The Barmen Declaration Is Not Like The Manhattan Delcaration

Theological Declaration of Barmen

Written by Karl Barth and the confessing church in Nazi Germany in response to Hitler’s national church.

I. An Appeal to the Evangelical Congregations and Christians in Germany

8.01 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church. In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our Churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed.

8.02 Therefore the Confessional Synod calls upon the congregations to range themselves behind it in prayer, and steadfastly to gather around those pastors and teachers who are loyal to the Confessions.

8.03 Be not deceived by loose talk, as if we meant to oppose the unity of the German nation! Do not listen to the seducers who pervert our intentions, as if we wanted to break up the unity of the German Evangelical Church or to forsake the Confessions of the Fathers!

8.04 Try the spirits whether they are of God! Prove also the words of the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church to see whether they agree with Holy Scripture and with the Confessions of the Fathers. If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God, in order that God’s people be of one mind upon earth and that we in faith experience what he himself has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”


II. Theological Declaration Concerning the Present Situation of the German Evangelical Church

8.05 According to the opening words of its constitution of July 11, 1933, the German Evangelical Church is a federation of Confessional Churches that grew our of the Reformation and that enjoy equal rights. The theological basis for the unification of these Churches is laid down in Article 1 and Article 2(1) of the constitution of the German Evangelical Church that was recognized by the Reich Government on July 14, 1933:

Article 1. The inviolable foundation of the German Evangelical Church is the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is attested for us in Holy Scripture and brought to light again in the Confessions of the Reformation. The full powers that the Church needs for its mission are hereby determined and limited.

Article 2 (1). The German Evangelical Church is divided into member Churches Landeskirchen).

8.06 We, the representatives of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches, of free synods, Church assemblies, and parish organizations united in the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church, declare that we stand together on the ground of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of German Confessional Churches. We are bound together by the confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

8.07 We publicly declare before all evangelical Churches in Germany that what they hold in common in this Confession is grievously imperiled, and with it the unity of the German Evangelical Church. It is threatened by the teaching methods and actions of the ruling Church party of the “German Christians” and of the Church administration carried on by them. These have become more and more apparent during the first year of the existence of the German Evangelical Church. This threat consists in the fact that the theological basis, in which the German Evangelical Church is united, has been continually and systematically thwarted and rendered ineffective by alien principles, on the part of the leaders and spokesmen of the “German Christians” as well as on the part of the Church administration. When these principles are held to be valid, then, according to all the Confessions in force among us, the Church ceases to be the Church and the German Evangelical Church, as a federation of Confessional Churches, becomes intrinsically impossible.

8.08 As members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches we may and must speak with one voice in this matter today. Precisely because we want to be and to remain faithful to our various Confessions, we may not keep silent, since we believe that we have been given a common message to utter in a time of common need and temptation. We commend to God what this may mean for the intrrelations of the Confessional Churches.

8.09 In view of the errors of the “German Christians” of the present Reich Church government which are devastating the Church and also therefore breaking up the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths:

8.10 – 1. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14.6). “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (John 10:1, 9.)

8.11 Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.

8.12 We reiect the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.

8.13 – 2. “Christ Jesus, whom God has made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30.)

8.14 As Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, in the same way and with the same seriousness he is also God’s mighty claim upon our whole life. Through him befalls us a joyful deliverance from the godless fetters of this world for a free, grateful service to his creatures.

8.15 We reiect the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords–areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.

8.16 – 3. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body [is] joined and knit together.” (Eph. 4:15,16.)

8.17 The Christian Church is the congregation of the brethren in which Jesus Christ acts presently as the Lord in Word and sacrament through the Holy Spirit. As the Church of pardoned sinners, it has to testify in the midst of a sinful world, with its faith as with its obedience, with its message as with its order, that it is solely his property, and that it lives and wants to live solely from his comfort and from his direction in the expectation of his appearance.

8.18 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions.

8.19 – 4. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men excercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your srvant.” (Matt. 20:25,26.)

8.20 The various offices in the Church do not establish a dominion of some over the others; on the contrary, they are for the excercise of the ministry entrusted to and enjoined upon the whole congregation.

8.21 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, apart from this ministry, could and were permitted to give itself, or allow to be given to it, special leaders vested with ruling powers.

8.22 – 5. “Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17.)
Scripture tells us that, in the as yet unredeemed world in which the Church also exists, the State has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace. [It fulfills this task] by means of the threat and exercise of force, according to the measure of human judgment and human ability. The Church acknowledges the benefit of this divine appointment in gratitude and reverence before him. It calls to mind the Kingdom of God, God’s commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word by which God upholds all things.

8.23 We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commision, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church’s vocation as well.

8.24 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State.

8.25 – 6. “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matt. 28:20.) “The word of God is not fettered.” (2 Tim. 2:9.)

8.26 The Church’s commission, upon which its freedom is founded, consists in delivering the message of the free grace of God to all people in Christ’s stead, and therefore in the ministry of his own Word and work through sermon and sacrament.

8.27 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church in human arrogance could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of any arbitrarily chosen desires, purposes, and plans.

8.28 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgment of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of Confessional Churches. It invites all who are able to accept its declaration to be mindful of these theological principles in their decisions in Church politics. It entreats all whom it concerns to return to the unity of faith, love, and hope.

Four things the Declaration made clear:

1. It was a distinctly Reformed document.

2. It opposed the encroachment of the State into church affairs.

3. By fiat of that opposition, and its adherence to the Reformation principles and confessions, it stood in direct opposition to the Roman Catholic Church whose structure and aims, though particular to itself, were not essentially different from the State and therefore excluded it and others like it, exclusively inviting all who accepted the Confessions of the Reformation to join in the purposes of the Barmen Declaration.

