Monday, May 30, 2011

John Wycliffe on the End of the World, Almost

With the recent close call with the end of the world, I've been thumbing through some of my prophecy books. I don't make it very far. Way back when, I could read a book and not get bogged down by footnotes and tedium. 

Some of my fresh readings just turn out now to be nitpicking. For example.  I do appreciate Gary DeMar's Last Days Madness, but his footnotes have stalled any sort of progress in re-reading his book. On page 17 Gary states,

My immediate question was, "Where did Wycliffe say this?" Gary's note #4 refers to "Wycliffe's England: A Time of Turmoil," Christian History, Issue 3 (1983), 8. Note #5 refers to the same source and page. The way DeMar has the paragraph set up,  it appears Wycliffe himself is being cited via Christian History magazine. Note the quote within the quote of "covetousness, sensuality, and fraud."  Here is what Christian History Issue 3, 1983 states:

Although some people turned to superstition for security, most felt it was God's anger against wickedness of the people of that day. Wycliffe seemed to have yielded to a popular apprehension that the final judgment was approaching. He describes the "covetousness, sensuality, and fraud" of the clergy as infecting all of humanity, thus causing the chastisement under which Europe mourned.

Although the nation was shaken by the loss of life and by the fear of the unknown evil, penitence was lacking. Shortage of labor hastened economic changes and social unrest. Substitution of wages for services accelerated. Distinction between the classes became less rigid. The arts reflected the melancholy and morbid. Exaggerated forms of religious mysticism developed. Lack of educated clergy reduced the church's intellectual vigor.

I did find it curious that Christian History cautiously stated, "Wycliffe seemed to have yielded to a popular apprehension that the final judgment was approaching," while DeMar more forcefully concludes Wycliffe thought it was indeed the last days.

In the above section from Christan History, only four words are attributed to Wycliffe: "covetousness, sensuality, and fraud." Christian History does not document these four words.  Doing a quick Google search, I'm very tempted to say these aren't Wycliffe's words at all, but are rather a summary statement from Robert Vaughan book, The Life and Opinions of John de Wycliffe Vol I. After describing Wycliffe's belief that the close of the 14 century would be the end of the world (after four periods of tribulation), Vaughan states:

The modern reader will probably smile at these speculations, and it is no less probable that some future race will look with equal self-complacency on many of our gravest conclusions, with regard to the future, whether relating to science, religion, or the world. It is worthy of observation, that while the writers who record the sufferings of the period under review, attribute them principally, to the vanity of the people, especially as evinced in the costly caprice of their apparel, and the general disposition to luxurious indulgence; Wycliffe traces the malady to a higher source, describing the clergy as so addicted to covetousness, sensuality, and fraud, as to have infected every portion of the community, with the same vices, and thus to have been the main cause of that chastisement, under which Europe had been called to mourn." [source]

My guess is Christian History probably lifted their Wycliffe information from Vaughn.

Unfortunately, the documentation here is likewise vague. Vaughn goes on to cite "On Prelates, C. i. iv." That source is probably this. He also cites "M.S. on the Seven Deadly Sins" which can probably be found here. But previous to the quote Vaughn also mentions Wycliffe's "The Last Age of the Church." Which source? I have no idea. I am though very tempted to say, Wycliffe was not cited at all by either DeMar, Christian History, or Robert Vaughan.

Calvin's Sabbath Lawn Bowling

Interesting article here: Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Or, Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath?

"One Lord’s Day, it is said, the Scottish Reformer John Knox, paid a visit to his friend Calvin in Geneva. The grave Scot found, to his surprise, as the telling would seem to indicate,the austere Reformer of Geneva engaged in a game of bowls."

Tim LaHaye vs. Harold Camping

I came across this from Tim LaHaye: Is Harold Camping Right This Time? LaHaye states, has well advertised their claim that Jesus Christ will come to rapture believers on May 21, 2011 -- this is not only wrong but dangerous. They also claim that God will destroy this world on October 21, 2011-- this is not only bizarre but 100% wrong!


You can be sure the rapture will not occur when anyone sets a date because God wants us all to live every day as though Christ could come today. A great motto for daily living is PERHAPS TODAY. For one day it will happen and we don't know when, but we don't want you to be left behind!

Now before anyone begins high-fiving Tim LaHaye, keep this in mind. To my understanding, Mr. Camping did not look around at current events and declare the end of the world. In fact, after one of the last big earthquakes /tsunamis a few weeks ago, I heard Mr. Camping say it had nothing to do with the forthcoming end of the world.   Mr. Camping used his theomatics and quadriga-esque interpretation rather than correlating the news to the Bible.

On the other hand, make no mistake about it, Tim LaHaye is watching the signs of the times to be prepared for the rapture and end of the world.  From the same website (as the link posted above), is this article, Three Signs of the End By Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins:

In our book Are We Living in the End Times? we list many of the signs of the times apparent in our generation. We believe that while no one knows the day or the hour when Christ will return, we have more reason to believe He could come in our lifetime than any generation before us.
Many leading politicians look to the potential of a world government as the panacea that would bring global peace. That is why the United Nations was formed, yet even with its 60-year incapability to bring about peace, it remains the dream of many world planners.
World government is only one leg of the prophesied three-legged stool of end times globalism. The other two are a one-world economy and a one-world religion. The worldwide interchange of goods and services today, along with the current economic chaos, seems a clear signal that the prophecies of Revelation 13 and 18 may be coming true.
The one-world religion is beginning to form but will really come together right after the Rapture when Christ calls His church to heaven to be with Him in His Father’s house (John 14:1-3). Even today Christianity is one main impediment to the forming of a global religion, which will (according to Revelation 17) be destroyed at the end of the Tribulation period.
God in His mercy may wait one more day, which in His economy of time is a thousand of our years. But we are instructed to watch and wait for Christ’s imminent return, as if it could be today. Because it could!
We believe every Christian and church should share the Gospel faithfully with as many as possible. Our driving passion is that we don’t want anyone to be left behind.

LaHaye is troubled Camping picked a date. LaHaye though, while not picking a date, has no problem interpreting history and the Bible in such a way as to prove "we have more reason to believe He could come in our lifetime than any generation before us."

Apples and oranges.

A Chuckle from the Puritan Board

Post: A Dispy Plug for Calvin:"The Good Book Blog" is a blog sponsored by Talbot School of Theology... Now,, officially, a classic-dispensationalist school. However, if you go to the blog (The Good Book Blog) and scroll down the right-hand column to "Most Commented Posts," you'll see one called "A Defense of Calvin(ism)". One of the school's profs waxes eloquent about Calvin - but it's the comments that follow that are most revealing. Many commentors say, in effect, that they thought Calvin was a bad guy - until they actually read him. A dispy school spreads the Calvin word - whodathunkit?

First response: I forget, which horse of the Apocalypse do they teach this kind of shocking news represents???

Thank you, Veterans and Those Active

I've never been good at thematic writing to coincide with special days.

For those of you that have served in the military (or are doing so now) that read my blog, thank you very much for your service. In church yesterday when the veterans stood, it was an overwhelming reminder of how special and important you are. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eavesdropping on Campingites

Chris: As you know, Mr. Camping never instructed anyone concerning their careers or their finances. He always indicated that they should seek the Lord's will concerning these things.

I know of people (even years ago)that gave up many things, for the sake of the gospel way before any known Day of Judgment was in view (actually God's people have done this throughout history).

