The Unrecognized Turning Point in the Rebellion
The most notable critics of the Roman Catholic Church, whether Protestant or Nonconformist, have always missed the key events where the Papacy schemed to determine the outcome of rebel doctrine for all time to come. The original controversy between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism was focused on recovering a biblical soteriology. This was the basis of the Reformation and all its controversies with both the Papal hierarchy and Anabaptist nomism. God caused that generation of rebel scholars and those taught by them to re-consider the apostolic doctrine of salvation. The scholars of the Reformation perceived an obvious contradiction between the New Testament soteriology and that embraced in the longstanding Latin tradition of Papists, Early Church Fathers, and the masses indoctrinated in this tradition since the death of the apostles (whether conformist or non-conformist). The legend of a non-conformist tradition of true biblical soteriology standing outside the Papacy is a myth. If such a heritage existed, there would have been no need for reformation of the doctrine of salvation by scholars. The Latin fathers determined the soteriology of most Christendom for over a thousand years, no matter which ecclesiastical tradition a particular church or sect followed. The incidents of true apostolic gospel doctrine in nonconformity do exist (some Waldenses for example) but they amount to a sickly plant at best.
Johannes Eck was the genius of the Papacy, commissioned with the task of intellectual hijack of the Protestant movement. Eck played both sides of the Papal/Protestant doctrinal fence for decades. He was admired by Protestants for his challenges to traditional RCC views of economics. Martin Bucer and Philipp Melanchthon were the great compromisers on the Protestant side, earnestly seeking a future of ecclesiastical power limiting the ability of non-clergy to study truth for themselves and come to conclusions unsanctioned by the church. The elephant in the room of the whole Roman Catholic/Protestant controversy was a rabid determination on both sides to continue the Latin ecclesiology of the Church Fathers for all time to come. To achieve this objective, Eck came up with a superb quinary of unity doctrine that he would force upon the Protestants in ecumenical dialog. Once the rebels started down the pentamerous road of enforcing the planned quinary, Eck perceived that a unity of Rome, Protestantism, and even nonconformity in embracing Latin theology would be insured for all time to come. Eck also perceived that this would ultimately lead to full ecclesiastical re-union.
The Quinary uniting Catholics, Protestants, and nonconformity since the Reformation did not contain explicit confession of soteriological doctrine. It is instead a set of five doctrines providing the basis of future unity on all things. The Quinary is certainly related to soteriology, in its intended outcome of a pentamerous road of sure and certain unity on basic Latin theology. So what was the turning point in the Rebellion (Reformation) putting all on the five-fold road of doctrinal unity for seemingly all time? It was the twin Councils at Regensburg (1541) and Trent (1545-46). Each event will now be examined in detail.
The Diet of Regensburg
Please read this Wikipedia article for an introduction to this colloquy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diet_of_Regensburg_(1541)
The stated purpose of Regensburg was to find unity on soteriological doctrine that separated the Catholic Church from the Reformers. Most of the discussions centered around issues of salvation dogma, as a solution to this ecclesiastical division was the stated objective of having a formal conference among scholars from both persuasions. But the tunnel vision of Protestantism is an enormous deception, in seeing this as the full substance of Regensburg. Since unity was the purpose of the colloquy, both Melanchthon and Bucer came prepared to accept almost any doctrinal unity proposed outside of soteriology and the sacraments. They were also prepared to make compromises in defining the doctrine of justification, so long as they were persuaded the farm was not given away. This led to their quick acceptance of Ecks master plan to enforce certain Latin dogma on all of professing Christendom, paving the way for eventual unity on soteriological differences. Four of five doctrines from Ecks planned Quinary to unite the Church were the first discussions of the Diet, with the Protestant attendants quickly signing on to them. These are listed in the link above as the ecumenical doctrines accepted early by both parties. Each will now be examined in detail.
1. Free Will
Luther had heavily condemned the doctrine of free will in his controversy with Erasmus and subsequent work The Bondage of the Will. But enduring an uncertain future where free will was dropped from the Christian vocabulary was too horrible of a thought for Eck, the Catholics, and the Protestants to entertain. Uncontested acceptance of Free Will is the triumph of Greek Platonic philosophy, which states there is no determining motive in critical decisions that man has to face. In other words, man is just as likely to choose one option as another in these decisions, otherwise he cannot be viewed as autonomous and truly free. The expression is never found in scripture but Patristic, Augustinian, and Latin theology over the centuries has forced Christianity to accept and promote it as the truth.
