Archive for April, 2007

Wesley on 1 John 5:7-8 (The Comma)

April 28, 2007

On the theme of the Johannine Comma, the following is Wesley’s brief take on the subject. I have presented Wesley mostly to show that I have not quoted Calvin above to support the argument by the personal authority of Calvin, but have simply included Calvin’s comments (and Wesley’s and others) to show the historical acceptance of the Comma.

The Authenticity of the Comma Johanneum

by John Wesley

excerpted from his

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

7. What Bengelius has advanced, both concerning the transposition of these two verses, and the authority of the controverted verse, partly in his “Gnomon,” and partly in his “Apparatus Criticus,” will abundantly satisfy any impartial person. For there are three that testify – Literally, testifying, or bearing witness. The participle is put for the noun witnesses, to intimate that the act of testifying, and the effect of it, are continually present. Properly, persons only can testify; and that three are described testifying on earth, as if they were persons, is elegantly subservient to the three persons testifying in heaven. The Spirit – In the word, confirmed by miracles. The water – Of baptism, wherein we are dedicated to the Son, (with the Father and Spirit,) typifying his spotless purity, and the inward purifying of our nature. And the blood – Represented in the Lord’s supper, and applied to the consciences of believer. And these three harmoniously agree in one – In bearing the same testimony, – that Jesus Christ is the divine, the complete, the only saviour of the world.

Calvin on 1 John 5:7-8 (The Comma)

April 28, 2007
In keeping with my series on the historical view of the Johannine Comma, here are the thoughts of John Calvin on the subject, even though Calvin is neither particularly favorable to the position that I favor, nor particularly dogmatic. It should be noted that apparently the Jerome document that Calvin is referencing is actually pseudo-Jerome, in light of further historical research.
The Authenticity of the Comma Johanneum
by John Calvin (1509-1564)
excerpted from his
Commentary on the Catholic Epistles

7. There are three than bear record in heaven The whole of this verse has been by some omitted. Jerome thinks that this has happened through design rather than through mistake, and that indeed only on the part of the Latins. But as even the Greek copies do not agree, I dare not assert any thing on the subject. Since, however, the passage flows better when this clause is added, and as I see that it is found in the best and most approved copies, I am inclined to receive it as the true reading.

And the meaning would be, that God, in order to confirm most abundantly our faith in Christ, testifies in three ways that we ought to acquiesce in him. For as our faith acknowledges three persons in the one divine essence, so it is called in so really ways to Christ that it may rest on him.

When he says, These three are one, he refers not to essence, but on the contrary to consent; as though he had said that the Father and his eternal Word and Spirit harmoniously testify the same thing respecting Christ. Hence some copies have εἰς ἓν, “for one.” But though you read ἓν εἰσιν, as in other copies, yet there is no doubt but that the Father, the Word and the Spirit are said to be one, in the same sense in which afterwards the blood and the water and the Spirit are said to agree in one.

But as the Spirit, who is one witness, is mentioned twice, it seems to be an unnecessary repetition. To this I reply, that since he testifies of Christ in various ways, a twofold testimony is fitly ascribed to him. For the Father, together with his eternal Wisdom and Spirit, declares Jesus to be the Christ as it were authoritatively, then, in this ease, the sole majesty of the deity is to be considered by us. But as the Spirit, dwelling in our hearts, is an earnest, a pledge, and a seal, to confirm that decree, so he thus again speaks on earth by his grace.

But inasmuch as all do not receive this reading, I will therefore so expound what follows, as though the Apostle referred to the witnesses only on the earth.

Response to GIMJ re: Necessity

April 28, 2007

Godismyjudge (GIMJ) wrote:

Dear Turretinfan,Your article speaks of three different types of necessity (logical, De Jure & De Facto) none of which restrict us from choosing as we please. You yourself point out that “Logical Necessity does not – itself – place any attempted restriction on action.” De Jure Necessity does not mean that man cannot commit what is forbidden, but rather he cannot do what is forbidden without guilt. So De Jure Necessity adds an extrinsic aspect to our actions. I trust you see that De Jure Necessity is not a limitation in what we can do.Man is free from De Facto Necessity (freedom from external force/compulsion). To clarify this is doing something against our will. The man wants to do X but is forced to do Y. This should not be confused with someone or something external to us is controlling what we want. If we are free in this sense, it as freedom from a necessity beyond the scope of De Facto Necessity.Now, as you point out, the bible does not directly discuss necessity of this sort. But it teaches it by inference. Never-the-less, one of us has the wrong inference. One of us assumes something illogical or contradictory. Either I incorrectly assume an incoherent or non-existent sense of freedom or you assume an incoherent or non-existent form of necessity regarding our free acts. To one of us, Nehemiah 6:8 applies.Calvinism makes a positive assertion that our actions are necessary with respect to the divine decree.The reprobate would excuse their sins by alleging that they are unable to escape the necessity of sinning, especially because a necessity of this nature is laid upon them by the ordination of God. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iv.iii.xxiv.html The necessity that Calvin is using here isn’t De Facto, De Jure or logical. In contrast to De Jure necessity, God’s decree impacts what we can do, not an extrinsic aspect of what do. In contrast to De Facto necessity, God’s decree does not physically coerce us against our will. In contrast to logical necessity, necessity laid on us by God’s decree restricts our action. Calvin is asserting a necessity beyond those you claim comprise the whole of the biblical model. Oh that he wouldn’t have said our actions are necessity beyond the biblical sense of necessity!TF: The patched definition also has another serious problem for the Arminian, and that is that the ability does not coincide with act. That is to say, even if the man has some kind of ability prior to the act, man does not have the ability in the act itself.Thus, if the act we are speaking of is a choice, then under the patched definition, while man may have freedom from LFW-N prior to the choice, in the choice itself man does not have any such freedom. Thus, under this patched definition of LFW, man’s freedom disappears at the crucial point, and man’s choices and acts are apparently not free.I am not quite sure I see the problem.Dan

I reply:

I’ll respond line-by-line:
GIMJ wrote: Your article speaks of three different types of necessity (logical, De Jure & De Facto) none of which restrict us from choosing as we please.

I reply: Exactly. Thus, the Calvinist consistently affirms Biblical free will.

GIMJ wrote: You yourself point out that “Logical Necessity does not – itself – place any attempted restriction on action.”

I reply: That is an accurate quotation.

GIMJ wrote: De Jure Necessity does not mean that man cannot commit what is forbidden, but rather he cannot do what is forbidden without guilt.

I reply: That’s not true. It does mean that mannot cannot do what is forbidden. See, for example, Genesis 24:50.

Genesis 24:50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.

It is an ordinary way of speaking. Of course, you mean “can” in some more narrow, particular way. Nevertheless, within the realm (and using consistent, not equivocal definitions of words) of De Jure necessity we cannot do what is forbidden, and we must do what is commanded.

Your recharacterization of De Jure necessity is troubling for two reasons: (1) the obvious equivocation (using “can” in a non-De Jure sense) and (2) the selection particularly of the Logical Necessity sense of “can” in describing De Jure necessity.

In other words, there are three ways to look at things in De Jure Necessity:

1) Consistent with De Jure Necessity, one cannot steal from one’s neighbor, because it is illegal.

2) Equivocating to Logical Necessity, one can steal from one’s neighbor, but not without guilt, because stealing is illegal.

3) Equivocating to De Facto Necessity, one can steal from one’s neighbor, but not if the police are watching closely, because stealing is illegal.

GIMJ wrote: So De Jure Necessity adds an extrinsic aspect to our actions.

