of a sinner who rejects repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ really means as opposed to what they desperately want it to mean.) So rather than come to grips with the horrible conclusion that their doctrines teach that the sinner accomplishes his own rebirth through the exercise of his intellect, they must accuse those whose preaching challenges their doctrines like Washer and MacArthur of teaching “works plus faith justification” and “legalism.”

The good news: in practice the free will evangelicals do preach that Biblical repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation. Lots of Reformed/Calvinistic types claim that they do not, but I have listened to far too many evangelical free will Baptist, Pentecostal, and nondenominational sermons. Also, the link which evaluates the statements of Ryrie acknowledges that Ryrie actually ultimately endorses the very positions of MacArthur that he wrote “So Great Salvation” to attack in the first place (and questioned the integrity of Ryrie for failing to admit it). The problem only occurs when people such as Washer and MacArthur repeatedly and directly challenge the “decision for Jesus Christ” doctrine. It is only when that happens that such people as Ryrie and the folks at Jesus-Is-Savior.com are forced to manifest a sort of double-mindedness (I will not use the humanistic psychological term “schizophrenia”) about what they actually believe concerning soteriology.

It is interesting that the “Lordship salvation” opponents use Ananias and Sapphira as well as the Corinthian man living in fornication as examples to demonstrate that the doctrines of Washer, Comfort, and MacArthur – where they demand Biblical repentance and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ – are false. First, scripture never states that Ananias, Sapphira, and the Corinthian fornicator did not repent and submit to Christ’s Lordship at the time that they were saved. It merely states that these people fell into sin after salvation. It is an argument from silence, true, but it is still completely consistent with what the apostle John writes about Christians who fall into sin in at least 3 of his epistles (1 John, 2 John, Revelation). Also, the people who reject “Lordship salvation” do not ACCURATELY deal with the issues raised by Simon Magus, Simon the magician! Why? Because Simon Magus made a decision for Jesus Christ without repenting of his sinful desire for power and wealth, and without submitting to the Lordship and sovereignty of God! Simon Magus was using sorcery to control people and make money before he made his decision for Jesus Christ, and not only did he want to continue doing those things after he made his decision for Jesus Christ, but he wanted to force the sovereign Holy Spirit to do his bidding! Correlating Ananias and Sapphira and the Corinthian in the sexual relationship with his father’s wife with the Johannine epistles – interpreting scripture with scripture – confirms what they call “Lordship salvation” rather than denying it. And further, the case of Simon Magus makes it explicitly clear that there is no other salvation but “Lordship salvation!” Otherwise, wow, it would be possible to go to heaven without your knee bowing and your tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11), and not only your Lord but Lord of all!

So, we must pray in the Name of Jesus Christ that the people who have adhered to and are disseminating false doctrines on this matter would open their hearts to the truth and begin teaching the truth instead of a lie. Jesus-Is-Savior.com, this means you, and you are by no means alone.

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Roman Catholics Deny That Jesus Christ Died In Our Place!

Posted by Job on July 27, 2009

Apparently, the idea of the vicarious or substitutionary atonement is inconvenient to Catholic sacramentalist doctrines, including the idea that Christ’s first sacrifice was not enough and that He must be sacrificed over and over and over again. Protestants who have a tendency to defend Catholics because they profess to be Christians and belief in certain vital doctrines and because many of them are very fervent, faithful and dedicated to their beliefs (and also Protestants who follow in the ecumenical path blazed by such figures as John Wesley and Billy Graham) at some point need to confront the issue of what Roman Catholics actually believe. It is more than just the fact that they worship dead people (Mary and “saints”) and angels (and don’t give me this “they don’t worship them, it is merely veneration lie, Biblical Christianity has always held that the object of prayer is also the object of worship, plus only God alone is worthy of worship AND veneration, no creature is worthy of being venerated) although the idolatry certainly is bad enough. It is also their position on core doctrines concerning Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that so many leading evangelicals like the aforementioned Graham and prominent theologian Clark Pinnock went from promoting and supporting ecumenical (or to be honest INTERFAITH as Roman Catholicism is a separate and distinct religion from Christianity) ties with Roman Catholics to promoting “many paths to heaven” religious pluralism, or “inclusivism.” Incidentally, according to Wikipedia people who support “inclusivism” include:

Supporters of inclusivism include C. S. Lewis, John Wesley, Clark Pinnock, Karl Rahner, John E. Sanders, Terrance L. Tiessen (Reformed) and Robert Brush (contributor to the Arminian Magazine). While Billy Graham faithfully preached “salvation by faith in Christ alone” throughout his 60 year ministry as an evangelist, he has recently made controversial comments that border on inclusivism (but he does not like to refer to it by the term, because he is concerned that many people mean universalism when they refer to inclusivism)This doctrine is held by Roman Catholics and Seventh-day Adventists.

