Monday, January 11, 2010

6/25/01 A Reply to Messiah's Update on the Four R's:

Romanism, Reconstructionism, the RPW and Rom. 3

1/11/10
As was alluded to in the previous on Mr. Schlissel's latest, been there, done that  is the short hand response. Of course, shortly after the old letter below  was mailed, our active and congenial acquaintance with the mailing list for Messiah's Community Church Update ceased and desisted.

Along with worship issues, the  influence of N.T. Wright's covenantal nomism can also  be seen developing in Mr. Schlissel's gloss of Rom. 3 as not applying to the Jews, at least not as totally depraved according to the classic view of reformed theology and the confessions. The gospel is all about the covenant or ethics or ecclesiology; not justification, how a man might be right with God. Now of course the Federal Vision  is in full blossom; Schlissel, Wilson, Jordan, Lusk, Barach and Wilkins all came out of the closet at the Auburn Avenue Pastors' Conferences beginning in 2002.

June 25, 2001
Messiah’s Update
2662 East 24th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11235

Dear Mr. Schlissel

A few comments regarding past Updates that the generosity of Messiah’s has deposited in our mailbox.

If we are going to insist that Romanists are in the covenant but unfaithful to its terms, informing them of those terms includes informing them that Rome has apostatized from the covenant. Funny how that got left out of the April 2001 letter. And if we’re going to quote Calvin in the first place, go on to include his concluding remarks in the same chapter. “But, on the other hand, because those marks, which we ought chiefly to regard in this controversy, are obliterated, I affirm, that the form of the legitimate Church is not to be found either in any one of their congregations, or in the body at large (Inst. IV:2:12).” The differences between Rome and Protestantism were worth dying for at the Reformation. And still are.

But maybe it is the reconstructionism in the blood. We still remember asking Rousas John Rushdoony whether we are justified by faith in Christ alone or justified by reconstruction alone. His reply was to let the dead bury the dead, both Protestantism and Catholicism needed reconstruction. To a further request to affirm or reaffirm the Westminster Confession, if not the Confession’s teaching regarding the Pope as AntiChrist, we were dropped from the mailing list. Oh well.

Others have pointed out that Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law ignores the gross idolatry of the Roman church contra the Second Commandment, much less the reformed exposition of the doctrine of worship known as the Regulative Principle of Worship. The ignorance of the RPW we can understand in that our new and acute theologians insist on reading the Second Commandment through their literal fundamentalist dispensational glasses, but Rome’s worship of the sacrament? Moses didn’t preach love for the brethren when it came to the golden calf just so he could be sure the Israelites could field a full team against the Canaanites on game day. But hey, not to worry. Today is the day of grace. The Ten Commandments are just old fashioned legalism. Let’s not get lost in the details and fine print of all that reformed theology stuff. We need more unity in Christ. As if he himself did not say “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.”

And while we are not claiming anybody for the heir apparent, Messiah’s minister did take Rushdoony’s funeral. Maybe it is no wonder some of these eccentricities continue to be voiced. They certainly have not been repudiated as they were at the Reformation, even by and at the expense of the death of the Protestant martyrs. Nor has Rome changed since then. Guess who that leaves holding the bag today and taking up the collection of sympathy for their Roman brethren and kindred spirits? Any votes for our modern day pseudo presbyterians by chance or happenstance? We truly wonder if our Lord will say unto them, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” as opposed to “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Something to reconsider as we go merrily about the reconstruction of the reformed faith, if not merely reformed worship.

Which is to note even further on the current culture war, that we fail the significant detail. Yes, the barbarians are at the gate, the sodomites at the door, but as one who has invited the wolf, if not the world, over the threshold, Messiah’s Update can hardly complain. As Schaeffer pointed out in Death in the City, as per Jeremiah and Romans, idolatry or spiritual fornication and adultery precedes the sexual. And sexual promiscuity precedes sexual perversion. Furthermore, while Lot was willing to sacrifice his daughters, he was prevented from doing so, (though God was not mocked. Lot through incest later became the father of the Moabites and the Ammonites.) For those who are not only willing to, but have already sacrificed the Second Commandment (irregardless of the curse on their covenant seed), their credibility and crocodile tears regarding those who pervert the Seventh almost remind one of Joshua’s lament before Ai, yet his ignorance was at least honest as opposed to wilful. Maybe when the ways of the Lord’s people please the Lord, He will in turn be pleased to make even their enemies to dwell at peace with them.