4. It did not tolerate any new perspectives of any group which would deny Sola Scriptura. In today’s parlance that would include many Emergent churches. Under the rubric of the Barmen, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and spurious religious sects we not included, rather they were implicitly excluded.

David Dockery of the SBC at Souther Baptist Theological Seminary has said that the Manhattan Declaration is like the Barmen:

Dockery said, “Not unlike the 1934 Barmen Declaration [the statement of the confessing church in Nazi Germany], the Manhattan Declaration is a clarion call for Christians of every tradition to stand together in biblical faithfulness for foundational matters of society and culture like commitments to life, marriage and family…. I pray that God will use this declaration among leaders and laity in churches, the academy and parachurch organizations to join hands together for the sake of the kingdom of God.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. The two documents address two fundamentally different concerns. The Barmen addresses the need to stand against the statists and their attempt to overthrow the authority of the church within its own realm while maintaining fealty to the Confessions and the right practice of matters pertaining to life. The Manhattan Declaration unavoidably separates the reason for living righteously from the foundation for doing so. In doing that The Mahattan Declaration is more like the formulations that constituted Barmen’s enemies (such as the Church party of the “German Christians”). The only difference between then and now is that the Manhattan declaration is not in concert with the ruling government. The highlighted portions demonstrate the difference between the two declarations and why it is that the Manhattan Declaration denies the sound Biblical principles of Reformation Confessions.

CAMPONTHIS: THE NEW DOWNGRADE…12 dangers of Evangelical Co-Belligerence related to the Manhattan Declaration

Pyromaniacs: Nineteen questions for signers of "The Manhattan Declaration"

Purveyors of Different Gospels

John MacArthur chimes in on why the Manhattan Declaration is an abrogation of Christian responsibility. I wholeheartedly agree.

The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.

False Gospel Unity And Confusion Ala Albert Mohler

Albert Mohler responded to concerns about his compromise in signing the Manhattan Declaration in a recent article found at Al Mohler’s blog spot. He also speaks about it on his radio program.

Al Mohler’s usual wisdom goes out the window on this one. He does not get it. The document declares not just the common ground of social concerns and the ethical life that is shared among the qualifying participants. It declares that groups and persons who are heretical or at minimum unorthodox are Christian by granting them equality in the evangelical camp. When Mohler signed the document he legitimated those who claim The Faith but deny it and in doing so lent credibility to their errors.

We appreciate Dr. Mohler’s concerns for the social collapse we are experiencing in the West. However, we must never compromise the Gospel in any social or civil agreement that we make. Dr. James White speaks to this point at A&O Ministries. He makes the point well by bringing into the foreground the anti-Christian positions of Martin Luther King. MLK is given wide acclaim in the evangelical landscape without qualification. While we do appreciate the concern MLK showed for equal rights, we must at the same time not sequester that from his ideological or theological corruptions and so falsly ascribe to him legitimacy in those things, also.

We are in a time of taking sides (as if we in the Christian community have ever been out of it). Jesus’ called clearly to make his Gospel known and laid the challenge before all that if they were for him they were not against him but also that those who were not, were against him and divide and scatter of the flock. What Mohler has done is to blur that line of demarcation. There is one Gospel and to call those who are not Christian, Christian, is to deny that.

A good word on this can be found at Camponthis.

Also if you’re interested.

What Is Impossible For Men: Even The Poorest Man Is The Richest

“A lot of us want all the benefits of God without making the proper sacrifices to receive them”

This idea of performing works to gain God’s favor is foreign to Scripture and a rejection of a passage that Maness preached on this Sunday. It amounts to invoking the blessing of the last idol in the temple. Maness misses the text completely. It is not about what yet we have to do, it is about how it is impossible for anyone to do so.

First we must note that to isolate this portion of Scripture out of the mix of parables that precede and follow it, or out the the context of the rest of the Scripture, is not the right way to expound upon it. To do so is to keep people hearing of the freedom to which we have been called in Christ. In the liberal social Gospel, the salt is all about what deeds good doers do to preserve the world around them. That is actually quite contrary even to the portion of Scripture to which Maness appeals. The salt, as Jesus parallels elsewhere, is fire:

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

Careful attention should be paid to the fact that Christ is speaking of false teaching. See Matthew concerning the false handling of the Law or just a couple of chapters back in Luke. And mind that these verses that Maness is ripping out of context, have a context. What is being spoken of is ridding oneself of all falsehoods. And that includes the false teaching that it is by doing good that favor with God is earned. For even the Pharisees had good works and those who come to Christ on that last day will also have their records to prove their deserts, and Christ will say to them to depart into hell. There is something more deeply to be considered, for our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees.

It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Salt is equated with fire.

Fire does not preserve, it purifies by destroying impurity. It is proper to read the above quote: “Have fire in yourself, but if the fire has lost its ability to purify, what good is it?” And as Jesus makes clear in Matthew, it is the Word of God that is the flame that we are to have within which the world is to see as our good works. And else where that it is the Word that sanctifies and still elsewhere, it is by the Word of his mouth that he destroys his enemies and purifies the world. Our testimony to the Word sets the world on fire, not our good deeds. The world has good deeds. The Word of God must not be hidden under any false humility of good works, then. It must cause division, as Jesus said earlier in Luke, it is a sword that divides and does not bring peace to the world around it but it does bring peace to the brethren. No preserving of the world there. The salt is the Word of Judgement that our God is a consuming fire. For those who have ears to hear, it is the words of life, John 6, to those who do not, it is the stench of death. Those who do not have Christ, hate it. But those who have been quickened by the Holy Spirit love Christ exclusively and so are hated by the world as he is. We are not embraced by the world, John 17, but the world hates the body of Christ because his Word tells all what they are, sinners under the wrath of God. Funny then, that Christ tells his followers to hate the world, yet some believers claim that we are to love them as one of our own. Jesus in John 17 refuses to even pray for them.

