Archive for October, 2015

What does Christ mediate to non-elect covenant members?

October 23, 2015

The title question is sometimes asked of those who hold to Calvin/Turretin’s view of Covenant Theology. I respond that the question seems to contain two flawed premises.

First, a mediator is a person who reconciles two parties. Christ does not serve as a mediator for the non-elect, only for the elect.

On the other hand, the non-elect members of the church should expect to receive something from Christ. It is written, “the Lord will judge his people.” (Deuteronomy 32:36; Psalm 135:14; Hebrews 10:30) So, those who are merely outwardly part of the covenant should expect Christ to serve not as mediator, but as judge.

But Christ does not “mediate wrath” to those people, because that is not a mediatorial role. In his role as judge of all the Earth, Christ does not stand between God and man, but simply stands as God against man.

My emphasis on “outwardly,” above, brings me to the second flawed premise. There are no non-elect members of the covenant of grace, under either the Mosaic administration or the NT administration. Those non-elect people who are part of the assembly/congregation/ekklesia but never believe are only outwardly members. Thus, they may bear the signs of the covenant (i.e. circumcision and/or baptism) but they lack the cleansing, forgiveness, and regeneration that those symbols represent.

The true Jew or true Christian is one who is one inwardly. Circumcision is of the heart.

-TurretinFan

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Pope Francis on June 1, 2015 and the Failure of the Cross (with Bonus)

October 3, 2015

When you read the Pope’s comments about the “failure of the cross” in light of this homily from earlier this year, I think it sheds some light on the subject. Just as Scripture interprets Scripture, so also Francis interprets Francis:

Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day during morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope said the stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone; the scandalous executioner’s block that appeared to put an end to the story of hope, marked the beginning of man’s salvation.

And highlighting how the Scriptures speak to us today, the Pope said God builds upon weakness and waste; he said God’s love for mankind is manifested in the apparent “failure” of the Cross.

But above all – the Pope said – the story tells us of how Jesus’s death led to his ultimate triumph.

Let us not forget the cross – he said – because it is here that the logic of “failure” is turned upside down.

Jesus – Pope Francis said – reminds the chief priests, the scribes and the elders that although we can expect trials and rejection, in the end we will see triumph and he quotes the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”.

“The prophets, the men of God who spoke to the people, who were not listened to, who were rejected, will be His glory. The Son, His last envoy, was seized, killed and thrown out. He became the cornerstone” he said.

“This story that begins with a dream of love, that seems to be a love story, but ends up looking like a story of failures, ends with the great love of God who offers Salvation through the rejection of his Son who saves us all”.

(source)

Bonus Update:

Here’s what Francis said back on May 29, 2013:

“Triumphalism in the Church halts the Church. The triumphalism of us Christians halts Christians. A triumphalist Church is a half-way Church”. A Church content with being “well organized and with… everything lovely and efficient”, but which denied the martyrs would be “a Church which thought only of triumphs and successes; which did not have Jesus’ rule of triumph through failure. Human failure, the failure of the cross. And this is a temptation to us all”.

(source)

-TurretinFan

More Thorough Exegesis of Francis’ "Failure of the Cross" Phrase

October 1, 2015

In response to Pastor Hall quadrupling down on his misinterpretation of Francis’ words, let me explain how I know (with certainty) that Pope Francis was contrasting the divine perspective with the human perspective, when he said:

The cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Ours is to plant the seeds. God sees to the fruits of our labors. And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and not produce fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus Christ and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.

a) Notice that the point of the paragraph is to explain the right way of measuring success. It’s not a discourse on the atonement or on redemption, but instead of metrics of success. The cross is an example of how to measure success.

b) Not only is this confirmed by the thesis sentence of the paragraph, but also by the way that the paragraph fits within the section of the speech:

And it diminishes the wonder of our first encounter with Christ. We can get caught up in measuring the value of our apostolic works by the standards of efficiency, good management and outward success, which govern the business world.

Not that these things are unimportant, of course. But we have been entrusted with a great responsibility, and this is why god’s people rightly expect accountability from us but the true worth of our apostolate is measured by the value it has in god’s eyes, to see and evaluate things from god’s perspective, calls for constant conversion in the first days and years of our vocation and, need I say, it demands great humility.

The cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Ours is to plant the seeds. God sees to the fruits of our labors. And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and not produce fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus Christ and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.

b) Thus, the point of the Pope’s statement is to contrast outward success, success as perceived by men, with true success.

c) The pope is drawing a distinction between measuring worldly endeavors (like businesses) with “our apostolic works” or “apostolate.”

d) So, in context the pope is saying that measured by business standards, i.e. “humanly speaking” the cross was a failure.

e) The pope is saying that this is the wrong way to measure spiritual endeavors. It’s an argument from the greater to the lesser. If measuring the cross by business standards would make it look like a failure, we shouldn’t worry that our apostolate/apostolic works look like a failure by that standard.

f) That the pope was talking about failure that shouldn’t count as failure can be seen from the fact that he refers to “seem to fail” when describing our efforts and works.

g) The alternative understanding, that Francis meant that the cross really did fail, would undermine the point of using the cross as an illustration. If the cross actually failed, then business method of measuring success is right, and we’re not dealing with a “different way of measuring success,” but with a same way of measuring success.

h) Finally, we see the same thing confirmed in the way that the pope wraps up his discussion in a subsequent paragraph:

I know that many of you are on the front lines in meeting the challenges of adapting to an evolving pastoral landscape, like Saint Peter, I ask you, that regardless of the difficulties and trials that you face, be at peace and respond to them as Christ did. He gave thanks to the father, took up his cross and looked forward.

Notice that he encourages people to imitate Christ in their “front lines” of “an evolving pastoral landscape.” That makes sense if the cross was a success spiritually, though not “humanly speaking,” but makes no sense if the cross was truly a failure.

Now, I certainly agree that the RC views of the atonement and of the mass treat the cross as being at least partly a failure – but that’s an external critique of their position – not something they themselves admit. Acting like Francis was admitting it here is inappropriate “gotcha” apologetics at best. We need to be honest in our criticisms, even of the Man of Sin whom God will destroy with his Spirit.

-TurretinFan


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