Come Hell or High Water, part 1

"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness..." (Revelation 12:14)
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness…” (Revelation 12:14)

As we noted in our previous post, Revelation 12 depicts an abiding hostility between the Dragon and the Woman who flees to the Wilderness for safety. The conflict that unfolds in this chapter is similar to that which occurred in the Garden of Eden, as well as that which came upon Jesus when the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted. In Eden, God said one thing to Eve: “…thou shalt not eat…” (Genesis 2:17), and the Serpent said another: “Yea, hath God said …?” (Genesis 3:1). In the “wilderness of Judæa” God said one thing to Jesus: “This is my beloved Son…” (Matthew 3:1,17), and then in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus to question God’s Word, saying “If thou be the Son of God…” (Matthew 4:3). Eve’s decision came down to a choice between obedience stemming from belief, or the disobedience of unbelief. Would she believe the Word of God or the word of the serpent? The options presented to Jesus in Matthew 4 were essentially the same: would He trust His Father’s words, and reject the Devil, or would He trust the Devil’s words, and question His Father’s? In Revelation 12, the same choice is again laid before the Woman: will she trust the Word from the mouth of her Lord or succumb to the error that comes from the mouth of the Serpent?

There is much to assess here in the 12th chapter of Revelation, but among the most pressing matters at hand are the time frame of the events and the identities of the Woman and her Son. She was “with child … travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered” (Revelation 12:2). Among Roman Catholics the Woman is often interpreted to be Mary, and her Child, “the Incarnate Word” (e.g., John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (1987)). The Woman is also interpreted by some Roman Catholics to be “God’s people in the Old and the New Testament,” and her child, “the Messiah” (US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Revelation 12). Some see the Woman of Revelation 12 fulfilled in the various apparitions of “Mary” over the centuries (Cycles of Salvation History, The Woman Clothed with the Sun).

Among Protestants, there is a general consensus that the Woman signifies the Church, but accompanying that consensus is a reluctance to identify the Man Child as Christ. Albert Barnes, for example, rejected the “incongruity in representing the Saviour as the Son of the Church, or representing the Church as giving birth to him,” for the Church was formed of Christ, not Christ of the Church (Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible, Revelation Chapter 12 (1834)). E. B. Elliott, too, rejected the identification of the Man Child as Christ, for “Christ is no where called the Son of the Church, but its Husband” (Elliott, Horæ Apocalypticæ, vol 3, 2nd ed., Chapter 1, Apocalypse 12:1-12 (London: Seeley, Burnside & Seeley (1846) 10n). Both observe, as well, the apparent discordance in making the Woman of Revelation 12 to be Israel, for such symbolism would be “contrary to the whole tenor of the Apocalyptic prophecy” (Elliott, 11n), which focuses on the Church rather than the Jews.

Such interpretations as those of Barnes and Elliott tend to constrain the significance of the birth and ascent of the Man Child to a time frame well after Christ’s ascension, since they reject at the outset the identity of the Woman as National Israel and her Son as Jesus Christ. Barnes writes, “[t]he time there referred to is at the early period of the history of the church… “. He agrees here with Elliott who suggests a Nicæan or post-Nicæan fulfillment at a time when the church’s “rulers, or bishops, would be recognized as dignified authorities before the world.” To Elliott, the Woman’s place in heaven signifies a “political elevation … to recognition as a body politic” (Elliott, 10-12).

By such reasoning, the Woman is thus thought to be the newly formed or politically influential Church, and in some sense, so is the Man Child. Barnes, by way of one example, has the Child signifying the protected Church preserved in heaven, and the Woman signifying the persecuted Church on earth. Elliott, by way of another, has the Woman signifying the Church, and the Man Child signifying her many offspring, constituting a “dominant body politic” (Elliott, 10). As noted, Barnes’ and Elliott’s time frame is constrained by their assumptions, but those assumptions can easily be corrected with a few simple observations. Once corrected, the time frame of Revelation 12 shifts as well.

First, while it is true that Jesus is nowhere called the Son of the Church, He is nonetheless a Son of Israel (Deuteronomy 18:15) and “Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David” (Revelation 5:5). Further, the Church is said by Paul to be “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). The New Testament has Jesus coming “unto his own” nation (John 1:11), and then, rejected by it, conferring Israel’s blessings upon His Church comprised of Gentiles, Samaritans, tax collectors, lepers and sinners (e.g., Matthew 22:1-10). These are “of Israel” Paul says (Romans 9:6) for they are sons of Abraham by faith (Romans 4:13), inwardly Jewish by the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29). In fact, this is precisely how Paul responded to the Jewish objection that saving Gentiles instead of Jews “make[th] the faith of God without effect” (Romans 3:3). Nay, Paul responds, it most certainly does not:

“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6)

Second, the transition from a National Jewish Israel to an Ecclesial Israel really is within the tenor of the narrative of Revelation. This is seen plainly in the sealing of the Church of the “hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 7:4). These are they who continually appear throughout the narrative as God’s faithful obedient Church (Revelation 12:17, 14:12), untouched by the wiles of the Devil, marked as they are with “the seal of the living God” (Revelation 7:2). The narrative continually identifies them as they who do not wonder after the Beast or worship his Image, but obey the commandments of the Lord (Revelation 14:1, 14:12, 15:2, 20:4). These patient, obedient saints are the sons of Abraham by faith—faithful, Ecclesial Israel.

If the Woman of Revelation 12 is thus understood as National Israel from whom Jesus came, and transitioning to Ecclesial Israel which Jesus formed, then not only do the incongruities disappear, but the time frame also shifts significantly to the left. The labor pangs would thus have occurred before Christ’s birth, rather than after His ascension. The time frame of this transition from National to Ecclesial Israel is confirmed in two ways. First evaluating the heads, horns and crowns of Revelation 12 and 13, and second by mapping Michael’s intervention in Revelation 12 to his intervention in Daniel 12.

When comparing the crowns of the Serpent of chapter 12 with those of Beast of Revelation 13:1, we first observe that both the Serpent and the Beast are depicted as aggregations of the four beasts of Daniel 7, each with seven heads and ten horns. The Serpent has crowns on his heads (Revelation 12:3), signifying the seven heads of the four kingdoms of Daniel’s visions (Daniel 7:17, 8:22), all of which rose up and dominated while National Israel still existed. The Beast of Revelation 13:1, on the other hand, has crowns on his horns, signifying “ten kings” that would one day “receive power … one hour with the beast” (Revelation 17:12), well after National Israel had been destroyed. The Woman thus signifies an Israel persecuted by a succession of Beasts, from whom comes the Messiah, and then after His ascension a Christian Church, “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), who is the object of the Serpent’s ire (Revelation 12:17) and the Beast’s belligerence (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 13:7). She is Israel, in different manifestations, the whole time.

We may confirm this understanding of the time frame in Revelation 12 by comparing the Woman’s labor pains to the tribulations experienced by the people of God under the Greek and Roman empires in the book of Daniel. In both Daniel and Revelation 12 a Greek persecution is followed by a Roman oppression. During the Roman empire the salvation of God’s people is secured, an in both cases, the event is described in which Michael rises to intervene on their behalf. We see this first in Daniel 11:3-45 where the rise of the Greeks is depicted, under whom God’s people “fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil” (Daniel 11:33) in the reign of Antiochus IV. It is he who “cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them” (Daniel 8:10). Immediately upon the decline of the Greeks, the Roman empire begins, during which time Michael shall “stand up … for the children of thy people.” There is also “a time of trouble,” and “thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1).

Turning now to Revelation 12 we see the same sequence, the Woman’s birth pangs being depicted for us in similar terms: a persecution of God’s people under the Greek empire, leading up to the Incarnation under the Roman, during which empire Michael adopts a defensive posture on behalf of the people of God. The first manifestation of the Woman’s labors takes place under the reign of Antiochus IV, when the serpent’s “tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” (Revelation 12:4), a plain reference to Antiochus’ casting “the stars to the ground” in Daniel 8:10. Turning from that watershed event of the Greek era, John then invites our attention to an event in the Roman era in which “Herod will seek the young child to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13). John’s reference to the Dragon that was ready “to devour her child as soon as it was born” (Revelation 12:4) is a plain reference to that event. Escaping Herod’s grasp, Christ takes His place on the throne of God. “Michael and his angels” go to war on behalf of God’s people (Revelation 12:7), and the Devil is cast down and persecutes the Woman. She flies to the wilderness for safety, and the Dragon lets loose a flood that he might ensnare her by his errors (Revelation 12:13-15). Only they whose names are “written in the book of life” escape the great deception that he visits upon the world (Revelation 13:8, 17:8, 20:15).

By mapping the events of Revelation 12 to those depicted in Daniel we can thus establish not only the identities of the Woman and the Man Child, but the time frame of the events as well. The Woman begins as National Israel suffering under Greek persecution and Roman oppression. The Man Child is Christ who lived, died, rose and ascended to God’s throne during the Roman Empire, delivering the Woman, who has now transitioned to Ecclesial Israel. During the 4th Empire, Michael goes to war, the Devil is cast down and persecutes the Woman. As the 4th Empire fully disintegrates into its constituent fragments and the 5th Empire rises, the Woman flees to her place of refuge, undergoes further persecution by the Beast, but is protected from the wiles for the Devil and nourished on a steady diet of the Word of God. It is by means of such nourishment that they whose names are written in the book get the “victory over the beast, and over his image” (Revelation 15:2).

The time frame thus depicted in Revelation 12 encompasses the period from the rise of Antiochus IV and his 1,290 days of desolating and polluting the temple (Daniel 12:11) and “scatter[ing] the power of the holy people” (Daniel 12:7), to the late 4th century rise of Roman Catholicism and its 1,260 year period of earthly dominion, all of which includes the casting down of “the host and of the stars to the ground” (Daniel 8:10, Revelation 12:4), the Incarnation, the transition from National to Ecclesial Israel, the rise of Michael to defend the people of God (Daniel 12:1, Revelation 12:7), the casting of the Devil down to earth, his civil persecution of the people of God (Revelation 2:10), the flood of error that comes from his mouth in an attempt to carry the Woman away, the transfer of Satan’s “power, and his seat, and great authority” to Roman Catholicism (Revelation 13:1) and the Woman’s endurance of the Beast’s civil oppression and the Devil’s continued doctrinal war against her. We will cover the whole period in this present series and will unfold this in greater detail in each installment. The Woman, as we shall see, followed the example of her Savior, and withstood the Devil’s temptations.

On a side note, for those interested in our analysis of Daniel, and particularly why we see Antiochus IV depicted in Daniel 8:9-26, Daniel 9:27, Daniel 11:21-39 and Daniel 12:7-12, and why we see his 1,290 days as literal, we invite their attention to our series of articles on that topic:

The Leviticus 26 Protocol
Rightly Dividing the Weeks
The Seventieth Week of Daniel 9
The Intercalation of Time
All the Evenings and Mornings
Reduction of the Diadochi
The Bounds of Their Habitation
The Shifting Frame
When North was North…
…and South was South
Pirates in the Bay
The Single Frame Hypothesis
Convention of the Angelic Narrators

Our thoughts on Daniel are largely summarized there, and we will not recapitulate them here.

