Building A Scripturalist Church

churchA reader of this blog, David Reece, has had it on his mind for a long time to start a church based on Scripturalist principles.  In fact, he has taken the first steps by calling believers in the Phoenix area to come join his efforts. To that end he provided his contact information in the combox of this blog.  So, if you are in the Phoenix area and this sounds like something you might want to be a part of you can contact David at dcreece (at) gmail (dot) com.  Besides, with the PCA imploding before our eyes the time might be ripe for such a project. 

Now, admittedly, when David contacted me in the past my own interest in the project has been quite low.  As I explained to David, I just don’t have the time or the resources to devote myself to being involved in the founding of a church, much less a new denomination. I don’t know all that it will take, but I think I would just be happy just with more Clark friendly churches.  Besides, I don’t see the need for a Scripturalist church any more than I would think there should be Van Tillian churches (which is something the OPC has sought to become even to this day where well placed and influential Van Tillians have even tried to block the admission of Dr. Robert Reymond into their clique).

Besides, the last attempt I saw at a supposedly “Scripturalist” church was Drake Shelton’s white supremacist anti-trinitarian church complete with a phony website with Clark’s picture prominently displayed.  Needless to say with friends like these….   Thankfully, the extent of this  “church” remains something that exists only in Drake’s racist Christ denying mind and he said he removed all references to Clark on his website.  Let’s hope he keeps it that way.

I think my concern is that Scripturalism is a philosophy, not an institution.  That’s not to say that Scripturalism shouldn’t inform all institutions and not just churches.  But, I think if Clark’s philosophy was simply understood as Clark understood it then its application to the founding of a church or an entire denomination would be immediately appealing to even those with little familiarity with Clark.  Every church should be based on Scripturalist principles as Scripture alone, which rightly understood includes every necessary inference we might draw from Scripture, should be the underlying principle that informs how every church is governed and structured.  That’s not Scriputralist per se but confessional and specifically the Westminster variety.  In fact, and as many here already know, it was John Robbins who coined the term “Scripturalism” to describe the presuppositional and uniquely biblical philosophy of Gordon Clark.  On the other hand, Clark was not so much interested in a descriptive name for his system and even referred to it as anything from the unflattering “Dogmatism” to the highly appealing description he gave it during his exchange with George Mavordes calling it “the Westminster principle.”

So what would a church founded on the Westminster principle look like? Interesting, David reminded me of a piece John Robbins wrote back in 1989 simply title, “The Church.” In the piece John fleshes out a number of underlying principles that are frankly arresting when you compare them to most current Protestant denominations.  I think the most revolutionary aspect of the biblical picture John paints, and where it is sure to receive the most resistance, is that it takes direct aim at the professional pastor class.  John writes:

The next observation that I wish to make is that all the teachers in the church are to be paid: Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. Paul did not ordinarily receive compensation from the churches he helped establish, but he was quite clear in asserting the propriety and the duty of paying teachers according to their competence and diligence. Today many churches pay only one teacher, the minister or priest or pastor, and if they are large enough his associate, his secretary, the janitor, the choir director, and maybe the organist. But that is not what Paul commands. All the oxen, all the teachers, especially those who do their job well and eagerly, are to be paid. That does not mean that they must live solely from the fruits of their labor in the church, but it does mean that their work is to be recognized as valuable by the congregation.

If men are to be elected from the congregation as teachers, chances are they will already have another job by which they can support themselves should the congregation fire them. This would have several beneficial side-effects. If teachers are not completely dependent upon the congregation for their livelihood, they might be less apt to suppress truths that the congregation does not want to hear. Second, if the teachers can partially support themselves, the congregation will be able to support all the teachers according to their competence and diligence. Rather than paying one large salary to one man, the congregation will be able to pay smaller salaries to several men.

This division of labor would have several additional benefits: First, it would tend to reduce burnout. No one man would be expected to carry the load for the church. Second, it would ensure that the church would continue its purpose uninterruptedly should one teacher resign, die, or become involved in a scandal. Third, it would reduce the personality cult and conflict that sometimes cause people to attend and to leave the church because they like or do not like the pastor or the way he preaches. There would be no central figure to like or dislike. There are many more additional benefits from having a plurality of teachers, some of which may not become obvious until it is tried. It is difficult to imagine all the ramifications of a system of church organization that has not been tried in modern times.

