Repost: Cowardice Or Prudence?

From 16 September 2007

The simple definition of these words are generally the same thing. I of course do not mean prudence in the classical Platonic sense for that concept has been dead for centuries, what I mean by prudence is the measure of action being so that the requisite or desired effect is accomplished in the proper, preordained time. I have often heard the term prudence given to the time the Church finds itself in today. Just wait, be prudent, do not cause disruption or disharmony. Well I have come to the conclusion that what is necessary for this day is not prudence for that in my mind is cowardice.

Martin Luther as he stood in front of the Diet of Worms is quoted as saying, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscious is neither right nor safe.” We sit in our comfortable positions as inquirers and candidates awaiting to leap over the hurdles that have been placed before us giving very little to no thought as to the task we are about to undertake. As people being called to the pulpit to preach the Word of God we might want to take a second and think about what a mighty weight that has been placed upon us. If we preach against that which we have sworn in front of God to preach how then can we have integrity with our congregations? If we preach against that which we have promised before God in our Ordination vows to preach how then can we go before God and offer the Sacraments to his people? As Ministers of the Word And Sacrament we are not bystanders in the life of the people of our congregation but are the authority to which they call out in agony. Our congregations plead for the truth of Christ and we give them nothing but moralistic tales and worthless chatter. Be convicted by the plethora of people who will burn in Hell because we are unwilling to preach the full gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord our God is a Jealous God who will partake of his vengeance upon those who blaspheme his Word and offer comfort to the demons that placate the ungodly. We deny the holiness and righteousness of Christ when we preach a gospel other than what is given to us in Holy Scripture. Our time is fleeting. We are but sinners in the hand of an angry God who demands perfect righteousness from those that rebel against his holy commands. No longer can we sit on the sidelines and offer up to God our platitudes and defenses. We must lay ourselves prostrate at the foot of the cross and seek forgiveness for our allowance of the lies and demonic words of those who preach a different gospel than Christ’s! We must not sit and wait for someone else to come along and do the work for us we have been charged by Scripture to preach an unfettered gospel, go from town to town teaching of the Mercy of Christ and shaking the dust off our feet in the towns that disregard the gospel. For as Christ says their fate shall be worse than Sodom’s.

Choose you know whom you will serve. Will you serve Christ or Satan? Will you eat of the manna of Christ or the moldy bread the world provides? As for me and my household we shall serve the Lord our God.

So think to yourself. Are you a coward or are you a Christian?

Galatians 1:6-10; What Does It Mean To “Preach Another Gospel”?

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”– Galatians 1:6-12

What does it mean to preach another Gospel? What is the Gospel?

Here are a couple exegetical notes:

John Calvin

Accordingly he enjoins them to regard as devils those who shall dare to bring forward a gospel different from his, — meaning by another gospel, one to which the inventions of other men are added; for the doctrine of the false apostles was not entirely contrary, or even different, from that of Paul, but corrupted by false additions.

To what poor subterfuges do the Papists resort, in order to escape from the Apostle’s declaration! First, they tell us, that we have not in our possession the whole of Paul’s preaching, and cannot know what it contained, unless the Galatians who heard it shall be raised from the dead, in order to appear as witnesses. Next, they assert, that it is not every kind of addition which is forbidden, but that other gospels only are condemned. What Paul’s doctrine was, so far as it concerns us to know, may be learned with sufficient clearness from his writings. Of this gospel, it is plain, the whole of Popery is a dreadful perversion. And from the nature of the case, we remark in conclusion, it is manifest that any spurious doctrine whatever is at variance with Paul’s preaching; so that these cavils will avail them nothing.

Martin Luther

This passage adduces further evidence that the false apostles defamed Paul as an imperfect apostle and a weak and erroneous preacher. They condemn Paul, Paul condemns them. Such warfare of condemnation is always going on in the church. The papists and the fanatics hate us, condemn our doctrine, and want to kill us. We in turn hate and condemn their cursed doctrine. In the meanwhile the people are uncertain whom to follow and which way to turn, for it is not given to everybody to judge these matters. But the truth will win out. So much is certain, we persecute no man, neither does our doctrine trouble men. On the contrary, we have the testimony of many good men who thank God on their knees for the consolation that our doctrine has brought them. Like Paul, we are not to blame that the churches have trouble. The fault lies with the Anabaptists and other fanatics.

