The Highway
Posted By: Pilgrim The Suicide of a Denomination - Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:17 PM
"It was a long, slow, painful death. In the end, the patient pulled strongly on the plug and what little life was left exited the body with a tragic gasp. May the Presbyterian Church, USA rest in peace. But there will be very little peace in this pathetic death. Ratified by a majority of presbyteries one month ago and effective one month from today (July 10), the church has abandoned its denominational commitment to traditional marriage. Gone is the standard for ordination that requires pastors, “to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman …, or chastity in singleness.”

Conservatives within the denomination had narrowly, but successfully resisted similar efforts over the past 15 years, but the diminished and beleaguered traditionalists lost the 87th and 88th presbyteries in last month’s effort to change the constitution. “Progressives” had reached the needed majority and the constitution has been amended to allow for ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians.

For centuries, the Presbyterian Church stood on the proud heritage and legacy of men like John Knox who fearlessly and valiantly stood for the truth of scripture. Today, the modern Presbyterian Church (USA) (also “PCUSA”) bears little resemblance to its noble ancestry. While some in the movement had worked hard for and held out hope for some kind of spiritual awakening, a renewed commitment to orthodoxy, it seems that hope is now gone. Let this be clear: The issue here is not homosexuality. The core of the matter is the authority of scripture."

Read the entire article HERE
Posted By: Johan Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:34 AM
Pilgrim,

Do you know of other links to this decision by the PCUSA as well?

Johan
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:47 AM
nope I'm sure there are others, but to be honest, I haven't taken the time to use our friend [Linked Image].
Posted By: chestnutmare Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:02 AM
The Church of Scotland faces a similar demise. Read here:
The Church of Scotland Votes to Lift Ban on Gay Clergy
Posted By: Reformation Monk Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:27 PM
You can now see the change in wording on the PCUSA main page. As with everything else about the PCUSA the "new" wording is much like our modern "legal document's." Many words placed in a very convoluted way that at the end of the day, don't make much sense so as to confuse the common reader.

Basically, it's people trying to legally lie to other people. That's the PCUSA in a nutshell. It's a denomination that lie's and hides the truth.

Anyway, there really isn't that much on the internet about it. But there are a few good sources if you google it.

As being a current member of a mainline PCUSA Church, because my wife refuses to leave; right now most congregations are in the "Well, we don't really support the decision, let's just see if we can repeal it." stage.

Meaning; let's just drop the subject and wait long enough so that most people will forget about it. Again suppressing the truth. Just like they suppress the Gospel, the Atoning work of Christ, justification, sanctification; etc... etc...

Unfortunately the Bible for the PCUSA is no longer any different then any other book. It's just a moral guide book along with many others that supports Humanistic Religion. That is what the PCUSA is now, it is no longer and hasn't been for a very long time the Church of Christ but rather the Church of Humanism.
Posted By: via_dolorosa Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:28 PM
Originally Posted by Reformation Monk
As being a current member of a mainline PCUSA Church, because my wife refuses to leave; right now most congregations are in the "Well, we don't really support the decision, let's just see if we can repeal it." stage.


Please extend my enthusiastic applause to your wife for sticking to it. The truth is that the demonic left is gaining ground because too many good people are abandoning ship. Those who are staying in the fight aren't ready to throw in the towel and so I wouldn't characterize this as the death of a denomination but rather a sign of the times we are in. I would agree with the OP that as a mainline protestant denomination, there is a departure from the authority of scripture as plainly written, particularly the condemnation of homosexuality in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Romans. I don't think the Bible could be more clear, but I also don't think it matters how clear the Bible is to these people.

"Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do." Jn 8:43,44.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who perish (1Cor 1:18) which is why it's important to underscore that the Bible is not enough unless a person has a relationship with the Author. And so I think the deeper issue is unconverted hearts reading the Bible with foolishly darkened minds.
Posted By: Reformation Monk Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:05 PM
Originally Posted by chestnutmare
The Church of Scotland faces a similar demise. Read here:
The Church of Scotland Votes to Lift Ban on Gay Clergy

I would like to draw attention to the "comments" section of this article. The pro-supporters have genuine hatred toward anyone with an "anti-gay" stance.

This is no longer about Truth. Or in other words, for these people, "who vehemently identify themselves as Christians," there is no more Bible. They no longer identify the Bible as being inspired by God. But rather, just a collection of historic writings that fallibly point to God. Or in other words; certain Israelite men, trying to know and understand God as best as they could.

Just like Buddhists having a channel, or Hindu's having another channel and so on and so forth..... so in other words, all religions lead to God in their own limited way, and that so; they are all subject to correction based on subjective feelings, because the most subjectively clear absolute is that the only thing that matters is love.

God is clearly, in all religious expressions, LOVE. Therefore, it is very clear that this is one Objective and Absolute Truth that Christian Universalists/Humanists stand on.

So, in so saying; because the most important thing is love, then it is clearly "unloving" to be prejudice against people who are openly gay.

I say all this to say that this is serious. Very serious.

I am confronted with this hatred in the PCUSA. Not an open antagonistic hatred, but a very clear ostracizing hatred. In other words; if you seem to be in anyway a "Fundamentalist" Christian, then you are no longer welcome in many circles. Not in a blunt "get out of here" way, but in that, people will no longer welcome your presence, they will no longer want you around, they won't agree with you and will often times, argue and resist you in a "politically correct" way.

But this is seriously all about to change drastically. These latest changes are now really completely tearing down almost all reservations the Liberal Christian had.

In other words, there is now going to be serious warfare. Liberal Christian Universalists/Humanists are now more and more becoming much more vocal and militant.

Our Secular Culture combined with the now almost completely victorious Liberal Christian Universalists/Humanists are now making plain and serious efforts to "STAMP OUT TRUE CHRISTIANITY" completely!

It is all very clear to me now, being someone who has seen this rather quick development in the last 15 years and been apart of it.

The most deceiving thing about it is that, Liberals are always lying. They are always trying to hide their true agenda, always trying to cover up their true objectives, their true belief's. So it's a slow deceptive process.

I can't count how many times I've been lied too by many leaders in the PCUSA, when ever I raised any objections and or concerns. Lie's with the full intent to try to smooth things over, keep me quiet and push me back into a corner where I'll just keep silent and to myself.

Anyway, I say all this to say that this is serious, because this is just the beginning.

I'm beginning to figure out why I've been attracted to Monasticism for so long. Why I've adopted the name "Reformation Monk." It's not because I have any desire to be a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Monk. But it's because, I totally see widespread Christian persecution in the future.

I see where this is all going and it's not going to be good. I can see laws passed that are going to take away personal and religious freedom rights and that anyone who openly preaches and or advocates God's Truth will be identified as a "Fundamentalist" and subjected to Legal Prosecution.

I don't claim to have any prophetic gifting, this is all just my opinion, but in my personal experience, it's becoming more and more obvious with each passing year that True Christianity is not being tolerated at all.

So I can see a time coming in the future where True Christianity will be forced to into privacy. Like China and other countries, True Christians will have to gather privately in their homes or privately owned buildings in fear of imprisonment and or physical persecution.

Anyway, just some thoughts. I might be totally off, but I'm afraid that I'm not. I've battled many Liberal Professors and Deans and they mean business. They do not accept Classic Orthodox Christianity and are openly attacking it.
Posted By: Reformation Monk Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:14 PM
Originally Posted by via_dolorosa
Originally Posted by Reformation Monk
As being a current member of a mainline PCUSA Church, because my wife refuses to leave; right now most congregations are in the "Well, we don't really support the decision, let's just see if we can repeal it." stage.


Please extend my enthusiastic applause to your wife for sticking to it. The truth is that the demonic left is gaining ground because too many good people are abandoning ship. Those who are staying in the fight aren't ready to throw in the towel and so I wouldn't characterize this as the death of a denomination but rather a sign of the times we are in. I would agree with the OP that as a mainline protestant denomination, there is a departure from the authority of scripture as plainly written, particularly the condemnation of homosexuality in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Romans. I don't think the Bible could be more clear, but I also don't think it matters how clear the Bible is to these people.

"Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do." Jn 8:43,44.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who perish (1Cor 1:18) which is why it's important to underscore that the Bible is not enough unless a person has a relationship with the Author. And so I think the deeper issue is unconverted hearts reading the Bible with foolishly darkened minds.

Via_dolorosa,

Unfortunately this has been the main sentiment expressed about the PCUSA for many years.