Of course, while the above is certainly attractive, what then of all those M.Div. degrees?  What then becomes of seminaries that feed the denominations with pastors trained in the philosophic leanings and theological tendencies, if not peculiarities, of a specific seminary?   John finds a solution for this too:

This plurality of teachers was the common practice of the apostolic church. Acts 14:23 says that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church. Plural, not singular. One kind of leader, not two, three, four or five. There were no bishops, no right reverends, no cardinals, no archbishops-and certainly no popes. Elders, we are told in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus l, are to be teachers. There was no such thing as a ruling elder who did not teach in the apostolic church order. There is only one set of requirements for the office of elder, and an elder is to be able to teach. Paul did not require seminary training of some elders and not for others. Nor, and this is also very important, was there a teacher who was not ordained. This is because the only way of ruling in the church is by teaching.

Notice, there is no such thing as a “ruling elder” and the only way of “ruling in the church is by teaching.”  That’s not to say that a seminary education is of no value, it’s just not required.  Again, and for anyone familiar with modern ecclesiastic polity and church structure this is earth shattering. There is no need to call this model of church government and structure “Scripturalist,” because it must be so offensive to the pride of men who have worked so hard and have been called to pastor a church that it would be rejected outright no matter what you call it.  Calling it “Scripturalist” only makes it that much easier for the professional pastoring class to dismiss it.  Besides, if what John is describing is a picture of a biblical church the message to pastors reading it is to get a “real job.”  On the other hand, if John is correct, and I think for the most part he is, then the biblical model of the church is far more organic and “ground up” rather than “top down” than anyone could have imagined.

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45 Comments on “Building A Scripturalist Church”

  1. Denson Dube Says:

    I just want to offer words of encouragement to David and others who share in this vision. All we need to do for error to triumph and the truth to be obscured is for those who know the truth to do nothing.
    There is only one sure foundation for a church or our faith as individuals, and that is Christ, the Christ of scripture, alone. The purpose of the church or a congregation and each one of us as believers is to glorify Christ. I believe, to that end, a church or congregation or individual Christians should hold the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura or Scripturalism, and not the popular pagan Thomian mixture of sensation and revelation.


  2. Van Til’s legacy is the PCA, which is for all practical purposes a neo-orthodox, Arminian, and finally Federal Visionist.


  3. Denomination, that is.

  4. brandonadams Says:

    In Defense of Parity looks at a number of these issues

  5. Hugh McCann Says:

    There are also these resources from the Trinity Foundation:

    …a church registry and clearinghouse. Please note: We are not establishing a new denomination; but we are providing a much-needed service to both congregations that are faithful to Scripture and to families who are looking for such faithful congregations. By publishing this church registry we hope to offer some modest help to both individual Christians looking for an acceptable place to worship, and to congregations seeking Christians for mutual edification and to evangelize their communities. We do not guarantee that everyone will be satisfied with every church in this Registry; the user is always under the obligation to compare what is taught by these churches with Scripture. But the churches listed in the registry have answered several questions (and their answers are posted here as well) that will enable those Christians seeking churches to evaluate them better.

    At one time, brand names, that is denominations, conveyed some useful information to the inquirer. But today, denominational brand names mean almost nothing. One can hear more-Biblical sermons, and see more-Biblical practice in some non-denominational churches than one can in some professedly Reformed churches. We intend to screen churches that wish to be listed on this registry so that it will be of some help to Christians. Any church interested in being listed in the registry should complete the Questionnaire.

    Questionnaire ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/churchquestion.php

    Church registry ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/churchapproved.php

  6. Hugh McCann Says:

    If, as you say, “Van Tillians have even tried to block the admission of Dr. Robert Reymond into their clique,” ought he not then rejoice?!

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    I said they tried. I didn’t say the succeeded.

  8. Hugh McCann Says:

    Oops – his bad.