Ray: This is more than about "MONEY" I know of at lease "Four" marriages that are in the process of being dissolved over this including mine, not including the loss friendships,family members dis-owning some of us,etc...Yesterday, a Brother was kick out of his sisters home and has no place to go or has a Job and is left in a depress state of confusion like alot of us.Also, you can not back peddle on the "Judgment Day" massage and say all these other things were not part of the message.In fact,they were, "everyone" knew what we were saying Judgment day is....THE END OF THE WORLD..this is no doubting this.No one is looking for sympathy it is what it is and no one is blaming anyone,we chose to do this and are only looking for direction at this point.Frankly,I feel like the dung on the ground...Sorry,for the venting,but no of this can be taken likely,our credibility is shot.

Tony: Hi Ray, That was well said, I also have been a supporter of FR for over 15 yrs. And now I hear 2 different messages coming from FR Camping says the possibility of anyone being saved ended on May21, but on or about May 26 FR was still asking for donations to get the True Gospel out into the world, why???
I have also lost all credibility in bringing the Word of God to my friends, workers, and most hurting, to my family. Now I'm in the process of sending emails to all that I have stressed out especially to my family, for sending them wrong info. with an apology for listening to the twist that HC sent out, and saying it has to happen (rolling earthquakes and rapture on Gods people) on May 21 because the Bible guarantees it. I love FR and HC I learned a lot from his teachings, and I am praying for him. And I still believe that Oct.21 will be the last day, only because I personally checked out the time line of history(creation 11013 BC and the end of world 5/21/2011) from a CD I have from John Mc Owen from info he took from the Bible and it proves out. Now I can understand what the Bible says( No man knows the DAY OR HOUR OF CHRIST RETURN) but we can know the year. I send my love and prayers to all the brothers and sisters on this web site and through out the world.

Ralph: Hello Tony and question is just where was ...the starting point of .........."Time Line of History by John Mc Owen " was it to look at HC's and double check what he found ? or was it a completely new from start to finish a study with absolutely no \consideration from the study that HC presented? Since this was available through FR one must ask if JOHN Mc Owen is an associate of HC in some fashion , thus making me believe that it very well be a double check of HC findings . If it had anything "AT ALL " TO DO WITH WHAT HC 'S WORK SHOWED THEN ONE SHOULD ASK ,MUST ASK IS IT REALLY TRUSTWORTHY ,and I'm sure that any reasonable thinking person will /would agree . will await any and all replies on this matter.


Ervin:Ralph, I assume you went through the study for yourself. I would hope you didn't just accept John's study without first checking it for yourself. So far we know that God's timeline of history is accurately unfolded. We have the many proofs that let us know that it is accurate.I don't think the failed rapture of May 21 can be blamed on the timeline. The timeline did not indicate that the rapture will take place on May 21. The timeline only indicate that the period of great tribulation will end on May 21. Maybe you can tell us what specifically where you are having an issue with the timeline?

Campingite: None of us need hang our heads because of this

This Campingite website (eBible Fellowship) was one of the most extreme. They've completely overhauled their website this past week, deleting much of the May 21st propaganda (Here's a version of the site from last year).

From following some rabbit trail links, I think I came across a statement from one of their key people. Notice, May 21 was a success:

Now, FR did teach through the air additional information, and occasionally during media interviews additional details were offered (concerning earthquakes, etc.); but overall, the message that covered the globe was Judgment Day! It was mostly this that was on shirts, hats, and signs. And indeed, on May 21 that is what took place. None of us need hang our heads because of this. This was of the will of God. Only He could have opened up such a great door and effectual. Overall, the message that got out there was correct. We did err in some of the details as to how this would play out (physically compared to spiritually).May the Lord's perfect will be done, Chris

By the way, a pro-Camping message group can be found here.

Catholic Apologist Jimmy Akin is a "Semi-Calvinist"?

It's true, you can find anything on the Internet. This Roman Catholic writer (in the link above) was angered by Jimmy Akin's article: A TIPTOE THROUGH TULIP. After setting forth the five points of Calvinism, Akin's detractor states,

This set of ideas has been substantially rejected by the Council of Trent and by the teaching of the Magisterium since that time. But Akin insists that a Catholic may accept each of these ideas, with only limited modification. All five Calvinist doctrines on salvation are explained by Akin in such a manner that Calvinist doctrine and Catholic doctrine are merged. His resulting position on soteriology is part Calvinist, and part Catholic, and fundamentally incompatible with sound Catholic teaching on grace and salvation.

I can't help but recall Geisler's Chosen But Free. It's true, Akin does indeed modify TULIP to be palatable for Romanism, as Geisler tried to make it palatable for Evangelical Arminians.

Here are a few excerpts from Akin:

Total Depravity: What would a Catholic think of this teaching? While he would not use the term "total depravity" to describe the doctrine, he would actually agree with it. The accepted Catholic teaching is that, because of the fall of Adam, man cannot do anything out of supernatural love unless God gives him special grace to do so. Thomas Aquinas declared that special grace is necessary for man to do any supernaturally good act, to love God, to fulfill God's commandments, to gain eternal life, to prepare for salvation, to rise from sin, to avoid sin, and to persevere.

Unconditional election: What would a Catholic say about this? He certainly is free to disagree with the Calvinist interpretation, but he also is free to agree. All Thomists and even some Molinists (such as Robert Bellarmine and Francisco Suarez) taught unconditional election.

Limited Atonement: This is not to say there is no sense in which limitation may be ascribed to the atonement. While the grace it provided is sufficient to pay for the sins of all men, this grace is not made efficacious (put into effect) in the case of everyone. One may say that although the sufficiency of the atonement is not limited, its efficiency is limited. This is something everyone who believes in hell must acknowledge because, if the atonement was made efficacious for everyone, then no one would end up in hell.

Irresistible Grace: A Catholic can agree with the idea that enabling grace is intrinsically efficacious and, consequently, that all who receive this grace will repent and come to God. Aquinas taught, "God's intention cannot fail... Hence if God intends, while moving it, that the one whose heart he moves should attain to grace, he will infallibly attain to it, according to John 6:45, 'Everyone that has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.'"

Perseverance of the saints: A Catholic must affirm that there are people who experience initial salvation and who do not go on to final salvation, but he is free to hold to a form of perseverance of the saints. The question is how one defines the term "saints"--in the Calvinist way, as all those who ever enter a state of sanctifying grace, or in a more Catholic way, as those who will go on to have their sanctification (their "saintification") completed. If one defines "saint" in the latter sense, a Catholic may believe in perseverance of the saints, since a person predestined to final salvation must by definition persevere to the end. Catholics even have a special name for the grace God gives these people: "the gift of final perseverance."

Akin fleshes this out in greater detail. I guess in Akin's defense against his fellow Romanist, Akin would probably argue from the old cliche that Romanism has 100% of the truth, while Calvinism has some other less percentage, so his setup is acceptable. On the other hand, like Geisler, Akin takes accepted terms and pours different meaning into them. This is simply a ridiculous way to do historical theology. I wonder if Akin could just as easily take doctrines from Mormonism and do the same thing: make an acceptable Romanist version of Latter Day Saint theology.

From my Reformed perspective, Akin's article suffers because of his basic definitions of TULIP. As I skimmed the article, I didn't see any confessional statements, say from the Westminster Confession, or the Three Forms of Unity (If they are there somewhere, I missed them in my quick reading, but I don't think they are). Take for instance, Akin's explanation of Total Depravity:

Despite its name, the doctrine of total depravity does not mean men are always and only sinful. Calvinists do not think we are as sinful as we possibly could be. They claim our free will has been injured by original sin to the point that, unless God gives us special grace, we cannot free ourselves from sin and choose to serve God in love. We might choose to serve him out of fear, but not out of unselfish love.

