Friday, September 19, 2014

Daniel Rogers on the Place of the Family in the Church

Imagine how differently Marriage would be treated if the Church still held this view of it: 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

James Bannerman on the State's Duty to Defend Marriage

Marriage is one of those institutions which, although not of grace, but of nature, is yet adopted into the system of Christianity, and regulated by the rules which Christianity has laid down. The law of marriage has its origin in nature, and not in revelation; and yet the duties and rights connected with it, together with their exact nature and limits, are matters with which revelation deals. In so far as these involve moral or religious duties, we are to seek in the Bible for the code of law by which they are prescribed and determined. But marriage is, in another sense, a civil matter, coming under the province of the ordinary magistrate, and necessarily requiring to be dealt with in the way of civil enactment. There are civil rights intimately connected with it, in such a manner that the state cannot avoid the duty of legislating in regard to it, and regulating them by positive statutes and rules. In short, the institution of marriage is to be viewed in two lights, — either as a moral observance, falling to be regulated by the law of Scripture, or as a civil observance, falling to be regulated by the law of the state. And with this twofold character which it sustains, and this twofold legislation to which in every civilised and constituted society professing Christianity it is subjected, how, it may be asked, is a collision between the spiritual and the civil enactments on the subject — fraught, as it inevitably would be, with deadly consequence to the peace, if not the existence, of human society — to be avoided or prevented. If the state recognise the Bible as the Word of God, and the law of the Bible as the law of God, then it will take that law as the guiding principle for its own legislation, and make the enactments of the magistrate in regard to marriage coincident with the enactments of Scripture. But if the state do not recognise the Bible as the Word of God, there can be no security that its regulations shall not come into conflict with the regulations of Scripture as regards the institution of marriage, in such a manner as to put in peril not only the peace and purity of domestic life, but also through these the highest and holiest interests of human society. The ordinance of the family lies at the very foundation of civil society. It is the unit of combination around which the wider and more public relations of civil life associate themselves. Destroy or unhinge the domestic ordinances, unloose or unsettle the family bond, and no tie will be left holy enough or strong enough to bind up the broken and disjointed elements of human life. 

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Does God Will The Salvation Of All Men? (Conclusion)

We have seen a few things in this series of posts. First of all, we have seen clearly from the Fathers themselves the doctrine that God does not will the salvation of all men without exception. This should not be so hard to grasp. If one accepts the Biblical teaching of Election, one must acknowledge its counterpart, Reprobation. How, by any stretch of the imagination, could God have reprobated some men before the foundation of the earth, and yet truly desire their salvation? 

Appealing to mystery, paradox or the infinite nature of God is a cop-out. Not only is it a cop-out, but it is completely unnecessary, since Scripture never shies away from making such assertions, even for a second. If God wanted all men to be saved, it is incompatible with His omnipotence for it to not come to pass. God saves whom He wills and damns whom He wills. He predestined some and reprobated the rest because He wills so – and this was His intention before He considered the fall of Adam and the sins of men.

God is love to those on whom He has mercy and spares from His wrath, elect as they are in Christ. The rest He hates unto everlasting damnation, not because of their sins, which He has ordained (not merely permits) and facilitates but of His own good pleasure and counsel, according to which He works all things. 

When the early Fathers rightly asserted that there is no salvation outside the Church, they were not saying that salvation is a gift of the Church. Rather, they were merely echoing the teaching of Scripture seen in the Old Testament with regard to God’s people. Salvation was limited to Israel. There were non-Israelites who were saved in the Old Testament era. But without exception this was facilitated by their joining themselves unto God’s covenant people.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Does God Will The Salvation Of All Men? (Part 5)

We now move on to the Father Fulgentius of Ruspe (462 or 467 – 527 or 533). As a theologian, Fulgentius's work shows knowledge of Greek and a strong agreement with Augustine of Hippo. Fulgentius, like Prosper before him, had to wrangle with Semi-Pelagians in his capacity as a pastor. And like Augustine and Prosper, he too argued that God did not will the salvation of all men head-for-head.

Fulgentius argued against the Semi-Pelagians that God does not want all men to be saved. He taught that God does everything that he wants invincibly and he cited his refusal to enlighten some with the knowledge that he had made necessary for their salvation.

How the apostle should be understood when he says that God wills to save all

Fulgentius taught that the apostle (I Timothy 2:4) should not be understood to mean that God wants all men to be saved; rather he meant that God wants to be saved all those who are to be, the elect who are called according to his purpose, even the predestined whom he wills to be saved from among all manner of men.