  9. Clark left the OPC and the PCA behind. I don’t see anything wrong with starting a new denomination. The theonomists have done that–including Doug Wilson. At least a Scripturalist denomination would have some sort of commitment to the system of theology taught in the Bible. Van Tilians are as slippery as eels.

    Charlie


  10. I guess Anglicans are excluded by that questionaire. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer has a lectionary. In fact, you can read the entire Bible in one year if you follow the Morning and Evening Prayer services.


  11. The Reformed Anglicans do not have candles on the Lord’s table. Nor do they endorse high church vestments like the cope, etc. Some do wear the collar, surplice and the cassock. I personally do not think the cassock or surplice or collar would be considered “high church.” The other vestments like the chasuble, cope, etc. would be.

    The Declaration of Principles of the Reformed Episcopal Church would reflect my views.

    I don’t believe that church polity in and of itself is a matter to divide over. Apostolic succession? Yes. A more reformed understanding of episcopal polity would exclude any Anglo-Catholic or papist views on the Ordinal. The episcopal form of polity is only valid as it follows apostolic doctrine as it is recorded in Holy Scripture. Other than that any episcopal form of church government is invalid.

    I’m a rare breed in the Anglican circles. In fact, I might be the only Scripturalist Anglican person around. I don’t know of any others, frankly.

    The Calvinists in the Anglican Communion are generally Van Tilians or worse, including Gerald Bray and Lee Gatiss. Packer is no better.

    What piqued my interest about Clark, however, was that during his time in Philadelphia in the 1940s he was an adjunct professor at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary there. Unfortunately, the REC has since then gone off in the Anglo-Catholic direction. They now openly embrace what caused them to leave the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1873. Sad.

    I have found Clark making reference to the Te Deum Laudamus and other portions of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. He apparently didn’t have a problem with the more Reformed side of Anglicanism. He even mentioned W. H. Griffith Thomas a few times. Thomas was a Dispensationalist and a Reformed Episcopalian in Canada. His textbook on the 39 Articles is still officially used at the REC seminary in South Carolina.

    Charlie

  12. Ron Says:

    I appreciate your thoughts, Sean. Great balance on many levels.

    The Reymond thing is shocking but that’s where partisanship can get you. Any denomination would be fortunate to have him.

  13. Hugh Says:

    Anglicans excluded from scripturalism? Uh, yeah.

    The Reformed Anglicans do not have candles on the Lord’s table. Nor do they endorse high church vestments like the cope, etc. Some do wear the collar, surplice and the cassock. I personally do not think the cassock or surplice or collar would be considered “high church.” The other vestments like the chasuble, cope, etc. would be.

    And the # of guys who hate vestments calling themselves Anglican could hold a convention in a phone booth.

    The Declaration of Principles of the Reformed Episcopal Church would reflect my views.

    But 140 years out, the doc is neglected by all but the AOC & PEC here in the US. And these are not in communion with each other, are they? Plus, they’re 1928 BCP guys.

    It’s a hard sell to call Anglicans Scripturalists. Much as we love bits of the various BCPs, and the Calvinist Anglicans like Ryle or McIlvaine, or Bridges, these are a teensy minority in a stream that invariably defaults to ceremony & costumery & sacerdotalism. Witness the REC’s slide. 😦

  14. Sean Gerety Says:

    OK, enough with the “you can’t be a Scripturalist” game. Besides, Augustus Toplady rocks.

  15. Hugh Says:

    Yea, he doth. 🙂

  16. Joe B Says:

    Hugh,

    “And the # of guys who hate vestments calling themselves Anglican could hold a convention in a phone booth.”

    Make that a large phone booth. I am a big guy!

    (Though, of a Anglican – former REC – background, I am not willing to be associated with the apostasy that is Anglicanism today so disdain the description “Anglican”.)

  17. Lauren Says:

    So does Paul when he has the guts to curse himself if he were to preach another gospel:
    http://rdkgal.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-pcas-curse.html

  18. Denson Dube Says:

    In South Africa, there is a whole (micro)Anglican denomination, the CESA(Church of England in South Africa), that does not do smells and bells, nor costumery, etc etc!
    Their motto is, “The Bible above all things”.

