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Repent of Lent? No!

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Over at The Federalist, Todd Peperkorn, a Lutheran minister, is engaged in a point/counterpoint discussion on Lent with Reformed pastor, Brian Lee. Rev. Peperkorn's main point is that in an age of information inundation, we need the opportunity to focus less on many things in order to focus more on one thing: the person and work of Christ. Here's a preview:
Historically, there are three practices associated with Lent: Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving or works of mercy. It is a time when Christians mourn over their sin (called repentance) and learn again to trust in their Savior, Jesus Christ. Just like you don’t only go to a doctor once, in the same way a Christian can benefit from a “checkup” on their faith, to remind them who they are as baptized children of God.

In connection with this, Lent can be a time of great focus for the Christian. Our culture is inundated with input. As I sit here writing this on my iPad, I am watching my son do his homework, listening to another child crying, checking Facebook on my phone, all while drinking a Diet Coke at McDonald’s. Sometimes it’s a wonder we can think at all!

But in order to focus more on one thing, one must also learn to focus less on other things. In our secular culture, we can see this with the rise of minimalism in everything from apps on our phone to architectural design to how we lay out our kitchens. Great design leads to simplicity, not complexity. And because our lives are increasingly complex, something has to change in order for us to get out of the continual spin cycle of life. While these ideas are often held up as Buddist in our day, they really belong to the Christian tradition just as much.

 Read the rest here. Read the counterpoint here.
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  • [...] Okay, quoting the Reformers on Rome&what shall I compare this to? Quoting the Red Sox on the Yankees? Quoting Republicans on Democrats? Quoting liberals on fundamentalists? There is no shortage of vitriolic quotes from Reformers on the practices of Rome, but finding a quote is not the same as making an argument or engaging the topic properly. We do not take the Reformers wholesale on everything. I bet Miller wouldnt quote Calvin or Luther on the modern evangelical understanding of the eucharist. Evangelicals, if we are anything, are Biblicists first. Lets start with the Bible as we consider Lent and its place in modern faith. [...]

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  • Guest - Susan Vader

    Repent? No! It is our hertitage! ( is it biblical?...well, sure it is!) The East practices it too(Great fast). But.....it belongs to the Apostolic Church because, well..... there is only supposed to be one church,right? Modern Protestantism looks a lot like a patchwork kind of thingy of "we except and include this and that, yet we absolutely are not Rome!". One of the reasons I swam the Tiber was that the Protestant communities' visage was looking more and more post apocalyptic with people adopting this or that ancient aspect, this or that doctrine, but only as it appealed to them(albeit it they each 'claim' to be biblical). I don't particulary like the Mad Max or steampunk version of the church; that is, an admixture of whatever components that a society happens upon to create their new manmade version of Christianity!. That it cannot promise to be the locus of pillar and bulwork is precisely the failure of sola scriptura. In other words,a sola scriptura schema promulgates and progresses an ecclesial evolution,that terrifyingly bolsters the theories of naturalistic anthropology. To use an example from science fiction to help illustrate what I am trying to say, think of the"Church of the Papal Mainframe" from an episode of the British televison series "Dr. Who" that while trying to be a parody on the Roman Catholic Church, is instead provocactive insight into the "what-ifs" of Protestantism's ad hoc doctrine/orthopraxy due to its inability to establish theological truth from theological opinion.

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  • Guest - Michael Horton

    That Protestantism is a zoo I cannot refute. But so were churches founded even by the apostles: Galatia, Corinth, and those mentioned by our Lord in Revelation 3. Why? Because they strayed from apostolic teaching even while the apostles were still living. I think you have a "Camelot" picture of Byzantine and medieval Christendom that founders on historical examination. In all of these cases, we can see that whenever the church confuses itself with Jesus Christ and its innovations with the Word of God, the "zoo" expands. Far from proving its weakness, church history vindicates sola scriptura.

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  • Guest - Susan Vader

    Dr. Horton, thank you for your reply. I appreciate your having the thread open for conversation, AND I know that you’re a busy professor and prolific writer, so extra special thanks to you for responding to me!

    "That Protestantism is a zoo I cannot refute. But so were churches founded even by the apostles: Galatia, Corinth, and those mentioned by our Lord in Revelation 3."

    Yes, I understand the the church expanded rapidly and that none of those parishes were Camelot. However, sins of omission and commission aren’t exactly what I was referring to when I spoke of doctrinal differences among Protestant communities.

    "Why? Because they strayed from apostolic teaching even while the apostles were still living."

    I do understand that all these parishes( and I say "parishes" for lack of a word that is able to refer back to their being such a thing as a locus by which to appeal to in order to have ecclesial unity) had people within them that were guilty of many sins. You can't be saying that that early on there was already no way to decide if icons were permissible and if the sacrifice of the Mass should be universally(relatively local thus far:) )instated in Christian worship. What year did the Eucharistic sacrifice of the mass actually come into being and how was it begun? At what point did the church start believing in transubstantiation? Are there early documents rebuking these things in the first or second century, or that century they took over as normative? Was there a council held where these two questions were considered and condemned that was at a time near the supposed(per Protestant views)errors/heretical accretions? I ask because I have seen archeological evidence for a Christianity that had icons in their early churches. The Liturgy of St. James, I understand, is the earliest Divine Liturgy of the church and served as the model for all that came after, yet Protestant liturgy doesn’t resemble the early model.
    It seems to me that if even the apostles departed from the pure form and from the essentials, then it would be a terrific feat for Luther to recover what those “necessaries” that distinguished truth from error at such a late time in church history 16th. I don’t say this to denigrate Luther; such attacks are unhelpful when a person really isn’t seeking to defend a held view and really wants to find out the truth. I just want to approach these questions from outside of a Reformed person’s suppositional framework to find out why the early church didn’t look like Heidelberg or Geneva. An argument from silence is no argument at all when the other facts bear witness.

