The Freedom of Liturgy

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Infallibility: An Inescapable Concept

    As Christians, we believe that the Bible is infallible. We believe the Bible to be true, unerring, and authoritative in all that it teaches, because it is the Word of the One True God. Atheists and Agnostics do not believe this to be the case. They claim that since the Bible is written by humans, and since humans err, the Bible has to by necessity contain errors. They also make claims as to the scientific and historical inaccuracies, the mythological nature of the Bible, and the downright foolishness of the Bible and its ridiculous stories, leaving the Bible far from being infallible or authoritative.

    Whatever their arguments are, the inevitable conclusion of their claims is simple, “The Bible is not infallible, because I am.” This might sound strange and even somewhat silly at first, but it is no doubt true.  When the unbeliever makes an absolute claim such as, “the Bible is not the word of God” he is making himself out to be his own god, determining for himself what constitutes good and evil, right and wrong, true and false.

The unbeliever has thus become his own infallible source of truth. He has transferred infallibility from God to himself. Granted, he might appeal to another person or even a whole group of people as the basis of his authority and the reasons for not believing in God or the Bible.

As R.J. Rushdoony states in his Systematic Theology, pg 2.

The doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture can be denied, but the concept of infallibility as such cannot be logically denied.  Infallibility is an inescapable concept.  If men refuse to ascribe infallibility to Scripture, it is because the concept has been transferred to something else.  The word infallibility is not normally used in these transfers; the concept is disguised in and veiled, but, in a variety of ways, infallibility is ascribed to concepts, things, men, and institutions.

But in order for persons to speak an infallible word, they must meet the prerequisites to do so. Sadly for them, only God can do that. Let’s look briefly look at 5 foundational characteristics that one must possess in order to speak infallibly on any matter.

    Omniscience: In order to speak authoritatively on any matter, one must know absolutely all there is to know. Only God knows everything, therefore He alone has the ability to speak an infallible word. His understanding is limitless (Ps. 147:5).

    Truthfulness: God indeed does know all things, but if He were capable of lying (as Allah is) than even if He knew everything, when He spoke on a matter there would be no reason for us to believe Him because He could very well be lying. But the Triune God of Scripture cannot lie (Heb. 6:18). Thus, when God speaks He speaks as one who knows all things, and as one who can only tell the truth.

    Omnipotence: Scripture declares over and over again that God is Almighty. In order for there to be any authority anywhere, there must necessitate first some power and strength to bring about what would be commanded. God is all-powerful, and therefore has supreme power and ability to bring about whatever is consistent and compatible with the rest of His attributes.

   Sovereignty: Sovereignty goes hand in hand with Omnipotence. God not only has the power to bring about whatever He desires, He actually does it. All things that happen, happen because God is controlling all things to bring about His plan. Man can’t do this.

   Immutability:  God cannot change (Mal. 3:6). If He could, then we could not be confident that God will always be truthful. We could not be confident that God really does know all that there is to know, and He could then, hypothetically, come into new knowledg

The atheist does not believe in God. He seeks to disprove God and the Bible by use of reason.  For him, reason is his authority. He proves the reliability of his reason by his reason. This is circular reasoning, which is a logical fallacy. But the believer does the same thing. We believe the Bible to be God’s Word. How do we go about proving it? By the Bible. But, it is through the Bible that the Holy Spirit testifies to the truthfulness of God’s Word. Since God is the only one who can speak an authoritative infallible word, God is the only one who can testify to the truthfulness of the word that He has spoken. This is the role of the Spirit of God, providing an infallible testimony to the truthfulness of the Scriptures in the hearts of all believers.  As Scripture itself testifies:e that could change His perception. If God could change, then there would be something that caused Him to change, and that thing would then be more powerful than God.

11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

                                                    ~ 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 ESV

   

Sacerdotalism & Evangelicalism? Or Biblical Christianity…

Van Til,  in his book The Defense of the Faith, notes that B.B. Warfield divides Christians into two groups, sacerdotalists and evangelicals.