    @Charlie: “I’m a rare breed in the Anglican circles. In fact, I might be the only Scripturalist Anglican person around. I don’t know of any others, frankly.”
    That probably makes two of us, probably 7000, as in Elijah’s day. I’ve been an Anglican for some 17 years. A presbyterian for 4 years before that, when I had to move geographically and the only evangelical congregation I could find in my new environ was CESA.

    I have learned that labels count for very little, nowadays. It is hard to find God fearing men and women who hold to a high view of the scriptures and believe in the absolute sovereignity of God in election and predestination. Many prefer their vain thoughts to God’s eternal and unchanging plan revealed in his holy word.

  19. David Reece Says:

    Sean,

    Thank you for bringing attention to the effort to form a solid Scripturalist church in Phoenix, Arizona. I understand your concerns regarding the confusion of institutions with ideas. I want to clarify.

    Scripturalism is an idea, not an institution. Christianity is an idea, not an institution. Scripturalism is Christianity consistently expressed from beginning to end. I want to form Christian churches that have not abandoned the axiom of Christianity, I want to help to prevent the perversion of the Westminster Principle.

    I want to help to maintain the pure preaching of the gospel of justification by the mercy of God alone through simple belief alone in the substitutionary and expiatory work of Christ as the perfect lamb of God..Christ is the new Adam, meriting the reward of life in the place of His people.

    I agree that institutions cannot take the place of ideas.

    Christianity demands, as a part of the law, not as a part of the gospel, the formation of churches. When churches become false churches through a loss of the marks of the church, then it is the obligation of true believers to form new assemblies and to come out from among the false assemblies.

    Scripturalism is just biblical Christianity, and biblical Christianity commands us to not forsake the assembly of the saints. This is law, not gospel. Many men will go to heaven having failed to be good churchmen, but we were made to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever. Forming churches in accordance with the Word of God does display the glory of our King. God has instituted the church. A subset of Christianity is Ecclesiology.

    To all who would listen,

    Study what the Scriptures teach about the church. Let us begin to gather. Christ will build His church with or without you, but he has commanded us all to gather and seek unity of doctrine by reasoning through scripture together and in private. Only through unity of doctrine can unity of practice and of mission and all of the benefits of friendship and fellowship be obtained.

    Why did God establish the church? To be a pillar of truth. Can we choose to simply wait to die while the church blow this way and that way with every wind of doctrine? No.

    We are not called to take back the apostate churches. We are called to come out from among them. Please, contact me if you want to help to form a Scripuralist church.

    dcreece at gmail dot com

  20. David Reece Says:

    Sean,

    I am glad that you highlighted the portion of the article that attacks the separation between congregations and the pastors that is create by the current unbiblical forms of church polity. The distinction between teaching elder and ruling elders is unbiblical and is the source of much popery. Also, the current methods of selecting and installing pastors are sub-biblical.

    Furthermore, the biblical church is meant to raise up men who can lead families well in the hopes that they will rise to be qualified elders and thus create a self training and self replicating institution for the teaching of the truth (i.e. the Word of God alone), administer the sacraments purely, and adjudicate discipline and disputes.

    Only a biblical model, the one explained by John W. Robbins, can possibly fight energetically enough against the heresies and errors which are now propounded all about us.

    Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few. Let us fight manfully to restore the worship of our God aright in this land. Let The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth in our assemblies.

  21. Cliffton Says:

    David: …God has instituted the church. A subset of Christianity is Ecclesiology.

    Cliffton: …God has instituted government. A subset of Christianity is a biblical doctrine of government. God has instituted marriage (and by implication, the family). A subset of Christianity is a biblical doctrine of marriage. Forming governments “in accordance with the Word of God does display the glory of our King.” Forming marriages (and families) “in accordance with the Word of God does display the glory of our King.” “Why did God establish” goverernment? To punish the law violator and to reward the righteous. “Why did God establish” marriage? The institution of marriage serves as a type of Christ’s relationship to His people. And, God desires a godly seed. Relative to the law, men will go to hell “having failed to be good” citizens of government. Relative to the law, many men will go to hell “having failed to be good” husbands/wives/family members. “Christianity demands, as a part of the” gospel that Christians go out into all the world making disciples, baptizing them, teaching them to observe EVERYTHING the scriptures teach, Christ having been given all authority both in the heavens and on earth.

