Charles Hodge on why Russell Moore and Rick Warren can’t go to Rome

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HodgeCharles Charles Hodge on why Russell Moore and Rick Warren cant go to RomeRecently Southern Baptists Dr. Russell Moore and the Purpose Driven Profiteer Rick Warren swam the Tiber to speak at Pope Francis’ conference on marriage and family. During that time Rick Warren repeatedly addressed the Pope as “Holy Father.” Dr. Russell Moore also seems to believe his own actions were acceptable.

What do the Reformed say about the office of the Pope?

Westminster Confession of Faith XXV.VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God. 

Part of this line is not found in the Americanized version of the Westminster Confession, however, it does give the historical view of the office of the Pope. If one were to read the rest of the confession there are many references to the office of the Pope, his claims to authority, papal abuse of the sacraments, etc.

Since Dr. Moore seems to believe going to Rome isn’t a problem, and Rick Warren doesn’t know enough to know why it would be a problem, I have posted Charles Hodge’s letter to Pope Pius IX on the95.org. It is a short read, I hope you will have time to read it.

I end this with a few quotes from other Reformers, Puritans,  Baptists, and even John Wesley, regarding what they believed about antichrist and the office of the Pope.

Nicolaus Von Amsdorf (1483 – 1565)

“He (the antichrist) will be revealed and come to naught before the last day, so that every man shall comprehend and recognize that the pope is the real, true antichrist and not the vicar of Christ … Therefore those who consider the pope and his bishops as Christian shepherds and bishops are deeply in error, but even more are those who believe the the Turk (ISLAM) is the antichrist. Because the Turk (ISLAM) rules outside of the church and does not sit in the holy place, nor does he seek to bear the name of Christ, but is an open antagonist of Christ and His church. This does not need to be revealed, but it is clear and evident because he persecutes Christians openly and not as the pope does, secretly under the form of Godliness.” (Nicolaus Von Amsdorf, Furnemliche und gewisse Zeichen, sig.A2r.,v.)

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

“nothing else than the kingdom of Babylon and of very Antichrist. For who is the man of sin and the son of perdition, but he who by his teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal tyranny.” (Martin Luther, First Principles, pp. 196-197)

Flacius (1570)

“The sixth and last reason for our separation from the pope and his followers be this; By many writings of our church, by the Divinely inspired Word, by prophecies concerning the future and by the special characteristics of the Papacy, it has been profusely and thoroughly proved that the pope with his prelates and clergy is the real true great antichrist, that his kingdom is the real Babylon, a never ceasing fountain and a mother of all abominable idolatry.” (Flacius, Etliche Hochwichtige Ursachen und Grunde, warum das siche alle Christen von dem Antichrist … absondern sollen)

Georg Nigrinus (1530 – 1602)

“The Jesuits claim to be sorely offended and have taken my declarations as an insult and blasphemy in branding the Papacy as the antichrist of which Daniel, Paul, Peter, John and even Christ prophesied. But this is as true as it is that Jesus is the Messiah, and I am prepared to show it even by their own definition of the word ‘antichrist’.” (Translated from “Nigrinus, Antichrists Grundliche Offenbarung” fol. 6v.)

“This Jesuit further contends that the Papacy cannot be antichrist because the Papacy has lasted for centuries, but that the antichrist is supposed to reign only for 3 1/2 years … But no one doubts today that Daniel spoke of YEAR-DAYS, not literal days … The prophetic time-periods of forty-two months, 1260 days, 1, 2, 1/2 times are prophetic, and according to Ezekiel 4, a day must be taken for a year.” (Translated from “Nigrinus, Antichrists Grundliche Offenbarung” fols.28v. 29r.)