Akin documents this with end note #9, which simply gives more explanation about the Romanist correctness of serving God in fear, not an actual doctrinal standard or source.

Akin's first few sentences appear to be trying to make the distinction between total and utter depravity, but even this is muddled. The Reformed hold total depravity refers to the fact that our whole humanity is fallen. Every part of a human being has been affected by the Fall (will, heart, mind, body, etc). As to the rest of Akin's definition, The Reformed hold Romans 3:10-12 describes how no one does good. The ultimate standard for goodness by which mankind is judged is the law of God, which reflects his perfect character. Judged against that standard, no one does good.  So, contrary to Akin, men are always and only sinful.

The Reformed don't typically use language like "free will has been injured by original sin." We don't speak of injured free will, we speak of the enslaved will or dead in sin. The Canons of Dort declare,

"Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and slaves to sin; without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform."

The Westminster Confession states, "Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto."

Akin says some sort of "special grace" is given so men can free themselves from sin and choose to serve God. This isn't Reformed either. Akin's paradigm appears to posit a spiritually sick man that needs a little help to get himself going. The Reformed though posit the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit raises a spiritually dead man to spiritual life.

Throughout Akin's entire definition of total depravity, he either misrepresented Calvinism, or didn't use words that expressed the theological point accurately. Perhaps if he had used confessional statements, this could have been avoided. According to Akin's procedure, I might as well discard my copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and just make up what I want to about Romanism.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Red Cross and the Vatican 'helped thousands of Nazis escape'

"The Vatican has always refused to comment on its wartime activities and has kept its archive closed to the public."

 I haven't followed the Rome-Nazi connection stuff closely. It seems every year someone comes out with a book making the connections, then Rome's apologists try to de-connect those connections. Well, if the archive is closed, it'll be a long time then till Rome is definitively cleared.

Notice though, the article basically says nothing of substance about Rome and the Nazi's.

May is Mary Devotion Month

Benedict XVI:

We, in turn, feel in communion with every community, including the smallest, in which the tradition of dedicating May to Marian devotion is alive. This tradition is expressed in many signs: shrines, chapels, works of art and, above all, in the prayer of the holy rosary, with which the People of God give thanks for the good they receive incessantly from the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, and pray to her for their many needs.

What Harold Camping Got Right

"So when it comes to telling his story and getting that story heard, fringe radio preacher Harold Camping and his small band of followers have embarrassed the largest denominations, churches, and Christian ministries in America. This morning, his story was on the front page of the Los Angeles Times -- and most likely every other major paper in America. His story leads CNN and other news networks today. His story is being talked about on Twitter hashtags, blogs, social media sites, and on the street. Why? Because Harold Camping and his followers really believe their message. When that happens, you're not afraid to spend money, creativity, passion, and energy to make sure your story impacts people's lives. It's just a shame that it's the wrong message. And even more of a shame the rest of us have done such a poor job of getting the right one out."

Luther Wrote More on Predestination than Calvin?

This is an abridged excerpt from a paper I recently put together:

There appears to be nothing more infuriating to a Lutheran than to suggest that Luther was fundamentally a Calvinist in his view of sovereignty and predestination. Executive Director of Concordia Publishing House Reverend Paul McCain states, “Whenever the question of why are some saved and not others comes up, it is common for Calvinists who advocate for the view that God has predestined some to hell, and others to heaven, to try to drag Martin Luther into their argument and claim that they are actually being faithful to what Martin Luther taught. Let this much be clear: Martin Luther did not teach double-predestination.”[1]

McCain could have any number of Reformed authors in mind. In his book Chosen By God, R.C. Sproul lays out his past intellectual resistance to the doctrine of predestination. “My struggle with predestination began early in my Christian life. I knew a professor of philosophy in college who was a convinced Calvinist. He set forth the so-called ‘Reformed’ view of predestination. I did not like it. I did not like it at all. I fought against it tooth and nail all the way through college.”[2] Part of Sproul’s argumentation for eventually embracing the Reformed view includes a list comparing those who hold similar Reformed-esque views against those who do not. Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards are stacked against Pelagius, Arminius, Melanchthon, Wesley, and Finny. Sproul points out that such a comparison doesn’t prove one view correct over the other, but “we must take seriously the fact that such learned men agreed on this difficult subject.”[3] Sproul states,

It is important for us to see that the Reformed doctrine of predestination was not invented by John Calvin. There is nothing in Calvin’s view of predestination that was not earlier propounded by Luther and Augustine before him. Later, Lutheranism did not follow Luther on this matter but Melanchthon, who altered his views after Luther’s death. It is also noteworthy that in his famous treatise on theology, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin wrote sparingly on the subject. Luther wrote more about predestination than did Calvin.[4]

Luther wrote more about predestination than Calvin? Melanchthon altered Luther’s view on predestination for subsequent Lutherans? Such statements could easily lead to equivocating Luther and Calvin’s view of predestination, as well as Luther’s view with the so-called five points of Calvinism. Some in the Reformed camp have done precisely this. Lorraine Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination asserts Luther “went into the doctrine as heartily as did Calvin himself” and “He even asserted it with more warmth and proceeded to much harsher lengths in defending it than Calvin ever did.”[5] Duane Edward Spencer’s popular primer on Calvinism places Luther among those “stalwart theologians” that have held “to the precious doctrines of grace known as Calvinism.”[6] Edwin Palmer’s introduction to Calvinism refers to Luther as a “good Calvinist.”[7] The classic Steele and Thomas overview of Calvinism includes Luther as a champion listed on the “role call of Calvinists.”[8]

Sproul probably isn’t in error in his claim that Luther wrote more about predestination than Calvin did in his Institutes, if indeed Sproul is comparing this to The Bondage of the Will. Throughout his career though, Calvin did indeed write more on the subject than Luther did. After his Bondage of the Will, only a handful of brief statements can be corralled together. Sproul isn’t alone in making such comparative claims. One of the more extensive studies on Luther and Predestination was put together by Harry Buis “especially concentrating on the demonstration of the fact that Martin Luther held as strong a doctrine of predestination as did John Calvin.”[40] Buis strains every statement from Luther he can find through a Reformed paradigm. Buis claims Luther made a number of statements on the “main points of Calvinism” “which were more extreme than any which Calvin ever made.”[41] Many of the statements Buis compiled though speak only of Luther’s lifelong belief that the human will was enslaved, a topic often addressed by Luther. He spends considerable time with the Bondage of the Will, but avoids any full discussion of Luther’s paradigm of the hidden / revealed God. Buis will take the most meager statement as proof for Luther’s Calvinism. For instance, Of 2 Peter 3:9, Buis says Luther questioned if Peter actually wrote it. This serves as proof for Luther’s Calvinism! Rather though, Luther was probably alluding to the doubts of Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book III, ch. 3, par. 1. Luther actually states of 2 Peter, “Yet it is credible that this is nonetheless the apostle’s letter.”[42] Buis cites extensively from Luther’s pre-Reformation commentary on Romans, yet this writing precedes Luther’s paradox of the hidden / revealed God, and also stems from a time in which Luther himself was plagued by doubts about his own predestination. Buis then concludes his treatment of Luther with a number of citations from Luther’s Table Talk, a writing not from Luther’s hand. While having good intentions, Buis demonstrates that those from a Reformed perspective need to be careful with contexts, not allowing one’s own theological paradigms to interfere with reading texts accurately.

