We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Common-Prayer-Biography-Religious/dp/0691154813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417814005&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+book+of+common+prayer. January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-English-Reformation-1489-1556/dp/1592448658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420055574&sr=8-1&keywords=A.F.+Pollard+Cranmer. February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-Jasper-Ridley/dp/0198212879/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422892154&sr=8-1&keywords=jasper+ridley+cranmer&pebp=1422892151110&peasin=198212879
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Montanists: Heretics or Primitive Christians? - Nicholas Conner - Theandros - An Online journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy
Friday, January 29, 2010
As to Popedom, that antchristian dominion, the title of chapter eight says it all: THE POWER OF THE CHURCH RESPECTING ARTICLES OF FAITH, AND ITS LICENTIOUS PERVERSION, UNDER THE PAPACY, TO THE CORRUPTION OF ALL PURITY OF DOCTRINE.
Although the Institutes should be on everyone's shelf and read again and again, Calvin is free and downloadable at:
THE POWER OF THE CHURCH RESPECTING ARTICLES OF FAITH, AND ITS LICENTIOUS PERVERSION, UNDER THE PAPACV, TO THE CORRUPTION OF ALL PURITY OF DOCTRINE
The next subject is the power of the Church, which is to be considered as residing, partly in the respective bishops, partly in councils, and those either provincial or general. I speak only of the spiritual power which belongs to the Church. Now, it consists either in doctrine, in legislation, or jurisdiction. The subject of doctrine contains two parts — the authority to establish doctrines, and the explication of them. Before we enter on the Particular discussion of each of these points, we would apprize the pious readers, that whatever is asserted respecting the power of the Church, they should be mindful to refer to the end for which Paul declares it to have been given, namely, "to edification, and not to destruction;" and all who make a legitimate use of it, consider themselves as nothing more than "servants of Christ," and the people's "servants for Jesus' sake." Now, the only way to edify the Church is, for the ministers themselves to study to preserve to Jesus Christ his rightful authority, which can no longer be secure than while he is left in possession of what he has received from the Father, that is, to be the sole Master in the Church. For of him alone, and of no other, is it said, "Hear ye him." The power of the Church, therefore, is not to be depreciated, yet it must be circumscribed by certain limits, that it may not be extended in every direction, according to the caprice of men. It will, therefore, be highly useful to observe how it is described by the prophets and apostles. For if we simply grant to men the power which they may be pleased to assume, it must be obvious to every one, what a door will be opened for tyranny, which ought never to be seen in the Church of Christ.
II. Here, therefore, it is necessary to remember, that whatever authority and dignity is attributed by the Holy Spirit, in the Scripture, either to the priests and prophets under the law, or to the apostles and their successors, it is all given, not in a strict sense to the persons themselves, but to the ministry over which they were appointed, or, to speak more correctly, to the word, the ministration of which was committed to them. For if we examine them all in succession, we shall not find that they were invested with any authority to teach or to answer inquiries, but in the name and word of the Lord. For when they were called to their office, it was at the same time enjoined that they should bring forward nothing of themselves, but should speak from the mouth of the Lord. Nor did he send them forth in public to address the people, before he had instructed them what they should say, that they might speak nothing beside his word. Moses himself, the prince of all the prophets, was to be heard above all others ; but he was first furnished with his commission, that he might not be able to announce any thing except from the Lord. Therefore the people, when they received his doctrine, were said to " believe the Lord and his servant Moses." The authority of the priests also, that it might not fall into contempt, was confirmed by the severest punishments, But, on the other hand, the Lord shows on what condition they were to be heard, when he says, "My covenant was with Levi. The law of truth was in his mouth." And just afterwards, "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth ; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." Therefore, if a priest would be heard, it was necessary for him to prove himself the messenger of God, by faithfully communicating the commands which he had received from his master ; and Avhere attention to the priests is enjoined, it is expressly stated, that "they shall teach the sentence of the law" of God.
IIL The power of the prophets is fully and beautifully described in Ezekiel. "Son of man," says the Lord, "I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel ; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me." When he is commanded to hear from the mouth of the Lord, is he not prohibited to invent any thing of himself? And what is it to give warning from the Lord, but, to speak in such a manner as to be able to declare with confidence that the message he has brought is not his own, but the Lord's? The Lord expresses the same thing in other words in the prophecy of Jeremiah: " The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream ; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully." (9') He clearly delivers a law for them all; its import is, that he permits no one to teach more than he has been commanded ; and he afterwards gives the appellation of "chaff" to every thing that has not proceeded from himself alone. Not one of the prophets opened his mouth, therefore, without having first received the words from the Lord. Hence their frequent use of these expressions: "The word of the Lord," " The burden of the Lord," " Thus saith the Lord," " The mouth of the Lord hath spoken ; " and this was highly necessary; for Isaiah exclaimed, "I am a man of unclean lips;" and Jeremiah said, " Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child." What could proceed from the pollution of the one, and the folly of the other, but impure and foolish speeches, if they had spoken their own words ? But their lips were holy and pure, when they began to be the organs of the Holy Spirit." While the prophets were bound by this law to deliver nothing but what they had received, they were likewise adorned with eminent power and splendid titles. For when the Lord declares, " See, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build, and to plant," he at the same time assigns the reason — "Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth."
IV. If we advert to the apostles, they are certainly honoured with many extraordinary characters. It is said that they are "the light of the world," and "the salt of the earth;" that "he that heareth" them "heareth Christ ; " that "whatsoever" they" shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever" they "shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." But their very name shows what degree of liberty they were allowed in their office ; that if they were apostles, they were not to declaim according to their own pleasure, but to deliver with strict fidelity the commands of him who had sent them. And the language of Christ is sufficiently clear, in which he has defined their message by the following commission : "Go ye, and teach all nations whatsoever I have commanded you." He had even received and imposed on himself the same law, in order that no one might refuse to submit to it. " My doctrine," says he, "is not mine, but his that sent me." He who was always the eternal and only counsellor of the Father, and was constituted by the Father the Lord and Master of all, yet because he sustained the office of a teacher, prescribed, by his own example, the rule which all ministers ought to follow in their teaching. The power of the Church, therefore, is not unlimited, but subject to the word of the Lord, and, as it were, included in it.
V. But whereas it has been a principle received in the Church from the beginning, and ought to be admitted in the present day, that the servants of God should teach nothing which they have not learned from him, yet they have had different modes of receiving instruction from him, according to the variety of different periods ; and the present mode diff'ers from those which have preceded it. In the first place, if the assertion of Christ be true, that "no man knoweth the Father except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him," it must always have been necessary for those who would arrive at the knowledge of God, to be directed by that eternal wisdom. For how could they have comprehended the mysteries of God, or how could they have declared them, except by the teaching of him, to whom alone the secrets of the Father are intimately known? The saints in former ages, therefore, had no other knowledge of God than what they obtained by beholding him in the Son, as in a mirror. By this observation I mean that God never manifested himself to man in any other way than by his Son, his only wisdom, light, and truth. From this fountain Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others, drew all the knowledge which they possessed of heavenly doctrine ; from this fountain the prophets themselves drew all the celestial oracles which they spoke and wrote. But this wisdom has not always manifested itself in the same way. With the patriarchs God employed secret revelations; for the confirmation of which, however, he at the same time added such signs that they could not entertain the least doubt that it was God who spake to them. What the patriarchs had received, they transmitted from hand to hand to their posterity; for the Lord had committed it to them on the express condition that they should so propagate it. Succeeding generations, from the testimony of God in their hearts, knew that what they heard was from heaven, and not from the earth.
VI. But when it pleased God to raise up a more visible form of a church, it was his will that his word should be committed to writing, in order that the priests might derive from it whatever they would communicate to the people, and that all the doctrine which should be delivered might be examined by that rule. Therefore, after the promulgation of the law, when the priests were commanded to teach "out of the mouth of the Lord," the meaning is, that they should teach nothing extraneous, or different from that system of doctrine which the Lord had comprised in the law ; it was not lawful for them to add to it or to diminish from it. Afterwards followed the prophets, by whom God published new oracles, which were to be added to the law ; yet they were not so new but that they proceeded from the law, and bore a relation to it. For in regard to doctrine, the prophets were merely interpreters of the law, and added nothing to it except prophecies of things to come. Except these, they brought forward nothing but pure explication of the law. But because it pleased God that there should be a more evident and copious doctrine, for the better satisfaction of weak consciences, he directed the prophecies also to be committed to writing, and to be accounted a part of his word. To these likewise were added the histories, which were the productions of the prophets, but composed under the dictation of the Holy Spirit. I class the Psalms with the prophecies, because what we attribute to the prophecies is common to the Psalms. That whole body of Scripture, therefore, consisting of the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, and the Histories, was the word of God to the ancient Church; and to this standard the priests and teachers, even to the coming of Christ, were bound to conform their doctrine ; nor was it lawful for them to deviate either to the right hand or to the left, because their office was wholly confined within these limits, that they should answer the people from the mouth of God. And this may be inferred from that remarkable passage of Malachi, vhere he commands the Jews to remember the law, and to be attentive to it, even till the publication of the gospel. For in that injunction he drives them off from all adventitious doctrines, and prohibits even the smallest deviation from the path which Moses had faithfully showed them. And it is for this reason that David so magnifies the excellence of the law, and recounts so many of its praises ; to prevent the Jews from desiring any addition to it, since it contained every thing necessary for them to know.
Friday, January 29, 2010
" Now know I that the Lord saveth his annointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand." Psalm 20:6 KJV
- A Message from Bishop David Anderson
- ABC and TEC Presiding Bishop meet with UN Secretary General
- AMiA Winter Conference celebrates 10 years of ministry
- Prop 8 Trial: Far more than marriage is on trial
- Matt Kennedy: Leaving Home, Part 1
- 'The Bible in the Life of the Church' project launched by the Anglican Communion
- The Apostolic Constitution: sceptics 'are eating humble pie'
A Message from Bishop David Anderson
Beloved in Christ,
In the midst of all the litigation that The Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and her chancellor, David Booth Beers, are hurling against the faithful orthodox Anglicans in the USA, and the litigation that various Anglican Church of Canada bishops are bringing against the faithful orthodox Anglicans in Canada, and in the midst of international revisionist plots and subplots to undermine the teachings of Christ, and considering Fr. Matt Kennedy's recently published recollections of being evicted last year from both church and rectory by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, this is a good time to stop and reflect on how we are doing spiritually. Defending yourself in litigation battles, being fully engaged in critical mission work and doing pastoral care day by day are all important, but if we forget to nurture our relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit we will disconnect from our power supply.
When I graduated from Virginia Seminary in 1970 and began ministry, I studied methods of evangelism, but found it slow going. In 1960, Fr. Dennis Bennett, an Episcopal priest in Van Nuys, California, had an experience of the Holy Spirit that changed his life and launched the charismatic movement in The Episcopal Church. Prior to that, we were used to talking about God the Father and about Jesus Christ, but we usually didn't go too deeply into things involving the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, Dennis Bennett was teaching about how to have a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit which was new and different than anything we had experienced before.
By the early 1970's, the number of Episcopalians who had received this teaching and had experienced what was termed "the baptism in the Holy Spirit" had grown to where the 1973 Encyclopedia Britannica referenced Dennis Bennett's announcement to his Van Nuys congregation about a new outpouring of God's Holy Spirit as "the beginning of the charismatic movement." This did overlook the earlier outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906, but Fr. Bennett's announcement to his congregation, and his subsequent relocation to the Seattle area, began the movement in The Episcopal Church.
I became a part of the charismatic movement when I encountered the Holy Spirit anew in February of 1978, after having read and studied about it. This study was prompted by an earlier event in my life in 1972. Apparently I had a lot of surrendering to do before I was willing to receive from God on his terms rather than on mine.
During the 1980's and early 1990's, the charismatic movement in The Episcopal Church grew and grew and impacted a large number of the clergy and laity. Its strength grew to the point that many felt the work of the Holy Spirit in bestowing supernatural gifts and bringing men and women closer to Jesus Christ would in time overwhelm, renew and reform the entire Episcopal Church. It seemed that The Episcopal Church in all of its liturgical and theological groupings could be transformed spiritually into an orthodox Anglican body.
Then the wars broke out - the battles over the uniqueness of Christ, the authority of Holy Scripture, the actual work of Christ's atonement, and the fires of Pentecost seemed to be banked. Although there are still centers of teaching on the Holy Spirit in some Episcopal and Anglican churches in North America, the wave of optimism that caused people to hope that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would renew all of The Episcopal Church faded. Had we misunderstood what God was doing? Wasn't he going to use the renewed experience of the Holy Spirit to transform TEC? Apparently not.
