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Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by non dignus, Jun 8, 2007.
Is doctrine more important than Christ and the Cross?
Greetings from that other URC church pastored by a radical Armenian!
From my understanding, it may be permissible to transfer members (or "release" in good standing at least) who cannot completely agree with the 3 Forms of Unity to another true church. Some may be better in a Presbyterian church that does not require confessional subscription by non-office bearing members. That may be appropriate in the case of someone who cannot affirm infant baptism.
But in this case, where the doctrines touch so close to the heart of the Gospel, you probably should not transfer or release such a man, since the errors of Arminianism put the soul in grave danger.
Yes, very good point addition; -and grave danger indeed.
Once you mention Christ and the cross, you are using doctrine. You are doing Theology when you lead someone to Christ.
I wanted to mention to Ted a very serious problem in which the Arminian finds himself. In order to explain away the doctrine of unconditional election, he resorts to the idea that predestination consists in God looking across time to see who would receive Christ as Savior and who would not. And then on that basis He predestines the ones who decided to 'follow Jesus'. This doctrine teaches that God looked across time and discovered knowledge of someone's actions. This means that God learns, which means that God does not know everything.
Thus the Arminian has placed himself outside the category of monotheism. He is believing something that a good Jew or Muslim would disdain. OK, it's understandable for a neophyte to think in these terms but it's unpardonable for an educated minister of the gospel. It's quite simply idolatry.
The Arminian has placed himself outside the category of monotheism. Arminianism is quite simply idolatry. Wow.
Even an Arminian who defines election based on foreknowledge says that, as an eternal decree, this happened before the foundation of the world. Thus, there is no "time" at which God did not know everything. It's like the infralapsarian vs. supralapsarian dispute. The eternal decrees are not separated by time. The question is the order of eternal decrees in the mind of God.
You and I believe that God created this knowledge. They believe He discovered this knowledge.
"Even an Arminian who defines election based on foreknowledge says that, as an eternal decree, this happened before the foundation of the world." So What?
The Arminian defines foreknowledge as knowledge that God acquired through discovery.
"You" reformed? If you hold to the confession required for membership here, then oughtn't it be "we" reformed? This seems to be somewhat divisive. A joke, perhaps, but divisive just the same.
Okay...remembering...and what about her? Are you saying Jesus talking to her was akin to offering her the Lord's Supper?
I'm confused about your point. Why bring her up?
Define "confessional". Do you mean they confess Christ?
It's hard for me to see someone calling anyone asinine as asking himself what Jesus would do, yet you have asked the participants here to ask that of themselves.
No one has barred from fellowship at their homes or dinner table. No one has suggested that as far as I can tell. Please tell me what you are talking about.
This is an issue of the Lord's Supper/Table/Communion, not fellowship in general and not a meal shared among brethren. They are different inherently.
As to my opinion, I'd leave it to my elders! I don't think it is an excommunication issue in itself. It would be hard to understand why such a one would want to remain joined to us, but if he did, I would at least expect him to pipe down about it. There are a million non-calvinistic churches out there, why not go to one of them? Surely he would be offended at every single sermon, since God's sovereignty permeates them all. I agree it is serious error, but there is indeed a difference between the new convert who just knows he's a sinner who needs the forgiveness found in the blood of Christ and the seasoned Bible student who has studied both sides and rejected reformed soteriology for a sycretistic arminian one. Between the two lie a multitude of different possibilities, many requiring greater discernment than seems reasonable for an entire local body to wade through. Which is why I think the elders should make the decision.
Jenney, sometimes you gotta take Ryan with a grain of salt. Of course he's Reformed, he's also sarcastic at times.
I'll bow out of this one folks. Smacks too much of what Paul says in 1 Co. 1:10-13
10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.
12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."
13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
I'm aware of the dangers of Arminianism, but I fail to see why there not treated as brethren of "lesser" light. Even if the've been Christians for a season where it could be said that they ought to be teachers by now. Not everyone receives the same measure (some 30, 60, 90, etc.). Do they believe in the "essentials of the faith"? Not your church's constitution, not a particular confession of faith (as important as they may be), but the whole counsel of God according to that which is to the saving of the soul. If we are brethren, then we partake of the Lord's supper.
If the Synod of Dort has condemn Arminianism and therefore those that hold to the teaching of Arminian are heretics, should the church be communing at the table with such that believe in false teaching?
Personally, I believe that the table should be guarded and that Arminians should be barred from the Table of the Lord.
In this topic I am going to have to side with Pastor Cronkhite, and Jenney.