But not all from a Reformed perspective are so haphazard with Luther. Herman Bavinck posits much differently than Buis: “Luther accordingly, increasingly avoided the speculative doctrine of predestination, the will of divine good pleasure, the hidden God, preferring to focus on the ministry of Word and sacraments, to which grace is bound, and giving increasing prominence to God’s universal redemptive will, his expressed will.”[43] After sifting through the statements culled together by Buis, Bavinck appears to be correct. Luther’s later statements about predestination have more of a pastoral emphasis rather than polemical.

[1] Paul McCain, Refuting Calvinist Claims that Luther Taught Double Predestination, available from:
[2] R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 1986), 11-12.
[3] Ibid., 15.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1932), 1.
[6] Duane Edward Spencer, Tulip: The Five Points of Calvinism in the Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1979), 6-7.
[7] Edward H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1980), 19.
[8] David Steele, and Curtis Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, and Documented (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2004), 74.
[40] Harry Buis, Historic Protestantism and Predestination (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1958), 2.
[41] Ibid., 61.
[42] LW 30: 198.
[43] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 356.

Addendum: Here's an interesting discussion on the Puritan board-

The Roman Catholic Harold Camping?


Catholic Planet: The Future of the Church and the World

Please understand that my writings about the future are speculative eschatology, based on study and interpretation, not based on knowledge that is absolute or certain.

Update: my predicted dates for the Warning, Consolation, and Miracle (in April and May of 2011) were wrong. The next year that fits my analysis is 2016. However, I still think that the tribulation will begin soon, probably in 2011.

Lutheran Apologete & Too Nice to Romanism

Here are two things that produced a sardonic laugh.

"Sardonic" is an interesting word:
Sardonic \Sar*don"ic\, a. [F. sardonique, L. sardonius, Gr. ?,?, perhaps fr. ? to grin like a dog, or from a certain plant of Sardinia, Gr. ?, which was said to screw up the face of the eater.]
Forced; unnatural; insincere; hence, derisive, mocking, malignant, or bitterly sarcastic; -- applied only to a laugh, smile, or some facial semblance of gayety.
[1913 Webster]

I've been deemed "Lutheran apologete"

May 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm
And, here is a post from a Lutheran apologete on Luther and prophecy – at least the Romanists he refutes make an argument rather than repeatedly insisting on Luther as a “prophet”:

And I'm too nice to Romanism:
Viisaus said: Were you too militant in your anti-Romanism for Swan's calmly professional taste (that is sometimes perhaps a bit too calm)?
5/17/2011 5:08 AM

Stats: More Muslims & Roman Catholics?

More Catholics, Muslims, fewer Presbyterians

Despite conversions and a lower fertility rate among white Catholics, the expected growth of Hispanic Catholics could lead to a historic shift in American religion, according to Skirbekk, Goujon and Kaufmann.

In their study largely based on General Social Survey findings, census immigration statistics and Pew data, the researchers state the rise among Hispanics "will power the growth of Catholics as a whole, who will surpass Protestants by mid-century within the nation's youngest age groups."


Friday, May 27, 2011

It Takes too Long to be Accurate?

Thanks. Wow, that's a lot of info to read regarding one single quote from Luther! Honestly, with so much to sort through, I don't know how any apologist on either side can be 100% accurate with all the facts about everything all the time. Where do you folks find the time?

It all starts by looking up stuff before posting or publishing. This should go without saying, for both Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Just a few days ago I was going to post a quote from Tertullian that I found in a book about end times. The book put forth a quote from Tertullian inferring that he was saying it was the end of the world. I went and looked up the quote, and Tertullian was saying no such thing.

5 or 10 years ago, it was standard for Luther to be cited without helpful documentation all over the Internet. Now, there's no excuse, so much is available. I could go through a lot of the quotes posted here earlier, and put them back in context, minus the polemic.

That's what so bothered me about Shea & Stravinskas on Luther's tomb. Both should know better than to simply post stuff without checking it. They are professional apologists, and a pro should know to check their facts before going to print.


Now that Judgment Day Has Arrived, What Will Family Radio Play?

Here's Harold Camping's answer to what Family Radio will play now. Now that the church is in a period of judgment what should they do? The answer: Play lots of music. A period of judgment tends to go much faster with  the right tunes. Also Family Radio will not offer any more tracts. Why? Well, for what purpose would they serve to a world already being judged?

 Here's the clip: What will Family Radio do now? (from Open Forum, 5/26/11).

Oprah's Next Gig?

T-blog cross-posted this the other day:

TELEVISION: Oprah says goodbye for now to her followers, but vows to return again someday from the clouds to take them with her.
HT: Charles Sebold.

My question is this: Does this now free her up to run for President?

Fearful Teen Commits Suicide Due to Harold Camping's Judgment Day Prediction

A 14-year-old girl from Russia was so scared of the May 21 doomsday and rapture prediction made by Harold Camping that she committed suicide the same day, investigators said Wednesday. The teenager wanted to choose death rather than be among the ones suffering on earth after the rapture. [source]


Family Radio Gets $1 Million Offer to Purchase 66 Stations
A Bible teaching ministry is offering Family Radio, ministry of Harold Camping, $1 million to purchase its entire network of 66 stations in the U.S. A Bible Answer said it would assume ownership of the Family Radio stations the day after October 21, Camping's new date for Doomsday.

Investigators Believe Harold Camping's End of the World Prediction to Blame for Fla. Man's Death
Investigators looking into the circumstances of the death of a young man from Florida are suspecting Harold Camping’s rapture prediction and the publicity generated by the Family Radio man’s followers may have pushed him over the edge.Victor Frasno, 25, described by investigators as very religious, was staying with family in California when he became hysterical as Harold Camping’s Judgment Day was about to arrive hours later. Despite the fact that he couldn’t swim, he jumped into the huge reservoir in Contra Loma Regional Park, Antioch saying he had to “get to God.”

Camping's Sunday morning comments on May 22:
Harold Camping speaks at home 5/22 by Brandoom

Listen to NPR's Doomsday Believers Cope With An Intact World from May 23. Read the NPR story.

Mary on Luther's Tomb

Mary on Luther's tomb- I hear there is a base relief of Mary's assumption on Luther's tomb. Can someone point me to a photo of it? Can't find one online (yet). Thanks.

You can thank folks like Mark Shea and Peter Stravinskas for perpetuating this myth.

Latest From Rome, etc.

Pontiff Notes Mary's Help in Believing-VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2011 ( Noting Tuesday's feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, Benedict XVI is affirming that Mary helps build up faith in Christ.

John Paul II Statue: Honor or Betrayal?
One Work's Failure, Another's Success

Was Joseph permitted to kiss Mary and vice versa?

Let's empty Purgatory

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Harold Camping: Why Those Who Said He was Wrong About May 21 are Wrong

All those people who told Camping he was wrong about May 21 were wrong, because May 21 was a "spiritual event" and they didn't tell him he was wrong because it was a spiritual event.

Here is a short mp3 clip from last night's Open Forum

Dr. Riddlebarger's Lecture, "B. B. Warfield on Arminians and Evangelicals"

I'm a bit late to this party, but this is a most interesting lecture:

Dr. Riddlebarger's Lecture, "B. B. Warfield on Arminians and Evangelicals"

I came across this lecture last year, and was surprised to find out Warfield granted evolution. Regardless, it's a very interesting lecture.