However, we will conclude this inaugural entry of this new series by returning briefly to Elliott that we might highlight the danger of miscalculating the time frame of Revelation 12, as we believe he did. As noted above, Elliott understood a Nicæan or post-Nicæan fulfillment of the Woman, her place in heaven suggestive of the sway of her political power. In the process, Elliott made a stipulation that essentially granted to Roman Catholicism her most precious claim—that the seat of the Beast is the very throne of God:

“[W]e may interpret the man-child of whom the spiritual Zion, or Church of Christ, appeared travailing to be delivered,—not as the Child Jesus, born at Bethlehem, an explanation on no account admissible,—but as its children united into a body politic and raised to dominant power; with the accompaniments of deliverance, triumph, and glory attending their nationalization and elevation. … It seems clear, that whatever the woman’s hope in her travail, the lesser consummation was the one figured in the man-child’s birth and assumption; viz. the elevation of the christians first to recognition as a body politic, then very quickly to the supremacy of the throne in the Apocalyptic world, i. e. the Roman Empire a throne which, as thenceforth christian, might consequently thenceforth, just like Solomon’s, be designated as the throne of God. Seated on this, it appeared, the christian body would, after a little while, coerce the heathens of the empire and rule them even as with a rod of iron.” (Elliott, 11-12)

As we highlighted in One Kingdom Too Late, and “The Kingdom of Earth is at Hand,” Roman Catholicism — and many Protestants with her — has misunderstood Daniel to teach that God’s people would enjoy an earthy kingdom shortly after His Incarnation. But Daniel prophesied a heavenly kingdom “in the days of those kings” (Daniel 2:44), not an earthly one, and both John and Jesus came preaching that the Heavenly Kingdom was nigh (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). When asked, Jesus insisted that He had not come this time to establish an earthly one (John 6:15, 18:36). Daniel also prophesied (Daniel 7:24-25), and John confirmed (Revelation 13:1-5), the rise of an earthly kingdom—of which kingdom the people of God were sternly warned —for that kingdom would make war with and prevail over the saints (Daniel 7:21; Revelation 13:7). The seat of that earthly kingdom would be the Harlot city of Rome that currently “reigneth over the kings of the earth” at the time of John’s vision (Revelation 17:18). Harlot Rome is by no means under any circumstances “the throne of God.”

Elliott’s mistake—and it was a big one—was to translate the Woman’s elevated position from heaven back to earth again, and thus to weigh down that Woman of heavenly beauty with the earthly encumbrances of such civil power that she might “coerce the heathens” and rule over them. Such sway the saints do not possess until Christ’s return in glory (Revelation 19:15). Before then, it is the Devil (Revelation 2:10) and the Beast (Revelation 13:5-10) who leverage earthly civil power for coercion, not the lovely Woman of the Lord’s enduring affection.

To assign to the Woman such political power and sway not only sets up an earthly kingdom too soon, but also plays right into the hands of Roman Catholicism—for who succeeded the Roman Empire, but Roman Catholicism, and who coerced “the heathens” by the imperial sword, but the Pope and his minions? Such reasoning as Elliott’s legitimizes the bloody rise of Damasus I and the fraudulent claim of primacy by him and his successors, which we described in our previous post, forcing the offspring of the Woman to trace their roots through the tainted, political intrigues and harlotry of Papal Roman Catholicism, robbing them of the heavenly purity of their legitimate apostolic ancestry. Our ancestry is traced not through harlot Rome, but through the lineage of that heavenly Woman of Revelation 12.

Of that ancestry, we will continue in our next installment.

134 thoughts on “Come Hell or High Water, part 1”

  1. Makes so much sense. The time you took to lay it all out with its scriptural support in order really forces one to understand the distinction between the earthly kingdom of Antichrist and the true heavenly church. This will help people who conflate the 2, or mistake the one for the other, to look for the church where God’s Word is and the saints have been faithful to it. Isn’t amazing in so many so called experts that they succumbed to the devil’s twisting of the 2. Those who seek the Word will find the church, and those who seek a church won’t find the Word. Thanks Tim for this installment. K

  2. “However, we will conclude this inaugural entry of this new series”

    I thought “The Other Woman” was the inaugural entry of this new series.


      An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion, Adopted by the Community of Dissenters, etc.
      Defends the inescapable necessity of creeds and confessions, while promoting a fully creedal church membership. Shows how the law of God obliges all Christians “to think the same things, and to speak the same things; holding fast the form of sound words, and keeping the ordinances as they have been delivered to us” (Col. 3:13). After laying some basic groundwork, this book proceeds to defend the six points of the “Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion Agreed Upon by the Reformed Presbytery.” These six points are the most conservative and comprehensive short statements of consistent Presbyterianism you will likely ever see. Besides the obvious acknowledgement of the alone infallible Scriptures, the Westminster Standards, and the divine right of Presbyterianism, these points also maintain the perpetual obligation of our Covenants, National and Solemn League, the Renovation of these covenants at Auchensaugh in 1712, and the Judicial Act, Declaration and Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery. In short, this book sets forth adherence to the whole of the covenanted reformation, in both church and state, as it has been attained by our covenanting forefathers.

      A Short Account of the Old Presbyterian Dissenters, Under the Inspection of the Reformed Presbyteries of Scotland, Ireland, and North America… by Reformed Presbytery of Scotland

      Full Title: A Short Account of the Old Presbyterian Dissenters, Under the Inspection of the Reformed Presbyteries of Scotland, Ireland, and North America. Comprehending also an Abstract of Their Principles. Intended as an Introduction To The Perusal of Their Judicial Testimony, and Other Larger Works (1806)

      “THE Old Presbyterian Dissenters have assumed, and received the appellation of DISSENTERS, on account of the part which their forefathers acted, at the Revolution, in 1689, while they openly and candidly dissented from the public deeds of the nation’s representatives, in both church and state; considering these deeds as involving a mournful departure from former laudable attainments.

      The epithet OLD has ordinarily been prefixed, to signify, that they are of longer standing, as a distinct body, than any other denomination of Presbyterians, who have separated from the Established Church. In some parts of the country, especially in Ireland, they have been called COVENANTERS, because of their avowed attachment to the National Covenant of Scotland, and the Solemn League and Covenant of the three kingdoms… As the Dissenters hold no new opinions, with respect to either civil or religious matters; it is obvious that they cannot, with any propriety, be denominated a sectary, or new upstart society.

      If we carefully consider the well authenticated histories of our memorable Reformation, from 1638 to 1649; if we examine the printed acts of assembly, during that period, and also the acts of parliament, fixing the conditions of civil rule in the nation; if we candidly peruse the subordinate standards of the Church of Scotland, adapted at that time, as parts of the covenanted uniformity for the three kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland; if we peruse also the Informatory Vindication, Cloud of Witnesses, Plain Reasons, and other books of a similar description, and compare with all these, the Judicial Testimony of the Reformed Presbytery; the native conclusion will be, that the origin of the Old Presbyterian Dissenters, under the inspection of the said Presbytery, may be safely traced to the reformed and covenanted Church of Scotland, when she looked forth fair as the morning, at the year 1649.

      The Old Dissenters evidently stand on the same ground with that famous church; though they must confess themselves the unworthy descendants of such ancestors. From the begun decline, in 1650, to the restoration of Charles II. in 1660, the dismal clouds of Cromwell’s usurpation, enthusiastic Independency, and public resolutions, together with sinfully-qualified tolerations and indulgences, rendered it extremely difficult to recognise the faithful witnesses, for the preceding reformation attainments.

      Yet, even during that period, there was a considerable number, whose unextinguished zeal for the reformation, influenced them to stand boldy forward, and display a banner for the truth. This necessary duty was performed by solemn remonstrances, and protestations, against the public resolutions, and other backslidings of the time. From the Restoration, to the year 1688, when the Revolution took place, comprehending the twenty-eight years of the most inhuman and bloody persecution, the Church’s testimony for the word of Christ’s patience, was honourably supported, by the faithful preaching of the Gospel in the fields, after those ministers, who honestly avowed their attachment to the former reformation, had been silenced by public authority, and ejected from their parish churches; by solemn declarations and testimonies openly exhibited against the prevailing abominations of the time; by the Sufferers’ Informatory Vindication, in connection with Mr. Shields’ Hind let loose, and the Rev. Mr. Renwick’s Testimony against toleration, given in to some ministers in Edinburgh, a short while before his death; and by the earnest contendings and dying speeches of the martyrs, who sealed their steadfast adherence to the truths of Christ with their blood, shed on the scaffolds, and on the high places of the field.”

      The contents of A Short Account of the Old Presbyterian Dissenters by the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland includes:

      SECTION I.-The several Names, by which the Old Dissenters have been known and distinguished
      SECTION II.-The Rise and Progress of the Old Dissenters
      SECTION III.-Concerning the deceased Mr. M’Millan’s coming off from the Revolution Church
      SECTION IV.-The Reformation Attainments, to which the Old Dissenters wish still to adhere
      SECTION V.-The Departures from the Reformation Attainments, against which the Dissenters reckon it their duty to testify
      SECTION VI.-Containing an outline of the Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government to which the Old Dissenters adhere; and of their present situation [Anno 1806]
      APPENDIX.-Containing a few Strictures on a proper Testimony for the Truth

  3. :
    Act, Declaration, And Testimony, For The Whole Of The Covenanted Reformation, As Attained To, And Established In, Britain and Ireland; Particularly Betwixt The Years 1638 and 1649, Inclusive. As, Also, Against All The Steps Of Defection From Said Ref
    Author: Reformed Presbytery

    The Act, Declaration, And Testimony, For The Whole Of The Covenanted Reformation by the Reformed Presbytery upholds the original work of the Westminster Assembly and testifies to the abiding worth and truth formulated in the Westminster family of documents (The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Westminster Shorter Catechism, The Westminster Larger Catechism, etc.).

    It upholds and defends the crown rights of King Jesus in church and state, denouncing those who would remove the crown from Christ’s head by denying His right to rule (by His law) in both the civil and ecclesiastical spheres.

    The Act, Declaration, And Testimony, For The Whole Of The Covenanted Reformation also testifies to the received doctrine, government, worship, and discipline of the Church of Scotland in her purest (reforming) periods and applies God’s Word to the Church’s corporate attainments. It, “is an instrument, which merits attention, from the time, in which it was written; the character, circumstances and faithfulness of the compilers; its parts, lucid declaration, and pointed argument. –To evidence regard to the injunction, Song 1:8; to exemplify the resolution of the Psalmist, Ps. 77:12; and tell to the generation following, Ps. 48:13; 145:4, a historical view of the church, in Scotland, from A.D. 300 till 1688, is given: with a judicial approbation of the earnest contendings and attainments of the faithful, and a strong and pointed judicial condemnation of error and the promoters thereof.

    This retrospective view furnishes matter for the young and for the aged disciple, to contemplate their glorious Lord, in providential procedure, towards his own people; — to distinguish between the providential and preceptive will of God; to estimate his people as weighed in the balances of the sanctuary; — and their own profession, covenant and organic identity with the faithful, who have gone before.

    Argument of principle, arising from historical facts, follows; and the document closes with doctrinal declaration in testamentary and polemic form” (The Original Covenanter and Contending Witness magazine, Dec. 17, 1993, pp. 557-558). Shows the church’s great historical victories (such as the National and Solemn League and Covenant, leading to the Westminster Assembly) and exposes her enemies actions (e.g. the Prelacy of Laud; the Independency, sectarianism, covenant breaking and ungodly toleration set forth by the likes of Oliver Cromwell [and the Independents that conspired with him]; the Erastianism and civil sectarianism of William of Orange, etc.).

    It is not likely that you will find a more consistent working out of the principles of Calvinism and the sovereignty of God anywhere. Deals with the most important matters relating to the individual, the family, the church and the state. Sets forth a faithful historical testimony of God’s dealings with men during some of the most important days of church history.

    A basic text that should be mastered by all Christians.

  4. A Short Vindication of our Covenanted Reformation (1879)
    Author: Reformed Presbytery

    Until the church comes to terms with what is written in this book it will remain weak and divided. Covenant breakers will not prosper, as this rare item demonstrates from both Scripture and history.

    The power packed ordinance of covenanting (exemplified in the National and Solemn League and Covenant in particular), was foundational to the second Reformation and the work of the Westminster Assembly. “By the National Covenant our fathers laid Popery prostrate. By the Solemn League and Covenant they were successful in resisting prelatic encroachments and civil tyranny. By it they were enabled to achieve the Second Reformation… They were setting up landmarks by which the location and limits of the city of God will be known at the dawn of the millennial day… How can they be said to go forth by the footsteps of the flock, who have declined from the attainments, renounced the covenants and contradicted the testimony of the cloud of witnesses…. All the schisms (separations) that disfigure the body mystical of Christ… are the legitimate consequences of the abandonment of reformation attainments, the violation of covenant engagements.”

    If you are interested in knowing how to recognize a faithful church (or state), when and why to separate from unfaithful institutions, who has held up the standard of covenanted Reformation attainments and who has backslidden (and why), what it means to subscribe to the Westminster Confession (and why most that say they do so today do not have any idea of what that means), and much more concerning individual, family, church and civil duties, this is one of the best books you will ever lay your hands on.