John Calvin (1509 – 1564)

“Though it be admitted that Rome was once the mother of all Churches, yet from the time when it began to be the seat of Antichrist it has ceased to be what it was before. Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman Pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt .. I shall briefly show that (Paul’s words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol.3, p.149)

John Knox (1505 – 1572)

Yea, to speak it in plain words; lest that we submit ourselves to Satan, thinking that we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ, for, as for your Roman kirk, as it is now corrupted, and the authority thereof, whereon stands the hope of your victory, I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan, and the head thereof, called the pope, to be that man of sin, of whom the apostle speaks.” (John Knox, The History of the Reformation of Religion in Scotland, p.65)

Thomas Cranmer (1489 – 1556)

“Whereof it followeth Rome to be the seat of Antichrist, and the pope to be very antichrist himself. I could prove the same by many other scriptures, old writers, and strong reasons.” (Works by Cranmer, vol.1, pp.6-7)

Roger Williams (1603 – 1683)

Pastor Williams spoke of the Pope as “the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, who sits as God over the Temple of God, exalting himself not only above all that is called God, but over the souls and consciences of all his vassals, yea over the Spirit of Christ, over the Holy Spirit, yea, and God himself…speaking against the God of heaven, thinking to change times and laws; but he is the son of perdition.” (The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers by Froom, Vol. 3, pg. 52)

The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)

“The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner; neither can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof, but is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ.” (1689 Baptist Confession of Faith)

John Wesley (1703 – 1791)

“… In many respects, the Pope has an indisputable claim to those titles. He is, in an emphatical sense, the man of sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled, the son of perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers, destroyed innumerable souls, and will himself perish everlastingly. He it is that opposeth himself to the emperor, once his rightful sovereign; and that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped – Commanding angels, and putting kings under his feet, both of whom are called gods in scripture; claiming the highest power, the highest honour; suffering himself, not once only, to be styled God or vice-God. Indeed no less is implied in his ordinary title, “Most Holy Lord,” or, “Most Holy Father.” So that he sitteth – Enthroned. In the temple of God – Mentioned Rev. xi, 1. Declaring himself that he is God – Claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.” (John Wesley, Explanatory Notes Upon The New Testament, p.216)

Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)

“It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against Antichrist, and as to what Antichrist is no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the popery in the Church of Rome there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. If there were to be issued a hue and cry for Antichrist, we should certainly take up this church on suspicion, and it would certainly not be let loose again, for it so exactly answers the description.”

“Popery is contrary to Christ’s Gospel, and is the Antichrist, and we ought to pray against it. It should be the daily prayer of every believer that Antichrist might be hurled like a millstone into the flood and for Christ, because it wounds Christ, because it robs Christ of His glory, because it puts sacramental efficacy in the place of His atonement, and lifts a piece of bread into the place of the Saviour, and a few drops of water into the place of the Holy Ghost, and puts a mere fallible man like ourselves up as the vicar of Christ on earth; if we pray against it, because it is against Him, we shall love the persons though we hate their errors: we shall love their souls though we loath and detest their dogmas, and so the breath of our prayers will be sweetened, because we turn our faces towards Christ when we pray.” (Michael de Semlyen, All Roads Lead to Rome)

Rev. J.A.Wylie (1808 – 1890)

“The same line of proof which establishes that Christ is the promised Messiah, conversely applied, establishes that the Roman system is the predicted Apostacy. In the life of Christ we behold the converse of what the Antichrist must be; and in the prophecy of the Antichrist we are shown the converse of what Christ must be, and was. And when we place the Papacy between the two, and compare it with each, we find, on the one hand, that it is the perfect converse of Christ as seen in his life; and on the other, that it is the perfect image of the Antichrist, as shown in the prophecy of him. We conclude, therefore, that if Jesus of Nazareth be the Christ, the Roman Papacy is the Antichrist.” (J.A.Wylie, Preface to “The Papacy is the Antichrist, A Demonstration”).

[Source for the quotes above]

World Vision: Why I stopped giving

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wv World Vision: Why I stopped givingWorld Vision USA announced yesterday that they were amending their hiring policy to include people who are in a legal homosexual marriage. Their requirements, as they were explained to me by Melissa, a “special agent” at World Vision are that all employees must be Christians, affirming the Apostles Creed or a World Vision statement regarding the Trinity (I was not able to find this statement, I would appreciate a link to it if anyone can find it.), and agree to submit to the World Vision USA policy on marriage. That is, employees must have a Christian worldview ethic on matters of sexuality, except when it comes to homosexual marriage, it seems.