This has been the "catch phrase" for anyone speaking out against the clear Apostasy. As if to say, " YOU QUITER! IT'S YOUR FAULT"

Sorry but that doesn't fly anymore. I've been fighting for Biblical Truth within the PCUSA for many years now and it's no longer a battle at all. The PCUSA is completely Apostate all across the board. This isn't about the new ruling or Homosexuality at all. It's about True Christianity and False Christianity. It's been about that for many years.

You can commend my wife all you want, but at the end of the day, she is submitting herself to the authority of false prophets preaching a false gospel.

Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:06 PM
Reformation Monk,

The Scripture is also very clear on what one should resolve to do when surrounded by such damnable heresy and abominable immorality. There are many such passages with instructions to believers. But the one that stands out in my mind is found in Paul's second letter to the Corinthian churches where gross immorality was openly displayed and even encouraged. This is what Paul wrote to them:

2 Corinthians 6:13-18 (ASV) "Now for a recompense in like kind (I speak as unto [my] children), be ye also enlarged. Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
Posted By: Reformation Monk Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:45 AM
Your right Pilgrim and I think that I'm going to have to start going to another Church. Hopefully my wife will follow eventually.

P.S. just wondering about your thoughts on Sovereign Grace? Do you know much about them?

I'm not really wanting to join a Reformed Baptist Church, but they're a lot closer to me then the nearest "acceptable" PCA Church.
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:04 AM
I am somewhat familiar with the Sovereign Grace Baptist Association. However, there are several groups that refer to themselves as such. Consequently, it is difficult to know what the local church close to you is about. Some embrace NCT (New Covenant Theology), which I deem to be a heretical teaching concerning the law of God. Others are quite 'ingrown' and have little to do with non-Baptists. And yet others are quite amiable and solidly Calvinistic in at least their views on soteriology. As it is with any church in our present time, it must be scrutinized and stand or fall on its own merits or demerits. Bottom line: you are going to have to visit the church and ask specific questions which you think are most important.

Again, if you would provide your present location in the Church Locator Forum it may be possible that one or more possible churches could be suggested for consideration. Granted, some appear to be worthy of consideration from their online information, but when you physically visit them, it becomes sadly obvious that they are not worth considering. I remember speaking with the 'pastor' of an alleged Reformed church and he said all the right things. So, I visited the church and after perusing their books, pamphlets being offered, and then watching the people file into the auditorium in bathing suits, little league baseball uniforms, and other casual attire, which all produced a negative reaction within me the deafening beating of the drums and drone of the electric guitars was the final note that had me running for the door before this 'pastor' even took to the stage. Moral to the story is... physically visit any church under consideration and take your time with your assessment. Sometimes it is painfully obvious within minutes. But for others, it can take a much longer time to decide. wink
Posted By: Tom Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 14, 2011 5:22 AM
You might want to check out their web site if they have one.
Also something I have found to be helpful is to meet with the pastor, armed with specific questions.
Or perhaps if you prefer you can do this via e-mail.

Seeing you are just looking for a biblical Church, you can word your questions in a manner that doesn't necessarily show what you believe on the topic. I have used this method with some success, mainly because the pastor doesn't give the answer he believes you want to hear.

Tom
Posted By: Reformation Monk Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:22 AM
Sovereign Grace Church of Chesapeake

I believe this Church was established by C.J. Mahaney

Anyway, it's a lot closer to where I live. Again, I've been a life long Presbyterian and I am more partial to Reformed Presbyterian Theology and Faith and Practice.

But I've worked with many Baptists and at the end of the day, this still looks like a solid Church. I've listened to many Sovereign Grace online Sermons and they are all pretty darn good.

Or.... I can travel a little farther and go to this Church.

Calvary PCA

This seems to be a more conservative PCA Church, preferring a more traditional worship style, which I prefer as well. The sermons seem to be pretty good. I'm just not really fond of the PCA in my area.

What do you all think?

P.S. after much prayer, I had a long talk to my oldest daughter ( 13 ) yesterday and my wife today and they now know and understand why I have chosen to attend another Church. My was understanding, so it seems that maybe she will follow. Keep us in your prayers please, I've been having a lot of people pray about this and so hopefully God is working in her.

Dave
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 14, 2011 2:14 PM
Dave,

In Peter Master's excellent article The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness, he mentions both C.J. Mahaney and his replacement Joshua Harris. I thought you should be aware of some of their particular views which you may want to pursue further or perhaps reconsider the sovereign grace church. scratchchin

Quote
In times of disobedience the Jews of old syncretised by going to the Temple or the synagogue on the sabbath, and to idol temples on weekdays, but the new Calvinism has found a way of uniting spiritually incompatible things at the same time, in the same meeting.

C J Mahaney is a preacher highly applauded in this book. Charismatic in belief and practice, he appears to be wholly accepted by the other big names who feature at the ‘new Calvinist’ conferences, such as John Piper, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler. Evidently an extremely personable, friendly man, C J Mahaney is the founder of a group of churches blending Calvinism with charismatic ideas, and is reputed to have influenced many Calvinists to throw aside cessationist views.

It was a protégé of this preacher named Joshua Harris who started the New Attitude conference for young people. We learn that when a secular rapper named Curtis Allen was converted, his new-born Christian instinct led him to give up his past life and his singing style. But Pastor Joshua Harris evidently persuaded him not to, so that he could sing for the Lord. New Calvinists do not hesitate to override the instinctual Christian conscience, counselling people to become friends of the world.
Re: Calvary Presbyterian Church, their view of worship is "mixed". They state:

Quote
We desire to express ourselves to God in reverence, joy, authenticity, truthfulness, devotion, passion, love and thankfulness. While there is liberty in the specific styles or forms of worship, Calvary has adopted a more traditional style of worship that has incorporated some songs of worship that have a Gospel-centered, contemporary flavor to them.
My overall estimation of the PCA is similar to yours, i.e., the majority have left their traditional Presbyterian roots and adopted various and myriad doctrines and practices which are inconsistent with the Westminster Standards and their historic interpretation and application.

Are you close to Charlottesville, VA? Have you searched for an OPC congregation or a Heritage Reformed congregation near you? The OPC isn't exempt from problems either, but I think there are a few more reasonably good congregations in that denomination vs. the PCA. The Heritage Reformed denomination at this point is quite good.
Posted By: via_dolorosa Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 14, 2011 4:56 PM
Originally Posted by Reformation Monk
Via_dolorosa,

Unfortunately this has been the main sentiment expressed about the PCUSA for many years.

This has been the "catch phrase" for anyone speaking out against the clear Apostasy. As if to say, " YOU QUITER! IT'S YOUR FAULT"

Sorry but that doesn't fly anymore. I've been fighting for Biblical Truth within the PCUSA for many years now and it's no longer a battle at all. The PCUSA is completely Apostate all across the board. This isn't about the new ruling or Homosexuality at all. It's about True Christianity and False Christianity. It's been about that for many years.

You can commend my wife all you want, but at the end of the day, she is submitting herself to the authority of false prophets preaching a false gospel.

Ref Monk,

I'm sorry for coming across the wrong way in giving the impression that anyone who leaves your church is a quitter. In fact, I believe that there is no wrong answer in this decision. There is certainly merit in staying in the fight and battling for the truth, but who can blame anyone for wanting to pull out of stormy waters and seeking a church body where everyone is in agreement. The place where we worship should not be a battle zone. What's most important is that you and your wife are on the same page and I pray that will happen.

My larger point was about how unconverted hearts are utterly estranged from the Bible. They don't see themselves as in conflict with the Bible, but rather the dominant interpretation of it. I find they are not dissimilar to the liberal left in America and their treatment of the Constitution. Because they hate liberty and seek the implimentation of tyranny, they read the Constitution very differently from how it was written. They see "rights" that don't exist, or they dismiss the document altogether as descended into antiquity (sound familiar?)

