Samuel Clarke on Acts 13:33; Was the Son Really Begotten in Eternity or in Time? Wednesday, Sep 5 2012 

Samuel Clark said in his Modest Plea,

“There are indeed figurative and metaphorical senses, wherein persons may very elegantly be said to be begotten or generated into a New State when they are invested with some extraordinary New Powers, Thus God is said in Scripture to have Begotten us unto a lively Hope by the Resurrection of Christ from the Dead [1 Pet 1:3-DS]. And to Christ himself, upon his being raised from the Dead, he saith, (Acts xiii;, 33,) Thou art my Son, This Day have I begotten thee. But never was That, stiled in any senfe a Generating or Begetting, before which the person generated was Every thing he could be after it; A Generating, which implied in it “- No Change at all, no not so “much as in any Mode of Existence; “No Change “more, ”  than there is in “God the Father “ himself, upon Every ” New Act”‘ or Exertion of his Power. What the Writers before and at the time of the Council of Nice, call the Generation of the Son ‘, always means a Real Generation…by which he was really…generated from  the Father by his Power and Will.”

More Foppery from Sean Gerety Friday, Apr 27 2012 

Today, Sean Gerety posted a blog, Epistemological Confusion  on the recent Christological issues dealt with at Green Baggins. He is at it again, regurgitating issues that have already been answered for some time now. Sometimes I get so frustrated with other Christians I feel like this dude on the left.

Here is a small reply, because I am not allowed to comment on his blog:

“Of course, it doesn’t matter who does or who does not employ anything like Clark’s definition of “person,” the point is that Clark, unlike his opponents, had a clear, unambiguous and intelligible definition of “person” and even drew his definition from Scripture.”

>>>I disagree. Intellect can be taken two different ways. 1. The faculty 2. The hypostatic thinking of that faculty. Second, asking “what is a person” itself is not a question that exhausts the person in question. When you are asking what the person is, you are asking about its nature.  If you ask, “who” the person is you are hitting on a different aspect of the person that the previous question did not.

“Therefore it follows that all human knowledge is and can be only the analog of God’s knowledge”

>>>What kind of analog?

Aquinas’s doctrine of analogy is not one simple concept that the philosopher must master. There are numerous ways that analogy is used and even with the analogy of proportion there are a couple ways to understand proportion as well. Herman Reith wrote a very helpful book titled, The Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas (Milwaukee, WI: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1958). Even within an analogy there are more analogies to be found. Reith says,

“analogy is itself analogical…Just as the meaning of person, for example, is derived from our own experience yet can be extended to divine persons, giving us some vague insight into what is really above us, so analogy can be transformed from a logical device to a mode of knowing necessary to the science of metaphysics.

For the logician analogy is based on the mode of signification of concepts and refers to the manner in which our mind attains its concepts. For the metaphysician analogy is a question of both the mode of signification and the modes of existence outside the mind and consequently refers more precisely to the thing signified.” (pg. 44)

This distinction between analogy as it operates with the Logician compared with the Metaphysician is referred to as a “difference in mode, that is, a difference between conceptual and real being.” (Reith, pg. 45) Scripturalists deny a distinction between conceptual and real being. Everything is real. The primary distinction of analogy that is used in man’s knowledge of God is the difference between an analogy of proportion and an analogy of proportionality. The latter is described by Reith as a “kind of relationship that exists between things that are related to each other by some kind of extrinsic bond, namely, by reason of a third thing to which the signification of a particular belongs primarily” (pg. 51) and the former as a “kind of relationship that exists between one thing and another in a one to one association.” (Reith, pg. 51)

“According to the Roman state/church ”

>>>This phrase entertains me whenever I read this from Robbins’ or your writings. Ever heard of the Scottish Presbyterian state Church? Ever heard of Denmark’s Lutheran State Church? Having a state Church is the human position on society Sean. Your atheistic/deistic Jeffersonian view of the magistrate is a complete fringe position in the history of humankind, Christianity and the Protestant Reformation. To even imply that having a state/church is somehow distinctly Roman Catholic is erroneous.

“Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 support this [Clark’s] view: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Since a rift within the eternal immutable Persons of the Trinity is absolutely impossible, Jesus is here speaking as a man. An impersonal human “nature” cannot speak. Nor is there much intelligibility in supposing that the Father could forsake a “nature.” Those words from Psalm 22:1 were the words of a true man, a real human being, whom the Father forsook, thus imposing the penalty of propitiation by which we are redeemed. The Incarnation 70-71”

>>>Col 1:15-29 makes this interpretation impossible. The same person who created the world is the same person who died and resurrected from the grave.

“Remember, the charge of Nestorianism against Clark cannot be sustained either historically or logically simply because neither Nestorious nor his opponents had any idea what a “person” is.”