I reply: No, De Jure Necessity does not add extrinsic aspects to our actions. De Jure Necessity is simply defines necessity as it relates to laws, morals, covenants, and the like.

GIMJ wrote: I trust you see that De Jure Necessity is not a limitation in what we can do.

I reply: The Bible says that it is, and common sense agrees. Laws tell you what you can and cannot do. But again, you are using “can” equivocally, not as it is used in De Jure Necessity, but with some other sense in mind.

GIMJ wrote: Man is free from De Facto Necessity (freedom from external force/compulsion).

I reply: As noted in the Necessity post, that is only sometimes the case. Other times we are not free from such necessity. You cannot steal the Mona Lisa because it is too heavily guarded. That’s a de facto necessity from which you are not free.

GIMJ wrote: To clarify this is doing something against our will.

I reply: Or, more properly, not to do something that we want to do. See the example above.

GIMJ: The man wants to do X but is forced to do Y.

I reply: Where Y is “notX.”

GIMJ wrote: This should not be confused with someone or something external to us is controlling what we want.

I reply: It simply has nothing to do with the issue of what causes us to want what we want.

GIMJ wrote: If we are free in this sense, it as freedom from a necessity beyond the scope of De Facto Necessity.

I reply: I suppose that this is a new definition of freedom/necessity that should be added to my original post, and I will plan to add it. Let’s call this LFW-2 for now, and plan to define it as “freedom from someone or something external to us controlling what we want.” Presumably LFW-N2 would be “someone or something external to us controlling what we want.”

GIMJ wrote: Now, as you point out, the bible does not directly discuss necessity of this sort.

I reply: Actually, this sort of necessity was not addressed in the original article, because it is not called necessity in ordinary speech or the Bible. Nevertheless, the Bible does talk about what controls what we want, at least to some extent. What the Bible does not do, is discuss any sort of freedom along the lines of LFW-2.

GIMJ wrote: But it teaches it by inference.

I reply: Presumably you would hold that it teaches LFW-2, not LFW-N2. And I welcome your attempted Scriptural basis for asserting that teaching.

GMIJ wrote:

Never-the-less, one of us has the wrong inference. One of us assumes something illogical or contradictory. Either I incorrectly assume an incoherent or non-existent sense of freedom or you assume an incoherent or non-existent form of necessity regarding our free acts.

I wrote: I skipped the line-by-line format for once in order to make a comment principally about the final sentence. My position is that LFW-N2 is not necessity properly defined. Instead, it is a philosophical definition of something. Furthermore, I do not have to assume that LFW-N2 exists, I can show that LFW-N2 exists from Scripture, common sense, common experience, and logical deduction. I do not have to assume it or infer it. That’s one of the strengths of the Calvinist position over the Arminian position.

GIMJ wrote: To one of us, Nehemiah 6:8 applies.

I reply: Let’s first look at the verse in context.

Nehemiah 6:5-8
5Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; 6Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words. 7And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together. 8Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.

In context, Nehemiah is telling Sanballat that Sanballat is falsely reporting the facts. Disagreement over what Scripture means is not the same or equivalent to fabricating false reports about one’s political enemy.

GIMJ wrote: Calvinism makes a positive assertion that our actions are necessary with respect to the divine decree.

I reply: I question whether that it is an accurate characterization of Calvinism. I know that the article to which you were responding does not make that positive assertion. I’m concerned that you are building up a straw man position beginning with the use of the word “necessary” in the line above. My proposal is, for this discussion, for you to allow me to define the Calvinist position, which is more likely to provide an accurate picture, since I am a Calvinist.

GIMJ wrote: The reprobate would excuse their sins by alleging that they are unable to escape the necessity of sinning, especially because a necessity of this nature is laid upon them by the ordination of God.

I reply: This seems to be reference to Romans 9 and/or an attempt to debate the perceived Calvinist position. I will table the discussion of the consequences of the Arminian position until we have clarified what that position is, and whether it is even internally coherent and Scripturally based. Since it does not appear (so far) to be either, I’m not sure we will ever need to get to arguments that are based on assuming it to be correct.

GIMJ wrote: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iv.iii.xxiv.html

I reply: I don’t object to GIMJ reading Calvin, but since Calvin is not part of this discussion, there is no reason to suppose that Calvin knows about the definitions we are explaining. Also, Calvin did not write in English, and so additional problems can accrue due to translation. Those things set aside, for the moment:

GIMJ wrote: The necessity that Calvin is using here isn’t De Facto, De Jure or logical.

I reply: Calvin is addressing an objection, and it is the objector that uses the term necessity. In fact, Calvin does not rely upon necessity to define his opinion, but concludes:

but since he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen, it is vain to debate about prescience, while it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.

Accordingly, it is inaccurate to say that Calvin is “using” some kind of “necessity.”

Furthermore, Calvin later states:

I will not hesitate, therefore, simply to confess with Augustine that the will of God is necessity, and that every thing is necessary which he has willed; just as those things will certainly happen which he has foreseen (August. de Gen. ad Lit., Lib. 6, cap. 15).

But again, you have already conceded that those things which He has foreseen will certainly happen, so you cannot object to a definition of necessity that is phrased along the lines that Calvin phrases it above.

GIMJ wrote: In contrast to De Jure necessity, God’s decree impacts what we can do, not an extrinsic aspect of what do.

I reply: That’s very imprecisely worded. Certainly, God’s decree of Providence is not a law that binds us morally. It is isntead an ordering of history. To say that it impacts what we can do, is to speak with great imprecision, particularly in view of the various senses that “can” has been given in various contexts. It appears that you are trying to use “can” here in an LFW-N2 sense. However, we have not determined that such a sense of “can” or “necessity” is a proper or Biblical sense of the term.

GIMJ wrote: In contrast to De Facto necessity, God’s decree does not physically coerce us against our will.

I reply: That’s certainly correct.

GIMJ wrote: In contrast to logical necessity, necessity laid on us by God’s decree restricts our action.

I reply: This contrast looks like a false dichotomy. That is to say, Calvin appears to be arguing that it is logically necessary that what God has forseen will happen, because of the definition of God. The apparent dichotomy is raised by the equivocal use of “restricts our action.” As noted in the previous article, logical necessity does restrict us from doing to two actions in two different places at the same time.

GIMJ wrote: Calvin is asserting a necessity beyond those you claim comprise the whole of the biblical model.

I reply: This is mostly addressed above, where Calvin’s own use of the word of necessity is distinguished. Furthermore, it is addressed by providing the “logical necessity” ground for what Calvin was trying to communicate.

GIMJ wrote: Oh that he wouldn’t have said our actions are necessity beyond the biblical sense of necessity!

I reply: See above. Expression of angst is not a rebuttal.

GIMJ quoted me as writing:

The patched definition also has another serious problem for the Arminian, and that is that the ability does not coincide with act. That is to say, even if the man has some kind of ability prior to the act, man does not have the ability in the act itself.Thus, if the act we are speaking of is a choice, then under the patched definition, while man may have freedom from LFW-N prior to the choice, in the choice itself man does not have any such freedom. Thus, under this patched definition of LFW, man’s freedom disappears at the crucial point, and man’s choices and acts are apparently not free.

GIJ replied: I am not quite sure I see the problem.

I respond: “Man’s choices and acts are apparently not free.” Is that a problem for you or not?