Maness said that classes are not what the church is about. But, that is what the fellowship of believers is all about, that is what discipleship is all about. His is a typical, post-modern, redefiner of terms, just like others in the emergent movement who draw the veil and kill by keeping the people from knowledge. Discipleship is a classroom and doctrine always precedes the works that flow from it. Without knowledge the people perish.

Maness would have his practicioners not learn doctrine and would rather keep them busy, practicing “godliness” and never coming to a true knowledge of the Son. Ephesians, though, puts the unity of the knowledge of the Son first in order, that the mature believer might stand not driven like a infant by every wind of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men. But to Maness it doesn’t matter what the truth is, the church is a social work organization, established to bring blessings to the world and to perserve it. This, however, is the opposite of even the text he sites. When Jesus said that the world will know of the love of God among believers it was because of how they treated other believers, not the way that they dole out welfare to the world. Jesus said that, even though it does not appeart to be him, when his own gave him a drink or clothed him, they were doing so because it was to his brethren. He was specifically speaking of doing charitable deeds within the body of Christ.

Indeed, Jesus told those who came to get their needs filled, that they follow just to have their bellies filled. He said, unless one eats of his flesh and drink of his blood, he has have no part in him. And we know that not just any can eat of it. Case in point, Judas, or those of Corinthians who did not rightly discern the body of Christ who were sick or had died. Those who are not his are condemned when they eat of the substance of his body if they are not one with it. To feed the world without requiring adherence to the Gospel is to be a partaker with them. Adherence to the Gospel is not merely doing good deeds. First must come the commandment to repent, take up the cross, or as Jesus says, you will also perish like all other sinners.

Far from being outreach, general good deeds ministries are in contempt of the word of God for they do no command discipleship, or as Maness said, classes. For liberals, doing deeds is what it is all about. So it was for those under the law, too. Forget that the Word has a specific meaning and that it must mean the same to all or it is not the revelation of Christ. There is one body, one baptism, one faith, one God and Jesus Christ, the Word, with whom we all must stand, or stand against. But, without that knowledge there is only death, for there is no foundation upon which to stand.

The point that Christ is making all along is that the sacrifices that men make are nothing more than their own riches, dedicated to themselves out of the pride of their hearts believing that what they do or who they are is what is pleasing to God. And just who is it that seeks to purchase the gift of God with what they do or who they are except those who are bitter in spirit?


The man who does the law shall live by it, and anyone who violates it in any one point is guilty of the whole. Just what sacrifice is acceptable then? Surely nothing that man can do is acceptable, is it? No, we work out our salvation because it is God who is working in us both the willing and the doing of his good pleasure.

Jesus corrected the disciples thinking with this:

Jesus loved him. We might draw from this that the man later is born again. Jesus knew what was in man. So, just as with Nicodemus, Jesus makes clear, that man can do nothing of himself to enter into the kingdom. He must be born again and thusly dying to all, he is made joint heir with Christ able to do the works of God. In sum, Jesus is saying to the rich man that there is nothing he can do to receive the free gifts of God. That should make sense, but so many do not get it.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”

It becomes apparent that all the sacrifices are not enough, for this one had done all that was required in the Law. One thing is lacking, that a man be sold out, completely. Nothing short of that will do. The question of the disciples is a correct response (rare for them). They got it, for they understood that even if a man sold all he had, he would still have himself, and they were exceedingly astonished. To that Jesus adds comfort:

With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

WARNING: If you are seeking God’s benefits beware of the balance sheet. The cost of a hundred fold benefit package is a hundred fold persecutions. If your life is getting easier, you’re on the wrong track, going in the wrong direction.

This companion to Maness’ verses tell us that it is impossible to sell out. Then what can be the answer?

In all the parables touching upon this idea of being sold out, the one aspect that glares at us is that it is man himself, no matter how poor, that is the riches too great to enter into the kingdom of God. Think of what Christ said about becoming a child, about being born again, about being poor in spirit. They all have something in common and that is the expression that man is totally depraved and unable to bring anything to God that He might look upon and be pleased. Man must realize his destitution as a child cast out into the mud and still covered in the unclean blood of his birth.

The word for poor, ptōchos, and the word humble, tapeinos, also have something in common. They connote an attitude of abject, servile poverty. But who is it that does not say to himself that he can do something for God or that he can give something to God, or that he is free to do as he wills to do so that he can give of his own work? Of riches, James says:

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

Riches are a gift, just as our spiritual condition is. And James has been making a parallel of religious nature, and is not speaking of monetary wealth necessarily. Rather, he is judging those who say they have “spiritual wealth,”” i.e, that they are the rich in good works. But they do not have faith if they believe themselves more spiritual than those who are poor in such good works because pride is not a good work. “Going to law,” simply proves that they have pride and bitterness. If that is the case, who will enter? James says humility and faith go together, not one without the other. And Jesus said that when all that is required is done not to think that we have done anything. Abraham is the example James gives of a man who demonstrates faith that accepts the provision of God not the produce of his own body. It is not one that honors the works of mens hands, but the works of God.

The sum is that the benefits and blessing are one no matter the outward appearance of them. Faith as a grain of mustard seed has great works, so too, little works have great faith. Or so the widows minas would tell us. And as we understand, faith is not merely believing, but it is the whole body of the knowledg of God. Faith, Christian faith, is the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. The knowledge of it is paramount. For without the knowledge of the holy how shall one be holy as God is holy?

