The Confession Alone: The 6th Sola

The Confession Alone: The 6th Sola

Confessions and formalized creeds have been an edifying edition to the Christian faith. Since the beginning of the New Covenant (and even further back since the dawn of teaching), mankind has formalized and rehearsed many sayings, creeds, idioms, and other phrases that have refreshed our minds about a how we ought to think or understand life. Within Christendom, there are certain flavors of creeds and confessions that we Reformed folks hold to very dearly. Assuming that you understand which confessions exist, I seek to make my point quickly. If you have never read a creed, confession, or catechism, I highly suggest you do some research and learn from them.

Having said all that, there is an authoritative flaw in our Reformed circles. I call it he Sixth Sola: Confession Alone. It is this idea that if it is not a part of your confession, it cannot (or in some cases should not) be taught or even considered as biblical. Or, practically speaking, although we do not verbally admit this, when we are discussing Scripture with someone, and the first thing that comes out of their mouth is “X confession says…” when making their case, it is making the confession the ultimate authority in the conversation (unless they are just using the confession as a springboard to talk about Scripture). I am aware that this last statement may have ruffled more feathers than the first, but understand what I am actually saying and do not misinterpret my words. If your first or final authoritative response in any discussion about theology or what the Bible teaches concerning what you believe and why is “the confession says” you have turned a guidepost into a destination.

Most, if not all, creeds, confession, and catechisms are reactive. That is, they are written and formed based off of some other creed or confession that is in opposition, and those forming it wish to distinguish themselves for the opposing party. It can be in response to false teaching (or perceived false teaching), or it can be simply trying to make a stand about a certain belief within a specific community that affirms X belief(s). As I already said, this is not inherently wrong. These are great ways to find out where your stand in your faith. i would argue that it is impossible to say anything without it being “creedle” in some way. But if you do not study the Scriptures and seek to understand why you believe what you believe, and whether or not you think you can agree with these confessions, you are placing the cart before horse. The confessions can point you in a specific direction (guidepost), but they are not the final authority (destination). Our first response in any discussion should be Sola Scriptura, not Sola Confessio (Latin check). Yet, time after time, when I dive into the Scriptures with particular pastors, preachers, and believers who ascribe heavily to confessions and creeds, whenever there are any disagreements or whenever I make my points from Scripture, I am faced with “but the Confession says…” How can this be within a Reformed world whose foundational mindset is supposed to be Scripture Alone?

There can be many reasons why one authoritatively appeals to the a confession more than Scripture. But I think I have narrowed them down to two main roots: Traditionalism and laziness. There is nothing wrong with tradition. Every denomination and person has them. It is when that tradition begins to have authority over Scripture that we have a huge problem. Some people find great joy in holding to the long standing tradition that some of our creeds and confessions teach. Nothing wrong with that if you understand what you believe and why. But it seems that this is not the case with many. By proxy, if you are a traditionalist in this area, you will quote the confession better than you can quote Scripture because you are relying on the confession to approve yourself before God (or men). Unless for whatever reason you don’t have any access to Scripture, or in some way you are only able to memorize Scripture by categorizing them via the confession, there should be no reason why you cannot study for yourself what the Bible teaches within the pages that the confessions are pointing to. Which brings me to my next point.

I find that it is easier to quote a saying, phrase, creed, etc., in place of actually making a verbal argument concerning what you actually believe and why. Nothing wrong with summarizing what you believe, or repeating a summarization of something you would affirm. But If I believe that the reason why man exists is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, why? Because the confession says so? Or because the Scripture quoted in the confessions says so? Have I looked at the listed Scriptures? Have I taken the time to study and reform my thinking in light of the Scriptures that a confession teaches? Will I be courageous to practice Semper Reformanda if I discover some nuance in the Scriptures? Or will I be taking the confession at face value because my community of believers/churches do? Or because the men before me were theological giants who were totally incapable of error even in the minutia? Laziness is what causes us to use the confessions as they were not meant to be used. These are guideposts, not destinations.