It came to me a few years ago, as I considered the leaders of the realignment within TEC (almost all of whom are now out of TEC), that we had in fact misunderstood God. God was using the fire of the Holy Spirit as a refiner's fire to purify his true church, and he knew that he was going to do this years in advance of our being aware of it. In significant part, I now believe that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in The Episcopal Church was to purify, refine, and prepare certain leaders to form the orthodox core of a new church. When I look around at the current leaders of the AC-NA, almost all of them were forged in the fire of the Pentecost that emerged in the 1970-1990s and shaped the character of those who would be called upon to lead a realignment. The hope of full renewal within TEC proved to be misguided, but the conditioning of leaders to bring the bulk of the orthodox out of Egypt and into the Promised Land was true and real.
Now as we think again of our present troubles and concerns, let us remember that we need to, indeed we must, share the blessing of the Holy Spirit with a new generation of laity and clergy, and that the power that we have needed and used in realignment and in ministry is fresh and new to a younger generation.
Many of us are in our mid to late 60's and above, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we have encountered needs to be available and the fires of Pentecost unleashed anew on God's holy church. In my life, I have found that the ministry of the Holy Spirit, besides equipping me with supernatural gifts as needed, has brought me closer to Jesus Christ, and as I have walked closer with him and listened to his words, has brought me closer to our Heavenly Father. Take the time to go deeper with God, and if you haven't encountered the Holy Spirit in the way I am speaking of, copies of Dennis Bennett's book "Nine o'clock in the Morning" are still available online; booksellers such as Amazon.com have it in stock for about $10.
Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council
Posted by Iain D Campbell
The following announcement has been made by Reformation Heritage Books:
The Westminster Assembly Project
and Reformation Heritage Books
The Westminster Assembly Project, best known for the edition of Assembly minutes and papers to be published by Oxford University Press, has now entered an extensive publishing agreement with Reformation Heritage Books.
John Bower has joined historian Chad Van Dixhoorn in launching three new series of books by the Westminster Assembly, and one series of new and classic studies on the Assembly, all being published by Reformation Heritage Books. It is hoped that both texts and studies will stimulate further research in the Assembly and the religious dimension of English civil war politics. Certainly future publications on British post-Reformation theology and Puritanism will be enriched by these publications, briefly described here.
Principal Documents of the Westminster Assembly. This series will produce the six chief works authored by the Assembly for covenanted uniformity of religion in England: the Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism, Directory for Public Worship, Directory for Church Government, and The Psalter. Each volume will contain a historical introduction, a critical text, and multi-column comparisons of original manuscripts and early editions. The inaugural volume, The Larger Catechism, has been prepared by John Bower and scheduled for a launch in March 2010.
Writings of the Westminster Divines. The aim of this series is to provide scholarly editions of texts by Westminster Assembly members and commissioners. Volumes will include previously unpublished manuscripts as well as republications of rare editions. Carefully determined editorial standards will be used to ensure an authoritative product that is accessible to modern readers, while remaining reliable for students and scholars.
Westminster Assembly Facsimiles. With this new series, Reformation Heritage Books and the Westminster Assembly Project are providing electronic and print access to publications by Assembly members in their original form. Free PDF downloads will be made available through the Westminster Assembly Project website. The same text can be purchased for your collection in paperback and hard cover from Reformation Heritage Books.
Studies of the Westminster Assembly. Complementing the primary source material in the other series, the Assembly studies will provide access to classic studies that have not been reprinted and to new studies, providing some of the best existing research on the Assembly and its members.
For more information on the Westminster Assembly Project, visit www.westminsterassembly.org. Information on Reformation Heritage Books can be found at www.heritagebooks.org and www.heritagebooktalk.org.
Q. 13. What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?
A. God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory; and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof: and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, (whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favor as he pleaseth,) hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.
The First Head of Doctrine: Divine Election and Reprobation
Article 8: A Single Decision of Election
This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for all who were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture declares that there is a single good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God’s will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace and to glory, both to salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us to walk in.
Article 9: Election Not Based on Foreseen Faith
This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and disposition, as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith, of the obedience of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each of the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and at last eternal life itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and effects. As the apostle says, He chose us (not because we were, but) so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Pope John Paul II Whipped Himself as Act of Penance, Book Claims - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - FOXNews.com
Pope John Paul II Whipped Himself as Act of Penance, Book Claims - International News News of the World Middle East News Europe News - FOXNews.com
The late Pope John Paul II, who has been put on the fast track to sainthood by the Vatican, regularly whipped himself as an act of penance to feel closer to God, and signed a secret document saying that he would step down as pontiff if he became incurably ill, according to a new book.
"Why a Saint?" by Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Vatican "postulator" in charge of the canonization process, says the Polish-born Pope performed self flagellation as a bishop in Krakow and continued to do so in the Vatican after being elected Pope in 1978.
"In his wardrobe, among his vestments, there hung on a clothes hanger a special belt for trousers which he used as a whip," Monsignor Oder says. He said self flagellation was "an instrument of Christian perfection" emulating the sufferings of Jesus Christ.
He added that in Poland the former Bishop Karol Wojtyla often slept on the bare floor to practice self-denial and asceticism, often disturbing his bed in the morning to pretend he had slept in it and so avoid drawing attention to his act of penitence.
LIVESHOTS: Pope Ready for Resignation, Whip
The fact that John Paul whipped himself in "bodily penance" was first revealed last November by Sister Tobiana Sobodka, a Polish nun who worked for Pope John Paul in his Vatican apartment and at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo in the hills south of Rome.
In "Santo Subito" (A Saint Now) by Andrea Tornielli, the Pope's biographer and Vatican correspondent of Il Giornale, Sister Sobodka, who belongs to the Order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus said “We would hear it –- we were in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could hear the sound of the blows when he would flagellate himself. He did it when he was still capable of moving on his own."
In 1986, in his annual Letter to Priests, John Paul wrote: “What one must see in these forms of penance –- which, unfortunately, our times are not accustomed to –- are the motives: the love of God and the conversion of sinners.” Saints who flagellated themselves include St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Mother Teresa and St. Thomas More.
Last month Pope Benedict XVI recognized John Paul II’s "heroic virtues," a step towards beatification, which is expected in the autumn after the Pope has approved a miracle attributed to John Paul involving a French nun inexplicably cured of Parkinson's disease after praying to him. This will then be followed by canonization, which requires proof of a second miracle.
Monsignor Oder confirms that in 1989 John Paul, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, prepared a document stating that he would resign "in the case of infirmity which is presumed incurable, long-lasting and which impedes me from sufficiently carrying out the functions of my apostolic ministry." Popes are normally elected for life.
The last Pope to step down voluntarily was Celestine V in 1294. Pope John Paul asked Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now Pope Benedict, to study the theological implications of papal resignation.
The book also says John Paul forgave Mehmet Ali Agca, his would-be assassin, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital moments after he was shot on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square. Agca was released from prison in Turkey this month and has vowed to pray at John Payul's tomb in Rome.
WORLD Magazine What would Jesus fly? Rusty Leonard and Warren Cole Smith Jul 12, 08
What would Jesus fly?
Money Six televangelists under Senate investigation frequent luxury corporate jets—and they are not alone Rusty Leonard and Warren Cole Smith
Billionaire Warren Buffet became one of the richest men in the world by knowing what adds value to a corporation and what does not. And one of the things that does not, he has argued for years, is a corporate jet: They're a luxury in almost every case and a necessity for only a few. He often railed against them in the annual reports of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, and elsewhere.
That's why, when Berkshire Hathaway finally bought a corporate jet in 1989, he somewhat ashamedly called it "The Indefensible."
But try telling that to Fred Price, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Benny Hinn, or Kenneth Copeland. Their organizations are among more than 30 churches and Christian ministries with luxury jets (see sidebar), according to a WORLD investigation. And according to Ole Anthony of the Trinity Foundation, a Dallas-based ministry watchdog, ownership and use of luxury jets is one of the surest indicators that donor money is not being used for ministry purposes.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW
"There are incredible abuses of these corporate jets for personal use," Anthony said. "Mind-bending abuse that they do with impunity."
Using ministry resources for personal use is prohibited by IRS regulations, but the IRS almost never investigates tax-exempt organizations. Of the more than 1 million tax-exempt organizations in the country, fewer than 10,000 get audited each year. When a media organization uncovers abuses of an executive jet for personal purposes, Anthony said, the televangelists say they've reimbursed the ministry.
"But it's just a claim," Anthony said. "They are not required to, and almost never do, provide anything that resembles real documentation of the claim."
All six of the televangelists under investigation for potential abuse of their tax-exempt status by Senate Finance Committee ranking member Sen. Charles Grassley (WORLD, Nov. 17, 2007; Jan. 26, 2008; May 31, 2008) are connected with luxury corporate jets. Eagle Mountain International Church, associated with Kenneth Copeland, owns three, including a Cessna 750, the fastest civilian airplane available in the world. (It's often called the Citation X.)
Paula and Randy White's Without Walls International Church bought a Gulfstream II jet for about $1.5 million in 2006. Before then, the Whites frequently chartered planes.
The flight records of lesser-known Jesse Duplantis allow a glimpse into this jet-setting ministry world. The Louisiana-based televangelist with a shock of silvery-white hair, a Cajun accent, and an exuberant style—in his youth he was a guitarist in heavy metal rock bands—has been preaching since the late 1970s. His current vehicle of choice is a Falcon 50, the only plane in its class with three jet engines.
The Falcon 50 is considered a "super-medium" or "long-range" plane, one able to go almost 3,000 miles between refuelings. When Duplantis bought the plane in 2006, he wrote in his ministry's magazine that it was an "amazing tool for world evangelism." In September of that year he took the plane to Russia for a series of meetings and preaching events, and he's averaged four flights per week over the last two years: His director of marketing, Michael Wright, said commercial airlines "can't get us from point A to B to C to D at the times we need to be there. For us, the plane is a necessity."
The necessity is expensive. Neither Wright nor the spokesmen for other televangelists with jets would disclose to WORLD the total costs of owning them, which can vary widely. Used "entry level" jets can be found for less than $2 million, while new top-end jets can sell for more than $50 million.
The "fully loaded" costs for these jets (including insurance and depreciation) can easily go over $10,000 per hour, and even for the low-end jets are almost never less than $2,000 per hour. For most owners, that translates to a cost of several million dollars a year, even with minimal usage.
Another example: From 2000 to 2007, Fred Price of Los Angeles--based Crenshaw Christian Center used his Gulfstream jet for more than 700 flights. Many of the flights were to the New York City area, where he had opened an East Coast branch of his church—despite the fact that these are two cities linked by more than 20 non-stop commercial flights each day. Daniella Masterson, a spokesman for Price, would not comment for this story.
Do donors care? Many of the organizations with jets refuse to release financial information, so it is not known whether donors would be pleased or shocked. Trinity Foundation's Anthony contends that most ministry supporters would be appalled at the costs: "Flying first class would be many, many times more economical."
Some Christian ministries—especially disaster relief and missionary organizations—have legitimate uses for airplanes, but the planes they're using are not luxury jets.
Dwight Jarboe, president and CEO of Ohio-based MMS Aviation, which repairs and overhauls planes for mission aviation groups, estimates that about 120 Christian ministries use aircraft in their ministries: "The majority of these are small single-engine or twin-engine propeller planes." These planes are used for disaster relief, often in remote locations.
MMS Aviation, which receives just over $1 million a year in donations, does not charge Christian groups for its services. "If an airplane is used in Christian ministry, they don't pay for labor, only parts," Jarboe said. His organization doesn't work on the kind of jets used by many prosperity gospel televangelists. He describes one group with a 10-passenger King Air that moves its team to locations that do not have commercial service: "It's not a luxury plane. It's basic transportation."
Mission Aviation Fellowship and JAARS are perhaps the most well-known users of aircraft for ministry purposes. Their planes are generally outfitted to haul cargo, not people, and while both organizations have fleets operating in the United States, most of their planes are in remote areas around the world. JAARS—originally Jungle Aviation and Radio Service—has an honorable and storied history supporting Bible translation efforts and missionaries in off-the-beaten-path—and sometimes hostile—places.
The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) takes a pragmatic approach on the issue. Acting president Dan Busby told WORLD, "It really comes down to whether a charity can justify business purpose for a jet, and many charities pass this test. If the business purpose test is met, then it is an issue of documenting any personal use and attributing the value of any personal use for compensation reporting purposes. So, in short, the proper use of jets for nonprofit purposes is a matter of documentation, documentation, documentation."
