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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Mercy Speaks by Jesus’ blood | Main | Lectures on "The History and Theology of Calvinism" (MP3s) by Dr. Curt Daniel »

    The Importance of the Creeds by Pastor John Samson

    "Doctrine divides!" That's the popular belief of our culture today, as its sails on the shifting sea of modern day relativism. Our generation shouts out, "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere," yet the Bible portrays a very different message.

    We have to admit that doctrine does in fact divide. It divides truth from error, the true prophet from the false prophet, and the real Christ from the counterfeit.

    Some say "all I want is a relationship with God" not some dead creed or theology. I am all for knowing God intimately, but we need to know the difference between the real God and the many false ones. If someone wants to know Jesus, they first need to make clear which "Jesus" they are referring to: the "Jesus" of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) who is the spirit brother of Lucifer, the result of God the Father's sexual union with Mary?; or perhaps the "Jesus" of the Watchtower organization (Jehovah's Witnesses) who is a created though highly elevated god?; or perhaps the "Jesus" of Islam who was never the Son of God but merely a highly esteemed prophet, who was whisked away from the cross and never suffered death? Exactly which Jesus - for there are many out there?

    Living in Arizona, close to the U.S. border with Mexico, I meet many people called "Jesus" amongst the Hispanic community... but on no occasion have I ever thought I was meeting the Savior of the world. I understand that "Jesus" is merely a popular name that Mexican parents choose for their boys.

    Another vital question we need to ask is how exactly does God bring people into relationship with Himself.. by grace? By human works? By a mixture of the two? Or by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone?

    Lets remember that the Judaizers in the Galatian church had many things right. They were probably very orthodox on a whole number of issues. They would no doubt affirm belief in the one true God, and that Jesus Christ was the long awaited Messiah. They wished to be included in the Christian assembly and I feel sure that they would have spoken about Christ with very affectionate terms. Yet, they added just ONE thing to the biblical Gospel (happened to be circumcision in their case) and the Apostle Paul pronounced the anathema (eternal curse) of God upon them (Galatians 1:6-9), calling them "false brothers" (Galatians 2:4) - not merely "brothers who have a different perspective with whom we agree to disagree" but in fact, people who looked and acted like brothers, but who were nothing of the kind.

    Though all doctrine is important, some doctrines are more important than others. According to sacred scripture, there are such things as "damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1) - heresies that damn the soul. It is imperative then that we believe in and proclaim the one true God and His one true Gospel.

    Many in our own day are able to speak favorably about God and about Christ, but exactly which god and which Christ? If they are not honoring the one true God, then they are honoring a false one, and the sad reality is that false gods cannot save for the simple reason that they do not actually exist.

    In this ocean of change, there stands a bedrock that has stood the test of time. It is an ancient creed that offers a sure and safe haven, and is an anchor in a theological world adrift and deceived. Christians throughout the centuries have built their lives on it, believing that its statements are merely reflections of what the Bible teaches about God, His Son, Jesus Christ, His atoning work and the life the Holy Spirit brings to His Church.

    The Apostles' Creed portrays the very heart of the Christian faith - the core teachings that are dispensed with only at great peril to the soul. It is the theological and orthodox "bottom line" concerning what we as Christians believe, and it dates from very early times in the Church, a half century or so from the last writings of the New Testament.

    THE APOSTLES' CREED

    I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
    Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

    He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead.

    He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

    I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

    * The word "catholic" refers not so much to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    In a similar way, the Nicene Creed has helped define what the Scriptures teach with even more precision than the Apostle's Creed (though the Apostle's Creed is certainly scripturally based).

    THE NICENE CREED

    I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

    Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

    And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

    And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

    Then a third creed, known as the Athanasian creed, named after Athanasias, was developed as a standard for Christian belief.

    THE ATHANASIAN CREED

    Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;

    Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

    And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

    Neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

    For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son and another of the Holy Spirit.

    But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

    Such as the Father is, such is the Son and such is the Holy Spirit.

    The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

    The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

    The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

    And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.

    As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

    So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty;

    And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

    So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

    And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

    So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

    And yet they are not three Lords, but one Lord.

    For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord;

    so are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say: There are three Gods or three Lords.

    The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

    The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

    The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

    So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

    And in this Trinity none is afore, nor after another; none is greater, or less than another.

    But the whole three persons are co-eternal, and co-equal.

    So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

    He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

    Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

    God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and made of the substance of His mother, born in the world.

    Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

    Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

    Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

    One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the manhood into God.