Notice, I am not challenging the confessions. Nor am I exhorting anyone to cast away the didactic luxury that they bring to our lives. I am challenging how we think concerning them. We all have a tendency to elevate anything good over God. That is evident in Scripture and in our daily lives. If we find ourselves running to the confessions and creeds as our primary authoritative source for understanding and assurance of our faith in Christ, and we can quote and explain a confession easier than we can explain Scripture and the gospel, we must immediately eject ourselves from the seat of traditionalism and laziness, and we must diligently seek God through the Scriptures for our assurance and understanding. This doesn’t mean we cannot use the confessions to help us in this direction. But once again, where does your affection, affirmation, and assurance of your faith lie? In Scripture Alone, or in the Confession Alone? Is it because the confession says so that you believe X, Y, Z, or is it because you have studied and affirmed that the Scriptures teach it?

One last time, I am not bashing any confession, or the use of them in discussion. But I am standing against any form of authoritative proclamation or behavior that insists that the confession is the first and final say so in any biblical discussion and practice. If your “go-to” argument and assurance of your belief is “the confession says,” you’ve lost all credibility. And if the confession is your main source for approving yourself before God, your credibility may not be the only thing that is lost.

-Until we go home

The Fallacy of Pope Francis

Big Bang Theory true according to Pope Francis

Once again, the world has the distinction of hearing “Thus says the man in the white robe” instead of “thus says the Lord.” If we question the veracity of God’s Word and the foundations which He has established, then it will be easy to cut out further parts of Scripture. Here are a few things to consider as to whether pope Francis is right or wrong.

There are several problems with Christians accepting the Big Bang Theory and the theory of evolution.

1.  It questions the validity and work of the Trinity. Genesis states that each member of the Triune Godhead was involved in creation.

A.  God the Father is attributed with the work of creation throughout the Old Testament. If creation is not true, then we must exclude every writer who spoke and wrote falsely giving credit to the holy God. This means that Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the five books of Moses, and others must be taken out of the Bible.

B.  God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, speaks of the creation during His earthly ministry, especially when He addresses the matter of marriage being between one man and one woman.  If Jesus was wrong about creation and the beginning of the world, then He cannot be God for He spoke at least one lie.

C.  God the Holy Spirit is attributed with the inspiration of the Scriptures. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Thus, if the words written are attributed to the moving of the Holy Spirit, then we can only come to one of two conclusions. 1) Either the prophets wrote contrary to the leading of the Holy Spirit, or 2) there is no Holy Spirit that guides into all truths.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit made a mistake in the work of inspiration which makes Him no longer God, or the Bible is not inerrant and we have nothing which we can believe.

2.  If these theories are correct, then there is no hope for mankind.

A.  There would be no reason to accept any absolutes.

B.  There would be no morals on which to base our lives. If survival of the fittest is truly an underlying principle of evolution, then logic MUST dictate that what Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Nero, Genghis Khan and others did is acceptable. They weeded out those who added nothing to the gene pool.

C.  There would be no such thing as sin. Any “wrongdoings” are only based on one’s upbringing, culture, and societal mores. What would be unacceptable in one culture must be acceptable in another. Therefore, as one example, if evolution is correct, then what ISIS is doing cannot be considered as wrong. If evolution is correct, then we have no right to correct the actions of another culture or society that has “evolved” in a different manner than we have.

D.  Fighting against the inevitable will be a horrific exercise in futility if evolution is correct. Therefore, those who have some deformities, or the wrong skin color, or mental imbalances are doomed to eventual extinction for they add nothing to society and the future of a greater man.

E.  If evolution is true, then there is no sin to die for. There would be no reason for Jesus Christ to have died for a sub-species of animal that has simply evolved from a primordial soup. If evolution is true, then Christ died in vain as a good person, and not as the God-Man.

Now, here is a further thought about the article I have linked to at the top in which pope Francis endorses these false theories. Many in so-called evangelical circles have decided that the Roman Catholic church is also Christian and that their teachings are compatible in many ways with evangelicalism or fundamentalism. There is little that could be further from the truth than this thinking. The Roman Catholic religion is not based on Scripture but on the traditions of man.

Many want to claim that Roman Catholics are going to heaven, but the ONLY way to heaven is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. The RCC does NOT teach this, and has NEVER taught these truths. To the pope and the teachings of the RCC, all who believe that salvation is only through Christ are to be considered anathema and accursed to the deepest regions of hell.

