Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What is a False Teacher?

What are some characteristics of false teachers? This is an older post that I am re-posting. There are more characteristics. I think false teachers are manipulative and power hungry as well.

1. False teachers enjoy arguing and speculating. ( I Timothy 1:4, 4:7, 6:20, II Timothy 2:14-18, Titus 1:14)

2. False teachers do not build up the flock. People who sit under false teachers are weak, gaunt, and unable to stand on their own, ( Ezekiel 34:1-6, I Timothy 1:4, II Timothy 2:14)

3. False teachers are concerned about their positions instead of the truth. (I Timothy 1:7, III John 1:9)

4. False teachers can very conservative. (I Timothy 4:1-5 and Colossians 2:20-23)

5. False teachers can be very liberal. (II Peter 2:18-22, II Timothy 3:6)

6. False teachers will rarely challenge God’s people and call upon them to turn from their sin. They will encourage people to improve, but not repent. (Jeremiah 8:11, 23:21-22, II Timothy 4:1-4)

7. False teachers take. They do not give. They take money, wives, and freedom. (Jeremiah 8:10, Ezekiel 34:1-6, Micah 3:1-3, 11, I Timothy 6:3-5, II Timothy 3:6)

8. False teachers flee when there is danger. They do not sacrifice for the sheep. (John 10:11-14)

9. False teachers abandon sound doctrine. (I Timothy 1:3, 1:10, 4:1-7 6:3, II Timothy 3:10, Titus 1:9-16)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review: The Christian Ministry

The Christian MinistryThe Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am always convicted by this book. Bridges hits on pride, worldliness, and laziness to varying degrees. Last time I was convicted about my study habits. This time is was about my fear of men and want of affection for Christ and His people. His section on preaching plainly with clear application was also helpful. The book will not appeal to all. But there is little doubt that most ministers can find some gold that will strengthen them in their labors.

Read previously in 2010. Here is my review from then:

There were several sections of this book I found particularly convicting. Bridges does not mention much about liturgy or the Sacraments. So if you are looking for that this not your book. But that is where I have done a lot of reading. So it was not that necessary for me. But he does bring up things like laziness, hypocrisy, want of zeal and failure in family life. The chapter on "Preparation for the Christian Ministry" especially the section on study habits was like a knife in my soul. How many ministers squander hours on useless labors? Bridges is strong where many younger pastors are weak. I needed this book.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mary in the Roman Catholic Catechism

Several years ago I read through the Roman Catholic Catechism (RCC) ...twice. For those of you not familiar with the RCC, it is not like the Westminster Catechism or the Heidelberg.  It is almost 700 pages long with numerous footnotes referencing the church fathers, other documents, and Scripture. I expected to find merit theology, justification by works, tradition as equal with Scripture, as well as solid sections on many ethical issues of the day, such as divorce in the RCC. It did not disappoint. One thing I did not expect to find but did, was the prominence of Mary throughout the RCC. Reading the RCC one can see that she is a central part of Roman Catholic theology. Mary is one of the clearest examples of key Roman Catholic doctrines, such as Papal authority, extra-biblical tradition, invocation of the saints, liturgical power, and merit theology. Moving past theology into the 20th and 21st century, Mary gives the Roman Catholics a female power figure when the world was longing for someone to overthrow the patriarchy of the Scriptures. Here are some quotes about Mary's participation in Christ's work and her role in salvation and worship from the Roman Catholic Catechism. My only purpose in this post is to present the Roman Catholic teaching on Mary. All formatting is from the RCC except the phrases I put in bold. 

The preface by Pope John Paul ends with a prayer to Mary. "I beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word and Mother of the Church, to support with her powerful intercession the catechetical work of the entire Church on every level…(p. 6)

Later the RCC talks about the obedience of faith saying, "Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment. (p. 39)

And further in the same section, "The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. Throughout her life and until her last ordeal when Jesus her Son died on the cross, Mary's faith never wavered...And so the Church venerates in Mary the purest realization of faith." (p. 40)

And later, "The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith... (p. 72)

In the section on her Immaculate Conception this is said, "Mary...was redeemed from the moment of her conception." (p. 123)

Pope Pius IX in 1854 said, "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception...preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (p. 124)

And, By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. (p. 124)

On her perpetual virginity it is said, "Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith... (p. 127)

"Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God's merciful love into communion with Christ." (p. 191)

In a section on the holiness of the Church the RCC says, "But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary: in her the Church is already the 'all-holy.'" (p. 220)  

Later under a section title "Wholly united with her son" it says, 
Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death; it is made manifest above all at the hour of the Passion. Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart." (p. 251) 
Now it is possible to read these last two phrases simply as a mother suffering with her son. However, reading the rest of the description of Mary in the RCC it is unlikely that was the intention of the authors. 

