Merry Christmas to all. I hope and pray that everyone has a joyous day and season. Lord willing, I will be visiting my in-laws in Michigan, so posting will be light.
God bless us everyone!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Merry Christmas to all. I hope and pray that everyone has a joyous day and season. Lord willing, I will be visiting my in-laws in Michigan, so posting will be light.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
My favorite team in the NBA, the Denver Nuggets, have recently acquired my least favorite player and the embodiment of all that is wrong in basketball, Allan Iverson. Ever since the rumors began to float about a trade to the Nuggets, I was sure the end of my favorite team was around the corner. However, I must admit that I think the Nuggets made a decent deal, if they had to make it. While I still think making the trade at all was bad for the long run, I can see a benefit for the playoffs by adding someone else who can score, especially from the outside. Better yet, they did not have to trade future star, Nene. By only giving away a mediocre starter who could not hit long jumpers and a bench player who is worthless, the team avoided killing the franchise. I wish they could have kept at least one of the first round picks, but I guess they are willing to bet the team they have now is going to win the West. Anyway, the trade was still a bad idea, but at least I still have hope for the team overall.
On a more serious note, The video a Girl Like Me repeats the doll test of Brown v Board of Education with results that have cause a bit of a stir. It has made many think that racism and stereotypes are still rampant in this country. I want to state up front that segregation was an evil most foul, lest anyone try to twist my next words. I think ABC and those reacting to this test are overreacting and failing to ask a basic question. What everyone would be saying if those kids in Harlem had picked the white doll as the bad doll and black doll as the good doll? Would that indicate that people were being taught to hate those who have different skin color than themselves? Perhaps it is time we realized that this test has no right answer because it demands a value judgment based on skin color. Both answers are racist answers. I do pray for the day when racism ends, but this test means little to nothing.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Since I have taken a bit of a beating over my last post, I thought I should delve into the Young Earth view just a little bit more. The thoughtful Internet Monk has an article about why he rejects the Young Earth view. While it is well thought out and well written, I believe it to be unconvincing in the end. The Monk believes that Genesis 1 is a ‘prescientific’ account, and that Young Earth men like myself fail to take into account the literary genre of Genesis 1. I have a few points of rebuttal, if I am so allowed.
1. I am not sure I agree with the phrase ‘prescientific’ as if science is something man invented. Science is observation, not an invention. Did the Greeks always get science right? No, but they still practiced science. America today does not always get ‘science’ right. I am still not clear as whether butter or margarine is healthier. I understand what the Internet Monk is trying to say, but his terminology needs to be clearer. He does not think Genesis 1 is a Modern Science text. But, I think anyone can agree to that, and I agree to that. We are not told every scientific detail.
2. The Monk uses the example of explaining the birth of a baby to a three year old child. He rightfully would describe it differently to a college senior than to a three year old. He goes on to state that it does not mean he is lying or using allegory, just appropriate language. Again, here we have no disagreement. But, I believe his example actually harms his own position. One could tell a three year old that babies come from the stork. That would be a lie. However, one could tell the three year old a truth without revealing the in-depth details. How does this apply to Genesis 1? Well, if the days of creation are not literal 24 hour days, then God has given us a ‘stork’ explanation that is not true at all. What era of man did not understand ‘evening and morning’ or the concept of a ‘day’? Thus, holding to a ‘prescientific’ narrative does not get one around the difficulty of whether or not the days are literal.
3. The Internet Monk does seem to confound the Creationism or Creation Science with the Biblical position of a Young Earth. I agree with him completely when he says that we do not need scientific testimony to hold to the truthfulness of the Bible. Some Creation Science is out there on the fringe like the idea that the speed of light is not constant. Yet, that should not be confounded with the Biblical arguments. While I do believe there is legitimate science to support a Young Earth position, I don’t need it. If there is no scientific support for my position at all, I will still believe it because the Bible tells me to believe it. Is there science to support life after death? No, but I know there is because it has been revealed in God’s word. All I ask of those who hold to an Old Earth or some other position is to listen to the Biblical argument, not any scientific ones.
4. The idea that the creation story and genealogies of Genesis are theological, not historical, in their purpose also does not solve any problems. The genealogies are specific and people from the 2nd century on have used them to count backwards to Adam and Eve. If this account is ‘prehistorical’ or only ‘theological’ in its purpose then that idea was completely lost by the early church and most rabbis. This genealogies occur in many places, and while I do think there is a theological point, that does not exclude a historical accurate list.
This gets back to the discussion about inerrancy. The term generally means that the Bible does not contain errors of any kind. Thus, it is a reliable historical document. Yet, the Internet Monk has defined the Bible’s passages in such a way that it is not in ‘error’ when rightly understood in its purpose, but it is indeed unreliable for historical accuracy. The Bible becomes a theological book without historical reliability. To steal Charles Spurgeon’s analogy, The Internet Monk has removed the skeleton and left a pile of quivering flesh.
Which brings me to my last point. Despite the claims of some that inerrancy is an ‘Enlightenment’ word (which is a way to label something so you can throw it out), or that no confession ever used the word so it is a non-essential, there is ample proof that the Church has always held to inerrancy. Even though the word itself may not be used it is easily demonstratable that the church has always found the Bible to be historically accurate and even usable to date the earth. Spurgeon’s words showing that the Bible was both historical and theological and each worthless without the other should suffice for him. The WCF claims God created in "the space of 6 days", which does a good job of showing the Westminster Divines viewed the Bible as historically accurate, and the Genesis account in particular (pre-enlightenment by the way). Irenaeus in “Against Heresies” claims six literal days for creation and a world that is less than six thousand years old. Obviously Irenaeus does not have a problem with using the genealogies to date the world. To him we can add Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen all held to literal days and dated the world to be less than 10,000 (all but Origen thought less than 6,000). Showing they viewed the Bible to be without historical error and the genealogies to be accurate for dating. Basil, Theophilus, Ambrose, and Cyril of Jerusalem all taught six 24 hour days, not seeing the disparity between theological and historical claimed by the Internet Monk. Even Augustine, who thought creation instantaneous, viewed the Bible as historically accurate and used the genealogies to date the earth young, less than 6,000 years (City of God 12:12). The Reformers were on the side of historical accuracy, and the Synod of Dort’s authorized Bible annotated the days of creation to be 24 hour days.
Perhaps the term ‘inerrancy’ was coined around the enlightenment. However, the idea that the Bible was useful for not only theology, but history as well is not new, nor it is it an enlightenment idea. We see men in the second century counting the ages of those in the Bible to discover the age of the earth. Archbishop Ussher may be famous for it, but it was an idea that dated back to the closing of the canon. The fancy claims the church has never thought of the Bible as inerrant nor taught a Young Earth view appear to have very little support in church history.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Kevin Johnson at Reformed Catholicism has a nice response to Douglas Wilson's latest rant about the PCA/Wilkins/FV controversy. According to Wilson this clear confession of faith either ensures that Wilkins will be cleared, prove the PCA is a bunch of idiots, or prove the PCA is a bunch of hate-mongers. I am glad someone called out the elephant in the room.
Monday, December 11, 2006
The Boar’s Head Tavern, which is really more like a country club than a Tavern (no non-members, no brawls, etc.), has recently put up a poll covering several issues. The Boar’s Head is place that includes many members that blog elsewhere highlighted by the Internet Monk, who started the poll. A few others around the blogosphere have joined in like Joel Garver and Kevin Johnson. It is an interesting, but very disturbing poll. It shows a wide variety of people attend the Boar’s Head with the majority of them favoring Credo-baptism, but it is neither the sacraments nor their disagreements I wish to highlight. Nor are their disagreements particularly disturbing. The few places where they agree shocked me. Besides the obvious massive agreement to keep comments closed, they only overwhelmingly agreed on two other subjects.
First, only two members of the blog thought Young Earth Creationism was valid. Two out of at least 23. That is less than 10% of the people held to a Young Earth view. Not only that, but also many of them held a Young Earth view in a great deal of contempt. One mentioning that he had "outgrown the T-shirt", and another making sure we all knew that Young Earth and the science behind it "dishonors the creator". I have to admit this took me by surprise. With evolution faltering in the secular world and science favoring William Paley as much as it favors Charles Darwin, I fail to see a reason for such venom. Even if one wants to snub ‘Creation Science’ as a mistake for some reason (some of it is bad, but not all), it still seems unwarranted to doubt the Biblical data. Archbishop Ussher would be disappointed his chronology is rejected, but beyond Rev. Ussher’s timeframe, biblical reasoning for Day-Age or Framework is hard to find. The plain and simple reading is literal days, a fact many Day-Age and framework people admit. I would be very interesting in discovering exactly what provokes such an Old Earth view in the gang at the Boar’s Head.
Second, not a single member of the Boar’s Head agreed with Cessationism, the idea that the miraculous gifts are not longer around. It is true that some admitted to practically being a cessationist, but they still thought the Bible did not end the gifts. One did admit he thought the theory of cessationism was fine, but failed in practice, whatever that means. Again some venom was spewed forth here as well. One wonders if they believe that the Bible is complete? If prophecy is still around, then how can one close the Bible? A question I would like to see them answer.