Before somebody accuses me of hating those who do not believe like me, this is not about me. This is about what the Bible teaches. Either God is true or He is not. If He is not true, then He cannot be God and we are yet in our sins. My prayer is that people will come to Christ alone and realize the joy that comes by believing by faith in the work of creation and the finished work of Calvary.

These theories of the big bang and evolution are NOT based on the truth of Scripture. Any time, science comes up with a new theory designed solely to undermine intelligent design and the truth of a Creator, then the Bible trumps the scientist. The Bible does not ever discredit true science but endorses the truths of what we find in the scientific world.

To conclude, my response to the false teaching of the pope, the heresies of the Roman Catholic church, the false theories of science, and the falsely held positions of a growing number of people in evangelical circles is based on the words of Martin Luther when he was being held to account by the religious establishment —

My belief is based on God and His infallible, inerrant Word. Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me, God.

 

 

Dangers of Beth Moore

Dear Friends,

I have never expected that exposing the false teaching of so-called evangelicals would generate a great deal of fan mail. Our purposes for writing these articles is to warn the church. It is time that we wake out of slumber and see that evangelicalism is not what it used to be. Many have taken the road that leads back to Rome. This path starts by accepting that all Roman Catholics are true believers and before long, your theology has to change to accommodate the heresy that salvation is not by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.

Just to clarify the gospel before we continue. There is NO salvation apart from Jesus Christ. There is NO salvation to be found in Mary, the pope, church, or any creed. If a person is placing there faith in Christ plus something or minus something, there is NO salvation. You cannot work your way to heaven or do anything to merit more of God’s grace as it pertains to salvation.

Dangersign

Now, because somebody has a great stage presence, knows how to work an audience, and is endorsed by a major Christian denomination, churches across the world have knowingly endorsed these teachers who actually teach and go contrary to everything they say that they believe. For example, the Southern Baptist denomination does not permit women pastors or preachers, but Beth Moore is fully accepted in teaching men. I assume Lifeway might have a problem meeting its yearly budget if they were to cut her off. But that is another topic for another day.

Beth Moore – the darling of the evangelical church in America – what is the problem? Below, I include several links from Sola Sisters, Apprising Ministries, CARM, and Lighthouse Trails Research to address this in much greater detail. If you have a desire for truth, may I recommend you prayerfully read these and then see whether or not, her teaching lines up with Scripture.

Just because it sounds good does NOT mean that it is good.

Sola Sisters – Breaking Free from Beth Moore

Ken Silva – Apprising.Org – How Would You Know Beth Moore?

CARM – Beth Moore

Lighthouse Trails Research – Exposing Contemplative Spirituality

Divided We Stand?

To preface my thoughts, I want to ask that each of you who read this, read all the way to the end before making a judgment call.

I would like to chime in on the valid points raised by Chris in the previous post. One of our readers, Jon Gleason commented on the issue of “working togetherism” which is one as I have seen way too often the problem that comes with everybody seeking unity at the expense of doctrinal purity just so they can “work” together. The end result ends up being things like ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) or the Manhattan Declaration just to name a few. The results are not what is intended and where does the line in the sand actually get drawn. I have seen this in Europe, America, and in West Africa.

My dear friend and brother, Chris, mentioned as an example that he and another brother disagree on soteriology but still work together for the sake of the gospel. Of course, without knowing the specific points in question, this has always been a huge issue with me, because we are dealing with matters of eternity more times than not when we are talking about the doctrine of salvation. You cannot teach salvation by faith alone when or if the “brother” is teaching the addition of works, baptism, or whatever. As a small side note, I do not believe this is the case with Chris.

In my understanding of Scripture, this cannot be a joining of hands if such views take place. I understand there can be variations though on smaller points within the overall foundational truths. For instance, I would struggle to work with somebody from the Church of Christ, or Methodist, or Catholic because they all fall under the same boat – they believe and teach contrary to the Scriptures in the doctrine of Sola Fide.

The question is “How can two walk together except they are in agreement?” How can I stand in the pulpit or on a street corner giving forth a gospel appeal if the person preceding or following me is teaching a different means or way of salvation? Or, even how can this take place if the other “brother” insists that the salvation of the human soul is somehow in the remit of those who are completely and totally dead in trespasses and sins?

