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Belgic Confession. Nov 7
Transcript of Belgic Confession. Nov 7
"to enter into another person's feelings"
Art. XXVI: Intercession
The Bible itself, Christ himself, tells you that you may approach God through him who died for you. You do not need to work your way up through layers of departed saints. In fact you must not do this" (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 99)
The True Church
How do people decide on the church to join?
Art. XXXVI: Civil Government
Art. XXII: Church
Perhaps for Protestants ... the mass, most vividly symbolized all that had gone wrong with the church (Plantinga, 113)
Publicans: People who complain that the church is full of hypocrites and Pharisees. They cannot stand to see other sinners look or act pious (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 101)
State as divine institution ... an instrument of God's general sovereignty
Jesus can intercede for us because:
he is "the righteous"
Nobody "loves us more than Jesus"
he "ought in no wise affright us"
The living pray for the living. But Catholics extend this idea. If the saints on earth pray for other believers, why suppose that they stop when received into heaven? (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 97)
Sufferers of toothache pleaded with St. Appolonia for relief, for she had had all her teeth extracted rather than deny Christ. St. Florian guarded against fire, St. Nicholas in time of shipwreck, St. Crispin all cobblers, and St. Anthony those who drove mules. St. Ulrich heard the prayers of those whose places were infested with rats (Our Confession of Faith)
"Deified ancestors ... are considerable sources of power and ritual practices are associated with them ... Sango has a specific association with lightning, Orisa-oko with farming and Ayelala with punishment for wrongdoing ... there is no doubt about their status as super-human agents with the ability to exert power for good or ill and the necessity of worshiping them (Lawson, Religions of Africa, 69).
Christ's Intercesory Role
In Christ divine and human natures unite
Christ is our:
Access (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18, 3:12): We go to God via Christ.
Mediator (I Tim 2:5; Heb. 8:6): He is the negotiator, an arbitrator.
Advocate (Jn 14:16; Rom 8:26): He pleads on our behalf. Both Christ and the Holy Spirit are "Paracletes."
Jesus understands us and our needs ... We do not have to deal with a God who is infinitely removed (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 99)
"Over ninety percent of American adults claim to believe in God ... But only about forty-five percent of them belong to a church?" What reasons do people give for opting out of institutional church?
Publicans: "Church is full of hypocrites"
Burned-Out: "Church is draining"
Locked-Out: "I don't feel I belong"
Anti-Institutionalists: "Church is stiffling and oppressive"
Nomads: "I need to check out other pastures"
Art. 28: "We believe that this holy assembly and congregation is the gathering of those who are saved and there is no salvation apart from it ..."
Is the church for saints or for sinners?
Invisible Church: Assembly of all true Christian believers of all times and places
Visible Church: Assembly of those who have "the marks of Christians" or the right "doctrine and discipline."
The visible Church includes
A Holy Catholic Church
What would de Bres say about people
who left the church:
a) they never were part of us
b) they have "backslided, let's pray for them"
c) they'll be back, you'll see
What would you say about those who
left your church?
Article XXVIII together the ideas of invisible and visible churches. What de Bres wants to do is to urge the seriousness of joining the visible church. That is the only one we can join. He wants to point out how queer, how wrong, how perverse is the attempt to be a Christian by oneself. It is like trying to be a spouse by yourself ... trying to play tennise by yourself ... trying to be a glowing coal separated from the rest of the embers. Your little light will go out (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 105)
Marks of the true Church:
pure doctrine of the gospel is preached
pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ
church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin
Why do Reformed people value church order so much?
All Reformed church order depends on two principles. The first is that Christ alone is head of his church. The other is that, at least in major outline, all church government must be done according to the Word of God (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 107
Comment on Plantinga's remark:
"Many Calvinists have tended in general to see law and order as the basis for freedom rather than freedom as the basis for law and order ... there never was much room in Calvin's Geneva for the serious oddball (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 112)
"Visible signs or seals of an inward and invisible thing."
seal or confirm our union with Christ
are effective only "by the power of the Holy Spirit"
nourish and strengthen our faith
Compare "RCA only" with "CRC only" sections of Art. 36.
State's responsibility to maintain an orderly society
Here the Confession plainly reflects its time ... the church regarded the state as its ally and aid ... anybody who protested the sacral hookup of church and state was a subverter of justice, a dangerous anarchist, a denier of "higher powers of magistrates" (Plantinga, Place to Stand, 121)
Christian Responsibility to State:
Pay tribute (tax)
Show due honor and respect to authorities
Obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the Word of God
Pray for magistrates
What does Plantinga think about the last paragraph of Article 36?
They [Catholics] made the sacrament which they should accept from God, namely, the body and blood of Christ, into a sacrifice and have offered it to the selfsame God...Furthermore, they do not regard Christ's body and blood as a sacrifice of thanksgiving, but as a sacrifice of works...This is the true and chief abomination and the basis of all blasphemy in the papacy (Preus, Luther and the Mass)
The Last Judgment
Thoughtful Christians in every age have wondered and agonized over this doctrine ... Why must the wicked be punished forever? ... Why not only enough to induce repentance? Or else, why aren't they plainlessly annihilated?
How should we interpret Christian eschatology?