Every teacher of work-righteousness is a trouble-maker. Has it never occurred to you that the pope, cardinals, bishops, monks, and that the whole synagogue of Satan are trouble-makers? The truth is, they are worse than false apostles. The false apostles taught that in addition to faith in Christ the works of the Law of God were necessary unto salvation. But the papists omit faith altogether and teach self-devised traditions and works that are not commanded of God, indeed are contrary to the Word of God, and for these traditions they demand preferred attention and obedience.

Who are the Anabaptist’s and Papists of our day? Are Luther and Calvin just hotheads that lived in a different era? Do we have the courage to call a spade a spade as the Reformers, the Puritans, the Dutch did? What is our response to these words from the Synod of Dordt:

Therefore this Synod of Dordt in the name of the Lord pleads with all who devoutly call on the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to form their judgment about the faith of the Reformed churches, not on the basis of false accusations gathered from here or there, or even on the basis of the personal statements of a number of ancient and modern authorities–statements which are also often either quoted out of context or misquoted and twisted to convey a different meaning–but on the basis of the churches’ own official confessions and of the present explanation of the orthodox teaching which has been endorsed by the unanimous consent of the members of the whole Synod, one and all.

Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true believers.

Finally, this Synod urges all fellow ministers in the gospel of Christ to deal with this teaching in a godly and reverent manner, in the academic institutions as well as in the churches; to do so, both in their speaking and writing, with a view to the glory of God’s name, holiness of life, and the comfort of anxious souls; to think and also speak with Scripture according to the analogy of faith; and, finally, to refrain from all those ways of speaking which go beyond the bounds set for us by the genuine sense of the Holy Scriptures and which could give impertinent sophists a just occasion to scoff at the teaching of the Reformed churches or even to bring false accusations against it.

May God’s Son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err, silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching, and equip faithful ministers of his Word with a spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up of their hearers. Amen.

Romans 16:7

We continue our look at verses that cause confusion and downright division in some cases. Up in the rotation next is Romans 16:7. This particular verse has caused some questioning lately upon the campus of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I may refrain from making a definite statement in the end but for right now I am just going to place the verse and quotations from several commentaries. Then I’ll get into my exegesis of the text. I will also quote six separate translations of separate heritages for diversity’s sake, the reason will become quite evident. So without further ado here is Romans 16:7:

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.(New American Standard Bible)

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives, who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
(New Revised Standard Version)

Greet Androni’cus and Ju’nias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners; they are men of note among the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
(Revised Standard Version)

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.
(English Standard Version)

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
(New International Version)

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.
(King James Version)

If you read carefully there are two particular points where the translations have made decisions pertaining to the text. The first being the proper “gender” of Junia(s) and the second being Andronicus and Junia(s) relationship to Paul and the apostles (Futhermore the question must be asked what does Paul mean by “apostle” in this context? We’ll get into that briefly towards the end.) What is interesting here is that only two of the translations use the term “relatives” instead of kinsmen. Now with the history of the NRSV per gender-neutrality this should be of no surprise, whether rightly or wrongly, it always renders all-encompassing masculine terms in a neutral way, which is fine in my book. Now the NIV is a “dynamic-equivalence” translation and makes no bones about the fact it is not a literal translation. Now in mind of this both the commentaries on this passage by Matthew Henry and Martin Luther render it Junia and make mention that Junia is either Andronicus’ wife or sister. Here is Matthew Henry’s words on the passage:

4. Concerning Andronicus and Junia,v. 7. Some take them for a man and his wife, and the original will well enough bear it; and, considering the name of the latter, this is more probable than that they should be two men, as others think, and brethren. Observe, (1.) They were Paul’s cousins, akin to him; so was Herodion, v. 11. Religion does not take away, but rectifies, sanctifies, and improves, our respect to our kindred, engaging us to lay out ourselves most for their good, and to rejoice in them the more, when we find them related to Christ by faith. (2.) They were his fellow-prisoners. Partnership in suffering sometimes does much towards the union of souls and the knitting of affections. We do not find in the story of the Acts any imprisonment of Paul before the writing of this epistle, but that at Philippi, Acts xvi. 23. But Paul was in prisons more frequent (2 Cor. xi. 23), in some of which, it seems, he met with his friends Andronicus and Junia, yoke-fellows, as in other things, so in suffering for Christ and bearing his yoke. (3.) They were of note among the apostles,Who also were in Christ before me, that is, were converted to the Christian faith. In time they had the start of Paul, though he was converted the next year after Christ’s ascension. How ready was Paul to acknowledge in others any kind of precedency! not so much perhaps because they were persons of estate and quality in the world as because they were eminent for knowledge, and gifts, and graces, which made them famous among the apostles, who were competent judges of those things, and were endued with a spirit of discerning not only the sincerity, but the eminence, of Christians.