The parallel is important because forces at work in your church also, not by coincidence, vote Democrat and support a very leftist agenda. After they've achieved their goal of corrupting a denomination, they will then go after other denominations like the Sodomites who oppressed the outlying villages after gaining dominion over Sodom and Gomorrah. I bring this up because I disagree that this is about true Christianity vs false Christianity. These people are not Christian in any sense of the word and will drop the charade as soon as they've achieved their mission.
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:31 PM
Originally Posted by Reformation Monk
I'm not really wanting to join a Reformed Baptist Church, but they're a lot closer to me then the nearest "acceptable" PCA Church.
A serious question...what if you can't find a new church to attend that's acceptable, or what if you suddenly aren't able to drive the distance to an acceptable church? Is not attending a church an option? Could you start your own?
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:58 PM
nope Confessional churches follow the protocol of 1) being sent by an established biblical church by the resident elders, the individual having been examined in matters of doctrine and life, and often 2) receiving a call from a group that is desiring to form a new congregation. In these cases the new work is under the oversight of an established congregation/denomination. Non-confessional churches are infamous for having individuals establishing new churches sometimes on a whim with no oversight nor accountability.
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:32 PM
That answers the second question, and I thank you for that Pilgrim. What about the first question though? Suppose RM can't find, or can't attend an acceptable Church. Can he just opt out?
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:07 AM
Originally Posted by Newman
That answers the second question, and I thank you for that Pilgrim. What about the first question though? Suppose RM can't find, or can't attend an acceptable Church. Can he just opt out?
The key word here is "acceptable". Each individual must decide what is acceptable for themselves. VERY generally, for me there are two basic elements which MUST be present or I won't set foot in the doorway of any church: 1) Reformed in doctrine and I'm not speaking of what the "New Calvinists" embrace, only the infamous "Five Points." Rather I am referring to historic Reformed theology; a total world and life view based upon Scripture. 2) Worship which is according to the "Regulative Principle," which eliminates the majority of churches today which have opted for a man-made, God-dishonoring, emotionally based contemporary 'style.' Beyond those two essentials which I cannot and will not barter away, there is acceptable latitude in other things to be sure.

So, to answer your question directly, even though I am not the individual you have addressed your original question to... my apologies grin if there was no acceptable church in doctrine and life or if one was not within a reasonable traveling distance, I would 'opt out' as you would put it. Sitting under false teaching and/or participating in idolatrous worship isn't what my God finds acceptable and therefore neither do I (Jh 4:24).
Posted By: CovenantInBlood Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:38 PM
If he's looking at churches in Chesapeake and Norfolk, he's not near Charlottesville. For what it's worth, there are no OPCs in that area of Virginia.
Posted By: John_C Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:55 AM
I'm coming into this discussion late, but why are we so 'bent out of shape' with the PCUSA. They have long ago strayed of course with its theology. The social aspects of bad theology works it way through the church over time (I think James Kennedy surmised 2 generations), but we tend to only want to fight when the social aspects prop up, not at the front end where heresy enters through bad theology.

The local PCUSA church which is supposedly conservative says that the new amendmant is not binding to their Presbytery and the church does not contribute financially to the GA. The church and the Presbytery strongly disagrees with the new amendment. They will continue to keep biblical fidelity. But, are they truly doing that.

Although the pastor is a strong evangelical, he is an egalitarian in this theology. Whether or not he is firmed or weak on that in total, I do not know. My question is. Is it possible to hold to biblical fidelity and be egalitarian? I might have asked this before, and if so, I apologize.
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:11 PM
Originally Posted by John_C
My question is. Is it possible to hold to biblical fidelity and be egalitarian? I might have asked this before, and if so, I apologize.
John,

Could you define "egalitarian" as it applies to this man and as you are using it in your question? That would help to give a more accurate answer. grin
Posted By: John_C Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:31 PM
All I know about this man is that apparently he has no objections in ordaining women elders (TE and RE). I would surmise most conservatives within in the PCUSA would be likewise.

I not sure if he is more conservative than the Willow Creek model in its egalitarianism.
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:10 PM
Okay, considering your further information, by way of example, I would have to say that this man cannot be said to be faithful to the Bible (own biblical fidelity). Doubtless he would have many other 'inconsistencies' in doctrine according to the Westminster Standards and the Book of Church Order.
Posted By: John_C Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:05 PM
So, if using our understanding of biblical theology when it comes to biblical roles between men and women, there really are not many, if any, conservatives in the PCUSA.

I read a good article by DeYoung regarding making non-essentials essentials. I really do not think we are in our view on ordination of women, but there would be those who disagree. Should we not be so dogmatic on it?
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:02 PM
Originally Posted by John_C
So, if using our understanding of biblical theology when it comes to biblical roles between men and women, there really are not many, if any, conservatives in the PCUSA.

I read a good article by DeYoung regarding making non-essentials essentials. I really do not think we are in our view on ordination of women, but there would be those who disagree. Should we not be so dogmatic on it?
IF there are any TRUE conservatives, i.e., those who hold to the traditional, historic Reformed faith as set forth by the Westminster Standards and its application as held for centuries by the Reformers and Puritans, they are extremely rare.

The ordination of women is NOT a non-essential for it has to do with the nature and order of the Church in which the truth is expounded and applied, the sacraments are administered and discipline is acted upon, all according to God's revealed will. The Church is a reflection of Christ himself and His 'beloved' for whom He sacrificed himself for the redemption of the elect. This is no small matter but the very essence of sending forth the Christ.
Posted By: John_C Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:32 AM
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
The ordination of women is NOT a non-essential for it has to do with the nature and order of the Church in which the truth is expounded and applied, the sacraments are administered and discipline is acted upon, all according to God's revealed will. The Church is a reflection of Christ himself and His 'beloved' for whom He sacrificed himself for the redemption of the elect. This is no small matter but the very essence of sending forth the Christ.

I agree.

It just seems as if we are more likely to give those who teach armianism, partial armianism or practical armianism (Or another area like dispensationalism) greater leeway with our acceptance or co-existing than we do on issues as women ordination. I think that might be confusing to some as if we are not consistent.
Posted By: Tom Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:14 AM
John
I would agree that we should not make non-essentials essentials. However, like Pilgrim said this particular issue is an essential. I know otherwise conservative Christians who would completely disagree with me on that. However, given the ramifications of this doctrine (which Pilgrim touched on), I believe they are seriously in error.

Out of curiosity, does DeYoung believe that this issue is a non-essential?
Most egalitarians that I know seem to believe that if roles (such as elder) in the Church and family can’t be done by both men and women. Then by necessary consequence, it makes women inferior to men. In one conversation I had with an egalitarian I showed from Scripture and a RC Sproul article that this wasn’t the case at all. Given that God is a God of order and even within the Trinity, all three members have different roles to play; yet they are equally God.
Yet even this argument doesn’t hold any water to them and I got the idea (though I am not certain on this) that they disagreed that all three members of the Trinity had different roles to play.
An example of an argument I have heard a few times by egalitarians is to use Gal. 3:28 to prove that both male and female have the same role in the body of Christ. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to these egalitarians that the context of the text is clearly salvation.
I could go on and on about other silly arguments I have heard coming from egalitarians and I am not just talking about Arminian egalitarians.

Something that puzzles me about this matter is how could someone who has such a good hermeneutic when it comes to other essential issues, get it so wrong in this issue. If they used the same hermeneutic principles they use to become egalitarian. I am almost certain they would not come to the a proper understanding in other essentials. scratch1

Tom
Posted By: John_C Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:31 AM
Originally Posted by Tom
Out of curiosity, does DeYoung believe that this issue is a non-essential?
Tom

Tom, DeYoung did not mentioned women ordination nor roles in his article. His main point was that we conservatives sometimes make hot-topic, non-essential topics our sibboleths. His main point was to remain steadfast on the essentiasl, and not make non-essentials essential. Some he mentioned were communion (frequency, wine or no wine), schooling, mumber of services (one morning, one night, not two in morning). I'm sure am guilty of that from time to time, and I need to be more careful.

The article is in June's Tabletalk.
Posted By: Tom Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:21 AM
John

I guess I am a little bit confused at why you mentioned DeYoung.
When you said:
Quote
So, if using our understanding of biblical theology when it comes to biblical roles between men and women, there really are not many, if any, conservatives in the PCUSA.

I read a good article by DeYoung regarding making non-essentials essentials. I really do not think we are in our view on ordination of women, but there would be those who disagree. Should we not be so dogmatic on it?

In the context of this thread and with your mentioning DeYoung's article, it made it sound like you thought it might not be an issue to be dogmatic about.

Given the fact that you said you agreed with Pilgrim that this matter is "essential". Do I understand you correctly that before you read what Pilgrim had to say you were not sure that this matter was an essential. But now in light of Pilgrim's reasoning you agree that it is a matter we should be dogmatic about?
Oh by the way, I have the June issue of Table Talk, I will have to read the article.

Tom
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:06 PM
Quote
His main point was to remain steadfast on the essentiasl, and not make non-essentials essential.
Who decides what is essential and what is non-essential?
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:17 PM
Originally Posted by Newman
Who decides what is essential and what is non-essential?
Good question. So what would be your answer?