Of course, ministry ownership of expensive jets offers great visuals for television news reporters looking to disparage Christians as big on spending and low on stewardship. That's a cost of ministry jet ownership that Warren Buffett could have predicted.
This is a very good article on a whacko-loud mouthed Pentecostal (is there any other kind?). The Lutherans have done a good job here on this TBN-loon. Our research is turning up good leads and productive information on this loon. We recommend Justin Peters ministry and DVD-set for a serious and studied response. This particular article reflects many things in the research, albeit with humour....Luther would approve, as does this scribe. We have no use for these thieves, liars, charlatans, ignoramuses, illiterates, and loud mouths, preying on dumb and ignorant people.
Why Benny Hinn Became Our Wacky Neighbor
By John Bloom 05/20/2008
If you drive west from Dallas, through the neo-moderne lunarscape of a pod city called Las Colinas, past a massive international airport on a denuded prairie, into the warren of faceless office buildings that make up cosmopolitan Grapevine, you'll never find Benny Hinn.
He wants it that way. The nerve center of his worldwide organization is tucked away in a group of cheap white nondescript buildings that look like the kind of domiciles favored by Mafia fronts on the wharves of New Jersey. Inside, several dozen employees process an estimated $100 million per year in donations from people who believe in Hinn as a sort of Elmer Gantry for the 21st century. (Obviously they didn't read the novel.)
Now go the other way, into the cul-de-sacs and barrios of deep East Dallas. On a dead end street next to a nursing home, in an expansive two-story house once owned by the Dallas mob, the Trinity Foundation works 24/7 trying to find out just how much money passes through Grapevine, where it comes from and where it goes, running undercover operations, infiltrations, spying, surveillance, the cultivation of disgruntled ex-employees, and even going through Benny Hinn's garbage in an effort to . . . well . . . to make him prove he's not a fraud.
"All we want is for Benny Hinn to make good on promises he made to me in 1993," says Ole Anthony, president of the Christian watchdog organization. "He promised he would stop airing fake healings, that he would medically verify all healings, that he would wait six months after the healing before putting it on TV, to make sure it was authentic. He said he would do all these things, and he's done none of them. It would also be nice if he would submit himself to a real theologian for examination. Some of his teachings are off the scale, even bordering on necromancy."
What the heck is Benny Hinn doing in Dallas?
Las Colinas, TXIt's weird. It was weird when he announced he was moving to Dallas in 1999, pretty much abandoning his church congregation in Florida. It was weirder still when he announced that God had ordered him to build a $30 million World Healing Center in Irving, making it sound like a combination theme park and New Age miracle spa. The way he laid it out, it would be a sort of shrine to famous faith healers of the past, complete with "stereophonic statue gardens," as well as a Holy Ghost Mayo Clinic for the halt, the lame and the afflicted. I had visions of wheelchair-bound hordes being lifted off jumbo jets at DFW Airport and convoying their way over to Las Colinas, like pilgrims pouring into a Disneyworld version of Lourdes. Isn't this the kind of thing that belongs in Tulsa?
Fortunately, God changed his mind in the summer of 2002 and told Hinn not to build the healing center after all, even though he had spent two years collecting donations for it. (God was apparently vague about what Hinn should do with the money. The county tax assessor was less vague, telling Hinn it was unlikely that his tax exemption would survive theme-park ownership.) Hinn said it was just a timing matter. God wants the healing center, but he didn't want it right then. (Since the only other building the Almighty is known to have ordered is the Temple at Jerusalem, maybe He's just unimpressed with Irving.) Hinn finally said he would keep his headquarters in Dallas because the central location saves him money.
"Good," says Ole Anthony. "I told him it will save us money, too."
If anything, the move to Texas looked like an attempt to spread his operations over as many geographical jurisdictions as possible. For example, Hinn's TV show, "This Is Your Day!," originates in studios in Orange County, California, and airs in 192 countries, making it one of the most widely disseminated programs in the world. Hinn is so ubiquitous on religious TV, in fact, that you would assume by this point--35 years into his preaching ministry--that he would have become one of those household names, like Billy Graham, who's expected to lead the invocation at the Super Bowl and counsel the President and appear on The Today Show in times of national crisis. But the opposite is true. Aside from his twice-monthly appearances at his own choreographed "crusades," held in the largest sports arenas on the planet, Hinn is a virtual recluse, surrounded by armies of bodyguards, ensconced in an $12 million oceanfront hacienda in southern California, traveling by private jet for "snorkeling vacations" in the Cayman Islands, staying in $10,800 per night presidential suites in Italy, a $15,000 per night suite in Greece, and claiming a level of financial secrecy and paranoid internal security that's more often associated with drug dealers than men of the cloth. By surrounding himself with yes-men and stage-managing every detail of his public image--even to the point of stiff-arming the occasional paparazzo who tries to photograph him--he has more in common with Michael Jackson than Jerry Falwell. He may, in fact, be the first Christian rock star. The analogy is not Paul McCartney, though--Benny's career is more like Cher, as he makes it up as he goes along, re-inventing himself whenever necessary.
He has no church. He belongs to no denomination. He's not even affiliated with any particular religion, although his buzz words indicate he tends to dwell on the freaky backwoods fringe of Pentecostalism. As recently as three centuries ago, he probably would have been burned as a heretic. (To give you some idea of his doctrinal strangeness, he once preached that the Trinity is actually nine persons, because each member of the Trinity--Father, Son, Holy Spirit--is also a Trinity. He also says that God and the Holy Spirit have real bodies, with eyes, hands, mouth, etc. Various theologians have trashed him, of course, for preaching "new revelations" directly from God that turn out to be, when examined, variations of thousand-year-old heresies.) He thinks of himself as a prophet (even when his prophecies don't come true) and, in one burst of grandeur, "a new messiah walking on the earth." He believes that the Biblical Adam flew into outer space, that when God parted the Red Sea he made it into a wall of ice, that God talks to him more frequently than he talked to, say, Moses, that a man has risen from the dead in his presence, that a man turned into a snake before his eyes, that angels come to his bedroom and talk to him, and that the only reason we're not all in perfect health, living forever, is that there are demons in the world, attacking us. He's expressed opinions normally heard only on schizophrenia wards, and he's done it in front of millions of people--and still they come. They come in such numbers that thousands have to be turned away, and even the ones turned away gladly give him their money.
What's going on here?
Benny Hinn says that what's going on here is that he was "anointed." It happened either at the age of 11, when Jesus first appeared to either him or his mother while he was living in Jaffa, Israel, or maybe 18, when he had a conversion experience at a high school in Toronto, or maybe shortly after that, when he took a bus trip to Pittsburgh to see the faith healer Kathryn Kuhlman. It's difficult to say exactly when it happened, or what form it took, because Hinn parcels out little bits and pieces of his background as it suits him, then embellishes the stories so that isolating any one event in his life is like puzzling through a 30-year-old KGB file. What we do know--because he returns to it time and again--is that a transforming moment in his life occurred when, as a teenager, he was assigned to take care of a crippled arthritic woman on a pilgrimage to see one of Kuhlman's healing services, and he saw the woman apparently lose all pain in her legs and "untwist," as he put it. Depending on how cynical you are, he had either found his holy calling, or discovered one of the oldest American carnie games. Ever since then he's been praised as a true miracle worker--Oral Roberts himself is his biggest fan--and debunked by various investigative reporters around the world, including 60 Minutes Australia, which concluded, "Benny Hinn is a fake. A dangerous fake. What he does is prey on the sick, the desperate and the gullible." (Trinity Foundation does most of the legwork for all the various networks and newspapers who have investigated Hinn. Of the Australian report, Anthony says, "Apparently in Australia you can just go ahead and say the truth out loud.")
Hinn is a peculiar sort even by the standards of the ongoing circus called American televangelism. If you look at the superstars of the past 25 years--Bakker, Swaggart, Tilton-- they're all of a type: WASPY extroverts with good looks in a sort of dime-store gigolo way. (Even Jim Bakker had that lost-puppy look that's so attractive to lonely widows. Older women living alone are the number one demographic group when it comes to sending money to television ministries.) Hinn, on the other hand, is short, slight, semitic, round-faced, and often sports a haircut that looks like a scoop of Rocky Road ice cream that's been knocked off the top of the cone. He reminds you of a discount Persian rug merchant, not a spiritual leader. He's a Palestinian with a Greek father and Armenian Turk mother, raised in a Catholic school along with eight brothers and sisters who were stuffed into a tiny two-bedroom apartment in the Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa. In Hinn's books he claims that his father was the mayor of Jaffa. As it turns out, Jaffa had no mayor after the year 1948, four years before Hinn was born. Like many factoids in the Hinn legend, this one seems to be a fib.
Toufik Benedictus Hinn, known to his family as "Tutu," didn't much like living in Palestine with an Arabic first name, so early in life he became Benny. He was not particularly noted by his classmates at College de Frere elementary school in Jaffa or, after the family emigrated when Benny was 14, at Georges Vanier Secondary School in Toronto. In his sermons and books, Hinn has portrayed his childhood as that of a social outcast, handicapped by a severe stutter, who was nonetheless a stellar student. But when G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman, two journalists who write for Christian publications, looked into Hinn's youth, they found that both claims were untrue: nobody remembered Hinn stuttering, and he had dropped out of high school after the 11th grade. The reason I use these particular examples--"white lies" that by themselves don't really mean that much--is to indicate how twisted Hinn's mythmaking can be. He invents things that reflect badly on him just as easily as he invents things that reflect well on him. Psychologically he can't stand the unadorned truth.
Occasionally, though, the enhancements expand into the land of the whopper. For example, Hinn claims to have preached at an all-girls Catholic school in Jerusalem in 1976 and "every single girl in that school got saved, including all the nuns." Since there's only one Catholic girls school in Jerusalem, Schmidt's Girls College, it was a fairly easy matter to question all the nuns who were there in 1976, as well as Father Dusind, who has overseen all religious instruction since 1955. The result? "This is nonsense, real nonsense," Dusind told Fisher and Goedelman. "It never happened and could not happen because a Charismatic healer or Protestant preacher would never ever be let in to talk to the girls."
Or how about the time Hinn went into a Catholic hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and healed everyone there? The way Hinn tells it is that he, three other Pentecostal preachers, and seven Catholic priests held a service together in the hospital chapel, where everyone went to work with "anointing bottles" and patients were healed instantly. They were then asked to lay hands on all the patients in the hospital's rooms, so Hinn and his "Miracle Invasion" team went down the hall healing people, knocking them down with God's power, until "the hospital looked like it had been hit by an earthquake."
The reality--easily confirmed by speaking to officials at Sault Ste. Marie General Hospital and the Gray Sisters of the Immaculate Conception who work there--is that no patients were released the day Hinn held a small service in the chapel and that, furthermore, "Mr. Hinn's claims are outlandish and unwarranted."
Okay, so what? Benny Hinn isn't the first flamboyant white-suited evangelist to play fast and loose with "miracles," and I'm sure he won't be the last. What makes Hinn different is that, after moving to Orlando in 1979 and founding the Orlando Christian Center in 1983, he became the most famous--some would add, "and richest"--evangelist in the world. When he preaches in the Philippines or Africa, for example, it's not uncommon to have 500,000 people at the service. And they all come for the same reason: supernatural events, miracles, ecstatic emotional experiences. He refined his technique in the eighties at the Orlando church, which was the scene of loud frenzied charismatic services almost from the moment he opened his doors. Hinn would frequently speak in tongues--something he no longer does now that his services are televised--and issue wild prophecies and reveal divine messages given only to him, as he essentially incorporated into his own services all the techniques he learned from watching Kathryn Kuhlman. Soon the Orlando church became a mecca for the suffering, and by the time Hinn started doing organized crusades in the late eighties, he was poised to fill the void left by the spectacular crashes of the Bakkers, Swaggarts and Tiltons.
In many ways Hinn is a throwback to the tent-revival meetings of the 19th century. Short on scripture, long on enthusiasm, these were originally ways to carry the gospel to backwoods people who weren't served by churches, and the tradition was to collect a little money for the minister's traveling expenses at the end of the service. As time went on, the tent revival fell prey to shysters and carnie men, who discovered they could make a sizeable haul by stoking the emotions of the illiterate and making them feel like they were in the presence of miraculous events. It was a short jump from there to Aimee Semple Macpherson, the now discredited healer of the 1920s who, oddly enough, Hinn reveres as one of his spiritual predecessors. Macpherson was the first to take the tent revival nationwide.