As already mentioned I believe the Church Order of Dordt sums it up well by stating:
"The consistory shall admit to the Lord's Supper only those who have made public profession of the Reformed faith and lead a godly life. Members of sister-Churches shall be admitted on the ground of a good attestation concerning their doctrine and conduct."
Well, I for one believe that the Lord's Supper must only be partaken by those who are true believers and who are members of a true church of God and are in good standing of their church and if are visiting a church must met with the elders before they are able to partake of the Lord Supper.
Now it is true that a Arminian MIGHT be a true believer, but an Arminian church is not a true church of God therefore the arminian should be barred from the Lord's Supper at a Reformed church on that point alone.....
The Ordo or order is clear... Salvation, Baptism, Church Membership in a true branch of the church, Lord's Supper....
Oh, well! One more I guess. Think about this: John MacArthur is a Dispensationalist who happens to believe in "Lordship Salvation" (as it is termed
!). Reformed soteriology, but he still holds to false teaching as well. Do we call him a heretic? Misguided? What? We hold up Augustine and Luther along side of Calvin, and yet these men held to some erroneous views also-hmm!! Do you consider Arminians (& Dispensationalists for that matter) to be the "openly ungodly" "professing Christian"? Have you not met an Arminian who "bears much fruit"? Let's not have a mere righteousness that goes no further than that of the Pharisees.
Church councils have had to defend Biblical Christianity down through the ages. What do Nicea and Chalcedon have over you also? What they do is defend Biblical Christianity from error. They have precedence in the scripture in Acts with the council on circumcision.
Dort defended Biblical Christianity from yet another errror. It should not be ignored as if it were nothing when the church visible stands up as one to say something.
Traci makes a very good point about Nicea. Would you allow a non-Trinitarian to the Table?
I am quite suprised to hear you say this actually. Afterall, weren't you the one that was reminding us that the church is bigger than a single denomination? It seems that if church unity is to happen, it must happen with the reformed churches first. And if the reformed do not rally around historic synods such as Dort, then what hope does the church have for true unity?
This reminds me of another question that I have thought of: Does the Synod of Dort function as an ecumenical council? Sounds like a good topic for another thread.
So I guess in your view Christians need not rally behind the Synod of Jerusalem in Acts 15 since a group of believers in some foreign country does not know what Jerusalem was and so not to introduce documents that other parts of the world have never heard of.
Jerusalem was a International Church Synod, Yes?
Nicea was a International Church Synod, Yes?
Dordt was a International Church Synod, Yes?
It is not about Western vs. everyone else, nor is it about the Dutch or some other culture related theme... It is about church history and about Church Councils that are legal or in other words scriptural and binding....
Michael, do you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled? That was what was decided that Gentiles ought to do at Jerusalem.
Church councils are not binding. Scripture is binding. The largest church council in the world does not necessarily produce scriptural teaching. For example, very few Reformed Christians believe that the papacy is THE anti-Christ, and yet that is what the writers of the Westminster, Savoy Declaration, and London Baptist Confessions agree on. Should that understanding be binding?
Trevor, the point is that Christians wherever they are, are not rogues. They are part of the Body of Christ that has roots and history. They should be taught this. I don't think something needs to be signed but some statement of faith should be given, and it should be an informed statement of faith. (catechism?)
This whole argument is only making stronger the view that ministers of the gospel only should be evangelists because they would make sure that things are done decently and in order. Yes, even in Indonesia.
A side point, I am sure, but why do we feel that Nicea or Dordt should be put along side the Council of Jerusalem? The latter was chosen by God to be recorded in inspired scripture, and included inspired Apostles. No other council, no matter how godly we may think it to be, can claim the same 'credentials'.
I do not downplay the need for christians to use the teachers God has ordained at all. But why the special reverence for these councils? Predestination is true by the Word of God and arminianism is an error. But why is the decision of Dordt anymore special than that of a single pastor today who proclaims the truth to his congregation? Why should my hearing the truth of predestination from Dordt be anymore special than hearing it from my pastor at last week's service?
My heart truly aches for you, as I read this thread knowing that many in Indonesia have NEVER heard of the Counsel of Dort, Nicea, Calvin or anything other than Christ Crucified and are willing to die for that TRUTH Alone...
May I be found as faithful in my own faith even if to death, putting Christ and Christ alone at the Head of His table as the one who issues the invitation..to anyone whether they have signed some creed or not..
I think where we are getting bogged down at is over Ecclesiology.. This debate almost seems totally polarized into two groups, The Independant Baptist and Presbyterial Presbyterians. Besides Jenney and myself who are Baptist and siding with the Presbyterial's on this... Of course I see the need to Church Councils and Synods...
