(Back by popular demand. -Jay
By M. B.
One thing that amazes me when I read Reformed people’s arguments against Rome is not so much what they say about us, but the gall and arrogance they have to even say anything at all.
The funny thing about the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate is that there is no such thing. What? That’s right. Calvinism does not exist, at least not any more than the Ku Klux Klan does. Oh sure, there are still several groups that run around in rural communities in the South, calling themselves everything from “The Traditional Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” to the “International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan”. But everyone knows what Nathan Bedford Forrest started over a century ago after the War Between the States has long since disbanded, only be revitalized by kooks, losers, and provocateurs trying to keep the torch aflame every other decade or so. And the ironic thing is that they’re trying to revitalize some thing that, any student of history knows, would not be blessed by the men who first established it to fight Yankees and carpetbaggers.
And it’s the same with Calvinism, with its “Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly” and “Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States ”. These amounts to little more than malcontent American whites trying to revamp a failed experiment, some thing that has long since been swept away into the dustbin of history.
Reformed and Presbyterian elders and apologists live and only carry any sort of weight in a fantasy-land; the Videodrome. Calvinism was born 500 years ago, and it died 250 years ago. It showed up on the world scene in the mid 16th Century, and it walked out of the world stage in the 18th Century. How you feel about its rise and fall is one thing, but exist it does not.
Do you think Cotton Mather and John Winthrop would smile upon the legions of goofball Calvinist losers that blog about the wonders of their glory? Would they recognize cyber-warriors like “TurretinFan”, who apparently lives on his Mac (or PC) night and day, just because he’s their biggest (or only) fanboy left?
Seriously. Modern day Presbyterians are like the people that subscribe to Wizard Magazine, and proudly scarf down hotdogs at comic book conventions while donning a mustard-stained Superman shirt. Would Superman and Batman even recognize their biggest fans? No. And everyone in the comic book industry knows it.
In all likelihood, if theocratic ideas were actualized, those men would burn at the stake (or consign to Rhode Island ) many of their supposed “successors” and “heirs”. That’s the inside joke in “the Reformed faith”, and everyone who has ever tried to take Rushdoony and North seriously on “the judicial laws” knows it.
Having no objective ecclesiological reality to base any thing on, or to hand down any sort of concrete verdict about what constitutes ‘heresy’, so-called Calvinism’s elite boils down to factions and sects of geeky whites taking their best shot at each other over the most irrelevant and subjective crap imaginable. And when it’s convenient for them to discard objective standards, they’ll do so at the drop of a hat. They do it with the Early Church Fathers all the time.
Just look at the webmaster of “A Puritan’s Mind”. He was a “Reformed Baptist” that “converted” to “Reformed Presbyterianism”. He wrote several retractions of his ‘covenantal’ case for credo-baptism. Yet, none of that matters in any real sense, except insofar as it got him to go from his little baptist sect to the Presbyterian sect on the other side of town. He didn’t break ties with the heretical credo-baptists, who he’ll align himself with at the drop of a hat against Presbyterians that differ with him over the issue of paedo-communion. He didn’t anathematize them for teaching that covenant children are unworthy of baptism, which the “Magisterial Reformers” were more than willing to do. It was a meaningless and arbitrary decision on his part, except at the subjective level, in that he has now decided his children would be candidates for baptism. Objectively speaking, all he has introduced is more ecclesiastical chaos; or else some seriously hard ramifications for Presbyterians about how to regard his “Reformed Baptist” buddies.
But of course, because they think neat things about TULIP, and they enjoy a good brew every now and then, the judicial laws of Moses concerning the heretic can be put aside. I mean, after all, how meaningful is baptism any way? It’s not one of the “important” doctrines, like supra vs. infra-lapsarianism.
Now, any sane person should be able to read that and laugh. And many do; especially the homeschooled kids that grow up in it. Daddy and his buddy hopping from sect to sect is just as relevant to them as the latest Coldplay song, and quite frankly, that sure sounds a lot better. Yes Virginia , there is a reason Puritanism didn’t last but a generation.
If you get into ‘classical Reformation’ theology, you will wind up going Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. I mean, you have to.