The final and most disturbing point is one that seems to tie the first points together. Ten out of twenty three people denied the inerrancy of the Bible. Only eleven affirmed with two admitting they did not know. Thus, the majority of the people answering the poll did not affirm the fact that the Bible did not contain errors. Many would put forth the Bible was infallible, but would not say that it was inerrant. This fact not only blows the mind, but also makes one wonder if this is a new sensation sweeping through Christianity. Of course a Bible with errors makes it easier to reject creationism and necessitates continuing revelation (since previous revelation is full of errors). Yet once the door of the Bible is opened to error, what can be left for the Christian to hold? Every truth of the Bible must be challenged, and what will be the final arbiter of truth? Some of the polled claimed that inerrancy missed the point because the point of the Bible was Jesus Christ. Yet, how can one know anything for sure about Jesus if the Bible that reveals him is wrong often or even from time to time. Is the Virgin Birth wrong? Is Jesus both God and man, or is that wrong? What about the Trinity? All such doctrines are attacked by secularists and non-believers as much as the Young Earth doctrine, why not jettison those as well? And if not, why not? How can you know what is right and what is wrong in the Bible? It is true that no one at the Tavern is openly arguing for errors, but they seem to be advocating the idea that they could exist since God is not the ‘author’ of Scripture, but rather the ‘director’. The Boar’s Head is a place where many of differing stripes gather to talk and discuss things. However, this development of the theology of the Boar’s Head should put the Church on notice. We cannot take for granted the fact that those in the pew believe the Bible is without error, and the only source for truth. There is an obvious growing movement within the church itself against inerrancy.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
It seems to me that Islam has come to America now to challenge us as a nation. Europe has already given in for the most part. By this I do not mean to terrorism for most people will fight against terrorism, but I mean to creation of Islamic states or states-with-in-states. Canada has already seen Sharia law allowed with its boarders. I believe the first rounds of that battle in America will be fought in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Many things are occurring there now that are connected.
Minneapolis has recently elected the first Muslim the Congress and he plans on using the Koran for his swearing in ceremony. This battle is mainly symbolic, but symbolism must go before real change can take place. Symbolism is not unimportant. Something too many of us forget.
Bigger battles loom in Minneapolis than their elected leader. For example most of you have probably heard of the six imams who were removed from a plane for suspicious behavior. Their lawyer, who was on TV in less than 3 hours, claims discrimination. I would be remiss not to note that at least one imam has connections to a charity that had its assets frozen for giving money to terrorists. The Minneapolis airport is full of Arab-Muslims. They staff almost every eatery in the airport. So the mere presence of Arabs would not be enough to shake travelers in Minneapolis. Yet, the sight of prayers prior to boarding planes is rather rare, and it seems to me that these men were wanting something to challenge in court. After all, to implement Sharia law, one must get the courts to allow it, as they did in Canada.
Another example is a lesser-reported story about taxi cab drivers. Again the majority of taxi cab drivers at the Minneapolis airport are Arab and Muslim. Yet recently many of them have stopped taking passengers who carry alcohol. Apparently alcohol is so evil in Islam that one cannot even be a transporter of it. This is causing huge problems because the airport is being harmed by the long waits for taxicabs, yet can the government force people to violate their religion? This is another case bound for court sooner or later. What lies behind these things seems to me an organized effort in Minneapolis to get Muslims to live a life in conformity with the strict fundamentalist- Sharia law version of Islam.
These cases may seem innocent enough, but they will be building blocks for Muslims to try and create a Sharia law haven in America as they have in other countries. Then we will see the uglier aspects of Islam rear their head such as marrying multiple women, beating wives being allowed, easy access divorce for men only, and other such things demanded by the Koran. Whether or not these imams and mosques that encourage such living will become breeding ground for homegrown terrorists is unclear, but I do think it is the lesser evil. Terrorists can be stopped by police work. What will be worse is a religion of hate that would exist inside and independent of American justice systems. The Taliban and Sharia law is not just for the Middle East anymore. Now it may be for the Mid-West.
Friday, December 01, 2006
There seems to be some discussion going on about whether or not Presbyterianism functions any differently than Episcopal government. The discussion originated on Barlow Farms where Jon Barlow shows (or attempts to show) the PCA is really full of bishops. He has an interesting point about the branches of the PCA and their current state of control. Boar’s Head Tavern weighs in on the debate not once, but twice. The latest to join the discussion is the men at Reformed Catholicism. Interestingly, Reformed Catholicism expands the discussion to include Doug Wilson and the CREC. They reference what happened at Church of the King Santa Cruz, which has left the CREC. I know nothing about what happened in that situation, but here are a few links to let the readers make their own decisions. Reformed Catholicism makes a call for Presbyterians to come out of the closet and consecrate bishops. It is more honest, they believe.
In these small denominations (as the quote above demonstrates), influential men rule the day. Their disciples are often the very men that make up the rest of the presbytery. There is no rule of law in terms of Scripture other than the way the men in power see the matter. This is why parties are foolish to press matters in the ecclesiastical courts. The bench is loaded and the courts won’t come to the truth of the matter. . . . So, why not be upfront about it? Why not let the people know what is really going on? Consecrate your "bishops" and come out of the closet.
However, I would like to contend in favor of true Presbyterianism against bishoprics. The defense will be painful for some of my readers, but I think it accurate.
First, neither the PCA nor the CREC is truly a Presbyterian form of government. One is an amalgamation and the other a perversion or a sham depending on how cynical you are. The PCA has the local congregations, but ministers are not members (if this is not true, I am willing to be corrected). They are members of the Presbytery making all judicial cases against ministers have to originate in the Presbytery. For a denomination that wants ruling elders and teaching elders to be the same, this hurts their cause. Then if a case goes through the Presbytery, it goes straight to the General Assembly, but not the GA proper, it goes to an Standing Judicial Commission that has a great deal of autonomy. GA and Presbyteries are both full of ministers and lacking in elders. I do not believe the PCA sets out to have bishops, it has in practice descended toward it a bit. The elders are not participatory as they should be and the lack of Synods has removed an important layer of Presbyterianism. One can also get into top heavy committees and things that seem to an inverted Presbyterianism at best. The CREC on the other hand is down a path that is also not one of Presbyterianism. The allowance of almost any creed and the inability to adjudicate on many matters because of the multicreedalism is not a good start. It is also a bastion of Mercersburg/Federal Vision theology and that theology is Episcopal in nature. One Mercersburg controlled Classis in the Old RCUS actually ordained a man to be bishop. The groundwork is there for Episcopal tyranny in their theology. So, I believe the examples cited have flaws that do not detract from true Presbyterianism.
Second, even if the CREC and PCA are true presbyterian forms of government are not both Barlow Farms and Reformed Catholicism arguing from the failures of men, not of the system? The above quote goes as far to suggest that ministers become disciples of other ministers and do not have the ability to render a biblical judgment apart from fiat from their masters. A low view of ministers today indeed! I was trained by a godly man, Dr. Powell at New Geneva Theological Seminary, but I voted against him several times at the last Synod. For example, he voted to continue funding for an unnamed christian college, and I think the Synod has no business funding such projects. I do not think that the relationship is harmed at all. I would give more examples, but I barely notice how he votes. Hardly is it required that men become disciples of those who are more famous in their denominations or doing the educating in their denomination.
Third, the bible teaches presbyterianism. Acts 15 is a wonderful example, but not the only one. Here we see elders and apostles side by side voting. Note it also says it pleased the Holy Spirit. The elders are not swayed by apostolic dictates, but by the Word of God and His Spirit. Also see I Corinthians where party spirits existed. The problem there was not presbyterianism, but episcopalianism. Some were following Peter, others Apollos, some Paul, and some Christ. The very mistake of the Corinthians is that they lined up behind men, exalting them to positions where they did not belong. Paul corrects them not by teaching them to follow more bishops, but rather by exhorting them to meek submission to Christ. This is the answer for those denominations plagued by psuedo-bishops (if that truly be the case). Sure, we fail from time to time. But it is not the fault of the system, but of man. The answer is not to come out of the closet, but to repent and be humble.
James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights is not a biography of James Madison. So if you are interested in Madison and his studies under John Witherspoon, do not bother. However, if you are interested in a good look at early American struggles to fit together the Constitution, it is a good book.
One thing that impressed me was the Virginia Ratifying convention. The Federalists at the convention included no less than one future President (Madison), the current governor who would become the Attorney General (Randolph), two future Supreme Court Justices (Marshall and Bushrod Washington), chief jurist of Virginia (Pendleton), the first law professor in America (Wythe), future congressman (White), and revolutionary war heroes (Henry Lee). The Anti-Federalist side contained a five time governor and man who turned down the senate, Supreme Court and Secretary of State (Henry), state politician and revolutionary war hero (Mason), three future senators (Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson and John Brown from Kentucky), a future President (Monroe), future Congressman (Dawson). 30 of the 168 delegates were current members of the Virginia Legislature. This is all with the two most famous citizens and future Presidents, Washington and Jefferson, not attending. An amazing collection of men, in fact, an impressive collection voting against ratification.