Is our desire to go on mission or preach each Sunday from the pulpit or share a tract or CD on a street corner so pressing that we will negotiate fundamentals of the faith or the truths for which our forefathers and the Reformers (as an example) laid down their lives because there was no compromise to be found.

However, I would ask if we remember Martin Luther? “Here I stand, I can do no other.” His reference was to the Bible alone – Sola Scriptura! Too often, we, as evangelicals and fundamentalists have a pathetic tendency to “read INTO” the Scriptures what we want it to say and these areas then become “fundamentals of the faith.” For example, type of hymns used or not used, Bible versions, rapture or no rapture, the timing of rapture if you hold to this point, Sunday school or none, etc., etc., etc.

We should well remember that where Scripture is silent, that we should remain silent. Where the Scriptures are not decisively clear, in those areas there can be room for flexibility and even working with others. Sadly in my past, I have found myself sitting in various camps on some of the above issues and refusing to get along with those who held varying (mostly only slightly different) views than my own.

What a travesty and I can certainly understand the frustration that comes when we see the bickering and arguing that takes place within our circles. In the meantime, the cults continue to take away people to their perdition because we are MORE concerned about being right than with being Biblical! Then, to our chagrin instead of finding a Biblical position, if we are not careful we will swing to the realm of ecumenicalism where all hold hands together and sing “Kumbaya” or “Michael, row the boat to shore.”

Can we proceed without “demonizing” or “anathematizing” others? Yes, we can and should if the issues are only on a secondary or tertiary level. However, I am convinced that places like DefCon and all those involved should insist that on ALL primary levels of doctrine, that there will be no compromise for any reason or for any person. There is a place for discernment and one cannot read the New Testament epistles and not realize the depths of effort that went into the writings of these men to pursue truth in all realms of early Christianity. Yes, we are even highly admonished to rebuke those who are seen departing from the faith AND from what was taught to them.

I for one will not give my support of some of those who claim to be ministers of the gospel when what they are preaching is leading people down a primrose path to destruction or is defaming the name and cause of Jesus Christ. This would most certainly include people like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Rick Warren, Billy Graham, and Ravi Zacharias who are openly endorsing anything and everything from New Age thought to Roman Catholic mystics.

As a loving word of caution, I do not believe all these men necessarily started out with the intention of climbing in bed with everybody all for “the sake of the gospel.” It was gradual but the end result was still the same. My point here is not one of disagreement with Chris, but a clarification of my own thoughts on what is and should be important to those who claim the name of Christ.

To summarize, when we find ourselves disagreeing on tertiary or secondary issues, there is nothing wrong with debate or enjoying a coffee together. Some secondary issues may be another person’s tertiary issues though and we must have the discernment and wisdom to see that others may see things differently. We may not be able to work with somebody in realms such as swapping pulpits with another with whom we disagree on secondary or tertiary issues, but it does not mean (as Chris has rightly stated) that we must tear them to strips or “condemn” them to hell for those differences.

However, when the doctrinal truth is at stake and we are dealing with the core doctrines of the Scripture, there cannot and must not be any compromise. If at the end of the day, we have compromised just so we can share the gospel, we will find that the gospel we proclaim has also been compromised and we will be seeking to give free tickets to the celestial kingdom all because we failed to stand firm in the faith once delivered to the saints.

SOLA SCRIPTURA OUR ONLY FOUNDATION

The following was written by Michael Horton. I agree with him – any departure from the sufficiency of Scripture for all we need for life and godliness will cause us to fall into a ditch. The only source of God’s revealed will is found in holy writ – let the saints of the living God be content with what He has provided us and resist those who call us to listen to “the voice within.”

Many critics of the Reformation have attempted to portray it as the invitation to individualism, as people discover for themselves from the Bible what they will and will not believe. “Never mind the church. Away with creeds and the church’s teaching office! We have the Bible and that’s enough.” But this was not the reformers’ doctrine of sola Scriptura–only Scripture. Luther said of individualistic approaches to the Bible, “That would mean that each man would go to hell in his own way.”