>>>Just because James Anderson said that does not mean that it is so. The charge of Nestorianism can be sustained on Clark’s final book precisely because of the Clark quote above. The ‘Theopaschite’ Formula: “One of the Trinity Has Suffered”, was specifically the formula used against Nestorianism in the early Church. To say the divine person did not suffer in a human nature is by definition Nestorian. Natures cannot suffer only persons suffer as Clark admitted rightly. If the Logos did not suffer there had to be two persons.

“I think Strange’s approach to Scripture, which he derived from Cornelius Van Til, is completely foreign to what the divines at had in mind at Westminster.”

>>>I disagree. Turretin’s Institutes has a specific section on how the Bible’s Mysteries are above human reason. Van Til is not exactly a Scholastic but he is a chip off the Thomist block no doubt.

John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 2 Saturday, Apr 21 2012 

John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 2

The following is taken from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library edition (London: Thomas Baker, 1898) with copy and paste text support fromFordham University’s Internet History Sourcebook’s website:

Psa 97:7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods.

Deut 5:6 ‘I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. 8 ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

Deut 4:15 “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth.

On page 13 Damascus argues, “Again, in His tabernacles, as when all the people of Israel adored in the tent, and standing round the temple in Jerusalem, fixing their gaze upon it from all sides, and worshipping from that day to this”

>>>In a section dealing with the anchoretic arguments for kneeling before the host, Gillespie refutes in toto, the anchoretic arguments for icon and relic veneration coming from the adoration that the Jews gave to the Temple and Ark in the Old Testament,

George Gillespie’s English Popish Ceremonies, originally published in 1637; Reprinted in 1844. (Edinburgh: Robert Ogle and Oliver& Boyd), pg. 102-105,

“Sect. 17. The sixth and last argument whereby I prove the kneeling in question to be idolatry, is taken from the nature and kind of the worship wherein it is used. For the receiving of the sacrament being a mediate worship of God, wherein the elements come between God and us, in such sort that they belong to the substance of the worship (for without the elements, the sacrament is not a sacrament), and withal are susceptive of co-adoration, forasmuch as in the act of receiving, both our minds and our external senses are, and should be, fastened upon them; hereby we evince the idolatry of kneeling in the receiving. For in every mediate worship, wherein some creature is purposely set between God and us to have state in the same, it is idolatry to kneel before such a creature, whilst both our minds and senses are fastened upon it. Our opposites have talked many things together to infringe this argument. First, They allege the bowing of God’s people before the ark, the temple, the holy mountain, the altar, the bush, the cloud, the fire which came from heaven. Ans. 1. Where they have read that the people bowed before the altar of God, I know not. Bishop Lindsey indeed would prove from 2 Chron. vi. 12, 13, and Mich. vi. 6, that the people bowed before the altar and the offering. But the first of those places speaks nothing of kneeling before the altar, but only of kneeling before the congregation, that is, in the sight of the congregation. And if Solomon had then kneeled before the altar, yet the altar had been but occasionally and accidentally before him in his adoration; for to what end and use could he have purposely set the altar before him, whilst he was kneeling and praying? The place of Micah cannot prove that God’s people did kneel before the offerings at all (for it speaks only of bowing before God), far less, that they kneeled before them in the very act of offering, and that with their minds and senses fixed upon them, as we kneel in the very act of receiving the sacrament, and that at that instant when our minds and senses are fastened upon the signs, that we may discern the things signified by them, for the exercising of our hearts in a thankful meditation upon the Lord’s death. 2. As for the other examples here alleged, God was immediately present, in and with the ark, the temple, the holy mountain, the bush, the cloud, and the fire which came from heaven, speaking and manifesting himself to his people by his own immediate voice, and miraculous extraordinary presence; so that worshipping before these things had the same reason which makes the twenty-four elders in heaven worship before the throne, Rev. iv. 10; for in these things God did immediately manifest his presence as well as in heaven. Though there be a difference in the degrees of the immediate manifestation of his presence in earth and in heaven, yet magis et minus non variant speciem. Now God is present in the sacrament, not extraordinarily, but in the way of an ordinary dispensation, not immediately, but mediately. They must therefore allege some commendable examples of such a kneeling as we dispute about, in a mediate and ordinary worship, else they say nothing to the point.

Sect. 18. Yet to no better purpose they tell us, that when God spake, Abraham fell on his face; and when the fire came down at Elijah’s prayer, the people fell on their faces. What is this to the purpose? And how shall kneeling in a mediate and ordinary worship be warranted by kneeling in the hearing of God’s own immediate voice, or in seeing the miraculous signs of his extraordinary presence. Howbeit it cannot be proved, neither, that the people fell on their faces in the very act of seeing the fire fall (when their eyes and their minds were fastened upon it), but that after they had seen the miracle wrought, they so considered of it as to fall down and worship God.