    "I think you have a “Camelot” picture of Byzantine and medieval Christendom that founders on historical examination."

    I guess that would depend on what historical data one should be looking for; if it’s an institution free of sin, then no, historically there is no church that is free from sin. I am not looking for Camelot here on earth where we are still the church militant. Truly what I was looking for was a way to determine theological opinion from theological truth, and that was all. I had to leave my trust though that everyone prior to the 16th century were terrible theologians.

    “In all of these cases, we can see that whenever the church confuses itself with Jesus Christ and its innovations with the Word of God, the “zoo” expands. Far from proving its weakness, church history vindicates sola scriptura.”

    I see why we disagree. Perhaps though there are misunderstandings between us that can be cleared-up. The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t see itself as the second person of the Holy Trinity, but as His mystical body by a real union. This is entirely scriptural. As for innovations you must be referring to development of doctrine. In a sola scriptura framework I can understand why this would be problematic( though it would as equally create shaky footing to adopt a new canon so late in history too). I feel so weird talking to so great a theologian like this, but at the same time I’m taken aback that you would brush me aside with assertions that have no basis in reality(i.e. church history vindicates sola scriptura). The RCC while not being Camelot, is still around after 2000 yrs( which is a great motive of credibility) and answers an epistemic need( not felt need) but a way to know “what is Christianity”, because it answers the ontological problem of “where is the church”.
    I often hear Reformed folks refer to the EO and the RCC as being within Christendom, but if you think about it, that explanation is untrue if the RCC fails to formally teach “the gospel” as it is understood by the Reformed. If I believe what the Catholic catechism teaches then I am eternally lost along with the rest of the Roman Catholics. What other hope do we( and all like us prior to the Reformation ) have if what a person must believe to be saved was lost and buried in an institution that forgot or suppressed the good news for fifteen centuries? These incongruities really made me scratch my head. It didn’t seem just for the Reformed to refer to the EO nor the Roman Catholic as part of “Christ” if that part isn’t a viable choice among choices. I couldn’t understand why you as a Reformed theologian would designate Rome as authentically Christian( a part of Christendom) but not a Christian Church. “Don’t go to Rome, but if you read the ECF’s and you read church history, and examine the archeology and anthropology and are still convinced that it is the correct expression of Christianity go ahead at your own peril, but better be sure that you hold onto the gospel according to Luther if you want to go to heaven” is impossible to do.

    Again, I truly thank you for the discussions on your blog. Please forgive me if I have come across as being argumentative. I have no desire to serve a position because I happen to like it better. The mutual acquisition of the truth is my sole aim.

    Most Kind Regards, Always!


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  • Guest - Susan Vader

    Dr. Horton,

    I reread my LONG comment after I posted it, and wasn't happy with my writing. I hope you are able to untangle my mess! :)
    Before I converted I asked my pastors( and they had their reasons to refuse my request, I guess)to be able to contact you because I was reading your systematic theology book and believed that if anyone could help me with what I was wrestling with, it would be you. I never officially met you, but since I attended CRC in Anaheim,and had heard you preach and lecture, I felt as though I could talk with you pretty easily:) That was confirmed by two men that I know, that have since converted to Catholicism and testify to your gentleness.
    Anyways, though we unfortuanaely disagree, I want it to be know that I hold you in very high esteem:)
    I just found this article, and it does a wonderful job expressing a part of the problem I was having with sola scriptura.

    Blessings to you, and Happy Lent!


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  • Guest - Paul Swift

    An accessible, concise, masterful and total refutation of Susan Vader's charge against sola Scriptura may be had in Keith Mathison's The Shape of Sola Scriptura.

    In short, he demonstrates how her charge of a "schema [which] promulgates and progresses an ecclesial evolution" is applicable, not at all to the apostolic principle of sola Scriptura, but to all perversions of the same (he details three species), including not only that which has infected careless branches of the Reformation, but also those which have for so long seduced Rome away from the gospel of the Lord Christ.

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  • Guest - Susan Vader

    Mr. Swift,

    I like to think that there is a way for us to dialog without either side resorting to assertions. If sola scriptura,on it's own,can safeguard the Christian faith then why doesn't it withstand scrutiny? Please show me it working in practice.

    I have read Keith Mathison's book twice now, once before I became Reformed(his argument walked me out of biblicism( thank God!), and again upon the urging of my now former Reformed pastors. I also read much of the two volumes by Webster and King, although I didn't finish it because I could see that sola scriptura quickly becomes solo scriptura with a Reformed ad hoc selection of ECF's.

    Did you read the article I linked?

    BTW, it is a Protestant presupposition that sola is a apostolic principle; it isn't an idea held by the church prior to the Reformation. If it is thought that I have picked this up from Catholics and am simply repeating what I have been taught, then please show me an ECF who contradicts one Catholic doctrine with which Reformers disagree. To say that it is biblical is begging the question.


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  • Guest - Paul Swift

    Susan Vader,

    My usage of the third person when referring to you in my prior post was intended to indicate that I was not engaging in any form of dialog with you; my comments were meant rather to aid other readers. Whether my two sentences were more or less assertion-laden than all that you have written, others will need to judge.

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