This change, as Melissa explained, is because gay marriage is a very big and divisive issue in the Church, and World Vision USA works with several Churches (denominations) with varying beliefs in the areas of divorce, birth control (I didn’t ask her if this referred to abortion or not, sorry!), and homosexuality.

I asked a few questions, hoping to get Melissa off of her script, and to find out a little bit more. They accept donations from anyone, which is to be expected, I couldn’t imagine making potential donors read and agree to the Apostles Creed or the World Vision USA statement on the Trinity, and maybe the Westminster or other Confession. And, they work with what appears to be any group that calls itself a Church. As for their employees, they represent a diverse group that includes Roman Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterian Church USA (the dead liberal ones), Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA, this group is in a race with PCUSA to be the first to abandon all Christian doctrines.), United Methodists (who are currently fighting with themselves over gay marriage with the African Methodists trying to steer the ship back toward orthodoxy.), and any others that are willing to affirm the Apostles Creed.

In reading articles on World Vision USA’s announcement I found an article that explained a little more about World Vision International than what I knew, and reminded me of some concerns I already had with them.

World Vision International is a humanitarian aide organization, a Christian humanitarian aide organization. They operate all over the world working to improve the structure of villages to help support an economy and to provide for the residents to make a living and be able to sustain themselves. This includes building roads, wells, supplying animals for milk or meat, and training people on how to steward the land and resources they have. Though their flyers seem to indicate that a sponsorship goes to an individual child, that is not the case, rather that child represents a community that they are working in. Your sponsored child receives benefits as the community benefits, rather than benefits going directly to feeding that individual child. Letters mailed to the child do actually go to the child, of course.

World Vision International works with local and national governments to help these villages. This allows for donations to be more helpful as the national government of the country works with them to build the necessary infrastructure.

However, this also presents a problem, many governments are less than hospitable to Christians bearing the Gospel, so World Vision International agrees not to proclaim the Gospel to the people who they are aiding in these countries. This allows them to work in Muslim, Hindu, or even atheistic nations. So, the infrastructure is being built, but the Gospel may or may not be proclaimed, depending on the wishes of the national government.

To compare, Compassion International works directly with the child to meet their individual needs and to proclaim the Gospel to them. However, this likely means that they would not be allowed in to many nations that are more hostile to the Gospel.

Having read about these things, and praying about this, I decided that I could not in good conscience give money to World Vision USA any longer. I’ll now attempt to give the reasons for my decision, in hopes that others will also think this through and carefully weigh the matter.

Gay Marriage

The obvious, and already mentioned, catalyst is World Vision USA’s announcement that gay marriage is divisive and not important enough for them to take a stand against. I understand their reasoning, and in a pragmatic way I can see why they would make the decision. When much of the American Christian Churches are going liberal the donations and workers are going to dry up and they’ll look “intolerant.” Offending people is hard, and we all want unity. As I explained to Melissa, light can’t have unity with darkness.

Melissa reiterated the official press release, that this change is not in any way endorsing or promoting gay marriage or homosexuality. Unfortunately, making an official policy, and an announcement, on the subject is doing exactly what they have said they aren’t doing.

(Adam Ford (Adam4D) had a very timely infographic on this today)

Authority of Scripture versus Pragmatism

World Vision USA and International, as Melissa was careful to remind me, is not a Church, rather it is a parachurch Christian humanitarian aide organization. A couple issues here, if it is Christian it needs to hold to the Bible as the ultimate authority and that requires that Scripture trumps pragmatism and unity. Yes, Jesus did pray that we would be united as one. Unfortunately, as Paul would remind us, there is and will be division among us because many have turned from the light to darkness. Light and darkness can’t have fellowship they are opposites.