I have italicized Henry’s answer to our question on the “gender” of Junia(s). He evidently finds enough disagreement among his brethren concerning his rendering that he makes note of it. Not to get off-topic here but I do think one thing needs mentioned to prevent a side argument from occurring, I will quickly quote Henry’s commentary from his words on Phoebe in verse one and two, “1. He gives a very good character of her. (1.) As a sister to Paul: Phebe our sister; not in nature, but in grace; not in affinity or consanguinity, but in pure Christianity: his own sister in the faith of Christ, loving Paul, and beloved of him, with a pure and chaste and spiritual love, as a sister; for there is neither male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus, Gal. iii. 28. Both Christ and his apostles had some of their best friends among the devout (and upon that account honourable) women. (2.) As a servant to the church at Cenchrea: diakonon, a servant by office, a stated servant, not to preach the word (that was forbidden to women), but in acts of charity and hospitality.” I also Recommend Dr. J. Ligon Duncan’s Sermon on Romans 16:1-2.

Now I want to take a look at the apostle question quickly. We will look to John Calvin in his commentary on the passage to see his answer (Calvin also renders it Junia, btw).

7. Salute Andronicus Though Paul is not wont to make much of kindred, and of other things belonging to the flesh, yet as the relationship which Junia and Andronicus bore to him, might avail somewhat to make them more fully known, he neglected not this commendation. There is more weight in the second eulogy, when he calls them his fellow-prisoners; for among the honors belonging to the warfare of Christ, bonds are not to be counted the least. In the third place, he calls them Apostles: he uses not this word in its proper and common meaning, but extends it wider, even to all those who not only teach in one Church, but also spend their labor in promulgating the gospel everywhere. He then, in a general way, calls those in this place Apostles, who planted Churches by carrying here and there the doctrine of salvation; for elsewhere he confines this title to that first order which Christ at the beginning established, when he appointed the twelve disciples. It would have been otherwise strange, that this dignity should be only ascribed to them, and to a few others. But as they had embraced the gospel by faith before Paul, he hesitates not to set them on this account before himself.

Calvin, as is nearly unanimous in the commentaries I checked, makes a distinction between the use of “Apostles” as Paul and others use it to describe the original 12 Apostles in Acts and the Gospels and Paul’s use of it here and other places in his letters. We must take note that the word apostle in Greek can mean several different things. Danker’s Greek-English lexicon gives five different meanings for the New Testament and contemporary Greek use. 1) “Messengers without extraordinary status”, (Phil 2:25). 2) “Messengers with extraordinary status” (Epictetus 2, 22, 23 of Cynic wise men). 3) “Of prophets” (Luke 11:49, Rev. 18:20). 4) “Of Christ” (Hebrews 3:1). 5) “A group of highly honored believers with a special function as God’s envoys” (Romans 1:1, 11:13, Acts 14:14, Rom 16:7, Gal 1:19) and 5a) “Then especially of the 12 Apostles” (Matt 10:2, Mark 3:14, Luke 22:14)

This all being said it is not the purview of this post to go into anymore detail per the use of the word “apostle” in the New Testament and elsewhere other than to say it certainly is ambiguous in this context and nearly unanimous in the commentaries that Paul uses the word apostle in this place with the first meaning given by Danker in mind, that of a “messenger without extraordinary status”. Feel free to disagree but given the context and the way Paul uses the word to describe himself and those gathered at the Jerusalem Council it is very unlikely that he was using “apostle” to mean anything other than just a “messenger” of the Gospel.

Now I think this has given us plenty to discuss and ponder. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Area News

Pittsburgh bishop responds to church warning

By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

JOHNSTOWN — Pittsburgh Episcopal Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. invoked the legacy of theologian Martin Luther today in his first public response to being warned Wednesday by the denomination’s leader that the diocese’s continued march to separate from the national church could force him out of his position.