"Warfield's view of evolution may appear unusual for a conservative of his day. He was willing to accept that Darwin's theory might be true, but believed that God guided the process of evolution, and was as such an evolutionary creationist. His avid interest in amateur science was shared by many Victorian clerics and Warfield's views were not atypical."[Source]

Pope Gregory: The End of the World is not Far Off

Yesterday I posted an out of context Tertullian quote from Gary DeMar's Last Day Madness.  I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the next quote from page 19:

In the sixth century, Pope Gregory assured the world that the return of Christ could not be far off since he claimed that so many prophecies were being fulfilled in his day.

Of all the signs described by our Lord as presaging the end of the world some we see already accomplished…. For we now see that nation arises against nation and that they press and weigh upon the land in our own times as never before in the annals of the past. Earthquakes overwhelm countless cities, as we often hear from other parts of the world. Pestilence we endure without interruption. It is true that we do not behold signs in the sun and moon and stars but that these are not far off we may infer from the changes of the atmosphere.[Quoted in T. Francis Glasson, His Appearing and His Kingdom (London: Epworth, 1953), 45].

This quote, in context, indeed says what Gary DeMar says it does. While it was written long ago, it stands as a pertinent testimony that one cannot know the day or the hour of the end of the world. You may "'feel" like it is based on the current state of things, but there's no absolutely certain way to know for sure. Read Gregory's words, and see how similar his sentiment is to our current doomsday experts:

Gregory to Leander, bishop of Seville:
With all my heart I have wished to answer you better, but the burden of my pastoral calls so overpowers me that I would rather weep than speak, as your reverence undoubtedly gathers from the very character of my correspondence when I am remiss in addressing one whom I warmly love. In fact, so beaten about am I by the billows in this corner of the world, that I can in no wise bring to harbor the ancient, rolling ship at whose helm I stand through God's mysterious dispensation.

Now the waves break over us from the front, now at the side the foaming mountains of the sea swell high, now in the rear the tempest pursues us. Beset by all these perils, I am forced first to steer directly in the face of the storm, again to swerve the vessel and to receive obliquely the onset of the waters. I groan, because I know that if I am negligent the bilge water of vice is deepening, and that if the storm assails us furiously at that instant the decaying planks forebode shipwreck. Fearful, I remember that I have lost my quiet shore of peace, and sighing I gaze toward the land which, while the wind of circumstances blows contrarily, I cannot gain. So, dearest brother, if you love me, stretch forth the hand of prayer to me amid these floods, and, as you aid me in my troubles, thus as a reward shall you come forth more valiantly from yours. . . .

[Of all the signs described by our Lord as presaging the end of the world], some we see already accomplished; the others we dread as close upon us. For we now see that nation rises against nation, and that they press and weigh upon the land in our own times as never before in the annals of the past. Earthquakes overwhelm countless cities, as we often hear from other parts of the world. Pestilence we endure without interruption. It is true that as yet we do not behold signs in the sun and moon and stars; but that these are not far off we may infer from the changes in the atmosphere. Before Italy was given over to be desolated by the sword of a heathen foe, we beheld fiery ranks in heaven, and even the streaming blood of the human race as it was afterwards spilt. [source]

One point of tedium: the phrase "Of all the signs described by our Lord as presaging the end of the world" as cited by DeMar is placed in brackets in the context above. I have yet to locate a better primary source to determine if the phrase is original to Gregory.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Does Harold Camping Still Believe Salvation is Possible?

Does Harold Camping still believe salvation is possible? Here's a short clip from last night's Open Forum. He's not sure yet. Give him a few days, he'll come up with something...

This pro-Camping website has gone through some significant changes (compare with an old version). Also, the old link to Family Radio's judgment day web page has finally been raptured, and it now displays the new page. for a while there were two home pages for Family Radio.

DeMar's Last Days Madness... What Did Tertullian Really Say?

When R.C. Sproul came out with his "The Last Days According to Jesus" many mainstream Reformed people all of a sudden became... "partial preterists." I admit, I did buy Sproul's book when it came out, and investigated many of the partial preterist writers. I was never fully persuaded by their argumentation, particularly since post-millenialism appears to be the logical next step. I've been assured by many it's not, but it is odd the leading partial preterist voices are post-millennial.

I like partial preterist Gary DeMar. I have his books, a recording somewhere of him debating Dave Hunt, and I get Gary's perpetual spam email that comes about five times a day.  This morning I pulled out my copy of DeMar's  Last Days Madness (Atlanta: American Vision, 1999).   I read this a long time ago, and haven't thumbed through this book in many years. I flipped open the first page of chapter one and read the following quote from Tertullian:

Dip into any period of history and you will find prophets of all types, from any number of theological traditions, who claimed they knew when the next endtime event would occur. Some have pointed to the rise in apostasy, lawlessness, natural disasters, signs in the heavens, and an increase in rival religions in their day as unmistakable evidence that the end was near for them. Finding hidden meanings in biblical numbers was another favorite pastime that assured the faithful that the end had to be at hand.

In the second century, Tertullian, in Ad Nationes, wrote, "What terrible wars, both foreign and domestic! What pestilences, famines ... and quakings of the earth has history recorded!" Evaluating current events and concluding that they offer "compelling evidence" that Jesus would return soon has been a common practice among prophecy writers.

DeMar then goes on to quote Pope Gregory for further proof that "Last Days Madness" has been around a long time. I was just about to post this Tertullian quote in a comment box on another thread, but decided first to look it up. DeMar actually cites a secondary source for the quote: "Quoted in Carl Olof Jonsson and Wolfgang Herbst, The 'Sign' of the Last Days - When? (Atlanta, Ga: Commentary Press, 1987), ix." I'm not about to purchase a copy of this book, particularly since the context for this Tertullian quote isn't all that hard to track down. Read the following Tertullian quote in context, and notice what it actually says. Tertullian states,

Chapter IX.The Christians are Not the Cause of Public Calamities: There Were Such Troubles Before Christianity.

But why should I be astonished at your vain imputations? Under the same natural form, malice and folly have always been associated in one body and growth, and have ever opposed us under the one instigator of error Indeed, I feel no astonishment; and therefore, as it is necessary for my subject, I will enumerate some instances, that you may feel the astonishment by the enumeration of the folly into which you fall, when you insist on our being the causes of every public calamity or injury. If the Tiber has overflowed its banks, if the Nile has remained in its bed, if the sky has been still, or the earth been in commotion, if death has made its devastations, or famine its afflictions, your cry immediately is, “This is the fault of the Christians!” As if they who fear the true God could have to fear a light thing, or at least anything else (than an earthquake or famine, or such visitations). I suppose it is as despisers of your gods that we call down on us these strokes of theirs. As we have remarked already, three hundred years have not yet passed in our existence; but what vast scourges before that time fell on all the world, on its various cities and provinces! what terrible wars, both foreign and domestic! what pestilences, famines, conflagrations, yawnings, and quakings of the earth has history recorded! Where were the Christians, then, when the Roman state furnished so many chronicles of its disasters? Where were the Christians when the islands Hiera, Anaphe, and Delos, and Rhodes, and Cea were desolated with multitudes of men? or, again, when the land mentioned by Plato as larger than Asia or Africa was sunk in the Atlantic Sea? or when fire from heaven overwhelmed Volsinii, and flames from their own mountain consumed Pompeii? when the sea of Corinth was engulphed by an earthquake? when the whole world was destroyed by the deluge? Where then were (I will not say the Christians, who despise your gods, but) your gods themselves, who are proved to be of later origin than that great ruin by the very places and cities in which they were born, sojourned, and were buried, and even those which they founded? For else they would not have remained to the present day, unless they had been more recent than that catastrophe. If you do not care to peruse and reflect upon these testimonies of history, the record of which affects you differently from us,in order 118especially that you may not have to tax your gods with extreme injustice, since they injure even their worshippers on account of their despisers, do you not then prove yourselves to be also in the wrong, when you hold them to be gods, who make no distinction between the deserts of yourselves and profane persons? If, however, as it is now and then very vainly said, you incur the chastisement of your gods because you are too slack in our extirpation, you then have settled the question of their weakness and insignificance; for they would not be angry with you for loitering over our punishment, if they could do anything themselves,—although you admit the same thing indeed in another way, whenever by inflicting punishment on us you seem to be avenging them. If one interest is maintained by another party, that which defends is the greater of the two. What a shame, then, must it be for gods to be defended by a human being!