-Turretinfan

Matthew Henry on 1 John 5:7-8 (The Comma)

April 28, 2007
Continuing in my series on the traditional view (contrasted with the modern view) of the text we have accepted as authenticate, the following is Matthew Henry’s take on the issue. Note that Matthew Henry does not seem particularly to care how many or how old the Greek noses are that can be counted.
The Authenticity of the Comma Johanneum
Matthew Henry
(1662-1714)
Excerpted from his
Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary
We are stopped in our course by the contest there is about the genuineness of v. 7. It is alleged that many old Greek manuscripts have it not. We shall not here enter into the controversy. It should seem that the critics are not agreed what manuscripts have it and what not; nor do they sufficiently inform us of the integrity and value of the manuscripts they peruse. Some may be so faulty, as I have an old printed Greek Testament so full of errata, that one would think no critic would establish a various lection thereupon. But let the judicious collators of copies manage that business. There are some rational surmises that seem to support the present text and reading. As,

(1.) If we admit v. 8, in the room of v. 7, it looks too like a tautology and repetition of what was included in v. 6, This is he that came by water and blood, not by water only, but by water and blood; and it is the Spirit that beareth witness. For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit, the water, and the blood. This does not assign near so noble an introduction of these three witnesses as our present reading does.

(2.) It is observed that many copies read that distinctive clause, upon the earth: There are three that bear record upon the earth. Now this bears a visible opposition to some witness or witnesses elsewhere, and therefore we are told, by the adversaries of the text, that this clause must be supposed to be omitted in most books that want v. 7. But it should for the same reason be so in all. Take we v. 6, This is he that came by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. It would not now naturally and properly be added, For there are three that bear record on earth, unless we should suppose that the apostle would tell us that all the witnesses are such as are on earth, when yet he would assure us that one is infallibly true, or even truth itself.

(3.) It is observed that there is a variety of reading even in the Greek text, as in v. 7. Some copies read hen eisi—are one; others (at least the Complutensian) eis to hen eisin—are to one, or agree in one; and in v. 8 (in that part that it is supposed should be admitted), instead of the common en te ge—in earth, the Complutensian reads epi tes ges—upon earth, which seems to show that that edition depended upon some Greek authority, and not merely, as some would have us believe, upon the authority either of the vulgar Latin or of Thomas Aquinas, though his testimony may be added thereto.

(4.) The seventh verse is very agreeable to the style and the theology of our apostle; as, [1.] He delights in the title the Father, whether he indicates thereby God only, or a divine person distinguished from the Son. I and the Father are one. And Yet I am not alone; because the Father is with me. I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Grace be with you, and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, 2 John 3. Then, [2.] The name the Word is known to be almost (if not quite) peculiar to this apostle. Had the text been devised by another, it had been more easy and obvious, from the form of baptism, and the common language of the church, to have used the name Son instead of that of the Word. As it is observed that Tertullian and Cyprian use that name, even when they refer to this verse; or it is made an objection against their referring to this verse, because they speak of the Son, not the Word; and yet Cyprian’s expression seems to be very clear by the citation of Facundus himself. Quod Johannis apostoli testimonium beatus Cyprianus, Carthaginensis antistes et martyr, in epistolâ sive libro, quem de Trinitate scripsit, de Patre, Filio, et Spiritu sancto dictum intelligit; ait enim, Dicit Dominus, Ego et Pater unum sumus; et iterum de Patre, Filio, et Spiritu sancto scriptum est, Et hi tres unum sunt.—Blessed Cyprian, the Carthaginian bishop and martyr, in the epistle or book he wrote concerning the Trinity, considered the testimony of the apostle John as relating to the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit; for he says, the Lord says, I and the Father are one; and again, of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit it is written, And these three are one. Now it is nowhere written that these are one, but in v. 7. It is probable than that St. Cyprian, either depending on his memory, or rather intending things more than words, persons more than names, or calling persons by their names more usual in the church (both in popular and polemic discourses), called the second by the name of the Son rather than of the Word. If any man can admit Facundus’s fancy, that Cyprian meant that the Spirit, the water, and the blood, were indeed the Father, Word, and Spirit, that John said were one, he may enjoy his opinion to himself. For, First, He must suppose that Cyprian not only changed all the names, but the apostle’s order too. For the blood (the Son), which Cyprian puts second, the apostle puts last. And, Secondly, He must suppose that Cyprian thought that by the blood which issued out of the side of the Son the apostle intended the Son himself, who might as well have been denoted by the water,—that by the water, which also issued from the side of the Son, the apostle intended the person of the Holy Ghost,—that by the Spirit, which in v. 6 is said to be truth, and in the gospel is called the Spirit of truth, the apostle meant the person of the Father, though he is nowhere else so called when joined with the Son and the Holy Ghost. We require good proof that the Carthaginian father could so understand the apostle. He who so understands him must believe too that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are said to be three witnesses on earth. Thirdly, Facundus acknowledges that Cyprian says that of his three it is written, Et hi tres unum sunt—and these three are one. Now these are the words, not of v. 8, but of v. 7. They are not used concerning the three on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; but the three in heaven, the Father, and the Word, and the Holy Ghost. So we are told that the author of the book De baptismo hæreticorum, allowed to be contemporary with Cyprian, cites John’s words, agreeably to the Greek manuscripts and the ancient versions, thus: Ait enim Johannes de Domino nostro in epistolâ nos docens, Hic es qui venit per aquam et sanguinem, Jesus Christus, non in aquâ tantùm, sed in aquâ et sanguine; et Spiritus est qui testimonium perhibet, quia Spiritus est veritas; quia tres testimonium perhibent, Spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et isti tres in unum sunt—For John, in his epistle, says concerning our Lord, This is he, Jesus Christ, who came by water and blood, not in water only, but in water and blood; and it is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth; for there are three that bear witness, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one. If all the Greek manuscripts and ancient versions say concerning the Spirit, the water, and the blood, that in unum sunt—they agree in one, then it was not of them that Cyprian spoke, whatever variety there might be in the copies in his time, when he said it is written, unum sunt—they are one. And therefore Cyprian’s words seem still to be a firm testimony to v. 7, and an intimation likewise that a forger of the text would have scarcely so exactly hit upon the apostolical name for the second witness in heaven, the Word. Then, [3.] As only this apostle records the history of the water and blood flowing out of the Savior’s side, so it is he only, or he principally, who registers to us the Savior’s promise and prediction of the Holy Spirit’s coming to glorify him, and to testify of him, and to convince the world of its own unbelief and of his righteousness, as in his gospel, ch. xiv. 16, 17, 26; xv. 26; xvi. 7-15. It is most suitable then to the diction and to the gospel of this apostle thus to mention the Holy Ghost as a witness for Jesus Christ. Then,

(5.) It was far more easy for a transcriber, by turning away his eye, or by the obscurity of the copy, it being obliterated or defaced on the top or bottom of a page, or worn away in such materials as the ancients had to write upon, to lose and omit the passage, than for an interpolator to devise and insert it. He must be very bold and impudent who could hope to escape detection and shame; and profane too, who durst venture to make an addition to a supposed sacred book. And,

(6.) It can scarcely be supposed that, when the apostle is representing the Christian’s faith in overcoming the world, and the foundation it relies upon in adhering to Jesus Christ, and the various testimony that was attended him, especially when we consider that he meant to infer, as he does (v. 9), If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this (which he had rehearsed before) is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. Now in the three witnesses on earth there is neither all the witness of God, nor indeed any witness who is truly and immediately God. The antitrinitarian opposers of the text will deny that either the Spirit, or the water, or the blood, is God himself; but, upon our present reading, here is a noble enumeration of the several witnesses and testimonies supporting the truth of the Lord Jesus and the divinity of his institution. Here is the most excellent abridgment or breviate of the motives to faith in Christ, of the credentials the Savior brings with him, and of the evidences of our Christianity, that is to be found, I think, in the book of God, upon which single account, even waiving the doctrine of the divine Trinity, the text is worthy of all acceptation.