There is an obvious paradox between the Bible truth of gospel predestination and Platonic free will. In election unto salvation, God does not present man with equal motives to accept or reject Christ as God and the salvation He provides to all who believe. He regenerates those who were elected in Gods eternal counsel, which guarantees a superior and determining motive toward believing and living in the truth of the gospel.
All of these post-Reformation movements involve an unconditional acceptance of Latin and Roman Catholic free-will doctrine:
1. Mennonite and related Anabaptist nonconformity, which condemns Roman Catholic ecclesiology but stands in acceptance of the Regensburg compromise.
2. Ecclesiastical Lutheranism which decries the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination. This started with Melanchthon and Bucer.
3. Westminster Presbyterianism, which accepts Free Will in the Westminster Confession chapter IX to align with the Regensburg compromise. There is no excuse for this, yet the most ardent Calvinists shouting the need for a New Reformation defend the paradox of this compromise without reservation.
4. Reformed Christianity (continental) in general, which is increasingly Arminian in its theology universally.
6. Wesleyanism and all of its children.
7. Campbellism and the Restoration movement.
8. All forms of British (Darbyite) and American (Millerite) Adventism, though aspects of the Second Advent Awakening promoted eschatological truth ignored by Protestants for generations. Protestantism today outside of Darbyism and Adventism has little or no perception of the final Advent of Christ as a real and immanent (always near) event.
9. All forms of the liberal or progressive movements within Protestantism (biblical skepticism).
The outcomes weve seen in history over the last 5 centuries were planned by Eck and the Roman Catholic Church in the compromise achieved at Regensburg. The free will doctrine of the Papacy is only a continuance of the long-standing tradition of Latin and Greek philosophy promoted in the Church Fathers. Platonic Free Will was their specialty. Wherever this doctrine is believed and promoted, it will finally destroy the apostolic gospel of free and unmerited Grace in the thinking of those who covet mastery of their own fate above submission to Gods sovereign purpose in salvation.
Most know it is almost impossible to find a scholar, teacher, pastor, or congregation in todays Christianity that doesnt believe and parrot free will in its Platonic essence with passion. This, of course, is generally acknowledged to be a paradoxical antithesis to the gospel of grace. But paradox theology is celebrated in post-modern thought.
2. God Not the Cause of Sin
The logical conclusion resulting from a dogmatic confession of free will is that God in no manner causes sin. Usually this is expressed in Platonic terms that God is not the author of sin. I will avoid affirming that God is the author of sin, simply because using that terminology can imply an unhealthy concept of Gods approbation of sin (though I dont believe using the expression is wrong in and of itself). But scripture is very clear that God sovereignly creates and causes sin for his own purposes (ex. Isa. 45:7, Amos 3:6, Col. 1:16). This was affirmed by the Jewish second temple era nonconformists in contrast to the free-will teaching of Pharisaic Judaism, which stance is in direct contrast to the later teaching of the Latin Church Fathers. Christ and His apostles stood firmly in the Jewish Nonconformist theology on issues involving soteriology, justification, and the sovereignty of God. This can be confirmed by studying the similarity of confessional doctrine affirmed in 1QS and 1QH of the Dead Sea Scrolls with that summarily affirmed in the New Testament.
The affirmation that Satan and Adam both caused their own sin (independent of Gods working) through free will rebellion against the desire and purpose of God is a contradiction of sovereign grace in salvation. It is a paradoxical contradiction of sovereign grace. The whole basis of sovereign election in Grace is that man is totally depraved with respect to ability, wholly dependent upon God to perform a work of Irresistable Grace based on the Definite Atonement of Christs finished work. When men affirm that God is the sovereign cause of salvation but not of rebellion, they are denying the historical unity of Gods purposes. There is no salvation without sin as the predecessor, God is the sovereign cause of both.
3. Original Perfection (The Integrity of Man Before the Fall)
Taking the logic of the first two positions to another important conclusion, it was also affirmed at Regensburg that Adam was created in perfect holiness without a tendency to rebellion. The logical corollary of this doctrine since the Early Fathers has been that Satan was also created originally in perfect holiness and later fell. Another corollary is that the Earth itself was ontologically perfect before the fall and free of all physical defects (no dropping leaves, rotting fruit, death of animals, grass turning brown, decaying fruit and vegetable waste, excess cold or heat, etc.). One might reason further and extend this concept to the entire universe: the fall was when galaxies started colliding with one another, black holes started forming from the extinction of solar bodies, poisonous radiation started filling most of outer space beyond the Earth, etc. The notion here is that Gods preferred purposes are seamless but man in his rebellion forced God to go with Plan B. So it is a teaching that mans free will has the power to limit Gods preferred purposes in history.