This is not to say that everyone who held a healing service was a fraud--but the ones who made an entire career of it tended to be. There even developed a body of sleight-of-hand that survived well into the nineties, notably practiced by Dallas's own W.V. Grant, who can make a leg look like it's grown longer or shorter simply by manipulating the shoe with a deft magician's move. The healing service, almost from the beginning, was a strange mixture of showmanship, ecstatic worship, and magic.
Hinn's services, for example, follow a strict pattern that's calculated for maximum emotional impact and, not so coincidentally, maximum offering collection. From the time the crowd enters the arena, they're massaged with mood lighting, repetitive music, responsive chanting, group gestures, group singing, various forms of choral and instrumental entertainment, all leading up to the moment Hinn makes his entrance. The song sung for the entrance is "How Great Thou Art," making convenient use of an ambiguous personal pronoun.
"There's power here, people!" Hinn will typically say. "Lift your hands and receive it."
All dutifully lift their hands.
"You will be healed tonight!"
They sob and shout hallelujah.
"All things are possible to him that believeth!"
Hinn repeats this same sentence three times, getting a bigger emotional reaction each time he says it.
Chant, song, gesture, salute--all the classic techniques used to submerge the individual into a group. It works for dictators and it works for Hinn. But now that he's joined them together in hope, he adds a dose of fear.
He speaks of huge disasters coming to the world. He tells them of the strange times we live in, a sinful world that will be cleansed by fire and earthquake. And there's only one slim hope to escape: "Only those who have been giving to God's work will be spared."
As a violin plays, money is collected in big white plastic buckets. And as the ushers do their work, Hinn's voice turns soothing. "Nothing will touch you. No one will touch your children. Nothing will touch your home."
Although he never says, "Donate money or you'll die," he comes close. There is a constant theme in his preaching of the connection between "giving" and "healing," making a "faith vow" and "having your needs met." He comes within a hair's breadth of saying, "If you give me money, you will be healed." And the collection always occurs between his promise of healing and the actual healing session--the same way street performers save their biggest trick until after the hat has been passed.
Along about 10 p.m., when all the checks and dead presidents have been collected, Hinn announces that God is speaking to him. Sometimes he sees angels in the room. Sometimes he sees ugly demon monsters that are fleeing from the building. ("You ugly spirit of sickness, go out of this place! Let God's people go!") Sometimes he just feels the presence of spirits, or angels. Once he saw the whole arena bathed in golden dust. And then, as though his body has been taken over by a force he can't control, he starts running around knocking people over. Sometimes he knocks them over with his coat, sometimes by blowing on them, sometimes by pushing their forehead with his hand--but when he touches them, they fall over. As he does this, he calls out the healings--a brain tumor, a cancer, a crippled left leg--as though he's watching something occurring that the rest of us can't see. And then, one by one, various people are brought up onto the stage, and an announcer describes their affliction so that Hinn can lay hands on them and pronounce the disease vanquished. On an average night he'll heal about 80 people, in addition to the ones he shouts out in a sort of "wherever you are, you're healed" way.
No wonder Hinn needs bodyguards. Very few, if any, of these people are actually healed. And when they die, or their disease becomes worse, their relatives tend to become angry. For the past 15 years this has been demonstrated over and over again by various investigative reports conducted with the resources of the Trinity Foundation, beginning with an Inside Edition show in 1993 hosted by Bill O'Reilly and reported by Steve Wilson.
Just a few examples:
He claims to have cured three people of AIDS, even though the Centers for Disease Control have never seen the HIV virus leave a body once it's infected.
He healed a case of brain cancer on stage, even though Inside Edition followed up with tests that showed the tumor was still present.
He pronounced a woman cured of heart disease, and she was so convinced that she threw away her heart medicine. Questioned about it, Hinn said, "It's not my job to call their doctor."
The "cure" of a deaf woman turned out to be a woman who, according to her doctor, was not deaf in the first place.
The cure of three deaf boys turned out to be bogus.
A Houston woman who thought she was cured of lung cancer ("It will never come back!" Hinn told her) rejected her doctors' advice and care--and died two months later.
The heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield, banned from boxing because of a heart condition, went to a Benny Hinn crusade in Philadelphia, had Hinn lay hands on him, and gave Hinn a check for $265,000 after he was told he was healed. In fact, he passed his next examination by the boxing commission, but later his doctors said he never had a heart condition in the first place--he had been misdiagnosed.
Hinn claimed that God ripped the pacemaker out of a woman's body because she didn't need it anymore.
Hinn claims that a man in Ghana was raised from the dead on the platform. "We have it on video!" he says--although he's never produced the video.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Even sadder than the people who think they're healed are the ones so sick that Hinn's employees never allow them to be seen on stage. People suffering from paralysis, brain damage, dementia and the like--people who couldn't possibly make any "demonstration" on stage--are rejected at a screening session held backstage.
In two cases journalists have tried to verify all the healings at a particular crusade. For an HBO documentary called A Question of Miracles, researchers attended a Portland, Oregon, crusade at which 76 miracles were claimed. Even though Hinn had agreed to provide medical verification of each one, he stonewalled requests for the data, then eventually responded 13 weeks later--with only five names. HBO followed up the five cases and determined that a woman "cured" of lung cancer had died nine months later, an old woman's broken vertebra wasn't healed after all, a man with a logging injury deteriorated as he refused medication and a needed operation, a woman claiming to be healed of deafness had never been deaf (according to her husband), and a woman complaining of "breathlessness" had stopped going to the doctor on instructions of her mother.
Then in December 2002 NBC's Dateline tried to duplicate the HBO study. At a crusade in Las Vegas they counted 56 miracles. Of those, Hinn eventually provided data "proving" five of them. Four of those people refused to share their medical records with NBC. The remaining one, a woman supposedly cured of Lou Gehrig's Disease, had been misdiagnosed, according to her doctor.
There have been so many documentaries and investigations on Hinn--almost all of them orchestrated by Trinity Foundation--that they even have a common structure:
Here's what he looks like in action.
Here's what he claims to do.
Here's what his critics say.
Is he a fraud or is he a healer?
Let's find out.
Not much healing going on.
Okay, here's what Hinn says in his defense.
And one thing Hinn says in his defense--when confronted with evidence that someone claimed to be healed and then died--is that "The reason people lose their healing is because they begin questioning if God really did it."
This may be his cruelest teaching of all. If you're not healed--or, worse yet, if your sick child is not healed--it's your fault, for not having enough faith. It's at this point that Hinn's ministry almost passes over into the realm of primitive magic--i.e., if you want it bad enough, and you say the right things and feel the right things, it will come true.
As it turns out, though, the media investigations are the best thing that ever happened to Hinn. They made him more famous, and more recognizable, than religious TV ever could have. And since most of his audience is made up of the truly desperate--the chronically sick, the dying, people living with pain--Benny Hinn became one more "treatment" for them to take a shot at.
When the first investigation broke, in March 1993, Hinn must have thought his empire was about to fall apart. There was a nasty shoving incident at the Philadelphia airport with Steve Wilson of Inside Edition, followed by a damage-control campaign in which Hinn went on many radio and TV shows, and met privately with several of his critics, to admit that he'd made mistakes and vow that he would never again air "miracles" on TV unless they had been medically verified. "God has taken me by the neck," he said to his congregation. "I think I'm gonna stop preaching healing and start preaching Jesus." At the request of Inside Edition, Ole Anthony traveled to Orlando to meet with Hinn. At the only face-to-face meeting the two men have had, Hinn said he was reformed and that he intended to start medically verifying all miracles and holding them back from television for six months, so that they could be proven authentic. He even said at one point that worldly wealth was sinful--something you'll rarely hear fall out of the mouth of a TV evangelist.
If you study this particular year in his life–1993--he's remarkably consistent in his statements, very self-aware of exactly what errors he's made, very humble, very apologetic, very interested in getting "back to the gospel." He even says at one point that he'll stop doing healing services entirely. And most everyone believed him--including Inside Edition, in a followup report, and including Anthony. "I was disappointed," says Anthony today, "that a year later he was back to his old tricks."
By 1994, it was as though the soul-searching of the previous year had never existed. He geared up to be bigger than ever. He added crusades, he became more flamboyant, more theatrical, and the procession of "miracles" flitting across the TV screen every day continued unabated.
Apparently what he'd discovered is that scandal was good for business. Or at least this particular type of scandal was good for business. Bakker and Swaggart--he must have thought of them at some point--had been brought down by sex, which is difficult for the Christian world to forgive. Greed, on the other hand, can be overcome. Tilton had been brought down by money issues, but after a few years of lying low, he was back in action. This was a whole new type of media attention. The reporters simply said "Is he a healer, or is he a fake?" And because it was presented as an open-ended question, the crowds got even larger.
Fifteen years later, Hinn has become something of a media master. Whenever he's investigated now, he simply admits his "mistakes." He's especially fond of going on The Larry King Show at any time of crisis. He's also refined his view of what he does. He doesn't heal anyone, he always reminds the interviewer. He just creates an atmosphere so that God can heal people. By the time people get to the stage, they've already been healed by God, he says. If the healing turns out to be bogus, then the person was self-deluded. Besides, hope is a great thing.
He also says he has a doctor backstage now to counsel the miracle cases and encourage them to continue with their medication until the healing has been verified. This seems to satisfy the media, even though it amounts to an admission of his own inability to know whether someone is healed.
The image he presents to the faithful is the opposite, of course. To them he's a man possessed of special wisdom. He sees things no one else can see. He has conversations with Jesus that no one else has had. He witnesses the presence of God when no one else would be aware of it. And he constantly says his teaching is "new." ("You didn't come here to hear the same preaching you've been hearing for 50 years, did you?") Of course, to orthodox Christians, this alone makes him heretical. Far from being "new," they would say, the gospel is unchanged over 2,000 years.
But there's an even darker side to Hinn and his organization. In 1998 two members of his inner circle died of heroin overdoses. In 1999, after one of his many vows of reform, he fired several board members and hired an ex-cop named Mario C. Licciardello to do an internal investigation of his ministry. Licciardello was the brother of Carman, who is sort of the Engelbert Humperdinck of Christian singers, so many think Hinn considered him "safe." But Licciardello did such a good job--taking hundreds of depositions and getting to the bottom of the heroin use--that Hinn then sued him. While Licciardello was still his head of security, Hinn’s organization filed a lawsuit demanding that all his files be turned over and sealed, because their public release could result in the end of the ministry. Licciardello was a police investigator with 25 years of experience, and he felt like his whole career was being smeared, so he fought back with his own lawyers. His counsel continually tried to take Hinn's deposition, but Hinn fought him at every step. The judge, however, ruled against him and said that, if Hinn intended to enjoin Licciardello, he would have to make himself available for questioning.
On the very day that Hinn was supposed to give his deposition in the case, Licciardello had a mysterious heart attack and died. The Hinn organization made an out-of-court settlement with Licciardello's widow, which included sealing the court papers.
The U.S. Attorney in Orlando had seated a secret Grand Jury to investigate Hinn; but Licciardello was the chief witness. After his death, Hinn was no-billed.
Hinn runs the largest evangelistic organization in the world that is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. That means his finances are private, his salary is secret, and his income is anybody's guess. Royalties from his books alone are estimated at $500,000 per year, but he essentially has carte blanche to take anything out of the till he wants. "He lives the lifestyle of a billionaire," says Ole Anthony, "all on the backs of false promises and selling false hope."
As Hinn put it himself, in a moment of rare revelatory candor, "I don't need gold in heaven, I gotta have it now."
During 1993, his one year of "reform," he talked about being stung by being portrayed as a millionaire and how he wanted to be "more Christ-like." His solution: "The Lord said sell the Benz and the watch."
He got rid of his Rolex and his Mercedes. Notice he didn't give them away. He sold them--and then replaced the Mercedes with a $65,000 BMW. This is what God told him to do. And who better to know what God wants, because Hinn, after all, is only the third person in the history of the universe to have actually seen God and lived to tell about it. God, he says, is 6-2 or 6-3, with long hair of a light brown color, and eyes that can look right through you.
So what is Benny Hinn really doing in Dallas? He's having conversations with a God who thinks about Rolexes and luxury cars a whole heck of a lot. God really did pick the right city, didn't he?
Lutheran cartoons about the modern TV-Tetzels like Pentecostal Pulpit Pimp, Kenneth Copeland.
Loons, liars, thieves and disgraces.
This one is a classic site.