    One altogether, not by the confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

    For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

    Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

    He ascended into heaven, He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty;

    From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

    At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

    And shall give account of their own works.

    And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

    This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
    ________________________________________

    Later on, the Church, in addressing certain heresies that were abounding at the time, at the Council of Chalcedon, defined in great detail what the Bible taught concerning the Person of Jesus Christ.

    The Definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D)

    Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body;

    of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin;

    as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer;

    one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation;

    the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ;

    even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

    _________________________________

    The Second Council of Constantinople was called to resolve certain questions that were raised by the Definition of Chalcedon , the most important of which had to do with the unity of the two natures, God and man, in Jesus Christ. The Second Council of Constantinople confirmed the Definition of Chalcedon, while emphasizing that Jesus Christ does not just embody God the Son, He is God the Son.

    The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople (553 AD)

    If anyone does not confess that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one nature or essence, one power or authority, worshipped as a trinity of the same essence, one deity in three hypostases or persons, let him be anathema. For there is one God and Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and one Holy Spirit, in whom are all things.

    If anyone does not confess that God the Word was twice begotten, the first before all time from the Father, non-temporal and bodiless, the other in the last days when he came down from the heavens and was incarnate by the holy, glorious, God-bearer, ever-virgin Mary, and born of her, let him be anathema.

    If anyone says that God the Word who performed miracles is one and Christ who suffered is another, or says that God the Word was together with Christ who came from woman, or that the Word was in him as one person is in another, but is not one and the same, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God, incarnate and become human, and that the wonders and the suffering which he voluntarily endured in flesh were not of the same person, let him be anathema.

    If anyone says that the union of the Word of God with man was only according to grace or function or dignity or equality of honor or authority or relation or effect or power or according to his good pleasure, as though God the Word was pleased with man, or approved of him, as the raving Theodosius says; or that the union exists according to similarity of name, by which the Nestorians call God the Word Jesus and Christ, designating the man separately as Christ and as Son, speaking thus clearly of two persons, but when it comes to his honor, dignity, and worship, pretend to say that there is one person, one Son and one Christ, by a single designation; and if he does not acknowledge, as the holy Fathers have taught, that the union of God is made with the flesh animated by a reasonable and intelligent soul, and that such union is according to synthesis or hypostasis, and that therefore there is only one person, the Lord Jesus Christ one of the holy Trinity -- let him be anathema. As the word "union" has many meanings, the followers of the impiety of Apollinaris and Eutyches, assuming the disappearance of the natures, affirm a union by confusion. On the other hand the followers of Theodore and of Nestorius rejoicing in the division of the natures, introduce only a union of relation. But the holy Church of God, rejecting equally the impiety of both heresies, recognizes the union of God the Word with the flesh according to synthesis, that is according to hypostasis. For in the mystery of Christ the union according to synthesis preserves the two natures which have combined without confusion and without separation.

    If anyone understands the expression -- one hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ -- so that it means the union of many hypostases, and if he attempts thus to introduce into the mystery of Christ two hypostases, or two persons, and, after having introduced two persons, speaks of one person according to dignity, honor or worship, as Theodore and Nestorius insanely have written; and if anyone slanders the holy synod of Chalcedon, as though it had used this expression in this impious sense, and does not confess that the Word of God is united with the flesh hypostatically, and that therefore there is but one hypostasis or one person, and that the holy synod of Chalcedon has professed in this sense the one hypostasis of our Lord Jesus Christ; let him be anathema. For the Holy Trinity, when God the Word was incarnate, was not increased by the addition of a person or hypostasis.

    If anyone says that the holy, glorious, and ever-virgin Mary [Note: The claim that Mary is "ever-virgin" is Roman Catholic folklore. (Jonathan Barlow)] is called God-bearer by misuse of language and not truly, or by analogy, believing that only a mere man was born of her and that God the Word was not incarnate of her, but that the incarnation of God the Word resulted only from the fact that he united himself to that man who was born of her; if anyone slanders the Holy Synod of Chalcedon as though it had asserted the Virgin to be God-bearer according to the impious sense of Theodore; or if anyone shall call her manbearer or Christbearer, as if Christ were not God, and shall not confess that she is truly God-bearer, because God the Word who before all time was begotten of the Father was in these last days incarnate of her, and if anyone shall not confess that in this pious sense the holy Synod of Chalcedon confessed her to be God-bearer: let him be anathema.