The Catholics also believe that Mary did not die, but was assumed. 
Finally, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory...The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and in an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians...she is a preeminent and wholly unique member of the Church...in a wholly singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the Savior's work of restoring supernatural life to souls." (p. 252)
This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the final fulfillment of the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation....Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix." (p. 252) 
"The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship...the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title "Mother of God" to whose protection the faithful flee in all their dangers and needs...The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an epitome of whole Gospel, express this devotion to the Virgin Mary." (p. 253)
The entire section on "I Believe in the Holy Catholic Church" ends with this:
After speaking of the Church, her origin, mission, and destiny, we can find no better way to conclude than by looking to Mary. In her we contemplate what the Church already is in her mystery on her own pilgrimage of faith and and what she will be in the homeland at the end of her journey. There "in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity," "in the communion of all the saints," the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother. 
In a section on the indulgences there is a discussion of where we can get merit from. Mary is included here. "This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable and even pristine in their value before God. " (p. 371)

Later in describing the church as teacher the RCC says this, "From the Church [the Christian] learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary." (p. 490)

In the future I will interact with these statements explaining how despite protests to the contrary the veneration of Mary does undermine the work of Christ and the Church. I believe there are many theological, liturgical, and church polity problems in the Roman Catholic Church. But I wonder how many false doctrines have such a stranglehold on the typical Roman Catholic as the veneration of Mary? The veneration of the Virgin Mary has a long tradition in the Catholic Church, a tradition bolstered by centuries of liturgical training. A good Catholic may not know why Mary is important, but they know she matters immensely. How do they know? They have been taught through the prayers and the liturgy. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Leadership Lessons from Winston Churchill

Paul Johnson's epilogue to Churchill is the best part of the book. In a few short pages he describes what made Winston Churchill such a great leader and a man who took Britain through some of the darkest years in her history. First, though he lists Churchill's accomplishments, which are impressive.
In his ninety years, Churchill had spent fifty-five years as member of Parliament, thirty one years as a minister, and nearly nine years as prime minister. He had been present at or fought in fifteen battles, and had been awarded fourteen campaign medals, some with multiple clasps.  He had been a prominent figure in the First World War, and a dominant one in the Second. He had published nearly 10  million words, more than most professional writers in their lifetime, and painted over five hundred canvases, more than most professional painters. He had reconstructed a stately home and created a splendid garden with three lakes, which he had caused to be dug himself. He had built a cottage and a garden wall. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, an Elder Brother at Trinity House, a Lord Warden of Cinque Ports, a Royal Academician, a university chancellor, a Nobel Prizeman [for Literature], a Knight of the Garter, a Companion of Honour, and a member of the Order of Merit. Scores of towns made him an honorary citizen, dozens of universities awarded him honorary degrees, and thirteen countries gave him medals. He hunted big game and won a score of races. How many bottles of champagne he consumed is not recorded, but it may be close to twenty thousand. He had a large and much-loved family, and countless friends. 
So Winston Churchill led a full life, and few people are ever likely to equal it-its amplitude, variety and success on so many fronts.
Johnson doesn't mention in this section, but Churchill also gave many of the most memorable speeches in the history of Britain.  But what were the keys to Churchill's success. Johnson lists five lessons we can learn from Churchill's life.