But further, it is objected, “that a penitentiary kneels to God purposely before the congregation, and with a respect to the congregation, &c. When we come to our common tables before we eat, either sitting with our heads discovered, or standing, or kneeling, we give thanks and bless, with a respect to the meat, which is purposely set on table, &c. The pastor, when he begins the holy action, hath the bread and the cup set before him purposely upon the table, and with respect to them he gives thanks,” &c.

Ans. Though a penitentiary kneel to God purposely in the presence and sight of the congregation, that he may make known to them his repentance for the sin whereby he hath scandalised them, yet is the confessing of his sin to God, kneeling there upon his knees, an immediate worship, neither doth the congregation come betwixt him and God, as belonging to the substance of this worship, for he kneeleth to God as well, and maketh confession of his sin, when the congregation is not before him. But I suppose our kneelers themselves will confess, that the elements come so betwixt God and them when they kneel, that they belong to the essence of the worship in hand, and that they would not, nor could not, worship the flesh and blood of Christ in the sacrament, if the elements were not before them.

To be short, the case of a penitentiary standeth thus, that not in his kneeling simpliciter, but in his kneeling publicly and in sight of the congregation, he setteth them before him purposely, and with a respect to them; whereas our kneelers do kneel in such sort that their kneeling simpliciter, and without an adjection or adjunct, hath a respect to the elements purposely set before them; neither would they at all kneel for that end and purpose for which they do kneel, namely, for worshipping the flesh and blood of Christ in the sacrament, except the elements were before the eyes both of their minds and bodies, as the penitentiary doth kneel for making confession of his sin to God, when the congregation is not before him.

And if one would say, that in kneeling at the sacrament he worshippeth not the flesh and blood of Christ, but the Lord his God only, yet is the same difference to be put betwixt his kneeling before the elements, and the kneeling of a penitentiary before the congregation: for the very kneeling itself (simply considered) before the elements, respecteth them as then purposely set in our sight that we may kneel before them; whereas, in the case of the penitentiary, it is not his kneeling to confess his sin to God which hath a respect to the congregation as set in his sight for that purpose, but some circumstances of his kneeling only, to wit, when ? At that time when the congregation is assembled. And where? Publicly in sight of the congregation! In regard of these circumstances, he hath the congregation purposely in his sight, and so respecteth them; but in regard of the kneeling itself simply, the presence of the congregation is but accidental to him who kneeleth and confesseth his sin before God. As touching giving thanks before the meat set on our common tables, though a man should do it kneeling, yet this speaketh not home to the point now in controversy, except a man so kneel before his meat, that he have a religious respect to it as a thing separated from a common use and made holy, and likewise have both his mind, and his external senses of seeing, touching, and tasting, fastened upon it in the act of his kneeling. And if a man should thus kneel before his meat, he were an idolater.

Lastly, Giving thanks before the elements of bread and wine, in the beginning of the holy action, is as far from the purpose; for this giving of thanks is an immediate worship of God, wherein we have our minds and senses, not upon the bread and wine as upon things which have a state in that worship of the Lord’s supper, and belong to the substance of the same (for the very consecration of them to this use is but then in fieri), but we worship God immediately by prayer and giving of thanks, which is all otherwise in the act of receiving.

Sect. 19. Moreover it is objected out of Lev. ix. 24 ; 2 Chron. vii. 3 ; 6 ; 2 Chron. xxix. 28—30, that all the people fell on their faces before the legal sacrifices, when the fire consumed the burnt-offering.

Whereunto it may be answered, that the fire which came from God and consumed the burnt-offerings, was one of the miraculous signs of God’s extraordinary and immediate presence (as I have said before), and therefore kneeling before the same hath nothing to do with the present purpose.

But if we will particularly consider all these places, we find in the first two, that beside the fire, the glory of the Lord did also appear in a more miraculous and extraordinary manner, Lev. ix. 23, “The glory of the Lord appeared to all the people;” 2 Chron. vii. 1,12, ” The glory of the Lord filled the house.” They are therefore running at random who take hold of those places to draw out of them the lawfulness of kneeling in a mediate and ordinary worship.

The place of Micah I have answered before; and here I add, that though it could be proved from that place (as it cannot), that the people have bowed before the offerings, and that in the very act of offering, yet how shall it be proved, that in the act of their kneeling they had the offerings purposely before them, and their minds and senses fixed upon them in the very instant of their worshiping.