Another hypothetical question: What if whoever/whatever you think has the authority to determine what is essential and non-essential declared that the Trinity, or the deity of Christ or the sacraments or the perpetual virginity of Mary or that homosexuality is non-essential. Would you acknowledge that decision and embrace it? scratchchin
Posted By: John_C Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:30 AM
Tom,

Sorry for the confusion. Sometimes it seems I make leaps but I just do not have the discipline to write 3-4 sentences in expaining what I mean. I was reading DeYoung's article around the same time I was reading through this thread. It has always puzzle me when conservatives within the PCUSA ranks are referenced. I am unwilling to give them the seal of biblical conservatism as apostasy has been accepted within the PCUSA ranks for decades. So, I agreed with Pilgrim before he replied. Still, I wonder if some elements of egalatarianism can fit into biblical orthodoxy.

When reading DeYoung's article it is good for us to be open that we may be overly dogmatic Not necessarily with our convictions; but the lack of graciousness we display with others that may disagree with us. Christianity is more than just right doctrine, though we can never forsake biblical Christianity.

On this subject of the PCUSA, I have a difficult time with the naming of the minority as conservatives. I just don't think arguiing for a correct view on some issues does not make one a biblical conservative. Yet it is good to be reminded that I should always be gracious.

(I think I am rambling, so I will stop)
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:48 PM
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Originally Posted by Newman
Who decides what is essential and what is non-essential?
Good question. So what would be your answer?
Aha, answering a question with a question. :cool: I don't know if that means you don't have an answer, but here's mine. There was much dispute in the early church about whether or not it was essential to be circumcised (and avoid pork etc.) in order to be Christian. A council was convened, a decision was reached, and then Paul and Timothy were sent to the cities to tell the people to obey the decrees. So, the visible church decides. That's my answer.

Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Another hypothetical question: What if whoever/whatever you think has the authority to determine what is essential and non-essential declared that the Trinity, or the deity of Christ or the sacraments or the perpetual virginity of Mary or that homosexuality is non-essential. Would you acknowledge that decision and embrace it? scratchchin
Well, that would never happen in an official and binding way. It's a false dilemma. That is to say, it was not possible that the Jerusalem Council would declare that it was essential for Gentiles to be circumcised and then send Paul and Timothy to tell everyone to obey that false decree as a matter of dogma. In the same manner, it would simply be impossible for the Jerusalem Council to bind the faithful to believe in Unitarianism or gay marriage etc. Would you not agree? In the same manner, it is simply not possible to bind the faithful today to deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the PVM, or to deny that homosexuality is disordered.
Posted By: Johan Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:29 AM
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Originally Posted by John_C
So, if using our understanding of biblical theology when it comes to biblical roles between men and women, there really are not many, if any, conservatives in the PCUSA.

I read a good article by DeYoung regarding making non-essentials essentials. I really do not think we are in our view on ordination of women, but there would be those who disagree. Should we not be so dogmatic on it?
IF there are any TRUE conservatives, i.e., those who hold to the traditional, historic Reformed faith as set forth by the Westminster Standards and its application as held for centuries by the Reformers and Puritans, they are extremely rare.

The ordination of women is NOT a non-essential for it has to do with the nature and order of the Church in which the truth is expounded and applied, the sacraments are administered and discipline is acted upon, all according to God's revealed will. The Church is a reflection of Christ himself and His 'beloved' for whom He sacrificed himself for the redemption of the elect. This is no small matter but the very essence of sending forth the Christ.

This is a late response to Pilgrim's post but I would like to thank him for that.

The issue of the ordination of women as TE and RE in our denomination will yet again be on the table at our next synod in January 2012. At the synod of 2009 the vote was against women being allowed as TE and RE. However, a number of petitions against that decision are apparently in the process of being prepared. Our church has also prepared such a petition. Of course, I don't agree with that and the pastor and others knows it. One of the points being made in the petition is that it has nothing to do with salvation, ie. being a non-essential matter, but Pilgrim's view as expressed above is, I think, right on target.


Johan

Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:46 PM
Originally Posted by Newman
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Originally Posted by Newman
Who decides what is essential and what is non-essential?
Good question. So what would be your answer?
Aha, answering a question with a question. :cool: I don't know if that means you don't have an answer, but here's mine. There was much dispute in the early church about whether or not it was essential to be circumcised (and avoid pork etc.) in order to be Christian. A council was convened, a decision was reached, and then Paul and Timothy were sent to the cities to tell the people to obey the decrees. So, the visible church decides. That's my answer.
Oh, but I do have an answer. The Lord Christ sometimes answered a question with a question, so it seemed good in this case that I followed suit. wink

1. Re: your answer: Unfortunately, the visible Church consists of myriad and varied members, some of whom are not even regenerated. Thus, this begs the further question, Who in the visible church does one trust? The situation which evoked this question is paradigmatic. One part of the visible church has decreed that homosexuals are qualified to hold the office of elder and deacon. Another part has decreed that women are qualified to serve in both offices. But many others have decreed that neither are qualified. nono

2. Now for my answer. As you probably anticipated, I believe that God's inspired, infallible, inerrant, written Word is the final arbitrator in all such matters of doctrine and life. It is the Holy Spirit who leads those who are Christ's to the truth.

Originally Posted by Newman
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Another hypothetical question: What if whoever/whatever you think has the authority to determine what is essential and non-essential declared that the Trinity, or the deity of Christ or the sacraments or the perpetual virginity of Mary or that homosexuality is non-essential. Would you acknowledge that decision and embrace it? scratchchin
Well, that would never happen in an official and binding way. It's a false dilemma. That is to say, it was not possible that the Jerusalem Council would declare that it was essential for Gentiles to be circumcised and then send Paul and Timothy to tell everyone to obey that false decree as a matter of dogma. In the same manner, it would simply be impossible for the Jerusalem Council to bind the faithful to believe in Unitarianism or gay marriage etc. Would you not agree? In the same manner, it is simply not possible to bind the faithful today to deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the PVM, or to deny that homosexuality is disordered.
The problem I have with this suggestion is that 1) The Jerusalem Council is irrelevant to the issue at hand. It was a gathering of the Apostles during the infant stage of the Church wherein decisions had to be made in regard to the inclusion of the Gentiles in matters of the ceremonial law and justification by faith alone. Once the Church as an organization was established (cf. Eph 4:10-16), those called to serve in the office of Elder, Presbyter, Bishop, were to preach, teach, and maintain doctrine according to what they had been taught according to the Scriptures. 2) Church councils since that time; I'm including the modern councils of Synods, General Assemblies and such, have erred, do err and will continue to err in their declarations as evidenced by the two abhorrent declarations referenced above. Members of those respective churches/denominations have given their assent to the authority of those bodies and are bound to acknowledge them through their obedience. HOWEVER, they are only obligated to render obedience as far as they are faithful to the Scriptures. This obedience is seen to be universal in scope and application in all spheres of life; e.g., children to parents, wives to husbands, citizens to their governing authorities, etc. When such authorities demand that which is contrary to the teaching of Scripture, then they are not obligated to render obedience. Likewise, where such authorities forbid that which God requires in the Scriptures, then such decrees/requirements are to be ignored.
Posted By: john Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Fri Jun 24, 2011 1:14 PM
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Another hypothetical question: What if whoever/whatever you think has the authority to determine what is essential and non-essential declared that the Trinity, or the deity of Christ or the sacraments or the perpetual virginity of Mary or that homosexuality is non-essential. Would you acknowledge that decision and embrace it? scratchchin

Pilgrim,

What is your definition of perpetual virginity of Mary and what is your view concerning it? Are you saying that A) Mary's virginity with respect to Jesus or B) Mary's perpetual virginity even after Christ's birth is essential? From my reading, many of the Puritans/Reformers disagreed about this.

Thanks,
John
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:57 PM
Originally Posted by john
Pilgrim,

What is your definition of perpetual virginity of Mary and what is your view concerning it? Are you saying that A) Mary's virginity with respect to Jesus or B) Mary's perpetual virginity even after Christ's birth is essential? From my reading, many of the Puritans/Reformers disagreed about this.
1. Perpetual virginity I understand to mean that Mary never had sexual relations with Joseph her husband nor any other man throughout her entire lifetime.

2. My view is that the assertion that Mary was a virgin throughout her entire lifetime is absurd and biblically untenable.

3. I do not think that on its face that the view that Mary was a perpetual virgin is essential. However, some of the reasons behind the doctrine are greatly contrived and the view itself is but a means to attempt to justify other even more pernicious doctrines. For example is the theory which is connected with the removal of Mary from the sphere of ordinary life and duties as too commonplace for one who is to be surrounded with the halo of a demi-god, and to be idealized in order to be worshipped.