Jesus adds these words:

unless he hate…yes,…even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

What Jesus requires is a heart, crushed to powder under the weight of its own sin, which recognizes that no man can offer anything in exchange for the benefits of God. What Jesus requires is a new one put in its place. See Isaiah 6, cf. Ezekial 36. He also says that is impossible for man. Christ went to great effort to dissuade his Jewish counter parts from believing that sacrifices can ever achieve the righteousness that God requires of man before he blesses him. It requires a pure heart to behold God, Matthew 5:8 Indeed, the only way is Christ and what he has done in securing all heavenly blessing in heaven for his children. That is where our treasure is, that is where our heart is, that is where Christ is enthroned above. And unless he gives his righteousness according to his sacrifices, there is no one who will enter or be blessed. Man, in fact, cannot make the good confession, as Isaiah did, nor repent of the works of their own hands, except that God sends forth fire from his thrown and purifies them.

Ephesians explains that those in Christ are now in possession of all spiritual blessings. Now! In short, there is no sacrifice that man can add to the finished works of Christ to procure favor from God and Jeff Maness’ minions cannot change that fact. The only thing they can do is to bind the children with burdens they cannot carry and prevent them from entering into the rest of God. Maness’ teaching is just like that which Paul condemns in Galatians, that which Jesus condemned as the leaven of the Pharisees, and that which caused him to weep over Jerusalem.

Jesus’ call is to lay down your life, but no one wills to do that of their own freewill. There is nothing you can do, for as Jesus and the prophets and apostles confirm, there is no one who does Good, except God, alone. HE HAS DONE IT ALL, and it is wonderful in our sight. Then upon what good work, what sacrifice will you come before God to petition him for his benefits? The only plea is for mercy. Except that it is the blood of Christ which he offered, which has purchased everything you need, you have nothing but filth in your hands.

There is a good sermon to listen to at Voice of the Sheep that touches upon the self-deception of the religious man. Listen as John MacArthur explains total depravity. Pay special attention to what he says about the 29min. mark.

On A Trip And Never Leaving The Farm: The Prodigals’ Father Is The Object

Not quite.

The one who reads this and condemns the elder brother has revealed that he is an elder brother at heart. For the gist of the story is that the inheritance is not founded upon the actions of men, but rather, upon the shear grace and mercy of the Father. The Father is the focus. The prodigal who leaves home in his flesh and wastes the inheritance but does not do so in heart is easily recognized and the compassion of the Father toward him, also. But the prodigal who has never left home in the flesh but has done so in his heart is harder to recognize. Still, the compassion of the Father comes out clearly toward both in this: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Surely the Father recognizes the elder prodigals heart is not truly at home, but the Father calls hims son and grants him the same inheritance as the wanderer. Both have wasted their inheritance upon the lusts of their flesh. However, the Father insures both so that they never want of it.

This parable is parallel to another:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”


And it is not unlike what immediately follows in the mother’s request. For there Jesus makes clear that the inheritance, those gifts of God, are not the Son’s to distribute, but the Father’s. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights, and all things purchased by the Son’s obedience have been given to the heirs from before the foundations of the world.

Pride can be such a blinding force. So much so that we hardly recognize ourselves in the mirror. We are worthy of nothing and an openned-eyes look in the mirror will reveal that we are all depraved. Thanksgiving, then, to the Father who does see from a distance the truth about all men and gives to them out of his storehouse as he has seen fit to do, not according to the workings of men, good or bad, for he is not a respecter of persons, but in accordance with his predetermined grace out of mercy toward those he has made sons.

First Things First: Revelation 2:5

Oh no, not another church growth program!

No, not at all by the sounds of it. Still, why should a church have to be told these things?

One should remember just which church(es) we’re speaking of here. This is the presbytery originally under the bishopric of Timothy. “Wow,” you might say, “What could have happened, and so quickly!”

Paul prayed for these churches, and Timothy. And, Timothy was surely gifted according to the Scripture as Paul spoke of prophesies about him for the very purpose of establishing this work. So short is a life and so short is the time to arm the next generation. There is only one generation ’til the next. Did Timothy fail? Probably not. But someone did.

I think we can speculate along with the theme of the article. Ephesus’ churches were to be set up as training centers. Or to put it more Bibly, they were to fulfill the great commission. Instead we find them receiving this warning:

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Renewal, unlike the calls to revival, is founded upon no new work of the Spirit of God. Rather, it is an old work, an ancient work, the Word’s work of bringing into existence the church. That is not a job done in spurious spontaneity. It is not one done with an end in sight… at least before the parousia. It is an ongoing work until then. It is not done in one generation. Instead it is done in the next by its progenitors.

What I mean by that is that it is to be a transference of what is already attained to those who need to attain it for godliness and life. From adult to child to become a parent with children, that is the mission. Indeed, the great commission is to make disciples- followers trained up as children by fathers until:

we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Merely converting and baptizing is an abortion. It takes the full measure of gestation, of discipleship, to bring to birth a soldier fit to put on the armor of God.

If you do this, if you make disciples rather than converts, fellow-shipmen rather than passangers, lovers of duty rather than baptismal conscripts, if you make children of God rather than bastards of men, then will you be a father to the fatherless, and a home to the homeless. If you break your bread for God’s hungry children, if you bind up what is broken in them, if you will wash the feet of the saints through the ministry, giving life through the word of God, then your lamp will shine before men and they will know that you are Jesus’ disciples by this love that you show, not for the world, but for each other. The world will know that you have laid down your earthly life for the brethren, when you do.

Oh that we had men to lead the church whose hearts were in it for the gold and silver and precious stones that are a man’s crown in his old age and not for the wood, hay and stubble of self-approbation. Oh that we had elders who knew that the next generation is why we are in labor, why we are in pains to bring the child forth. Oh that we had elders who knew that the offspring depend upon them giving their lives for this one thing- that the children’s children will ask why we do it this way.

A wise man, it is written, leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. So did the Lord, so are we to do.

More on Homosexual Uber-Rights: Where Will It End?