1.  Always aim high. Johnson mentions his failure at school, yet his persistence in learning the English language, which gave him the ability to write well and give great speeches.
In 1940 [Churchill] aimed not only high but at the highest-to rescue a stricken country in danger of being demoralized, to put it firmly on its feet again, and to carry it to salvation and victory. He did not always meet his elevated targets, but by aiming high the always achieved something worthwhile. 
2.  There is no substitute for hard work.
He worked hart at everything to the best of his ability: Parliament, administration, geopolitics and geostrategy, writing books, painting, creating an idyllic house and garden, seeing things and if possible doing things for himself. Mistakes he made constantly, but there was never anything shoddy or idle about his work. He put tremendous energy into everything, and was able to to this because...he conserved and husbanded his energy too. There is an extraordinary paradox about his white, apparently flabby body and the amount of muscle power he put into life, always. 

3. "He did not allow mistakes, disaster-personal or national-accidents, illnesses, unpopularity, and criticism get him down." Johnson considers this his most important trait. Johnson writes about many of Churchill's humiliations, defeats, and periods of unpopularity. Churchill did not allow those things to discourage or keep him down for long.
He scrambled to his feet and worked his way back. He had courage, the most important of all virtues, and its companion, fortitude. These strengths are inborn but they can also be cultivated, and Churchill worked on them all his life. In a sense his whole career was  an exercise in how courage can be displayed, reinforced, guarded and doled out carefully, heightened and concentrated, conveyed to others. 
4. Here I will quote from Johnson:
Churchill wasted an extraordinarily small amount of his time and emotional energy on the meannesses of life: recrimination, shifting blame to others, malice, revenge seeking, dirty tricks, spreading rumors, harboring grudges, waging vendettas. Having fought hard, he washed his hands and went on to the next contest. It is one reason for his success. There is nothing more draining and exhausting than hatred. And malice is bad for judgment. Churchill love to forgive and  make up. His treatment of Baldwin and Chamberlain after he became prime minister is an object lesson in sublime magnanimity. Nothing gave him more pleasure than to replace enmity with friendship, not least with the Germans.
5. "The absence of hatred left plenty of room for joy in Churchill's life."  Churchill despite embarrassing failures and blunders and despite living in a time when Britain's existence was in question never failed to have a joke or a quote. He also love to sing, though not in tune. "He wept easily. But his tears soon dried, as strength came flooding back."

Many of us now 70 years removed from the end of the Second World War forget what a pivotal time that was in the history of the world. Not all was done well. Some things that were done should not have been. And some things should have been done that were not. However, great leaders like Churchill, are lifted up by God to perform an important work in the world. He uses them and gives them gifts that we can learn from. When World War II ended Churchill was seventy years old. God had used him to preserve Britain. Any of us who lead can be students of this man and learn from his mistakes and successes.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: The Quest for the Historical Adam

The Quest for the Historical Adam Genesis Hermeneutics and HumanThe Quest for the Historical Adam Genesis Hermeneutics and Human by William VanDoodewaard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful book, blending history, theology, and cultural analysis. The author begins in the Patristic era and works through 2013 showing what different theologians believed about the existence of Adam and Eve as the first humans created by God, as well as the age of the earth. The value of the book lies in its extensive scope, covering 2,000 years of church history and touching on all major figures. He stops discussing Roman Catholics after the Reformation. But he does discuss all branches of Protestantism, including Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, and Dutch Reformed from the Reformation onward.

This book is not an exegetical examination of Genesis 1-2, but rather a collating of various interpretations of Genesis 1-2. The author spends the bulk of the pages on the time since the Enlightenment because there is little if any disagreement on Adam and Eve prior to that time. The wealth of primary sources quoted from is overwhelming and opens numerous avenues of research for those who want more information. There are several article and books listed that I want to read. Several thoughts emerged as I read:

First, superficial appeals to church history by old earth proponents should be challenged. The author does not focus on the age of the earth, but there are enough quotes to let the reader know that simply saying "Augustine did not believe in a literal 24 hour days either" is not sufficient. Force old earth men to say how their system compares to those that came before. Doing that will help one see there are not many connections between old earth today and the more figurative approaches of the early church and even men like Bavinck and Kuyper.

Second, one question that must be answered by old earth proponents is when does the Genesis text become literal and why? Many want Genesis to become literal in 2:4 or later, but before that it is symbolic, analogical, etc. Why? Why is 2:4 literal and 1:24 not?