The way DeMar uses it, one is left the image that Tertullian was commenting on it being the end of the world. Well maybe Tertullian did somewhere else, but he certainly isn't doing it here. In context, the quote refers to calamites that took place before the birth of Christianity. Note the immediate sentence which preceeds the quote DeMar used: "As we have remarked already, three hundred years have not yet passed in our existence; but what vast scourges before that time fell on all the world, on its various cities and provinces!"

I still like Gary DeMar, he makes some good points. But I did find it rather discouraging that the first quote of chapter one was cited out of context.

Gary DeMar uses the Tertullian quote here as well: Billy Graham Association Goes Apocalyptic:

In the second century, Tertullian, in Ad Nationes, wrote, “What terrible wars, both foreign and domestic! What pestilences, famines … and quakings of the earth has history recorded!” Evaluating current events and concluding that they offer “compelling evidence” that Jesus would return soon has been a common practice among prophecy writers. In the sixth century, Pope Gregory assured the world that the return of Christ could not be far off since he claimed that so many prophecies were being fulfilled in his day [ Quoted in Carl Olof Jonsson and Wolfgang Herbst, The “Sign” of the Last Days—When? (Atlanta, GA: Commentary Press, 1987), ix].

Why Lutherans say Salvation can be Lost, and the Reformed say it Can't

I've gotten a lot of questions about Lutheranism over the years. Since I'm not a Lutheran, I have to admit I only have a cursory knowledge of their theology and its historical development. Why do Lutheran believe salvation can be lost?  Why do the Reformed say it can't?

I recently came across a few paragraphs from Reformed theologian Geerhardus Vos about this.  Ponder this, as I have been doing:

When we compare the representations of the on final state of man as they have been developed by the different theological traditions, there immediately arises a fundamental difference of great importance for the doctrine of the covenant of works. According to the Lutherans man has ready reached his destination in that God had placed him in a state of uprightness. Eternal life was already in his possession. In his situation the highest ideal was realized. Nothing more need be added to execute God's purpose in creating man. Man was mutable, that is true, and he could fall away from the state of original uprightness and bliss. But for the Lutheran conception this is not a stage that points forward to something else, but rather that which was usual and normal and to be expected. From this it follows that the same condition returns in the state of grace to which fallen man is brought by Christ. Precisely because mankind's destination had already been reached before the fall in Adam, Christ can do nothing but restore what was lost in Adam. And since the destination already realized was fully compatible with mutability and the possibility of falling, the sinner who has been brought back to his destination by Christ must necessarily have to remain at this level. Lutheran theology is, therefore, wholly consistent when it teaches an apostasy of the saints. It does not at all object to uniting the state of justification and sonship with the possibility of such an apostasy.

-snip- (I 'm skipping the discussion of the Pelagian view) -snip-

The Reformed view of the original state of man leads to a totally different result. It was a state of perfect uprightness in which he knew the good and did it consciously. As long as he remained in that state, he could also be sure of God's favor. Up to this point the Reformed view concurs with the Lutheran. But whereas the latter can be satisfied by perpetuating such a state and extending it indefinitely, the Reformed view fixes its gaze on something higher. It sees man not as being placed in eternal bliss from the beginning, but as being placed in such a way that he might attain to eternal bliss. There still hovers above him the possibility of sin and death which is given with his mutable freedom. He is free to do the good out of his good nature but he has not yet attained the highest freedom which can do good only. The latter is placed before him as an ideal. The means of obtaining it is the covenant of works. Here too the state of grace is again ultimately determined by the idea of man's destiny in the state of original uprightness. What we inherit in the second Adam is not restricted to what we lost in the first Adam: it is much rather the full realization of what the first Adam would have achieved for us had he remained unfallen and been confirmed in his state. Someone placed in that state can never again fall from it. As truly as Christ is a perfect Saviour, so truly must he bestow on us the perseverance of the saints.

Source:  Richard Gaffin, ed. Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos (Philipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing co., 1980) p.242-243.

Bill Shishko and other Pastors Review Harold Camping

This is worth a listen. Rev. Shishko describes a meeting years ago in which Shishko and number of other pastors met with Harold Camping, asking him to repent:

A Plain Answer: May 21 and Harold Camping's Failed Prophecy

Air Date: 5/21/2011

Harold Camping's failed May 21 prophecy and how to handle if you have been fooled by him

Have you been fooled by Harold Camping's false date? Many have. We explore the root cause of the problem with Harold Camping. One of the pastors in this discussion met with Mr. Camping in December 1993 in accordance with Mathew 18 and the erring brother. We also discuss "where do you go from here," if you have been duped by this man. Participants: Rev. Bill Shishko, Rev. Mark Diedrich, Dan Elmendorf

A Plain Answer: Harold Camping and his false teachings

Air Date: 5/14/2011

Is God done with the church? Is Baptism and the Lord's Supper abolished? Is Christ returning May 21?

Harold Camping is in the news lately. He is predicting with 100% certainty that Christ is returning next Saturday, May 21. He denies baptism, denies the Lord's Supper. He says that if you are in a church, you are going to hell. He says that Jesus did not die on the cross for your sins, but did that somehow from eternity past. The bizarre teachings of this man seem to mount as time passes. His followers simply recite the words of their cult leader without understanding what they are saying. Will Christ return on May 21st? We believe He will not. Participants: Rev. Mark Diedrich, Dr. Mark Allison, Dan Elmendorf

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

David Letterman's Harold Camping Top 10, and a Few Comments

Letterman link here. Sad stuff.

Here's a typical post-rapture news video:

As to last night's Open Forum, Dr. White's comments on today's Dividing Line provide a proper summary.

I did think it was interesting how the media tried to nail Camping on finances, because the world typically thinks all religion is simply an attempt to cash in. I would assume Camping probably does keep the finances of Family Radio in order.

Camping of course took no responsibility for people bankrupting themselves to be raptured. One question though the media did not nail him with: they forgot to ask him why he told people not to get married. He directly told specific callers not to get married. I'm not a legal expert, but I wonder if any who called up looking for advice on this could prove legally that he caused havoc in their lives.

Also the entire Ezekielthirtythree3 is out of the bag. Many are distraught over the fact that the guy is probably some sort of atheist or agnostic. True, his exposing Camping was probably done to attack Christianity in general. Here's something though to learn from this guy. For those of you who want to call Harold up, watch Ezekielthirtythree3's latest video, and pay particular attention to his comments on how to talk to Harold. There is a way to do it that won't result in getting hung up on.

Luther a Vegetarian?

Before anyone leaves the comment, "Luther's was a diet worms" I've stolen your thunder.

This one has popped up on two discussion boards (here and here), and also is enshrined in this link: Veg World, For all things Vegetarian and Vegan. Also this power point presentation mentions it.

Vegetarians in History
If you were to list every famous vegetarian, you would fill a large city's phone book. Here are a few particularly notable ones.