Dr. James White writes:

I have been saying for years, homosexuals do not want equal rights. They want uber-rights. They want to silence anyone who would identify their sexual perversion as sin. Why? Romans 1 tells you. Suppressing the truth is tiring, and for the homosexual, it is a full-time job. They cannot silence their conscience, but they can try to silence anyone who would remind them of it. And so, they seek to force us, by rule of law, to honor, or admire, in the words of President Obama, their sin. Note this article from the UK:

Homosexual activists are lobbying to change the law hoping that, in the future, churches may be forced to host gay civil partnership services.

At present the gay lobby group Stonewall is seeking an amendment to the Equality Bill which will allow churches to host the services if they wish.

But Ben Summerskill, head of Stonewall, said: “Right now, faiths shouldn’t be forced to hold civil partnerships, although in ten or 20 years, that may change.”

Mr Summerskill said his organisation was working with the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) and the Metropolitan Community Church.

Rev Sharon Ferguson of the LGCM told Pink News, a gay news website, she wanted “equality” for civil partnerships and marriage.

This is why there is no protection at all in the addition of “free speech” protections in hate crimes laws, etc. We need to realize they are taking things one step at a time: get the law in place, then whittle away at the protections until you accomplish your goal. Do it slowly enough not to raise too loud an alarm, but never, ever give up. And given that these people define themselves by their deviancy, they will dedicate themselves each and every day to their task.

As I have said before, this battle was lost nearly forty years ago when the idea of open homosexuality was first embraced by the U.S. culture. The path of incrementalism, often known as the slippery slope, is exactly what Dr. White has stated it as being. When leading spokes-figures for the Southern Baptist Convention, like Rick Warren, endorse homosexual partnerships while at the same time denouncing homosexual marriage, one must wonder. When the Convention will not take action against him for his pro-homosexuality, when money speaks louder than convictions, the snowball has already reached the bottom. How then will the SBC stand against a government that will gag its pulpits if it is not speaking as a unified voice already? Is it now allowed to speak out in foreign countries? Does the SBC adhere to the new sharia in the EU? And if it does, what will be its defense when it comes to the United States?

Time will tell if the so bold when no one is pointing a gun at them Southern Baptist conservative resurgents, when they see their mansions, fat salaries and rich benefits and golf tourneys threatened, will then find the backbone they so brag of having had when they stood up against other encroachments of liberalism. Even though they would throw non-consequential churches out for a breach of the SBC Constitution, they will not even begin to question those whose wallets are fat, whose concessions in public pronouncements to the liberal, politically correct culture are far more influential. The fight that is faced is not so benign as the question if inerrancy, which was mostly in-house and threatened and eventually split the SBC, the fight is whether or not the church will be able to remain free to preach what it does regardless of orthodoxy. The time is coming when the selfish infighting will have to cease, and the SBC will have to stand upon a solid, unified confession, or it will not stand at all.

Now is the time to speak loud and clear, far and wide, and to be relentless. Not in the way of the fat-boy figures of the Moral Majority and its cultic political expressions of manifest destiny, of the currency of the Baptist Identity Movement, but now is the time for publication as a unified voice against the diseases producing the cultural malaise. Not for political gain, not for enshrinement in SBC history, but the glory of God and his Christ, it should be done. That is unlikely when pop SBCer’s show up to endorse the Obama, in one venue or another, when they campaign on his behalf, when they take phony appointments to showpiece commissions, and no one in the SBC of any consequence stands up to rebuke them.

The SBC is in the throes of finding its identity (such a pop-psych thing to do). Some myopic, obscurantist reactionaries within it find pushing a “Fundamentalist” pseudo-orthodoxy (Peter Lumpkins and the BI Movement faction) more to their liking. It is true the SBC lost its center, its wonderful Calvinistic heritage and a real connection to the Reformation, of being an influence upon the society around it. Wonder is, can it get back in the real fight, and stand against and condemn the corruptions in society of all that exalts itself against the knowledge of God by preaching a clear Gospel that convicts of sin and commands repentance everywhere. That is unlikely to happen since the idea of a great commission resurgence in the SBC lacks the necessary requisite of knowing what the Gospel is. For the most part, the SBC has embraced the liberalism of the semi-Pelagian and free-will teaching of the apostate Roman Catholic Church, the very theology rejected by the Protestant movement and the reformers afterward. But worse, its penchant for an antinomian view of the liberty of the believer cannot muster the backbone to require belief in anything. Without a core confession of what must be believed, and a rejection of the freedom to believe as one wants, the authority by which the SBC can address the society at large is void.

It has been more than a century since this creeping vine of Romanism began to grow in the SBC along with its pragmatism and social gospelism. When will they learn? When will they reject the American plush-life consumerism which they so idolize as their providence? Or can they even recognize the difference anymore?

Much good work can be found among those who are being attacked within. There is a part of the SBC that is doing the job of fighting the good fight of faith and not fighting for membership first, or to have statues erected to themselves. Among that work is that which is being produced by the likes of Al Mohler. At the same time he and others who see the fight for what it is are being undermined by the weak doctrines of the “Nons” factions within the SBC, some of whose legalisms are not far removed from Rome. Among the Nons are also those who refuse to define themselves. Like good emergents and other post-moderns, they find solace in their faux humility. As Timmy Brister has recently said (though, I think he doesn’t understand that the agenda of the Nons is to remove his kind from the SBC):

On the other hand, if I may, let me speak to Ashford, Akin, and my other “non-Calvinist” friends about cooperation with Calvinists. In numerous ways and at various times, the call has been made for Calvinists to “put their theological cards on the table” and be up front with churches with what they believe. (While all Calvinists should be transparent and clear with what they believe, this assumes that those with whom they are talking about understand exactly what Calvinism is. But that is besides the point.) I want to encourage my non-Calvinist friends to do the same. You are defining yourself in the context of cooperation with a nondescript label. You are what you are not. Okay. That could mean anything. Arminian? Amyraldian? Semi-Pelagian? Biblicist? “Cal-minian”? Who knows?