    If anyone using the expression, "in two natures," does not confess that our one Lord Jesus Christ is made known in the deity and in the manhood, in order to indicate by that expression a difference of the natures of which the ineffable union took place without confusion, a union in which neither the nature of the Word has changed into that of the flesh, nor that of the flesh into that of the Word (for each remained what it was by nature, even when the union by hypostasis had taken place); but shall take the expression with regard to the mystery of Christ in a sense so as to divide the parties, let him be anathema. Or if anyone recognizing the number of natures in the same our one Lord Jesus Christ, God the Word incarnate, does not take in contemplation only the difference of the natures which compose him, which difference is not destroyed by the union between them -- for one is composed of the two and the two are in one -- but shall make use of the number two to divide the natures or to make of them persons properly so called, let him be anathema.

    If anyone confesses that the union took place out of two natures or speaks of the one incarnate nature of God the Word and does not understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught, that out of the divine and human natures, when union by hypostasis took place, one Christ was formed; but from these expressions tries to introduce one nature or essence of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in saying that the only-begotten Word was united by hypostasis personally we do not mean that there was a mutual confusion of natures, but rather we understand that the Word was united to the flesh, each nature remaining what it was. Therefore there is one Christ, God and man, of the same essence with the Father as touching his Godhead, and of the same essence with us as touching his manhood. Therefore the Church of God equally rejects and anathematizes those who divide or cut apart or who introduce confusion into the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ.

    If anyone says that Christ ought to be worshipped in his two natures, in the sense that he introduces two adorations, the one peculiar to God the Word and the other peculiar to the man; or if anyone by destroying the flesh, or by confusing the Godhead and the humanity, or by contriving one nature or essence of those which were united and so worships Christ, and does not with one adoration worship God the Word incarnate with his own flesh, as the Church of God has received from the beginning; let him be anathema.

    If anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in the flesh is true God and the Lord of Glory and one of the Holy Trinity; let him be anathema.

    If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, together with their impious, godless writings, and all the other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the holy catholic and apostolic Church, and by the aforementioned four Holy Synods and all those who have held and hold or who in their godlessness persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned; let him be anathema.

    Posted by John Samson on July 29, 2006 02:33 AM

    Comments

    Pastor Samson

    What a great honor and blessing to have you post on here. Thank you for the important reminders.

    jwh

    I am a homeschooling mom planning my year of Christendom history study. We will include your article when we study the creeds. Thanks.

    I am so glad I came across this as I have been thinking about Paul's dealings with the Judiazers and how that pertains to the Catholic Church today.

    By those standards, wouldn't Catholicism be considered a false religion? Yet the CC would agree with the Nicene and Apostle's Creed.

    I have been struggling with these ideas and would love to hear others thoughts.

    Hi Carrie,

    Rome believes that justification is by grace, through faith and because of Christ. What Rome does not believe is that justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone.

    For Rome, justification is by grace plus merit, through faith plus works; by Christ plus the sinner's contribution of inherent righteousness.

    In Romans 3:28 the Apostle Paul declared, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law."

    Romans 4:4-5 says, "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."

    Many other scriptures would affirm this as the heart of the Gospel (Rom. 3:21 - 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:9, to name just a few). Martin Luther called the doctrine of justification "the article of the standing or falling Church." That is, in his estimation, a church preaching the doctrine was "standing," and one not preaching it was, or had already, fallen.

    For a thorough and I believe biblical answer to your question concerning the Roman Catholic Church I would point you to the article by William Webster found here:

    http://www.christiantruth.com/gospelrcsalvation.html

    He concludes, after much documentation from original and authoritative sources, "The Roman Catholic teaching on salvation is essentially the same as that preached by the Judaizers. Paul warned the Galatian believers that if they embraced this false gospel they would actually desert Christ (Gal. 1:6). Those evangelicals who would promote spiritual cohabitation with the Church of Rome need to heed to the warning of Paul. He saw no basis for unity with the Judaizers even though they professed faith in Christ. Likewise, there is no basis for unity with the Church of Rome today. If evangelicals jettison the Reformation gospel distinctives for so called unity with Rome they will deny Christ."

    and John H.,

    Many thanks for your kind words in your comments above.
    I count it a great honor and privilege to be able to write on this blog, and my prayer is that God will continue to use it to impact people's lives. You John are serving us all so well.

    Thank you for all that, John. I totally agree.

    My problem has been trying to nail down Catholic doctrine today (literally). Their doctrines seem to morph over time and I get different opinions depending on which Catholic I am speaking with.