4. Faith accepts the biblical passages which speak perspicuously of the family of Joseph and Mary, Jesus and his brothers and sisters.

Matt 12:46 (ASV) "While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, seeking to speak to him."

Matt 13:55-56 (ASV) "Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?"

Mk 6:3 (ASV) "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended in him."

Gal 1:19 (ASV) "But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."
Posted By: john Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:58 PM
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Originally Posted by john
Pilgrim,

What is your definition of perpetual virginity of Mary and what is your view concerning it? Are you saying that A) Mary's virginity with respect to Jesus or B) Mary's perpetual virginity even after Christ's birth is essential? From my reading, many of the Puritans/Reformers disagreed about this.
1. Perpetual virginity I understand to mean that Mary never had sexual relations with Joseph her husband nor any other man throughout her entire lifetime.

2. My view is that the assertion that Mary was a virgin throughout her entire lifetime is absurd and biblically untenable.

3. I do not think that on its face that the view that Mary was a perpetual virgin is essential. However, some of the reasons behind the doctrine are greatly contrived and the view itself is but a means to attempt to justify other even more pernicious doctrines. For example is the theory which is connected with the removal of Mary from the sphere of ordinary life and duties as too commonplace for one who is to be surrounded with the halo of a demi-god, and to be idealized in order to be worshipped.

4. Faith accepts the biblical passages which speak perspicuously of the family of Joseph and Mary, Jesus and his brothers and sisters.

Pilgrim,

Thanks. I agree as well. I asked because it was not clear from your original quote what you were indicating concerning the idea. I still find it interesting that a number of the initial reformers seem to agree with perpetual virginity or at least not to disagree with it. I suppose this was due to the influence of their times.

John
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:16 PM
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Oh, but I do have an answer. The Lord Christ sometimes answered a question with a question, so it seemed good in this case that I followed suit. wink
Hey, quit stealing my lines pal. tongue wink

Originally Posted by Pilgrim
1. Re: your answer: Unfortunately, the visible Church consists of myriad and varied members, some of whom are not even regenerated. Thus, this begs the further question, Who in the visible church does one trust? The situation which evoked this question is paradigmatic. One part of the visible church has decreed that homosexuals are qualified to hold the office of elder and deacon. Another part has decreed that women are qualified to serve in both offices. But many others have decreed that neither are qualified. nono
But surely during the time of the Jerusalem Council, the visible church consisted of myriad and varied members, some of whom were not even regenerated. No? So, I’m not sure I get your point. confused

Originally Posted by Pilgrim
2. Now for my answer. As you probably anticipated, I believe that God's inspired, infallible, inerrant, written Word is the final arbitrator in all such matters of doctrine and life. It is the Holy Spirit who leads those who are Christ's to the truth.
Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I think your answer is the same one the Judaizers gave is it not? When they advocated for Gentiles to observe the law in order to become Christian, they were appealing to God’s inspired, infallible, inerrant written word. As it turned out though, the final arbitrator was the church, ie. the council, guided by the Holy Spirit.


Originally Posted by Pilgrim
The problem I have with this suggestion is that 1) The Jerusalem Council is irrelevant to the issue at hand. It was a gathering of the Apostles during the infant stage of the Church wherein decisions had to be made in regard to the inclusion of the Gentiles in matters of the ceremonial law and justification by faith alone. Once the Church as an organization was established (cf. Eph 4:10-16), those called to serve in the office of Elder, Presbyter, Bishop, were to preach, teach, and maintain doctrine according to what they had been taught according to the Scriptures.
Now that I didn't expect. I didn't expect you to say the Jerusalem Council is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Hmmm. Ok, is it relevant to any discussion we might have today? Are you telling me that had the Jerusalem Council decided upon whether homosexuals and women are qualified to serve, it would be relevant, but since they decided upon some other issue it is not relevant? Also, in the New Testament, Elders and Presbyters are the same thing and already existed by this time, as did bishops, so that seems to be more irrelevant to the subject at hand than the council.

Originally Posted by Pilgrim
2) Church councils since that time; I'm including the modern councils of Synods, General Assemblies and such, have erred, do err and will continue to err in their declarations as evidenced by the two abhorrent declarations referenced above. Members of those respective churches/denominations have given their assent to the authority of those bodies and are bound to acknowledge them through their obedience. HOWEVER, they are only obligated to render obedience as far as they are faithful to the Scriptures. This obedience is seen to be universal in scope and application in all spheres of life; e.g., children to parents, wives to husbands, citizens to their governing authorities, etc. When such authorities demand that which is contrary to the teaching of Scripture, then they are not obligated to render obedience. Likewise, where such authorities forbid that which God requires in the Scriptures, then such decrees/requirements are to be ignored.
Yeah, I certainly get all that, but how do you know they’re wrong? Its interp vs. interp. To put it another way, how do you know their interpretation of scripture is wrong while yours is right? Is your interpretation infallible? I'm guessing you wouldn't claim that, so how then do you know your interpretation about what is essential and non-essential is the correct one?
Posted By: AC. Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:42 AM
Hey Brian,

As usual you raise an interesting point but as a counterpoint, and I believe you stated in the past that this is non-essential, but the fact that the Roman Catholic church places the condition on a priest that he take a vow of celibacy. I don't know all the history there but obviously I would question those in authority on that issue as well as a few others that seem to run contrary to Biblical teachings.

Obviously, I realize the Roman Catholic church also appeals to scripture to support their practices and beliefs.....

Are there any 'essentials' in which you ever questioned the authority or can you not entertain that type of thinking?

I do believe there are some areas of Protestant Reformed teaching that are not as clear-cut as we'd like but nothing that I would jump ship over (maybe you feel the same, but that would be more of a problem for you as a Catholic then for me, no?) Because we don't claim that the Protestant church is infallible. We claim that God's Word is infallible and hope to rightly divide His Word.
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:05 PM
Originally Posted by AC.
Hey Brian,
I believe you stated in the past that this is non-essential, but the fact that the Roman Catholic church places the condition on a priest that he take a vow of celibacy.
Its essential in the fact that, by and large (there are exceptions) Latin Rite (though not Eastern Rite) priests take this vow and they are expected to uphold it. Its non-essential in the fact that this discipline is not unchangeable. Its not dogma.

Originally Posted by AC
I don't know all the history there but obviously I would question those in authority on that issue as well as a few others that seem to run contrary to Biblical teachings.
Why? Would you have questioned the Council of Jerusalem when they bound all Christians (rather than a small few) to not eat meat from strangled animals, to not eat blood etc? Do you eat kosher only?

Originally Posted by AC
Are there any 'essentials' in which you ever questioned the authority or can you not entertain that type of thinking?
Not really. Sometimes I don't fully understand an issue at first, like in vitro fertilization for example. But in such a situation, I question myself before I question the church. If Paul and Timothy had come to my door in Acts 16:4 and told me not to eat chicken unless all the blood was drained out, I might be confused thinking that all foods were declared clean. But I'd question myself before I'd question the council. Other people, obviously, trust themselves more, and thus they have problems with abortion, gay marriage, birth control, celibacy, women priests etc. In other words, as you say, they have a problem with authority.

Posted By: AC. Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:20 PM
Ok thanks for the response.

No I wouldn't question the Council of Jerusalem.

AC
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:51 PM
That was a rhetorical question. I KNOW you are a man of great faith, and I KNOW you wouldn't question. As always, you are also too kind. :cool:
Posted By: AC. Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:06 AM
Hey Brian,

All is fair in love and Board.... rolleyes2 man, that was too corny! laugh

AC
Posted By: CovenantInBlood Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:08 PM
Originally Posted by Newman
But surely during the time of the Jerusalem Council, the visible church consisted of myriad and varied members, some of whom were not even regenerated. No? So, I’m not sure I get your point. confused

The point is that the visible church is not infallible because it is composed of both regenerate & unregenerate members. As such, the councils of the visible church are not infallible either. The Jerusalem Council is different (& irrelevant) because it had apostolic authority which no council since has possessed.

Quote
Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I think your answer is the same one the Judaizers gave is it not? When they advocated for Gentiles to observe the law in order to become Christian, they were appealing to God’s inspired, infallible, inerrant written word. As it turned out though, the final arbitrator was the church, ie. the council, guided by the Holy Spirit.