John Gill on 1 John 5:7-8 (The comma.)

April 26, 2007
Consistent with my position that I do not want anyone to accept what I say because I say it, I sometimes find it to be of value to provide the thoughts of other Christian men on subjects on which modern times have, to a degree, reversed the Reformed position.
The Authenticity of the Comma Johanneum
John Gill
(1697-1771)
Excerpted from his
Exposition of the Whole Bible (1746-48)

The genuineness of this text has been called in question by some, because it is wanting in the Syriac version, as it also is in the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; and because the old Latin interpreter has it not; and it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; nor cited by many of the ancient fathers, even by such who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them: to all which it may be replied, that

As to the Syriac version, which is the most ancient, and of the greatest consequence, it is but a version, and a defective one. The history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of the Revelations, were formerly wanting in it, till restored from Bishop Usher’s copy by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, and who also, from an eastern copy, has supplied this version with this text.

As to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and stands in the Vulgate Latin edition of the London Polyglot Bible: and the Latin translation, which bears the name of Jerom[e], has it, and who, in an epistle of his to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of these canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it by unfaithful interpreters.

And as to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, as the Alexandrian, and others, it need only be said, that it is to be found in many others; it is in an old British copy, and in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; and out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens’s, nine of them had it: and as to its not being cited by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no sufficient proof of the spuriousness of it, since it might be in the original copy, though not in the copies used by them, through the carelessness or unfaithfulness of transcribers; or it might be in their copies, and yet not cited by them, they having Scriptures enough without it, to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and the divinity of Christ.

And yet, after all, certain it is, that it is cited by many of them; by Fulgentius FN1, in the beginning of the “sixth” century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; and Jerom[e], as before observed, has it in his translation made in the latter end of the “fourth” century; and it is cited by Athanasius FN2 about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian FN3, in the middle, of the “third” century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian FN4 about, the year 200; and which was within a “hundred” years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation.

____________

(1) Respons. contr. Arian. obj. 10. & de Trinitate, c. 4.
(2) Contr. Arium, p. 109.
(3) De Unitate Eccles. p. 255. & in Ep. 73. ad Jubajan, p. 184.
(4) Contr. Praxeam, c. 25.

Why prefer the KJV?

April 26, 2007
The Principal Reasons I prefer the KJV

Those who have been reading my blog will note that I normally quote from the KJV translation of the Scriptures. Also, some readers who have been following closely will recall this recent post (linked), in which I responded to Mr. Kurschner‘s article (linked) that is somewhat critical (pun cheerfully intended) of the Greek text that underlies the KJV. My pattern of usage, and my response (may I dare to view it as a rebuttal?) do not positively or clearly set forth my own position.

Why do I prefer the KJV? The short answer is that I think that the KJV is the best English translation available.

Some of the reasons why I think so include:

– The use of a distinct second person singular pronoun, i.e. “thee/thou” in contrast to “ye/you.” There are other (at least most of them older) translations that make a similar distinction. The KJV, however, is the best among those English translations that do so distinguish. All the “modern” translations that eliminate this distinction automatically take information away from the reader.

– The accuracy of the translation from Greek. The KJV translators generally translated using a literal methodology: in other words, to the extent possible, they translated word-for-word. There are some natural exceptions, such as periphrastic constructions and article usage, in which English cannot precisely follow the Greek. One reason I will never use certain of the modern translations is that they translate the Greek text less well, because they attempt to convey the gist, instead of the words. Thus, when you read – for example – the NIV, you are frequently reading not a literal translation but a paraphrase or gloss.

It is important to note that this is a big difference as compared with the NIV, and a relatively small difference compared to, for example, the ASV, ESV, or even the NASB. Nevertheless, in most cases when there is a difference in the reading between the KJV and the ASV, ESV, or NASB, after studying the underlying Greek text, I conclude the KJV’s reading is the best reading of the major translations. There are certainly exceptions to that general rule. I am not saying that the KJV’s rendering is always or monotonically the best.

– The choice of underlying Greek text in the New Testament, and – to a lesser extent – the emphasis on the Hebrew text in the Old Testament. I do prefer the critical text of the Reformation to the critical text of modern liberalism. I do believe that God providentially preserved the text of Scripture from both significant subtractions AND significant additions. I am not particularly interested in debating specific readings because – frankly – there are a plethora of variants. The Johannine comma (I John 5:7b-8a) would, however, provide for an excellent comparison of the providential preservation argument, versus the modern reductionist argument, especially because of the exaggerated claims of some of those who oppose it.

– The ease of reading many classic reformed writers. Many classic reformed writers relied on the KJV in their sermons, commentaries, and letters. Reading and understanding these writers is enhanced by familiarity with the KJV.

– The beauty of the readings. The KJV is written in a remarkably beautiful style, which is not matched by any of the modern translations.

– One exception: for singing, the KJV’s rendering of the Psalms is practically useless. For singing, other translations, such as the Scottish and Irish metrical psalters would be my preference. I would pick those two in preference over the RPCNA’s current psalter, and certainly far above most of the paraphrases found in the “Trinity Hymnal” and other hymnals.

– One caveat: although I think the KJV is the best English translation for personal devotions, public worship, and apologetics, English is not a substitute for Greek and Hebrew. Serious study cannot rely solely on one English translation, or even on a handful of English translations. I am always saddened when I listen to, or read, a sermon that was written by a preacher who did not find time to review the underlying text. How can I tell? I can tell when preachers misunderstand that more elegant (and sometimes archaic) language of the KJV, and conclude something from the text that requires imposing a modern sense of the word on the word in the text, or – more often – when preachers emphasize a word choice in the NIV that is not motivated by the Greek. Depending on one’s background, one may have heard more of the first or more of the second kind of errors. Both are a shame, and can be largely avoided.

Praise be to the God of the Bible!

Turretinfan

Inventokos – aka – Necessity

April 24, 2007
Necessity

Necessity is, as they say, the mother of invention.

Nevertheless, the term “necessity” has been pressed into those who oppose themselves to the Calvinistic position on “free will.”

The Calvinistic position on “free will” is that men are free to choose as they please. It’s a very simple, uncomplicated definition that is understandable to the average person and fits Scripture.

There ways in which men’s wills are free, and ways in which they are not free.

One aspect in which they can be free is with respect to necessity.

It is this aspect with regard to which Calvinists and others disagree.

Calvinists recognize that Scriptures teach that man can be free from necessity in two senses:

  1. De facto necessity
  2. De jure necessity
De Facto Necessity

De facto necessity is violent / forceful compulsion, otherwise known as coersion. Its primary manifestation is external. A man can be coerced by violence and/or threat of violence. We do not view such a man as “free.” A hostage or kidnap victim is typically so restrained, as are rape victims. The greater the likelihood of violence, the less “free” we view the person.

Although de facto necessity can be external, it can also be internal. Thus, for example, certain bodily functions can compel us to seek a certain room. Likewise, hunger, thirst, and even sexual lust can be viewed as providing de facto necessity. Thus, we commonly speak of the need to eat or drink, and it is not uncommon for people to speak of their having sexual needs.

Scripture provides examples of de facto necessity:

– Food

Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

Acts 20:34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

Acts 28:10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary.