One thing that disappointed me is that the author, Richard Labunski, did not do enough to vindicate James Madison from the charge of changing his beliefs. He takes a great deal of heat from historians who point out Madison writes the Federalist papers and then leads the Anti-Federalists in Congress. Alexander Hamilton Biographers are usually pretty ruthless on Madison as well. Many claim that Madison being passed over for the Senate caused him to become an Anti-Federalist to get back in the good graces of the Virginia people. This is far from true. Madison did not want to serve in the Senate, and knew that Patrick Henry would pick to men who opposed the Constitution, as he did. Madison ran for the House in a gerrymandered district as a Federalist and won. So there is no truth behind that ludicrous claim. Mr. Labunski sometimes says Madison always remained true, but then later talks of the evolution of Madison’s support for the Bill of Rights. I have long thought that the idea of Federalists and Anti-Federalists is not correct. Rather it should be Nationalists, Federalists, and Anti-Federalists. This book provides some nice proof. We too often think of our First Ten Amendments when we talk of support for a Bill of Rights, and that was by no means settled when men like Patrick Henry and George Mason, true Anti-Federalists, spoke about a Bill of Rights. They desired not only protections like freedom of press, speech and religion, but also other changes to protect the rights of the citizens, mainly the elimination of direct taxation power of the government. They wanted other things like an increased size for the House of Representatives, the participation of the House in ratifying treaties and appointments of the President all under the name ‘Bill of Rights’. Madison favored a careful crafting of amendments that enumerated rights such as freedom of religion, habeas corpus and other freedoms found in our 10 Amendments. He favored them as long as the writing of the amendments did not imply the Federal government had powers to take rights not specifically listed away. He did think the government only had powers that were enumerated, and thus had no power over religion and press, but was never opposed to carefully protecting them (which says something about how Madison viewed the ‘necessary and proper’ clause in the Constitution). Madison, however, opposed the removal of direct taxation and other changes to the body of the Constitution. This led to him being labeled a Federalist by Virginia Anti-Federalists. However, once in Congress he proposed the Bill of Rights, as feared by Henry without the changes in Direct Taxation and other powers odious to Anti-Federalists, and nothing that changed the relationship between the Federal Government and the states. It was not Madison who changed his views, rather it was Hamilton. Hamilton argued for the Constitution even though he was truly a Nationalist who desired the eradication of states. Madison’s opposition to Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury was not a change in Madison rather it was the sneaky attempt of Hamilton to steal powers for the Federal Government that did not belong to it that cause Madison’s opposition.
In the end, the book was quite enjoyable, and worth a read.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
There is a discussion going on over at Greenbaggins about the Federal Vision. The discussion is about whether or not critics of the Federal Vision ever understand the Federal Vision. But that is not what I want to talk about. The author (a friend of mine for full disclosure) the following comment:
You know, this is so amazingly tiring. This is why I am so tired of the whole wretched debate.
This is the comment that worries me. The Federal Vision was a hot topic for several years, worthy of a good round of debates. But now it is working its way through the often contentious church court system, and these power struggles make people weary. “This committee report is wrong”, “This committee is stacked and unfair”, and “Do I have to read another 40 plus page report and debate it on the floor of Classis?” all are wearisome to be sure. It naturally leads to feelings of wanting it all to go away and be settled once and for all. However, that will never be. This debate is around for the long haul. The Federal Vision already controls an entire denomination that has become a safe haven for those who practice the FV theology. Many churches in multiple denominations are spouting this theology. It is not something that is going to just go away. Weariness leads to acceptance for the sake of peace. Let me use a few historical examples.
The Reformed Church in the United States is a perfect example. The debate between Mercersburg and the Old Reformed began to really heat up around 1844. It was mostly in print and not a lot of church court work was done. It began to heat up in the church courts in 1854, and not counting a small time of unity when the focus was on another subject, the debate raged until 1878 when weariness won out. Nothing was solved, only a way to keep the peace was found. People often confuse the too. Finding a way to keep the peace is not the same as solving the problem. A Peace Committee came back with some proposals that asked both sides to give a little something up, but did not take any doctrinal stands one way or the other. Of course this really made the Mercersburg Side victorious and forty years later the Reformed Church merged with a Lutheran denomination except a small remnant in the Dakotas.
Another great example is the Great Awakening and the Presbyterian Church. In 1741, the New Side broke away from the Old Side and each created a competing Synod. Harsh words were exchanged and ministers felt “vexed to death” by the intrusions and disruptions in the church. In 1746, the Old Side Synod of Philadelphia lost an entire Presbytery to the New Side as the tension continued. Yet, by 1758 the weariness had set in. The two sides met, reunited on a Plan of Union without settling any theological debates. A few practical rules were laid in place and the two became one. Yet, within three years the same debate raged through the newly created joint Synod. The 1760’s are full of Presbyteries being demolished and Old Siders being placed so they remain minorities thanks to the New Side majority in the new Synod. Presbyteries split because of theology, and one presbytery withdrew completely. It was so bad that the Old Siders were again about to make their own Synod, and were in Britain raising money for it, when the American Revolution began. This unified feelings for a time. During the War the Old Side leaders died off, the British destroyed the Old Side ministerial institution, and the Old Side vanished. By 1788 they are a footnote in opposition to the formation of the General Assembly.
One could go on forever and discuss the Princeton conflict of the 1920’s and probably find hundreds of other examples where weariness won out over theology. This can never be allowed to happen in a debate that is of importance. Keeping or restoring the peace is not the same as solving the problem. Too often the church or at least church leaders weary of the disharmony and attempt to restore harmony by finding the quickest way to peace rather than deal with the theological issues head on. The RCUS wearied, instituted peace, and within a generation was on its way to becoming the United Churches of Christ, a very liberal denomination. The Old Side wearied, joined without theological union, and (in my opinion) instituted the fundamental tension between revivalism and confessionalism that directly led to the Old School/New School split of the 1800’s and in some ways still plagues the PCA and OPC today. The Church is called to be a pillar of truth and constantly remind people of the gospel. There are times we get tired and do tedious work, but we must never weary of presenting the gospel not only to those who are lost, but to those who err as well.
(I feel that I should add, I do not think that Mr. Baggins is advocating quitting, but his expression was a nice jumping off point.)
Friday, November 24, 2006
The concept of the Church in Mercersburg is intertwined with the rest of theology, but we can see a few important features that differ from Reformed theology. Without any systematic theologies, we are left to put together the Mercersburg Theology for ourselves using the broad outlines given in Nevin’s letter describing the tenants of Mercersburg Theology. The theory of the church is perhaps best seen in Nevin’s Vindication of the Revised Liturgy. In this booklet we see Nevin using the foci of being objective and historical to drive his view of the church. The subjective, or not physical, seems to really bother Nevin and his theory allows him to make the Gospel objective in nature rather than subjective. I think all can agree that Jesus Christ was real and historical that what the gospel says is true and thus it is objective, but Nevin goes on to state that it would not pass out of the realm of existence. Enter the church into his theology. Nevin states
It is not enough for this purpose, to have memories only of what was once such a real presence in the world. ("Vindication" Catholic and Reformed: Writings of John W. Nevin, pg. 378)
This is where Nevin goes to ‘the Creed’, by which he means the Apostles’ Creed. He views the creed not as propositions but as describing the progress of grace in the world. Thus, for Nevin the place of the Holy Catholic Church in the Creed is essential. Nevin claims the church then is after the Incarnation as a necessary consequence of it, and is the only way in which the Holy Spirit can work. He openly avows the church as an article of faith, which ‘we believe in order to understand’.
If we are to hold fast the objective, historical character of what this work was first, and still continues to be, in His own Person, it cannot be allowed to lose itself in the agency of the Spirit under a general view; it must, necessarily, involve for us the conception of a special sphere; this likewise objective and historical; within which only (and not in the world at large), the Holy Ghost of the Gospel is to be regarded as working. This is the Church. (Ibid., 378)
If one remembers the Apostles’ Creed you will remember that the Holy Catholic Church comes between the Holy Ghost and the Forgiveness of Sins. Nevin argues that this placement is purposeful and a progression; thus, the Church must come before the forgiveness of sins.
So far as this goes, of course, it owns and confesses that the Church is a medium of communication between Christ and His people. They must be in the order of His grace, in the sphere where this objective working of His grace is actually going forward, and not in the order of nature, where it is not going forward at all (but where Satan reigns and has his own way), if the work of redemption and sanctification is to be carried forward in them with full effect. (Ibid., 380)
He goes on to explain how such a churchly theology must give a sacramental theology and that must give a liturgical theology. That can be left for another post, I think we have enough here to discuss already. I would like to make a few observations before opening up for comments.
The first observation is that the Heidelberg Catechism does not follow the understanding of Nevin. It seems to treat the Creed as a serious of propositions rather than a historical development as Nevin held. It also speaks of the Holy Catholic Church in Q54.
That the Son of God, from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves to himself, by His Spirit and word, out of the whole human race, a church, chosen to everlasting life, agreeing in true faith; and that I am, and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.
There is no indication of the Church standing between the people of God and Christ, rather it is simply the gathering of those people. Ursinus goes on under this question to discuss the idea of the invisible church, which the objective-historical Nevin rejects in his formulation. Ursinus does say that there is no salvation outside of the church, but rather than claiming this is because the Church is the medium of grace he states it this way:
Because those whom God has chosen to the end, which is eternal life, them he has also chosen to the means, which consist in the inward and outward call. Hence although the elect are not always members of the visible church, yet they all become such before they die.
Ursinus indicates there is no salvation outside of the church because God’s elect will always join the church. The phrase ‘no salvation outside of the church’ for Ursinus seems directed against those who want to claim salvation and remain apart from God’s people, rather than granting some special powers to the church over ‘redemption and sanctification’ as Nevin argues.
Second, Nevin’s historical argument from the Apostles’ Creed and the placement of the Holy Catholic Church is wrong. The ‘Holy Catholic Church’ phrase is not found where it is before the 3rd Century. The Antiochene churches omitted it completely, and Fulgentius places it at the end of the Creed. One also finds versions from Priscillian that put it prior to the Holy Spirit. These arguments undermine the extensive use of the Creed in Nevin’s argument (in fact many accused Nevin of placing the Apostles’ Creed above the Bible).