Parachurch

Then there is the issue that World Vision is a parachurch organization. Being a parachurch organization it isn’t held accountable to any denominational synod or presbytery. Just like any secular charity it is only accountable to itself and those who donate to it.

Along with this comes the difficulty of trying to support something that is trying to serve part of the role of the Church while not being part of a Church. As I’m learning more as a Presbyterian one of the big things has been the Church, God’s chosen people. God’s grace is extended through the Church and God’s people are held accountable to the Church. Why should this ministry be outside of the Church? Wouldn’t it be better to support missionaries and humanitarian aide through the ordinary means God has provided through the Church? What does it say of our ecclesiology if we think the local congregation and the Church it is a part of isn’t where our giving should be focused? Why even give to a Christian organization that isn’t tied to the one Christian organization that God gave us, is this any different from giving to a secular group?

Gospel

Last, and most important, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What good is it if we feed the world but don’t give them the thing they lack most? What is the role of the Church if not to proclaim the Gospel? Yes, humanitarian aide is good, and we should do it as we are able. But, that isn’t the command Jesus gave to the Church. The Great Commission is “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” World Vision International isn’t a Church and isn’t working toward the Great Commission. Don’t get me wrong, I think what they do is a good thing, I really do, but I think my money would be better used in giving it to the local church to support the Gospel being proclaimed locally, to support the two overseas missionary families my congregation supports, and to the denomination and the missionaries it supports.

Update: Today (3/26/14) World Vision USA announced they were taking back their policy change and not going to allow people in legal gay marriages to work for them. They also issued an apology.

However, for the reasons in my post, I still am not going to be funding them. I’ve also found out a little more, it seems World Vision doesn’t proclaim the Gospel at all.

J. Gresham Machen’s birthday book giveaway!

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machen photo J. Gresham Machens birthday book giveaway!Following on John Calvin’s birthday book giveaway, I thought it worthwhile to give out another book that changed the face of Christianity. Like Calvin, it didn’t change things to something new, but rather it brought many back to the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

In the early 1900s, John Gresham Machen, combated what was then modern liberalism, with his book “Christianity and Liberalism.” His major point in that amazing book was that Liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. Instead, it is a new religion that seeks to corrupt the Christian church.

While Machen didn’t put an end to it, he dealt a significant blow to it for quite some time. I think the two world wars, and the bloodiest century of all time, may have played a role in curbing it as well. It seems that liberalism isn’t compatible with the real world, or how broken and fallen the real world is. Unfortunately, in our time of mostly peace in the United States, at least as far as the average citizen observes, the cancer began to grow back, and we have the post modern emergents. It is nothing new, different faces for the same old heresies. Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Greg Boyd being among the leaders of the new post-modern liberals emergents.

What they all have in common starts with a denial of the truth of Scripture. It starts with denying things that “no one can really know for sure,” and “things that don’t really matter all that much,” and moves on to denying the deity of Christ, the reality of hell, and Jesus being the only way to God.

Like all heresies, they are defeated by generations that came before us, but they grow back with slight mutations and must be defeated again by another generation of Christians.

Thankfully, history, and God’s providence are on our side.

That book, Christianity and Liberalism, is as powerful and relevant today as it was in 1923 when it was first published. The book is no longer under copyright. So, please feel free to download a free copy today, and to distribute it as much as you are able to. Please, for your own benefit, and the benefit of the Christian church as a whole, read it. (epub | pdf | Kindle mobi | audio)

John Calvin’s Birthday Institutes Giveaway!

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Cakeb John Calvins Birthday Institutes Giveaway!For the 504th birthday of John Calvin I want to give away free copies of Institutes of the Christian Religion. I have it available in epub (anything but Kindle can read this) and mobi (Amazon Kindle) formats. Or, if you prefer to listen, a link to an audio book version that is also free.

epub format for Nook, almost any other ereader device or app

mobi for Amazon Kindle or Kindle apps

Institutes of the Christian Religion audibook from Reformed Audio.org