This I make clear by the last place, 2 Chron. xxix., out of which no more can be drawn but that the people worshipped whilst the priests were yet offering the burnt-offering. Now the burnt-offering was but accidentally before the people in their worshipping, and only because it was offered at the same time when the song of the Lord was sung, ver. 27. Such was the forwardness of zeal in restoring religion and purging the temple, that it admitted no stay, but eagerly prosecuted the work till it was perfected ; therefore the thing was done suddenly, ver. 36. Since, then, the song and the sacrifice were performed at the same time, we must note that the people worshipped at that time, not because of the sacrifice, which was a mediate worship, but because of the song of the Lord, which was an immediate worship. Now we all commend kneeling in an immediate worship. But this cannot content our opposites; they will needs have it lawful to kneel, in the hearing of the word, purposely, and with a respect to the word preached (though this be a mediate worship only). Their warrants1 are taken out, Exod. iv. 30, 31; Exod. xii. 27; 2 Chron. xx. 18; Matt. xvii. 6. From the first three places no more can be inferred but that these hearers bowed their heads and worshipped, after that they heard the word of the Lord; neither shall they ever warrant bowing and worshipping in the act of hearing.

In the fourth place, we read that the disciples fell on their faces when they heard God’s own immediate voice out of the cloud. What maketh this for falling down to worship at the hearing of the word preached by men? How long shall our opposites not distinguish betwixt mediate and immediate worship?…Sect. 20. But tho kneelers would yet make more ado to us, and be still stirring if they can do no more. Wherefore one of our doctors objecteth,1 that we lift up our eyes and our hands to heaven, and worship God, yet we do not worship the heaven ; that a man going to bed, prayeth before his bed ; that David offered the sacrifices of thanksgiving, in the presence of all the people, sal. cxvi; that Paul, having taken bread, gave thanks before all them who were in the ship, Acts xxvii. 36; that the Israelites worshipped before Moses and Aaron, Exod. iv. 31. Hereupon another doctor, harping upon the same string, tells us,a that when we kneel in the act of receiving the sacrament, ” we kneel no more to bread than to the pulpit when we join our prayers with the minister’s.” *********Oh, unworthy instances, and reproachful to doctors ! All these things were and are accidentally present to the worshippers, and not purposely before them************, nor respected as having a religious state in the worship. What ? Do we worship before the bread in the sacrament, even as before a pulpit, a bed, &c. ? Nay, graduate men should understand better what they speak of.” (pg.105)

Damascus also appeals to the fact that our Bibles are full of images, letters and words that represent God.

>>>But words don’t represent things. Words are arbitrary tags for things. (See Language and Theology by Gordon Clark)

Damascus complains (pg. 15),

“Answer me this question. Is there only one God? You answer, “Yes, there is only one Law-giver.” Why, then, does He command contrary things? The cherubim are not outside of creation; why, then, does He allow cherubim carved by the hand of man to overshadow the mercy-scat? Is it not evident that as it is impossible to make an image of God, who is uncircumscribed and impassible, or of one like to God, creation should not be worshipped as God. He allows the image of the cherubim who are circumscribed, and prostrate in adoration before the divine throne, to be made, and thus prostrate to overshadow the mercy-seat. It was fitting that the image of the heavenly choirs should overshadow the divine mysteries. Would you say that the ark and staff and mercy-seat were not made? Are [15] they not produced by the hand of man? Are they not due to what you call contemptible matter? What was the tabernacle itself? Was it not an image?”

>>>First, Damascus is not arguing against the Reformed understanding of images as I have just shown in part 1;  however, there is something to be said here. Like good judaizers that the Anchoretic Churches are, they do not understand the difference between the Old and New Covenant. Ceremonies are inferior to simple Biblical Elements: Heb 9: 9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal (sarx) ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation. (kjv)

The outward display of the Temple and Tabernacle were part and parcel of the CARNAL Old Testament administration of the Covenant of Grace. The Christian bride does not need such adornments. 1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Damascus though is arguing against a very strange system of theology that forbids images altogether. We Calvinist Reformed do not do that. We forbid making images of the divine persons, we forbid worshipping images of dead saints or anything outside of the Godhead (but we do not forbid making images of dead saints) and we forbid making the Church building a display of wealth and ornate carnal obsession.  I have had many Eastern Orthodox people assume we forbid all imagery and accuse me of Manichaeism. This is a lie.

Damascus complain (pg. 27)  “The shadow and winding sheet and relics of the apostles cured sickness, and put demons to flight. (Acts 5.15) How, then, shall not the shadow and the statues of the saints be glorified?”

>>>The Apostles had miraculous power, testifying to their divine calling. We do not have these powers, seeing that these gifts ceased with that period. (Dan 9:24, Heb 1:1-2, Acts 2:17-18 [Compared with Heb 1:2 “Last days”; Heb 9:26 “Consummation of the ages”; 1 Cor 10:11 “ends of the ages”], 1Co 13:8-9).