The issue between them concerns “the immediacy of the saving operations of God.” The church of Rome, holding the sacerdotal point of view, teaches that “grace is communicated by and through the ministrations of the Church, otherwise not.”  On the other hand, Evangelicalism “seeking to conserve what it conceives to be the only cosistent supernaturalism, sweeps away every intermediary between the soul and its God, and leaves the soul dependent for its salvation on God alone, operating upon it by immediate grace.” Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith. P&R: 1955, pg. 69-70.

I ask then, why do the two have to be mutally exclusive? I think it more accurate to state that God has indeed left the human soul dependnet on Him alone,  but through the sacraments which He has given to His Church.  In the sacraments God promises to operate upon the soul of the recipient, for better or for worse, for blessing or for cursing.

People Are Good

I hi-jacked this article from Mike Bull’s Blog. It was too good to leave in only one place.

abrahambows

Why People are Good: or Why Idolatry is Adultery

“So [Abraham] lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground…” Genesis 18:2

“Then Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the people of the land, the sons of Heth.” Genesis 23:7

I’ve finally gotten around to doing the post that was to follow Stuff Is Good.

In his little torpedo of a book, The Liturgy Trap, James Jordan gives a definition of idolatry that is worth the price of the book. Firstly, it is natural that the de-eschatologised churches, (the ones that think they need no death-and-resurrections) contain icons. A church that has already arrived [1] must be able to present the unseen as already-seen:

…seeing God is a good thing, but it is not for now. God tells us not to try and do it until He is ready to let us. We find exactly the same thing in Genesis 1-3, where God said that every tree would be for Adam and Eve to eat, and every tree in the garden is said to be good for food. Thus, the prohibition on the Tree of Knowledge was temporary. [2] Adam and Eve were to develop patience by responding to God’s “NO.” By eating the fruit, they rejected God’s plan for growth and development, and became corrupt. Similarly, sex is good, but we are not to engage in it until we are married.

Now, seeing God face to face is a good thing, and if we are faithful, we shall enjoy the “beatific vision” in the resurrection. But God has clearly and unmistakably said that we are not to attempt to see Him in this world…

God strictly forbids any attempt to make a “form” that connects to Him visually. [3] God will let us see Him when He is ready, and when we are. To set up an icon and say that this gives us a visual revelation of God or of some dimension of God’s heavenly existence is to jump the gun…

We are to be satisfied with the Word because the Word is ultimate. God is Word, but He is not visible. What we shall see is God’s voluntary self-presentation, not God Himself. But God’s Word is not just His voluntary self-representation: it is God Himself. Thus, the visual is always secondary. To insist on the visual is to despise God’s Word, and thus to despise God. Accordingly, those who set up images are said to “hate” God, which means to treat Him practically as second behind something else…

…those who break the Second Word by indulging in visual worship have proven impatient. They have rejected personal maturity, and have destroyed their posterity. But the third and fourth generation, their seed will have become so corrupt that some kind of new Flood will be necessary. Thus, there can be little or no personal or cultural maturity apart from the strict keeping of the Second Word.

This is related to Peter Leithart’s observation that the Spirit brings the saints an awareness of new plunder—people are precious possessions instead of things. [4] The process of death and resurrection brings an awareness of what is truly valuable. Even godless Hollywood movies tell us that on a personal level: ie. some tragedy brings wisdom and a new appreciation of family. So, we should not be bowing to idols, but we should be bowing—to each other:

Jesus said: “It is to your advantage that I go away” (John 16:7). Jesus then explained that the Spirit would come, and verses 8-15 speak of the Spirit’s work in exclusively non-visual terms… At the ascension, we are expressly told that “a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). This removal from sight was followed by the coming of the Spirit. [5]

All of this makes it clear that there is nothing to look at and nothing to bow down to in worship. We are living in an eschatological tension. The real absence of Christ makes us yearn for Him, and gives us something to look forward to. It is a serious mistake to jump the gun by filling the Church with icons that supposedly give a philosophically-realistic look into heaven. It is a serious mistake to pervert the meal into something to look at. It is a serious mistake to say Jesus is as this or that point in the room and bow down to His invisible presence. It is very important that we refuse to bow toward anything in worship…

The content of our worship is only visual at one point: when we are visually aware of one another, aware of the gathered community. Worship in the particular sense only takes place when two or three at least are gathered together… Human beings might be called the visible words of God, though perhaps “fleshly words” might be better. We are words in the sentences of the Divine Book of the Kingdom… The Lord’s Supper is not a visible word but an edible one. Baptism is not a visible word but a tangible one. The only “visible words” are human beings, the images of God made after the likeness of the Word of God Himself. In other words, the only thing to look at in worship is other people.