All the more reason why Christians should not defile themselves with things concerning Rome (or for that matter with Eastern Orthodox or other flavors of “Catholicism”).

From Theories of the Atonement

Doctrine of the Atonement Catholic Information

The word atonement, which is almost the only theological term of English origin, has a curious history. The verb “atone”, from the adverbial phrase “at one” (M.E. at oon), at first meant to reconcile, or make “at one”; from this it came to denote the action by which such reconciliation was effected, e.g. satisfaction for all offense or an injury. Hence, in Catholic theology, the Atonement is the Satisfaction of Christ, whereby God and the world are reconciled or made to be at one. “For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The Catholic doctrine on this subject is set forth in the sixth Session of the Council of Trent, chapter ii. Having shown the insufficiency of Nature, and of Mosaic Law the Council continues:

Whence it came to pass, that the Heavenly Father, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1, 3), when that blessed fullness of the time was come (Galatians 4:4) sent unto men Jesus Christ, His own Son who had been, both before the Law and during the time of the Law, to many of the holy fathers announced and promised, that He might both redeem the Jews, who were under the Law and that the Gentiles who followed not after justice might attain to justice and that all men might receive the adoption of sons. Him God had proposed as a propitiator, through faith in His blood (Romans 3:25), for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world (I John ii, 2).

More than twelve centuries before this, the same dogma was proclaimed in the words of the Nicene Creed, “who for us men and for our salvation, came down, took flesh, was made man; and suffered. “And all that is thus taught in the decrees of the councils may be read in the pages of the New Testament. For instance, in the words of Our Lord, “even as the Son of man is not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a redemption for many” (Matthew 20:28); or of St. Paul, “Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.” (Colossians 1:19-20). The great doctrine thus laid down in the beginning was further unfolded and brought out into clearer light by the work of the Fathers and theologians. And it may be noted that in this instance the development is chiefly due to Catholic speculation on the mystery, and not, as in the case of other doctrines, to controversy with heretics. At first we have the central fact made known in the Apostolic preaching, that mankind was fallen and was raised up and redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ. But it remained for the pious speculation of Fathers and theologians to enter into the meaning of this great truth, to inquire into the state of fallen man, and to ask how Christ accomplished His work of Redemption. By whatever names or figures it may be described, that work is the reversal of the Fall, the blotting out of sin, the deliverance from bondage, the reconciliation of mankind with God. And it is brought to pass by the Incarnation, by the life, the sufferings, and the death of the Divine Redeemer. All this may be summed up in the word Atonement. This, is so to say, the starting point. And herein all are indeed at one. But, when it was attempted to give a more precise account of the nature of the Redemption and the manner of its accomplishment, theological speculation took different courses, some of which were suggested by the various names and figures under which this ineffable mystery is adumbrated in Holy Scripture. Without pretending to give a full history of the discussions, we may briefly indicate some of the main lines on which the doctrine was developed, and touch on the more important theories put forward in explanation of the Atonement.

(a) In any view, the Atonement is founded on the Divine Incarnation. By this great mystery, the Eternal Word took to Himself the nature of man and, being both God and man, became the Mediator between God and men. From this, we have one of the first and most profound forms of theological speculation on the Atonement, the theory which is sometimes described as Mystical Redemption. Instead of seeking a solution in legal figures, some of the great Greek Fathers were content to dwell on the fundamental fact of the Divine Incarnation. By the union of the Eternal Word with the nature of man all mankind was lifted up and, so to say, deified. “He was made man”, says St. Athanasius, “that we might be made gods” (De Incarnatione Verbi, 54). “His flesh was saved, and made free the first of all, being made the body of the Word, then we, being concorporeal therewith, are saved by the same (Orat., II, Contra Arianos, lxi). And again, “For the presence of the Saviour in the flesh was the price of death and the saving of the whole creation (Ep. ad Adelphium, vi). In like manner St. Gregory of Nazianzus proves the integrity of the Sacred Humanity by the argument, “That which was not assumed is not healed; but that which is united to God is saved” (to gar aproslepton, atherapeuton ho de henotai to theu, touto kai sozetai). This speculation of the Greek Fathers undoubtedly contains a profound truth which is sometimes forgotten by later authors who are more intent on framing juridical theories of ransom and satisfaction. But it is obvious that this account of the matter is imperfect, and leaves much to be explained. It must be remembered, moreover, that the Fathers themselves do not put this forward as a full explanation. For while many of their utterances might seem to imply that the Redemption was actually accomplished by the union of a Divine Person with the human nature, it is clear from other passages that they do not lose sight of the atoning sacrifice. The Incarnation is, indeed, the source and the foundation of the Atonement, and these profound thinkers have, so to say, grasped the cause and its effects as one vast whole. Hence they look on to the result before staying to consider the means by which it was accomplished.