Of course there is much more to the view of the church of Schaff and Nevin, but it is time to open the post up for comments.
The Confessing Evangelical explains why it is better for me to remain in the states than to take my chances with English officials.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
One of the things I love about Herreid, SD is the fact that we still get together on Thanksgiving. How many churches have a worship service on Thanksgiving? President George Washington asked people to give thanks to God, and ask pardon for transgressions, and I believe that practice is still followed today. Thanksgiving is set aside by the government for people to return thanks. The church should take such calls by the state seriously. We do too often have a tendency toward individualism, and Thanksgiving is no different. When the State asks the people to give thanks to God and ask for pardon, should not the church answer with a 'yes'. Shouldn't this be done corporately? We ought to do this around our dinner tables, but we ought to do it as a church too. Just a Thanksgiving thought. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
P.S. I hope to have some more posts up today or tomorrow.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
I have long been stating that the current Federal Vision discussion is really the same discussion had by RCUS with Mercersburg theologians, primarily Philip Schaff and John Nevin. A new blog aids my point while inventing a new name (of which I am jealous),Neo-Mercersburgism. They call for a revival of six points of Mercersburg Theology. Here is number 1.
1. The primary life giving principle in the life of a Christian is the ministry of the Church; the Sacraments, the Word proclaimed, and fellowship in the body of Christ.
This statement does accurately reflect Mercersburg theology, and I think also shows why we need to reject Neo-Mercersburgism, just as we need to reject paleo-Mercerburgism. There is a lot to unpack in this statement, such as the placement of Sacraments before the Word, a very non-traditional ordering of the two, and very illuminating as well. However, the main point that needs to be noticed is that the "primary life giving principle" for the Christian is not Jesus Christ. In Neo-Mercersburgism, anything that we gain from Christ must be conveyed to us by the Church. Listen to the tract written by a Professor at Lancaster (a strong hold of old Mercersburg) last century.
All the benefits of Christ are received, not by faith, not through previous knowledge of our misery, not in the way of repentance and faith, but through baptism, and through baptism exclusively.
Here we see the idea that the primary life giving principle is not Jesus, nor faith, nor even faith plus repentance. It is baptism. The Christian is not to turn to Jesus for life, but to the church. I do not believe that I am overstating. For proof let us look no further than the third point of Neo-Mercersburgism.
3. The holy Eucharistic is the tie which (sic) binds together all believers in Jesus Christ throughout time and space.
What binds us together as believers? Is it all being members of the body of Christ? Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it the same Lord? Or the same faith? Is it even being baptized into the same God? According to Neo-Mercersburgism what binds believers together in Christ is the Eucharist. One should probably also unpack this statement as John Nevin would do and notice the claim that we are bound “in Jesus Christ”. The Eucharist is not mainly a way to bind us with other Christians, but a way to bind us in Christ. Our mystical union with Jesus makes our mystical union with each other. But that mystical union is not achieved through faith, but rather through the Eucharist, just as his benefits are not received by faith, but rather through baptism. Neo-Mercersburgism has supplanted faith with sacrament, and the Holy Spirit with the Church. Neo-Mercersburgism makes the comfort of the believer belonging to the church and taking the sacraments rather than belonging to Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. In this regard, Neo-Mercersburgism looks a lot like Old Romanism.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Wow. I was wrong. It is obvious that I do not know much about national politics. So after tonight, I may just have to shut my mouth about politics on this blog. However, I will make three comments. Two about national politics and one about local politics.
1. This election illustrates that the North and South are still quite divided in many ways. The Democratic pick-ups were in the north, traditional blue states. They took Rhode Island and Pennsylvania Senate seats, and several House seats from Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut and one in New Hampshire. They did not do so well in the south with Florida being a grand example. Democrats were hoping for 4 to 6 seats in Florida, but ended up with only two. They narrowly held on to two seats in Georgia. Plus, they are recounting a narrow possible senate victory in Virginia, where the Republican candidate ran an awful campaign embarrassing himself several times, and they failed to win a House seat they were hoping to win. The other big indicator of what a divide exists between north and south was the MSNBC coverage of those races. How many times the pundits and Chris Mathews called the Tennessee voters racist for not voting for Harold Ford made me sick. Yet, the people of Maryland were never accused of being racist, nor were the people of South Dakota who handily defeated a Native American candidate for the House. A divide in the minds of the MSNBC hosts existed and comments like Mr. Mathews made do nothing but promote the divide. Will Southerners ever like Northerners when they regularly defeat African American candidates for Senate with no name-calling, and then when the South defeats one the name-calling flies? Probably not.
2. The Republicans cost themselves this election. Several stupid scandals hurt them. They lost Delay’s seat, Ney’s seat, and Foley’s seat because of well-publicized scandals. Heath Shuler also won North Carolina House seat 11 because his opponent had some scandals as well. The state Republican party in Ohio had about five scandals running at once that probably hurt Senator Dewine, but the Democrats failed to capitalize doing much worse than many thought in Ohio. They picked up one seat when most thought they would pick up four. Mainly, however, I think Republicans can blame the President and Karl Rove for the loss. I am not talking about Iraq. I am talking about the ‘toe-the-President’s-line-or-else-attitude.’ This hurt Republicans especially because his line is not conservative at all. The President and the RNC abandoned the poor guy running for the Senate in Connecticut in favor of Joe Lieberman who votes liberal Democratic almost 90% of the time, but is strong on the war. Take what happened in Arizona for example. The Bush backed candidate in Republican primaries in AZ House seat 8 lost to a strong boarder defense candidate. The RNC publicly announced they would not support him with any money. I do not think they even endorsed him. That is giving away one seat because of a disagreement with the President. They did little to help J.D. Hayworth in AZ 05, who was also a critic of the President’s immigration policy. Both seats will now be filled by Democrats who will probably pass the amnesty plan Bush wants. I think that there is a giant rift in the Republican Party, and Bush’s Boys are running the show, and they maybe running it into the ground.
3. Locally here in South Dakota, the Abortion ban lost. It lost because I think the Republican turnout was low. I could be wrong, but I am quite surprised at the margin of defeat. This bill overwhelmingly passed the State Legislature, which at least indicates the State Representatives thought it would be popular. The Vote Yes pro-life group did a very bad job running the campaign. They seemed to concentrate on door to door, meet your neighbor, House Parties. That did not get the job done. They also did not campaign on being pro-life, but rather they spoke only about how abortion hurt women. A rather disappointing stance. About three weeks before the election the Vote No crowd bombarded the airwaves with lies and propaganda. It was never really answered. The Vote No group did not argue that abortion was wrong. They argued that it was wrong to make women of rape or incest have children, claiming there was no exception for those women. This was untrue. There was an exception. Those who suffered rape or incest could go to the doctor and take the morning after pill. Thus, they had about a 14 day window to get something done. By the way, I think the exception is bad. I do not think people that have rape or incest should be allowed abortions or morning after pills. Polls showed that if people had known about the exception they would have voted 63% for the bill. The other thing that I believe hurt this bill was the supposedly non-biased Attorney General’s explanation that appeared on the official documents put out by the state on the amendments and initiated measures. The Attorney General made sure to note that this law would be challenged, go to the Supreme Court, and possibly stick the state of South Dakota with a large legal bill. It was an underhanded thing to put on a ‘non-biased’ official explanation sheet.
So, I did not beat any pundits and showed my true ignorance. However, I did enjoy seeing what I hope to be the new face of the Democratic Party. Harold Ford impressed me with his open quoting of Scripture and discussion of Jesus Christ. Jim Casey promises to be a pro-life vote. While I find politics fun and entertaining, it is good to remember that the fortunes of political parties has nothing to do with the church.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Recently I began a study of the book of Judges. It is a book of the Bible I have often felt is too much ignored. It seems to be one of those ‘historical books of the OT’ that many are want to pass over. Even Calvin in his commentary writing skipped over Judges. What has caught my attention is how much commentators want to make the Judges look like really bad people. In fact the unifying theory of most of the commentaries is that the Judges get worse and worse as time goes on. With this I think I now have to disagree.
Let us take Jephthah for example. Chapter 11 of the Judges gives us the famous example of Jephthah and his daughter raising the question, did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter. I have to admit I came to this text expecting to find Jephthah sacrificing his daughter because I was always taught that ‘those who argue that the daughter was dedicated to temple service are just trying to sanitize the Biblical text.’ Most commentators jump at the chance to make Jephthah a murder. But few stop there. K. Lawson Younger Jr., author of the NIV Application Commentary on Judges not only argues for a sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter, but argues it is not a sacrifice to Jehovah, but rather a sacrifice to Chemosh, the god of just defeated by his armies. Daniel Block in his commentary on Judges says several times that those who argue for temple dedication and service are “overestimating Jephthah’s spirituality.”
But wait, does not Hebrews 11 include Jephthah as a member of the Hall of Faith? Can we overestimate the spirituality of someone God himself puts forth as an example of faith? If Jephthah sacrificed his daughter, or worshipped Chemosh, why is he in the Hall of Faith? What makes these declarations worse is that both commentators mentioned above recognize the previous story in chapter 11, where Jephthah negotiates with the Ammonites, shows tremendous knowledge of Numbers 20-21 and Deuteronomy 2. Does this familiarity with Scripture not show he is no mere "brigand" or worshipper of Chemosh? Jephthah demonstrates himself familiar with Scripture and with the history of Israel, but then sacrifices his daughter? The law provided a way out of rash vows. Would one familiar with God’s prohibition on human sacrifice not avail himself of the out provided by the law? These things do not make sense to me. The arguments for temple dedication are not far fetched. It fits better with the reaction the daughter, and does not violate the sense of his vow. It also fits better with the passage in Hebrews where Jephthah is commended for his faith. So then should we not take this charitable reading of Jephthah? I have to wonder, why are we in such a hurry to make the Judges into sinners rather than saints?