It certainly is appropriate in worship for the pastor to greet the congregation by bowing to them and saying “The Lord be with you.” In this way, the pastor honours the image of God, the visible words of God, thos he is to serve. Then the congregation should bow to the pastor, saying “And also with you.” Nothing else should be bowed to, however, since nothing else is the visible word of God, the special image of God.

Icon worship replaces the true Bride for a false one:

…iconic worship tends against the development of the community. When we hear the Word of God, someone else must read it aloud to us. This creates a community of at least two people. Icon worship, however, is shrine worship. Thus, both the cathedrals and the lands of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism are full of shrines (what the Bible calls “high places”) where people go and talk to saints, who of course never talk back. Such people can never move beyond their own preconceived notions, because their worship involves no confrontation with the challenges of the Word mediated through other living, speaking people.

“When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” (Matthew 27:29)

“But what does the divine response say to him? ‘I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’” (Romans 11:4)

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

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[1] See Revived, Not Arrived.
[2] See Touch Not, Taste Not, Handle Not.
[3] See Graven Words.
[4] Plunder is always Step 5 in the Bible Matrix. See Vile Bodies or Bright Young Things. See also The Glory Are We.
[5] On the parallel between Moses’ and Christ’s ascension from sight, and the idolatry that followed see We Don’t Know What’s Become of Him.

Irreconcilable Paradoxes

So in this clip, at 1:00, Pastor Mark Kielar stresses that Pastors and Teachers who claim that in Scripture there are Paradoxes that are not reconcilable “even by the human regenerate mind!”, are just tip toeing around the blatantly obvious conundrum that they want to so desperately avoid, and that is saying the Bible has Contradictions. According to Pastor Mark Kielar, if you make the claim that the Bible teaches two different things that the human mind cannot seem to reconcile, like that of Predestination and Human Responsibility, and claim these are not just paradoxes (an appearent contradiction that can be reconciled) but an Irreconcilable Paradox (an appearant contradiction that cannot be reconciled by the human mand, but can be by God), then, well you must be advocating Contradiction. Why is that Pastor Kielar? Oh yeah, that’s right, because any one who makes the claim that the Bible teaches (6:20) “two opposite truths which are both taught in Scripture, without error in the Infallible word of God, and are yet unable to be reconciled by the bar of human reason until we get to Heaven, is a contradiction itself.” So if my finite, and sin affected mind, despite being regenerate, cannot reconcile how God can be both 1 and 3, I MUST be advocating a contradiction, because the bar by which one is to determine the truthfulness of a doctrine in Scripture is not at all by the Infinite Wisdom of the Triune God, but, as Pastor Kielar says, by the bar of human reason. And if you cannot measure up to that bar, that infinitly high bar of human reason that God Almighty must ascend to in order to make sure that His creatures perfectly know and understand all that there is to know about Him, then you must be one of those stupid Van Tillians. God forgive me for thinking that the bar of reason which I was to appeal to was not my own fallen, finite, and time bound reason, but yours, the Infinite, and Eternal Wisdom of Yahweh. Please forgive me Lord for advocating that non-sense that the Apostle Paul muddered in that silly letter to the Romans:

Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom, and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,                                                    or who has been His Counselor?”

Perhaps Pastor Mark Kielar is up for the position of being God’s Counselor, or maybe an even better candidate would be John Robbins, or better yet, Gordon Clark! Oh, that’s right, Clark is in Heaven right now as we speak setting God straight, letting Him know how He has fallen short of the bar of Human Reason. Oooohhh God, you’re in trouble!!!!