“Here I stand,” Bishop Duncan told clergy and laity at the 142nd diocesan convention. “I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

Those were the words spoken by Martin Luther in 1521 when he was called before the Diet of Worms for his supposedly heretical works. Emperor Charles the Fifth later declared the theologian an outlaw and he went into exile.

Bishop Duncan’s short response to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori came after he told convention deputies that “as a diocese we have come to a fork in the road.”

The convention will vote later today on whether or not to move forward with plans to leave the Episcopal Church.

More details in tomorrow’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
First published on November 2, 2007 at 3:14 pm
—————————————————————————————
MAJOR UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Local Episcopalians vote to leave the U.S. church
Friday, November 02, 2007
By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

JOHNSTOWN — Members of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese have voted overwhelmingly to break away from the denomination in the United States and align with an Anglican province in another country.

In today’s vote at the 142nd diocesan convention, the laity approved the measure 118-58 with one abstention. The clergy vote was 109-24 in favor of breaking away.

For the break to occur, the diocese must pass the same measure next year and select which Anglican province to join.

In a letter Wednesday to Pittsburgh Episcopal Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr., U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori warned that such a move could result in declaring the Pittsburgh Diocese vacant and ordering Bishop Duncan’s removal.

Bishop Duncan invoked the legacy of theologian Martin Luther today in his first public response to the wraning.

“Here I stand,” Bishop Duncan told clergy and laity at the convention. “I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

Those were the words spoken by Martin Luther in 1521 when he was called before the Diet of Worms for his supposedly heretical works. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared the theologian an outlaw and he went into exile.

Bishop Duncan’s short response to Bishop Schori came after he told convention deputies that “as a diocese, we have come to a fork in the road.”

More details in tomorrow’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Cowardice Or Prudence?

The simple definition of these words are generally the same thing. I of course do not mean prudence in the classical Platonic sense for that concept has been dead for centuries, what I mean by prudence is the measure of action being so that the requisite or desired effect is accomplished in the proper, preordained time. I have often heard the term prudence given to the time the Church finds itself in today. Just wait, be prudent, do not cause disruption or disharmony. Well I have come to the conclusion that what is necessary for this day is not prudence for that in my mind is cowardice.

Martin Luther as he stood in front of the Diet of Worms is quoted as saying, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscious is neither right nor safe.” We sit in our comfortable positions as inquirers and candidates awaiting to leap over the hurdles that have been placed before us giving very little to no thought as to the task we are about to undertake. As people being called to the pulpit to preach the Word of God we might want to take a second and think about what a mighty weight that has been placed upon us. If we preach against that which we have sworn in front of God to preach how then can we have integrity with our congregations? If we preach against that which we have promised before God in our Ordination vows to preach how then can we go before God and offer the Sacraments to his people? As Ministers of the Word And Sacrament we are not bystanders in the life of the people of our congregation but are the authority to which they call out in agony. Our congregations plead for the truth of Christ and we give them nothing but moralistic tales and worthless chatter. Be convicted by the plethora of people who will burn in Hell because we are unwilling to preach the full gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord our God is a Jealous God who will partake of his vengeance upon those who blaspheme his Word and offer comfort to the demons that placate the ungodly. We deny the holiness and righteousness of Christ when we preach a gospel other than what is given to us in Holy Scripture. Our time is fleeting. We are but sinners in the hand of an angry God who demands perfect righteousness from those that rebel against his holy commands. No longer can we sit on the sidelines and offer up to God our platitudes and defenses. We must lay ourselves prostrate at the foot of the cross and seek forgiveness for our allowance of the lies and demonic words of those who preach a different gospel than Christ’s! We must not sit and wait for someone else to come along and do the work for us we have been charged by Scripture to preach an unfettered gospel, go from town to town teaching of the Mercy of Christ and shaking the dust off our feet in the towns that disregard the gospel. For as Christ says their fate shall be worse than Sodom’s.

Choose you know whom you will serve. Will you serve Christ or Satan? Will you eat of the manna of Christ or the moldy bread the world provides? As for me and my household we shall serve the Lord our God.

So think to yourself. Are you a coward or are you a Christian?

Saturday Fun: Who Would The Reformers Support?

As many of you know I am a huge Soccer fan. So I have decided to see if the Reformers lived today which European Football Club would they support? Feel Free to Disagree.