Third, while many old earth men still hold to a literal Adam and Eve they have no reason to in the text of Genesis. In other words, their hermeneutic of Genesis 1-2 has no brakes. If the days are not 24 hour days then why does Adam have to be a real man? And while their interpretation does not necessitate a non-literal Adam, it also does not require a literal one, which leaves the door open to some of the recent denials that Adam existed at all.

Fourth, the adoption of evolutionary theory for the origins of man is devastating to historic Christianity's view of man, sin, God, Christ, and salvation. This does not mean that all who adopt evolutionary theory take it this far. But a hermeneutic which allows evolution to squeeze into Genesis 1-2 can, and some would say logically does, lead to the denial of key tenets of the Christian faith.

Fifth, appeals to Ancient Near Eastern cosmologies must be challenged. Men like Walton, Collins, and Enns to varying degrees allow ANE literature to greatly influence their reading of Genesis 1-3 (and even beyond). Why? Why is there the implicit assumption in many discussions that Scripture is downstream from ANE literature instead of the other way around? Why does ANE literature and the Scriptures "share" their context instead of ANE literature being a godless twisting of the Genesis record?

Finally, seminaries and pastors have a duty to be clear on these issues. What is within the bounds of orthodoxy and what is not? The answer to this question is not easy, but it must be found and boldly proclaimed.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Southern Baptist Seminary Stemmed the Evolutionary Tide

Roy Honeycutt the president of Southern Baptist Seminary from 1982-1993 was weak on inerrancy and did not clearly hold to a literal Adam or a young earth. This angered many Southern Baptists in late 80's, in particular Adrian Rogers, a well known preacher and three time president of the Southern Baptist Convention. However, it still appeared that the evolutionary, non-historical Adam tide, which had overtaken many conservative seminaries in the 80's and 90's would also overtake Southern Baptist. However, it did not. Now Southern Baptist is one of the strongest voices for the traditional, conservative interpretation of Genesis 1-3. How did Southern Baptist stem the tide?
The exchanges [between Honeycutt and Rogers] indicated a wider conservative resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention that was marked by a consistent determination to pursue reformation...Within the Southern Baptist Convention, conservatives increasingly gained majorities, electing individuals to key positions, which began to impact the membership of the Board of Trustees of Southern Seminary. By 1990, the situation had reached a tipping point. A conservative majority was seated on the board and began to implement a requirement of scriptural inerrancy. [Bold is mine.]
One thing led to another and
Having for some years slowed the transition toward a conservative evangelicalism, Honeycutt announced his retirement in 1992, and R. Albert Mohler was elected president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1993. With the support of the seminary's trustees, Mohler moved to implement a meaningful adherence to the seminary's historic Abstract of Principles, along with other faculty requirements, leading to major transitions in faculty between 1994 and 1997. These changes brought the seminary to a firmly conservative evangelical position. 
The process is not complicated, but it does require courage. Determine to pursue reformation/resist unbiblical thinking, begin to make the changes necessary to get the right men in right places, put those men in authority, and then let them clean house. Now if we could just get Covenant Seminary to follow suit.

All the quotes are from The Quest for the Historical Adam.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

An Italics Mini-Rant

There is no perfect translation of the Scriptures. However, some are better than others. In my study I use the King James Version, English Standard Version and the New King James Version, as well the Hebrew and Greek. I am most fond of the NKJV for preaching. One reason is that it leaves in italics. Italics in the Biblical text tell you that the word is not found in the original Hebrew or Greek. Normally this is simply filling in the blanks. For example, I opened the Bible at random and found Acts 20:1
And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia (NKJV). 
You can see here that "himself" and "them" make sense in context even though they are not actually in the text. Does it really matter if those two words are italicized? I think it does and here is why. Look at these two versions of I Chronicles 17:25
For You, O my God, have revealed to Your servant that You will build him a house. Therefore your servant has found it in his heart to pray before you. (NKJV) 
For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you. (ESV)
It is the last phrase that interests me. You can see that the NKJV has indicated by italics where they inserted a phrase to make the text clear. The ESV has not. Therefore if someone reads the ESV they will assume the word "courage" is in the text when it is not. Now I think that can be implied from the text, but it would still be nice of the ESV let us know they were supplying the word. That way the reader can judge for themselves the accuracy of the supplied word. 