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Here is just a reminder that I am playing the Beat the Pundit Political Game. Now Chris Matthews admitted on his show that the conventional wisdom in the Beltway is that the Democrats will take the House. They also seem to think that the Republicans are losing four seats and the Democrats will hold all of their seats in the Senate. My predictions are a Republican hold of both House and Senate followed by a tidal wave of people trying to make it sound like a Democratic victory. As a refresher, I am saying Republican 54 to Democrat 44 with 2 Independents or 54 to 46 if we want to count them as Democrats. And for the House, I am predicting Republicans 227 to Democrats 208. Remember these predictions were made before Mark Foley’s scandal broke. Now just for some comparison I found a few predictions on the web.
Mort Kondracke predicts a two-seat majority for the Democrats right after the Foley scandal, and then moved to a 10-seat majority by the end of October. He thinks Democrats pick up 4 seats in both.
Fred Barns predicts a two-seat majority for Republicans the week after Foley in the House, but has since changed his mind for a three-seat majority for Democrats.
The good people at Electoral-Vote.com are saying the House will be 225 to 208 with 2 ties as of today, and they are calling for a slim 51 to 49 hold for Republicans in the Senate.
And just to see if I can beat a polling company, Rasmussen is predicting for the Senate a 52 to 48 Republican majority, although they are calling five of those races toss up.
Feel free to play along or send links to places where other people are making predictions.
Friday, October 27, 2006
There is an interesting post up on Andrew Sandlin’s site by Rod Martin. It is an argument to vote Republican and forget about Third Parties. Its tone is quite impassioned. He begins by stating that voting for a 3rd Party Candidate is
the miracle theory of politics: that somehow if we just pick some godly soul and pray hard, God will deliver us as though through the Red Sea.
He then goes on to make this dramatic statement.
You know what? It’s not only that it doesn’t work that way: it shouldn’t work that way. There’s nothing biblical about that approach at all.
After lecturing for a moment about how not voting Republican is the same as voting Democratic, telling Christians who vote for 3rd Parties to grow up and start acting like serious professionals, and telling us that voting for 3rd Parties really "hacks" him off, he returns to the aforementioned idea and states:
Some will be satisfied with some simplistic "I think
it’s the right thing to do", but unless you have more than that, most won’t. And they’ll be right.
The astonishing claim that doing the right thing will not be right is hard to understand at first, but what Mr. Martin really wants to drive home is the idea that voting for a 3rd Party in not Christian, and therefore very wrong.
I have three major objections to this piece other than tone.
1. I do not think strict adherence to the two party system is “mastering” the system as Mr. Martin advocates. I have written a few posts before on the history of the 3rd Party in our nation. And it is a very rich history. But since the two parties have become entrenched since about 1918 what Christian victory or progress can Mr. Martin point to show the success of waiting for the Republican Party to become Christian, which he claims is underway. What conservative victory even can be pointed out? Roe v Wade? No, no victory there. Prayer in schools? Nope, in fact it was removed during that time period. The Republican party has dropped its opposition to Federal Public Schools and the Department of Education. What about homosexuality? Well, sodomy laws have been ruled unconstitutional, homosexual marriage is legal in Massachusetts. No real victory there. Taxes? Well, probably not. They are higher than they were in 1919 and the income tax is not a part of the US Constitution. The government takes well above the 10% God requires. What about the government following the Biblical principle of not being in debt or over spending? One look at the national debt should be enough there, and it is a Republican government. We do not need to even get into the idea of the government destroying personal responsibility with Social Security and the idea of government welfare, nor will we discuss whether or not invading other countries ‘preemptively’ is a biblically just war. I will just wait for someone to point out any conservative or Christian victories in the two party system.
2. I do not think that anyone can bind men’s consciences for voting for a person that agrees with them theological and politically. Is it really an unbiblical approach to go to the polls and say, ‘I am going to vote for the candidate that has the best Christian worldview?’ Does the bible really teach us that we should go to the polls and say, ‘I can only vote for the candidates with national backing, and then from those two chose the best guy’? Somehow I doubt it. To call voting for a 3rd Party unbiblical is fairly baseless. There should be room for Christian Liberty here. I argue for 3rd Parties, but I would hardly call someone voting for a Republican unbiblical in his actions.
3. This letter smacks of ‘salvation through politics’. This quote worries me a great deal. "We have a conservative movement that is becoming mostly Christian but isn’t quite there yet. That’s progressive sanctification in action, and it *is* biblical. And we alone among the nations of the Earth are blessed to see God doing it in our land." I am all in favor of voting our Christian values, making laws against things like abortion, but it is not the way to change the world. Maybe the Republicans are that close to being a Christian Political Party, and maybe they are not. But if we want to see our land blessed, it will not be because of the Republican Party or the work of Christians supporting the Republicans or any 3rd Party for that matter. If our land is blessed by God it is because of the Church, not politics. Rome was not conquered by the gospel because Christians mastered the political workings of the system. No, it was changed because the gospel preached by the Church converted the lives of people. Geneva, England, Scotland, and Germany were not changed by the political intrigues that went on during the Reformation, they were changed by men faithfully preaching God’s Word. Do you want to outlaw abortion? Me too. However if you want to stop abortions all together, the answer is not jail time. The answer is changing lives via the gospel. Making it illegal will stop many people, but even if it is still legal abortion can be ended if we change people’s hearts. A generation of Christians being raised up knowing the difference between right and wrong, and respecting the Lord will end abortion with or without political aid.
You want to argue for voting for one party over another. Fine. But do not claim the Bible demands such an action, and do not claim God’s blessing is tied to the fortunes of one political party or another.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I just finished reading a very informative book, A People’s History of the Supreme Court by Peter Irons. Now Mr. Irons is up front in his introduction that he is a liberal who views the Constitution as a living document that should grown and change with the times. So the book is full of subtle liberal ideas (for example extolling the ACLU as a liberty protection group while calling the ACLJ a "right-wing" organization), and many not so subtle liberal ideas. If one can look past such things, the book is very readable. It avoids getting bogged down in legal mumbo-jumbo, yet explains the issues plainly. In the more recent cases, he quotes quite freely from arguments before the court and the courts opinions are always quoted.
However, I still recommend this book because of two main reasons. First, it does take you through the most important cases in Supreme Court history, many of which you had probably never heard about before. The book goes all the way up to the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito, so it is very up to date. And if you have the desire to watch confirmation hearings on TV, you will recognize all the cases that are discussed. Americans should be familiar with the third branch of government, and this book is a great way to get a historical overview of the Court.
Second, this book is a great peek into the mindset of liberals. Peter Irons’s view of the court is astounding. He never questions the idea that the court is meant for social change, cannot stand Justices who think social change should come through the ballot box, and has outright for contempt for judges that fail to change the culture. This book introduces you, at least briefly, to everyone who has ever sat on the court. The vast majority of Justices are reviewed as incompetent for not breaking new legal ground. Justice John McLean appointed by Andrew Jackson is a prime example. He authored 247 majority opinions, but is said to have “plowed old furrows”, and this quote is stated with approval, “Few justices have worked so hard, for so long, with such little impact.” A harsh statement, but one that shows social change, not following the law, is the goal of the Supreme Court.
Irons lavishes his highest praise on John Marshall and Joseph Story, and then later equal praise is given to Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Brennan, and Thurgood Marshall. These men were all quite liberal and extremely in favor of Federal power. William Brennan is the one who came up with the quote, “With five votes you can do anything around here.” Now contempt was poured out on many, but concentrated contempt found its home mainly with five Justices. Chief Justice Roger Taney received a great deal of bashing because of his Dredd Scott decision and because of his constant judicial restraint and state’s rights view. The other four men are known as the Four Horsemen of Reaction. They are Justices George Sutherland, Pierce Butler, Willis Van Devanter and James McReynolds. These men are hated because they believed in laissez-faire economics. They are the ones who opposed Franklin Roosevelt and did many things prior to FDR such as strike down the income tax, minimum wage laws and other pro-capitalism type decisions. I personally was amazed at how up front Mr. Irons was about his detest for the laissez-faire view and he propounded instead the ‘mixed’ system of FDR, which he was admitting was socialism mixed with a little capitalism. Mr. Irons went so far as to mock the Four Horsemen for stating that socialism was taking over America. He mocked them not for being paranoid, but for not having a better view of the Constitution. These five justices received the harshest treatment, even though Clarence Thomas gets quite a drubbing himself in this book. Even Jusitce Scalia comes off in a better light, mostly because Scalia ruled the first amendment protected flag burning and thought courts had the right to review the ‘enemy combatant’ label placed on those taken in the War on Terrorism (Thomas was the lone dissenter in that case).