The doctrine that a perfectly sinless Satan and Adam paradoxically rebelled against God and sinned contrary to their spirits having no desire to sin is the most logically absurd of professed Christian teaching. Yet the Latin Church Fathers invented and forced this ridiculous doctrine upon the Church for all time to come.
Dr. Jeffrey Burton Russell, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has written at least five books on the historical doctrine of Satan and evil. In my judgment he is unreliable as a theologian, however, his knowledge and documentation of history on the issue of the origin of Satan and evil has never been surpassed. It hasnt been remotely approached by any Protestant scholar. None of the celebrated heavyweights in evangelical Christianity have ever researched the issue extensively. I will not attempt to state Dr. Russells own views, however, he has clearly proved that the doctrine of the origin of Satan commonly accepted in Christianity was invented by the Early Fathers. It is not present in the Old Testament, inter-testamental Judaism, or the New Testament. Each Patristic father moved the origin and associated sin of Satan further back into history than what was previously believed and confessed. There was also a definite change from the doctrine that Satan was created evil (imperfect by design) to a teaching that He was created sinless and later fell. Origen was the first to state that Lucifer in Isa. 14 is, in fact, Satan. The doctrine of Augustine on the creation and fall of Satan, plagiarized by John Milton in Paradise Lost and other Protestant teachers, is compete myth and falsehood. It is the product of centuries of Patristic myth and speculation, not clear and certain biblical teaching.
In order to properly understand the plan of salvation that is purposed for Gods elect, it is essential to understand that the past creation is a shadow and not the final, real, pre-eminent, and ontologically perfect creation. This will come only at the final Advent of Christ for all of Gods elect to enjoy in perfect fellowship with Him for eternity. It has already been inaugurated in Christs person and saving work imputed to each believer.
4. Original Sin (the Common Fall)
Evangelical scholars investigating the Dead Sea Scrolls express an observation that there is no doctrine of Original Sin in them (see Justification and Variegated Nomism, volume 1, edited by D.A. Carson). This is not because the DSS contain no doctrine of how sin originated. It is because they do not support the Augustiniandoctrine of Original Sin, i.e., the imputation of Adams sin to all of humanity and resultant Common Fall.
Unlike Western or Eastern Christian doctrine, the DSS and New Testament contain no gray areas in the distinction between the people of God and the enemies of God. Such a distinction is part and parcel of the doctrine of Talmudic Pharisees and Latin Church Fathers. But in the apostolic gospel sanctioned by Jesus, Paul, John, and Peter there is no muddy confusion on who is elect of God and appointed to salvation and who is reprobate and appointed for destruction. The notion of gray areas obscuring the distinction between saved and damned members of the human race is foreign to all biblical teaching.
There is no question about the biblical teaching on the universality of sin. All members of the human race, whether elect or non-elect, are conceived in iniquity and totally depraved of any inherent ability to believe on Christ. But the last three doctrines of the Quinary stated above affirm that man sinned by free will independent of the preferred purposes of God. It is important to note that Augustines documentation of imputation is strictly the imputation of Adams sin to all of humanity, whether elect or un-elect. He does not expound a doctrine of the imputation of Christs perfect life and atoning death to the elect, nor a doctrine of the imputation of the believers sin and condemnation to Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). The notion that we are made the justification of God in Christ alone is not his specialty. Forget about the word righteousness in the passage, that is a Latin distortion carried over into English confusion.
The fall of Adam and Eve was a fall from the original estate of paradise given to them due to a specific act of sin against the clear commandment of God. Adam represented the elect only in his great sin, which typifies the first deliberate act of rebellion of every elect member of humanity (prior to regeneration in Christ). In no way does Adam represent the non-elect in his sin. In no way are the non-elect the seed of the woman (Eve) who are comprehended in Christ who is the perfect and sinless descendant of the woman. The non-elect are the seed of the serpent. so there is no common fall. A common fall is never mentioned in scripture, though the universality of sin certainly is. Romans 5 is a passage outlining the sin of all the elect in representative Adam and their contrasting redemption in their representative Jesus Christ. The reprobate are not in view in this passage at all. A study of the Greek word usage of All and World in the New Testament will yield a very different interpretation of Romans 5 than what was taught by Augustine and the Latin tradition. The temporal sin of Adam does not represent the damned, they are instead represented by the deceiving serpent in their eternal sin.
The fifth doctrine of the Quinary was no doubt discussed at Regensburg, however, it is unclear to what extent agreement was reached there. So we now move on to the last days of the Council of Trent, which took place after Eck's death.