    It chronicles “some instances of worldly conformity and mark(s) some steps of defection from our ‘covenanted unity and uniformity,'” noting how “it is necessary to take a retrospect of our history for many years; for we did not all at once reach our present condition of sinful ignorance and manifold apostasy.”

    Presbyterian and the Reformed churches lay under the heavy hand of God’s judgement in our day, because of the very defections noted throughout this fine work. “We heard (hear) from various quarters the cry, ‘maintain the truth, stand up for the principles of the Second Reformation;’ and yet many of those who are the most loud in uttering this cry, appear desirous to bury in oblivion those imperishable national and ecclesiastical deeds, by which the church and kingdom of Scotland became ‘married to the Lord.'”

    Are we married to the Lord, or have we thrown off the covenants of our forefathers; are we the chaste bride of Christ, or a harlot who is found in the bedchambers of every devilish suitor (whether ecclesiastical or civil) who tempts us with the favors of this world? Let us cry out, as with “the noble Marquis of Argyle, upon the scaffold,” when he said, “God hath tied us by covenants to religion and reformation. These that were then unborn are yet engaged, and it passeth the power of all the magistrates under heaven to absolve them from the oath of God. They deceive themselves, and it may be, would deceive others, who think otherwise.”

    Not for the weak of heart.

  5. Auchensaugh Renovation of the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant; with the Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement to Duties as they were Renewed at Auchensaugh in 1712… Also the Renovation of These Public Federal Deeds Ordained at Philadelphia, Oct. 8, 1880
    Author: Reformed Presbytery

    Auchensaugh Renovation of the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant; with the Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement to Duties as they were Renewed at Auchensaugh in 1712… Also the Renovation of These Public Federal Deeds Ordained at Philadelphia, Oct. 8, 1880, By the Reformed Presbytery, With Accommodation of the Original Covenants, in Both Transactions, to their Times and Positions Respectively (1880 ed.)

    “In 1712, at Auchensaugh, the Covenants, National and Solemn League, were renewed… At the renewal the covenant bonds were recognized as binding the descendants of those who first entered into those bonds. The Covenanters, however, sought to display the true intent of those Covenants with marginal notes. These notes explained that the Church of Jesus Christ, in Scotland (and around the world), must not join hands with any political power in rebellion to the crown rights of King Jesus.

    The Covenanters pledged the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church to the support of lawful magistracy (i.e. magistracy which conformed itself to the precepts of God’s Word) and declared themselves and their posterity against support of any power, in Church or State, which lacked biblical authority” (from “About the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church” newsletter).

    An excellent introduction (historical and moral) regarding the reasons, motives and manner of fulfilling the duty of covenanting with God. Especially helpful concerning the Biblical view of the blessings (for covenant-keepers) and cursings (for covenant breakers) related to covenanting.

    As noted on page 37, “the godly usually in times of great defection from the purity and power of religion, and corruption of the ordinances of God’s worship, set about renewing their covenant, thereby to prevent covenant curses, and procure covenant blessing; as we find both in scripture record, 2 Chron. 15:12-13; 29:10; 34:30-31; Ezra 10:3, and in our own ecclesiastical history.”

    Times like ours certainly call for a revival of the Scriptural ordinance of covenanting, for “[t]he nations throughout Christendom, continue in league with Antichrist and give their strength to the beast. They still refuse to profess and defend the true religion in doctrine, worship, government and discipline, contrary to the example of the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland in the seventeenth century” (p. 136 in this book).

    This is one of the most important Covenanter documents and a part of the true Covenanted church’s judicial standards.

  6. Renewal of the Covenants, National and Solemn League; A Confession of Sins; An Engagement to Duties; and a Testimony; as they were Carried on at Middle Octorara in Pennsylvania, November 11, 1743 (1748)
    Author: Alexander Craighead

    A fascinating Covenanter document proclaiming that “[t]o the Calvinistic system of principles, and the Presbyterian form of government, this nation (the United States) is largely indebted for its civil independence and republican polity. John Calvin and John Knox are the real founders of American liberties. Their teachings, plainly deducible from the Word of God, were disseminated by the persecuted remnant of the Church of Scotland, and were generally incorporated in the structure of American independence.”

    Furthermore, Glasgow, in his introduction, points out that Craighead’s covenanting work formed a basis for the national Declaration of Independence, which followed shortly thereafter.

    “For seven years Mr. Craighead labored among the Covenanter societies; but failing to receive assistance from Scotland, he removed, in 1749, to Virginia, thence to Mecklenberg County, North Carolina. There he became identified with the Presbytery in connection with the Presbyterian Church. Being thoroughly imbued, however, with the principles of the Scotch Covenanters, Mr. Craighead taught them to his people around Charlotte. They in turn formulated them into the First Declaration of Independence, emitted at Charlotte, NC, May, 1775.

    According to a reliable author (Wheeler’s Reminiscences, p. 278) Thomas Jefferson says in his autobiography that when he was engaged in preparing the National Declaration of Independence, that he and his colleagues searched everywhere for formulas, and that the printed proceedings of Octorara, as well as the Mecklenburg Declaration, were before him, and that he freely used ideas therein contained.

    It is difficult to determine, therefore, the real author of American Independence. Undoubtedly the principles of the Covenanters at Octarara in 1743, the sentiments of the Presbyterians at Charlotte in 1775, and the Declaration submitted by Jefferson in 1776, contain one and the same great principles. ‘Honor to whom honor is due.'”

    However, Glasgow also reports,

    “[h]ence the Declaration of American Independence was justifiable. But when the newly-born nation ignored the God of battles, rejected the authority of the Prince of the kings of the earth, and refused to administer the government in accordance with the requirements of the Divine Law, then the same loyal Covenanters, faithful to their principles and consistent with their history through all the struggles of the centuries, dissented from the Constitution of the United States, and are justifiable in the continuance of this position of political dissent so long as the government retains its character of political atheism.

    We may rightfully declare our independence of wicked men and rebellious nations, but we cannot declare our independence of God, and set up a government regardless of His authority, without incurring His wrath and suffering from His desolating judgements. ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.'”

    This rare book contains much that is exceedingly valuable and the section titled “The Declaration, Protestation, and Testimony of a Suffering Remnant of the Anti-Popish, Anti-Lutheran, Anti-Prelatic, Anti-Erastian, Anti-Latitu-dinarian, Anti-Sectarian, True Presbyterian Church of Christ, in America,” is well worth the price of the book itself.

    With Glasgow, we set this book forth “[t]rusting that his work will be of historical value to all Covenanters, and interesting to all other readers,” with the hope of “enkindling a flame of love for the glorious principles of the Word of God, and arousing an interest in the great work of National Reformation.”

  7. The Absurdity and Perfidy of All Authoritative Toleration of Gross Heresy, Blasphemy, Idolatry, Popery, in Britain by John Brown of Haddington

    The sub-title reads: “In two letters to a friend in which the doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith relative to Toleration of a False Religion, and the power of the civil magistrate about sacred matters; and the nature, origin, ends and obligation of the National Covenant and Solemn League are candidly represented and defended.” Here Brown deals with three major Reformation attainments (anti-tolerationism, establishmentarianism and the obligations of lawful covenants as they biblically bind posterity) that Satan has always been especially concerned to overthrow — in every major demonic move to open the floodgates of lawlessness, anarchy and misrule.

    Fletcher, in the preface to the 1797 edition, relates this truth as it comes to bear on various religious professors, stating, “Papists were enemies to our covenants because they were a standard lifted up against their system of abominable idolatries. Episcopalians were enemies to them, because they were a standard lifted up against their anti-scriptural church-officers and inventions of men in the worship of God. Some Presbyterians are enemies to them in our day through ignorance of their nature and ends; and others through fear of being too strictly bound to their duty” (Cited in Johnston, Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 486).

    It is also interesting to note the long list of backsliders and heretics that often oppose one or more of these points. “The ancient Donatists, a sect of Arian separatists, who appeared about the beginning of the 4th Century, seem to have been among the first who held out these opinions to the Christian world. Feeling the weight of the arm of power for their schismatical practices, by way of reprisal, they stript the magistrate of all power in religion;–maintaining that he had no more power about religious matters than any private person, and refusing him the right of suppressing the propagators of doctrines different from those professed by the Church, or the observers of a different form of worship.

    From them the German Anabaptists adopted the same views. Then the Socinians (i.e. an early form of Scripture-denying liberals–RB) and remonstrant Arminians, whenever the magistrate ceased to patronize their cause. The English Independents during the time of the Long Parliament were the zealous supporters of the same opinions.

    In their rage for liberty of conscience, they formed the strongest opposition in the Westminster Assembly which the Presbyterians had to encounter. Through their influence that venerable body was much embarrassed (hindered– RB) in their proceeding; and by their means (in collusion with that “Judas of the Covenant,” Cromwell–RB), certain passages of the Confession of Faith never obtained the ratification of the English Parliament.

    The English Dissenters of the present age are generally in the same views, especially the Socinians, the Arians, and the Quakers, who have most to dread from the Laws of the Land against their blasphemies. And who knows not that the high reputation of Mr. Locke as a Philosopher… has given these opinions such an air of respectability, that many youth in the Universities have been thereby inclined to embrace them?” (Preface, pp. vi-vii).

    In our day the tree of toleration (and the anti-Scriptural principles which logically grow out of it) has spread its branches in ways that could have never been envisioned by those that took the first steps away from biblical and covenanted uniformity.

    What Brown is fighting against here is an error so foundational that when left unchecked it permeates all of society, cutting out the foundational roots that are necessary for all national Reformations — and “if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3).

    Furthermore, as the preface notes “liberty of conscience and of opinion” are “the great idols of the day.” Here Brown takes out his covenantal hammer and smashes these idols with an inconoclastic zeal worthy of our earlier Reformed forefathers.

    This book is especially useful in answering the persistent fear and questions that always arise when these old Reformed views are discussed: that is, the questions dealing with religious persecution. Brown spends much time in clearing the Westminster Divines of such false charges, while also setting these controversial Reformed teachings on a thoroughly biblical foundation.

    Interestingly, in the section defending the continuing obligation of the National and Solemn League and Covenant, we also note that the Westminster Assembly considered the Solemn League and Covenant an “everlasting covenant.” Brown cites the following as proof, “That the body of the English nation also swore the Solemn League and Covenant, is manifest. The Westminster Assembly and English Parliament, affirm, ‘The honourable house of Parliament, the Assembly of Divines, the renowned city of London, and multitudes of other persons of all ranks and quality in this nation, and the whole body of Scotland, have all sworn it, rejoicing at the oath so graciously seconded from heaven. God will, doubtless, stand by all those, who with singleness of heart shall now enter into an everlasting covenant with the Lord'” (p. 161).

    The footnote tells us that the section Brown was quoting was taken from “Exhortation to take the Covenant, February, 1644.” Brown also includes a helpful section on a point some modern day malignants are once again attempting to use to overthrow the biblical attainments of the covenanted Reformation. This section shows that the “(t)he intrinsic obligation of promises, oaths, vows, and covenants which constitutes their very essence or essential form, is totally and manifestly distinct from the obligation of the law of God in many respects” (p. 120).

    Finally, we cite a portion of Brown’s dying testimony to his children given in the introduction (p. xix). Such testimonies, from notable Christian leaders, often contain singularly pertinent charges to their hearers. (For another notable example of this see James Renwick’s dying testimony, as he was about to be martyred for his adherence to the Solemn League and Covenant, when he recounts what was later to become most of the terms of communion in Covenanted Presbyterian churches. This testimony can be found in Thompson’s A Cloud of Witnesses for the Royal Prerogatives of Jesus Christ Being the Last Speeches and Testimonies of those Who Have Suffered for the Truth in Scotland Since… 1680).

    Here are Brown’s dying words to his children: “Adhere constantly, cordially and honestly to the Covenanted Principles of the Church of Scotland, and to that Testimony which hath been lifted up for them. I fear a generation is rising up which will endeavour silently,’ (O how prophetic!) ‘to let slip these matters, as if they were ashamed to hold them fast, or even to speak of them (as with many “reformed” publishers and preachers today, who dare not touch the topics Brown deals with in this book–RB). May the Lord forbid that any of you should ever enter into this confederacy against Jesus Christ and his cause! This from a dying father and minister, and a witness for Christ” (Signed) ‘John Brown.’