    “To all who would listen”,

    “Study what the Scriptures teach about” government. “Study what the Scriptures teach about” the institution of marriage. “Let us begin to” think correctly about ALL things. “Christ will build His church with or without you.” Christ will build His church with AND without you. Yes, without you!

  22. David Reece Says:

    Clifton,

    I agree with you that God established government to punish evil doers and to protect, avenge, and give praise to those who do well. I agree that Marriage is a representation of the relationship between Christ and the Church (along with other purposes), and the Church exists to worship God through teaching the truth, administering he sacraments, and adjudicating discipline and disputes. all o these institutions are designed to ultimately display the glory of God.

    You said, “‘Christianity demands, as a part of the’ gospel that Christians go out into all the world making disciples, baptizing them, teaching them to observe EVERYTHING the scriptures teach, Christ having been given all authority both in the heavens and on earth.”

    I agree with your emphasis on the need to teach the whole counsel of God. The churches ought to teach everything that God has communicated by His Word.

    I have to clarify what you mean here though. We must be careful to not confuse. You said, “‘Christianity demands, as a part of the’ gospel …”

    The Gospel proper does not demand anything. It only gives. the gospel can be used in a wider sense to refer to the whole counsel of God given to us in Scripture, but if you mean specifically the Gospel proper, the message by which men are saved which does not include the law, then I must disagree and say that your message is heresy.

    So, do you mean that the gospel proper demands something or do you mean that the broad gospel which contains the law as a subset is what demands that we do something?

    Regarding your last sentence, “Yes, without you!” Was that directed at me or was it a general you? in either case it is true.

    I would appreciate a more unveiled explanation of objections if objecting is your purpose. If that was not your purpose would you mind explaining your purpose?

  23. Hugh McCann Says:

    David,

    Perhaps this is better: Christianity demands that along with proclaiming the gospel, Christians go out into all the world making disciples, baptizing them, teaching them to observe EVERYTHING the scriptures teach…?

    AMEN to this:

    We must be careful to not confuse. You said, “Christianity demands, as a part of the’ gospel…”

    The Gospel proper does not demand anything. It only gives.

    …and promises!

    Hugh

  24. David Reece Says:

    Hugh,

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you just said above.

  25. Cliffton Says:

    David: The Gospel proper does not demand anything. It only gives. the gospel can be used in a wider sense to refer to the whole counsel of God given to us in Scripture, but if you mean specifically the Gospel proper, the message by which men are saved which does not include the law, then I must disagree and say that your message is heresy.

    Cliffton: There is only one gospel, not two as you suggest. That gospel is the power of God. In it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. That faith upholds the law. The law is not made void through faith, quite the contrary. Faith establishes the law. A “gospel” that is without law is by definition illegitimate.

    The good news is good relative to God and what He thinks (God alone is good). It’s not “good” because man happens to think its “good” for him. The gospel is good news whether man thinks so or not (and no unregenerate thinks it’s good). And this is true because God thinks so. You think it’s good because God doesnt demand you to do anything to be saved (as if you could do anything anyways apart from His immediate power). But the truth is, God doesn’t demand you to do anything to be damned either (as if you could do anything anyways apart from His immediate power). He just damns you. And this is good. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Get this right before you begin leading a campaign for one (of at least three) institutions of God.

  26. David Reece Says:

    Clifton,

    The straw man you flail at is unimpressive.

    I do not argue that the gospel makes no demands because it is “good.” Although the gospel is certainly good.

    No I argue that the gospel makes no demand (gives no commands) because news is indicative and commands are imperative.

    The gospel is good news, not good law.

    By grace through faith apart from works are men justified.

    There is only one gospel, but the word gospel is used in two senses in the Bible. One sense refers to the narrow idea of the saving news of the work of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15).

    Are you arguing that men are justified before God by faith and good works?