Damascus makes a strange admission on page 29,

“Secondly, we know that blessed Athanasius objected to the bodies of saints being put into chests, and that he preferred their burial in the ground, wishing to set at nought the strange custom of the Egyptians, who did not bury their dead under ground, but set them upon beds and couches.”

>>>Part II contains more arguments against the making of all images with some more support from tradition. I found no new arguments. Part III contains more complaints towards those who refuse all images and more appeal to tradition. I found no new arguments.

John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 1 Tuesday, Apr 17 2012 

John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 1

This work by John of Damascus is foundational to the Anchoretic rejection of the Protestant Reformation. If Isaac Taylor ripped out the heart of the Anchoretic system with his Ancient Christianity [1][2], I will, through Calvin, Owen, Gillespie, and Bishop Hall, rip out its brain for all the world to see its hemorrhaged and cancerous state. If Damascus’ book falls, we from the Puritan Reformed tradition stand vindicated in our bitterness against a world of Christianity in rebellion.  We will await an international apology from the Eastern Orthodox, Romanist, Anglican, Lutheran and Anabaptist Churches.

The following is taken from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library edition (London: Thomas Baker, 1898) with copy and paste text support from Fordham University’s Internet History Sourcebook’s website:

Psa 97:7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods.

Deut 5:6 ‘I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 7 ‘You shall have no other gods before Me. 8 ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

Deut 4:15 “So watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire, 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water below the earth.

Damascus says,

“These injunctions were given to the Jews on account of their proneness to idolatry. Now we, on the contrary, are no longer in leading strings. Speaking theologically, it is given to us to avoid superstitious error, to be with God in the knowledge of the truth, to worship God alone, to enjoy the fulness of His knowledge. We have passed the stage of infancy, and reached the perfection of manhood. We receive our habit of mind from God, and know what may be imaged and what may not. The Scripture says, “You have not seen the likeness of Him.” (Ex. 33.20) What wisdom in the law-giver. How depict the invisible?” (pg. 8)… It is clear that when you contemplate God, who is a pure spirit, becoming man for your sake, you will be able to clothe Him with the human form. When the Invisible One becomes visible to flesh, you may then draw a likeness of His [9] form. (pg. 8-9)

>>>This is Damascus’ primary error. He thinks that the reason God forbid images was because the OT people of God had not seen an image to depict. This is mistaken. Moses saw a form of God as an Old Testament Saint: Num 12:8  With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? Matthew Henry Commenting says, “God allowing him that favour because he was above the temptation of idolatry; but for the people who had lately come from admiring the idols of Egypt, they must see no resemblance of God, lest they should have pretended to copy it, and so should have received the second commandment in vain; “for” (says bishop Patrick) “they would have thought that this forbade them only to make any representation of God besides that wherein he showed himself to them, in which they would have concluded it lawful to represent him.”

To further embarrass Damascus, he says on page 15, “Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was never depicted.” Yes he was, Num 12:8.

You see, the visible image of God was not the reason why he forbade them images. He only mentions that they did not see any image to further exclude any excuses they may have had to twist the 2nd Commandment; much as the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Churches have.

Damascus argues that Abraham worshipped the sons of Emmor in Gen 23:7.

>>>Calvin’s addresses this in his Commentary on Genesis 23:7,

“As to the use of the word signifying ‘to adore,’ it is simply taken for the reverence, which any one declares, either by bowing the knee, or any other gesture of the body. This may be paid to men, as well as to God, but for a different end; men mutually either bend the knee, or bow the head, before each other, for the sake of civil honor; but if the same thing be done to them, for the sake of religion, it is profanation. For religion allows of no other worship them that of the true God. And they childishly trifle who make a pretext for their idolatry, in the words dulia and latria, since the Scripture, in general terms, forbids adoration to be transferred to men. But lest any one should be surprised that Abraham acted so suppliantly, and so submissively, we must be aware that it was done from common custom and use. For it is well known that the Orientals were immoderate in their use of ceremonies. If we compare the Greeks or Italians with ourselves, we are more sparing in the use of them than they. But Aristotle, in speaking of the Asiatics and other barbarians notes this fault, that they abound too much in adorations. Wherefore we must not measure the honor which Abraham paid to the princes of the land by our customs.”