Martin Luther
1483 – 1546
German church reformer; founder of Protestantism

This is probably a confusion between Martin Luther and Martin Luther King. The usual charge of course is that Luther was a glutton, eating and drinking to excess. Now he's a vegetarian! But Luther does say:

You see also what sort of food He provides for us, namely, herbs and fruits of the trees. Hence I believe that our bodies would have been far more durable if the practice of eating all sorts of food—particularly, however, the consumption of meat—had not been introduced after the Deluge. Even though the earth was cursed after Adam’s sin and later on, at the time of the Deluge, had also become very corrupt, nevertheless a diet of herbs rather than of meat would be far finer today. Indeed, it is clear that at the beginning of the world herbs served as food and were created for this use, that they might be food for man.[LW 1:36]

after men were permitted to eat meat, they became weaker, and that they began to beget children as well as to die at an earlier age. Having originally brought on our death by eating the fruit, we hasten our death by the variety of our food and by our gluttony. If we used plain foods, without foreign spices, which stimulate the appetite, we would undoubtedly enjoy a longer life. [LW 11:231]

However, note the following:

Concerning Meats
Let us proceed and speak of the eating of meats and what our attitude should be in this matter. It is true that we are free to eat any kind of food, meats, fish, eggs, or butter. This no one can deny. God has given us this liberty; this is true. Nevertheless, we must know how to use our liberty, and in this matter treat the weak brother quite differently from the stubborn. Observe, then, how you ought to use this liberty.
First, if you cannot abstain from meat without harm to yourself, or if you are sick, you may eat whatever you like, and if anyone takes offense, let him be offended. Even if the whole world took offense, you are not committing a sin, for God can approve it in view of the liberty he has so graciously bestowed upon you and of the necessities of your health, which would be endangered by your abstinence. Secondly, if you should be pressed to eat fish instead of meat on Friday, and to eat fish and abstain from eggs and butter during Lent, etc., as the pope has done with his fool’s laws, then you must in no wise allow yourself to be drawn away from the liberty in which God has placed you, but do just the contrary to spite him, and say: Because you forbid me to eat meat and presume to turn my liberty into law, I will eat meat in spite of you. And thus you must do in all other things which are matters of liberty. To give you an example: if the pope, or anyone else were to force me to wear a cowl, just as he prescribes it, I would take off the cowl just to spite him. But since it is left to my own free choice, I wear it or take it off, according to my pleasure. [LW 51:186]

Here's a time when I don't mind quoting Luther's Table Talk:

“In the year 1523 I finally laid aside my habit to the glory of God and the confusion of Satan, and many approved of my act for the sake of liberty. If I had not myself taken off my cowl, eaten meat [on fast days], and taken a wife, all the papists would have protested that my teaching isn’t true because I act otherwise than I teach. I couldn’t secure permission anywhere to get rid of the dreadful vestment. It was hard for me to do [but I got rid of it], not because my conscience drove me but for the sake of others to whom I desired to be of service.” [LW 54:338]

Moses seems to be making a difference between the seeds and the green herbage, perhaps because the latter were to serve for the use of the beasts, the former for that of man. I have no doubt that the seeds we use for food today were far more excellent then than they are now. Moreover, Adam would not have eaten the various kinds of meat, as the less delightful food, in preference to the delightful fruits of the earth, whereas for us nothing is more delicious than meat. From the use of these fruits there would not have resulted that leprous obesity, but physical beauty and health and a sound state of the humors. But now people do not content themselves with meats, with vegetables, or with grain; and rather often, because of unsuitable food, we face dangers of health. I am saying nothing about those increasingly widespread sins of overindulgence in food and drink which are worse than brutish. The curse which followed because of sin is apparent. It is also likely that only then were the accursed and pernicious insects produced out of the earth, which was cursed because of man’s sin. But here comes the question of how the granting to Adam of the enjoyment of all the trees of the field harmonizes with the later assignment to him of a single portion of the earth for tilling, the portion called Paradise. It is also asked whether the whole earth is called Paradise, etc. But we shall put off these matters to the second chapter. [LW 1:72]

And you, pope, presume to make it a sin if I do not wear a cowl. But the more persistent the pope is with this demand, the more resolutely must I defy him. They make bold to declare it a sin if I marry a nonvirgin, and they declare me qualified for the ministry if I marry a pure virgin. I suppose I could abstain from meat if free choice were accorded me in the matter. But if the eating of meat is to be stamped as sin, I shall not abstain. If they tell me: “You owe the church obedience, and this is forbidden by the church!” I reply: “I refuse to fast, just because you demand it; for so I have been commanded, or I forfeit eternal bliss.” In such an event I must insist on my Christian liberty.[LW 22:451]

Monday, May 23, 2011

Camping Sets New Date for the End of the World

October 21, 2011.

I've got Camping on now. It's pathetic. I'm recording it, and the mp3 will be available tonight.

Update: The mp3 of tonight's Open Forum can be found here.

Recent Camping Sighting

Live feed to Family radio for tonight's Open Forum: Family Radio's radio broadcast

Hear also NPR's recent update (mp3)

Doomsday Believers Cope With An Intact World

"Judgment Day has come and passed, but it was a spiritual judgment on the world," he explains. "There is no more salvation. Salvation is over with. The fact is we have 153 days, and on the 21st of October, the world will end."

Did Luther Regret the Reformation?

Over on the Catholic Answers apologetics forum, a participant rhetorically asked if "Luther thought his reformation effective."  Then a link to a pro-Roman Catholic blog was given which cites extensively from Henry O'Connor, S.J.: Luther's Own Statements Concerning His Teaching and Its Results (New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1884, second edition). O'Connor's little book is a complete vilification of Luther from the first to last page (see my review here).

Many of the earlier pre-1930 Roman Catholic controversialists put forth the conclusion that the Reformation was a failure: it didn't produce any real fruit, and Luther's own words and the state of Protestantism at the time prove it. Protestantism isn't a movement of the church. It is the result of heresy, and heresy never leads anyone to true holiness. Statements are typically brought forth from late in Luther's career, indicting him of regret for starting the Reformation. I've looked at many such quotes over the years:

Luther: the world grows every day the worse for this teaching; and the misery of it is, that men are nowadays more covetous, more hard-hearted, more corrupt, more licentious, and more wicked, than of old under the Papacy

Luther: Our evangels are now sevenfold more wicked than they were before

Luther: People are Worse Than They Were Under The Papacy

Luther: The Gospel Made Things Worse Than Before

Luther: We Have To Pay for the Disasters of My Preaching

Luther: Protestants Have Contempt of the Gospel

Luther: We Do Not Act Upon the Evangel

Luther: I Have Given Up on Germany

Luther: Protestants' "Manner of Life" No Better Than That of the "Papists"

Luther: Under the Evangel, no one will give a penny... Under The Papacy it snowed alms

Luther: Those who ought to be good Christians because they have heard the gospel, are harder and more merciless than before

Luther: I fear that we are a greater offense to God than the papists

Luther: They accuse us of being rebels, of having destroyed the unity of the Church

Luther: We Germans are now the...shame of all the countries

Luther: All is forgotten that God has done for the world through me

Luther: Our (people) are now seven times worse than they ever were before. We steal, lie, cheat, . . . and commit all manner of vices.

Luther: There are nowadays almost as many sects and creeds as there are heads

It's one thing to argue Luther suffered from depression or had a despondency over the state of things, it's quite another to use his words to prove he had a sense of "failure and guilt" over the preaching of the Gospel, or that he was in agony over the Gospel going forth into the world and the trouble he admitted and expected it would cause. Luther wasn't postmillennial. While he was discouraged that the world seemed to be getting worse, his eschatological expectation can be traced back even to the early days of his Reformation work. For Luther, it was the end of the world. Things were indeed going to get worse. The Gospel was going to be fought against by the Devil with all his might. The true church was a tiny flock in a battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. He hoped the people would improve with the preaching of the Gospel, he often admitted he knew things were going to get worse because of the Gospel.