First, we don't live in an era of ongoing revelation. New revelation from God ceased with the close of the apostolic age, so the Bible, Old & New Testaments together, is our only source for God's revelation. Second, at the Jerusalem Council, the church was in infancy & much what was new was still being revealed by the Spirit as the new covenant administration overtook the old covenant (Mosaic) administration. If you read in Acts 15, you'll see that Peter, Paul, & Barnabas testified of the outpouring of the Spirit on uncircumcised Gentiles, with the conclusion that God was saving these Gentiles by faith apart from circumcision and all other works of the law. Third, even the ultimate decision of the Jerusalem Council was not without reference to Scripture, as we see in Acts 15:13-18:

Quote
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Brethren, hearken unto me: Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up: That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from of old.


Quote
Are you telling me that had the Jerusalem Council decided upon whether homosexuals and women are qualified to serve, it would be relevant, but since they decided upon some other issue it is not relevant? Also, in the New Testament, Elders and Presbyters are the same thing and already existed by this time, as did bishops, so that seems to be more irrelevant to the subject at hand than the council.

What Pilgrim is saying is that the Jerusalem Council was unique. It is not repeatable & not a clear paradigm for the resolution of disputes regarding doctrine & practice in the post-apostolic era. The elders/presbyters/bishops, which are the office ordained perpetually in the church for the preaching, teaching, & maintaining true doctrine in the post-apostolic era, are to do so according to the teachings of the apostles contained in Scripture, since the apostles are no longer with us.

Quote
Yeah, I certainly get all that, but how do you know they’re wrong? Its interp vs. interp. To put it another way, how do you know their interpretation of scripture is wrong while yours is right? Is your interpretation infallible? I'm guessing you wouldn't claim that, so how then do you know your interpretation about what is essential and non-essential is the correct one?

All you do is push the question back another step. No mere man is infallible, & no council of mere men is infallible. Only God is infallible, & His Spirit speaks through Scripture. We must read the Scripture, compare Scripture to Scripture where things are unclear, & seek the aid & illumination of the Holy Spirit for understanding. This is not a guarantee that we will get everything correct; but the IMPORTANT & NECESSARY things are not obscure.
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:29 PM
Originally Posted by CiB
The point is that the visible church is not infallible because it is composed of both regenerate & unregenerate members. As such, the councils of the visible church are not infallible either. The Jerusalem Council is different (& irrelevant) because it had apostolic authority which no council since has possessed.
So, are you saying the apostles were infallible, whereas Timothy and Titus and everyone else they ordained were not? Did all the apostles have to be alive? They could have convened an infallible council in AD 90 (while John was still alive,) but not in AD 100?


Originally Posted by CiB
What Pilgrim is saying is that the Jerusalem Council was unique. It is not repeatable & not a clear paradigm for the resolution of disputes regarding doctrine & practice in the post-apostolic era.
Is this based on scripture or on opinion? I ask sincerely.

Originally Posted by CiB
The elders/presbyters/bishops, which are the office ordained perpetually in the church for the preaching, teaching, & maintaining true doctrine in the post-apostolic era, are to do so according to the teachings of the apostles contained in Scripture, since the apostles are no longer with us.
Well, I actually agree with this, but it seems, to me, your previous statements do not. If you and I interpret scripture differently and call each other heretics, how do we settle this dispute? Matthew 18:17 provides the answer. Jesus says to take it to the church…ie. the elders/presbyters/bishops you just mentioned. Is the command of Jesus irrelevant?


Originally Posted by CiB
All you do is push the question back another step. No mere man is infallible, & no council of mere men is infallible. Only God is infallible, & His Spirit speaks through Scripture.
You just got through implying that the apostles were infallible, and now you’re telling me no mere man is infallible, only God. Which is it? And mere men wrote scripture, by the way, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can inspire men to write scripture and can inspire men to hold a council during a certain period of time, yet can’t inspire “the elders/presbyters/bishops” charged with “preaching, teaching, & maintaining true doctrine in the post-apostolic era” to hold a council in the post-apostolic era?
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:35 PM
Originally Posted by CiB
This is not a guarantee that we will get everything correct; but the IMPORTANT & NECESSARY things are not obscure.
Again, I'm not being flippant, but since you are a mere man, I can't accept your statement as infallible. Right? It seems to me that if they are not obscure, then we have little need of elders/presbyters/bishops, or of seminaries, or of Mt 18:17 or of a lot of things really. If they are not obscure, I wonder why most of the Christian world was Arian at one time...I wonder about all the Christological heresies that were so persistent back in the day, and even in our own day.
Posted By: Robin Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:35 AM
Originally Posted by Newman
[/quote]
So, are you saying the apostles were infallible, whereas Timothy and Titus and everyone else they ordained were not? Did all the apostles have to be alive? They could have convened an infallible council in AD 90 (while John was still alive,) but not in AD 100?

What he said was that the Jerusalem Council was unique because the Apostles were there. Apostolic authority has not been available to any subsequent Council other than through the inscripturated writings of the Apostles. He did not say that the Council - even with the Apostles present - was infallible. No one is suggesting that.


Originally Posted by CiB
What Pilgrim is saying is that the Jerusalem Council was unique. It is not repeatable [because the Apostles are no longer with us] & not a clear paradigm for the resolution of disputes regarding doctrine & practice in the post-apostolic era.

Originally Posted by Newman
Is this based on scripture or on opinion? I ask sincerely.

You need Scripture proof that the Apostles died? I suggest the book of Acts...

But as for resolving disputes regarding doctrine and practice, the Scriptures were always applied by both the Jerusalem council and every legitimate council since. Now we have more Scripture to refer to in modern councils than they did at the Jerusalem council (if you need Scripture proof of the New Testament's authority, start a new thread).

Interpretation of Scripture is not some individual thing, but in councils of elders/bishops/presbyters who are bound to adhere to "the faith once delivered," a consensus is reached and passed along as the "official doctrine" of that denomination. The consensus can be wrong and does not carry the same weight as Scripture, but in the visible church it can and should be accepted and taught. It can also be challenged and reconsidered by future councils. As long as those councils adhere to the authority of infallible Scripture and "the faith once delivered," they are unlikely to amend their earlier findings. When they abandon the authority of Scripture and the analogy of faith, they end up reaching absurd, foolish conclusions like the PCUSA and other denominations have, which fly in the face of infallible Scripture.

Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:43 AM
Originally Posted by Newman
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
2. Now for my answer. As you probably anticipated, I believe that God's inspired, infallible, inerrant, written Word is the final arbitrator in all such matters of doctrine and life. It is the Holy Spirit who leads those who are Christ's to the truth.
Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I think your answer is the same one the Judaizers gave is it not? When they advocated for Gentiles to observe the law in order to become Christian, they were appealing to God’s inspired, infallible, inerrant written word. As it turned out though, the final arbitrator was the church, ie. the council, guided by the Holy Spirit.
CovenantInBlood has actually answered most of what I was going to write and much the same way. But I'll add a few more things to round it off. grin My point is that the Jerusalem Council was a unique gathering both as to its members and the circumstances which brought it about. 1) The members were hand-picked by Christ, i.e., they were Apostles that had personally bestowed divine authority, and 2) the Church was in its infant stage and undergoing a major change, i.e., a new universality with the bringing in of the Gentiles to once was a predominantly Jewish Church. The Apostles were able to speak with authority based upon the infallible words of Christ and the divinely inspired, infallible and inerrant written Word of God; the Old Testament, which Christ Himself gave His 'imprimatur'. The Pharisees, aka: Judaizers referenced Scripture but both misinterpreted it and/or misapplied it. The problem wasn't with the Scriptures but those who read and used it.