In addition to learning liberals really did not mind socialism, if not outright communism (Mr. Irons gives a great deal of praise to Eugene Dubbs, Communist candidate for President), a rejection of the idea the Constitution is color-blind (reverse discrimination cases made Irons upset), I discovered a real hatred for the South. Not just conservatism, that is expected, but the South as a whole. He openly attacked the South in many off hand comments. He had no problem with Thurgood Marshall calling Southerners “white crackers”. He constantly let the reader know how backward he thought the South’s anti-sodomy laws really were, and had no problem with the 14th Amendment being imposed on the South because they needed it. He seems to have problem with the idea of Reconstruction, but did have a problem with President Hayes ending it. Irons also made it plain he thinks many southern towns still violate the law according to Santa Fe Independent School District v Doe, which outlaws prayer before Friday night football games. The list could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It has been asked of me to find some examples of the use of John 6 in the early church fathers, to see how they read this section.
It cannot be denied that some church fathers read John 6 as referring to the Eucharist. Cyprian stands as one clear example. But, did anyone ever read John 6 as not referring to the Eucharist, the answer is yes. Eusebius the Historian reads John 6 as referring not to the Supper, but to his words, which Eusebius holds to be the true food to the soul of believers (as quoted in Schaff History Vol 3. Pg. 495). Basil also ascribes the 6th chapter of John to the words of Jesus Christ (ibid., pg. 497). These men specifically relate John 6 to his words rather than the Eucharist.
Clement of Alexandria also seems to see John 6 as meaning something other than the Eucharist. He uses John 6:54, "Whosoever eateth my fles and drinketh my blood shall have eternal life" which he says, "describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and promise" (ANF vol. 2 pg. 218). He does not seem to equate it with the Eucharist, and even when he quotes from John 6 and talks of the Eucharist, it involves more metaphors rather than a direct correlation.
Tertullian has a clear exposition of John 6 to mean one must believe in Christ and His words, and makes no mention of the Eucharist at all. His very nice summary of John 6 includes this idea "Constituting, therefore, His word as the lifegiving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appellation; because too the Word had become flesh" (ANF vol. 3 pg. 572).
This does not mean that everyone else believed that John 6 related to the Eucharist. Many of those properly called Apostolic Fathers did not directly quote John 6 nor explain it. However, Ignatius in his epistle to the Romans speaks of desiring the ‘bread of God’ and the ‘bread of life’ which he says is the flesh of Jesus Christ and then the drink he defines as ‘incorruptible love and life eternal.’ Here, it is unclear whether or not Ignatius is referring to John 6, but he is clearly speaking about the ‘bread of life’ in a non-sacramental manner, as this discussion appears in his reasons for wanting to die a martyr (Romans chapter 8). He is desiring the bread of life, which seems to be given to him when he dies, not here on earth. Such comments from Ignatius and the prior citations (for they are citations from leaders of the early church) seem to indicate that John 6 was not read ‘liturgically’ by the early church, at least a great many of them read John 6 as referring to Christ's words.
I was also asked to see if the early church fathers viewed the Supper as ‘anything more than a symbolic spiritual representation’. Why that wording is mine, it is clearly not the best wording. But, not wanting to back down from a challenge, I shall endeavor to show that the Zwinglian interpretation has precedent in the Church Fathers. Oecolampadius’s view is almost directly taken from Tertullian who claimed the bread and wine figured the body and blood. Cyprian too here favors a figurative interpretation with the focus on the "is" in the words of institution being figurative. Augustine followed those African fathers in teaching a symbolical theory of the Supper. He maintains a distinction between the outward sign and the inward grace, and maintains the figurative character of the words of institution. Of course still talking of spiritual feeding by faith (with which Zwingli agreed) in the Supper. From Augustine we can see his view disseminate throughout the church’s history. It can be easily seen in men like Facundus, Fulgentius, Isidore of Sevilla, the Venerable Bede, the Carolingian bishops, and finally Ratramnus and Berengar. Both Augustine (d.404) and Ratramnus (ca.944) each used John 6 to point to the Eucharist, but came out with Spiritual views of the Supper. Ratramnus’s book, which quoted liberally from Augustine, was republished by the Zwinglian Reformers as proof their position on the Eucharist was the historic position of the church. Other men who held this view during the 10th Century were Rabanus Maurus, Walafrid Strabo, Christian Druthmar, and Florus Magister, not to mention the book received royal endorsement from Charles the Bald. John Scotus Erigena appears to have written against a Real Presence view, but his work is lost, so we cannot be certain. The Eleventh Century saw Berengar agree with Ratramnus along with Eusebius Bruno (bishop of Angers) and Frollant (bishop of Senlis), but he was condemned for his views. Thus, the Zwinglian claim that the church held their beliefs about the Supper is not entirely without merit, nor then is my claim that a symbolic and spiritual view of the Supper is the position of the early church.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Alastair has an interesting post up about the idea of Double Resurrection and Double Justification taught by James Jordan. If I had nothing but time this would be the sort of stuff I would like respond to at great length. However, I do have a job, so I will just respond to one paragraph that stuck out.
Most contemporary Christians would believe that such a passage is far too obscure to play any role in our doctrine of justification and that Paul’s theology never could have been informed by such a thing. This is the natural response for Protestants, who have very little time for liturgy. The assumption is that the ‘Bible’ is the only place where God’s revelation of saving truths is to be found. There are a number of problems with this notion. Chief among them is the fact that what we call the ‘Bible’ is a relatively recent creation. The people of God of previous ages encountered the Scriptures in the form of liturgical performance not as we do, by reading words off the pages of our mass-produced, privately-owned Bibles. It should not surprise us that, approaching the Scriptures as they do, most modern Christians make little sense out of it.
Alastair is advocating here the fact that the Scriptures should primarily (or at least equally) be revealed in the liturgy of the church rather than a book in the hand. The context is about why an ‘obscure’ passage (his words not mine) like Numbers 19 might actually be essential in understanding justification. His argument is that through the liturgy such passages would have received the proper emphasis and that through the liturgy it would be lived out in the life of the believer. Alastair explains further in another post.
If the Bible was given to be encountered primarily as a printed or written text the Church is not that necessary. However, I believe that the Bible was given to be ‘performed’ (much as the Shakespearian play). The chief ‘performance’ of the Bible is that which occurs in the Church’s liturgy. It is read aloud in the lectionary. It is prayed, sung, meditated upon, memorized and recited. Its story is retold in various forms. It is our conversation partner and our guide.
While, I certainly agree that we should read the Bible, pray the words of Scripture, and sing psalms during worship that misses the point. Was the Bible primarily written to be encountered and performed? Is a Sunday liturgy to be the main way that people get the Word of God? Does having a Bible in every believer’s home that they read daily make the Church unnecessary as Alastair claims? I do not believe so, but first let us see the other implications of this idea as put forth by Alastair himself.
The Bible that most modern Christians think in terms of is an object; what we encounter in the liturgy is nothing less than the personal Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself.
This is not only a denial of the power of the Spirit in reading the word of God (at least a significant downplaying of it), but it sets the stage for a sacerdotalism where the Church is necessary to dispense the benefits of Christ. There can be no way to encounter Christ with out the minister/priest. There can be no way to receive forgiveness without the church service and perhaps specific points in the service. Without ‘inhabiting’ or becoming part of the liturgy then we are separated from Christ. This paves the way for the necessity of the words of absolution from the minister, and the sacraments and other elements of the worship service. Salvation occurs weekly as we live out the story again and again in the worship service. Subtly here the definition or purpose of worship has changed from glory we give to God to salvation we receive from God.
Secondly and just as important is this point:
It seems to me that the displacing of typological and liturgical ways of reading Scripture and the rise of pure grammatical historical exegesis owes much (for numerous reasons) to the invention of the printing press. . . Liturgy provides us with a hermeneutical context for reading the Word of God.
The liturgy is not just something we do as a we to encounter and participate in Jesus Christ, but it is a way to read the Bible. This debate over John 6 is a good example of a practical debate about the subject. It is not as important as what Jesus meant when he spoke of eating his flesh, but it is more important of how the readers of John’s gospel would have read that phrase with regard to their worship service. It also is the point of the original post by Alastair. For Alastair, we do not get our understanding of justification primarily by reading the Scripture and trying understand what it says. Instead we should get our understanding from the Liturgical Word and it supposed forerunner in Israel. This is what he means by using the liturgy as a hermeneutical tool. This point is nothing more than a complete reversal of the Reformational Sola Scritptura. How do we interpret Scripture? Alastair’s answer is through the tradition of liturgical worship. In fact, he is arguing that the liturgy is the way for believers to encounter Scripture. There is nothing wrong with your leather bound Bible per se, but you should read it through what the Church says about it via the liturgy.
I do have a few objections to Alastair’s view. The first is Acts 17:10-13. The Bereans appear to do just the opposite of what Alastair advocates. They go to the service, listen attentively and then read the service through the light of the Scripture, not the Scripture through the light of the liturgy/service. And the Spirit calls them ‘more noble’ for doing so. II Timothy 2:15 seems to counter his understanding as well. ‘Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’ This sound much more like the grammatical parsing and rational thinking through the Word that Alastair seems to eschew rather than the ‘inhabiting’ the word through the liturgy advocated in the posts.
A second point is with the historical understanding that underlies his position. The Scriptures were originally written down before they were used in the liturgy. They existed as books and epistles long before the existed in a liturgy. While it is true that before the printing press not everyone had a nice bound copy to stick in their pocket and church may have been the way many heard the word, it does not change the fact that they were originally written. Let us not forget that we see the Bible existing as we have it now quite early on. Athanasius in the 4th century gives a list of the books that stand in our bible, meaning that churches and people were collecting the inspired books into one canon by that time. The Muratorian Fragment suggests is was by the 2nd century and the collection of Marcion suggest even in the 1st century people were gathering it all into one book rather than keeping it only in the liturgy. They are not originally a play as his Shakespeare analogy would suggest, but rather they are originally a novel turned into a play, and when it was turned into a play is up for some debate. We have far earlier evidence of men using the Scriptures as we would use a modern English bible than we have of early liturgies. In fact, the Roman liturgy seems to be no earlier than 451, which is different than the Liturgy of St. James and the Eastern liturgies (5th Century), and they differ still from the Gallican liturgy (494), which is different than the Alexandrian liturgy (late 4th century), and still it differs quite radically from the heretical liturgies (5th Century) of Nestorius. In fact, we have several confessions of faith that pre-date these liturgies.