(b) But something more on this matter had already been taught in the preaching of the Apostles and in the pages of the New Testament. The restoration of fallen man was the work of the Incarnate Word. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). But the peace of that reconciliation was accomplished by the death of the Divine Redeemer, “making peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20). This redemption by death is another mystery, and some of the Fathers in the first ages are led to speculate on its meaning, and to construct a theory in explanation. Here the words and figures used in Holy Scripture help to guide the current of theological thought. Sin is represented as a state of bondage or servitude, and fallen man is delivered by being redeemed, or bought with a price. “For you are bought with a great price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed to God, in thy blood” (Revelation 5:9). Looked at in this light, the Atonement appears as the deliverance from captivity by the payment of a ransom. This view is already developed in the second century. “The mighty Word and true Man reasonably redeeming us by His blood, gave Himself a ransom for those who had been brought into bondage. And since the Apostasy unjustly ruled over us, and, whereas we belonged by nature to God Almighty, alienated us against nature and made us his own disciples, the Word of God, being mighty in all things, and failing not in His justice, dealt justly even with the Apostasy itself, buying back from it the things which were His own” (Irenaeus Aversus Haereses V, i). And St. Augustine says in well-known words: “Men were held captive under the devil and served the demons, but they were redeemed from captivity. For they could sell themselves. The Redeemer came, and gave the price; He poured forth his blood and bought the whole world. Do you ask what He bought? See what He gave, and find what He bought. The blood of Christ is the price. How much is it worth? What but the whole world? What but all nations?” (Enarratio in Psalm xcv, n. 5).

It cannot be questioned that this theory also contains a true principle. For it is founded on the express words of Scripture, and is supported by many of the greatest of the early Fathers and later theologians. But unfortunately, at first, and for a long period of theological history, this truth was somewhat obscured by a strange confusion, which would seem to have arisen from the natural tendency to take a figure too literally, and to apply it in details which were not contemplated by those who first made use of it. It must not be forgotten that the account of our deliverance from sin is set forth in figures. Conquest, captivity, and ransom are familiar facts of human history. Man, having yielded to the temptations of Satan, was like to one overcome in battle. Sin, again, is fitly likened to a state of slavery. And when man was set free by the shedding of Christ’s precious Blood, this deliverance would naturally recall (even if it had not been so described in Scripture) the redemption of a captive by the payment of a ransom.