– Health

1 Corinthians 12:22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

– Poverty

Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Philippians 4:16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

– Sexual Activity

1 Corinthians 7:37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

De Jure Necessity

De jure necessity is legal / ethical / moral requirement or rule. There is also some bleed-over from the defintion of de facto necessity, in that de jure necessity can also include the compulsion associated with knowledge of the legal / ethical / moral requirement. Thus, one’s conscience can provide a form of necessity that is both moral and, to a degree, forceful. Furthermore, rules are often accompanied by a threat of force and an expectation of punishment to violators. People who are under legal / ethical / and moral rules may be free in general, but they are not legally, ethically, or morally free with respect to prohibited or prescribed acts. Furthermore, the greater the number and specificity of the rules, the less free we consider people to be.

This kind of freedom is also discussed in Scripture.

– Free will offerings

Deuteronomy 23:23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.

Free will offerings are offerings that are associated with the taking of vows. Vows are something that the law does not require. Accordingly, the offerings associated with vows are referred to as “freewill oferrings.”

– Free will return to Israel

Ezra 7:13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

Here Artaxerxes is indicating that no one is being kicked out. If they want to go, they can go with Ezra. Artaxerxes is giving permission for the people who want to leave to leave, but he is not banishing anyone from Babylon.

– Free from Roman rule

Acts 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

– Free from servitude

Leviticus 19:20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.

– Free to marry

1 Corinthian 9:1 Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

– Free from the law

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

As is this kind of necessity:

– Produced by the law

Luke 23:17 (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

Titus 3:14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

– Produced by a covenant

Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

-Produced by a command

1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

2 Corithians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Philemon 1:14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.

– Produced by wisdom

2 Corinthians 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Having seen these examples, we can readily determine what “necessity” refers to a common parlance, ordinary speech sense. It is the property of being necessary or needed.

Other types of Scriptural necessity

There are other senses of necessity that have little or nothing to do with freedom. For example, in the science of Logic, a conclusion is necessary if it is the inevitable or inexorable conclusion of the premises. Of course, there is no concept of “freedom” in logic. The opposite of a necessary conclusion is a non sequitur.

Logical Necessity

There are four Scriptural examples of logical necessity (two clear examples, and two arguable examples):

The Two Clear Examples of Logical Necessity

Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Hebrews 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

The Two Arguable Examples of Logical Necessity

Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

These verses do not speak of a lack of human freedom, but of logical necessity. That is to say: you cannot have a sacrifice without a victim, because of the definition of sacrifice; you can’t have an inheritance without the death of the testator, because the inheritance does not pass to heirs during the testator’s life; if physical purification requires a sacrifice of one dignity, the spiritual logically requires a sacrifice of greater dignity; and a change from the Aaronic priesthood required a change in the law, because of the link between the priesthood and the law.

The Arminian View

The Arminians, however, add to the Scriptural sense of necessity a third, distinct sense of necessity that relates to predetermination. For clarity, I will refer to this as LFW-N for LFW necessity.

LFW-N

LFW-N is, fundamentally, a philosophical term not a term of common speech. It is hard to pin an Arminian down on a definition of LFW-N. LFW-N seems to be best characterized as there being no, i.e. zero, ability for things to be otherwise than they are. As such, it would appear to relate to Logical Necessity, as discussed above, and have nothing to do with human freedom. Nevertheless, the Arminians apparently conflate Logical Necessity with the other kinds of necessity in certain instances to assert that man is somehow free from LFW-N.

Any idea that man is free from Logical Necessity is absurd. First of all, Logical Necessity does not – itself – place any attempted restriction on action. Logical necessity is definitional. If you have a sacrifice, you have to have a victim, otherwise it is not a sacrifice. If you have a different priesthood, you have to have a different law, because law is what defines a priesthood. For you to receive an inheritance (properly speaking), the person giving the inheritance has to die. If it takes a X amount to fix a small problem, it will take > X amount to fix a big problem.

Nevertheless, you can pray without sacrificing, you can have an illigitimate priest, you can receive an in vivo gift (like the prodigal son), and you can come up short in your attempt to merit salvation by adherence to the ceremonies of the Old Testament ceremonial law.

Thus, Logical Necessity is descriptive and definitional, not proscriptive like De Jure or De Facto necessity, and the apparent Arminian conflation of Logical Necessity with the other kinds of necessity to produce LFW-N is rather self-evidently mistaken.

Consequently, LFW-N can be seen to be not the common usage of the term “necessity” (or even a technical, logical usage of the term “necessity”) but a philosophical use of the term. There is no Scriptural usage of the term necessary, necessity, needs, or the like that fall into this category.

Examples of non-Calvinist proposals for necessity:

Godismyjudge (and many others) define LFW-N as:

“Cannot be otherwise” with free will (LFW) being defined as “the ability to do otherwise.”

This definition is slightly ironic, in view of the presentation noted above, because it – at least facially – defies logic, while providing no real de facto or de jure freedom to man.

Thus, for example, while Logical Necessity does not prevent a man from sailing a boat in Peru, or flying a kite in Norway, it does render certain statements impossible because of paradox or self-contradiction.

Thus, for example, a man – due to his physical nature – can only be in one place at one time. Accordingly, it is impossible for a single man both to be in Peru, sailing a boat, and in Norway, flying a kite, at the same time.

That, however, is no restriction on man’s freedom, in the sense of imposing a necessity on him, in terms of De Facto or De Jure necessity. One might argue that such necessity is involved, because man’s physical nature imposes restraints despite his efforts to stretch (de facto necessity), and these are provide by the laws of nature (de jure necessity). However, such an argument is certainly a stretch, to say the least.

Similarly, a man cannot both do and not do the same thing at that the same time. The reason for this is the law of the excluded middle. Either man can do A, or man can do not-A, but not both at the same time.

Usually, in most Arminian explanations, there is a recognition of this problem, and accordingly, a patch is provided.

Patched Definition of LFW

The patched definition of LFW is that man is able to do either A or not-A prior to the deed.

This patched definition seeks to avoid the problem of the law of the excluded middle, by suggesting that the ability (and lack of LFW-N) is at all points prior to the event.

There is one serious problem with this definition, and that is its reference to the future.

It is important to note that this is a problem only for the Arminian, and not for the Calvinist. While we do speak in common parlance of the future as existent (e.g. tomorrow is …), if the Arminian acknolwedges that the future exists, the battle is lost. If the future exists, Calvinism or some other form of predetermination is absolutely, logically necessary.

Accordingly, some Arminians will assert that statements about the future are not true or false. Since this statement of ability is a statement about the future, it too should be deemed neither true nor false by the Arminian. If that is how it is viewed, there is – of course – no reason to accept the idea that is being presented as true, and one can eliminate Arminianism from the realm of the reasonable.

Nevertheless, let us assume that we can make true statements about the future for the sake of the argument. The patched definition also has another serious problem for the Arminian, and that is that the ability does not coincide with act. That is to say, even if the man has some kind of ability prior to the act, man does not have the ability in the act itself.

Thus, if the act we are speaking of is a choice, then under the patched definition, while man may have freedom from LFW-N prior to the choice, in the choice itself man does not have any such freedom. Thus, under this patched definition of LFW, man’s freedom disappears at the crucial point, and man’s choices and acts are apparently not free.

Other Options?

The cautious reader will recognize that this author is not an Arminian, and can only speak for Arminians to the extent that they have presented their own views. Accordingly, perhaps there are other options, other patches to the supposed common parlance sense of LFW-N, or perhaps some Scriptural support for that kind of necessity.

If so, I welcome them, and will address them below, as they are presented.

-Turretinfan

New Option – LFW-2

In this response, Godismyjudge presents what looks like a new version of LFW and LFW-N.

LFW-2 is defined as “freedom from someone or something external to us controlling what we want.”