    If you have the moral courage to compare the original Reformed faith with that which is often promoted under its name today (and in many ways the old Reformed faith bears little resemblance to the “new light” Reformers and innovators of our day), then this is an ideal book to obtain and study.

  8. “Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Cranmer; in the seventeenth century, Bunyan, the translators of the King James Bible and the men who published the Westminster and Baptist confessions of Faith; Sir Isaac Newton… Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards; and more recently Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle and Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones; these men among countless others, all saw the office of the Papacy as the antichrist.” – Michael de Semlyen, All Roads Lead to Rome, p. 205, 1991.

    For example, William Tyndale, in “The Practice of Prelates” and in the Preface to the 1534 edition of the New Testament identified the Papacy as Antichrist. For this, and other reasons, he was condemned by the Papal Antichrist, strangled, and burned at the stake.

    “The Counter Reformation is generally considered to have three aspects: the Jesuits, the Inquisition, and the Council of Trent. In view of the significance of the Protestant apocalyptic interpretation of history which prophetically pinpointed step by step the events covering the whole Christian era from the beginning to the end (i.e. Historicism-ed.), it seems justifiable to suggest a fourth aspect, namely the preteristic (Preterism-ed.) and futuristic (Futurism-ed.) interpretations launched by Catholic expositors as a counterattack.” – Kevin Reed, from his book review titled “The Ecclesiology of John Foxe: A book review by Kevin Reed of John Foxe and the Elizabethan Church by V. Norskov Olsen, 1973, citing Olsen on page 47.

    “All the major Reformers and all the major Reformation creeds and confessions adopted the historicist position — and it is this position that Elliott so skillfully defends. Included in Horae Apocalypticae you will also find a very useful historical survey of who held which positions concerning eschatology, much history on the Roman empire (and its interaction with Christianity), how the Reformation, Islam, etc. were prophesied in the Apocalypse, a world chronology according to the Hebrew Scriptures (which would make the Earth 6127 years old), patristic views of prophecy, the beast and his mark (666) revealed, and much more. The Papacy is also shown to be the apocalyptic antichrist, which was a standard position among the Reformers. Elliott also deals with Moses Stuart’s Preterism.

    H. Gratton Guinness, writes,

    The “Horae Apocalypticae” of Elliott, which may well be considered as the most important and valuable commentary of the Apocalypse which has ever been written, was also called into existence by Futurist attacks on the Protestant interpretation of prophecy (and the same would apply in our day, but even more so, as the classic Protestant system of interpretation for the book of Revelation is still being undermined by the Jesuit inspired Futurist system, but also, increasingly [even in so-called “Reformed” circles] by the other Jesuit inspired system: Preterism!–RB).

    In his preface to the fifth edition Elliott says:

    When I first began to give attention to the subject some twenty years ago, it was the increasing prevalence among Christian men in our country of the Futurist system of Apocalyptic interpretation — a system which involved the abandonment of the opinion held by all the chief fathers and doctors of our Church respecting the Roman Popes and Popedom as the great intended antichristian power of Scripture-prophecy, — that suggested to me the desirableness and indeed the necessity, of a more thoroughly careful investigation of the whole subject than had been made previously. For thereby I trusted that we might see God’s mind on the question; all engaged in that controversy being alike agreed as to the fact of its being expressed in this prophecy, rightly understood: and whether indeed in His view Popery was that monstrous evil, and the Reformation a deliverance to our Church and nation as mighty and blessed, as we had been taught from early youth to regard them…

  9. “The Declaration of Independence has its roots in the Covenanting struggle in Scotland
    Perhaps readers are aware that two Declarations were written, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 21, 1775 and the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776.

    A careful examination of the Mecklenburg Declaration and the Mecklenburg Resolves with the Declaration of Independence and Articles shows marked similarities in words and ideas between the two documents. However, the Mecklenburg Declaration, written by men familiar with the ideas of the Covenanting struggle in Scotland, acknowledged the Sovereignty and Providence of God, and stated “we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people — are and of right ought to be a sovereign and self-governing association, under the control of no power other than that of our God and the general government of the congress.”

    Under the Mecklenburg Declaration, the individual citizen would have been independent, self-governed, and under a limited government, acknowledging the Sovereignty and Providence of God.

    On the other hand the Declaration of Independence states “that all men are . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are . . . Liberty . . . that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” By “counselling submission” to the power derived from the “consent of the governed” it falls short of the objective of limited government. It “attempted to express the ideas of the Whigs,” and the “public philosophy” (humanism comprised of seventeenth century Rationalism and the eighteen century Enlightenment) shared by Thomas Jefferson and most of the Founding Fathers. This left the individual citizen dependent upon the a Sovereign Man/State and coerced into obedience to human laws.

    “In 1825 [the controversy over the Mecklenburg Declaration began in 1819], Thomas Jefferson said again that he only attempted to express [in the Declaration of Independence] the ideas of the Whigs, who all thought alike on the subject. The essential thing was `not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent. . . . Neither aiming at originality of principles or sentiments, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind. . . . All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or the elementary books of public rights, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc’.” (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 1869 edition, VII, 304, quoted by Carl Becker in The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas [New York, NY: Harcourt Brace, 1922])

    “To be sure, the wide support of Whig thought may have had something to do with America’s religious heritage, for a number of Real Whig themes resembled cherished Puritan themes, at least in form. First, Puritans and Whigs shared a pessimistic view of human nature. Puritans believed that natural depravity predisposed individuals to sin; Whigs held that political power brought out the worst in leaders. Both emphasized that freedom meant liberation from something. For Puritans it was freedom from sin; for Whigs it was freedom from political oppression. Both also linked freedom and virtue. Puritans held that sinful behavior led to spiritual and other forms of tyranny; Whigs felt that tyrannical behavior grew from corruption and, in turn, nourished it. Finally, Puritans and Whigs both regarded history in similar terms. It was the struggle of evil against good, dark against light, whether for the Puritan (Antichrist versus Christ) or the Whig (tyranny versus freedom). This similarity in form between Whig political ideas and the traditional theology of some Americans made it easier for many to blur the distinction between a political struggle for rights and a spiritual conflict for the kingdom.” (Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, George M. Marsden, David F. Wells, and John D. Woodbridge, editors, Eerdmans’ Handbook to Christianity in America [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983], pp. 134-135)

    As James W. Skillen states, the founders of the American Republic were generally Protestant though “others such as Thomas Jefferson were notably unorthodox . . . Jefferson, for example, did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ . . .

    Beyond the traditional religious convictions of the Founding Fathers, “there was an additional spirit that brought most of them together in the cause of building the Republic. That spirit arose from the renaissance of humanism beginning before the time of the Protestant Reformation — a spirit which gave birth to seventeenth century rationalism and to the eighteen-century Enlightenment. It was a religious spirit, without doubt, and the religion it inspired was a human-centered moral philosophy more than a God-centered life of dependence upon God through his revelation. Most of the Founding Fathers gave evidence of the struggle between these two spirits in their lives.

    The “quest for political order” of even the pietistic Christians of the time, “was directed by the conviction that a common moral philosophy rooted simply in human reason could supply the foundation for public community. The religion of the Founding Fathers was a synthesis of these two faiths. . . .

    “The duality can perhaps best be illustrated by pointing to Thomas Jefferson. Although Jefferson’s personal piety was not the rule among early Americans, and though many evangelical believers rejected his unorthodox opinions, nevertheless his public philosophy (his religion) became the majority conviction that shaped the structure of public life in America. God functioned in Jefferson’s moral philosophy not as the historical God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not as the Father of Jesus Christ, Head of the church, and Lord of the world, but as the benevolent Creator who preserves people in this life and judges them according to their moral worth and good deeds. . . .

    “Furthermore, in Jefferson’s view, people are able to be upright, moral servants of society because all have been granted a common moral sense, a conscience, that guides them to know what is good, even if their religious opinions differ in other respects. For Jefferson, a common moral conscience among all people meant that only the truths common to all religions were important. . . .

    “Probably the most important consequence of this religion of public morality was its victorious power over orthodox, evangelical Christianity in the public arena. It lead to the establishing of a civil religion in the United States as both America and the public faith matured. . . .” (James W. Skillen, “The Religion of the Founding Feathers,” sidebar in Mark A. Noll, Nathan O. Hatch, George M. Marsden, David F. Wells, and John D. Woodbridge [editors], Eerdmans’ Handbook to Christianity in America [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983], pp. 135-137)

    In contrast, the Covenanting principles teach that religion is not morality. Religion is first covenanting, in keeping with the first table of the Ten Commandments. Morality then follows as a consequence of covenanting.

    It is evident, as shown below, that Thomas Jefferson, in all probability, could not have been unfamiliar with the Mecklenburg Declaration and Alexander Craighead, Renewal of the Covenants, National and Solemn League . . . as they were Carried on at Middle Octorara in Pennsylvania, November 11, 1743, at the time he wrote the Declaration of Independence. ”

  10. Elliott was a pre-mill historicist and we disagree with much of his interpretation like we disagree with Tim’s interpretation as a pre-mill historicist. For better and more biblically sound interpretation of scripture, see here:

    M’Leod (McLeod), Alexander (1774-1833), Lectures Upon the Principal Prophecies of the Revelation, 1814. Alternate title: WHO IS ANTICHRIST (666) OR, LECTURES UPON THE PRINCIPAL PROPHECIES OF THE REVELATION, 1814.

    A Christian classic. Available on the Puritan Hard Drive. Available in The Amazing Christian Library. Available on Reformation Bookshelf CD #12.

    “M’Leod, a Reformed Presbyterian, here defends (in 480 pages), classic historicist Reformation eschatology from the book of Revelation. David Steele, in his massive NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE commends this work numerous times. Steele writes, ‘the best works to be obtained as helps to understand the prophetic parts of scripture, will be found in the labors of those who, from age to age, have obeyed the gracious call of Christ’ — who have ‘come out from mystic Babylon,’ from the Romish communion, from the mother and her harlot daughters, and who have associated more or less intimately with the ‘witnesses.’ Among these may be consulted with profit the works of Durham, Mason and M’Leod. (p. 312).

    The late Rev. Alexander M’Leod, D.D., who had the works of learned predecessors before him, has successfully corrected many of their misinterpretations in his valuable publication, entitled LECTURES UPON THE PRINCIPAL PROPHECIES OF THE REVELATION. At the time when he wrote that work, he possessed several advantages in aid of his own expositions. He had access to the most valuable works which had been issued before that date (1814). He was then in the vigor of youthful manhood; and he was also comparatively free from the trammels which in attempts to expound the Apocalypse, have cramped the energies of many a well disciplined mind, ‘political partialities.’ At the time of these profound studies, he occupied a position ‘in the wilderness,’ from which as a stand point, like John in Patmos, he could most advantageously survey the passing scenes of providence with the ardor of youthful emotion, and with unsullied affection for his divine master . . . expressing my obligations to the Doctor’s labors, ‘to whose system of interpretation as well as to most of his details, I cheerfully give my approbation in preference to all other expositors’ whose works it has been in my power to consult. (pp. 317-19).