Here's the big picture, so to speak, in many Romanist minds: the Reformation was a failure and was morally bankrupt. It didn't produce good fruit, nor were its result any better than those of the corrupt church Luther and the Reformers fought against. Luther knew this, and admitted it. He died despondent over the mess he created. Heretics never lead good lives, nor produce good fruit. Since Rome is the true church and the Reformation was a failure, we as separated brethren must reunite with her. Trent cleaned up the situation as well, so what are Protestants waiting for? It's only by being in the true church that someone can attain true holiness. Simply read through Janssen, Denifle or O'Conor. This sentiment jumps off many of the pages.

The most recent edition of Luther's Works (volume 58) focuses specially on Luther's later sermons.  The introduction makes the following pertinent observation:

The tensions between Luther and the Wittenberg congregation came to a head in Luther's resolution during the summer of 1545 to abandon Wittenberg and to retire with Katy and his family to the countryside, until he was finally persuaded by the petitions of the elector and the university to return. But though dramatic, Luther's brief self-imposed exile from Wittenberg during the last year of his life was in fact not unprecedented. In 1530, before his departure for the Coburg during the Diet of Augsburg, Luther had announced that he would not preach in Wittenberg anymore, and similar threats, sometimes carried through for several weeks at a time, were repeated both before and after.

Luther's complaints about the Wittenberg congregation have been taken as evidence of his personal despair at the end of his life and as an admission of the broader failure of the Reformation at the hands of its foremost exponent. But Luther's sharp criticism must be understood in the context of his own theology and apocalyptic understanding, and set alongside his contemporary statements (often, indeed, within the same sermons) of satisfaction and hope. Although Luther discouraged and even ridiculed efforts (including those of his own friends) to predict the end of the world, he understood the history of the Church, from the time of the apostles to his own era, in view of the coming Last Day. Throughout history, the true Church, gathered around the preaching of the pure Gospel, had been and would always be opposed not only by enemies without but also by false preachers and heretics in its own midst. Indeed, the ferocity of such opposition and resistance, spurred on by the devil, was one of the marks of the true Church and of the pure doctrine. In light of such an understanding, a Reformation that was an unchallenged success would ipso facto have been a failure.

As such, the faults of Evangelical congregations denounced in Luther's preaching were themselves testimonies to the purity of the Gospel being proclaimed in their midst; emphasizing them in preaching constituted a response to the theological claims both of the Antinomians, who denied that the Law should be preached to Christians, and of the Anabaptists, who were understood to demand the radical perfection of Christians in their communities. To be sure, Luther was in full earnest in denouncing sins of greed and usury and demanding their reformation. But the root cause, the fault of coldness toward the Gospel, became in Luther's preaching a confirmation of the truth of his doctrine. In his next-to-last sermon of February 7, 1546, Luther complained of the devotion of the Christians in Eisleben:

If you do go to the Sacrament, you go and come away again like a block of wood, or you let other people go to it and stay away yourself. So, too, you hear God's Word and that God's Son has died for you with no more devotion than if someone had said to you that the Turk had slain the sultan or the emperor had captured the king of France or some other tale, and you think it has no bearing on you, and you are as cold as ice and do not enkindle your heart nor take any thought for your soul or eternal life. That is what careless, wild people do, who take no thought for God.

But Luther is not in fact concerned here to distinguish better Christians from worse ones, denouncing the coldly indifferent and demanding warmer devotion. Instead, he insists that this resistance to the Gospel is the result of original sin even among the best of believers:

Yea, indeed, and we, the best of Christians, do the same. We are able neither to possess this joy nor to bring it into our hearts, though we gladly would. It will not penetrate the heart, bone, and marrow; it does not savor and live; it does not comfort and gladden us as it should. The old Adam and our sinful nature do this; the sin, which still lurks within us, compels me and you so that we do not believe it.

Luther's answer, then, is not to demand perfection, but to direct his hearers back to the catechism:

Therefore St. Peter says in the Second Epistle, chapter 3 [:18):... "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Prepare yourselves, you Christians, so that you do not think: "We have learned and believe all there is to know about the catechism, Christ, the Sacrament, Baptism, and Absolution." You have just begun and are still very young students. Therefore, think about how you may increase and grow and always continue learning what it means that Christ died for your sakes, so that this does not remain on your tongue like foam or spittle but penetrates and enters the heart, so that it comforts and gladdens you.

After all, Luther says, it is only the heretics, like the ancient Donatists or the modern Anabaptists, who imagine that individual Christians or the Christian Church as a whole can become entirely pure and perfect in this life. The lackluster faith and devotion of Evangelical Christians described by Luther thus becomes, in the context of his theology, a proof of the truth of Lutheran teaching over against Anabaptist claims. Luther's "disappointment" was as much a homiletical posture determined by the expectations of his theology as it was a matter of dispassionate observation.

Luther's complaints about coldness toward the Gospel appear alongside and indeed presuppose his confident declarations that, in fact, the Gospel is being abundantly preached and proclaimed, not only in the churches by faithful pastors, not only in the schools—of which Luther boasts even as he pleads for more generous support—but also in homes, among parents and children, as he says in his last sermon: "You hear at home in your house, father and mother and children sing and speak of it, the preacher speaks of it in the parish church." The Gospel is thus communicated from one generation to the next—and back again. It is to the children, with whom Luther habitually associates knowledge of the Christian Creed, that he refers adults who have questions about Christian faith, and upon the youth, "the seedlings with which the Church of God, like a beautiful garden, is cultivated and propagated," that the reformer continues to place undiminished hopes. The Reformation, as Luther understands it at the end of his life, is neither an accomplished event nor a step along the progressive way to the full purification of the Church, but it is a continual struggle, carried out through the preaching of the Law and the Gospel, to be renewed from generation to generation until the Last Day. LW 58:xx-xxii

Harold Camping to Speak Tonight

I guess we'll have an Open forum tonight...


False Doomsday prophet Harold Camping has told the International Business Times (IBTimes) that he would be making a public statement on or by tomorrow night in a “public forum” explaining why he had predicted May 21, 2011 as the Judgment Day and why it had failed, Camping, who has refused to meet the media till now or give any interview, agreed to meet IBTimes at his house in Alameda, Calif., and said that he would explain everything in the public forum tomorrow.

When asked why he hasn’t yet given any explanation till now, Camping, who looked dazed and confused, said he needed some time to think and recover.

The president of Family Radio, however, did not tell IBTimes the time the forum would be convened.

The Doomsday prophet predicted that the End of the World would start on May 21, 2011 at 6 p.m. when about 200 million people would Rapture while the remaining ones left behind will witness natural disasters, including earthquake that would make the Japan’s recent earthquake “look like a Sunday school picnic in comparison.” The World will be completely destroyed on October 21, 2011.

And also:

Camping, who could not be traced since Friday night till Sunday, told IBTimes reporters in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon that it is a big deal and he has got to live it.

“Give me a day, no interviews at all today. Sorry. You know this is a big deal, big deal, and I've got to live with it and I've got to think it out. So no interview,” said Camping, who looked tired and dazed.

When he was not in front of the video camera, Camping added that he will give a public statement on Monday night and that Family Radio will continue to “operate as normal”.