“Without justification it is impossible to have real peace. Conscience forbids it. Sin is a mountain between a man and God, and must be taken away. The sense of guilt lies heavy on the heart, and must be removed. Unpardoned sin will murder peace. The true Christian knows all this well. His peace arises from a consciousness of his sins being forgiven, and his guilt being put away. His house is not built on sandy ground. His well is not a broken cistern, which can hold no water. He has peace with God, because he is justified.”
We have, allegedly, a 233-page intel report from an insider to the Kansas City Revivals. Reporting fiscal abuses. Also, stuff on their prophetic enthusiasms....more to follow. Works and analysts needed. Hit hard, fast and often (ADM Bull Halsey, USN).
This may be a good place for research on the charismatic loons, WOF-pack, Prosperity Pimps (TBN), Arminians, Montanists, Marcionites, and modern Gnostics.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Article 8: The Trinity
In keeping with this truth and Word of God we believe in one God, who is one single essence, in whom there are three persons, really, truly, and eternally distinct according to their incommunicable properties– namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible as well as invisible. The Son is the Word, the Wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son. Nevertheless, this distinction does not divide God into three, since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has his own subsistence distinguished by characteristics– yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God. It is evident then that the Father is not the Son and that the Son is not the Father, and that likewise the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. Nevertheless, these persons, thus distinct, are neither divided nor fused or mixed together. For the Father did not take on flesh, nor did the Spirit, but only the Son. The Father was never without his Son, nor without his Holy Spirit, since all these are equal from eternity, in one and the same essence. There is neither a first nor a last, for all three are one in truth and power, in goodness and mercy.
A Contemporary Reformed Defense of Infant Baptism
(c) 2005 R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Among Western Christians there are four major views on baptism: 1
Baptism is the means of spiritual renewal and initial justification and sanctification through the infusion of grace received in it, in such a way that one cannot be saved ordinarily without it. Baptism communicates saving grace, by the working of its own power. Children of all church members and unbaptized adult converts must be baptized (Roman Catholic).2
Baptism is a public testimony to one's faith in Jesus Christ. Only those who have reached the age of discretion can make such a profession of faith. Therefore, only those who are able to confess Christ should be baptized. (Baptist). 3
Baptism is so closely related to the gospel that through it, Christians receive eternal life and without baptism there can be no assurance of salvation. Both the children of believers and unbaptized adult believers should be baptized (Lutheran). 4
Baptism is a means of sanctifying grace and a gospel ministry to the people of God. It is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace illustrating what Christ has done for his people and sealing salvation to the same. Therefore covenant children of believing parents as well as unbaptized adult converts should be baptized. (Reformed).5
Protestants uniformly reject the Roman Catholic view of baptism as unbiblical and sub-Christian since it replaces faith as the instrument of justification. Among Bible-believing Protestant churches, the Baptist view is easily the most common and the Reformed view is probably the least well known. The view labeled Lutheran is probably somewhere in the middle in popularity.6
Unfortunately, many Bible-believing Christians assume that all infant baptizing (paedobaptist) churches are identical.7 This essay is intended in part to change that perception. I believe (perhaps naively) that if more Bible-believing Christians understood the Reformed view of baptism, they would accept our explanation of what God's Word says about baptism. I also intend to give Reformed believers a clearer understanding of what God's Word says about baptism and to answer objections which are often made against the Reformed position.
Is Infant Baptism Protestant?
In short, yes. All the Protestant Reformers including Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin held to infant baptism. Though these three great Protestants disagreed on many things, they all agreed on the Protestant doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. They also agreed that infant baptism is a biblical practice and the best expression of the Protestant gospel.8 In fact, infant baptism has been the practice of the historic Christian church since the Apostolic period.9 Of course the historic practice of the church does not settle the question. Historic practice, however, suggests a certain presumption in favor of infant baptism. Nevertheless, tradition alone is not sufficient reason for any practice in the church. Therefore Reformed Christians practice covenant baptism because we are commanded to do so in both the Old and New Covenant Scriptures. 10
We believe that the Bible alone is the Spirit inspired, infallible, Word of God written. God's Word alone is the source of our faith.11 Comparing our ideas with God's clear revelation in the Bible is the only way to safety and certainty.
Why Do Christians Reach Different Conclusions?
Christians study the same Bible, but we often read it differently. Sometimes we begin with different assumptions about the nature of things and authority. These different methods and starting points lead to different conclusions.
True Bible study requires comparing Scripture with Scripture and especially comparing clearer passages with those which are less clear. True Bible study requires a submissive attitude to the clear teaching of God's Word.12 Bible study is not just looking for isolated texts which seem to prove one's point. Rather, Bible study means that we must do exegesis, that is, understand what the biblical writer is saying, why, and to whom.
What is the Covenant of Grace?
In the gospels our Lord Jesus left us two great signs to be observed until he returns, the Lord's Supper and Baptism.13 These two new covenant signs broadly correspond to the old covenant signs of circumcision and Passover.14 We call baptism and the Lord's supper covenant signs because that is what God himself calls them. They are signs of his covenant relationship to those he loves, his people.
The term covenant is a very frequent word in the Bible. In fact, God's covenant with believers is so important that it is nearly impossible to correctly understand the Bible while ignoring it.15 The covenant of grace describes the way God relates to his people. It involves a binding oath between the LORD and his people in which he promises his people to be their God and his people, in response to God's grace, swear complete fidelity to the LORD. The covenant of grace was signed and sealed in blood.
God made a covenant of grace with Adam, after the fall, in the garden.16 He made a promise to save and preserve Noah through the flood and us after it.17 He promised to be a God to Abraham and his children.18 With each the promise God attached conditions. The first is saving faith, which God works in us (Romans 4:3). The second is to make use of the covenant signs and seals. In Genesis 17 the LORD spoke to Abraham about his covenant:
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner-those who are not your offspring....My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.19
The LORD gave a bloody mark as a sign to Abraham that he and his children belonged to the LORD. Similarly, in Exodus 12:1-13; vv.21-29, 43-51; God remembered his covenant with Abraham.20
The LORD also instituted an annual celebration to remind his people how he mercifully and graciously redeemed his people from bondage in Egypt. 21 As a sign and seal of his saving grace he instituted the sacrament of Passover along with many other feasts. 22
The Passover had many of the same characteristics as the circumcision. Both were bloody and associated with God's covenant promises. Passover (like the other feasts) differed from circumcision, however, in the same way that baptism and the LORD's supper differ: circumcision, the first covenant sign was applied to infants and adults alike, and was a mark of entrance into God's covenant people.
The Passover feast was restricted to those who are able to understand God's redeeming acts because it was a sign designed to nurture and lead to growth. It was not a sign of entrance into visible covenant assembly of God's people, but served as a means of renewing the covenant of grace.
Is There Still A Covenant of Grace?
Just as God made a covenant with Abraham, he promised a new covenant to come later. 23 He made this new covenant in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The Lord Jesus consciously and specifically established "the new covenant." 25 The Apostle Paul said he was "a servant of the new covenant." 26 How can this be if there is but one covenant of grace? The new covenant is new, as contrasted with Moses, but not as contrasted with Abraham or Adam. 27
This is the point of Galatians 3:1-29; 4:21-31, and 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 where Paul says that the glory of the Old Covenant was fading but the glory of the New Covenant is permanent. The message of Hebrews chapters 3-10 is that the Old Covenant (under Moses) was preparatory to the New Covenant. The fundamental theme of Hebrews 11 is that Abraham had a new covenant faith, that is, he anticipated a heavenly city and to the redemption which we have in Christ. 28
The Promise Remains, The Circumstances Change
Now that the promise of the covenant of grace has been fulfilled the circumstances of the covenant have changed. We who live on this side of the cross view things differently because we live in the days of fulfillment. In biblical terms, we live in the "last days." 29 We have the completed Bible and the gift of the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 30
The old covenant was designed to direct attention forward to the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. 31 The old signs like Passover and circumcision along with the other bloody sacrifices and ceremonies have been replaced. Yet we still live in covenantal arrangement with God, and the bloody pictures of Christ have been replaced with bloodless signs (reminders) and seals.
Why is the Covenant of Grace Important?
Because it is a comprehensive category in Scripture, without which the Bible cannot be understood rightly. For example, because God administers his salvation through the covenant, and because there is but one Covenant of Grace, there is one salvation, one gracious promise (Christ) and people of God. Thus, the covenant of grace unifies all of Scripture. 32 God made a salvation promise to Adam and Eve. 33 He repeated the promise to Abraham, whom Paul called "the father" of all believers. 34 All believers are saved because of God's faithfulness to his covenant promise. 35
The covenant of grace is important because it also explains the Christian life. The God we serve is he who graciously and sovereignly saved us. Just as the way of salvation for Adam was the same as for us (faith in the finished work of Christ), the moral standards of the Christian life are substantially the same from age to age.
The covenant of grace is central to our self-understanding as Christians. God is covenant making and keeping God, and we are his covenant people.
How Were Covenants Made?
Circumcision was the sign given to Abraham. 36 The covenant and the sign were so closely identified that the Lord called the sign of circumcision, "My covenant." Anyone who did not take the sign would be "cut off" from the covenant people. 37 In the old covenant Scriptures the phrase "to make a covenant" was expressed with the words: "to cut a covenant," that is, to perform the cutting away of the foreskin of the penis of the uncircumcised adult male or the eight-day old Hebrew infant. 38 To be circumcised was to be identified with God and to be "cut off" from the world and to be included with God's visible covenant people.
Implied in the act of circumcision is the taking of an oath: "If I do not keep the covenant, may the destruction which is illustrated by the cutting of the foreskin, actually happen to me."39 This is why the Lord spoke of covenant breakers being "cut off" in Genesis 17:14. In Exodus 4:25, 12:15,30:33,38; Leviticus 7:20-25; Psalm 37; Ezekiel 14:8-17, 25:7-16. Scripture used the same verb for "cutting off" of covenant breakers as it did for the "cutting" of a covenant in Genesis 15:18.
The Lord placed himself under this curse in Genesis 15:17-21. He sealed his promise to Abraham by passing between the pieces as a sign that he would keep his promise. He received the curse upon himself in the Lord Jesus Christ who was "stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted...cut off from the land of the living."40 Galatians 3:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21 clearly teach that Jesus became sin and endured the curses of covenant breaking for those who believe.41
Since the covenant of grace was made by God, it is he who gets to set its terms. God's Word says that before we were "in Christ" we were dead in sins and trespasses. As dead people we could no more save ourselves than Israel could get herself out of Egypt.42 Because God is sovereign, he has the final say about who receives Baptism and the Lord's supper and how they receive it.
What are the Relations Between the Covenants?
The Lord Jesus has fulfilled the bloody signs and types of circumcision and has replaced them with bloodless signs.43 Christ's death was the reality to which the old signs and seals pointed.
Now, Christ having died, there is no need for the old sacraments and feasts. Scripture teaches that, by faith, all believers died with Christ.44 If Christ died an accursed death and we died with Christ, then by faith in Christ we have undergone the curse implied by circumcision. Colossians 2:20; Philippians 3:3 explicitly say that by faith, in Christ's death, all believers have undergone circumcision.
Romans 6:2-10 says that we are baptized into Christ's death. That is, when the sign of the covenant is applied, the recipient is identified with Jesus' death and the cursedness of Christ.
The main difference between the old and new covenants is that what the old covenant promised through ceremonies and sacrifices, have been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus. The New Covenant Scriptures refer constantly to the Old Covenant. Romans 3:21, 9:27, 11:13-32; Luke 24:27; Hebrews 9:15, and the whole of chapter 11 all teach that the covenant of grace instituted by God through Abraham continues into the new covenant. God's Word clearly teaches that new covenant believers are the new covenant Israel.45 Everyone who believes is the true son of Abraham.46 Romans 9:6-9 teaches that a Jew is one who loves the Messiah Jesus and trusts him only for salvation.47
Thus we cannot say that there are two completely different "churches" or peoples of God. Paul teaches clearly in Romans 2:29; 4 [all]; 9:6-9 and Jesus teaches explicitly in John 8:31-58 no one is saved by being Jewish.48
What is the Connection Between Circumcision and Baptism?
The connection between baptism and circumcision is quite clear in Colossians 2:11-12. The connection is not direct, but indirect and the point of contact between them is Christ and baptism is the sign and seal of that circumcision. In v.11 Paul says "in him [i.e. in Christ] you were also circumcised with the circumcision done by Christ" and in v.12 he says exactly how it is that we were circumcised in and by Christ: "having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith...."49 For Paul, in the New covenant, our union with Christ is our circumcision. In baptism, we are identified with Christ's baptism/circumcision, as it were, on the cross. Neither baptism nor circumcision effects this union (ex opere operato), rather God the Spirit unites us to Christ, makes us alive and gives us faith.