    Doctor M’Leod and Mr. Faber I consider among the best expositors of the prophecies on which they severally wrote . . . On material points they have shed much light where those who preceded them left the reader in darkness, or involved him in perplexing labyrinths. Faber preceded M’Leod, and the latter availed himself of all the aid furnished by the former; yet till the ‘mystery of God shall be finished,’ his people will be receiving accessions of light from the ‘sure word of prophecy.’ (p. 321). I can again cordially recommend to his attention the LECTURES of Doctor M’Leod, ”as the best exposition of those parts of the Apocalypse of which he treats,” that has come under my notice.’ (p. 324). But Steele is not shy about pointing out that ‘the principal defect pervading the LECTURES, and one which most readers will be disposed to view in an opposite light, appears to be, a charity ‘too broad,’ a catholicity ‘too expansive,’ to be easily reconciled with a consistent position among the mystic witnesses. Their author, however, deriving much information from the learned labors of English prelates on prophecy, could not ‘find in his heart’ to exclude them from a place in the ”honorable roll of the witnesses.” I am unable to recognize any of those who are in organic fellowship with the ”eldest daughter of Popery,” as entitled to rank among those who are symbolized as ”clothed in sackcloth.” The two positions and fellowships appear to be obviously incompatible and palpably irreconcilable. It is true that there have been and still are in the English establishment divines who are strictly evangelical; but the reigning Mediator views and treats individuals, as he views and treats the moral person with which individuals freely choose to associate; and we ought to have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16, p. 322-23, bold emphases added throughout). Notwithstanding a few shortcomings, this is probably the best book available (at present), on the book of Revelation.” — Publisher

    McLeod, Alexander (1774-1833), Lectures Upon the Principal Prophecies of the Revelation (1814)
    Lectures Upon the Principal Prophecies of the Revelation


    “The doctrine of the Mediatorial Reign of Christ has formed the subject of those principles accounted distinctive to the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Christ’s kingship over the nations and the implications of this doctrine will not be popular amongst a people deeply compromised with the spirit of the age. The prescription may seem tough, but the results of centuries of ignoring this doctrine have left the church effete and gutted when it comes to addressing matters concerning church and state relations. In the various modern debates one viewpoint has been left out, and it is the only one which presents a serious and rigorous biblical vision — the Covenanter position on civil government.

    “In the first discourse, Alexander McLeod explains the biblical basis and the importance of professing that Christ is the head over all nations. McLeod moves from an explanation of what is meant by confessing that Christ rules as Mediator, to a discussion of his administrations as ruler over the nations. Afterward he addresses numerous objections that are raised against the doctrine, in which he explains many finer points respecting Christ’s Mediatorial administration.

    “The second discourse, THE WRITTEN LAW, by Dr. James Renwick Willson (1780-1853), takes up a number of matters of great practical concern and application of the doctrine of this Mediatorship over the nations. Willson is particularly concerned with the place of the written law of God in the constitution of civil governments. Willson often courts controversy, and does not shy away from consistency. It is a blueprint for how things ought to be, if we would submit to Christ as a nation.” — Publisher

    McLeod, Alexander, Messiah, Governor of the Nations of the Earth

    Willson, James R., The Written Law, or The Law of God Revealed in the Scriptures, by Christ as Mediator; The Rule of Duty to Christian Nations to Civil Institutions

  11. Tim, please don’t worry I won’t post anymore. After reading your article it was clear to me (at least) that people could believe that Elliott was the leading reformer on eschatology that you are debunking, and that would be sad as it is not accurate. Eschatology is an unsettled doctrine and so there is room for historicists to disagree.

    Secondly, I’m not sure how you are going to define the “True Church” from the false church and I assume it maybe that you do not hold to the reformer distinctions of being vs. well-being and esse vs. bene esse. Mark keeps bringing up this idea that there are 40,000 protestant denominations, but what he does not understand is I firmly believer that the true remnant or what are the faithful witnesses can be traced in history with the Scriptures and faithful historical testimony through Europe and especially Scotland, Ireland and into other parts of the world, including America.

    The WCF is clear about the visible and invisible church of Christ, and who are the elect and remnant are only for Him to number and draw unto Himself, but this idea there are 40,000 protestant churches is hog wash.

    There is one faithful church in well-being throughout history, and the rest are antichrist and her daughters “called” protestant churches visibly in history.

    I was trying to get on the record before you use your theory of eschatology to try to overturn well established reformed covenants, creeds, confessions and faithful testimony in history. That would not be a good thing in my opinion to make another “40,000” denominations all chasing different views of the church using unsettled eschatology. Elliott is not the source of our eschatology. He was good because he showed the Roman Antichrist as a historicist and identified the other preterist and futurist Jesuit inventions in the counter reformation.

    I do hope some of your readers do go through the posts and you will not delete them. 🙂

  12. BTW, Tim, I never said that they removed the bones from the catacombs. I said they venerated the relics when the catacombs were opened.,6474

    We know that by 340 it was a common practice to venerate relics because
    “While some frowned on the use of relics and the prayers and acts of intercession associated with them, the Council of Gangra issued an anathema against those who “despised relic veneration,” indicating both the importance of relics and the apparently strong opposition to them. ”

    Also remember that the persecuted Church before 313 didn’t have Church buildings, but met in homes and also worshiped, prayed, and had devotions in the catacombs, the burial grounds of the Christian martyrs. Veneration goes back farther than 313.
    The veneration of relics was so intense that even a Pagan at Smyrna didn’t want to give up the bones of Polycarp because he thought the Christians would worship them and the Smyrna elders had to clarify that they only worship Christ.

    Your late 4th century sudden adoption of the veneration of relics is a myth. I hope you let your readers see this and decide for themselves.

    1. Mark, I want you to know how much I appreciate your hopeful and ambitious optimism. It is endearing. I will also say that it is very good for you to be investigating this so thoroughly. There is much to be learned. For the sake of having a productive conversation, you may wish to reword some of your objections. For example, you wrote,

      BTW, Tim, I never said that they removed the bones from the catacombs. I said they venerated the relics when the catacombs were opened.

      Well, here is what you actually said:

      “No, the Church has had relics much earlier than 312. Acts 19:12 for instance. Even Peter’s shadow possessed the power to heal. Acts 5:15. The early Christians venerated the bones in the catacombs. It wasn’t until 312 when they were able to bring the bones out of the catacombs, but don’t read into that they wouldn’t have if they were able to. You can see that on the top of page 31 not every Church was able to have a whole body of a Saint, which implies that they had at least a part.”

      So you actually did say they “removed the bones from the catacombs” starting in 312 AD. My curiosity is piqued. Have you found some evidence of this? The archaeological world is eager to discover this important new information. (I jest.)

      Now to get to your next point, let’s think about how common relic veneration was in 340 A.D.. The date of the council is in doubt, being placed between Nicæa (325 A.D.) and Constantinople (381 A.D.), some writers placing it in 358, some in 365 and others between 362 and 370, and others in 376. There is even an argument for it as early as 340. Ok. Not a sure or certain foundation for your dating of it, but let’s assume 340 A.D. and think through this together.

      So your source says the Council of Gangra issued an anathema against those who “despised relic veneration.” Let’s take a look.

      “If any one shall, from a presumptuous disposition, condemn and abhor the assemblies [in honour] of the martyrs, or the services performed there, and the commemoration of them, let him be anathema.” (Council of Gangra, Canon XX, Catholic Encyclopedia)

      I was sure expecting to find a canon against those who “despised relic veneration” but all I could find was a canon against people opposed to commemorating the deaths of the martyrs. Can you help me find the one against those who “despised relic veneration”? I sure can’t find it. (That’s tongue-in-cheek, by the way. But you can guess that “Our Sunday Visitor” does not pass muster for the rigors of scholarship on Roman Catholicism’s presumption of apostolic continuity, but it sure shows how they long for the days before the early 4th century, perchance to prove earlier origins than the facts of history suggest).

      But let’s think for just a second about the typical characterization of the “use” of relics in the early church vis-a-vis the alleged antique origins of “veneration” of relics. The Catholic Encyclopedia has a lot of good quotes from the Church Fathers (Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa) justifying the veneration of relics, but you may note that Jerome, Cyril and Gregory were all from the late 4th century. (Pretty interesting that it took 300 years for someone to notice that bowing to relics is kind of idolatrous and needed some explaining, don’t you think? But on the other hand, it’s also kind of hard to find evidence of men bowing to the bones of the dead before then, too.) Cyril’s quote is best for our purposes. He says we are to bow to relics “only relatively and reverentially” but not to worship them. When I speak of “venerating relics” I’m talking about bowing to them, a practice unheard of in the early church until the end of the 4th century. Now that said, let’s review Rome’s evidence of early veneration of Relics. We’ll start with the obvious one: Elisha’s bones:

      “And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.” (2 Kings 13:21)

      This is a description of where Elisha was buried. That there was power to raise a man from the dead I do not deny, but throwing a dead man into someone else’s grave is not “veneration of relics.” Also, it kind of sounds like Elisha was buried, and not kept in a reliquary. Let’s move on to Stephen.

      Jerome tried to use the funeral of Stephen to prove that the early church venerated relics:

      “Once more I ask, Are the relics of the martyrs unclean? If so, why did the apostles allow themselves to walk in that funeral procession before the body— the unclean body— of Stephen? Why did they make great lamentation over him, [Acts 8:2] that their grief might be turned into our joy?” (Jerome, Letter 109, paragraph 3)

      Man, that sure sounds like a funeral. Didn’t see any bowing to Stephen’s bones.

      Now, you’ve mentioned Paul’s shadow, and apologists for relic veneration typically appeal to Acts 19:12 to refer to the use of Paul’s apron and handkerchief, and indeed “God wrought special miracles” by them (Acts 19:11), but still no reference to bowing to them. Besides, shadows and articles of clothing of the living don’t really qualify as relics, since the formal definition of a relic is “part of the body or clothes, remaining as a memorial of a departed saint,” for “relic” comes from the word for “remains” (Catholic encyclopedia, Relics), and since Paul had not yet departed, there weren’t any “remains” yet. Though I’d love to visit the basilica that still has St. Paul’s shadow. That one must be busy.

      But let’s move on to Ignatius. The fact that his remains were brought back to Antioch wrapped in linen is used to prove “relic veneration,” and yet as the linen implied, and as Jerome testified explicitly, they brought Ignatius’ remains back to Antioch to be buried, and he was still in the cemetery at the time of Jerome’s letter:

      “[T]he remains of his body lie in Antioch outside the Daphnitic gate in the cemetery.” (Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, Chapter 16)

      Still no bowing to relics. But let’s move on to Polycarp. The typical apologist for early relic veneration cites the fact that Polycarp’s bones were considered precious, and indeed they were. As I have highlighted from the history of his martyrdom, his disciples took the bones and deposited them somewhere convenient that they might gather annually on the “birthday” of his death to celebrate his memory. As your Catholic Encyclopedia testifies, though, there were no church buildings at the time (so they were obviously not deposited there), and annual celebrations of the martyrs took place at their tombs (which sounds like Polycarp’s disciples buried him rather than expose his relics for veneration).

      Finally, in the mid-350s, Anthony was still claiming that it was unlawful not to bury the departed martyrs (Athanasius, Life of Anthony, paragraph 90)

      So lets recap:

      Elisha’s relics: buried, but not bowed to
      Stephen’s relics: funeral procession, but no bowing to his body
      Paul’s “relics”: he wasn’t even dead yet, so they were not “remains”, and certainly no bowing
      Ignatius’ relics: buried, but but not bowed to
      Polycarp’s relics: buried, but not bowed to
      Anthony on relics: martyrs ought to be buried
      Council of Gangra’s anathema against those who “despised relic veneration”: turns out it was an anathema against those who don’t like honoring the martyrs at their tombs where they were buried, but says nothing about bowing to relics in a reliquarium as Our Sunday Visitor implied.

      Sure sounds like they were burying martyrs even in the mid-300s.

      And that leaves me wondering, Mark. When did people actually start bowing to relics? Late 4th century, perhaps? If you spend some time studying relic veneration and studying bowing to relics, you’ll find that it simply did not happen within ostensibly Christian circles until then, and as much as you would have like to imagine that people were taking bones out of the catacombs in 312, it simply wasn’t happening, and as much as you might like to imagine that Elisha’s, Ignatius’ and Polycarp’s relics were exposed for veneration, the historical record shows that they were buried. You have fallen for the typical Roman sleight of pen that attempts to show ante-Nicæan origins of late 4th century novelties by tossing in an early date, and letting you fill in the rest on your own. I would encourage you to go back and read your own citation, and notice what it doesn’t say. Under “Relics,” it says, “When peace came in 312 A.D….” and it lets you assume relic veneration goes back at least that far. That’s why you were so emphatic in your insistence that they were removing bones in 312. But read closer, and they don’t actually say when it started. They just throw in an early date and let you come to your own conclusions.

      It’s a pretty common tactic. Fr. Saunders did the same thing his 1995 article, “Why Do We Venerate Relics?”:

      “After the legalization of the Church in 312, the tombs of saints were opened and the actual relics were venerated by the faithful.”

      Notice that he didn’t say how long after.