But however useful and illuminating in their proper place, figures of this kind are perilous in the hands of those who press them too far, and forget that they are figures. This is what happened here. When a captive is ransomed the price is naturally paid to the conqueror by whom he is held in bondage. Hence, if this figure were taken and interpreted literally in all its details, it would seem that the price of man’s ransom must be paid to Satan. The notion is certainly startling, if not revolting. Even if brave reasons pointed in this direction, we might well shrink from drawing the concluslon. And this is in fact so far from being the case that it seems hard to find any rational explanation of such a payment, or any right on which it could be founded. Yet, strange to say, the bold flight of theological speculation was not checked by these misgivings. In the above-cited passage of St. Irenæus, we read that the Word of God “dealt justly even with the Apostasy itself [i.e. Satan], buying back from it the things which were His own.” This curious notion, apparently first mooted by St. Irenæus, was taken up by Origen in the next century, and for about a thousand years it played a conspicuous part in the history of theology. In the hands of some of the later Fathers and medieval writers, it takes various forms, and some of its more repulsive features are softened or modified. But the strange notion of some right, or claim, on the part of Satan is still present. A protest was raised by St. Gregory of Nazianzus in the fourth century, as might be expected from that most accurate of the patristic theologians. But it was not till St. Anselm and Abelard had met it with unanswerable arguments that its power was finally broken. It makes a belated appearance in the pages of Peter Lombard. (c) But it is not only in connection with the theory of ransom that we meet with this notion of “rights” on the part of Satan. Some of the Fathers set the matter in a different aspect. Fallen man, it was said, was justly under the dominion of the devil, in punishment for sin. But when Satan brought suffering and death on the sinless Saviour, he abused his power and exceeded his right, so that he was now justly deprived of his dominion over the captives. This explanation is found especially in the sermons of St. Leo and the “Morals” of St. Gregory the Great. Closely allied to this explanation is the singular “mouse-trap” metaphor of St. Augustine. In this daring figure of speech, the Cross is regarded as the trap in which the bait is set and the enemy is caught. “The Redeemer came and the deceiver was overcome. What did our Redeemer do to our Captor? In payment for us He set the trap, His Cross, with His blood for bait. He [Satan] could indeed shed that blood; but he deserved not to drink it. By shedding the blood of One who was not his debtor, he was forced to release his debtors” (Serm. cxxx, part 2).

(d) These ideas retained their force well into the Middle Ages. But the appearance of St. Anselm’s “Cur Deus Homo?” made a new epoch in the theology of the Atonement. It may be said, indeed, that this book marks an epoch in theological literature and doctrinal development. There are not many works, even among those of the greatest teachers, that can compare in this respect with the treatise of St. Anselm. And, with few exceptions, the books that have done as much to influence and guide the growth of theology are the outcome of some great struggle with heresy; while others, again, only summarize the theological learning of the age. But this little book is at once purely pacific and eminently original. Nor could any dogmatic treatise well be more simple and unpretending than this luminous dialogue between the great archbishop and his disciple Boso. There is no parade of learning, and but little in the way of appeal to authorities. The disciple asks and the master answers; and both alike face the great problem before them fearlessly, but at the same time with all due reverence and modesty. Anselm says at the outset that he will not so much show his disciple the truth he needs, as seek it along with him; and that when he says anything that is not confirmed by higher authority, it must be taken as tentative, and provisional. He adds that, though he may in some measure meet the question, one who is wiser could do it better; and that, whatever man may know or say on this subject, there will always remain deeper reasons that are beyond him. In the same spirit he concludes the whole treatise by submitting it to reasonable correction at the hands of others.

It may be safely said that this is precisely what has come to pass. For the theory put forward by Anselm has been modified by the work of later theologians, and confirmed by the testimony of truth. In contrast to some of the other views already noticed, this theory is remarkably clear and symmetrical. And it is certainly more agreeable to reason than the “mouse-trap” metaphor, or the notion of purchase money paid to Satan. Anselm’s answer to the question is simply the need of satisfaction of sin. No sin, as he views the matter, can be forgiven without satisfaction. A debt to Divine justice has been incurred; and that debt must needs be paid. But man could not make this satisfaction for himself; the debt is something far greater than he can pay; and, moreover, all the service that he can offer to God is already due on other titles. The suggestion that some innocent man, or angel, might possibly pay the debt incurred by sinners is rejected, on the ground that in any case this would put the sinner under obligation to his deliverer, and he would thus become the servant of a mere creature. The only way in which the satisfaction could be made, and men could be set free from sin, was by the coming of a Redeemer who is both God and man. His death makes full satisfaction to the Divine Justice, for it is something greater than all the sins of all mankind. Many side questions are incidentally treated in the dialogue between Anselm and Boso. But this is the substance of the answer given to the great question, “Cur Deus Homo?”. Some modern writers have suggested that this notion of deliverance by means of satisfaction may have a German origin. For in old Teutonic laws a criminal might pay the wergild instead of undergoing punishment. But this custom was not peculiar or to the Germans, as we may see from the Celtic eirig, and, as Riviere has pointed out, there is no need to have recourse to this explanation. For the notion of satisfaction for sin was already present in the whole system of ecclesiastical penance, though it had been left for Anselm to use it in illustration of the doctrine of the Atonement. It may be added that the same idea underlies the old Jewish “sin-offerings” as well as the similar rites that are found in many ancient religions. It is specially prominent in the rites and prayers used on the Day of Atonement. And this, it may be added, is now the ordinary acceptance of the word; to “atone” is to give satisfaction, or make amends, for an offense or an injury.