LFW-N2 is defined as “someone or something external to us controlling what we want.”

This sort of necessity (if it can even be called necessity) was not addressed in the original article, because it is not called necessity in ordinary speech or the Bible.

Nevertheless, the Bible does talk about what controls what we want, at least to some extent. What the Bible does not do, is discuss any sort of freedom along the lines of LFW-2.

Indeed, LFW-N2 can be shown from Scripture, common sense, common experience, and logical deduction.

[Proof to be provided as time permits.]

-Turretinfan

Objections to the Reformed Doctrine Regarding the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

April 22, 2007
Objections
to the
Reformed Doctrine
regarding the
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

One Internet poster, who goes by the handle Timothy, responded to the Justin Martyr post thus:

Greetings! Found this while replying to your other post regarding the Catholic Church and Islam.>”This is a repetition of the same metaphor used in Scripture”Nope. If by metaphor you are referring to the Last Supper, there is no metaphor in Scripture. Some Christians have mistakingly interpreted some passages as metaphors, but that doesn’t make those passages metaphors.The error usually occurs from not reading the passages in light of the Old Testament, specifically Genesis and Isaiah. Short version:Throughout the 30 chapters of Genesis, we repeatedly see that when God speaks, things happen. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Gen 1:1, KJV)We also find in Isaiah 55:11 that when God speaks that God’s voice does not come back empty:”So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, KJV)So, when we read in the Gospels that Christ (God) sent forth His Word “This is my body” (Matthew 26:26), what happened? The Word of God, that created heaven and earth, came back void? The Word of God, that created all life on Earth, turned the bread that God was holding into nothing? God, who created the universe by voice alone, held a cup of wine and said “This is My blood” and nothing unique happened? Don’t think so.And that’s before tangling with the prophecy in Malachi 1:11 regarding gentiles offering a “pure offering”:”For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11, KJV) Where among the Christian churches (Christians are gentiles, not Jews) does one find incense and a pure offering (Christ) being offered from the rising to the going down of the Sun (daily, worldwide)?No, when read in conjunction with all the other early Church fathers like Cyril, Justin Martyr’s words are consistent with meaning that the Eucharist is bread and wine that has been transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ. Now whether the terms “transmutation”, “transubstantiation” or “consubstantiation” best express that change is another arguement.By the way, I’d be curious as to how you interpet Justin’s words on baptism as “the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration.” Most folks who deny the Eucharist also deny that baptism does anything but get one wet.God bless…

There’s a lot of objections there.

I. Objection: “If by metaphor you are referring to the Last Supper, there is no metaphor in Scripture. “

Answer: There are numerous metaphors in Scripture, and there are numerous metaphors in Jesus’ teaching. The passover meal itself was a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. And Christ’s own words include a figure of speech that even Roman Catholics acknowledge: by “cup” Christ meant the contents of the cup, not the cup itself.

Furthermore, Paul uses metaphorical language to describe the sacrament. Recall:

1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

There is simply no way to take those phrases literally. They are to be understood figuratively, as indicating that the Lord’s Supper is how we have fellowship with God and each other.

Paul continues the metaphor:

1 Corinthians 10:17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

The church is a whole because we all partake of the same bread, we are one body because we spiritually united with Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

Notice how Paul compares eating the sacrifices with partaking of the altar (not of the sacrifice). The point is that when we eat the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice we are participating in His crucifixion (symbolically, like the Old Testament Israelites did by eating the sacrifices). Notice, as well, how Paul contrasts “after the flesh” Israel implicitly with “after the Spirit” Israel.

1 Corinthians 10:19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

Paul then turns to the pagan sacrifices that the Corinthians would be familiar with and questions whether they symbolize a reality.

1 Corithinians 10:20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

Paul answers the question affirmatively that it does represent something, but what it represents is not God, but devils.

1 Corinthians 10:21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

Note how Paul continues the comparison between the symbolic Christan feast and the pagan sacrifices. Paul is not teaching that the pagan offerings are devils under the accidents of meat, but that they are symbols of devils.

Thus, a few verses later, Paul declares:

1 Corinthians 10:25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

They will not be eating devils and communing with devils if they eat food that has been consecrated to devils. Nevertheless, Paul instructs:

1 Corithinians 10:28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

Why should they not do so? It’s not because they would then be aware that they were feasting on transubstantiated devils, it is because they would be giving the outward appearance that they were participating in devil worship.

The Lord’s Supper is a memorial and rembrance of the sacrifice of Christ. The bread and wine that we bless is the way that we participate and communicate our worship of Christ who gave his body and blood for us. It replaces the eating of the sacrifices in the Old Testament.

Exodus 12:8-11
8And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.

And likewise:

Exodus 29:32-33
32And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 33And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.

So then, we do not feed on Christ physically, but spiritually in the supper. The bread is not God, but the bread represents God. It is an icon (and the only authorized New Testament icon) of God.

2. The second objection is that the Reformed Doctrine denies the reality of a miracle

This objection, however, is based on several invalid premises:

First, Christ did not say: “Let this bread be,” but “this bread is.” It is false to analogize to the creation, because Christ does not use creative words. He does not command the bread to become His body, He simply identifies the bread with His body.

Second, Christ’s words did not return void, because they did not fail to establish this sacrament that memorializes Christ’s sacrifice. After all, the promise is that God’s word accomplishes the purpose God intended, not that it accomplishes whatever purpose a Roman Catholic finds convenient.

3. The third objection takes a carnal, Jewish view of the Malachi 1:11 prophecy. It asks where incense and a pure offering are offered today, and suggests that the place is in the Roman Catholic church, and not the Reformed churches.

Malachi 1:11 follows:

Malachi 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

We, Reformed, understand that this prophecy uses physical language to point to a spiritual reality. In this case, incense and a pure offering point to prayer of the faithful to God. We can learn this both from the Psalms:

Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

And also from the association of prayer with incense in the New Testament:

Luke 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

And again:

Revelation 8:3-4

3And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.

And as for the fulfilment of the pure offering aspect, the same passage of Psalms speaks, as well as:

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

and again:

Romans 15:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

And similarly:

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Finally, of course, the prophecy has its fulfilment in Christ:

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Christ crucified is the pure offering, and His prayers for His people are sweet smelling incense to God. It is by His blood that we are made clean, so that we and our prayers are made acceptable to God.

4) The final objections relate obliquely to the Justin Martyr post to which the comment originally replied. They simply assert that Justin Martyr believed in physical transformation – a claim that is not supported by the evidence, and then attempt to change the topic to Justin Martyr’s views of baptism.

However, if we are going to permit a Roman Catholic to argue that Justin Martyr believed that Baptism produces regeneration or remission of sins (rather than symbolizing those things), then we must ask the Roman Catholic to explain Justin Martyr’s apparently sola-credo-baptist position expressed in the same places.

And, of course, the answer on the topic of Baptism is that Justin Martyr, like most people, probably recognized that the washing of the body with physical water in Baptism was a symbol of the washing of the spirit by the Blood of Christ, thereby cleansing us from sins.

Like a newborn infant, we are born again covered in the Blood of Christ and made clean from our sins by the same blood.