    They seem to have loosened up on some of their teminology to sound more like evangelicals and I think that can confuse people.

    I'm still interested how you would rectify that the RC believes in the Apostles' and Nicene Creed but yet are a false religion.

    Hi Carrie,

    Yes, I am sure you will find a whole spectrum of beliefs as you talk to people within the Roman Catholic Church. I would say that this is especially the case in America where we can find many different opinions amongst Roman Catholics. I suggest that this would not be the case in more Roman Catholic countries. When I mention Roman Catholic Church doctrine, I am not suggesting that every Roman Catholic believes it or is even aware of what Rome has declared. I am of course refering to the official doctrine of the Church. Rome has made her official position very clear.

    What we all need to keep clear in our minds is that the issue in all this is the Gospel itself. In this regard, the doctrine of sola fide (that we are justified by faith alone) is at the heart of the biblical Gospel. In the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church, at the Council of Trent, puts its eternal anathema on those who believe and preach the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Trent declared: If anyone saith that by faith alone the impious is justified in such wise as to mean that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtaining the grace of Justification...let him be anathema... (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Found in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1910), Decree on Justification, Chapter XVI, Canon IX).

    If justification by faith alone is the Gospel (and I believe it is) then Rome put its eternal anathema on the Gospel itself at the Council of Trent. Despite the many changes within the Roman Catholic Church, this anathema has never been removed and stands as the official view of Rome. Rome hasn't budged an inch regarding sola fide - its eternal anathema on it still stands.

    As I've stated, and as the Apostle Paul made clear in the book of Galatians, the issue is the Gospel. That was the issue with the Judaizers in the first century; for Martin Luther it was the issue by which a church stands or falls; and in our day, it is the issue by which each of us stands or falls.

    For more on this I would very much recommend the following article by Dr. Phil Johnson: http://audio.gracechurch.org/shepnew/2006notes/Roman%20Catholicism,%20Johnson.pdf

    Carrie:

    Even more importantly, is to consider what the doctrine of justification by faith alone itself points to and protects. It is wrong to suppose that the doctrine of Justification by faith alone, was the MOST crucial question to those such as Martin Luther & John Calvin. Justification by faith alone was important to the Reformers because it helped to express and to safeguard their answer to another, more vital, question, namely, whether sinners are wholly helpless in their sin, and whether God is to be thought of as saving them by free, unconditional, invincible grace, not only justifying them for Christ’s sake when they come to faith, but also raising them from the death of sin by His quickening Spirit in order to bring them to faith. (Haykin)

    Most importantly Rome does not believe that Jesus Christ alone and the Holy Spirit uniting us to Him is itself sufficient for salvation. Rome wants to add some other elements ... for example merits we accrue from being covenantally faithful. Instead of continually looking to Christ for all our righteousness, Rome looks elsewhere, that is, in something we do. It takes our eyes and hope off of Jesus alone and also looks to man's cooperation. Therefore they reject salvation by Christ alone.

    Carrie,

    I share in your frustration. My wife's entire family is Catholic, and when the topic of religion comes up, it's often difficult to discuss it meaningfully for two reasons:

    1) I argue against "official" Catholic doctrine as stated in various councils and catechisms, while they (like many) seem to have no problem dismissing those doctrines that don't make sense to them (note: watch out for the classic word games of "well, that particular doctrine isn't infallible," or "well, that was never part of *official* church teaching...").

    2) They argue against loosey-goosey modern Evangelicalism, where shouting "P-r-r-r-raise Jesus!" gets your ticket punched, and you're free to go back to living however you'd like...you're saved! I don't think they believe me when I say that historic evangelicalism isn't like that.

    So Pastor John's article on creeds is especially true today, when there's virtually no standard by which Protestants can interact with Catholics, or even with each other. It makes it far too easy for Catholics to just dismiss us as chaotic and disorganized, and find solace in their single, united (at least on the surface) church.

    -Bill

    ps. If you want to see tradegy in action, I suggest you watch "The Journey Home" on the EWTN Catholic channel some time. It's a parade of guests who've "converted" from various denominations, and have "come home" to the Catholic Church. Hearing their reasons for converting are enough to make you weep...they grew up believing characitures of true Protestant doctrine, and now are still perpetuating those same distorted views. The host is a former Presbyterian minister. He sometimes identifies himself as a "former Calvinist." He says things like "Calvinists have no use for good works," or "Calvinists don't think you have to obey God's laws." And to think...THIS MAN USED TO PREACH!!! It's probably better for us that he "went home!" :)

    Thank you Pastor John, John, and Bill.