The desire for revival, the desire to see a Great Commission Resurgence, cannot center around sectarian infighting, especially that which is driven by the liberalism of conservatives that claims that two opinions can stand in opposition to one another in the same pulpit. Until the SBC settles the issue of authority- just what the inerrant word of God means -there is no chance that they will be able to stand when the winds of war come to their shore.

How Could It Happen?(2)

We can draw from the confessions that man as created was:

very good, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, upright, perfect, righteous, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change, and in communion with God.

Let’s take a look:
1. very good: there was no imperfection in man
2. reasonable: perfect reasoning, that is, rational capabilities
3. immortal: perfect state of being
4. knowledge: perfect objective truth
5. righteousness: perfect actions
6. holiness: perfect innocence
7. will: perfectly natural and free
8. communion: perfect fellowship with God

So how could it happen that a perfect man able to act upon his environment would break communion with God? According to the confessions, man, righteous and holy, by the liberty of their own will chose to disobey a direct commandment of which man had perfect knowledge including the consequences for doing so.
Adam and Eve’s acts prior to their sinning were righteous simply. They were virtuous, without sinful action. The were also without sin- they were holy. The first refers to their relationship to each other and to God. The second, their essential being, having within no evil as man created in the image of God.

Often the fall is stated as man’s stretching out his hand from some inner motive which he naturally possessed. One way of looking at this is to say that the desire was naturally good. Another is to say that man had within him concupiscence. The latter we can dismiss for it has to do with inordinate desire and from the description of man in his primal state, created in the image of God, there was nothing in man but perfect good. The former, then, is the only basis upon which we can say for certain that man acted. But if it was a right desire, created in perfect goodness, then how did man act upon that and break the commandment that he knew perfectly with true knowledge, was rebellion against God and that it would cause his death?

The confessions say that he was deceived. But that begs the question that if man was perfect in knowledge, holy, and with a rational mind and as the understanding goes, the highest perfection of all God’s creatures, created in His image, how did that happen?

We might at this point want to reflect upon Jude:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

Genesis three tells us that the Devil, in the form of a serpent, deceived Eve and that she then turned and did likewise and gave to her husband. The power of the Devil is not to be taken lightly. We see in him an ability that we only vaguely understand. He deceived the angels who beheld God in Glory and are mightier than man. Despite the miraculous exodus experiences, he persuaded many against the Lord who had freed them from bondage. We see further wondrous powers when in the temptation of Christ he translates the Lord, in what can only be described as a supernatural event, to a high place and shows him the kingdoms of the world.
With this in view and knowing what we know of man can we rightly say that man of the liberty of his own will without any kind of compulsion willingly chose death over life? There are terms we have to explore.

If by liberty of their own will we mean that man without any influence from outside him chose to rebel, where does the rebellion come from? We are immediately thrown upon the waves of confusion if we say that man from within rebelled without any compelling influence from without, for we have the description of man; he was created in perfect goodness, thoroughly. There was nothing in him that he should rebel. Not knowingly, anyway. We are left then to define compulsion.

What must be meant by that is that man was not forced against his willingness to act upon what he knew to be true. Then why did he act? He was perfect in rational thinking, full of knowledge and holy. Then what compelled him? Compulsion, then, may be by means of what is not forced but by what is presented. But that leaves us again at the first step of Adam’s perfection. He was able to discern good and knew of the evil that was to be rejected. How then does that evil become to him a thing compelling?

We find that Scripture says Eve saw the fruit as good for food and for attaining knowledge. Indeed, it essentially was good, for it was the knowledge of God, albeit forbidden for man to attain. The question is how does she come to see it as such to be desired for attaining? As something good, she could have merely acted upon her natural proclivities, compelled by them as it were, she does as she was created to do. But, she would do so in direct contradiction to her better knowledge. What then changes that her natural desire becomes unnatural, that the ordinate desire becomes concupiscence?

Whatever compelled Adam then looms even greater in his case, for he knew the command also, and the penalty for breaching it. Perhaps that he saw the woman not die? We can only speculate as to what Eve said to Adam, just as we can only speculate as to the whole conversation that preceded her eating the fruit. Yet even if we knew what she taught him it would not answer our question. Again, Adam was perfect, with a rational mind, righteous, holy, and full of knowledge and knew the consequences as Eve also knew. Even seeing Eve alive, he, having communion with God, that is, face to face knowledge of Him, though challenged, does not answer just how it is that he reasons contrary to the holiness within or against the perfect knowledge he has of God without and also acquires a desire not natural to him. Death has been threatened, but death does not occur to Eve. However, even we in our fallenness would seek to reconcile the facts, wouldn’t we? Adam doesn’t, he seeks no answers from another counselor, he makes no attempts at defense of what he surely knows, unlike Eve, or at least it is not recorded. Though he knows to do these things, he doesn’t. Why? What overriding compulsion has entered into him?

So we are stopped at this: what man of rational mind knowing what would happen if he ate would eat? How is it that he believes the lie if indeed in his perfect knowledge he knew better? Seeing that there is nothing natural in him that can bring forth such rebellion, though we have the testimony of Scripture that he does act with culpability, how is it that he chooses against all he knows to be true? Some might say that the Devil and Eve caused doubt to arise. Ah, but how so? From where? Adam was created in the image of God and had a rational mind, able to discern good from evil, he knew the consequence, he was in communion with God. If doubt enters in, then it cannot be said that it was without compulsion in that Adam would not have chosen to allow doubt in, would he? As we can observe, doubt is not natural to the perfection which was in the image of God. So, from where would doubt arise?

Questions, questions, questions… the only answer seems to be some form of compulsion, mysterious though it is.