-Turretinfan

Response to artsippo on Envoy

April 22, 2007

A Roman Catholic Apologist by the name of Art Sippo recently provided the following comments on the internet:

Years ago, John Gerstner recommended that I read the anti-Catholic chapters in Hodge’s Systematic theology to see why Catholicism was wrong. I wrote back to him with a brief critique.First of all, Hodge basically ignored historic Christian teaching and concentrated on “modern” biblical exegesis (the literal-historical method) without really explain why we should choose that over the more comprehensive Scholastic approach found in the Quadriga method. He made a big deal about the Bible but ignored the Regula Fidei that was used to interpret it.He also made a silly comment. He said in his anti-Catholic chapter that there were too few documents from the first 3 centuries AD to draw any conclusions on matters of doctrine but in his chapter on Scripture he claimed that the Fathers in that period all bore definitive witness to the sufficiency of Scripture. He also said that you could that pagan authors from that time also bore witness to the importance of Scripture.So in one chapter he says that the Fathers and PAGAN authors gave sufficient evidence for Scripture but in another he denied that there were sufficient Patristic writings from this period to prove anything! I pointed this out to Gerstner. Hodge contradicted himself and gave more weight to PAGAN authors than to Christian ones!Anyone with a smattering of Patristic info (and Schaff was the editor of the Edinburgh edition of the Fathers that you see everywhere) could tell you that there was a broad consensus among the Fathers on many things including the substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Baptismal regeneration, the necessity of baptism for salvation, the Apostolic origin and authority of the Episcopate and the three-fold ministry, weekly celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday, and a number of other “Catholic” distinctives.Hodge also made the point that Catholics could not be real Americans because they owed an allegiance to a foreign prince. He was a shameless jingoistic American and was proud of political prejudices against Catholics. It is ironic how things have changed and now all people of faith are being excluded from participation in the political process because of their religious beliefs. Modern Protestants like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jay Sekulow, and others are saying the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Hodge was about the American government and Christianity.Gerstner had no response to my analysis. He just changed the subject. That was his usual tactic.ArtOmnes semper – ad Jesum, per Mariam, cum Petro!

I respond:

It is interesting to note that the critique of the relevant portion of Hodge’s Systematic Theology is not presented. Instead, much of what is presented is a personal attack.

Before the personal attack, however, Mr. Sippo argued that Hodge’s analysis of the Scripture was incomplete because Hodge used only exegesis and not Roman Catholic tradition in the interpretation. I’m sure that Hodge would be delighted at this recommendation. If any of you, gentle readers, are anti-Calvinists considering whether to read Hodge, this criticism by one of his enemies should encourage you to do so. Hodge’s Sola Scriptura position is unwittingly affirmed by his adversary.

The second criticism that Mr. Sippo presents is an extrordinarily rookie mistake. Mr. Sippo noted that Hodge says there are two few documents from before the fourth centuries to get any firm idea of what the universal doctrines of the early church were. Mr. Sippo then noted that Hodge also asserted that looking at the patristic and even pagan writers of that period, we can see that they all asserted the sufficiency of Scripture.

Mr. Sippo’s rookie mistake was in failing to recognize an alternative argument. One can consistently say that we have two few samples to have definitive knowledge about the characteristics of a population, but we can also describe the characteristics of the sample. And this is what Hodge did.

Hodge pulled the rug from under all the Roman Catholic arguments two ways: first the amount of evidence is insufficient to prove their point, and second the content of the evidence contradicts their point.

Mr. Sippo fails to realize this is a one-two punch and instead seems to mistakenly conclude that Hodge feels as though the sufficiency of Scripture is positively proved from the patristics and pagans.

Mr. Sippo’s claim that Hodge gave more weight to pagan than Christian writers shows how little Mr. Sippo was able to follow Hodge’s analysis. Although Hodge was not seeking to prove the sufficiency of Scripture from Tradition, Hodge’s rebuttal shows the united testimony of both Christians and their enemies as to what Christians believed, and that this united testimony is contrary to the claims of the Vatican.

After this blundering attempt to point out an error in Hodge, Mr. Sippo makes the inane claim that anyone with a smattering of knowledge would agree with the standard Roman Catholic line that various Roman Catholic dogmas are taught by the early church fathers. Hodge’s two points remain: there are not enough samples to have knowledge of the cross-section of Christianity at that time, and – at least with some of the issues – the evidence that does exist is actually different from what the Roman Catholics claim.

Apparently to reinforce the point that Hodge must be foolish for denying the obvious truths of Rome, Mr. Sippo attempts to smear Hodge as a jingoist. This strategy immediately backfires.

Mr. Sippo points out Hodge’s argument that Catholics could not be real Americans because they owed allegiance to a foreign prince. Mr. Sippo seems to have forgotten that in Hodge’s day the pope was not just the purported “shepherd of shepherds” and “pontificus maximus” but also a civil authority with a state that he governed.

Hodge’s argument is simply: if you owe allegiance to the head of the Roman State and claim to have allegiance to (any of) the United States, you have divided loyalties. It is a simple political reality, and it is the reason that many countries – the United States included – are unwilling to permit people to hold dual citizenship.

Mr. Sippo recognizes that the situation has changed, but not HOW it has changed. The pope has lost his worldly authority.

Finally, Mr. Sippo notes that Gerstner did not respond to his criticism. One wonders whether Gerstner even read Mr. Sippo’s letter a second time before discarding it. It is a vapid criticism that only serves to enhance Hodge and Hodge’s excellent systematic theology in the minds of those who love the Word of God and who reasonably consider the arguments presented.

Praise be to the One Shepherd,

-Turretinfan

The Diary – A Challenge to FreeGrace and Godismyjudge

April 21, 2007
The Diary

Imagine with me that God, in his perfect omniscience were to write down on the 8th day of the world, a diary that stated for each day of all of time (from creation until the destruction of this world at the end of time, or whatever the end of this age is from your particular eschatalogical view), the events of the day. Presumably, if we accept the Roman Catholic tradition, the December 25, 4 B.C. entry would read: Jesus Christ was born. There would be an entry for September 11, 2001, that says that such-and-such a number of people were killed. And so on, and so forth.

The diary concept is simple. Hopefully it is intelligible. Every day has an entry, and the entry describes the events of the day in the past tense. Got it?

Now, let’s suppose that God, being omnipotent and omniscient not only wrote an entry for every day, but included every event down to the last detail in this diary and completed the diary on the 8th day. Then, God took the diary and hid it somewhere we cannot find it. Still following?

Let’s just, for the sake of the argument, assume that God wrote the diary based on his knowledge of what will happen. Let’s not discuss HOW God had knowledge of what will happen. Hopefully that is not a tall order. It should be simple to grant that God had knowledge of what was going to happen, what is happening now (as you read this), and what will happen after you finish reading this.

For the sake of the argument, you are to suppose that God, for His own reasons, wrote down all of those events by carving diary entries into granite slabs that God specially created for this purpose.

Hopefully this scenario is clear up to this point in the post. If it is not, please feel free to explain why.

Now, imagine that there is a slab for April 10, 2010, and that slabs entry reads (in part): “Roe vs. Wade was overturned by a 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court.”

Here is the challenge:

Given the hypothetical scenario described above (which is not reality – in reality God has not written a granite diary of all of time),

  1. Is there anything that anyone (including the nine supreme court justices) can do that will produce a different court outcome on April 10, 2010?
  2. Is there anything that anyone can do to prevent the outcome carved in granite from happening?
  3. Is there any chance whatsoever that the outcome carved in granite will NOT happen?
  4. Must the event described in granite occur on the corresponding day?
  5. Is it necessary that the event occur on the corresponding day?

I boldly assert that, if you accept the presupposition that God is omniscient, you have to answer each of the five questions as follows:

1) No. Such an outcome would conflict with the granite slab. Such a conflict would properly be considered an error. An error on the granite slab would imply an error in God’s knowledge of the future on day 8, since the granite slab was carved then.

2) No, for essentially the same reasons as (1).

3) No, again, for the same reasons as (1) and (2).