The high liturgical service of the Middle Ages was not necessarily the worship service of the early church.
In fact this a great example of the problem of using liturgy to encounter the Word and as our hermeneutical guide. The idea that the Lord’s Supper was anything more than a symbolic spiritual representation was rejected by the church at least through 9th century. Yet, it changed and the bread became the body and John 6 was used a proof text. Christians before the 10th century would have understood John 6 in a completely different way than those after. This makes the ever changing liturgy a very shaky guide to finding truth in the Scripture. Instead of the liturgy being a way to find typological meaning it seems to be a way for meaning to be created and/or lost. For the record the grammatical historical method of exegesis existed at least since Theodoret (5th century).
It should also be remembered that letting the Church interpret Scripture did not lead to a greater understanding of the Word, it led to no one understanding the word. There was mass ignorance of what the Bible actually taught until the printing press. This is one of the points of the Reformation, everyone should be a Berean.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
If your first reaction the title of this post is Wolf-ga-wha-Capit-a-who?!? You either have a small vocabulary or you need some caffeine. On the other hand if you are thinking, ‘Who is Wolfgang Capito?’ then you are not alone. Wolfgang Capito is one of those forgotten reformers that no one ever studies because all Reformation history classes are only about Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Zwingli if you are lucky. Capito was a Hebrew scholar who aided the reformation at Basel, but primarily he worked along side Martin Bucer in Strasbourg. I have not finished it yet, but The Correspondence of Wolfgang Capito is a fantastic book. This is a newly published work, and it is the first of 3 volumes. These are his early letters up until the time he goes to Strasbourg.
The book does have its problems. It often just summarizes the longer letters, and invariably those are the ones from Erastmus or to Martin Luther, and it gets a little frustrating to not have the actual text. But, there are a lot of full text letters in this book. In fact, there is enough in this book to get a nice picture of what motivates Wolfgang Capito. The picture that emerges is one of a man dedicated to education. He was a tremendous Hebrew scholar, but a renowned scholar in all three major academic languages. He read the classics and promoted the early church fathers. It is clear from the letters that Capito begins as a humanist and grows into a reformer. He does his work from the inside of the church, at first. He evangelizes a few men by counseling them to read the church fathers and avoid the Scholatics and Aristotle. His distaste for them is evident on almost every page. He publishes a Hebrew grammar, something even Erastmus thought was a waste of time, and translates many early church father’s from Greek into a readable form for the common man. In one letter of candor he tells his reader that he agrees with the Lutherans, but hides his agreement with them (thought never denying it), so that he might be placed in influential positions. This goal he achieves. It was his belief that it would be better to diplomatically and through education reform the church. Capito even encouraged Luther to be more diplomatic and careful in his speech, but to no avail. In fact, Luther ends up exposing Capito as a supporter ruining his chance at influencing the powerful nobles of Switzerland and Germany. But, Capito also believed in the power of the gospel. During his time at Basel he, like Zwingli, had left the lectionary and started to preach straight through the book of Matthew. According to the letters, this was done to the great profit of all.
This book is an insightful look into the life of a reformer who we have forgotten today, but according to some of the letters, was during his own day considered on the same level as Erastmus, Luther, and Zwingli. I hope this project hurries the publication of the second and third volume. I look forward to them greatly.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Protestants by definition must be protesting something. Religiously we speak of Protestants protesting against the church or something within the church. Thus, Protestants usually are protesting against the clergy and something wrong or deficient in them. A reform of the clergy is a Protestant act. Charlemagne did great things to reform the clergy. He required and promoted a stricter morality and a greater education. Such acts are part of Protestantism. In his efforts is the idea that the clergy of the church are uneducated and loose morally. Thus, his work is a protest on the state of the clergy. It is a sign of the felt desire and need to reform the church to a higher standard than that of the pope or popes. His work in this area was an uphill battle, but he accomplished so much that many historians admit that there was a mini-renaissance sometimes called the Carolingian Renaissance. One must also conclude that the Dark Ages are officially over when Charlemagne is in power.
Charlemagne made sure he was surrounded with the greatest scholars on the planet. He went out and gathered men of renown. Because of the sorry state of the church most of the scholars he gathered to his royal academy were not Frankish, but foreigners. He gathered Italian Lombards like Peter of Pisa, the grammarian, Paul the Deacon, the historian, and Paulinus, the poet. Other prominent men like Theodulf and Agobard were foreigners as well. Yet, the most famous was Alcuin. Alcuin was from York, England, and he was a master of education. He wrote works of logic, grammar, rhetoric, and orthography. He kept pupils and ran schools. Alcuin was given five abbeys to run as reward for his excellent work and so he could make the monasteries improve education for the kingdom. This is true for many of those who surrounded Charlemange. Theodulf was made bishop of Orleans, and Paulinus of Aquileia as well as Agobard, who became bishop of Lyons. These men all took their great learning to their bishoprics. Charlemagne gathered them so he would be surrounded by great intellects, but also let them go because the church needed them more than he did.
More proof about his views can be found in his letters to the bishops in his domain. He called on them to have a good command of the languages in which Scripture is written to avoid gross errors, and he quoted Matthew 12:37, “For by they words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”, as backing for this command. In 789, the orders went out for the priests to observe the canons of the church and the bishops were personally responsible for the intellectual training and schools should be run in every dioceses. Priests were required to teach all boys Latin and elementary education. Bishops were required to run schools and another school was run out of the Imperial palace. Books were regularly published by Alcuin and others explaining the liturgy step by step. The liturgy was standardized, mainly by Alcuin, and then put in place throughout the land. Book production was increased all across the land. Not only copies of the Bible, but ancient church fathers and even new books written by the educated were in circulation at that time. There is no doubt that one of the highest priorities of the church during the time of Charlemagne was education.
The moral standards of the priests also had to be raised. Boniface described the situation in France in 742, one year after Charlemagne’s father took the throne.
They have no archbishops. Most of the episcopal sees are occupied by avaricious laymen or adulterous, licentious and worldly clerics. Bishops make no claim not to be fornicators and adulterers, and they drink, neglect their duties, and spend their time hunting.
Boniface listed more problem including the bishops had not met in council together for at least 80 years. Charlemagne completed the reform of the morality of the church. Within a few years of his taking the throne, every metropolitan had an archbishop and every see had a proper bishop. The sinners were forced out or forced to do penance. The bishops were required to meet annually to discuss matters of both political and ecclesiastical significance. In addition at least 18 major Synods were called in 46 years of Charlemagne’s reign. The pope held only three in the same time frame, and one of those was called by Charlemagne to have a trial for the pope. He held inquests into the morality of the clergy in 802 and 811 to purge out those who had become to ‘worldly’ from office.
These facts tell us a great deal about the church under Charlemagne, and they also tell us a great deal about the church in general. Charlemagne’s desire to raise the morality and education of the clergy can only be seen as a protest against the standard level of both morality and education allowed by the church.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Just in case one did not think that an altar based liturgy and a pulpit based one do not conflict with each other, witness the recent attack on expository preaching. It begins at Reformed Catholicism where Kevin Johnson extols ‘kergymatic preaching’ which he defines as follows:
[kergymatic preaching] brings the acts of God to fore in the proclamation of God’s Word so that both in word and in deed (communion, the Lord’s Supper, weekly if possible), the covenant community is brought ever more forward into a unity with God through Christ and by His Spirit.
He makes clear it is not:
"micro-exegetical" line by line word by word expository preaching through books in order. That should have passed with the Puritans.
This shot at the line by line preaching straight through a book done by the Reformers was then heralded by The Boar’s Head Tavern, and the Restless Reformer, who rightly calls it ‘Christian Storytelling’. The Restless Reformer goes on to connect this problem to Systematic Theology, noting that Christology is usually the third course or topic in Systematics. Nielson’s Nook makes the jump from the original attack on expository preaching to the Lord’s Supper seemingly linking believing propositions from sermons to a misuse of the sacraments. What is clear is his desire to have a more liturgical way of propounding the gospel, which for him seems to include weekly communion and less expository preaching.
Which brings us full circle to the original post by Kevin Johnson. Notice the comments. Comment #2 by Mike Spreng states the following after relating a story about Roman Catholic sermons:
I think good preaching certainly can and should be done with the help of the scriptures, but yes, wrangling with the text and expecting the people to take out there notebooks does not seem to emphasize the centrality of the ceremony and even the gospel itself. That is better done in an academic context.
Kevin responds in comment #3:
I have found nine times out of ten when I’ve been at a Roman Mass that the preaching was actually very much gospel-oriented and in line with what I’ve written above. The fact that the Western liturgical tradition in large part sees the sermon as part of the liturgy rather than the climax helps this aspect of it, imho
This shocking bit of information cannot be passed over. The preaching of the Romanist church was ‘gospel-oriented’? The church that denies one is saved by faith alone and requires work and sacraments to achieve salvation had a ‘gospel-oriented’ sermon? Has this attack on exegetical preaching changed the definition of gospel or at least the message of the gospel?