In article XVI of the Augsburg Confession of Faith, Luther writes,
“Meanwhile, Christ’s kingdom allows us to outwardly to use medicine or the art of building, or food, drink, and air. Neither does the Gospel offer new laws about the public state, but commands that we obey present laws, whether they have been framed by heathens or by others. It commands that in this obedience we should exercise love. Carlstadt was crazy to impose on us Moses’ judicial laws.”
So Luther thought Carlstadt, one of his professed supporters, who was a proto-type of Puritanical Calvinists, to be “crazy”. What does that mean about Gary DeMar or Doug Phillips? What would he think about some one as detached from him as your run of the mill RPCUS/CREC theonomist? They are not apart of the same institution as Luther, which Carlstadt was (i.e. the German state-church). They’re not similar in terms of where they were located in history, as Carlstadt and Luther were (German men coming out of medieval Roman Catholicism). If Luther were to look upon the Reformed “full quiver” street preacher crowd, or the “Truly Reformed” neo-Puritan gang, or even the Latin-knowing classicists of the “Federal Vision” crowd of ‘Luthbyterians’, he would cringe in disgust.
In fact, this new crowd might have very well made Luther rethink the idea of imposing Moses’ judicial laws as being “crazy”, because he’d probably want to see his supposed intellectual heirs swing from the end of a rope, some thing he no doubt thought would be fitting for Dr. Carlstadt (who also was an iconoclast, unlike Luther).
The early Lutherans (Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz , etc.) viciously opposed the heresy of “Crypto-Calvinism”, some thing few (if any) Reformed elders well ever tell their flock. Do some research on it. If someone tried to enter a seminary in Germany in the 16th Century, with Calvinist ideas, they weren’t exactly received with any sort of charity, or a willingness to side-step such a “side issue”. No, there was no “Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals” in those days. That’s the stuff of fan-boys coming together out of mutual respect for irrelevance.
Now some Calvinist will retort, “And you think Aquinas would recognize your typical traditionalist Catholic”? While I agree most modern American papists can’t hold a candle to so great a saint on a figurative level, they still hold a candle to them in a very real sense. You see, we celebrate the same Mass as Aquinas. Calvinists don’t even have the same substances present at their “worship service” as Calvin and Luther. Most have Welch’s grape corn-syrup/juice hybrid in place of actual wine. Say what you want about Catholics, but at least they get the most elementary and crucial forms of the faith correct.
Is someone who is unwilling to honor the most essential ritual of the Christian religion by celebrating properly, such as using wine…is that someone likely to have solved the difficult and mysterious facts of the universe, such as God’s decree in relation to man’s free-will? I speak for many as of late when I say, “I doubt it”.
Catholics have a visible communion of saints, the Real Presence, and a very real and meaningful continuity with the historic Church. That’s because it is the historic Church. Our priests have an apostolic succession that can be traced back to the twelve Apostles. The church is visible and hierarchical, and our buildings still have relics of its holiest members. The Catholic Church functions much like in the Old Testament nation of Israel, which, though this may come as a surprise to “neo-Puritan” theonomists, was denounced by John Owen as “the Judaical church” (Owen didn’t even like the Lord’s prayer –see volumes 14 and 15 of Owen’s Works).
Calvinism amounts to disgruntled baptists “playing church”.
What continuity do self-made pseudo-Calvinists, whom the French lawyer wouldn’t even understand, have with their past? Knox’s grave is buried underneath a parking lot in Scotland . And lest they speak of the decadence of modernity for not honoring so “great” a man, they need remember that, if Knox weren’t 6 feet under, he’d be taking a sword to their necks for their hypocritical celebration of Christmas (which just about every Calvinist does to some degree or another, without regard for the ‘purity’ of ‘the gospel’). Calvin’s Geneva is not going to be reincarnated by malcontent Scotch-Irish American goofballs any more than Forrest’s Klan is going to be by the efforts of backwoods trailer-trash.
News flash to those no longer in touch with reality: “world dominion” is not right around the corner for crypto-masturbators that can’t even sit around and drink a beer without going neck-to-neck on some obscure, petty, irrelevant “controversy”.