4) Yes, because if it does not, then the granite slab will contain an error, and it is impossible for such a state to exist.

5) Yes, without any positive information about HOW the event will come to be, we can say that it is necessary.

Applications:

FreeGrace:
The application, of course, is that the future is no less certain simply because God has not written it all down. Exactly the number of people will be saved whose names would be written in that granite diary as being saved, and not one more person, and no effort on your part can alter that number.

This does not say anything positive about HOW that number will come to Christ – just that a certain, fixed number will come, and not one more.

However, this reality conflicts with your explanation of HOW that number will come to Christ. You seem to suppose that they will come in a manner that permits ALL to be saved. However, as we have shown above, nothing can permit ALL to be saved, because the granite slabs are as good as written.

Thus, the hypothetical granite diary proves your theory of causality to be wrong, without proving any other theory of causality to be right. It is no defense of your position here to say “but your theory of causality ….” My theory of causality is not in any way compromised by the hypothetical granite diary. As to this challenge, I have an explanation of HOW that does not contradict the reality demonstrated by the hypothetical granite diary. You, brother, do not.

Thus, FreeGrace, I challenge you to reconsider your view of causality in light of the reality of the certainty of the future. The idea that the salvation of all is possible is contradiction with the reality of a single future that is known to God in which less than all are saved.

Godismyjudge:

The granite diary provides an excellent test case for your Temporal Becoming argument from your paper.

You see, the granite diary phrases its descriptions of the events of each day in the past tense: 33 men were killed by a Korean Student – the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial birth abortions, a 1944 Miss America thwarted an intruder with her revolver, a sparrow fell to the ground, Roe vs. Wade was overturned, and so on.

Viewing the statements through the lens proposed in your article, I would look at the statement Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and – using your analysis – I would say that this statement is false. That’s not a normal way of speaking, because normally one would recognize that the date at the top of the slab enlightens the reader as to the sense of the proposition. Nevertheless, given your definitions, it would be correct to say that this statement is false, and will be false until April 10, 2010. Then the statement will be true for the remainder of time.

The question is this: does anyone have the power to prevent that statement from becoming true on April 10, 2010?

The answer, if you are going to accept the innerrancy of the granite slabs, is “no.” It is impossible that a world could exist in which, on April 11, 2010, the granite slab entry for April 10, 2010, was false.

Furthermore, no one has (has = present tense) the ability to change what was written (was written = past tense), nor will anyone ever have (will have = future tense) the ability to change what was written (was written = past tense).

Accordingly, if the granite slab says Roe vs. Wade was overturned on April 10, 2010, then no force, power, or ability – sub-human, human, angelic, or divine – has the power (has = present tense) to arrange things otherwise.

And, as noted above, it is sufficient that the granite slab could, hypothetically have been written. It is not necessary that God actually write the slab, because the relation between the slab being written and the certainty of the future event is not causal relationship. In other words, there is no need for the slab to exist in order for the future to be certain and fixed.

You may (and probably would) claim that there is a reverse causal link (that the future must occur in order for the slab to be written). This violates the first rule of causality (that the effect follows the cause). Nevertheless, let us leave this important flaw aside for the moment.

There is a second related flaw: by what mechanism does the event cause the carving? The response is that God is the link. The event acts on God’s knowledge, and then God carves the event. This makes God a second cause, not a first cause. This violates the divinity of God as being the uncaused cause.

The third, and most important flaw, however, is that it does not address the reality of the matter. The reality of the matter is that no matter whether God is a second cause or whether the future can cause the past, the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable.

The day of Roe v. Wade’s overturn is written in granite, and that date will not be changed. If the granite says April 10, 2010, then that is absolutely 100% certain to be true.

There is (present tense) no way to prevent that.

And that is not consistent with typical LFW explanations of freedom of the will.

My challenge to you, Godismyjudge: set aside your view of LFW in favor of the simple, Scriptural Calvinistic view of man’s will. Then, your view of man’s will be consistent with the hypothetical granite diary.

Turretinfan

********

Godismyjudge has curiously responded:

1) Yes

2) Yes

3) No

4) No

5) No

The answers are almost all curious, because they defy common sense. Common sense says that if that the future is written in stone, the future cannot be otherwise. Yet, Godismyjudge repeatedly insists that it can be otherwise.

The only curiously inconsistent answer is the “No” to number 3. Here, Godismyjudge seems to acknowledge that the future will occur exactly as written, without any discrepency.

But this conflicts with many of Godismyjudge’s other answers, particularly 4 and 5. For if it can be otherwise, and if otherwise means that an outcome written can not-happen, than God’s omniscience can (in whatever sense Godismyjudge means “can”) be violated.

Likewise, although most people would think that God’s omniscience must not be violated, and that, therefore, the carved events must happen as carved, Godismyjudge claims that it can be otherwise.

Furthermore, Godismyjudge apparently overlooks the test of his time-passage argument. Accordingly, I invite him to revisit that point.

Finally, Godismyjudge’s admission that the following statement does not limit free will is one reason that I say that Godismyjudge has yet to recognize that he is a Calvinist: “The third, and most important flaw, however, is that it does not address the reality of the matter. The reality of the matter is that no matter whether God is a second cause or whether the future can cause the past, the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable.”

The idea that the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable and that man is free in the relevant sense is Calvinism contrasted with Arminianism.

-Turretinfan

Godismyjudge has responded, and a discussion of his response follows.

TF had written: But this conflicts with many of Godismyjudge’s other answers, particularly 4 and 5. For if it can be otherwise, and if otherwise means that an outcome written can not-happen, than God’s omniscience can (in whatever sense Godismyjudge means “can”) be violated.

GIMJ replies: That conclusion does not follow. As I said, the events written will happen. This alone is sufficient to preserve God’s omniscience.

I respond: GIMJ seems to have missed the force of the argument. The thrust is not that “the events will happen” conflicts with God’s omniscience, but that “the events can happen otherwise” (i.e. contrary to what God has seen before) conflicts with God’s omniscience. In fact, of course, to insist dogmatically that they will happen as written and to simultaneously assert that they can happen otherwise is itself self-contradictory, and that is the point. If it will happen only way, and that way is so certain and fixed that it could as well be written in stone, then to say that the future “can” be otherwise is simply to speak in some hypothetical sense – it is not to speak of the reality of the matter.

TF had written: Furthermore, Godismyjudge apparently overlooks the test of his time-passage argument.

GIMJ replied: I am not sure what argument I overlooked. I suspect there are semantic differences on this point. But to check let me ask this. Do you agree that if I were to write “today is the day I die” on a piece of paper and seal it in a safe, it will be false every day but one (assuming the Lord does not return during my life)? If so, is suspect our differences are semantic.

I respond: The argument was asking you to apply the test you just mention about the paper, to the April 10, 2010, entry of the granite diary. As to your question, under your definitions the answer is as you say, but your definitions are contrary to the normal use of language.

TF had written: The idea that the future is fixed, certain, and unalterable and that man is free in the relevant sense is Calvinism contrasted with Arminianism.

GIMJ replied: The difference may be in what sense the future “is”. But clearly, Arminian divines affirm that God infallibly knows the future, and yet they were not accepted by Calvinists.

I respond: I don’t think the real difference is a difference of words, but of logical consistency. If the future is so certain from God’s pov, that it could have been writtten down in stone on day 8, then it cannot be otherwise, unless you simply mean to suggest that hypothetically it could be otherwise, if we suppose things that are contrary to fact.

Allow me to suggest that we continue this discussion by turning our attention to Necessity, in the post provided here (link to post).

-Turretinfan


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