      Enjoy your studies,


      1. Tim, you said, “So you actually did say they “removed the bones from the catacombs” starting in 312 AD.”
        Again, reread what I wrote. I never said they started taking them out in 312, I said they were able to take them out starting then because of the Edict of Milan! In fact, by some accounts what happened was that they took cloths and touched the bones in 312 and those cloths were 3rd class relics.

        The WHOLE point of this argument is that you claim that veneration of relics STARTED in the later 4th century, which I guess is what you think they borrowed from pagan Romans.

        Relics are more than just bones. When St. Cyprian was beheaded his brethren brought napkins to soak up the blood to preserve. In the New Testament, people hoped just to get under Peter’s shadow for healing. Paul’s hankerchief was used to heal others. The woman was healed just by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment.

        I’ve now shown you that relics aren’t just bones, but anything that was touched by holy men. It’s interesting to note that Polycarp removed his clothing prior to being lit on fire so that the people could have his clothes as relics as well. He even tried taking his shoes off.

        Is your biggest contention the WAY relics are venerated? Are you just against bowing? Or does the whole idea of relics just creep you out. Or should we not put them in reliquaries?

        1. Mark, you wrote,

          “Again, reread what I wrote. I never said they started taking them out in 312, I said they were able to take them out starting then because of the Edict of Milan!”

          So that I can understand what it is that you’re saying, can you explain to me what you meant by the part in bold, below? Earlier, you said,

          “It wasn’t until 312 when they were able to bring the bones out of the catacombs, but don’t read into that they wouldn’t have if they were able to. You can see that on the top of page 31 not every Church was able to have a whole body of a Saint, which implies that they had at least a part.”

          It really sounds like you’re saying that they started extracting bodies from the catacombs pretty much as soon as they got access to them in 312 A.D.. When I asked you for proof that they were extracting the martyrs from the catacombs that early, you pointed me to pg 31 of the book, and concluded with the statement that some churches had whole bodies and some “had at least a part” of a body.

          In two different comments you seem to have said both that they did, and did not, extract bodies from the catacombs as early as 312 A.D.. Is it your position that they were extracting bodies and body parts from the catacombs as early as the first half of the 4th century? Or is it your position that they were not?



          1. I don’t think they were taking wheel barrows into the catacombs and removing the bones in 312, but they were able to. No, they started building churches immediately on top of the bones.

            I am lost as to your contention with relics. Is it the bowing? Ever take a martial art? My children are in karate and they must bow before they enter the mat. Are they worshiping the dojo? No, they aren’t. They are showing respect.

            Some people kiss the reliquary. Another sign of respect. Is it OK to kiss a picture of a relative? Are they worshiping the person? No.

            Was veneration (not worship) of relics a pagan invention? Absolutely not! The pagans were repulsed by the idea. They thought the body was evil. That’s why they cremated them!

          2. Mark, as I have said, I’m a little obtuse. I still don’t understand what you’re saying. First you wrote

            “It wasn’t until 312 when they were able to bring the bones out of the catacombs, but don’t read into that they wouldn’t have if they were able to. … not every Church was able to have a whole body of a Saint, which implies that they had at least a part.”

            That sounds like you’re saying that they were able to, and they did. Then you wrote,

            “I don’t think they were taking wheel barrows into the catacombs and removing the bones in 312, but they were able to.”

            That sounds like you’re saying that they were able to, and they did not. (I’ll ignore the reference to wheelbarrows, since the means of conveying the bones out of the catacombs is irrelevant.)

            In any case, you didn’t answer the questions I asked, so I’ll provide them again:

            “Is it your position that they were extracting bodies and body parts from the catacombs as early as the first half of the 4th century?

            Or is it your position that they were not?”



          3. Tim, it is quite possible they were being removed since churches were springing up quickly after the Edict of Milan. As I have shown, relic veneration has been part of Christianity from the beginning and even extends back to the Old Testament.

            I think the big problem is that you have not defined veneration. I think your idea of veneration is very specific, which is not how Catholics view veneration. Veneration is NOT just putting bones in a reliquary and/or bowing before it. Going to a burial place of a martyr on the anniversary of his death is also considered veneration. Holding a cloth that touched a bone of a martyr is also considered veneration. To venerate means “regard with great respect; revere”. Before 312, Christians went into the catacombs where the bones were venerated. Many of those Christians knew they probably were going to meet the same end and many of them, such as Ignatius of Antioch, eagerly sought martyrdom.

            It seems to me that you are confusing veneration with worship. If relic veneration (as you understand it) is the biggest source of the apostasy of the Church in the late 4th century, I encourage you to understand what veneration is and isn’t. The Church was very clear that they do not worship these bones.

          4. Mark,

            You wrote,

            “Tim, it is quite possible they [bones] were being removed [from the catacombs] since churches were springing up quickly after the Edict of Milan.”

            That sounds like you are saying that bones were being removed in order to be placed in the churches. But earlier you wrote,

            “I don’t think they were taking wheel barrows into the catacombs and removing the bones in 312, but they were able to. No, they started building churches immediately on top of the bones.”

            That sounds like you are saying that the bones were not being removed, but instead churches were being built on top of the bones but not extracting them.

            Forgive me if I’m a little slow, but I still don’t know what your answer is. Here are the questions again:

            “Is it your position that they were extracting bodies and body parts from the catacombs as early as the first half of the 4th century?

            Or is it your position that they were not?”

            As I mentioned before, the first recorded incident of removing the bones of a saint for such a purpose was in 354 A.D.. Do you have some evidence that people were doing that prior to 354 A.D.? I will be interested to see the evidence if you can provide it please.



          5. I said it is possible the bones were removed. Do I have a recorded event? No, but saying that 354 is the first time bones were being removed doesn’t prove that they weren’t removed before. As you said that is the first recorded event.

            Can you tie this whole rabbit trail back to the point you made about apostasy? What point are you trying to make about relics? Was 354 the great apostasy according to you? How do you define veneration?

          6. Mark,

            I know you don’t have a recorded event. As I have said repeatedly, what you currently practice as “relic veneration” is a late 4th century novelty. You also wrote (in an earlier comment),

            “I think the big problem is that you have not defined veneration.”

            Actually, I defined it explicitly:

            “When I speak of “venerating relics” I’m talking about bowing to them, a practice unheard of in the early church until the end of the 4th century.”

            You also said,

            “If relic veneration (as you understand it) is the biggest source of the apostasy of the Church in the late 4th century, I encourage you to understand what veneration is and isn’t.”

            Actually, I’ve never said relic veneration “is the biggest source of the apostasy.” What I said was,

            “The “specific event” I am talking about is the great falling away of 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Kneeling before relics is just one manifestation of the idolatry Satan introduced in the latter part of the 4th century. There are very many more.

            The actual “source of the apostasy” was the flood of error that came out of the mouth of the serpent in Revelation 12:15:

            “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.”

            It’s remarkable how many Roman Catholic novelties came up in the late 4th century. We’ll get into that flood more as the series progresses.


          7. Tim said,
            “When I speak of “venerating relics” I’m talking about bowing to them, a practice unheard of in the early church until the end of the 4th century.”

            As I’ve shown you veneration isn’t just bowing. Why is bowing your dividing line when bowing doesn’t mean worship as I have explained?

            Now you are talking about kneeling. Kneeling and bowing are not the same thing, so you will need to differentiate between these two with regards to relics. I am sure you have no problem kneeling in front of your bed with your Bible open in front of you. Are you worshiping your Bible? According to you, yes.

            I’ve already explained that pagans were repulsed by the Christian veneration of relics, so I guess you have some other proof that Satan was involved somehow.

            Quite honestly, all of your apostasy conspiracy theory isn’t really of interest to me. It’s just spiritual junk food. I am more interested in how you are going to trace the “true church” and their “true beliefs” from the 4th century to today. You have a big task ahead of you- 1,600 years! You are attempting to do what no other Protestant has ever been able to do. Good luck!

          8. “Quite honestly, all of your apostasy conspiracy theory isn’t really of interest to me.”


  13. Mark, in Isaiah 48 the Lord says my glory I share with no one. Any veneration to the material, bread, Relics, Mary, saints, sacraments, popes, etc. Is idolatry. Worship the Lord God with ALL of your heart soul mind. There is no room for anything else to worship. God doesn’t share his glory. That is why salvation is by Christ alone, thru faith alone. Not salvation by priests or by justification by sacraments. By faith John says we have overcome the world. We don’t kneel or bow to created things, but Christ dwells in our heart, and we worship God in Spirit and truth. K

  14. Mark–

    Although the “Martyrdom of Polycarp” describes the saint’s removal of his clothing in preparation for being burned, it says nothing of believers receiving any of it. Nor does it sound like the authorities would have had any inclination to allow such an action. So how did you surmise its happening?

    1. Hans, so do you have to take off your clothes to be burned?

      Of course the brethren standing there wanted to touch his skin even before he was martyred because he was so holy. “…inasmuch as every one of the faithful was always eager who should first touch his skin. For, on account of his holy life, he was, even before his martyrdom, adorned with every kind of good. ”

      They got his bones, so there’s no reason to not think they got his clothes too. You too miss the forest for the trees. Straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel.

  15. Mark, why venerate these people at all? God calls for worship with all of our heart, soul, and mind. There is no benefit in veneration. None. Peter said there is no name under heaven in which salvation can be found than that of Jesus. Veneration relics or kissing popes feet is of no salvific value, none.

  16. ” of course the brethren there wanted to touch his skin even before he was martyred because he was so holy” He was a sinner saved by the grace of God, just like any other believer. The veneration of relics that started late 4th century is idolatry, just like lifting bread in the air in the place of the Lord, or praying to saints. For sure, as God deflected undo glory from Mary, He will deal with those who put the clothes or bones of men up for worship, and those who lift a piece of bread in the place of Christ, or gaze on the statue of Mary. Scripture is crystal clear, God is only looking for those who worship Him alone in Spirit and truth. Veneration of relics is deplorable to God.

  17. Kevin, tell me what veneration means.

    Did you know what was in the Ark of the Covenant? Aaron’s rod. The same rod that Moses’ had. Also some jars of manna. And, here’s what 2 Samuel 6 says: “David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.”

    There were even statues of cherubim and creatures of the earth on the ark. Was it a sin that David danced before the ark of the Lord?

    1. ” tell me what veneration means” there is no difference in the dictionary between veneration and worship. The bible makes no distinction between dullia and Hyperdullia. To venerate or worship anyone or anything is an abomination to God. Whether it’s a golden calf or someone’s bones or clothes makes no difference. It amazes me that scripture says worship God with ALL of heart, soul mind. In light of this Mark the question arises, why do you care about veneration of dead men’s bones, it has no salvific value. Apart from Christ there is no salvation Peter tell us. If that’s true, and it is, who cares about the material things. Those like bread, wine, water, etc. are only signs of the signified. It’s the signified that saves, Christ. We can sum up salvation in three words free grace, faith, Christ alone. Trust me, Polycarp’s bones are of no value to me or those at that time. K

      1. Kevin, you do need to have a distinction between veneration and worship. It’s interesting that the word worship has changed. In the British matrimonial vows it would say “I promise to love, honor, and worship thee.” People in the courts were called “Your worship” instead of “Your honor”.

        So, yes, there is a distinction, Kevin, between veneration and worship. Between adoration, or latria, which is only given to the Trinity alone and between dulia, which is given towards the saints and hyperdulia which is given to Mary, the blessed mother of our Lord.

        It has no salvific value to you because you only see religion as YOU and YOU alone. Very much just you, Jesus, and the Bible. Catholics see faith as the community of believers, both living and those who are in purgatory or heaven. It’s a community effort. We are strengthened in our walk when we see the great witnesses that have gone before us. Sometimes we are healed physically such as the handkerchief of St. Paul.

        This is why we have Saints- to strengthen our walk so that we too may attain the prize. It is quite sad that Protestants by and large don’t have Saints and are running the race alone.

        St. Jude, pray for us!
        St. Polycarp, pray for us!
        St. Irenaeus, pray for us!
        St. Jude, pray for us!
        St. Francis, pray for us!

  18. Yes, Mark, at certain times and places clothing was removed before burning took place. The text describes their taking up the bones (which were then buried) but says nothing about the clothes. I don’t know how you can read into that. We simply don’t know one way or the other. We’re not told.