"Truly, by these ‘all persons’ whom God ‘wills to be saved’ are signified not the entire human race completely, but the entirety of all who are to be saved. And, likewise, they are called ‘all’ because divine goodness saves all those from humanity, that is, from every nation, condition, and age, from every language and from every province." (Epistle 17:61)

"And so that we might know more fully who those ‘all’ are, let us listen to the words of the same blessed Peter who, speaking by the Holy Spirit, concluded that Joel’s prediction was fulfilled in the exhortation, where he says: ‘Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, and for your children, and for as many as the Lord our God will call.’ (Acts 2:38-9). And so he says ‘all,’ but also ‘as many as the Lord will call.’ Also, blessed Paul refers to them as ‘those called according to his purpose'" (Romans 8:28). (Epistle 17:63)

"All of the predestined are those whom God ‘wills to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.'" (Epistle 15:15)

"Therefore they are called ‘all’ because they are gathered from all kinds of persons, from all nations, from all conditions, from all masters, from all servants, from all kings, from all soldiers, from all provinces, from all languages, from all ages and from all classes. Thus ‘all’ are saved who God ‘wills to be saved.’" (De Veritate 3:15)

God is omnipotent and none can resist his will to save them

Fulgentius taught that all whom omnipotent God wills to be saved will be converted to him and saved, because he does what he wants invincibly and none can effectively resist him. As the scripture testifies, ‘All things whatsoever he willed, he did’ (Psalm 115:3,) ‘the Lord did all things whatsoever he willed, in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in all the abyss’ (Psalm 135:6) and hence ‘the Son gives life to whom he wills’ (St. John 5:21.)

"No one of these [predestined] perishes. Because he who has done all things he wanted wants this, what he wants he always does invincibly. And so that is fulfilled in them which the unchangeable and invincible will of almighty God has, whose will, just as it cannot be changed in its plans, so neither is his power stopped or hindered in its execution." (De Remissione 2.2,2)

"Whence our saviour reproves the malevolence of the unbelieving city with these words: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling?’ (St. Matthew 23:37) Christ said this to show its evil will by which it tried in vain to resist the invincible divine will, when God’s good will neither could be conquered by those whom it deserts nor could not be able to accomplish anything which it wanted. That Jerusalem, insofar as it attained to its will, did not wish its children to be gathered to the saviour, but he still gathered all whom he willed. In this it wanted to resist the omnipotent but was unable to because God who, as it is written, ‘Whatever the Lord pleases, he does’ (Psalm 135:6), converts to himself whomever he wills by a free justification, coming beforehand with his gift of superabounding grace on those whom he could justly damn if he wished." (De Remissione 2.2,3)

"Since scripture testifies, ‘All things whatsoever he willed, he did’ (Psalm 115:3), there is nothing that he has willed and has not done... For, it is evil for someone to say that the Omnipotent is not able to do something that he willed to do... ‘For just as the Father raises and gives life to the dead, so also the Son gives life to whom he wills’ (St. John 5:21). Those whom he wills to be given life are those whom he ‘wills to be saved.’ Therefore, just as he saves whom he wills, he also ‘gives life to whom he wills.'" (Epistle 17:66)

"For the power of God is not less than his will, and therefore he is found to will nothing which he is not able to bring about. [...] For, ‘the Lord did all things whatsoever he willed, in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in all the abyss’ (Psalm 135:6). Therefore, since he does all things whatsoever he willed even in the realm of people, whomsoever he ‘wills to be saved’, he makes saved." (De Veritate 3:14)

"Surely the will of the omnipotent God is always fulfilled, because his power is absolutely invincible; for it is he who ‘did all things whatsoever he willed, in heaven and on earth, in the sea and in the abyss’, and whose will no one resists." (Epistle 15:15)

Ergo, God does not convert and save all whom he could.  Fulgentius cited God’s refusal to enlighten some with the knowledge that he has made necessary for their salvation as proof that he does not want all men to be saved.

"For our Saviour said, ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son willed to reveal him’ (St. Matthew 11:27). In saying this he certainly shows that he wills to be revealed to some, and does not will to be revealed to others. How then is it said that he wills those to be saved to whom he did not will to reveal himself and his Father?" (De Veritate 3:15)

"'To you it has been granted to know the mystery of the kingdom, but to those who are outside, everything is spoken in parables; so that seeing, those seeing should see but not see, and those hearing should hear but not understand; lest at any time they be converted and their sins be forgiven them’ (St. Mark 4:11-2). It thus appears that the Lord spoke to the multitudes, but nevertheless refused to open the mystery of the kingdom of heaven to them. Certainly in doing this, therefore, he did not will that his words be understood, because he did not will himself to be revealed in that mystery... If therefore God generally ‘wills all persons to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’, how is it that the Truth himself denies the mystery of his knowledge from some?" (De Veritate 3:16)

"If the statement of the apostle is referring universally to all persons entirely, they [who believe this] will be compelled to pronounce that the holy evangelists are liars. For how is it that he who ‘wills all persons to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth’, did not will to give certain ones to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven? Surely if he wills to save all persons entirely, he certainly does not refuse anyone." (De Veritate 3:17)

"'To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.’ (St. Matthew 3:11) If the Truth willed that all persons would come to his knowledge, how is it that he refused to show them [the way] by which they would come? [...] How, therefore, does he will to come to his knowledge those whom he denies his knowledge? For what is it not to will to reveal the mystery of his knowledge except not to will to save? ... Therefore he willed to be saved those to whom he gave to know the mystery of salvation; but he does not will to be saved those to whom he has denied the knowledge of the mystery of salvation." (De Veritate 3:18)

There can no doubt of Fulgentius' view regarding the question of whether God wills all men to be saved. The obvious answer is, "No."