Forget Romish priests –some of the biggest hypocrites in the religion that bears Christ’s name are “Christian Reconstructionist” Presbyterians. But as secular detractors of this movement don’t realize, the reasons for their hypocrisy are different from normal. This is not to say there isn’t much to be valued in the writings of R.J. Rushdoony and Gary North. No doubt, these men were brilliant, but they wrong where being right was crucial for any good fruit to be born from their efforts.
These people, unworthy even of Van Til and Rushdoony, laud ordination as being a necessary requisite for “eldership”, yet hypocritically praise Charles Haddon Spurgeon (who was himself not ordained at all) because “I like what he has to say on a lot of issues”. So, if you’re one of those Presbyterian “TR” types, you’re a total hypocrite, because even if you or your elders are “ordained”, the point is moot since you make St. Paul’s command to Timothy concerning “the imposition of hands” utterly meaningless for constituting ‘the communion of saints’. If you can discard what was considered by the early Church to be a requirement for “the ministry” by communing (even if ‘invisibly’ –whatever that means) with those lawless enough to regard it as meaningless, just by virtue of such people thinking the right thoughts or saying the right things, than the whole thing is a sham. A total and complete sham.
Many of these people are paleo-conservatives, so perhaps they can see a parallel between Abraham Lincoln’s definition of ‘nation’ and John Calvin’s idea of ‘the church’ as being completely abstract and creedal; not concerning with blood and soil.
No ‘theocratic republic’ is going to operate without some sort of objective standards and harsh administration of biblical justice, but nobody wants to lose their Reformed Baptist buddy in the big game that is supposed Calvinism, though Rhode Island awaited Roger Williams in Winthrop’s New England.
And boy, ain’t it the truth that, in real life Calvinism, the kind that actually existed in Western Europe in Switzerland , they had some harsh regulations for heretics. The masturbatory world of 21st Century Videodrome imposters, however, is a bit different. A little bit more ‘antinomian’, at least when some of its members want it to be.
Calvinism does not exist, except in the minds of deluded fan-boys and their megalomaniacal cult-leaders. And no Calvinist elder wants his flock to read the Augsburg Confession, a document mentioned only on October 31st, if ever. You can dabble in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, and swallow up those Banner of Truth diatribes. But you have to “be careful” when it comes to anything written by the temperamental Scorpio of Germany. That’s because you’d realize some thing is seriously messed up if you did read it.
All throughout that document, Luther speaks of those who disdain baptismal regeneration and paedo-baptism as “wicked”, “insane”, “new spirits”, “the devil”, “interfering with God’s order”, and opposition to the orthodox view as being peddled by “sects”. No matter how much James White fans want to shrug their shoulders about it, their revered hero, whose approval is so necessary as to justify the existence of their own bible, considered those of the opinion of Joe Morecraft to be demon-possessed! And the Steve Wilkins and Peter Leithart crowd is no better, since the CREC will “ordain” credo-baptists, seeing the issue as irrelevant to what makes “the church”. Forget the Zwinglians and the Anabaptists –the Calvinists were the first heretics in the “Great Reformation”.
What authority does a Calvinist “session” have? None. The PCA condemned Wilkin’s Auburn Avenue theology, and all the 501c3-incorporated “Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church” club could do was sign on with the “Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals”, much like how a professional baseball player or skateboarder will switch sponsors every year. What could reveal their religion to be more of a sham than this?
It’s a sham that can only be called American, which is what the Catholic Church has dogmatically condemned (ironically) under the very title of “Americanism”. These people look to the Founders of “the Republic” for answers, but the tragic downfall of this nation began with the bad decisions of its Puritan and Freemasonic forebears. Their movement is little more than Crips and Bloods for white suburbanites and wannabe-agrarians.
If you’ve ever read, “The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros & Cons” (a book written by “The Knox Theological Seminary Colloquium on the Federal Vision” and edited by E. Calvin Beisner), it will make this perfectly clear. It is page after page of mind-bogglingly irrelevant, bombastic preachment about the most meaningless of “controversies”. A green bandana versus a red jersey, such as the Crips and Bloods feuds are about, may, in fact, be more relevant.