  27. Cliffton Says:

    David: The Gospel proper does not demand anything. It only gives. the gospel can be used in a wider sense to refer to the whole counsel of God given to us in Scripture, but if you mean specifically the Gospel proper, the message by which men are saved which does not include the law, then I must disagree and say that your message is heresy.

    Cliffton: There is only one gospel, not two as you suggest. That gospel is the power of God. In it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. That faith upholds the law. The law is not made void through faith, quite the contrary. Faith establishes the law. A “gospel” that is without law is by definition illegitimate.

    The good news is good relative to God and what He thinks (God alone is good). It’s not “good” because man happens to think its “good” for him. The gospel is good news whether man thinks so or not (and no unregenerate thinks it’s good). And this is true because God thinks so. You think it’s good because God doesnt demand you to do anything to be saved (as if you could do anything anyways apart from His immediate power). But the truth is, God doesn’t demand you to do anything to be damned either (as if you could do anything anyways apart from His immediate power). He just damns you. And this is good. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

    Get this right before you begin leading a campaign for one (of at least three) institutions of God.

    David: The straw man you flail at is unimpressive. I do not argue that the gospel makes no demands because it is “good.” Although the gospel is certainly good.

    Cliffton: No, you argue that it is good because it makes no demands.

    David: No I argue that the gospel makes no demand (gives no commands) because news is indicative and commands are imperative.

    Cliffton: That God commands we shall have no other gods before Him is indicative of God’s imperative.

    David: There is only one gospel, but the word gospel is used in two senses in the Bible.

    Cliffton: Before you argue for two gospels (“broad” and “proper”), now you argue for one gospel in two senses. I suppose now the gospel distinguishes between gospel and gospel.

    David: One sense refers to the narrow idea of the saving news of the work of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15).

    Cliffton: Does that narrow idea involve a correct understanding of God, Man, Christ, Salvation, Law, and Scripture?

    David: Are you arguing that men are justified before God by faith and good works?

    Cliffton: Now who’s grasping at straws? You argue for a gospel without law (literally an illegitimate “gospel”) and then speak of “justification”. David, your confused. At the very least don’t start a campaign for one (of at least three) God ordained institutions. Less you incur greater guilt for leading people astray by your double talk.

  28. Hugh McCann Says:

    What, indeed, is the gospel? The late John Robbins argued

    The Gospel is information about a past, historical event. Each of the three words past, historical, and event is of vital significance for understanding what the Gospel is. The Gospel of the apostles was something that had happened. They all looked back upon it… The “past-ness” of the Gospel is one of its essential aspects. The Gospel was not a vision. It was not a dream. The Gospel is good news about an event that happened in history.

    The historical nature of the Gospel -its past, historical nature- has certain important consequences. First, you cannot exhort the Gospel. It is logically impossible. You cannot exhort a past, historical work. You can only declare it, proclaim it, and publish it abroad. Exhortation is good (because it is Biblical) and needed, but it is not the Gospel and is not included in the Gospel. Notice, we are not saying that it is not included in a sermon wherein the Gospel is preached. We are simply saying that if it is included in a “Gospel sermon,” it must not be a part of the Gospel.

    Second, not only can you not exhort the Gospel, but you cannot experience the Gospel. The Gospel cannot be experienced….

    The Gospel is information about Jesus Christ and no other person. The Gospel is information about a past, historical event. The event is past, not present or future. It is an historical event and not an existential experience, encounter, or a relationship. Unless we are preaching about a past, historical event, we are not preaching the Gospel.

    The Gospel is information about the perfect work of God in Jesus Christ alone on behalf of his people. The Gospel alone is the power of God for salvation-for the salvation even of the believer. Our sanctification is dependent upon the Gospel as its source, protection, and final covering before the great judgment throne of God. We must always resist isolating sanctification from the Gospel at any point in the Christian walk. Those who identify the Gospel and sanctification and those who wish to include sanctification as a part of the Gospel end up divorcing sanctification from the Gospel. So often the cry, “Sanctification! More sanctification!” means, “Away with the Gospel! More good works!” This Gospel denies other gospels, which are not the Gospel…

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=159

  29. Hugh McCann Says:

    Cliffton,
    Just out of curiosity, what is your take on Romans 2:13?
    Thanks,
    Hugh

  30. Steve M Says:

    David: “the gospel can be used in a wider sense to refer to the whole counsel of God given to us in Scripture, but if you mean specifically the Gospel proper, the message by which men are saved which does not include the law, then I must disagree and say that your message is heresy.”