(e) Whatever may be the reason, it is clear that this doctrine was attracting special attention in the age of St. Anselm. His own work bears witness that it was undertaken at the urgent request of others who wished to have some new light on this mystery. To some extent, the solution offered by Anselm seems to have satisfied these desires, though, in the course of further discussion, an important part of his theory, the absolute necessity of Redemption and of satisfaction for sin, was discarded by later theologians, and found few defenders. But meanwhile, within a few years of the appearance of the “Cur Deus Homo?” another theory on the subject had been advanced by Abelard. In common with St. Anselm, Abelard utterly rejected the old and then still prevailing, notion that the devil had some sort of right over fallen man, who could only be justly delivered by means of a ransom paid to his captor. Against this he very rightly urges, with Anselm, that Satan was clearly guilty of injustice in the matter and could have no right to anything but punishment. But, on the other hand, Abelard was unable to accept Anselm’s view that an equivalent satisfaction for sin was necessary, and that this debt could only be paid by the death of the Divine Redeemer. He insists that God could have pardoned us without requiring satisfaction. And, in his view, the reason for the Incarnation and the death of Christ was the pure love of God. By no other means could men be so effectually turned from sin and moved to love God. Abelard’s teaching on this point, as on others, was vehemently attacked by St. Bernard. But it should be borne in mind that some of the arguments urged in condemnation of Abelard would affect the position of St. Anselm also, not to speak of later Catholic theology.

In St. Bernard’s eyes it seemed that Abelard, in denying the rights of Satan, denied the “Sacrament of Redemption” and regarded the teaching and example of Christ as the sole benefit of the Incarnation. “But”, as Mr. Oxenham observes,

he had not said so, and he distinctly asserts in his “Apology” that “the Son of God was incarnate to deliver us from the bondage of sin and yoke of the Devil and to open to us by His death the gate of eternal life.” And St. Bernard himself, in this very Epistle, distinctly denies any absolute necessity for the method of redemption chosen, and suggests a reason for it not so very unlike Abelard’s. “Perhaps that method is the best, whereby in a land of forgetfulness and sloth we might be more powerfully as vividly reminded of our fall, through the so great and so manifold sufferings of Him who repaired it.” Elsewhere when not speaking controversially, he says still more plainly: “Could not the Creator have restored His work without that difficulty? He could, but He preferred to do it at his own cost, lest any further occasion should be given for that worst and most odious vice of ingratitude in man” (Bern., Serm. xi, in Cant.). What is this but to say, with Abelard that “He chose the Incarnation as the most effectual method for eliciting His creature’s love?” (The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement, 85, 86).

(f) Although the high authority of St. Bernard was thus against them, the views of St. Anselm and Abelard, the two men who in different ways were the fathers of Scholasticism, shaped the course of later medieval theology. The strange notion of the rights of Satan, against which they had both protested, now disappears from the pages of our theologians. For the rest, the view which ultimately prevailed may be regarded as a combination of the opinions of Anselm and Abelard. In spite of the objections urged by the latter writer, Anselm’s doctrine of Satisfaction was adopted as the basis. But St. Thomas and the other medieval masters agree with Abelard in rejecting the notion that this full Satisfaction for sin was absolutely necessary. At the most, they are willing to admit a hypothetical or conditional necessity for the Redemption by the death of Christ. The restoration of fallen man was a work of God’s free mercy and benevolence. And, even on the hypothesis that the loss was to be repaired, this might have been brought about in many and various ways. The sin might have been remitted freely, without any satisfaction at all, or some lesser satisfaction, however imperfect in itself, might have been accepted as sufficient. But on the hypothesis that God as chosen to restore mankind, and at the same time, to require full satisfaction as a condition of pardon and deliverance, nothing less than the Atonement made by one who was God as well as man could suffice as satisfaction for the offense against the Divine Majesty. And in this case Anselm’s argument will hold good. Mankind cannot be restored unless God becomes man to save them.