Originally Posted by Newman
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
The problem I have with this suggestion is that 1) The Jerusalem Council is irrelevant to the issue at hand. It was a gathering of the Apostles during the infant stage of the Church wherein decisions had to be made in regard to the inclusion of the Gentiles in matters of the ceremonial law and justification by faith alone. Once the Church as an organization was established (cf. Eph 4:10-16), those called to serve in the office of Elder, Presbyter, Bishop, were to preach, teach, and maintain doctrine according to what they had been taught according to the Scriptures.
Now that I didn't expect. I didn't expect you to say the Jerusalem Council is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Hmmm. Ok, is it relevant to any discussion we might have today? Are you telling me that had the Jerusalem Council decided upon whether homosexuals and women are qualified to serve, it would be relevant, but since they decided upon some other issue it is not relevant? Also, in the New Testament, Elders and Presbyters are the same thing and already existed by this time, as did bishops, so that seems to be more irrelevant to the subject at hand than the council.
1. No, it is not relevant to any discussion we might have today. That was my point and one which CovenantInBlood also made. Again, the Jerusalem Council was unique and temporal formed to serve a particular purpose during a specific time period during the development of the Church. You don't find any other pronouncements given by the Jerusalem Council other than that addressing the issue of the verity of Paul's Gospel. ALL matters of doctrine and practice are found in the Epistles, written by holy men of God moved by the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). As I pointed out above, the structure of the Church is clearly stated in Eph 4:10-16 with Christ as the cornerstone, then the Apostles, and upon them (their teaching), evangelists and pastor/teachers, whose responsibility is the 'perfecting of the saints' through the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures (cf. 2Tim 3:16,14; 4:2), that body of faith once given to the saints (cf. Acts 16:5; Rom 1:5; 1Cor 16:13; Gal 1:23; Eph 4:13; Col 1:23; 2:7; 1Tim 4:1; 2Tim 3:8; Titus 1:13; Jude 1:3).

2. There was already heresy being taught in the early Church and those who did so were to be removed through discipline should they not repent (Rom 16:17; 1Cor 11:19; Titus 2:10,11; 2Pet 2:1). And history shows that these errors in teaching increased after the death of the Apostles... yes, within the Church. Corruption, hunger for power, the adding of superstitions, etc., etc., ad nauseam took hold. Yet, there has always been a remnant saved by grace who have endured these things and kept the faith with sound doctrine and life. True believers rely upon God's inspired written Word and that alone for guidance. Those who are given the responsibility of teaching the Word are to be scrutinized under the light of that Word by all who hear it.

Originally Posted by Newman
Yeah, I certainly get all that, but how do you know they’re wrong? Its interp vs. interp. To put it another way, how do you know their interpretation of scripture is wrong while yours is right? Is your interpretation infallible? I'm guessing you wouldn't claim that, so how then do you know your interpretation about what is essential and non-essential is the correct one?
My interpretation is certainly not infallible. But that doesn't mean that everything I conclude from Scripture is wrong. wink There is a consensus of what is biblical truth that one can consult from the various Confessions and Catechisms of the Church. The fact that there is so much agreement among those who also disagree about various and minor issues gives verity to my own interpretation. There is strength in numbers, especially where those numbers consist in diversity. All false religions have one source, typically an individual such as do the cults, or a small group which dictates doctrine and policy to all the other members, to which all are to give full recognition and unfeigned obedience. Questioning of the dictates of these authorities is strictly forbidden. But in the true Christian Church, the final arbiter is always God's written Word. Their may be disagreements on what the Bible teaches, but nevertheless THAT is the source from which all truth is to be found. No man is without sin and thus no man is infallible. And gathering a group of sinful men to make decisions doesn't override their fallacy. See here: The Argument for an Infallible Body, by James Henry Thornwell.
Posted By: CovenantInBlood Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:46 PM
Originally Posted by Newman
So, are you saying the apostles were infallible, whereas Timothy and Titus and everyone else they ordained were not? Did all the apostles have to be alive? They could have convened an infallible council in AD 90 (while John was still alive,) but not in AD 100?

The apostles were not inherently infallible, no; but they had unique authority given to them by Christ, from whom they received teaching directly & of whose death & resurrection they were eyewitnesses. As an apostolic conference, then, the Jerusalem Council had unique authority in the infancy of the catholic church, when revelation was not yet complete, since Christ had ordained that apostolic teaching was to be part of the foundation of the church going forward. No one after the apostles was granted apostolic authority. I'm not going to speculate uselessly about the possibility of other such councils before John's death; there simply weren't any, & there cannot be any more since John's death.

Quote
Originally Posted by CiB
What Pilgrim is saying is that the Jerusalem Council was unique. It is not repeatable & not a clear paradigm for the resolution of disputes regarding doctrine & practice in the post-apostolic era.
Is this based on scripture or on opinion? I ask sincerely.

The apostles have passed on, as is universally acknowledged. As such, how could an apostolic conference be repeatable or a paradigm for the resolution of future disputes in the absence of the apostles themselves? It is simply not possible.

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Originally Posted by CiB
The elders/presbyters/bishops, which are the office ordained perpetually in the church for the preaching, teaching, & maintaining true doctrine in the post-apostolic era, are to do so according to the teachings of the apostles contained in Scripture, since the apostles are no longer with us.
Well, I actually agree with this, but it seems, to me, your previous statements do not. If you and I interpret scripture differently and call each other heretics, how do we settle this dispute? Matthew 18:17 provides the answer. Jesus says to take it to the church…ie. the elders/presbyters/bishops you just mentioned. Is the command of Jesus irrelevant?

I don't see where I've disagreed with anything I've written. Whether councils are useful or possess some kind of authority in the post-apostolic age is not the question. The question is whether councils have the authority to determine what is essential & what is not. Councils do not have that authority; only God, speaking through Scripture, does. Inasmuch as the Jerusalem Council was addressing a new situation in the church, at a time before revelation was complete, the Jerusalem Council is not an applicable paradigm in the post-apostolic era in which revelation has been closed & in which there is no longer an apostolic office. All men & councils are bound to the Word of God in Scripture.

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Originally Posted by CiB
All you do is push the question back another step. No mere man is infallible, & no council of mere men is infallible. Only God is infallible, & His Spirit speaks through Scripture.
You just got through implying that the apostles were infallible, and now you’re telling me no mere man is infallible, only God. Which is it?

Only God is infallible; I've never said otherwise.

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And mere men wrote scripture, by the way, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can inspire men to write scripture and can inspire men to hold a council during a certain period of time, yet can’t inspire “the elders/presbyters/bishops” charged with “preaching, teaching, & maintaining true doctrine in the post-apostolic era” to hold a council in the post-apostolic era?

The church's foundation has been established; revelation is closed; there is no need of further revelation. Do you posit an ongoing apostolic office? (Who could fulfill the prerequisites of the apostolic office, seeing as no one today can be an eyewitness to Christ's resurrection nor a disciple who sat at his feet?) Do you suggest that God is still revealing new things today? Is God still laying the foundation of the church, or has He actually been building upon that foundation for some time?
Posted By: CovenantInBlood Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:14 PM
Originally Posted by Newman
Again, I'm not being flippant, but since you are a mere man, I can't accept your statement as infallible. Right?

You can't accept me as infallible. My statement may or may not be in accordance with God's infallible word. I certainly think it is in accord, or I would not have stated it. wink

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It seems to me that if they are not obscure, then we have little need of elders/presbyters/bishops, or of seminaries, or of Mt 18:17 or of a lot of things really. If they are not obscure, I wonder why most of the Christian world was Arian at one time...I wonder about all the Christological heresies that were so persistent back in the day, and even in our own day.

There would be no need of written revelation at all if God were simply directly communicating his word through church councils. Indeed, what could possibly be the point of God providing us with Scripture at all if the same Scripture could not clearly convey those truths necessary for us to know & if there were already the mechanism of Holy Spirit-inspired church councils to settle all such disputes anyway? The sinfulness of man enables man to make obscure even the most clear things; however much is necessary to satisfy his own rotten desires. The decision of the PCUSA General Assembly - a council composed of that church's seminary-trained elders - to allow ordination of unrepentant sodomites - in spite of the clear testimony of Scripture - is a pertinent example. These men are sinners, deceivers, & apostates, not sincere Christians who are befuddled by "obscure" matters in Scripture.
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:48 PM
Originally Posted by Robin
What he said was that the Jerusalem Council was unique because the Apostles were there. Apostolic authority has not been available to any subsequent Council other than through the inscripturated writings of the Apostles. He did not say that the Council - even with the Apostles present - was infallible. No one is suggesting that.
He did suggest that. He said “church councils since that time; I'm including the modern councils of Synods, General Assemblies and such, have erred, do err and will continue to err…” Now I took that to mean that the Jerusalem Council was infallible whereas the subsequent councils were not. But, ok, if he was only saying it was unique, then fine, but that’s not really saying much. All councils are unique. If Pilgrim was saying that the Jerusalem council was fallible, is he also saying they erred? Is so, how did they err?

Originally Posted by Robin
Originally Posted by CiB
What Pilgrim is saying is that the Jerusalem Council was unique. It is not repeatable [because the Apostles are no longer with us] & not a clear paradigm for the resolution of disputes regarding doctrine & practice in the post-apostolic era.

Originally Posted by Newman
Is this based on scripture or on opinion? I ask sincerely.