I believe it has, and I believe it does. I want to be clear there are those that should be legitimately criticized for preaching badly and some who may even leave Christ out of the sermon. However, this is a failure of the preacher not the method. These gentlemen are advocating a return to pre-reformational ways of preaching and pre-reformational messages that those ways are meant to communicate. They are extolling the centrality of the service, the centrality of the ritual, the Supper and the altar. This is exactly why the Reformers changed the service from an altar based one to a pulpit based service. The words of Christ are life (John 6:68). We should cling to them line by line. We should usually go straight through books so we can see the ‘story’ develop before us. So we can see his truth, and receive the gospel of eternal life. Kergymatic preaching that elevates the story above the words, and is designed only to make the focal point the altar and not the words, is not emphasizing Christ, it de-emphasizes him. It de-emphasizes his gospel words and returns us to the yoke of works as the Roman system openly admits.
Exegetical preaching should always present the call to Christ. But is does this through line by line exposition of his words. The preacher must be aware of applying it to the lives the believers and showing them Christ in every story, in every message. These posts come dangerously close to advocating a giving of the gospel without the words of the gospel. ‘Christian Storytelling’ is nice, but it is not preaching. Preaching is an explaining of the Scripture, which cannot be done by simply finding its ‘kergyma’. Jesus fulfilled every ‘jot and tittle’ of the Scripture, not just the main points or central thrust (kergyma) of it. We must not return to the methods of an age that denied the gospel and replaced it with sacerdotal system unless we desire to return to that same gospel denying sacerdotal system.
Monday, October 02, 2006
The first question that must be asked to see if Charlemagne’s church was a Protestant one, is did the church submit to the Pope, or did they reject his authority? This is one that can be seen better in acts than words. Most everyone mouthed the words that the Pope was the supreme head of the church and sat in St. Peter’s chair. However, did they follow that up with action, or were those words mere flattery?
First, the Seventh Ecumenical Council or Council of Nicaea II serves as an appropriate illustration. Nicaea was attended by Papal legates, and approved by Charlemagne’s close friend, Pope Adrian. This council allowed the use of images and accounted for them to be venerated, but not worshiped. The church of Charlemagne, by this I mean France and parts of Spain and Germany, rejected this Pope approved General Synod of the church. They rejected veneration of the images, denied they served any useful purpose at all, and repudiated the authority of the council. These things were published under the title, Libiri Carolini. Pope Adrian pleaded with Charlemagne, but at the Council of Frankfurt (794), Nicaea was denounced. At least 300 bishops from France, England, Spain, Italy, and Germany signed on to the rejection of the Council of Nicaea II, which had already received papal approval. This was not just the influence of Charlemagne. The church continued this position under Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, by denouncing the use of images at the Council of Paris in 825. The Council of Paris also openly rebuked the pope for supporting such a council. Hardly the actions of a church submitting to papal authority.
Second, the Filoque controversy shows the rejection of papal authority. The Filoque controversy is about adding the phrase “and the Son” to the Nicene Creed. Thus, the revised version reads that that Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This was in use by the 6th century in Spain, but it was Charlemagne’s church that made it official. Alcuin, Theodulf, and Paulinus, the greatest scholars of the Carolingian church, and later Ratramnus of Corbie all argued heavily for the inclusion of the phrase ‘and the Son’. They viewed it essential to understand the Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son. Again, Pope Adrian pleaded against such an idea, and later Pope Leo would not accept it either, although he treaded much lighter. In 809, at the Council of Aix-la-Chappelle the phrase was included in the Nicene Creed officially, and always used that way in the areas controlled by Charlemagne. Since even the Pope now recognizes that phrase, we can see which side gave in.
Third, an incident involving Pope Leo III is also telling for it shows how the church under Charlemagne viewed the Pope. Leo had been accussed of some sins, including adultery if I remember correctly, and the people of Rome were in an uproar. Arno, archbishop of Salzburg, led a delegation of two archbishops and five bishops to investigate the charges. This act in and of itself is unheard of. Archbishops and bishops were investigating the Head of the Church. The Pope sitting under judgment of fellow bishops runs counter to everything claimed by the Pope. Yet, Arno not only led this delegation, they found Leo guilty. They would not reinstall Leo as the bishop of Rome. Charlemagne did reinstall Leo for political reasons, but the very idea that the church under the dominion of Charlemagne would try the pope and find him guilty is astounding and says quite a lot about the view of the papacy held by the bishops of the Carolingian Kingdom.
Fourth, the constant use of Councils and Synods. I have already mentioned at least three. Charlemagne required yearly synods of his church. They bishops met together and discussed affairs of the church and kingdom. This practice is not in keeping with the Roman practice. It speaks volumes about where the church turned for judicial and theological matters. It was to itself and not toward Rome.
Fifth, the views of individuals should also say large amounts. In addition to the men mentioned above such as Arno of Salzburg, we can add the thoughts of many others. People like Theodulf who thought the Pope was not over Charlemagne and at least rejected the idea that the pope had temporal authority at all. Haymo Bishop of Halberstadt rejected the idea of the Pope as a universal bishop and the idea that Peter founded the seat in Rome! However, Claudius bishop of Turin speaks the loudest. This man was given his bishopric by Louis the Pious and was never removed from his seat. He states concerning Matthew 16,
‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church: and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,’ under pretence of which words the stupid and ignorant common people, destitute of all spiritual knowledge, betake themselves to Rome in hope of acquiring eternal life. . . . Know thou that he only is apostolic who is the keeper and guardian of the apostle’s doctrine, and not he who boasts himself to be seated in the chair of the apostle.(J.A. Wylie, History of Protestantism, Vol. 1. pg.22)
Hardly the word of a man upholding the authority of the Pope. Hopefully this brief look at the history of the Carolingian church will show that the Pope held no real power in the church, and was regularly disobeyed in matters of doctrine and faith. I believe this requires one to view the Carolingian church as a church ‘protesting’ the authority of the bishop of Rome, and finding its own way without him.
Now that the baseball season is over, I can make a few comments that need to be made.
First, let us get the formal stuff out of the way first, The Pittsburgh Pirates will win it all next year, or at least win their division. A good year for developing young talent. If we had hired Jim Leyland rather than Jim Tracy, we would have won it all this year. We have some good young pitching prospects, and our young hitting finally came through. Freddie Sanchez won the NL Batting Title, Jason Bay was an All Star and Ronnie Paulino hit .300 as our catcher. Add in the last season acquisition of Xavier Nady, and a few minor league prospects, and the rookie closer getting even better next year, and you have a real winner on your hands.
Second, what the Minnesota Twins did this year was absolutely amazing. They had never had even a share of first place all year until there was only three games left in the season and took sole possession on the very last day. Both records. Living in South Dakota I got to watch a lot of Twins baseball, and they are a great team. Even losing two of their three best pitchers, they still pulled of the amazing. 12 games out of first place in June, but they still won the division. Unbelievable. And if they can keep Lirano (an injured pitcher) healthy, there is absolutely no reason that the Twins should not dominate baseball for the next decade. Ron Gardenhire may actually be the best coach in baseball. The Twins comeback should be right up there next to the Miracle Mets of 1969 and the Shot Heard Round the World in 1962. Yet, it will not take its rightful place in baseball lore because of my third point.
Third, the Wild Card has ruined baseball forever. Never have I heard sports reporters try to make a bigger deal about the Wild Card race than they have this year. But this year it again proved to be the biggest mistake ever made. The AL Central Race with the Minnesota Twins is a perfect example. Twins and Tigers tied with 3 games left in the season. The tension should have been so thick you could cut it with a knife, but instead, both teams were already guaranteed playoff spots so they could rest big time players and set their rotations. The Tigers lost three in a row to the Royals, a team the Tigers had only lost once to all year. The Twins dropped two of three to the White Sox at home, and there was talk prior to the series of throwing it on purpose because it would be better to play the Yankees in a five game series rather than a seven game one. The Wild Card ruined a down to the wire division race. It did the same thing in the National League as the NL West came down to the last weekend of the season between the Dodgers and the Padres. However, both teams made the post season. Many pundits lauded the Wild Card race in the National League as it too went down to the wire. However, if you look at it, that race was a race of teams that were barely above .500. The team that stayed above 81-81 was going to win the Wild Card. Was it fair for the Astros or the Phillies who lost out on a Wild Card chase that the the Dodgers, the team that won, got to play more games against the worst division in baseball? Probably not. So, the Wild Card ruined several hot division races and did not even manage to get the fourth best team into the playoffs. I hope baseball drops this stupid idea, but it won’t.
Fourth, steroids ruined everything about baseball for my entire childhood. Jason Grimsely, a ball player who tried to turn states evidence, recently gave out names of players who used performance enhancing drugs. The list includes the trainer of Albert Pujols and Roger Clemens. The face of the steroid free baseball in Pujols and the future Hall of Famer in Clemens are both dirty, and probably tons of others that Grimsely never got to see take drugs. Almost no one from the 80’s to today should make the Hall of Fame. What a disgrace that our National Pastime has come to this. As much as I hate the Wild Card, I hate this even more. I hope Bud Selieg gets fired, but again he won’t. I would bet money as an owner, he knew what was going on. If the writers put anyone from this era into the Hall of Fame, they might as well put Pete Rose in too. If it is wrong to compromise the game by betting on baseball, and it is, then it is wrong to compromise the game by taking illegal drugs.