The point not to be missed is that, in Paul's mind, baptism and circumcision are both signs and seals of Christ's baptism/circumcision on the cross for us. By faith, we are united to Christ's circumcision and by union with Christ we become participants in his circumcision/baptism. Because circumcision pointed forward to Christ's death and baptism looks back to Christ's death, they are closely linked in Paul's mind and almost interchangeable. Paul's point here is to teach us about our union with Christ, but along the way we see how he thinks about baptism and circumcision and his thinking should inform ours.
One of the reasons that Paul so strongly opposed the imposition of circumcision upon Christians by the Judaizers is that, by faith, we have already been circumcised in Christ, of which baptism is the sign and seal.50 We were already identified as belonging to God and we have undergone the curse in Christ. So actual physical circumcision is, in the new covenant, unnecessary. Paul tells those who wish to circumcise themselves, to go the whole way and emasculate themselves.51
Acts 2.38,39 equates circumcision and baptism. In Acts 2.38 the Apostle Peter calls for repentance, faith in Christ and baptism by Jews who are hearing his preaching. In v.39 he gives the reason for this action: "the promise is to you and to your children, and all who are far off...." The Apostle Peter consciously uses the same formula in his preaching as the LORD himself used when he instituted the sign of circumcision in Genesis 17, which the Jews listening understood precisely.
What are the Relations Between Faith and Circumcision?
Romans 4:1-8,13-25 teaches that Abraham was justified by grace alone, through faith alone and not by works and yet God required that Abraham take the sign (mark) of circumcision. Romans 4:11 says that circumcision was a sign and a seal of "the righteousness that he (Abraham) had by faith while he was still uncircumcised." Circumcision was a sign of God's covenantal relationship to Abraham and to Abraham's children, all who believe in Christ.52 The meaning of circumcision was spiritual and not just outward. Circumcision as a sign of faith and entrance into the covenant people as a member was also applied to children.53
What is the Relationship Between Faith and Baptism?
Acts 2:38,39 says,
Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and for your children and for many who are-for all whom the Lord our God will call (italics mine).
For adult converts, baptism is a sign of what Christ has done for them, forgiven them and washed them. Adult converts are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is through faith in Christ. Baptism is a sign of our new standing with God through faith. Notice, v.39 "The promise (of salvation to those who believe) is for you and for your children."
Our faith is in the Christ who died for us. Baptism is a sign of being united to him in his death by faith. Peter says that the flood waters of Noah symbolize baptism, because baptism is a sign of dying to sin, the washing away of sin by Christ's blood, and living by faith in Christ.54
Everyone, (adults and children), who has been baptized must be united by faith to Christ for salvation. Unbaptized, adult converts, profess their faith before baptism. Children of believers who received the sign in infancy profess their faith as soon as they are able. Both are responsible before God to be faithful to the grace represented by the sign and seal they have received.55
What Does Baptism Do?
Baptism and the Lord's supper proclaim the same message as the written Word of God: salvation is God's free gift, it is not earned or deserved. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.56 Just as God the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, so also God ordained, in his Word, baptism and the Lord's supper.
Covenant signs were given to strengthen our trust in Christ. Baptism and the Lord's supper have no more or less power than the written Word of God.57 In the Scriptures baptism and the Lord's Supper are considered to be signs and seals of the covenant of grace between God and his people. As signs, the covenant signs are visible reminders of the great act of redemption which God has accomplished. As seals, they are God's way of separating his people from those in the world, and they give to us God's promise that, in example, as surely as we are washed by the water we are by faith washed by the blood of Christ. Just as in the preaching of the Word, the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith by the use of these covenant signs and seals.
Baptism is not an end in itself. Rather, it is only the beginning of a life of faith and faithful discipleship in Jesus. As Peter reminds, it is not baptism which saves. It is
...not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand-with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.58
Because sacraments are signs and seals, they do not, in themselves, save. They testify to God's grace, they point us to Christ, and seal to us his salvation. Just as circumcision did not save, neither does baptism.59
Where Does the New Covenant Teach Infant Baptism?
From the point of view of the covenant of grace, every command to baptize, is a command to baptize the children of believers.
Because the promise of the covenant of grace, God is a God not only to adult believers, but also to their children. That is why, in 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul said that children of believers are "holy." Paul deliberately used Old Covenant, ceremonial, language to teach the Corinthians that their children shouldn't be considered outside of the visible people of God. To use old covenant language, children of believers are "clean," and therefore have a right to share in the blessings of being a part of the visible people of God, including baptism.
Jesus made the same argument in Mark 10:14. He says that the Kingdom of God "belongs" to children of believers. In Acts 2:39, Peter specifically includes children in the fulfillment of the promise. In Ephesians 6:1 Paul addresses children as if they were in the covenant people of God .60
From this perspective, Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38,39 are direct commands to baptize infants. It is true that there is no explicit command "baptize infants." There is no such command because there is no need for such a command. Neither is there an explicit verse which states God is One in three persons, but God's Word teaches the existence of the Trinity throughout.
Nowhere in Scripture, however, is there a declaration that children are no longer to receive a covenant sign. If one needs an explicit command to baptize children then we should stop admitting women to the Lord's table, since there is no direct command to allow women to come to the table. This is clearly absurd.
The proper question therefore, is not where does Scripture explicitly teach infant baptism, but rather where does it reverse God's command to Abraham to administer the covenant sign and seal to children of believing parents. For two thousand years God's people had been applying the sign of God's covenant to the children of believers. Every faithful Jew understood circumcision to be a visible reminder that he was a part of the people of God. To fail to circumcise one's sons, would be to declare them to be cut off from God's people, grace and promises. To fail to circumcise one's children was unthinkable.
Some argue that because the new covenant is new children should no longer receive the sign of the covenant. It is true that changes attend the institution of the new covenant. Formerly the sign of admission was applied to males only. Now, males and females receive the sign of admission. These are changes which flow from the change from typical, promissory signs (circumcision) to signs of fulfillment (baptism). Thus, the change from circumcision to baptism was a change in circumstances, not substance.
To exclude the children of believing parents from the sign of admission to the visible covenant people or to say that God no longer wishes children to be considered a part of the visible community of God's people is no mere change in circumstance but rather a radical change in God's way of dealing with his people.
To change God's clear command to Abraham, one would expect a clear Word from God on the subject, but nowhere does God's Word tell believers to stop applying the sign of the covenant to their children. Since the new covenant Scriptures never tell us not to apply the covenant sign to our children, we have every reason to believe that the children of believers must receive the sign of entrance into the covenant people.
The Apostles Baptized the Children of Believers
In fact, there is a good deal of positive evidence in the New Testament Scriptures that baptism was applied to infants.
In both the old covenant and the new covenant, God speaks to households and "saves" them. In the language of the Bible, one's house does not refer incidentally, but primarily to the children.61 The emphasis on "household" or "family" points to a continuity between the Old Covenant corporate view-point and that of the New covenant.62 Children are viewed as being part of a covenant household, a covenantal unit. The sign, in Scripture, is applied to the whole household unit.63
Scripture uses this household formula in several clear passages which show a great deal of unity between old covenant practice and New Covenant (baptismal) practice.64 We know that when Luke wrote Acts he was selective in his reporting. So it is important to note that proportionally, when we compare the number of household baptisms to other baptisms in Acts, household baptisms are common. In Acts, as with circumcision in the old covenant, baptism is a household affair and the household texts prove it.
Lydia, the Jailer and Crispus.
In Philippi, in a "place of prayer," Paul and his co-workers met Lydia, a Gentile who was called "a God-fearer," i.e. someone on the fringes of the synagogue but not a full-member.65 After hearing the gospel, "the Lord opened her heart" and "she and the members of her household were baptized." It cannot be argued reasonably that there were no children in this "household." 66
Paul was jailed for his ministry to a demon possessed girl. Jesus delivered them from jail by sending an earthquake. Their jailer hears the gospel and professed his faith.
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized....he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God -he and his whole family (Acts 16: 33,34).
As in the case of Lydia, Luke communicated the covenantal nature of baptism through the use of the oikos (household formula).
After Paul had been rejected by the synagogue in Corinth he went "next door" to the house of Titius Justus, another "God-fearing" Gentile. There "Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized" (Acts 18:8).
These patterns were identical with what occurred in Israel for 2000 years: The adult Gentile converts were circumcised along with their male children in accordance with Genesis 17:10-14. Certainly those adult converts had to confess their faith.67 Both believing adults and their children are described by the word "household."68
Abraham is a New Covenant Figure
It is also important to remember that not everything which was given before Jesus is eliminated in the New Covenant. The fact that our Bibles are divided into the Old and new Testaments, gives some believers the impression that everything which occurs before Jesus' birth is part of the Old Covenant. This is not accurate.
When the Bible uses the term "old covenant" it refers to the period of Moses until the beginning of the New Covenant. Not everything which happens in the Bible before Jesus-namely the period of Adam to Abraham-belongs in the old covenant proper.69
Jesus said in John 7:22 that circumcision was not from Moses, but from the Patriarchs.70 That means that circumcision does not belong, originally to the Old Covenant (Moses) but to Abraham.
Abraham has a very special relationship to New Covenant believers. In Romans 4:1-25, Paul says that Abraham is the "Father" of those who believe. Likewise, in Galatians 3:29 all believers are said to be "Abraham's offspring and heirs according to the promise." 71
In many ways, Abraham is a New Covenant figure. Believers are his spiritual descendants. 72 He is said to have looked forward to Jesus' first coming.73 He is a model of faith for believers in Hebrews 11:8-19; Galatians chapters 3 and 4. So what is true of Abraham is usually true of New Covenant believers. Just as Abraham's faith in Jesus (John 8:56) sets the pattern for New Covenant believers, so also his circumcision, and that of Isaac, sets the pattern for New Covenant baptism.
But Wasn't Circumcision a Sign of External Blessings Only?
In Romans 4:9-11 Paul says that Abraham believed before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a sign of God's grace to him. Abraham loved God, not the promised land. Hebrews teaches us repeatedly that Abraham and Moses and other believers who were born before Jesus, looked for a heavenly city and not simply at the earthly Canaan.74
Believers born before Jesus received no blessing apart from faith. Like New Covenant baptism, the meaning of circumcision was spiritual and not just outward.75
How Can We Baptize Children Who Don't Understand What is Happening to Them?
Did the babies circumcised under Abraham and Moses understand what was happening to them? Of course not. How were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob saved? By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.76 The fact God require children of the believers to understand the sign of admission to the visible covenant community before it was given, doesn't mean that they did not need to understand it as they grew up. They certainly did. The same responsibility rests with every Christian today. Every time Christians come to the Lord's table, they renew the covenant, receive the promise of the Gospel again, take up their oath of obedience to God and renew their baptism.
In fact, every complaint raised against Covenant baptism can be raised against covenant circumcision. If those complaints were invalid for circumcision, they are invalid for baptism.
Isn't Repentance and Faith Required Before Baptism?
It is true, that when speaking to adult Jews (Acts 2:38) Peter commanded, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you for the forgiveness of your sins." It does not follow, however, that only adults who can understand and follow this command may receive the sign of entrance into the covenant community. This would have eliminated all infant circumcisions. Obviously, God commanded circumcision of the children of believers.
Substitute the word "circumcised" for the word "baptized" in Acts 2:38. To Jews, whose Bible was the Old Covenant Scriptures, this would have made perfect sense: Renounce sin and receive the sign of the covenant. The case in Acts 2:38 is parallel to that of the foreigner who took the sign of entrance into the covenant people Israel. He had to turn from his old ways and embrace the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The fact that adults were required to make a profession of faith before circumcision, did not prevent the Lord from demanding that they circumcise their infant sons.77
Nor should one ignore Acts 2:39 where Peter gives the positive reason for baptism:
The promise is to you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call (italics mine).
God's Word says the promise is to the children of believers as well as to those old enough to repent. Peter was deliberately repeating the Abrahamic-covenant promise in Genesis 17:7 and commanding them to baptize their children.
Isn't Faith Necessary for Entering the Christian Life?
This question seems to imply that somehow faith was not as necessary for Moses or Abraham. Such an implication is false. Hebrews chapter 11 teaches that all the heroes of the faith who lived before Jesus birth obeyed God in faith.78 If faith was necessary in the Old Covenant and yet infants received the sign of the covenant, then the fact that adults needed to express their faith by circumcision does not rule out the children of believers receiving the sign of the covenant in the New Covenant.