In reference to many points of detail the Schoolmen, here as elsewhere, adopted divergent views. One of the chief questions at issue was the intrinsic adequacy of the satisfaction offered by Christ. On this point the majority, with St. Thomas at their head, maintained that, by reason of the infinite dignity of the Divine Person, the least action or suffering of Christ had an infinite value, so that in itself it would suffice as an adequate satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. Scotus and his school, on the other hand, disputed this intrinsic infinitude, and ascribed the all-sufficiency of the satisfaction to the Divine acceptation. As this acceptation was grounded on the infinite dignity of the Divine Person, the difference was not so great as might appear at first sight. But, on this point at any rate the simpler teaching of St. Thomas is more generally accepted by later theologians. Apart from this question, the divergent views of the two schools on the primary motive of the Incarnation naturally have some effect on the Thomist and Scotist theology of the Atonement. On looking back at the various theories noticed so far, it will be seen that they are not, for the most part, mutually exclusive, but may be combined and harmonized. It may be said, indeed, that they all help to bring out different aspects of that great doctrine which cannot find adequate expression in any human theory. And in point of fact it will generally be found that the chief Fathers and Schoolmen, though they may at times lay more stress on some favourite theory of their own, do not lose sight of the other explanations.

Thus the Greek Fathers, who delight in speculating on the Mystical Redemption by the Incarnation, do not omit to speak also of our salvation by the shedding of blood. Origen, who lays most stress on the deliverance by payment of a ransom, does not forget to dwell on the need of a sacrifice for sin. St. Anselm again, in his “Meditations”, supplements the teaching set forth in his “Cur Deus Homo?” Abelard, who might seem to make the Atonement consist in nothing more than the constraining example of Divine Love has spoken also of our salvation by the Sacrifice of the Cross, in passages to which his critics do not attach sufficient importance. And, as we have seen his great opponent, St. Bernard, teaches all that is really true and valuable in the theory which he condemned. Most, if not all, of these theories had perils of their own, if they were isolated and exaggerated. But in the Catholic Church there was ever a safeguard against these dangers of distortion. As Mr. Oxenham says very finely,

The perpetual priesthood of Christ in heaven, which occupies a prominent place in nearly all the writings we have examined, is even more emphatically insisted upon by Origen. And this deserves to be remembered, because it is a part of the doctrine which has been almost or altogether dropped out of many Protestant expositions of the Atonement, whereas those most inclining among Catholics to a merely juridical view of the subject have never been able to forget the present and living reality of a sacrifice constantly kept before their eyes, as it were, in the worship which reflects on earth the unfailing liturgy of heaven. (p. 38)

The reality of these dangers and the importance of this safeguard may be seen in the history of this doctrine since the age of Reformation. As we have seen, its earlier development owed comparatively little to the stress of controversy with the heretics. And the revolution of the sixteenth century was no exception to the rule. For the atonement was not one of the subjects directly disputed between the Reformers and their Catholic opponents. But from its close connection with the cardinal question of Justification, this doctrine assumed a very special prominence and importance in Protestant theology and practical preaching. Mark Pattison tells us in his “Memoirs” that he came to Oxford with his “home Puritan religion almost narrowed to two points, fear of God’s wrath and faith in the doctrine of the Atonement”. And his case was possibly no exception among Protestant religionists. In their general conception on the atonement the Reformers and their followers happily preserved the Catholic doctrine, at least in its main lines. And in their explanation of the merit of Christ’s sufferings and death we may see the influence of St. Thomas and the other great Schoolmen. But, as might be expected from the isolation of the doctrine and the loss of other portions of Catholic teaching, the truth thus preserved was sometimes insensibly obscured or distorted. It will be enough to note here the presence of two mistaken tendencies.

The first is indicated in the above words of Pattison in which the Atonement is specially connected with the thought of the wrath of God. It is true of course that sin incurs the anger of the Just Judge, and that this is averted when the debt due to Divine Justice is paid by satisfaction. But it must not be thought that God is only moved to mercy and reconciled to us as a result of this satisfaction. This false conception of the Reconciliation is expressly rejected by St. Augustine (In Joannem, Tract. cx, section 6). God’s merciful love is the cause, not the result of that satisfaction.

The second mistake is the tendency to treat the Passion of Christ as being literally a case of vicarious punishment. This is at best a distorted view of the truth that His Atoning Sacrifice took the place of our punishment, and that He took upon Himself the sufferings and death that were due to our sins.