The Independant here see no need for church councils and so are playing them down and their creeds, and the Presbyterians see the need and the biblical basis for Church Councils.... I believe this to be the root of the debate in this threat and the two sides will not come out on the same conclusion until the root is finally solved which is church polity. And I do not see that issue being resolved anytime soon...
P.S. I am unsure why, but I have seen a push in Reformed Baptist circles to also undermine and almost completely do away with the 1689 Confession for a push for greater Ecumenicalism and I believe to our harm.....
Trevor, I know you do not doubt the power of God in conversion, you must realize that true converts want to know the truth and they want to know all of the truth. I may not have been converted from Hinduism, Islam, or some animistic religion but Charismatics are just as bad but in a different way.
One of the things I went through, post conversion, was anger that Pastors and teachers were not telling me the truth. My desire was to follow Christ in all things and to do nothing displeasing to him.
Don't take it upon yourself to filter what you think they need and want to know over there from what they, as converts, want to learn and to know. They will want to know it all.
That is why I firmly believe that all people should not partake of the Lord's Supper until they meet with the Pastors who administer the Elements of the Lord' Supper. No one should approach the Supper of the Lord who is NOT known to the Minister who is administering the Elements... The Supper should be guarded.....
Pastors can determine if their doctrine is correct or not according to Dort or the 1689 or the Westminster, or Nicea. And if they do not have the correct knowledge the pastor should inform them what the scripture teachings on them...
In all Reformed Baptist Churches I have been to, and even Reformed Presbyterians, A warning is given before the elements are partaken that no one partake of the Supper without making themselves known to the elders of the church and are questioned of their doctrine and confession of salvation.
And in the RPCNA I attend the elements are NOT passed out to those the Pastors are unaware of or have not been questioned..... I believe this to be a biblical approach....
Then what about those under church censures? Surely you are not willing to say that all those under discipline are not believers? Surely some repent at some point and show that they were in a period of rebellion, no?
The point I am trying to make is not that we should try to judge somebody's heart, but to judge a credible profession.
The reformed confessions declare our view of sound Biblical doctrine; they are a précis of what we hold the Bible to teach.
In countries where pioneer missionaries labor what is important is to teach sound doctrine, that which is under the confessions. To teach the Biblical doctrines the confessions declare (but apart from the confessions) is nonetheless to teach the truth.
One can teach the doctrines of Dort without even mentioning Dort. The question is not (on a foreign field, say), do we teach Dort, but do we teach what Dort says the Bible teaches? In this sense Trevor has a point. But I would ask you, Trevor, do you teach the sovereignty of God in salvation (without minimizing human responsibility)? In short, the five points of Calvinism -- the five points Dort maintained against the false teachings of the Arminians? Not, mind you, a reformed confession (or Dort in particular), but simply the Biblical doctrines?
An aside, one of the instructors teaching a class of Sudanese pastors, elders, etc. (with some Kenyans, Ugandans, and Tanzanians) the Heidelberg Catechism so won their hearts with it, that when I replaced him I was asked if I could get them copies so their could teach their villagers from it when they returned home. I got fifty copies of the entire 3FU from a church in the states, and a teacher replacing me brought another 50 copies (plus 50 of the WSC). Dort is in African villages now!
I have a friend who is a Wesleyan pastor in New York who loves Christ. I know he truly knows Him. If he visited my church I would allow him to partake of the Table. I would let him know not to teach in any way his form of doctrine to the flock; if he did I would bar him from the table and from felllowship; though I do not think he would defy me. Our differences were such that in the past we could not work or evangelize together.
The diverse reformed churches have different strategies for guarding their doctrine. Some are laxer than others. When in my PCA church in NYC some of the members who were participants in an online discussion started denying the Westminster Standards, asserting that the PCA, and my church in particular, was not concerned about such doctrines as mentioned above, and they could teach as truth things contrary to the WS with impunity, I spoke to the executive pastor (it is a large church) and asked him his view on such. He strongly said we hold to the W. Standards and do not tolerate contrary teaching (privately held -- or quietly held -- views are not a problem). I brought this to the discussion and silenced the defiance from the members.
We are in times when sound doctrine is everywhere opposed. As one who was over 2 decades under the thrall of Wesleyan perfectionism & second blessing teaching, and Finney's pelagianism, I know the spiritual devastation these evil teachings cause, and declare they are from the pit. We are still discussing -- my fellow elder and I -- who shall be admitted to the Table.