Damascus argues (pg. 9),

>>>”Jacob worshipped his brother Esau and Pharao, the Egyptian, but on the point of his staff.* (Gen 33.3) ”

It does not say that. It simply says that he bowed down seven times. It says nothing of worshipping anyone. Calvin comments on this passage,

“This, indeed, he might do for the sake of giving honor: for we know that the people of the east are addicted to far more ceremonies than are in use with us. To me, however, it seems more probable, that Jacob did not pay this honor simply to his brother, but that he worshipped God, partly to give him thanks, and partly to implore him to render his brother propitious; for he is said to have bowed down seven times before he approached his brother. Therefore, before he came in sight of his brother, he had already given the token of reverence or worship. Hence we may conjecture, as I have said, that this homage was paid to God and not to man: yet this is not at variance with the fact, that he also approached as a suppliant, for the purpose of assuaging his brother’s ferocity by his humiliation. If any one object, that in this manner he depreciated his right of primogeniture; the answer is easy, that the holy man, by the eyes of faith, was looking higher; for he knew that the effect of the benediction was deferred to its proper season, and was, therefore, now like the decaying seed under the earth. Therefore, although he was despoiled of his patrimony, and lay contemptible at his brother’s feet; yet since he knew that his birthright was secured to him, he was contented with this latent right, counted honors and riches as nothing, and did not shrink from being regarded as an inferior in the presence of his brother.”

Again Damascus argues, ” Josue and Daniel worshipped an angel of God; (Jos. 5.14) they did not adore him.”

>>>That was the second person of the Trinity, yet another visible image of a divine person in the OT dispensation which forbid images. The problems don’t seem to cease for this man.

Damascus summarizes his primary distinction between worship and adoration saying,

“The worship of latreia is one thing, and the worship which is given to merit another.” (pg. 9-10)

>>>This is the classic distinction between latria and dulia. Calvin refuted this in detail in his Institutes 1.12.3

“3. Laying aside subtleties, let us examine the thing. When Paul reminds the Galatians of what they were before they came to the knowledge of Gods he says that they “did service unto them which by nature are no gods,” (Gal. 4:8). Because he does not say λατρια, was their superstition excusable? This superstition, to which he gives the name of δυλια, he condemns as much as if he had given it the name of λατρια. When Christ repels Satan’s insulting proposal with the words, “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” (Mt. 4:10), there was no question of λατρια. For all that Satan asked was προσκὺνεσις (obeisance). In like manners when John is rebuked by the angel for falling on his knees before him (Rev. 19:10; 22:8, 9), we ought not to suppose that John had so far forgotten himself as to have intended to transfer the honour due to God alone to an angel. But because it was impossible that a worship connected with religion should not savour somewhat of divine worship, he could not προσκὺνει̑ν (do obeisance to) the angel without derogating from the glory of God. True, we often read that men were worshipped; but that was, if I may so speak, civil honour. The case is different with religious honour, which, the moment it is conjoined with worship, carries profanation of the divine honour along with it. The same thing may be seen in the case of Cornelius (Acts 10:25). He had not made so little progress in piety as not to confine supreme worship to God alone. Therefore, when he prostrates himself before Peter, he certainly does it not with the intention of adoring him instead of God. Yet Peter sternly forbids him. And why, but just because men never distinguish so accurately between the worship of God and the creatures as not to transfer promiscuously to the creature that which belongs only to God. Therefore, if we would have one God, let us remember that we can never appropriate the minutest portion of his glory without retaining what is his due. Accordingly, when Zechariah discourses concerning the repairing of the Church, he distinctly says not only that there would be one God, but also that he would have only one name—the reason being, that he might have nothing in common with idols. The nature of the worship which God requires will be seen in its own place (Book 2, c. 7 and 8). He has been pleased to prescribe in his Law what is lawful and right, and thus restrict men to a certain rule, lest any should allow themselves to devise a worship of their own. But as it is inexpedient to burden the reader by mixing up a variety of topics, I do not now dwell on this one. Let it suffice to remember, that whatever offices of piety are bestowed anywhere else than on God alone, are of the nature of sacrilege. First, superstition attached divine honours to the sun and stars, or to idols: afterwards ambition followed—ambition which, decking man in the spoils of God, dared to profane all that was sacred. And though the principle of worshipping a supreme Deity continued to be held, still the practice was to sacrifice promiscuously to genii and minor gods, or departed heroes: so prone is the descent to this vice of communicating to a crowd that which God strictly claims as his own peculiar right!” (John Calvin, “Institutes”, Christian Classics Ethereal Library Site, available at:, [accessed August 2011] )

Damascus says (pg. 11-12)

“If, therefore, Holy Scripture, providing for our need, ever putting before us what is intangible, clothes it in flesh, does it not make an image of what is thus invested with our nature, and brought to the level of our desires, yet invisible?”

>>Not all the time. This is the exact problem that Empiricism has with abstract ideas. What image did justification take?

(continuing) “A certain conception through the senses thus takes place in the brain, which was not there before, and is transmitted to the judicial faculty, and added to the mental store.”