This view of the Atonement naturally provoked a reaction. Thus the Socinians were led to reject the notion of vicarious suffering and satisfaction as inconsistent with God’s justice and mercy. And in their eyes the work of Christ consisted simply in His teaching by word and example. Similar objections to the juridical conception of the Atonement led to like results in the later system of Swedenborg. More recently Albrecht Ritschl, who has paid special attention to this subject, has formulated a new theory on somewhat similar lines. His conception of the Atonement is moral and spiritual, rather than juridical and his system is distinguished by the fact that he lays stress on the relation of Christ to the whole Christian community. We cannot stay to examine these new systems in detail. But it may be observed that the truth which they contain is already found in the Catholic theology of the Atonement. That great doctrine has been faintly set forth in figures taken from man’s laws and customs. It is represented as the payment of a price, or a ransom, or as the offering of satisfaction for a debt. But we can never rest in these material figures as though they were literal and adequate. As both Abelard and Bernard remind us, the Atonement is the work of love. It is essentially a sacrifice, the one supreme sacrifice of which the rest were but types and figures. And, as St. Augustine teaches us, the outward rite of Sacrifice is the sacrament, or sacred sign, of the invisible sacrifice of the heart. It was by this inward sacrifice of obedience unto death, by this perfect love with which He laid down his life for His friends, that Christ paid the debt to justice, and taught us by His example, and drew all things to Himself; it was by this that He wrought our Atonement and Reconciliation with God, “making peace through the blood of His Cross”.

Publication information Written by W.H. Kent. Transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume II. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

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The Importance of Regular Communion (And Transubstitution Is False Doctrine!)

Posted by Job on March 2, 2008

(1 Corinthians 11:23-34)

Communion.  The other night on my TV program, I dealt with the whole issue
of communion.   Communion is that wonderful act of remembering the sacrifice
Jesus made as He literally gave His life for the sins of all mankind.  I was
actually shocked in looking through my Devotional archives to realize in
nearly 9 years, this was one issue I had never centered a Devotional around.
I have talked about communion many times over the years, but never did a
complete Devotional just on communion.  Shame on me!  Especially with all
the confusion and poor teaching about this wonderful time when a follower of
Jesus Christ fulfills the command the Lord gave to His followers to remember
Him by partaking of the bread and wine, re-enacting that moment He shared
with His disciples in the Upper Room during the Last Supper.

When we’re dealing with anything, our final authority in all matters is the
Bible.  The primary scripture that deals with communion is found in Paul’s
first letter to the Church of Corinth, in the 11th chapter.  This passage
refers back to the words of Jesus on the night of the Last Supper with His
disciples.  On that night, our Lord broke the bread and said, “This is my
body which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”  After dinner
was over, Jesus took the cup and told His disciples, ” This cup is the new
covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
You see, Jesus knew what was about to happen.  Jesus knew that in just a few
hours He would be going to the cross to shed His precious blood and give His
life as the one-time, perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.

What Jesus did that night was give all of those who would follow Him a way
of remembering His finished work on the cross. You know we’re coming upon
the Easter season. It’s that time of year Believers worldwide will reflect
on the great sacrifice Christ made for us. We remember the Last Supper.  We
remember that time in the Garden of Gethsemane  where he would be betrayed
by Judas. We remember his trial before Pontius Pilate.  We remember how our
Lord was beaten, scourged, mocked, spat upon, and eventually nailed to the
cross where He hung and died.  The fact is, we need to remember Christ’s
sacrifice for us more than just at Easter.  That is the wonderful thing
about communion.  It allows us to take time and reflect, to remember the
price Jesus paid for our salvation.

One of the controversies regarding communion is how often a Believer should
participate in this act of remembrance.  Jesus simply said to do it in
remembrance of me, and even used the word “often.”   The Bible doesn’t give
us a specific time period, once a day, once a week, or once a month.  It
really becomes an issue each Believer needs to pray about and let the Holy
Spirit guide you.  Most churches have communion once a month.  I know of
some churches who observe communion every week. The Roman Catholic church
celebrates communion at every mass. Again, there is no Biblical mandate how
often to take communion.   My personal belief is that every Believer should
take communion at least once a month to never go too many days without
remembering the price Christ paid for our salvation.

Another controversial issue surrounding communion is who is supposed to take
communion. In most churches, everyone present is invited to take communion.
That is WRONG!  The Bible is very clear regarding who should and should not
take communion.  Communion is an act of remembrance for those who placed
their faith in Jesus Christ.  Communion is not something a nonbeliever
should participate in.  A nonbeliever has no relationship with Christ, so
the observance of communion is a meaningless exercise to that person.  The
bread and wine that represent the body and blood of Christ have no special
significance to a person who has not given their heart and life to the Lord.