Here is one more example from the New Testament, Hebrews 9:18:
Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood (NKJV). 
Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood (ESV). 
"Covenant" makes sense in the context of Hebrews 9. However, as a reader I would like to know that the translators supplied it. Will it make a big difference? No. But it will help me trust that the translators are letting me know when they put words in. Italics are a kindness to the reader. Also here is another reason why pastors should be able to get around in the original languages, if not read them fluently.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Calvin, Baptism, and Election

Here is quote by Calvin, which lays out nicely his view of the sacraments. In this section he is refuting Pighius. I am quoting directly from Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God. I have added paragraph breaks. Brackets and bold are mine. Everything else was in the book.
Paul represents (Romans 2:29) circumcision as of letter and spirit. We must think similarly of baptism. Some carry in their bodies the mere sign, but are far from possessing the reality. For Peter also, teaching that salvation follows our baptism, immediately adds as though in correction that the mere external washing of the flesh is not enough unless there is added also the answer of a good conscience (I Peter 3:21).
Thus Scripture, in dealing with the sacraments, customarily speaks  of them in a twofold sense. When dealing with hypocrites who glory in the sign and neglect the reality, in order to prostrate [throw down] their confidence, it separates the reality from the signs, in contrast to their perverse understanding. Thus Paul (I Cor 10:3-13) reminds his readers that it did not profit the ancient people to have been baptized in their passage through the Red Sea and to have with us the same spiritual food in the desert (meaning, that is, that they participated with us in the same external signs of the spiritual gifts).
But addressing the faithful he describes the use of the sacraments as legitimate, efficacious and corresponding to the divine institution. It is here that phrases apply: to have put on Christ, engrafted into His body, buried together with him, who have been baptized in His name (Rom. 6:4, Col 2:12, Gal. 3:27, I Cor. 12:27). From [these passages] Pighius concludes that all sprinkled with the visible element of water are truly regenerated by the Spirit and incorporated into the body of Christ so as to live to God and in His righteousness...
But a little later, as if drawing in his wings, Pighius remarks that many fall away from Christ who had been truly engrafted into His body; for he makes out  that those committed to Christ and received into His faithful care are saved by Him in such a way that their salvation is dependent on their own free will. To many, he says, the protecting grace of Christ is not wanting, but they are wanting in themselves. Certainly the stupidity and ingratitude of those who withdraw themselves from the help of God can never be sufficiently condemned. But it is a quite intolerable insult to Christ to say that the elect are saved by Him, provided they look after themselves. This is to render doubtful the protection of Christ which He affirms is invincible against the devil and all the machinations of hell. Christ promised to give eternal life to all give Him by the Father (John 17:2). He testifies that He is a faithful custodian of them all, so that none perishes except the son of perdition (John 17:12)... 
If eternal life is certain to all the elect, if  no one can pluck them from Him, if no violence nor any assault can tear them from Him, if their salvation stands in the invincible power of God, what impudence for Pighius to shake so fixed a certitude. Though Christ casts none out, he says, yet many depart from Him, and those who once were children of God do not continue so. But Pighius is a bad and perverse interpreter, not acknowledging  that whatever is given him by the Father is retained in the hand of Christ, so that it remains safe to the end; for those that fall away, John declares to be not of His flock. 
This lengthy quote is worth reading carefully for several reasons. It shows that certain lines from Calvin, such as "yet many depart from Him, and those who once were children of God do not continue so" can be interpreted out of context to mean something they do not mean. This line, by itself, sounds like Calvin believes true Christians can fall away. However, throughout the passage and the book he draws a clear line between the elect and the non-elect while still agreeing that "many things are found alike in the reprobate and the children of God. But, however they shine in appearance of righteousness, it is certain they are not possessed of the Spirit of adoption, so that their owners may truly invoke God as Father." (This quote is two pages after the one above.) While there are some similarities with the elect, those who fall away are never part of the elect in the fullest sense. They are not adopted and God is not their Father. 