    1. Hans, you said, “Yes, Mark, at certain times and places clothing was removed before burning took place.”

      Can you show me a document from the 2nd century that explains this?


  19. Mark–

    I’ll look for something specifically from that era and locale. But why would you doubt it as a possibility? Jesus was stripped before the crucifixion. And the disciples were not granted his clothing.

    I believe it was stolen, but we had the supposed right arm of Polycarp deposited somewhere. Are there any second-class relics of his anywhere?

      1. Mark–

        Expensive? Probably not. Though of higher quality–and thus, more valuable– making it more difficult to divvy up without destroying the value. (They may have split clothing sometimes by ripping along seams, which his tunic did not have.)

        But that is beside the point. The fact of the matter is that it was the Roman custom to grant the execution crew the criminal’s possessions, including all his clothes. They crucified people stark naked to humiliate them.

  20. O, holy St. Mark (of) Rome. Pray for us! Strengthen us in our walk that we may one day attain the prize (as you are certain to do). Grant us hope and peace and love from your bounteous treasure store. We humbly bow at the feet of your likeness which we have set up in the garden in our front yard (with flood lights for optimal nighttime visibility).

    We ask this in the same way we’d ask any of our friends to pray for us, O, most worthy and gracious Mark!


  21. Mark–

    Protestants do believe in the “Communion of Saints,” just not in the INVOCATION of saints (to guard the sole mediatorship of Christ). The Second Helvetic Confession directly states that there is indeed “fellowship and union” between the Church Militant here on earth and the Church Triumphant in heaven. I even think some notion of prayer between us and them can be countenanced…as mere communication or as the concommitant worship of God rather than as any sort of mediation.

  22. Mark–

    Here are the lyrics of one of the best known Anglican hymns for All Saints Day:

    1. For all the saints who from their labors rest,
    Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
    Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest,
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
    Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
    Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    3. Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
    Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
    And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    4. O blest communion, fellowship divine,
    We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
    Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    5. And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
    Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
    And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    6. But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day;
    The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
    The King of Glory passes on His way.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    7. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
    Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
    Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    8. The golden evening brightens in the west;
    Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
    Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

  23. Mark–

    And here is a prayer from the Lutheran liturgy:

    “It is truly good, right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to you, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting, who in the multitude of your saints did surround us with so great a cloud of witnesses that we, rejoicing in their fellowship, may run with patience the race that is set before us and, together with them, may receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify your glorious name, evermore praising you and saying…

    “Holy, holy, holy Lord, Lord God of power and might: Heaven and earth are full of Your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

    1. Hans, I’ll let you and Kevin wrestle about Protestantism and veneration of Saints.
      The liturgy you quoted is the Catholic liturgy! And in that liturgy is the veneration of Saints.

  24. Hans said ” just not the invocation of the saints” trust me Hans Jesus is barely a welcomed member of the congregation. These Roman Catholics spend most of their time and energy in the Marian ego and veneration of relics, invoking saints, ritual. Let’s face it, their obsession with their carnal doctrines is where their religion lies. When I said to Mark the notion that Christ is all we need, we are complete in Him, having ALL things pertaining to life and Godliness, his retort was to make the important distinction between veneration and worship. This is how they justify their idols, they make a category that is less than worship. See, then it makes it ok. It’s like when Nazi’s Germany reduced human life to something less than personhood, and abortionist reduce the baby to a fetus, then you can kill it. If you as a Catholic convince yourself that your preoccupation with the carnal and physical is less than worship, then it’s ok. That isn’t the way God sees it from my reading of scripture, and as Tim has shown in Novel Antiquity and His work on veneration of relics, this was the glimpses of all the idolatry to come. J. C. Ryle called Rome one giant system of church worship, sacrament worship, saint worship, relic worship. In Isaiah it says idolators become their idols. So true . K

  25. 2 Corinthians 6:14 ” Do not be bound together with unbelievers, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness , or what fellowship has light and darkness? Or what harmony has Christ and Belial , or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said ” I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore , come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will welcome you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, Says the Lord God almighty.” Make no mistake, God does not dwell in buildings or altars, or physical things, but this passage clearly teaches we are the temple of the living God and He dwells in Us through his Spirit by faith alone. And this passage says ” and what agreement has the temple of God ( us) with idols?” Mark, please take careful note here, Christians have no agreement with veneration of relics, exultation of Mary or saints, or those who believe God dwells in physical things. This passage is clear, God dwells in his temple us, our hearts. Any notion that grace comes through anything other than the Spirit of God is pure idolatry. The only thing that benefits me is what Paul describes ” having the same spirit of faith in you.” Romans 8:16 says that His Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” our assurance comes from the inner work of the Spirit by and with the word of God, and as I said to you before, nothing else is necessary. I agree with Hans we are in communion in a sense with departed brethren, but a believer has no need to exalt garments or men, or bones. We have all we need in Christ who dwells in us richly.

  26. Mark–

    The liturgy I quoted was Lutheran, and yes, it has a lot in common with Rome’s. That was the point. Lutherans (as well as Anglicans and Presbyterians) never gave up on the tenet of the Communion of Saints. It’s in the creed, for goodness’ sake!

    If I were Catholic, I wouldn’t want to tackle the “veneration of saints” topic either. It’s smart to avoid discussing obvious weak points.

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    What you think the book of Revelation teaches and when you think it was written, determines how you live your life — are we to conquer the world for Christ or tread water until He rescues us on the last day? — and what you think the headlines mean. Do events in the Middle East prove we are on the brink of the end times? Is Antichrist about to be revealed? Is Armageddon around the corner?

    This generation of Christians has been taught Futurism; that most of Revelation describes end-time events.

    Futurism is a late 16th century Roman Catholic invention that was crafted to defend the Papacy against the claims of the Protestant Reformation. Sadly, most fundamentalists and evangelicals are unknowingly parroting Roman propaganda.

    The historic Protestant view is that Revelation is a panorama of world history from the first century to the end of time. It reveals the rise and fall of nations, of Papalism and Islam, of a future New World Order of one government and one religion imposed upon the world. But it also reveals the final triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Christianization of all nations BEFORE the end of human history.

  28. Tim wrote:

    “Walt, you observed,

    “If ones presupposition is grounded in solely the early church fathers … “

    Is that what you believe about me? That my presupposition is grounded solely in the early church fathers?



    No, it was not a fair nor accurate statement. I don’t think it is solely grounded in the early church fathers, but perhaps it is perhaps “significantly” or “mostly” grounded in the early fathers. I don’t see the early church perhaps as you do as the high water mark in Christian church history. The anabaptists and many independents look to the Apostles and Early Church Fathers as being the most pure times in church history, and there they tend to ignore all history in between their generation and the first and second centuries.

    I don’t think you fall into these extreme categories whatsoever as you are far more balanced and far better studied on all centuries leading to our own. They often don’t know anything about the reformation period except that the KJV was produced…and while many recognize by name that there were reformers, they only see the reformers as another offshoot of either Rome or unconnected to the “holy spirit” that God has poured out in our generation.

    Certainly, very few would identify the first and second reformation unity and uniformity in defining doctrine, discipline, form of worship and government as being histories “high water mark” in the Christian church…followed by what we see now as a highly splintered and wicked generation.

    Sorry about the wrong characterization as I should have been more careful in selecting my words.

    1. Thanks, Walt. I appreciate the clarification. I wasn’t so concerned about the characterization itself (I have been called many things here), but the perception that gave rise to it. In my understanding, a presupposition grounded solely in the Early Church Fathers would yield such syllogisms as,

      “The Early Church Fathers believed or practiced XYZ, and therefore so must we,”


      “The Early Church Fathers interpreted John 1:1 as ABC, and therefore we must not arrive at an interpretation of John 1:1 that is inconsistent with ABC.”

      In my opinion, that is what a presuppositional approach to the Early Church Fathers would look like, the presupposition being that the Early Church Fathers in the aggregate, are a source of revelation to us. I don’t believe I have ever made statements like that at all.

      In fact, I have made many statements to the contrary. I.e., “the cause of the Early Church Fathers’ confusion, was to see Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 both to represent one single judicial act against the succession of empires.”

      As you know, I have no problem rejecting or denying certain teachings and interpretations of the early church fathers. My focus on that particular period is eschatological and historical, not dogmatic. It is one thing to say “Roman Catholicism claims the Early Church Fathers were unanimous on ABC but upon examination, they clearly were not,” and quite another to say, “The Early Church Fathers said XYZ and therefore it is the authoritative interpretation.”

      The latter relies on a presupposition grounded in the early church, while the former is a simple academic exercise. I hope you can see that I have never approached the early writers as if they were authoritative, but rather to show that Roman Catholicism’s use of them is deceptive and intentionally misleading.

      In any case, I think you’ll also acknowledge that none of the Early Church Fathers espoused an eschatology like mine, and therefore I do not derive my eschatology from the Early Church Fathers.

      Thanks again for your clarification,


  29. Tim, by the way, if you listen to this minister he agrees with you that the transfer from the Apostles to the Roman Catholic “religion” in the 4th century.

    “How The Church Of The Apostles Was Hijacked By Rome (A History Of Apostasy And The Growth Of Antichrist) by William J. Mencarow”

    1. Thanks, Walt. I enjoyed Pastor Mencarow’s sermon. He did have one comment that I disagreed with, but I think it is based on a misunderstanding. He attributed to Constantine the statement that decisions by the church led by the bishop of Rome could not be overturned in a civil suit. That is almost certainly based on Socrates Scholasticus’ Church History, Book II, chapter 8, where Socrates says of the Eusebian synod of Antioch in 341 A.D.,

      “Neither was Julius, bishop of the great Rome, there, nor had he sent a substitute, although an ecclesiastical canon commands that the churches shall not make any ordinances against the opinion of the bishop of Rome.”

      and Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History, Book II, chapter 9, which reads,

      “Constantine … permitted litigants to appeal to the decision of the bishops if they preferred them to the state rulers. He enacted that their decree should be valid, and as far superior to that of other judges as if pronounced by the emperor himself.”

      These were written in the late 430s A.D.—more than 100 years after Nicæa, and almost 100 years since the synod of Antioch—when Roman episcopal primacy was accepted as a truth of history. Thus, the status quo in the mid-5th century was retroactively imposed on the canons of the previous century. Socrates’ and Sozomen’s statements were very likely based on the prevailing anachronistic reinterpretation of the 6th of Nicæa, as well as Constantine’s actual judicial reforms in which many judges, for the sake of managing the volume of judicial appeals, “were endowed with judicial authority equal to that of the emperor, or in the consistory of the emperor himself.” (Dillon, The Justice of Constantine, (2012) 215). Add to that Pope Julius’ decontextualized statement, “Are you ignorant that the custom has been for word to be written first to us, and then for a just decision to be passed from this place?” (Athanasius, Apologia Contra Arianos, Part I, chapter 2, Letter of Julius to the Eusebians at Antioch, paragraph 21) as well as the fraudulent attachment of the canons of Sardica to the council of Nicæa by Pope Zosimus, and they make Canon 6 of Nicæa and Canons 3, 4, 6 and 9 of Sardica, seem to say that “the churches shall not make any ordinances against the opinion of the bishop of Rome,” and the ruling of the bishop of Rome is final. Of course, when examined in context, they say nothing of the sort, but by the early 5th century, it was practically universally accepted.

      In any case, it was still a good sermon and I appreciated his message.


    1. Tim, if you can watch the above video and see if you agree with the issues they are discussing about the validity of the first 4 Popes taken from the Vatican website, it would be interesting to know your views. Perhaps soon the true church reveals her path into England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland after those first 4 “Popes”.

  30. Wow, I could not agree more…as I have been saying for years. Now I just found an excellent testimony to support my view!!!

    “Political coercion is what the Roman Catholic Church thrived on for many years throughout the Middle Ages. Although her methods have changed, her goals have never changed, as one can see in this video. Her ability to grow in strength and numbers was and still is in proportion to her legal agreements (concordats) with other nations throughout the world.

    This video with former Catholic priest Richard Bennett and Pastor (and former Catholic) W. J. Mencarow truly documents the Vatican’s diplomatic relations with 179 countries, enabling it to implement political coercion over many of these nations.