Compulsion in the sense of forcing against ones will can be eliminated. Adam is held culpable. A compulsion which has spiritual affect by powers unknown could effect it, though. We must be warned again: the ability of the enemy is not to be slighted. Something happened to Adam, and Eve, as God permitted, inflicted by the Devil, which caused their natural abilities to be impaired or they would not have sinned.

Then by that we know another thing. And it is the natural ability of the will. Adam was not forced and God’s holding him accountable is the testimony to that, yet Adam cannot be rightly said to have had a choice, either. Choice, to be real, has to be grounded in truth. Deception is not a form of truth. It is the presentation of what truth is not.

Johnathan Edwards has deftly said that the will is simply the mind choosing its own highest good. Adam we know was created with a perfect mind, rational, with knowledge and given a commandment to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How then do we explain that a good mind, perfect in all its faculties, would choose against itself unless prior to the eating of the fruit Adam’s mind was corrupted by something without? The temptation in the Garden is beyond simple reckoning. It could not have been merely the exercise of debate raising doubt as some speculate, or even the manipulation of objects in the environment by illusion. There was something which happened more deeply considered. And we find some clues in the NT, again.

The devil and his demons can effect change in the natural world in ways that we cannot begin to understand:

They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.

In this I am not saying that Adam and Eve were demon possessed. I am saying that the powers of darkness are above and beyond what we naturally think and those powers were practically greater in the Garden only having been diminished by the curse upon the Devil. As with the story of Job, where the power is given over natural events and even a person’s body, the Devil can be empowered beyond the common reckoning. It is supernaturalism. In that I think is a clue to what might have happened in the Garden. The snake allurement should not be slighted as being less than what it is, a supernatural event which should clue us into a deeper reality of what the deception was all about.

Compulsion doesn’t require force. It may simply be the presentation of false choice. In the case of the fall, no choice was given Adam and Eve by God. The choice was presented by the Devil. By some power he was able to make the tree appear not merely pleasing to the eye for food. That is only half the story. It was also made desirable for the attainment of wisdom and knowledge. No fruit was given by God for that, and Eve well knew that to be true. Neither the tree for food or for wisdom were choices presented by the fiat of God’s creation. The tree’s fruit had been forbidden as food and God had given man perfect knowledge for all matters concerning life. The pair lacked nothing. How then does a desire which previously had no basis in reality come into existence for something unneeded? Whatever happened to Adam and Eve was in addition to, or perhaps a subtracting from, what naturally occurred within or without them.

Lasting Idols In The Temple And Thanksgiving To God

As an addendum to The Last Idol In The Temple, may I refer you Timmy Brister’s succinct statement in a blog piece on a similar subject.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and that power is demonstrated in all three tenses of our salvation–justification, sanctification, and glorification. The finished work of the gospel is not just our conversion but our complete transformation that takes place from one degree of glory to another until we are completed conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We are formed by the gospel, daily transformed by the gospel, and conformed ultimately through the gospel. All of this the work of Jesus in and through us, that is, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

With Thanksgiving just a few days away we all might want to think upon those things for which we are not thanking God. Unthankfulness is a good indicator of where we hold on to things in this world and do not depend soley upon the grace of God.

And while you’re at it check out this at Turretinfan’s blog. For many it is a once a year holiday. But, as he shows us, following Christ is a daily feast of thanksgiving.

Leviticus 7:11-15
And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the LORD. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings. And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for an heave offering unto the LORD, and it shall be the priest’s that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.

Michael Horton Betrays Evangelicalism

A response to Jennie at Turretinfan:

I hope Michael Horton hasn’t crossed the Rubicon on his way to Rome, like Caesar did, unless of course, like Caesar, he is going to war against it.

I don’t even know who Michael Horton is, but apparently he ought to know better.

That just about sums it up. Anyone who has listened to or read Horton’s works does know that he wouldn’t in anyway endorse the magisterium or any other pronouncements of the RCC that are contrary to Scripture.

Lockheed said:

all Horton said was that hahn’s book was useful in understanding Benny’s teaching and views… is that so wrong to say? Sheesh…

I’ll see that sheesh and raise it two sheeshes.

Endorsements are not sought by the authors, typically. Take some time and look at the endorsements on the backs of any number of books. It is amazing who will endorse what is produced by publishers. Often their personal beliefs are in direct contradiction to the work between the covers. Makes one wonder.

That said, I am going to wait for Horton’s response to your accusations. In the mean time Jennie get yourself alone with the works of MH and see if your assessment of him fits the facts.

Turretinfan has just finished a critique of some of what W. L. Craig has written and said. My guess is that he would recommend, i.e. “endorse” many of WLC books on philosophical discourse while not agreeing in total about what William has produced, especially concerning the heresy of Molinism. The same might be said about Wright’s works or any number of currently popular theologians.

Indeed, writing a blurb for the back of a book is dangerous because it may be for many easily-offended persons an endorsement. I wouldn’t over-generalize the term and make devils out of saints just because they have been solicited by a publisher. For instance, on the back of Grudem’s Systematic Theology, the blurbs that by some would be seen as endorsements lists: Chuck Colson, Paige Patterson, and Jack Hayford.

Can you dig it? These men do not agree, in one part or another, with much of what Grudem writes. To wit Patterson: “…thorough text in systematic theology-the best I have seen in recent year in…clearity, and a willingness to tackle the more salient issues of the day. This is an admirable blending of the scholarly and devotional elements seldom achieved in academic books.” Or Colson: “…our faith rooted in historic Christian truth…” Or Hayford: “Grudem…permit(s) the Holy Spirit to infuse soundly biblical, clearheaded evangelical theology with new life and power.”

Not one of these three would permit Grudem’s Calvinism to hold sway in their own circle. Patterson is one of the most virulent opponents of Calvinism among those who hate the Reformed faith (a special pox be on them if they are charismatic).