But not until. Particularly when someone that touts Mr. Dabney and his prophetic analysis of the events of his day no end, can overlook Dabney’s comments regarding the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW). This, in his review of a book by Girardeau, "Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church," which first ran in The Presbyterian Quarterly, July 1889. Although it was reprinted in Dabney’s Discussions, Vol.V. Misc. Writings (Sprinkle, 1999) [available from Messiah's Ministries for $1250 in 2000], after the “All I Don’t Know About the RPW” series had come out from hiding, the article has been kicking around in presbyterian and reformed circles for quite awhile and has been readily available on the internet for at least the last couple of years. The arrogant hurry to substitute an Illiterate Principle in the RPW’s place and ignore Dabney, is inexcusable.

Included among Dr. Dabney’s comments would be the following categorical statement:
Dr. Girardeau has defended the old usage of our church with moral courage, loyalty to the truth, clearness of reasoning and wealth of learning which should make every true Presbyterian proud of him, whether he adopts his conclusions or not. The framework of his argument is this: it begins with the vital truth which no Presbyterian can discard without a square desertion of our principles. The man who contests this first premise had better set out at once for Rome: God is to be worshipped only in the ways appointed in his word (p. 323, emph. added).
No, Dr. Girardeau didn’t subscribe to the Inferior Principle of Worship as our contemporary revisionists would have it. Neither did his reviewer.

Yet Robert Lewis continues,
Doubtless the objection in every opponent's mind is this: that, after all, Dr. Girardeau is making a conscientious point on too trivial and non-essential a matter. I am not surprised to meet this impression in the popular mind, aware as I am that this age of universal education is really a very ignorant one. But it is a matter of grief to find ministers so oblivious to the first lessons of their church history (p.326, emph. added).
Likewise their first lessons in reformed theology. We should like to think better of our modern day amateur enthusiasts and self professed admirers of Dabney, but sadly we cannot and they know exactly who they are.

In short and in sum, just like at the ballgame, “three strikes and you’re outta here.” That goes for even the kids playing stickball in the street, never mind again, the amateurs trying to pass themselves off as pros. For those interested in being reinstated in the game, a repudiation and a removal of the whole flippant IPW nonsense from the website is in order and the sooner the better.

All this is to say nothing of the attempt in last year’s June Update to exegete Rom 3:9-19 as only proving that a Jew could be wicked - instead of the total depravity of both Jews and Gentiles as has been generally accepted in reformed circles. Somehow the lust for notoriety is supposed to cancel out the fact that a text out of context is a pretext - even in Brooklyn. Again, somehow Paul’s categorical introductory statement in 3:9 gets left out of the picture - but what else is new? It says, “. . . for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” Then follow various OT texts that Paul under apostolic inspiration applies to all men.

Not only is this a major blunder from someone who is supposed to be a pastor feeding the flock with sound doctrine and the bread of life, it was pretty tacky, if not downright embarrassing, to stoop so low as to have Squealer from a cheap off Broadway production of Orwell’s Animal Farm “rebut” Mr. Williamson’s criticisms of the IPW vis a vis the reformed confessions on Messiah’s website. One would think that a true blue friend of Messiah’s deserves better, much less the substance of his argument. The line that finished off Joe McCarthy, is the first that comes to mind to describe this kind of hog slop and swill: “Have you left no sense of decency?” Have you no shame?” Apparently not.

The bottom line is simply this. There is sin in the Brooklyn camp and Israel cannot stand before her enemies, religious or irreligious. Rome refused her day of salvation at the time of the Reformation and God passed her over as he called out the remnant. Protestants who want to ignore this and make common cause with nominally theistic Rome against the aggressive atheism of the world, also refuse the truth. Consequently they have no gospel for either Rome or the world. Neither do they have a worship worthy of the gospel. God gives over to strong delusion those who receive not a love for the truth, but believe a lie and the Updates merely verify this. They do not speak to the real question or go to the root of the matter, much more repent of it, which is to further compound the error and sin. And while it is sorry [enough] to see, that is not enough in itself to cause us to suppress or deny it.

Thank you very much.

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