    I have been trying to base my understanding of Catholic doctrines on the Catholic Catechism but I need to learn more about the council of Trent. I find their doctrine difficult to read through and understand.

    I think my frustration with the Creeds is that I do not see the confirmation of sole fide, and I agree, that is the big difference. I've had a Catholic try to reduce our differences by saying that we both believe the Nicene Creed.

    Anyway, thank you for the information, it was very helpful. My own blog has some Catholics riled up in my comments sections b/c I have opposed the Catholic faith and I really want to make sure I'm barking up the right tree.

    Carrie,

    One suggestion regarding the balance among Scripture, tradition and the church (creeds, etc.). I recommend reading "The Shape of Sola Scriptura" by Keith Mathison. He puts forth a very compelling argument for the Reformation view of Scripture and traditon, and argues well against Catholic (Scripture+Tradition) and modern evangelical (no traditon at all) views. You may find it helpful. I did.

    Pastor John,

    Thank you for your excellent post. I was wondering if you are familiar with the United Pentecostal Church and, if so, how you would evaluate them in light of your post? To the best of my knowledge, the official view of the UPC is centered around Acts 2:38; thus, they believe that, in addition to repentance, baptism as well as receiving the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (speaking in tongues) are necessary for salvation or at least confirm one's salvation. So I think it's safe to say that if I never speak in tongues before I die, the UPC would assume that I was never saved. Does this not seem like the same mega-problem that Paul faced with the Galatian church? But if so, does this mean that all who affirm this in the UPC are anathema?

    I presume that the "former Calvinist" referred to is Scott Hahn. My conversion was the opposite of Hahn's: I was Catholic, and am now Reformed.

    Having stated that,one of those two quotes appears to be an accurate description of the Reformed understanding of the Law in relation to justification. Don't we in fact teach that "you don't have to obey God's laws" in order to be saved? I have been taught throughout my time in the PCA that it is inherently impossible to "obey" the Law.Don't we profess that we are saved only if Christ's perfect obedience is imputed to us? Of course, unless this is explained in the Law / Gospel context, it does in fact sound like gross antinomianism.

    My own personal opinion is that the Roman church is a Christian church because of its embrace of the Creeds, although it is a deeply flawed one. While the Roman Church erroneously conflates Law and Gospel, and erroneously conflates justification and sanctification, so does most of contemporary American evangelicalism. Perhaps I am just reluctant to imagine that the large majority of those who have ever professed Christ are in fact damned.

    Phred,

    Your comments are much appreciated. The gentleman on EWTN was not Scott Hahn, although they do sound very similar. I can't recall his name, but if you search EWTN's site, you'll find it easily...he's the host of the program.

    I absolutely agree with your assessment of law and grace, faith and works. My gripe with the EWTN crowd is that they often portray all Protestants as antinomian. If he'd said "Calvinists have no use for good works to earn merit as the ground of their justification," I'd have no problem with it. As so often happens, the lies contain just enough truth to be easily believed by anyone not on their guard. I suspect that as a convert from Rome, you wouldn't go on TV and proclaim boldly "Catholics think they're saved by works!" Although it's partly true, it's still a gross misrepresentation. What bothers me so much about modern Catholic apologetics is that they seem to have no problem deliberately misrepresenting their opponents...and after so many years of constant correction, it's hard to believe it isn't deliberate!

    Dear Pastor Samson,

    Thank you for this very excellent article on the importance of creeds and confessions. One of my favorite classics on this same topic is Rev. Samuel Miller's book on the creeds (hard to find in print, but an exceptional read and find for the pastor and Christian!).

    IN Christ,
    Charles

    http://www.chinese-tea-leaf.com is the best e-shop I have found selling premium fitness tea including Baozhong Tea, Black Tea, Green Tea, Herbal Tea, Oolong Tea, Oolong-Taiwan, Organic Tea, Pu-erh Tea, Weight Losing Tea, Fitness Tea, White Tea, Loose Tea Leaves, Teapots and Tea Pot Sets

    http://www.chinese-tea-leaf.com is the best e-shop I have found selling premium fitness tea including Baozhong Tea, Black Tea, Green Tea, Herbal Tea, Oolong Tea, Oolong-Taiwan, Organic Tea, Pu-erh Tea, Weight Losing Tea, Fitness Tea, White Tea, Loose Tea Leaves, Teapots and Tea Pot Sets

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