The point of view expressed in this objection denies the unity of the Covenant of Grace. It argues that God deals with his people in two substantially different ways in the Bible.
To say that baptism is primarily an expression of my faith also misunderstands faith, salvation, and the sign of God's grace. Baptism is God's sign which he applies to me through the Church whether as infant or adult. It is God's sign of what he has done. Baptism is not, primarily, a sign of my faith. Baptism is a sign (and seal) of God's grace.79 Circumcision is always a sign of the grace of God in making the covenant with Abraham. So also baptism is a sign of God's grace which includes adult converts or infant children of believers.
Should Infants Come to the Lord's Table?
God has instituted two types of sacraments. Circumcision, like baptism was a sacrament of initiation into the visible covenant community. The Passover feast (along with the other feasts), like the Lord's Supper, was a sign of covenant renewal for strengthening God's people. So different sacraments perform different functions and have different participants and different requirements.80
It is clear, from the institution of the Passover, that the children who participated had to be old enough to understand the significance of the Passover. 81 This same requirement was not made of infants to be circumcised. This distinction flows from the different functions of the signs and seals. Circumcision was a sign of entrance into the covenant applied to infants and to adults neither of whom had ever been circumcised. By its nature circumcision, (and baptism as its replacement), cannot be applied again. 82 The Lord's supper, however, by its nature is intended to be celebrated repeatedly in the life of the believer. 83 This is because the sign and seal of initiation distinct from the sign and seal of renewal.
This same principle was also in effect in the New Covenant community. It is latent in the Apostle Paul's principle that one who partakes of the Lord's supper must be aware of the Spiritual nature of the supper (1 Corinthians 11:29). On this principle (each sign has its own function) it is proper for infants to be baptized but improper to permit infants to partake in the supper.
The answer to questions about baptism lies in God's nature. He does not change and his promises do not change. He does not change the way he saves his people. Only the circumstances change, in which that promise is administered.
God is a faithful, gracious, loving, patient, kind, merciful, covenant (promise) making and keeping God.84 Our gracious covenant God made a covenant-promise to give Abraham a "seed" and to send a Savior, which he fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 85 In Christ, we become Abraham's descendants and heirs. The same promise God made to Abraham, he has made to us,
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your children after you for the generations to come, to be your God and your children's God.86
God was gracious to Abraham, God is gracious to us. He has given us visible reminders and marks of that grace, one of those is baptism.
Be a Berean, search the Scriptures to see if what has been said here is true.87 The Word of God is, after all, our absolute rule for faith and life. If you are a Christian parent who has not presented your children for baptism, I urge you to do so as soon as possible.
If you have made a profession of faith in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, but have not been baptized, I urge you to find a Biblical and confessionally Reformed church in your area and seek membership and baptism.
If you are baptized, but have neglected God's grace, by neglecting your baptism, by not living gratefully, by not serving and loving Jesus with all your heart, I call you to turn away from your ingratitude, confess your sins, ask and receive God's forgiveness.88
Christian, your baptism is good news, a reminder and promise that, if you believe, you have been bought with a price and sprinkled with the blood of Christ.89 Rejoice in God's grace and be faithful to God's Word. If your children have received covenant baptism, be sure to take your oath seriously. Remember, you have sworn an oath to bring up your children "in the training and instruction of the Lord." by catechizing them at home in God's Word and in a Reformed confession such as the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) or the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) and by enrolling them in catechism instruction in a confessionally faithful Reformed congregation.90
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Berkouwer, G. C., Studies in Dogmatics: The Sacraments (Grand Rapids: 1969).
Brady, R. J., "An Examination of the Reformed Doctrine of Infant Baptism." M.A. Thesis (Wheaton College, 1965).
Bridge, D. and David Phypers, The Water that Divides: The Baptism Debate (Downers Grove: 1977).
Calvin, J., The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vol., trans., F. L. Battles., J. T. McNeill ed. (Philadelphia: 1961).
--Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines (Grand Rapids: 1982).
Chaney, J. M., William the Baptist (Grand Rapids, repr., 1982).
Cramer, P., Baptism and Change in the Early Middle Ages, c. 200-c. 1150 (Cambridge: 1993).
Cullmann, O., Baptism in the New Testament (London: 1962).
Cunningham, W., Historical Theology, 2 vol. (Edinburgh: repr., 1979).
Dabney, R. L., Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, repr.: 1975).
Dale, J. W., An Inquiry into the Usage of Baptizo, and the Nature of Judaic Baptism. 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: 1869 [repr. 1991-5]).
Fairbairn, P., Typology (Welwyn, repr.,: 1975.
Hodge, A. A. Evangelical Theology: Lectures on Doctrine (Edinburgh: repr., 1976).
--Outlines of Theology, n.d., n.p.
Hodge, C., Systematic Theology, 3 vol. (Grand Rapids, repr: 1982).
Jeremias, J., Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries. trans David Cairns (Philadelphia: 1960).
Jewett, P. K., 'Baptism', The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 4 vol., (Marshallton, DE: 1964).
Kitchen, K.A., Ancient Orient and the Old Testament. (Downers Grove: 1966).
Kline, M.G., The Structure of Biblical Authority. Grand Rapids, 1972.
--Treaty of the Great King (Grand Rapids: 1963).
--By Oath Consigned (Grand Rapids: 1968).
Marcel, P.C., The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism (Cambridge: 1953).
Mendenhall, G. E, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh, 1955).
Murray, J. Christian Baptism (Philadelphia: 1952).
Olevianus, C. A Firm Foundation: An Aid to Interpreting the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. and ed. Lyle D. Bierma (Grand Rapids: 1995).
Sartelle, J. P. What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism (Phillipsburg, 1985).
Shedd, W. G. T. History of Christian Doctrine, 2 vol. (New York: 1889).
Tenney, Merrill C. "Baptism and the Lord's Supper," Basic Christian Doctrines, C.F.H. Henry, ed., (New York: 1962).
Vos, J.G. Baptism: Its Subjects and Modes (Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, n.d.)
Wall, W., The History of Infant Baptism (London, 1705).
Warfield, B.B. "The Archeology of the Mode of Baptism," Studies in Theology, (Oxford: 1932).
--,"The Polemics of Infant Baptism," ibid.
* Revised August, 2004. References to the Greek New Testament are drawn from the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament 3rd edition and the Nestle-Aland 26th edition. The references to the Hebrew Bible are drawn from the Biblia Hebriaca Stuttgartesnsia (Â© 1977). References from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the O.T. used by the N.T. authors, abbreviated LXX) are from the Rahlfs edition. In most instances I have provided my own English translations. Nevertheless, this essay has consulted a number of English Bible translations, among them the New International Version (Â©1984, International Bible Society), the New American Standard (1971) and the Revised Standard Version (1951).
1 These categories are rough and ready. For example, by Baptist I do not mean only those who attend Baptist congregations, but rather most non-infant baptizing evangelical congregations in North America. Note also that there are other Christian traditions not in this list which wield some influence in North America. For example, the Campellite tradition (The Church of Christ; the Christian Church) teaches a type of baptismal regeneration, (formally resembling the Lutheran position) but denies infant baptism (formally resembling the Baptist position).
2 See the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), 1210-84.
3 The Baptist Faith and Message adopted by the Southern Baptist Church (San Francisco, 1962), Article 8 says, "Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate his second coming." The Baptist position has received the significant support of Karl Barth in his Church Dogmatics.
Many Baptistic churches also allow the practice of baby dedication. It would appear that this rite substitutes for baptism of the children of believers. Why? Because believers instinctively know that they need to present their children to God. Like the altar call this is a human substitute for divinely instituted covenant signs and seals of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is the sign of entrance or initiation into the visible Covenant assembly (church). Baby dedication fulfills this function. Similarly, the altar call often effectively replaces the Lord's Supper as an opportunity for believers to respond to God's grace.
Regarding the mode of baptism there are two major procedures: effusion (sprinkling, pouring) and immersion. Historically orthodox Christians have accepted any mode of Christian baptism. Baptists, however, usually acknowledge only immersion. Although this has not always been the case. "The original Baptists did not immerse" (B. B. Warfield, "The Archeology of the Mode of Baptism," Studies in Theology [Oxford, 1932], 347, n.10). This also unites them with the Campbellites and distinguishes them from the Reformed position. The latter have historically practiced effusion.
The argument over mode is really an argument about what is the appropriate action in baptism to symbolize the truths of baptism. If baptism is the gospel made visible and if we are baptized as an act of identity with Christ's death, then how we ought best symbolize those truths?
The Reformed practice of effusion draws from the rich history of the Biblical practice of sprinkling for sanctification and salvation. The typical Hebrew term for effusion/sprinkling is Zaraq (e.g., Exodus 29.16-21) which is translated with a variety of terms in the LXX. Two of the more interesting passages for understanding the Biblical background and basis for the Reformed practice of effusion are the Passover painting of the door-posts with the blood of the Lamb (Exodus 12:22) and Exodus 24:1-8.
In the former case, the Hebrew verb "to dip" is Tabal which was translated in the LXX with Baptizen, apparently strengthening the Baptist case. Yet, notice that the hyssop branch was "dipped" but the redeeming blood was "touch[ed]" (RSV) to the door-post. In the latter case, Moses "took the blood and sprinkled (Zaraq/Kataskedannumi) it upon the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you...". This is the sort of image Peter meant to invoke when he spoke of the sprinkling (Rantismos) of Christians with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:2).
In fact the word baptize and its cognate Baptein is used routinely in the LXX to describe ceremonial washings. The Jews were not in the habit of immersing objects for purification. Look at two notable immersions in the Old Covenant Scriptures. Peter compares God's judgment-flood to baptism (1 Peter 3:20,21, See also 2 Peter 3;6,
7). Notice in the case of Noah's baptism who was dry and who was immersed. The same is true of Moses' "baptism" in the Red Sea (See 1 Corinthians 10:1-13). Exodus repeatedly reminds us that Moses and the Israelites went through "on dry ground" (See Exodus 14:16, 22; 15:19; Psalm 66:6; Hebrews 11:29). Paul explicitly makes the point that Israel was "baptized in the sea" and yet it was dry baptism. The only ones immersed were Pharaoh's armies. It would seem, in the Israelite mind, that to be immersed would constitute an identification not with the God of the Exodus, but Pharaoh. This would hardly be appropriate for Christian baptism.
"Why," one might ask, "in the New Testament, do people go "down" to or "in" the river to be baptized?" (See Matthew 3:6,16; Acts 8:38). It is not certain that either John or Jesus was immersed. Practically, if one is to baptize in the desert, one must stand in the water. In the mass baptism of Acts 2:41 it is unlikely that 3000 people were immersed in the city's water supply. If the Ethiopian Eunuch was immersed, so was Philip who baptized him. Both men are governed by the same Greek preposition (Eis). So, if the immersionist view is correct, that the jailer was immersed, then both men went "into" (i.e., were immersed) the water. More likely, both men went "to" the water or perhaps both men stood "in" the water. For more information on the verb Baptize see J. W. Dale, Baptizo (Philadelphia, 1869 [repr. 1991-5]). See also Jay Adams, The Meaning and Mode of Baptism. Reformed churches who sprinkle infants do so on strong Biblical grounds and not out of sentiment or personal preference.
4 Article 9 of the Augsburg Confession (1530) says, "Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace. They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism."
5 The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Q.69 says, 'How is it signified and sealed to you in Holy Baptism, that you have part in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross? Thus: that Christ instituted this outward washing with water and joined therewith this promise: that I am washed with his blood and Spirit from the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as certainly as I am washed outwardly with water, whereby commonly the filthiness of the body is taken away; Q.70: 'What is it to be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ? It is to have the forgiveness of sins from God through grace, for the sake of Christ's blood, which he shed for us in his sacrifice on the cross; and also, to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and sanctified to be members of Christ, that so we may more and more die unto sin and lead holy and unblamable lives'; Q.72: 'Is then the outward washing with water itself the washing away of sins? No, for only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sin'. See Belgic Confession (1561), Art.34; Art. 27 of the Thirty Nine Articles (1662); Westminster Confession (1647), chapter 28.
6 The Southern Baptist Convention is America's largest Protestant denomination. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) are smaller, but much larger than all the confessional Reformed denominations added together.
7 The technical word for those who baptize the children of believers is paedobaptist from the Greek word for child Pais plus the Greek Baptizo which has been brought directly into English.