    “David: There is only one gospel, but the word gospel is used in two senses in the Bible.

    Cliffton: Before you argue for two gospels (“broad” and “proper”), now you argue for one gospel in two senses. I suppose now the gospel distinguishes between gospel and gospel.”

    @Clifffton: I appears obvious to me that David, in both cases, is referring to two senses in which the word “gospel” is used. In neither is he contending for two gospels. It also seems to me that you have a huge chip on your shoulder. I wish, if you are going to continue to write such long posts, that you would make an effort to communicate some intelligible point.

  31. Cliffton Says:

    Steve (“And yes, I am moronic”): I appears obvious to me that David, in both cases, is referring to two senses in which the word “gospel” is used.

    Cliffton: Well Steve, last time we conversed you were a self proclaimed moron (thus my parenthetical inclusion of your self attestation). And what’s obvious to a moron is, well, not saying too much. At any rate, what David is arguing for is a single “gospel” with two different definitions. And one definition excludes the other. And, per David’s posts, that “Gospel proper…which does not include the law” includes justification. The implication being that his understanding of “justification” is not forensic!!! And yet, he’s campaigning for one (of at least three) God ordained institutions. The conclusion of the matter is, Steve is still a moron and David should spend more time in the word before contemplating a campaign for one (of at least three) God ordained institutions.

  32. Hugh McCann Says:

    Andy Kaufman lives! 🙂

  33. Steve M Says:

    Clifffton
    Obviously I am not equipped to argue with someone of your intellectual prowess, but I can’t help hoping that eventually you will find a way to use that massive intellect you possess to make at least one intelligible point. I am still waiting. Hopefully David has seen the futility of continuing a dialog with you by now.

  34. David Reece Says:

    To clarify, Steve M interpreted my writing in the way that I intended to be taken.

    The term “gospel” is used in two different senses in Scripture.

    Furthermore, I understand that the preaching of the whole counsel of God (gospel sense 2) is useful in evangelism because evangelism requires men to understand the ways in which the good law of God has demanded what they cannot provide.

    Bad news prepares the sinner to hear the good news (gospel sense 2).

    BTW Cliffton,

    I was not grasping at straws when I asked if you thought that justification was by faith alone or by faith and works. I was not asking a rhetorical question. I wanted to make sure I knew what you were defending.

    I will be out of town and busy tomorrow. I will try to respond to anything next week.

  35. Cliffton Says:

    David: Bad news prepares the sinner to hear the good news

    Cliffton: Again, you are viewing the gospel in relation to man. So that what is good is understood in terms of what is “good” for man (thus your statement about bad news and its prepatory function). Your perspective is from below, not from above. And for this reason, your understanding of the gospel is inadequate.

    Justification is a legal term and therefore requires the presence of law. To exclude the law from the gospel is to deny the legal nature of justification and makes the gospel illegal. This you do because of your faulty paradigm.

    The gospel is the whole counsel of God, the gospel according to the Scriptures. Anything less is not the gospel.

    And yes, I emphatically confess that man is justified by faith alone APART FROM the works of the law!

    This is my last post.

  36. Steve M Says:

    “This is my last post.”

    Praise the Lord!

  37. David Reece Says:

    Ciffton,

    Is there some place you could point me to as a source to understand your criticism? I agree with you that the law of God is necessary in bringing the sinner to understand his need for a savior and I agree that it is possible to make the law into indicatives by saying “God said you shall not kill.” I also agree that justification requires a legal system.

    I know you said that was your last post, but I want to understand your criticism, so please point me to what you would suggest or explain further.

  38. Cliffton Says:

    David: Is there some place you could point me to as a source to understand your criticism?