You need Scripture proof that the Apostles died? I suggest the book of Acts...
Aha. A glib retort. You're a man after my own heart. :cool: Well, no, I don’t need scripture for that…we both have to go outside of scripture (last I checked, Acts doesn’t record the death of the apostles.) Obviously though, I was wondering where in scripture it says that Timothy, Titus, Apollos etc. can’t hold a Council with the apostolic authority granted to them. If its clear and essential, then maybe you can point that out to me. If the Jerusalem council was fallible, and subsequent councils are fallible, then…

Originally Posted by Robin
But as for resolving disputes regarding doctrine and practice, the Scriptures were always applied by both the Jerusalem council and every legitimate council since. Now we have more Scripture to refer to in modern councils than they did at the Jerusalem council (if you need Scripture proof of the New Testament's authority, start a new thread).
“Legitimate council” ???? I thought all councils err. confused Ok, so if all councils err, what then is a legitimate erring council and where can I find this definition in scripture?

Originally Posted by Robin
Interpretation of Scripture is not some individual thing, but in councils of elders/bishops/presbyters who are bound to adhere to "the faith once delivered," a consensus is reached and passed along as the "official doctrine" of that denomination.
So basically councils provide for the resolution of disputes and the strengthening of the faith in the post-apostolic era. Except for the “denomination” part, that sounds exactly like what the Jerusalem Council did, except you told me that the council was NOT a clear paradigm for the resolution of disputes in the post-apostolic era. If it was not a clear paradigm, upon what are you basing the concept of councils you just described?

Originally Posted by Robin
The consensus can be wrong and does not carry the same weight as Scripture, but in the visible church it can and should be accepted and taught. It can also be challenged and reconsidered by future councils. As long as those councils adhere to the authority of infallible Scripture and "the faith once delivered," they are unlikely to amend their earlier findings. When they abandon the authority of Scripture and the analogy of faith, they end up reaching absurd, foolish conclusions like the PCUSA and other denominations have, which fly in the face of infallible Scripture.
Again, sorry to repeat, but….where is all this to be found in scripture? Future councils? Are you using the Jerusalem council as the clear paradigm?
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:59 PM
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
1) The members were hand-picked by Christ, i.e., they were Apostles that had personally bestowed divine authority
The apostles were hand-picked, certainly. I don’t know about the elders and brethren. confused Anywhoo, back to a question I asked before…was the Jerusalem Council infallible? Or did it err? If it erred, how so?

I’m also wondering if it is your position that whereas Christ bestowed divine authority on the apostles, the apostles, in turn, could not bestow apostolic authority on Apollos and Timothy and all the rest? I’m also wondering what kind of authority they were bestowed, if any.

Originally Posted by Pilgrim
2) The Apostles were able to speak with authority based upon the infallible words of Christ and the divinely inspired, infallible and inerrant written Word of God; the Old Testament, which Christ Himself gave His 'imprimatur'. The Pharisees, aka: Judaizers referenced Scripture but both misinterpreted it and/or misapplied it. The problem wasn't with the Scriptures but those who read and used it.
Oh certainly. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s the same with all heretics… arians, nestorians, monophysites, iconoclasts, hussites, jansenists etc. etc.


Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Again, the Jerusalem Council was unique and temporal formed to serve a particular purpose during a specific time period during the development of the Church…
Again, one could say all councils are unique and serve a particular purpose during a specific time period. Right? What’s not unique, nor temporal is that a group would misinterpret and/or misapply scripture. If scripture is perspicuous, I don’t see a need for councils, and if councils can and do err, I don’t see how they can be very authoritative. confused

Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Yet, there has always been a remnant saved by grace who have endured these things and kept the faith with sound doctrine and life.
And you can find this remnant in every age? 2nd century, 3rd century…..8th century, 9th century and so on?

Originally Posted by Newman
There is a consensus of what is biblical truth that one can consult from the various Confessions and Catechisms of the Church. The fact that there is so much agreement among those who also disagree about various and minor issues gives verity to my own interpretation. There is strength in numbers, especially where those numbers consist in diversity. There is strength in numbers, especially where those numbers consist in diversity….
Well, I wonder who decides what's minor and major. I get what you're saying though about consensus, and strength in numbers and diversity and all that (though it almost sounds like you're talking politics grin) but I’m reminded of the famous quote from Jerome: “the whole world groaned in astonishment to find itself Arian…”
Posted By: Pilgrim Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:31 AM
Originally Posted by Newman
Anywhoo, back to a question I asked before…was the Jerusalem Council infallible? Or did it err? If it erred, how so?
1. I do not believe that the Jerusalem Council was infallible. God alone is infallible and those who were inspired in the writing of Scripture by the Holy Spirit.

2. There is no indication in Scripture that the decision reached by the Jerusalem Council was in error. Beyond that we know virtually nothing further. And thus I have no warrant to speculate what further pronouncements the Jerusalem Council made.

Originally Posted by Newman
I’m also wondering if it is your position that whereas Christ bestowed divine authority on the apostles, the apostles, in turn, could not bestow apostolic authority on Apollos and Timothy and all the rest? I’m also wondering what kind of authority they were bestowed, if any.
1. The Apostles had no power nor authority to bestow divine (Apostolic) authority on anyone. The Apostles were of a set number established to accomplish the laying of the foundation of the Church, which they did. And it is upon that foundation that elders and deacons stand (Eph 2:19-22).

2. Elders are given the authority to "rule" over congregations consisting of professing believers and to administer discipline when necessary. And they are given the authority and responsibility to preach and teach the written Word of God for the edification of the saints. (Scriptural references can be provided if necessary)

Originally Posted by Newman
Again, one could say all councils are unique and serve a particular purpose during a specific time period. Right? What’s not unique, nor temporal is that a group would misinterpret and/or misapply scripture. If scripture is perspicuous, I don’t see a need for councils, and if councils can and do err, I don’t see how they can be very authoritative. confused
1. Right as to the uniqueness of all councils, although the Jerusalem Council was uniquely unique. giggle If, for no other reason than the Canon was not complete at that time and thus the element of inspiration among some of the Apostles and others chosen by God to set down in writing that which was to be the standard for the Church.

2. Re: perspicuity... is it your view that Scripture as a whole, without exception is perspicuous? The Reformed churches surely don't hold that to be true. What we hold is that the major doctrines of the faith, particular in the matter of salvation are perspicuous. But there are many things which are not so clear and require serious study. This is one of the main reasons for a trained clergy. Of course, study alone is not sufficient apart from the grace of God and the gift(s) of the Holy Spirit. The body of Christ has many parts which are meant to compliment the whole.

3. The subsequent councils and the documents which were produced by them are of secondary authority, e.g., the Westminster Confession of Faith states in Chapter 1:X:

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Chapter 1:X - The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

Chapter XXXI:II - It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same; which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.

III. - All synods or councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.

Originally Posted by Newman
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Yet, there has always been a remnant saved by grace who have endured these things and kept the faith with sound doctrine and life.
And you can find this remnant in every age? 2nd century, 3rd century…..8th century, 9th century and so on?
yep
Posted By: AC. Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:23 AM
Quote
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Originally Posted by Newman
Yet, there has always been a remnant saved by grace who have endured these things and kept the faith with sound doctrine and life.
And you can find this remnant in every age? 2nd century, 3rd century…..8th century, 9th century and so on?
yep

I've known Newman for a while now; very good conservative man.

I think the difficult thing for a devoted Roman Catholic to fathom is the idea of a remnant church throughout the ages, and I could totally see how from their side that seems odd that God would work in such a way.....

but the death of God's Son (who was rejected by His own people) on the cross to pay for the sins of elect men is also pretty unfathomable....God's ways are so very mysterious!
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:51 PM
AC, thanks for the kind words. It doesn't seem odd to me at all, that there is a remnant church throughout the ages. What does seem odd however, to me, are some of the ideas about this remnant that have been presented to me. When I ask for an example of this remnant, I have been told either (a)all writings and historical accounts have completely wiped out by the Catholic Church or (b)the Paulicians and the Waldensians and various other groups were the remnants. Not only were these groups heretical though, but they don't span the ages.

If you or Pilgrim or anyone else would point to some examples of the remnant church in anywhere from 6th to 15th centuries, for example, it might help me fathom your position. :cool:

Posted By: AC. Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:03 AM
Hey,

I can't present a physical remnant church throughout the ages

I would just say vital Christian truths were presented, preserved and upheld throughout the ages
Posted By: Newman Re: The Suicide of a Denomination - Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:50 PM
:cool:
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