>>Here we have the classic Thomistic theory of memory images. Empiricism is a theory of demonstration where man moves through space and locates created natures through sensation that he believes can by a method of induction, give knowledge. Perception is inferred from sensation. And passing from perception, memory images that have remained from a previous sensation are through abstraction used to produce an abstract Idea. Now can it be proved that all men have remaining images? I can close my eyes and “see” the face of  my family members. I can close my eyes and picture my bedroom. I can “hear” a number of tunes voluntarily. However, I cannot voluntarily call up images of things I have smelled. I cannot call up images of things I have felt. I cannot call up things I have tasted. Even in my dreams I can only recall things I have seen and heard. By my own “experience” I can attest that I do not have all 5 types of images. Some have denied that they have images at all. British scientist Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), rejected the idea that all men have imagery (Gordon H. Clark, Clark Speaks From The Grave [Jefferson, Maryland.: The Trinity Foundation, 1986], 23; See also Dr. Clark’s Lecture Empiricism). There is no such thing as a sub-consciousness to appeal to for these images because the term is a logical contradiction. You are either conscious or you’re not. Can someone suffer pain without feeling it? The concept is logically absurd.

(contiuing) “Gregory, who is so eloquent about God, says that the mind, which is set upon getting beyond corporeal things, is incapable of doing it. For the invisible things of God since the creation of the world are made visible through images. (Rom. 1.20)”

>>This is nonsense. Verse 19 of Romans 1 makes very clear, “because that which is known about God is evident *****within them*********”. Visible images are not required to have knowledge that there is a God. I agree that the eternal ideas take form in time. I simply do not agree that this means knowledge comes through images.

“For if the law should forbid images, and yet be itself a forerunner of images, what should we say? If the tabernacle was a figure, and the type of a type, why does the law not prohibit image-making? But this is not in the least the case. There is a time for everything. (Eccl. 3.1)”

>>>Who said we forbid making images? We forbid making images **********that represent divine persons****** and we forbid worshipping anything else but divine persons.

Westminster Larger Catechism 109 says, “What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising,[529] counselling,[530] commanding,[531] using,[532] and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself;[533] tolerating a false religion; *********the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever;[534] all worshipping of it,[535] or God in it or by it;[536] the making of any representation of feigned deities,[537] and all worship of them, or service belonging to them,[538]********** all superstitious devices,[539] corrupting the worship of God,[540] adding to it, or taking from it,[541] whether invented and taken up of ourselves,[542] or received by tradition from others,[543] though under the title of antiquity,[544] custom,[545] devotion,[546] good intent, or any other pretence whatsoever;[547] simony;[548] sacrilege;[549] all neglect,[550] contempt,[551] hindering,[552] and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.[553].”

[529] Numbers 15:39. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring.

[530] Deuteronomy 13:6-8. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him.

[531] Hosea 5:11. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. Micah 6:16. For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

[532] 1 Kings 11:33. Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father. 1 Kings 12:33. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

[533] Deuteronomy 12:30-32. Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

[534] Deuteronomy 4:15-19. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. Acts 17:29. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. Romans 1:21-23, 25. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things…. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

[535] Daniel 3:18. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Galatians 4:8. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.

[536] Exodus 32:5. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

[537] Exodus 32:8. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

[538] 1 Kings 18:26, 28. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made…. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. Isaiah 65:11. But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.

[539] Acts 17:22. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. Colossians 2:21-23 (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

[540] Malachi 1:7-8, 14. Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts….But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

[541] Deuteronomy 4:2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

[542] Psalm 106:39. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.

[543] Matthew 15:9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

[544] 1 Peter 1:18. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers.

[545] Jeremiah 44:17. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

[546] Isaiah 65:3-5. A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. Galatians 1:13-14. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

[547] 1 Samuel 13:11-12. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. 1 Samuel 15:21. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

[548] Acts 8:18. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money.

[549] Romans 2:22. Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Malachi 3:8. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

[550] Exodus 4:24-26. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

[551] Matthew 22:5. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise. Malachi 1:7, 13. Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible…. Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.

[552] Matthew 23:13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

[553] Acts 13:44-45. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16. Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

Protestant Scholar Philip Schaff, Admits that the Calvinist View of Christ’s Presence in the Sacraments, Not the Lutheran View (And the Eastern View) Sustains Chalcedon While the Latter Attacks It Friday, Apr 13 2012 

Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Vol. 1, Chapter 6. The Creeds of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, 46. The Form of Concord, Concluded. Analysis and Criticism.,

“We add some general remarks on the Christology of the Formula, as far as it differs from the Reformed Christology. After renewed investigation of this difficult problem, I have been confirmed in the conviction that the exegetical argument, which must ultimately decide the case, is in favor of the Reformed and against the Lutheran theory; but I cheerfully admit that the latter represents a certain mystical and speculative element, which is not properly appreciated in the Calvinistic theology, and may act as a check upon Nestorian tendencies.