I’ve had the honor of preaching many times over the years when communion was
being served.  I make it clear that communion is a time for those who have
placed their faith in Jesus Christ to examine themselves, repent of their
sins and ask God to forgive them of their sins before they partake of the
bread and wine.  One of the reasons I love communion is that it is the
perfect opportunity to allow people who aren’t Believers in Christ to accept
the Lord as their Savior by faith.  There’s no better time to give people an
invitation to know Jesus than at the time of communion.  After making the
decision to accept the Lord, they can then partake of the bread and wine and
understand the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for them when He shed His
blood and gave His life for their sins, so that they might be able to
receive God’s gift of everlasting life.

Let me share this with you.  You don’t have to be in church to take
communion.  I’ve taken communion dozen of times in my office.  I get a cup
with some grape juice to represent Christ’s blood.  I’ll take some bread to
represent His body.  I sit down with my Bible and read some of those great
passages in the Gospels about Christ’s crucifixion, and I take communion.
Listen, you don’t need a pastor or priest to give you Communion.  Communion
is an act of remembrance for Believers in Jesus Christ.  You don’t need a
pastor or priest to stick a wafer or piece of bread in your mouth. You don’t
need a pastor or priest to give you a cup of wine or grape juice.  You can
take communion at home, in your office, anywhere.  It’s an act of
remembrance each follower of Christ was asked by our Lord to do to remember
Him!

It is a time for those followers of Jesus Christ to remember the price He
paid for our salvation, why we are able to be the recipients of God’s gift
of everlasting life. Yes, it’s a great experience when you are with a body
of Believers in a church and you walk up and the pastor gives you the bread
and the cup. Yes, it’s wonderful to be able to share that experience in a
corporate setting with other Believers.  But you can take communion
anywhere, and you don’t need a pastor or priest since this is a time for
personal reflection.  It’s a time of remembrance.  That is why you shouldn’t
go more than 30 days without taking communion since it a reminder of what
our faith is all about.  Jesus Christ went to the cross, gave His body as a
one-time sacrifice and shed His blood for the remission of sins. That is
something every Believer should never forget and taking communion often is
important.

Now, let me share one last issue that pretty much is only an issue in the
Roman Catholic Church. It’s the man made tradition of transubstitution where
that church erroneously believes that at the time of communion, the wafer is
transformed into the literal Body of Christ and the cup of wine is
transformed literally into His blood. So when a Catholic goes to the altar
to take communion from the Priest, they believe they are literally partaking
of the body and blood of Christ. Again, it is a man made tradition without
any Biblical support. The bread or wafer, the wine or juice, are simply
SYMBOLS of the body and blood of Christ, not the literal body and blood of
Christ!

*Note:  To all my Roman Catholic friends.  I am VERY aware of the attempts
to use certain passages of the Bible to support this man made tradition of
the RC Church.  So please, don’t send me links and cut&paste postings on why
this belief is supported by Scripture, since it is not.

I love you and care about you so much.   Communion is an act of remembrance
every Believer should do on a regular basis. It is an act only Believers are
to participate in. Not children. Not the unsaved person you brought to
church.  Believers!   Communion is an act of remembrance. How can a
nonbeliever remember something he or she doesn’t believe in?  Unfortunately
most pastors absolutely miss this great opportunity to invite people to come
to know Jesus before offering communion.  There is no better opportunity in
the world to invite someone to know Christ than at the time you are
extending an invitation to communion. It gives you the perfect opportunity
to explain WHY a person needs Jesus.

I pray today that you will not ever let more than 30 days pass without
taking communion.  I believe it is a very important part of our faith and
spiritual journey.  It is the foundation of what our faith is all about.  I
don’t care if you have been saved 10 minutes or 80 years, all followers of
Christ need to reflect and remember what our Lord did for us.  Even more
important, Christ TOLD US to do this “oft” in remembrance of Him.  For the
Christian, communion is a very holy, somber, special time of reflection both
on our life and the sacrifice our Lord made for us.  May you be strengthened
and challenged each time you partake of the bread and wine, remembering that
Jesus gave His very life for us, so how can we do anything less for Him?

In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ,
Bill Keller bkeller@liveprayer.com

Posted in catholic, Christianity, devotional | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »

 
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