However the truth of the pure gospel is guarded in the diverse churches, and the table of communion feast celebrated, we must protect against wolves -- witting or unwitting -- for a corrupted gospel causes grave injury to souls, and worse, seeks to obscure the glory of our God's grace.
I'm 100% with Jerusalem Blade.
I also think, Trevor, that this has gotten away from the original question. That was not an Indonesian who had never heard of Dort. That was someone who had been in agreement with the confession and has since reversed his stance. You are speaking of someone who may never have considered the issue at all and might need to be taught (doctrine, not history of Dort).
Now, does he need to be taught before he is allowed at the feast? I'm back with my "let the elders decide on a case-by-case basis" answer: Why doesn't he know any theology? Is he illiterate? Untaught? A new convert? Lazy? Finds doctrine dull? Is actually still unconverted? Believes in Jesus in a certain way, but is actually a Hindu who has merely added Jesus to his pantheon of gods? A guy who believes that Jesus is the answer for having Purpose and Our Best Life Now but has no concept of his own sin and need of redemption?
In general I see with both sides, because I recognize that there is a huge difference between an American who has read the Councils and denied them and a semi-literate Indonesian who has just been set free last Thursday from the bondage of sin (and Islam) by trusting in Christ. I would tend to deny the former and accept the latter at the Feast. ((But I'd still leave the final decision to my elders!))
I appreciate you and Teresa, your work di sana, and the struggles your churches face. We can so easily intellectualize the issues from our armchairs in the West, while you face them daily in the trenches. Anyone can be myopic, here or there, and we all need to have grace for one another as we wrestle with the Word and how to apply it.
It is a matter of church government, but it is not true that independents, congregationalists and baptists see no need for church councils. Both the Savoy Declaration and the London Baptist see church councils as good things for the larger body of Christ. It is the fact that independents, congregationalists and baptists don't see the church councils as binding that separate them from from the Presbyterians.
From the Savoy Declaration of Faith (And similarly in the 1689 LBCF):
Hi Mark. It might be worthwhile noting that Acts 15 doesn't confine the membership of the council to inspired apostles, but mentions apostles and elders. It was an ordinary council and therefore as liable to err as any other council. It was conducted with appeal to Scripture and providence. What made its ruling normative was the fact that "it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us," ver. 28.
I understand to some extent the angst over trying to turn every convert into a seasoned theologian but I think you ought to see the reasonable balance and historical and Biblical truth behind what is being argued.
First, I agree with Jenney that this has gone pretty far from the original post.
Secondly, Europeans are just like Indonesians - mostly lost sinners. The path is as broad and was as broad to destruction in 17th Century Europe as it is in Indonesia. I dare say the general populace was not more educated than the average Indonesian. Men are men.
Thirdly, I understand the need to be a bit pragmatic in some matters but a word of caution is in order. It is not too difficult to trace the decline in American Evangelicalism to a similar spirit in the 19th Century with the need to produce Pastors for the expanding mission field in an America that was continually expanding its frontier.
OK, I'm done with my lists.
I'll be honest Trevor, I'm not convinced that the growth in "Christianity" across the globe is a real growth in Christianity. There is an explosion of "Protestant" growth in Africa and Latin America but it is 99.9999999% Pentecostal. Yes, there are Reformed denominations (including my former local Church that has a missionary in Africa) but they don't have the resources of a TBN. Most of these people deny the Trinity. Most practice it in a way that is indiscernible from paganism.
I've honestly never been a big fan of saying: "I know so and so loves the Lord with all his heart even though he is a _________________." I find that to be a bit presumptuous. I treat men as if they are fellow believers if they are baptized but I don't presume to know they are saved.
The Reformed Confessions are not too lengthy on the things that separate Christendom from a false Gospel. I don't know why we spend so much time disputing over things that are the very grounds of our assurance. It scares me to death and causes me to want to teach my fellow man when I know that his theology echoes a self-trust that versions of Arminianism reinforce. I want men to understand the Gospel.
If I didn't think that the Reformed Confessions confessed the Gospel then I would confess along with those who did.
Can I work with others who deny truths such as their utter need for a Savior or that God saves on the basis of nothing in us? In some fashions, yes. Can I hope that, in spite of their confession, God might posses them? Yes, but not confidently. I don't know your background Trevor but I was Roman Catholic. I simply don't see much of a difference between the "faith" of some Evangelicals and the faith that I had as a Roman Catholic and that scares me for them.
That said, I hope for the best and continue to simply proclaim Truth in its most primitive form. But I believe the Confessions contain that primitive form and that's why I don't understand why you would eschew them as being "Europoean".