1. The scholastic refinements of the doctrine of the communicatio idiomatum, and especially the ubiquity of the body, have no intrinsic religious importance, and owe their origin to the Lutheran hypothesis of the corporeal presence. They should, therefore, never have been made an article of faith. A surplus of orthodoxy provokes skepticism.

2. The great and central mystery of the union of the divine and human in Christ, which the Formula desires to uphold, is overstated and endangered by its doctrine of the genus majestaticum, or the communication of the divine attributes to the human nature of Christ. This doctrine runs contrary to the συγχύτως and τρέπτως of the Chalcedonian Creed. It leads necessarily—notwithstanding the solemn protest of the Formula—to a Eutychian confusion and æquation of natures; for, according to all sound philosophy, the attributes are not an outside appendix to the nature and independent of it, but inherent qualities, and together constitute the nature itself. Or else it involves the impossible conception of a double set of divine attributes—one that is original, and one that is derived or transferred.”

Some Seriously Important Issues are Being Dealt With Right Now at GreenBaggins Monday, Apr 9 2012 

Some seriously good issues being dealt with right now are here:

Union with Christ-Traducianism-Realism-Nominalism-Original Sin-Ethics-Metaphysics Saturday, Feb 18 2012 

Had a conversation here with a guy on these issues. Thought you guys might be interested.

Scripturalist Christology in Neon Genesis Evangelion Saturday, Oct 29 2011 

I was thinking through the implications of understanding person as consciousness and at the same time seeing only one person in Christ who has two minds wondering if I could ever present a good example of what I’m talking about when I remembered back in my teen years my obsession with Japanese Anime.  The one that came to my mind was the well known Anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. In this multi-episode series mankind is being attacked by Angels who seek Adam, a proto-Angel at the center of the Earth that is now protected by the man-made underground military base Nerv. As their defense, mankind utilizes Angels of their own who are clones of this proto-Angel Adam. Armed with bio- mechanical armour and weaponry, human pilots control these angels through hypostatization of the Angel’s rational faculty. As the Angels exist in an impersonal comatose state they present for us a perfect example of a single agent who has hypostatized their impersonal/generic rational faculty and becomes now the sole agent of action and operation. Two natures, one person but two minds-one concrete; the other generic. As a side note let the reader observe how Shinji the primary Eva Pilot experiences the pain of the Eva nature even though his own nature is not being harmed at all. In this same way the Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Son of God, Eternally Begotten of the Father with no capability of suffering in his divine nature suffered in and through a human nature. It was not as if only an abstract nature suffered but a divine person suffered in and through human nature. I found this example helpful after reading other examples using the Avatar movie. The Avatar movie is a poor example because it presents only a body with no rational faculty. The Avatar body has no rational faculty of its own through which man must synchronize or hypostatize. In this wise Neon Genesis Evangelion improves:

Video 1-See last 5 minutes:

Video 2  See first few minutes:

Video 3

Start at 17:00

More Problems For Western Trinitarianism: John Murray Confirms My Suspicion That Calvin Did Not Believe the Nicene Creed Tuesday, Sep 20 2011 

In an earlier post, Did John Calvin Believe the Nicene Creed? I Deny, I suspected that Calvin could not believe the Eternal Generation of the Son due to some things he said. Methinks Murray vindicates my suspicion.

John Murray states,

“Students of historical theology are acquainted with the furore which Calvin’s insistence upon the self-existence of the Son as to His deity aroused at the time of the Reformation.  Calvin was too much of a student of Scripture to be content to follow the lines of what had been regarded as Nicene orthodoxy on this particular issue.  He was too jealous for the implication of the homoousion clause of the Nicene creed to be willing to accede to the interpretation which the Nicene fathers, including Athanasius, placed upon another expression in the same creed, namely, “very God of very God.”  No doubt this expression is repeated by orthodox people without any thought of suggesting what the evidence derived from the writings of the Nicene fathers would indicate the content to have been.  This evidence shows that the meaning intended is that the son DERIVED His deity from the Father and that the Son was not, therefore, “autotheos.”  It was precisely this position that Calvin controverted with such vigor.  He maintained that, as respects personal distinction, the Son was of the Father but, as respects deity, He was self-existent.  This position ran counter to the Nicene tradition.  Hence, the indictments levelled against him.  It is, however, to the credit of Calvin that he did not allow his own more sober thinking to be suppressed out of deference to an established pattern of thought when the latter did not commend itself by conformity to Scripture and was inimical to Christ’s divine identity.”  “Systematic Theology,” Westminster Theological Journal 25 (May, 1963), p. 141.

Man I’m tired of being right!

The Second Council of Nicea Refuted by Dr. Comber and Dr. Gee Wednesday, Aug 17 2011 

The Second Council of Nicea was the Unlawful Council that approved images of Christ and “Veneration” of Images. See Gibson’s Preservative Against Popery Vol 8, page 1-48 in Google Books.

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