This passage also shows that the relationship between election and the sacraments has long been an issue. Pighius argued that the elect were saved at baptism, but the rest was left up to them. They were "regenerated by the Spirit." They have been truly grafted into Christ's body, but they must keep themselves there. Calvin says God gives all to his elect, including the promise that Christ is the "faithful custodian of them." Those given to Christ by the Father are kept by Christ unto the end. There are none lost (John 6:39). 

Calvin gives the classic understanding of how the sacraments are to be understood. There is the sign (baptism/communion/the Word) and there is the reality, Jesus Christ received by faith. Hypocrites need to have the two distinguished so they do not glory in the sign while not having the reality. The faithful need to have the two wedded together so they do not despair, but know that Jesus really feeds them through these signs.

Finally, he makes clear that Christ's power and glory are at stake in any debate about election. Predestination debates are not primarily about man's free will, but about the power of Christ to save and redeem. When we say man can and does slip from Christ's grasp the primary problem is not that we grant man a completely free will, but that we deny the efficacy of Christ's work.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: Predestination by John Calvin

Concerning the Eternal Predestination of GodConcerning the Eternal Predestination of God by John Calvin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Also read in May of 2008

Very good treatment of predestination. Calvin does a great job treating many of the relevant texts and objections to the doctrine. He also clarifies his position showing where it has been misunderstood. Calvin humbly refuses to go beyond what is written, but he also refuses to let one text blatantly contradict another. He keeps the reader going back to central questions. Why is one man redeemed and the other man not? His section on providence is wonderful. Reading the book, it is clear the Calvin teaches classic predestination. Finally the way he insults Pighius is worth the price of the book.

The formatting on my version, which is the one pictured, needs some work. First, it needs more paragraphs. The text can be hard on the eyes. Second, Calvin quotes Augustine over and over again, but in my version it is difficult to tell where the quotes end. Italics or quotations marks should be added to indicate where Calvin is speaking and where he is quoting someone else.

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Did Judas Really Partake?

Calvin comments on whether or not Judas received the body of Christ at the Last Supper.
When he says that he dwelleth in us, [John 6:56] the meaning is the same as if he had said, that the only bond of union, and the way by which he becomes one with us, is, when our faith relies on his death. We may likewise infer from it, that he is not now speaking of the outward symbol, which many unbelievers receive equally with believers, and yet continue separated from Christ. It enables us also to refute the dream of those who say, that Judas received the body of Christ as well as the other apostles, when Christ gave the bread to all; for as it is a display of ignorance to limit this doctrine to the outward sign, so we ought to remember what I have formerly said, that the doctrine which is here taught is sealed in the Lord’s Supper. Now, it is certain, in the first place, that Judas never was a member of Christ; secondly, it is highly unreasonable to imagine the flesh of Christ to be dead and destitute of the Holy Spirit; and, lastly, it is a mockery to dream of any way of eating the flesh of Christ without faith, since faith alone is the mouth — so to speak — and the stomach of the soul.

Here is another quote from Calvin's commentary on John 6.
And I will raise him up at the last day [John 6:54] It ought to be observed, that Christ so frequently connects the resurrection with eternal life, because our salvation will be hidden till that day. No man, therefore, can perceive what Christ bestows on us, unless, rising above the world, he places before his eyes the last resurrection From these words, it plainly appears that the whole of this passage [John 6:52-59] is improperly explained, as applied to the Lord’s Supper. For if it were true that all who present themselves at the holy table of the Lord are made partakers of his flesh and blood, all will, in like manner, obtain life; but we know that there are many who partake of it to their condemnation. And indeed it would have been foolish and unreasonable to discourse about the Lord’s Supper, before he had instituted it. It is certain, then, that he now speaks of the perpetual and ordinary manner of eating the flesh of Christ, which is done by faith only. And yet, at the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed on believers, in the Lord’s Supper; and Christ even intended that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and confirmation of this sermon. This is also the reason why the Evangelist John makes no mention of the Lord’s Supper; and therefore Augustine follows the natural order, when, in explaining this chapter, he does not touch on the Lord’s Supper till he comes to the conclusion; and then he shows that this mystery is symbolically represented, whenever the Churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper, in some places daily, and in other places only on the Lord’s day.
Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8