5. The 66 Book Canon as Homologoumena
Please read the following Wikipedia article as an introduction to the fifth and final dogma of the quinary scheme of Johannes Eck:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_of_Trent
It may be hard to understand the difference between what was affirmed at Trent and all of the confess signalon affirmations before. But the key point to note is this: Trent ended debate on the Antilegomena and coordinated church tradition with the Scriptures as a rule of faith. All of Protestantism has lied to us regarding this historical fact and they will continue to lie to us in the indefinite future. Athanasius and prior church councils (notably Florence) had affirmed most of the canon ultimately accepted by Protestants. But the difference lies in the end of the Antilegomena decreed by the Council of Trent. Understanding the significance of this historic event requires a knowledge of the difference between the Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines of scripture.
The Roman Catholic doctrine has always been scripture + tradition as a basis of authority for church doctrine. So what the RCC affirms regarding scripture is less relevant to them than it is to their perceived enemy: the Protestants. Protestantism and nonconformity take the Bible very seriously as the only source of Divine Revelation of the truth. So it was easy for Eck and the Catholics to intimidate Protestants into ending the 1400 year old debate on the antilegomena. This was clearly achieved at Trent without any Protestant representatives present. From the declaration of the Trent Canon forward, all Protestants and anabaptist nonconformists signed on to the 66 book homologoumena affirmed by the Roman Catholic church. Any prior concepts of an Antilegomena proposed by Luther, Oecolampadius, or any other proponent of the Christian scriptures in the past was purposefully ended at Trent. So Eck succeeded in his goals. Trents pronouncements on a host of issues surrounding Justification were at enemy with Protestant teaching, however, the hope of the Roman Catholics was and is that the rebels will ultimately concede on the key issue of soteriological doctrine.
It is very important to note that Trent affirmed the book called James to be authored by the apostle James. This is something that those who formulated the canonknew was not true. Protestant scholars who affirm the Canon of Trent without reservation know it is not true to this day. But the Protestants were very happy to end the 1400 year old debate on the antilegomena and simply accepted the Old and New Testament canon affirmed by Trent as all homologoumena, minus the apocrypha. This was confirmed in all subsequent Protestant confessions, starting with the Calvinistic French Confession of 1559.
Luther affirmed an antilegomena of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation. Calvin affirmed an antilegomena of II John, III John, Revelation, and II Peter. He did not include the first 3 in his New Testament commentaries. But his French Confession affirmed the Trent Canon nonetheless.
Both the Protestants and anabaptist Nonconformists ultimately conceded to Trent in adopting the 66-book canon of Old and New Testaments as all homologoumena and absolutely inerrant scripture. This stand was a first in history but will never be reversed. Today, those who deny the 66-book canon as homologoumena are viewed as skeptics and enemies of the truth by all conservative and confessional Protestants and anabaptist Nonconformists.
Protestantism will never concede that the Roman Catholic church determined its inerrant canon of a 66 book homologoumena. Yet it is a fact. Protestants affirm that the church of true believers has always known each and every book that belongs in the confessed infallible and inerrant collection of scripture. But this is historically a compete falsehood..
Until the controversy on Justification, the Latin church never perceived the homologoumena/antilegomena distinction as a threat to its authority. The Reformation changed all of that. The many canons of Trent depend heavily upon use of the book of James to support the conclusions reached, as Augustine and other church fathers depended on it in earlier times. James is a powerhouse of anti-gospel doctrine. So it was critical to exalt James as equal in authority to all of the other New Testament writings. The acceptance of Protestantism of this definition of what constitutes the inerrant New Testament is a historic tragedy and flight from the true gospel. The doctrine of the infallibility and inerrancy of scripture is separate from the doctrine of what constitutes the canon supporting the gospel. Unfortunately, Protestantism lost this distinction when they adopted the notion of the entirety of Trent's canon (minus the apocrypha) as homologoumena.
We live in very dark times. The last thing any historic churchman is interested in, whether scholar, minister, or layman, is debate on the issues discussed in this presentation. But the doctrines accepted at Regensburg and Trent by Protestants will ultimately result in abandonment of the gospel unless challenged. This has already happened in the movements of Arminianism, Wesleyanism, Campbellism, the New Perspective, 'Liberalism', and others. We can only hope that God will one day act to cause a Revolution, Transformation, and Regeneration (not Reformation of the Latin Church) among His elect people. So we wait for God to act in this way and in the interim perform the very small deeds we perceive will foster His purposes. We can do nothing else.
No announcement yet.
The Pentamerous Road to Rome