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The Sabbath and the Conscience, Part 5

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

help “Liberty”

It may be quite easily demonstrated that Christians and unbelievers alike recognize the need for certain days to be special. Call it a need to mark time or to break up the monotony if you wish. Is it not equally reasonable – if we start where we should in special revelation – that God, who made the Sabbath holy as soon as he had made man – wrote onto our hearts the need to observe one day in seven as holy to him? And that we, no matter how much we have suppressed that law by non-observance, still bear traces of it in our hearts?

In fact, the argument from conscience, or from the absence of guilt, fails entirely to contradict the Reformed position on law, and specifically on Sabbath.  We’re going to need another theory to explain the shamelessness with which the world and even the church ignores…

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The Sabbath and the Conscience, Part 4

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

tremain I know you read this in Junior High; are you honestly telling me you thought Sabbath was never a matter of public conscience?

We’ve been addressing the Reformed view of the law this week, particularly as it relates to the issue of Sabbath and the conscience of men. It has been suggested that the absence of any commonly felt guilt over the Sabbath proves that the commandment was never moral. Yesterday I attempted to demonstrate that this is a dangerous way to define morality. Today we will investigate whether the premise is even true. Does the conscience tell us that Sabbath-breaking is wrong?

If your awareness of Christian practice goes back more than one generation, you’ll have to admit that the Sabbath once pricked the conscience of men. We are all familiar with the now-despised “blue laws” which prohibited certain activities on Sunday. Yes, America was once a place in…

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The Sabbath and the Conscience, Part 3

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

antinomian The Antinomian Sabbath

A small piece of the Reformed understanding of the law is that the conscience demonstrates the universality of God’s moral law. If that is so, antinomians ask why some commands – and specifically the Sabbath – are not communicated in this way. Men who are horrified at the thought of murder feel no pangs at all over Sabbath-breaking. Today I offer the first half of a response. Each of today’s steps helps to identify a problem with how the antinomian defines morality.

For make no mistake; I am convinced that this is what today’s antinomians have done: they have defined morality on the basis of what they feel is right.  They don’t think they’ve done this, and they don’t like even being called antinomian.  However, if a Christian has rejected the very structure of moral law by which God defines morality, what is he left with?  Is…

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The Sabbath and the Conscience, Part 2

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

thumb The Confessionalist

Yesterday I wrote about the Reformed view of the moral law. I summarized those points which are salient for our discussion of Sabbath and conscience as follows:

  1. There is a universal and moral law.
  2. That law was first written on Adam’s heart.
  3. That law is universally applicable and is summarized in the Ten Commandments.
  4. The existence of a “conscience” in man is cited by Paul as evidence of the existence of a universal moral law.

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The Sabbath and the Conscience, Part 1

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

judge Right, that kind.

I wrote a post about the Sabbath and the conscience. It was long, so – being “that kind of Puritan” – I made it longer. Then I broke it up into a series. Now we have five small installments, none of which should be too much for a day’s musing on the subject.

We’ll begin today with some basic principles for those who are unfamiliar with the structure of the Reformed doctrine of the law. Oddly, that means we won’t actually be talking about the Fourth Commandment at all in today’s post, but rather setting the stage to understand the nature of the question.

My intent this week is not to thoroughly examine the doctrine and practice of Sabbath, nor to defend the same.  I have no intention of answering every random question anyone ever wanted to pose to a Sabbatarian.  Instead we will be very tightly…

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Timothy George (a semi-Protestant)

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

george Timothy George

In my earliest days in the ministry I had the pleasure to attend the Founders National Conference in Birmingham. This excellent conference then met on the campus of Samford University, home to Beeson Divinity School. Initially the meetings were held in Samford’s lovely Reid Chapel. Our host – and the reason the conference had located at Samford – was Beeson’s dean Timothy George.

George was a part of the Calvinism fad before Calvinism was a fad. By that I mean that he recognized the vapidity of evangelical doctrine and espoused a more tenable theology built around a sovereign God, yet he clearly never embraced the heart of reformation theology. In no sense whatsoever can be called “Reformed,” nor even a “Reformed Baptist.”

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The Lenten Brouhaha

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

One of the results of having grown up in a Reformed Baptist home is that while many of my RB brethren understand the insidious nature of certain religious practices, I have no experience of them.  Sometimes I fail to appreciate the spiritual peril from which I was preserved.

Lent is a good example.  It never struck me as anything other than one more silly thing which Catholics do – certainly not as a danger to be avoided.  I’m simply baffled by the idea of Calvinists observing Lent.  Consequently my response has been admittedly silly.

I saw a comment Wednesday about Lent and Christmas which got me thinking: while I celebrate Christmas, the folks who also celebrate Lent are probably the same pImageeople who mouth absurdities about putting Christ back in Christmas – as though He could be excluded from anything!  The result was my admittedly low-brow tweak of Treebeard…

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Brothers, I Implore You: Confessional Subscription and Divine Impassibility, Part 4

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

keyboard What This Week Felt Like

It’s Friday, and I have written for most of a week about the doctrine of divine impassibility. I’ve written about its confessional definition and the need to subscribe not only to the words of a confession, but the meaning those words were intended to convey. I’ve written about the history of this doctrine and how we arrived at the place we stand today. I’ve written about the nature of the discussion in Reformed Baptist circles and how distractions have risen to crowd out the critical doctrinal issues. This is, as far as I know right now, the last I will have to say on the subject for the time being. I want to address myself to Reformed Baptists, particularly those in ARBCA.

It is reasonable to expect, however, that some will ask why I am so passionate (sorry…I know) about this issue. I can only…

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Testimony of the Ages: Confessional Subscription and Divine Impassibility, Part 2

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

aquinas Did Thomas Aquinas invent Divine Impassibility out of thin air?

In my post yesterday I spoke of the confessional doctrine of divine impassibility. Anglicans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists all affirm this doctrine in exactly the same words: the only true God is “without body, parts, or passions.” In order to subscribe to the confessional documents containing those words, we must confess what they meant by those words; otherwise we do not subscribe.

But what is the origin of this doctrine? Many assertions have been made during the last year; among them that the words can be properly interpreted in a number of ways. Another assertion has been that the doctrine of divine impassibility was a novel doctrine of the scholastics, a philosophical group of late medieval teachers including Thomas Aquinas. Is this the origin of this doctrine?

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Words and their Meaning: Confessional Subscription and Divine Impassibility, Part 1

Originally posted on chantrynotes:

pennepack Pennepack Baptist Church of Philadelphia, one of the Earliest 1689 Churches in America

Confessions of faith are intended as tools of doctrinal unity within a church or an association of churches. To “subscribe” to a confession of faith is to claim it as a summary of your own theological convictions. Thus when many people subscribe together to the same confession, they profess that they believe the same things about those matters addressed in their confession. Such subscription is necessary at some level; otherwise we would be forced to cooperate with those who have defined Christ and the faith differently than ourselves.

Various approaches to subscription have been taken. Historically, churches that have attempted a generalized “system” subscription have demonstrated the error of such an approach: when subscription to a confession does not mean subscribing to its particular doctrines, then it means nothing. System subscription has proven to be a highway…

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