Martin Luther

The German Reformer was born in Eislaben, Germany and lived for nearly his entire life within the confines of the German State of Saxony-Anhalt, which includes Wittenberg. The main city of the state is Magdeberg. While the team in Magdeberg, 1 FC Magdeberg, is currently in the third tier of German Football (for a description of how this works look here) Luther was a fierce supporter of his local state and his prince. So it is very doubtful Luther would have been a glory hound and sought a team outside the Wittenberg, Eislaben, and Madgeberg area. So congrats to 1 FC Magdeberg supporters because I am quite sure you would have a fine hooligan in Martin Luther.

John Calvin

The French Reformer hailed from the city of Noyon, in the state of Oise about 60 miles north of Paris. Calvin was educated in Paris and Orleans. He also spent most of his life in Geneva, Switzerland with a time living in exile in Strasbourg, France. So Calvin is a tad bit more complicated to locate. We could see him supporting FC Strasbourg with his good friend William Farel or going for his boyhood home team of Clermont. Calvin’s affinity for Paris may have also led him to see Paris Saint-Germaine as the club he follows. However I think his final love, the Swiss city of Geneva is where his heart truly lies. So this is why Calvin would have been a season-ticket holder at the Stade de Genève wearing the colors of Servette FC.

John Knox

As for John Knox it is a tad bit more complicated. The Lion of Scotland was born in the countryside east of Edinburgh in the little town of Giffordgate, East Lothian. Due to the fact that there are no league clubs near his birth and John Knox spent very little time in this area we can move on to his education in Glasgow. He graduated from the University of Glasgow in (we think) but then soon moved. Since Knox was still fervently Catholic he may have attended some matches at Celtic Park but it is hard to imagine he would have stayed a Celtic supporter. So then we move to his next locale, back to East Lothian. Knox was appointed a priest in the area and as we noted before there is no league team in the area so it is quite possible John Knox was still sporting the green and white hoops of Celtic prior to his conversion. Now after his conversion and exile to the French galleys Knox returned to England was appointed as a Minister in the English town of Berwick which is home to a team in the Scottish League 3 or 4th Tier of Scottish Football, Berwick Rangers. Could Knox stayed a fan of this club? Well his stay in Berwick was short and he soon moved to the Southeast of England until the Death of Edward the VI when he moved to Geneva where he would stay for 5 years. Surely Calvin took him to Servette FC matches but I cannot see Knox supporting anyone but Scotsmen. So now we see Knox return to Edinburgh to help establish the Scottish Church and we still do not have colors for Knox to sport. Well ,unfortunately, we know Knox would not have supported Hibernian since its roots are in Irish catholic refugees and Knox would not have been dumb enough to wear the maroon of Hearts so who else is there in Edinburgh? We have two choices:

Non-League member Edinbugh City
Former Edinburgh team Meadowbank Thistle FC (now Livingston FC)

So since I cannot objectively pick an Edinburgh side for Knox I’ll make him a supporter of SFL League 1 side Livingston F.C.

William Tyndale

Finally we come to the English Reformer William Tyndale the writer of the first English Bible. He was born near the small village of Dursley, Gloucestershire near the English border with Wales. He spent all his life here until moving to study at Oxford. After finishing his education at Oxford and then was appointed Chaplain of Sir John Walsh in Little Sodbury, Gloucestershire. Then Tyndale spent some time in London and then was chased all over Europe until he was finally apprehended in Antwerp and then strangled and burnt at the stake in London. So given all of this it would be safe to say Tyndale supported none of the London area clubs and was never in a place in Europe long enough to attend matches. This brings us to whether or not he supported a local Gloucestershire club or became a fan of the Oxford team? Well after a little reading on the history of the local clubs it would be safe to say he did not support Oxford United and would have stayed away from the town of Gloucester. So that leaves us with Cheltenham Town F.C. who currently play in the Football League One (Third Tier of English Football) as the team for Tyndale.

Prayer Request

I am currently a seminarian at a Presbyterian school and yet I do not feel (I may be entirely wrong) that the gospel and/or the words of Christ are taken very seriously but are more just things for topical discussion and philosophical arguments. I have recently been questioning the validity of many of my long held-at least in thought-beliefs about Presbyterianism. I have found in speaking to Lutheran friends and reading Lutheran tracks and studying Luther’s own writings that I may be finding a spiritual pull towards Lutheranism. I would like a prayer of guidance that the Holy Spirit may lead me and that through words of our saviour Jesus Christ I may be led to where it is Christ wants me to be in him.