All this to say, you can’t trust the blurbs to reflect a true sentiment, exhaustively, of the work contained between the covers. And, I have to agree with Lockheed, and the right-minded view, that the enemies own writings are the best place to go to understand his methods and meanings. That is what I believe Horton would say about his own “endorsement,” and nothing more.

But I will wait to see what he has to say. He is no slack, so I am sure he is already working to respond to what I think are baseless accusations.

Jennie, it is your prejudice that makes Horton’s statement more than it is, and as you have stated you don’t know what you’re talking about. That would make you a gossip-monger. I would still endorse Beckwith’s works on ethics. There are few finer works around. And I would, as Horton has and still does, condemn Beckwith’s betrayal of Protestantism.

Here’s the blurb: “Even when one disagrees with some of his conclusions, Benedict’s insights, as well as his engagement with critical scholarship, offer a wealth of reflection. In this remarkable book, Hahn has drawn out the central themes of Benedict’s teaching in a highly readable summary. An eminently useful guide for introducing the thought of an important theologian of our time.”

What, you don’t think he is an important theologian? Or, you don’t think it is important to know what he thinks? But you think it important that what you think he thinks is, though you don’t know what he thinks? You don’t know what Horton thinks, either. So, what does that do for your criticism of the pope? Legitimate it? What does it do for your criticism of RC?

Here’s what MH wrote in 2005:

“While mainline Protestants demonstrate ambivalence about this new pope, probably in large measure because of their liberal biases in theology and ethics, evangelicals have been practically unanimous in their praise. While doctrinal tensions still exist, Benedict XVI is seen as building on the “culture of life” so admirably defended by John Paul II. As for Norman Geisler, “He’s going to hold the line” against liberalism and relativism.

With this background, we now turn to some of the representative statements by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, to obtain a better idea of what we might expect from his pontificate. Hopefully we will see that there is much to appreciate in an age of increasing pressure to conform the church’s message to the spirit of the age, while also recognizing the distance that remains between genuinely evangelical churches and the Bishop of Rome.”

If you have time, if you care, go read the article. I see nothing in the blurb that betrays the trust that Horton has with “genuinely evangelical churches, compared to this. He recognizes scholarship and that he praises. He disdains polemics like that which you have offered. In the debate class he is in there is no room for that. He gives clear and scholarly demonstration of the failings of Roman Catholicism while at the same time giving credit where credit is due, namely to the scholarship that both Hahn and the pontiff demonstrate in their writings.

It goes far over the edge to take this blurb and make it an endorsement, that is an allegiance to, their teachings, carte blanc. It is not. It is an endorsement of scholarship. Scholarship does not dictate that the outcome of the interpretation of it will be correct and nowhere do I find Horton making the false claims of the RCC legitimate.

Let’s test if you would endorse Ratzinger: “From here, Ratzinger insists that we must “restore a place to original sin,” a doctrine to which he hopes to devote an entire volume (78).”

Would you endorse that? A return to the doctrine of original sin?

Hahn’s book, Horton infers, does a good job of condensing and analyzing Ratzinger. If you have time to read the article I am quoting from you will notice that Horton has only noted what he has said on occasion. However, Ratzinger is a prolific writer and so the endorsement of Hahn’s treatment of him makes sense if one were directing others to a condensed overview that is a fair and scholarly look at another theologian’s views whether he agrees with him or not. I mean, MH graciously mentions Norman G., who’s notoriously unequipped as an exegete, or at least appears so. NG is good at pointing out the failings of non-Christian cults, yet MH would never endorse NG’s pathetic Arminian apologetics.

I say, “Right on, Michael. Thanks for doing the work for us in pointing out another who has done what most of us would not do for ourselves.”


Turretinfan has issued a question for Dr. Horton and linked this article:

Spend some time at TF, you’ll be richly blessed.


Horton on Hahn
There’s been some blog chatter about my having endorsed Scott Hahn’s Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Since one blogger I read mistook my endorsement of a study of Benedict’s theology for an endorsement of his theology, I thought it would be worthwhile to draw that distinction in black and white.

Here’s my endorsement:

Even when one disagrees with some of his conclusions, Benedict’s insights, as well as his engagement with critical scholarship, offer a wealth of reflection. In this remarkable book, Hahn has drawn out the central themes of Benedict’s teaching in a highly readable summary. An eminently useful guide for introducing the thought of an important theologian of our time.

I’m not sure what part of this aroused this blogger’s ire. I disavowed agreement with some of the pope’s conclusions (I agree with him on the Trinity and other important doctrines, but disagree strongly with other important doctrines). I admired “his engagement with critical scholarship” (he often offers trenchant arguments against higher criticism). I endorsed Hahn’s book because it is “a highly readable summary” and “an eminently useful guide for introducing the thought of an important theologian of our time.” Despite my strong disagreements with his views on a variety of issues, he is certainly “an important theologian of our time.”

In case anyone cares, I am just as committed to Reformed convictions as I was when I was critical of “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” in 1995, endorsed James White’s fine book The Roman Catholic Controversy in 1996, wrote “What Still Keeps Us Apart” (1998), and repeated my objections in a very recent blog post on the latest ECT statement. In two recent books—Covenant & Salvation: Union with Christ and People & Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology, I interact at length with Benedict, defending at every point traditional Reformed teaching.

This pope is a remarkably good conversation partner because he still defends traditional Roman Catholicism (which one expects of the pope) while recognizing the strength of Protestant views (which one hardly ever expects of a pope). He is deeply conversant in biblical studies and theology. Recognizing the strength of a thoughtful and engaging opponent is, I think, a valuable exercise for developing good arguments against real positions rather than extending caricatures. I’ve even used some Benedict quotes in debates with Roman Catholics, though I’m sure that he would not agree with my conclusions.

Though some will never be satisfied.

UpdateUpdateUpdate: Michael Horton also answers Turretinfan’s question here.