8 See B. A. Gerrish, Grace and Reason. A Study in the Theology of Luther (Oxford, 1962); R. S. Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of Word and Sacrament (Edinburgh, 1953); W. P. Stephens, The Theology of Huldrych Zwingli (Oxford, 1984).
9 W. Wall, The History of Infant Baptism (London, 1705). Joachim Jeremias, Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, trans. David Cairns (Philadelphia: 1960) and The Origins of Infant Baptism: A Further Study (Naperville: 1963) defends a paedobaptist reading of ancient church practice. For a Baptist reading see Kurt Aland, Did The Early Church Baptize Infants? trans. G. R. Beasley-Murray (London: 1963).
10 Many liberal mainline denominations do not confess the Bible to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God and appear to practice paedobaptism more out of sentiment more than Biblical conviction. Covenant baptism should be sharply distinguished from the unfortunate practices of those churches who baptize children regardless of the spiritual state of the parents. Baptist practice is also abused. Just as there are churches who baptize infants without any regard for Biblical restrictions, so there are Baptist churches who also abuse Baptism even by Baptist standards.
11 Please see Jeremiah 36.27; 1 Corinthians 2.13; 2 Corinthians 13.3; 1 Thessalonians 2.13; Hebrews 1.5; 2 Timothy 3.16; 2 Peter 3.17.
12 The absolute authority of God's Word is a crucial starting point. It is not Bible Study to assume beforehand what Scripture must say.
13 See Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 22:7-23.
14 Genesis chapter 17 [all]; Exodus chapter 12 [all].
15 The Biblical teaching of the covenant is perhaps the sharpest dividing line between the Baptist and Reformed understandings of the Bible. Baptist scholars do write about the covenants. Christian theologians have been using the Biblical doctrine of the covenant of grace to teach the unity of God's people, the unity of the way of salvation (Christ) since the 2nd century A. D. Since the early 16th century, however, Reformed scholars have worked most closely with this Biblical thread as a way of uniting the Biblical doctrine of justification with the Biblical doctrine of sanctification. Since the early 1520's there has been a steady stream of Reformed scholars who have been working out the relations between the covenant of grace and baptism.
16 Genesis 3.14-16.
17 Genesis 6.18; 9:9-17.
18 Genesis 15:1-18; 17 [all]; 1 Chronicles 16:16; Ps 105:8; Acts 3:25; 7 [all]; Romans 4 [all]; 9 [all]; Galatians 3 [all].
19 Genesis 17.10-14
20 Exodus 2:24; 6.4,5.
21 Exodus 12:24-27.
22 Exodus 19:5. Do not confuse a sacerdotal (from the Latin n. sacerdos, priest) view, which regards the minister as priest who procures salvation for God's people through sacraments, with the term sacrament. Sacrament comes from the Latin noun sacramentum. The term referred originally to a deposit (escrow account) held as part of a law suit. The term also signified an oath. This latter meaning was carried over into the church to describe the covenant (oath) signs and seals. See Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford, 1879), s.v., sacramentum.
23 Jeremiah 31.32,33; Ezekiel 34:25.
24 Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Hebrews 8:1-10:18.
25 Luke 22:20.
26 2 Corinthians 3:6.
27 Luke 1:54,55,72,73; Acts chapter 7.
28 1 Peter 1:10-12.
29 Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20.
30 John 14:25-27; 15:26,27.
31 This is why the Bible speaks of "types" and "shadows." See Romans 5:14 (NIV-uses "pattern"); 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Hebrews 8 [all].
32 Compare Jeremiah 31.31-34 with Hebrews 7.22, chapter 8, 9:15, 10:24.
33 See Genesis 3:14-16. Jesus fulfilled this promise by his death on the Cross.
34 Romans 4:11,17.
35 Ephesians 2:1-22, gentiles were brought into covenantal relationship with God by faith; compare Romans 11:17-24.
36 Genesis 17:10-14
37 God nearly took Moses' life because he failed to circumcise his second son. See Exodus 4:24-26. On the threats attached to circumcisions see Genesis 17:14.
38 Genesis 15.18, Exodus 24.8, 34.27; Deuteronomy 4.23,5.2, 9.9.
39 For a clear example of this curse bearing see the book of Jeremiah. Repeatedly God prosecutes Israel for failing to live up to the "terms of the covenant." In 34: 17-20 the Lord says, "The men who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land who walked between the pieces of the calf. I will hand over to their enemies who seek their lives. Their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beast s of the earth." This is a direct re-enactment of the covenant-oath ceremony of Genesis 15:8-21. God graciously, sovereignly enters into a covenant with his people, i.e., "I will be your God, you will be my people." That Covenant-oath-promise is always sealed in blood. This is a common practice of the Ancient Near Eastern world. See K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament (Downers Grove, 1966); M. G. Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority, (Grand Rapids, 1972); ibid, Treaty of the Great King, (Grand Rapids, 1963); G. E. Mendenhall, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Pittsburgh, 1955). This is not just an Old Covenant occurrence. In Galatians 5:12, Paul wishes this very curse upon enemies of the gospel.
40 See the Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
41 Isaiah 53:4,8; Hebrews 13:12; see the section above on being "cut off" from the covenant. See also Deuteronomy 21:22,23.
4242 Ephesians 1:1-15; 2:1-10.
43 Hebrews 9:11-10:1.
44 2 Timothy 2:11; Romans 6:2,5,6,8.
45 Ephesians 2:1-13 3:6; 1 Peter 2:9,10, 4:17.
46 Romans 4:11,17.
47 1 Corinthians 10:3; Ephesians 2:8-9.
48 Galatians 5:2-6.
49 The first word of v.39 "having been buried" (suntapheis from sunthapto) is a participle which describes the circumstances in which believers are circumcised. See the excellent discussion of the relationship between circumcision and baptism in Patrick Fairbairn, Typology (Welwyn, [repr.] 1975), 308-315.
50 Acts 15:1-21; Galatians 2:12, 3:13,14, 5:15 and 6:12 teach that the circumcision has been fulfilled.
51 Galatians 5:12.
52 This was evident even under Moses. See Deuteronomy 10:16 where God tells the Israelites to "circumcise your hearts." See also Romans 4:11; Galatians 3:6-14; Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:28-9.
53 Genesis 17:10-14.
54 1 Peter 3:21.
55 It is sometimes said, "I was baptized as an infant but did not come to faith until much later, so I was re-baptized." Might it not be the case that if one is baptized in infancy and later comes to faith, God has been faithful to his promise in the sign. The sign is like a seed which God through his sovereign, gracious Holy Spirit, brought to fruition. We should rejoice that we believe and all that baptism promises is true for us.
56 John 1:12,13; 3:16; 4:3; 5:45.46; 6:32-58; 8:56; 20:31; Romans 4; Galatians 2:15-21; Ephesians 2:8,9; Hebrews 11:1; 1 Corinthians 10:1-5.
57 New covenant writers often remind readers of their baptism to encourage them to good works. See Romans 6:1-14; Ephesians 4:1-6; Colossians 2:[all]; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:8-22. Hebrews 6:4-6 probably refers to the fact that certain persons had shared the Lord's Supper, confessed their faith and then left the assembly. In 1 Corinthians 11 17-34 Paul complains about Corinthian abuse of the Lord's Supper. Their misuse of the Supper reflected their immaturity in Christ.
58 1 Peter 3:20-1.
59 It is possible that Colossians was written for largely the same purpose. 2 Corinthians chapters 3 [all] and 4 [all] deal with a similar topic as does Hebrews chapters 4-9. Romans 4 [all] also addresses the same topic.
60 Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20-1. Be careful not to confuse the Biblical notion of "clean," with the notions of "saved" or "justified." To be "clean," in this sense, means to be formally or legally eligible to receive the sign and seals of the covenant. In the administration of his Covenant of Grace, not all who are legally eligible to receive the sign also receive what the sign signifies, but this does not mean that they should not receive the sign. We cannot decide a priori, whom God has or has not elected to saving faith. We must obey GodÂ’s Word and administer the sign to all who are eligible to receive it.
61 Y. Feenstra, "Baptism" in The Encyclopedia of Christianity Vol. 1, E. H. Palmer, ed., 526-537. See also 1 Samuel 22:16,19; Genesis 17;12,23, 18:19, 45:17-19, 46:6,7 for clear examples of the Biblical idea of 'household'.
62 The Bible's emphasis on families and the visible assembly of the saints (the Church) is much different from American individualism in many evangelical churches. God does save individuals and no one else can believe for you. But throughout Scripture, God often saves and blesses whole groups (e.g., families) at one time. The actions or faith of one member of the group often affects the whole group. This is because God has set up a representative (or federal) system of salvation. Adam was our first representative. The old puritan rhyme had it right: "In Adam's fall, sinned we all." Adam's sin affected everyone at once. So Jesus saved all his people at the same time on the cross. See Romans 5 [all].
63 The New Testament word is Oikos from which we get our English word economic.
64 Matthew 10:12-14; Luke 19:9; John 4:53; Acts 10:2; 11:14; 1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:16; Hebrews 11:7-9. See also Genesis 7:1.
65 "God-fearer" is the term Jews applied to Gentiles who worshipped in their synagogues. As a frequent worshipper of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Lydia heard the Word of God read regularly. She would have been familiar with the Old Covenant requirements to receive the sign of entrance in the covenant community.
66 Acts 16 :14-15. In fact, recent archeological research has uncovered the fact that it was not uncommon for single or widowed women to "head" a household composed of an entire entourage of employees, and family members. Chloe is one likely example. See Luke 8:2,3; 1 Corinthians 1:11; Romans 16:3-5; 12. N. T. scholar S. M. Baugh (among others) has shown that slaves, in the N. T. world, owned other slaves and property. So the word "household" includes not only an immediate family but slaves and their families. See S. M. Baugh "Paul and Ephesus: The Apostle Among His Contemporaries" (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Irvine).
67 Every Israelite and every Gentile convert confessed the Shema, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one" Deuteronomy 6:4).
68 Some argue that only believers were baptized in the New Covenant. This is only supposition. It is illogical to argue from what is to what is not. If I tell you that I can find only blue cars on Antioch Road it does not follow that there are never any red cars on Antioch Road. It is true that adults are baptized in the New covenant. It is not true that only adults are baptized in the New Covenant.
69 2 Corinthians 3.14; Galatians 3.17; Hebrews 8.6; 9:15,16.
70 That is, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
71 See Genesis 17. The word Patriarchs refers to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
72 Hebrews 2.16; Romans 4; 9.7,8; James 2.20-23.
73 John 8:56.
74 Please see Hebrews 3:14ff; 11:8-10,16; 12:18-24; 13:13.
75 Please see Romans 4:11; Galatians 3:6-14; Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:28,29. If Jews received earthly blessings for simply being Jews then "it is no more of faith, but of works." In fact the point of the exile is that judgment came to Israel because she lacked faith. If blessings were dependent upon circumcision and race then the exile is meaningless.
76 It is astonishing that many Bible-believing Christians think Abraham was saved by works. This is not true. No one in the history of the fallen human race has ever been saved by works. When Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6) he was speaking of Abraham and Moses as well as us. See John 12:41 where John says, "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him."
77 Genesis 17:27.
78 1 Corinthians 10.31-13. teaches that Old Covenant believers also obeyed God in faith.
79 We weren't saved because, first of all, we chose Christ, but because he loved us and chose us. See Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:1-15; 2:8-10. We believe because God saved us. We receive salvation through faith.
80 Although the Lord's Supper corresponds to Passover generally, it is also likely that the New Covenant communion feast summarizes all of the great Old Covenant feasts and not just Passover. Each of those feasts was a renewal of the covenant and a reminder of God's saving grace.
8181 Exodus 12:26.
82 This is an area of sharp disagreement between Baptists and Paedobaptists. If the Reformed understanding of God's Word is correct, then baptism does not need to be applied more than once just as circumcision cannot be done more than once.
83 This is a serious problem with the Baptist view. The roles of the covenant signs are confused. Because baptism is viewed as the primary symbol of professing one's faith and renewing one's relationship to Christ baptism becomes the means for Covenant renewal. But this is properly the function of the Lord's Supper. On top of this, many Baptistic churches practice the "altar call" as a means of professing or renewing a profession of faith. The result is that in many Baptistic churches, the Lord's supper then becomes somewhat meaningless. In some Baptistic churches the Lord's Supper is hardly practiced at all.
84 Hebrews 13:8.
85 Galatians 3:16.
8686 Genesis 17:7.
87 Acts 17:11.
88 1 John 1.9.
89 1 Peter 1:2
90 Ephesians 6:4