    Cliffton: My criticism itself.

    David: I agree with you that the law of God is necessary in bringing the sinner to understand his need for a savior…

    Cliffton: I have not made this point, you have. Nevertheless, Paul does say he would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.

    David: …and I agree that it is possible to make the law into indicatives by saying “God said you shall not kill.”

    Cliffton: Good!

    David: I also agree that justification requires a legal system.

    Cliffton: If you mean by “justification” that justification which is according to scripture, and, if you mean by “legal system” the law of God as recorded in scripture, then you must forsake your Law/Gospel paradigm. It doesn’t exist. It’s simply another man made tradition which boasts a faulty hermenuitic. That is, your “Gospel proper, the message by which men are saved which does not include the law”, is a false gospel. For, biblical justification requires biblical law.

    I suppose your immediate problem is that you equate the term “law” with the idea of “works”. Principally however, the purpose of the law is to define. In addition, I suppose another problem may involve a sinful ambition to maintain a particular tradition, an ecclesiastical tradition (and the language of that tradition). From that vantage point, when I speak of law you think not-gospel. Along with what may be some latent Arminianism, these problems would contribute to a lack of understanding.

  39. Hugh McCann Says:

    Cliffton, will you please prove you assertion?

    ” Principally however, the purpose of the law is to define.”

    It’s a bit cryptic.

  40. Hugh McCann Says:

    Your assertion, Cliffton. Thanks.

  41. Pht Says:

    I would imagine one of the particulars of a “scripturalist” church would be that those who teach would be required to subscribe to whatever creed was chosen … and to write their own understanding of said creeds out clearly… in their own words… and they’d have to define things like justification, faith, saving faith … etc.

    Basically set it up so that those who love “paradox” and its synyonmic cousins would feel SO horribly uncomfortable about the examination process alone that they would think thrice before even going for ordination.

    Maybe even require, for payment and continued ordination, yearly public profession of said creed in local/national media (newspapers, etc). Of course, this would expose the church to the IRS and that lot.

    At this point, I’m wondering if it’s sane at all to apply for ANY sort of IRS tax status or any sort of INC/LLC/ETC – essentially try and legally set the church up to keep caesar OUT of where he doesn’t belong.

  42. David Reece Says:

    Pht,

    Yes, i agree with your first 3 paragraphs.

    The goal is to avoid all irrationalism and to weed out the irrationalists. Defining those terms that you listed and others is a very important part of selecting Ministers of the Word (Elders).

    We have not officially selected a creed or constitution or officers. I am not an officer. I am hopping to gather a few more households together and begin the process of selecting all three. Impersonally subscribe to the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, but I believe that a number of passages should be made more clear.

    I am not sure what to think about legal recognition and tax exemption in this present situation. I understand your concerns. That would be an open matter for discussion from my perspective.

  43. Pht Says:

    David Reece Says:

    May 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Pht,

    We have not officially selected a creed or constitution or officers. I am not an officer.

    Even if you don’t wind up using the WCF in whole, I’d push for seriously considering usage of the first part of the WCF on the bible & good and necessary consequence… I would think it should apply across whatever “denominational” lines that legitimately exist in the actually biblical and reformed churches.

    I am not sure what to think about legal recognition and tax exemption in this present situation. I understand your concerns. That would be an open matter for discussion from my perspective.

    Besides the problems inherent with the IRS, I would suspect that the requirements set for attaining tax-exempt status would amount to “giving caesar” what is God’s.

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/The%20Trinity%20Review%200019a%20TheComingCaesars.pdf

    The review Linked here discusses what I am so poorly trying to get at.

  44. Neil Says:

    I wish Mr. Reece well in his endeavor. A vital ingredient to a healthy church has been wanting in churches of my experience: congregational knowledge of Biblical justice, & moreover, the nerve to practice it when conflict arises (which it always does).
    My last church disaster even involved a Clark fan who unfortunately remained silent while the dominant personality among our supposed plurality of elders successfully railroaded my family on an issue so peripheral I’m embarrassed to mention it. The rest of the church played the coward & did nothing about the blatant malpractice that was witnessed by all.


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