Friday, September 5, 2014

Does God Will The Salvation Of All Men? (Part 4)

Caesarius of Arles (468/470 – 542), occupied the bishopric of Arles for forty years. He was the foremost churchman of his generation in Gaul. He was highly influenced by his teacher, Pomerius, who in turn, was influenced by Augustine. Caesarius presided over the famed Council of Orange in 529 AD.

Caesarius’ surviving 250+ sermons reveal a pastor dedicated to the formation of the clergy and the education of the laity. Caesarius' work was strongly influenced Augustine. He encouraged the clergy to read to both themselves and others. He targeted the illiterate and asked that they hire others to read to them after church in order to absorb the divine lessons. He encouraged reading Scripture both at church and at home, alone and with family. Caesarius believed that Christian People were God's new "elect" and he idealized incorporating men of places from all over the world into a believing, peaceful, and loving human community. This parallels Augustine’s teaching on the populus christianus (The Christian People). Caesarius asserted that Scripture clearly teaches that God has entered into covenant with the populus christianus and that the Christian era was predicted throughout the Scriptures.

Like Augustine and Prosper, tangling with the Semi-Pelagians, he argued that God does not want all men to be saved. Caesarius argued that God is omnipotent and that since He does not covert all whom He could, He clearly does not will their salvation. God is omnipotent and none can resit His will.

Caesarius frequently appeals to Psalm 135:6 and Romans 9:19 in defense of his orthodox position that God does not will the salvation of everyone without exception.

He writes, “Again, I ask you whether God in one day is able to make the whole world Catholic. If you say that he is not able, see how much evil you would presume to bring forth out of your mouth? If you say what is true, that he is able, do you presume to ask him why he does not do it, because without doubt he is able to? The apostle responds to you what was already said above: ‘O man, who are you to answer back to God?’ (Romans 9:20); and this: ‘O the depths of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God, how incomprehensible are his judgments!’ (Romans 11:33). Perhaps you will say: ‘God indeed wills that all believe in him, but not all are willing.’ Why? Because they are not able without his grace. And at this point I ask you whether the human will is more able to contradict the divine will or whether the power of God is more able to convert human wills to itself. If you presume to deny this [latter assertion], the Psalmist cries out to you: ‘But our God in heaven on high did all things whatsoever he willed in heaven and on earth’ (Psalm 135:6); and the apostle says: ‘Who has resisted his will?’ (Romans 9:19) If he did all things whatsoever he willed, what he did not do, he certainly did not will, by a judgment hidden and also deep, and although incomprehensible nevertheless just.” (On Grace)

Like Augustine and Prosper before him, Caesarius cited Tyre and Sidon as proof that God does not want all men to be saved. He does not convert all whom he could but only those he wills to. He also cited the reprobation of the nations before Christ and of the Jews since. For centuries, God excluded nations from the knowledge of the truth, hence ensuring their damnation. It was only to the descendants of Abraham that the oracles of God were entrusted. The Old Testament Scriptures were not written to the Babylonians, Assyrians, Philistines or Edomites. Salvation, therefore, was limited to Israel alone, and even within Israel, not all Israel were Israel.

Caesarius writes, “But lifting yourself up in the most proud tribunal of your heart, you presume to judge God, saying: ‘why does he give grace to one and not give it to another?’ …And since our Lord and Savior said in the Gospel that ‘if the miracles, which has been performed’ in Korazin, Bethsaida and Caupernaum, ‘had been performed in Tyre and Sidon and even in Sodom, they would have repented long ago sitting in sackcloth and ashes’ (St. Luke 10:13), ask him why he would perform miracles there, not only where he would not be believed but also where he would suffer persecution, and did not perform them there where they would have repented and believed? And that which the Lord has said: ‘No one knows the Father except the Son and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal him.’ (St. Matthew 11:27) Say to him: ‘Why not to everyone, but only to whom he wills?’ And that which he again said: ‘Just as the Father raises and quickens the dead so also the Son quickens whom he wills’ (St. John 5:21). On this passage respond to him: ‘Why does he not quicken all, but only those whom he wills? Also argue with the Holy Spirit, why he does not breath on everyone, but only ‘where he wills’ (St. John 3:8), and why ‘he distributes to each one as he wills’ (I Corinthians 12:11).” (On Grace)

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