On one side, the reformers faced the Roman Church, which believed its teaching authority to be final and absolute. The Roman Catholics said that tradition can be a form of infallible revelation even in the contemporary church; one needs an infallible Bible and an infallible interpreter of that sacred book. On the other side were the Anabaptist radicals, who believed that they not only did not need the teaching office of the church; they really didn’t seem to need the Bible either, since the Holy Spirit spoke to them–or at least to their leaders–directly. Instead of one Pope, Anabaptism produced numerous “infallible” messengers who heard the voice of God. Against both positions, the Reformation insisted that the Bible was the sole final authority in determining doctrine and life. In interpreting it, the whole church must be included, including the laity, and they must be guided by the teachers in the church. Those teachers, though not infallible, should have considerable interpretive authority. The creeds were binding and the newly reformed Protestant communions quickly drafted confessions of faith that received the assent of the whole church, not merely the teachers.

Today, we are faced with similar challenges even within evangelicalism. On one hand, there is the tendency to say, as Luther characterized the problem, “I go to church, hear what my priest says, and him I believe.” Calvin complained to Cardinal Sadoleto that the sermons before the Reformation were part trivial pursuit, part story-telling. Today, this same process of “dumbing down” has meant that we are, in George Gallup’s words, “a nation of biblical illiterates.” Perhaps we have a high view of the Bible’s inspiration: 80% of adult Americans believe that the Bible is the literal or inspired Word of God. But 30% of the teenagers who attend church regularly do not even know why Easter is celebrated. “The decline in Bible reading,” says Gallup, “is due in part to the widely held conviction that the Bible is inaccessible, and to less emphasis on religious training in the churches.” Just as Rome’s infallibility rested on the belief that the Bible itself was difficult, obscure, and confusing, so today people want the “net breakdown” from the professionals: what does it mean for me and how will it help me and make me happy? But those who read the Bible for more than devotional meditations know how clear it is–at least on the main points it addresses–and how it ends up making religion less confusing and obscure. Again today, the Bible–especially in mainline Protestant churches–is a mysterious book that can only be understood by a small cadre of biblical scholars who are “in the know.”

But we have the other side, too. There is a popular trend in many “evangelical” churches to emphasize direct communication with the Holy Spirit apart from the Word. In these circles, tradition and the teaching ministry of the church through the ages are not only treated as fallible (as the reformers believed), but as objects of mockery. The sentiments of Thomas Muntzer, who complained that Luther was “one of our scribes who wants to send the Holy Ghost off to college,” would find a prime-time spot on the nation’s leading evangelical radio and television broadcasts. Calvin said of these folks, “When the fanatics boast extravagantly of the Spirit, the tendency is always to bury the Word of God so they may make room for their own falsehoods.”

Christianity is not a spirituality, but a religion. Wade Clark Roof and other sociologists have pointed out that evangelicals today are indistinguishable from the general cultural trends, especially when it comes to preferring to think of their relationship to God more in terms of an experience than in terms of a relationship that is mediated through words. Ours is a visual or image-based society, much like the Middle Ages, and yet Christianity can only flourish through words, ideas, beliefs, announcements, arguments. There can be no communication with God apart from the written and living Word. Everything in the Christian faith depends on the spoken and written Word delivered by God to us through the prophets and apostles.

Further, sola Scriptura meant that the Word of God was sufficient. Although Rome believed it was infallible, the official theology was shaped more by the insights of Plato and Aristotle than by Scripture. Similarly today, psychology threatens to reshape the understanding of the self, as even in the evangelical pulpit sin becomes “addiction”; the Fall as an event is replaced with one’s “victim” status; salvation is increasingly communicated as mental health, peace of mind, and self-esteem, and my personal happiness and self-fulfillment are center-stage rather than God’s holiness and mercy, justice and love, glory and compassion. Does the Bible define the human problem and its solution? Or when we really want facts, do we turn somewhere else, to a modern secular authority who will really carry weight in my sermon? Of course, the Bible will be cited to bolster the argument. Political ideology, sociology, marketing, and other secular “authorities” must never be allowed priority in answering questions the Bible addresses. That is, in part, what this affirmation means, and evangelicals today seem as confused on this point as was the medieval church.

Sola Scriptura (72)

bible page . . . so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

-Hebrews 7:22-27