    Please make this video known by sending its URL to your family and friends and your church members. Thank you”

  31. Tim–

    Perhaps you deal with this elsewhere, but exactly how do you characterize the visible church for the first three hundred years after the death of the Apostles? You believe in an early onset of the episcopacy, yes? Do you have some notion of an apostolic succession, at least at first (not in terms of infallibility, but simple authority, the passing of the mantle on to faithful men)? Do you have any problems accepting Irenaeus’ list of the Bishops of Rome? Were they “primus inter pares”? Or just in charge of their own diocese without any hegemony whatsoever over other sectors of the faith? Were they given respect as the church founded by Peter and Paul?

    1. Hans,

      I haven’t dealt with that explicitly, but I did address it tangentially in my series, The Visible Apostolicity of the Invisibly Shepherded Church.

      You believe in an early onset of the episcopacy, yes?

      Yes. In the early church, Jesus was considered the chief shepherd of the Church and the Holy Spirit was considered “the Vicar of Christ.” Each bishop himself was answerable to a higher bishop, and that bishop was Christ. The resultant organizational structure was one in which the congregations were sojourners together and the bishops in the different cities were co-laborers, but none was chief among them. As the church grew, the bishops realized they needed to establish a reliable method of communication between the churches to keep up with each other, but it did not occur to them, nor did they desire, to establish a central episcopate to cope with the rapid growth.

      Do you have some notion of an apostolic succession, at least at first (not in terms of infallibility, but simple authority, the passing of the mantle on to faithful men)?

      Yes. The continuity of their apostolicity was known by the doctrines they taught more than by the names of the men who taught them. Thus, there was an immediate divergence in the histories of the major sees. We have no sure knowledge of who “succeeded” Peter in Antioch, Alexandria or Rome, and yet Roman Catholicism insists that without that sure knowledge, we cannot know which church is the true church.

      Do you have any problems accepting Irenaeus’ list of the Bishops of Rome?

      I do, and here’s why:

      “For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed.” (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 32).

      The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric.” (Irenæus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 3, paragraph 3)

      I don’t have any convincing evidence to help me choose between Tertullian and Irenæus here. One has Clement the first successor to Peter and Paul and the other has Linus. I have no doubt that the churches kept registers, but we don’t have access to them. Roman Catholicism, out of necessity, has flipped a coin on this, but in reality, such a register is of no use if the occupant of a seat—be it in Smyrna, Rome, Alexandria, Milan—is not teaching in accordance with the Apostolic truth. It is the quality and contents of the teaching, not the register of successors, that shows whether one truly adheres to the Apostles’ doctrine. That is why Firmilian could complain that “they who are at Rome … vainly pretend the authority of the apostles” (Cyprian of Carthage, Letter 74, From Firmilian, Against the Letter of Stephen, paragraph 3), and Hippolytus could write that popes Zephyrinus and Callistus were constantly advancing heretical views, “but we have frequently … refuted them, and have forced them reluctantly to acknowledge the truth,” only to find them repeatedly wallowing in “the same mire” again (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, Book IX, chapter II).

      Were they “primus inter pares”?

      No, they were not considered “first among equals.” More like “most in needing assistance among equals.” I cover that in the series I noted above.

      Or just in charge of their own diocese without any hegemony whatsoever over other sectors of the faith?

      Certainly “without any hegemony whatsoever over other sectors of the faith,” but even then not even “in charge of their own diocese,” since the church did not embrace “the diocese” as an ecclesiastical geographic entity until well after Nicæa. Until Damasus’ famous response in 382 to the council of Constantinople the previous year, the Bishop of Rome was considered an “equal among equals,” but often in need of correction.

      Were they given respect as the church founded by Peter and Paul?

      Yes, but only in the same sense that the other churches were similarly founded and similarly respected. As Tertullian wrote,

      “Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply it to the business of your salvation, run over the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of the apostles (cathedræ Apostolorum) are still preeminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally.” (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics, chapter 32)

      And as Irenæus said,

      “In a foreign country were the twelve tribes born, the race of Israel, inasmuch as Christ was also, in a strange country, to generate the twelve-pillared foundation of the Church.” (Irenæus, Against Heresies, Book IV, chapter 21.3)

      Encyclopedia Brittanica has this interesting note about calling Rome the Apostolic See:

      “Damasus was the first pope to refer to Rome as the apostolic see, to distinguish it as that established by the apostle St. Peter, founder of the church.”

      Also of note is the fact that while Peter and Paul were considered the co-founders of the church in Rome, neither was considered its first bishop until 370 A.D.. Whereas Tertullian had spoken of the cathedræ Apostolorum, Optatus of Milevis was the first to say that Peter had occupied the episcopal chair (Episcopal Cathedra) in Rome.

      “You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the City of Rome was bestowed the Episcopal Cathedra.” (Optatus of Milevis, Adversus Parmenianum, Book II, Chapter II)

      Clearly, a lot changed in the latter part of the 4th century. Rome’s perennial challenge is to date her novelties earlier than that. But from that point forward, the rest of the world, often reluctantly, acknowledged Rome’s primacy, and her bishop as “first among equals,” and eventually, just “first.”



      1. Tim said, “It is the quality and contents of the teaching, not the register of successors, that shows whether one truly adheres to the Apostles’ doctrine.”

        I have a few questions.
        1. By what authority can you tell us what the TRUE teachings are?
        2. Why should I believe you over another Protestant from a different denomination?
        3. If you say I should believe the Bible only, then where does the Bible make this claim?
        4. Furthermore, why do you feel you can speak on behalf of God as to interpreting the Bible?
        5. If you say the Holy Spirit guides you, then why does the Holy Spirit seem to give conflicting teachings to different people? (see #2)
        6. Finally, how do you know the difference between a doctrine that must be believed and practiced and your personal opinion? (see #2 & #5)

        Thank you.

        1. Hey, Mark, I’m not going to let you go off on tangents until you actually answer the question on relics. Sorry.

  32. Tim said, “You’re under moderation until you answer it.”

    So, I answered it and yet I am still under moderation.

    I guess you agree with Catholics that “until” doesn’t mean anything changes after the fact, such as in Matt 1:25.

  33. What? I am off the “naughty list”? What about my previous posts that are still waiting moderation? I tend to not comment any further until other comments are posted. I can’t work with a bad cell phone connection, especially on blogs.

    1. Mark asked,

      “What? I am off the “naughty list”?

      Well, not necessarily. Last time we chatted on this you said,

      “Quite honestly, all of your apostasy conspiracy theory isn’t really of interest to me. It’s just spiritual junk food.”

      That sounded very much to me like you weren’t interested in continuing the conversation. Anyway, here’s the problem with your current position on extracting bones before 354 A.D.: at the same time that you insist that “veneration” does not involve removal of the bones from the tombs, you also insist that they must have been removing the bones from the tombs because they were “venerating” them before 354 A.D.. Here’s what I mean:

      You wrote,

      “Tim, it is quite possible they were being removed since churches were springing up quickly after the Edict of Milan. As I have shown, relic veneration has been part of Christianity from the beginning and even extends back to the Old Testament.”

      That sounds like you’re saying that the supporting evidence for early removal of bones is the fact that relic veneration goes back before the latter part of the 4th century.

      But in the same comment, you also insist,

      Veneration is NOT just putting bones in a reliquary and/or bowing before it. Going to a burial place of a martyr on the anniversary of his death is also considered veneration.”

      That sounds like you’re saying that since veneration includes going to a martyr’s grave or tomb, visiting the bones is “veneration” even if it doesn’t involve bowing.

      And that’s why I find your position very difficult to understand. On the one hand you say they must have been removing bones before 354 A.D. because “veneration” predates 354 A.D., and on the other hand, you insist that “veneration” predates 354 A.D. because “veneration” doesn’t require removing the bones.

      As I have said, I am a little obtuse. It is not at clear to me what your actual position is. I know you believe they “venerated” martyrs prior to 354 A.D., so there’s need to insist on that any further. What I don’t understand is why you would believe that they were removing bones before 354 A.D., on the basis that they “venerated” relics before 354 A.D., while insisting that “veneration” does not require removal of the bones.

      Would you agree that just because they were allegedly “venerating” martyrs’ relics before 354 A.D. does not of necessity imply that they were removing their bones from their tombs to do it?

      Thanks for any clarification you can provide.



      1. Tim said, “That sounds like you’re saying that since veneration includes going to a martyr’s grave or tomb, visiting the bones is “veneration” even if it doesn’t involve bowing.”

        That is exactly what I have been saying. It is you who equates veneration with bowing. That is probably why you can’t understand what I’ve been telling you. You think that the only way to venerate relics is to move them above ground, put them in a box, and have people bow to them. That’s not what the church teaches.

        It’s interesting that you would go to a grave-side funeral and bow your head in prayer and think nothing of it. Yet you would make a big deal of Christians doing the same thing at the grave of a martyr on the anniversary of their death.

        BTW, do you know who the first Pope was that died from something other than martyrdom?

        1. Mark, it is not sufficient to say “That is exactly what I have been saying,” when I’m asking you to explain the irreconcilable differences between the multiple things that you have said. Like I said,

          “That sounds like you’re saying that since veneration includes going to a martyr’s grave or tomb, visiting the bones is “veneration” even if it doesn’t involve bowing.”

          But I also said,

          “That sounds like you’re saying that the supporting evidence for early removal of bones is the fact that relic veneration goes back before the latter part of the 4th century.”

          These two statements don’t mesh. If “veneration” does not of necessity involve removing bones from the tomb to the reliquary, then in what way does “early veneration” show that the saints of the first three centuries were removing bones from the tomb to the reliquary?

          That’s the question. Why can you not answer it?



          1. Tim, I have answered the question. You keep rephrasing your question and essentially asking different questions.
            So, here’s version #254:
            “If “veneration” does not of necessity involve removing bones from the tomb to the reliquary, then in what way does “early veneration” show that the saints of the first three centuries were removing bones from the tomb to the reliquary?”

            First, you continue to have tunnel vision of veneration = putting bones in reliquaries. I have already shown that your definition is too restrictive. I don’t know of any written record before 354 which says bones were put in reliquaries. You have no evidence that they didn’t. BTW, the first record of movement of bones happened in Constantinople and not Rome. I do know that the Christians before 313 would worship in the catacombs among the bones of the martyrs. I do know that they also built churches above the graves.

            As you rightly point out, the Christians would celebrate the anniversay of a Saint’s martyrdom at the grave (Polycarp) shows how precious the bones were for the Christians.

            I wonder if maybe your aversion to having the remains of a holy person of God on display has something to do with your feeling that the flesh is inherently evil? This is what the pagans believed and why this strange practice of Christians is appalling to them. You can’t say that honoring the bones of martyrs was somehow borrowed from paganism because they wouldn’t do that.

          2. Mark, I’m simply trying to get you to explain your statement:

            “Tim, it is quite possible they were being removed since churches were springing up quickly after the Edict of Milan. As I have shown, relic veneration has been part of Christianity from the beginning and even extends back to the Old Testament.”

            I simply do not understand what that means. You’ve kind of been all over the place on this issue, and until I understand what you’re saying, I can’t really engage in a productive discussion with you.

            You’ve said that it’s possible that bones “were being removed since churches were springing up quickly after” 313 A.D., and the implication, according to you, was that each church “had at least a part” of a saint. But you’ve also said that they were not removing the bones, “No, they started building churches immediately on top of the bones” in 313 A.D., which means that they weren’t removing the bones.

            One statement from you says they were being removed to be placed in churches as evidenced by the sheer number of churches springing up after 313 A.D. and every church had at least a part of a saint, but another statement from you says they didn’t need to remove the bones because after 313 A.D. the churches springing up were simply being built on top of the bones without removing them.

            I honestly don’t understand what you’re saying did or did not happen after 313 A.D.. Did they start removing bones in 313 A.D. “since churches were springing up quickly” and each church had a part of a saint, or is it rather that “they started building churches immediately on top of the bones” without removing them?

            You’ve held both positions here, so I’m not entirely sure what you believe the early church was doing. So far, all you can positively assert is that they were burying dead martyrs and visiting their grave sites annually to celebrate their memories and their birthdays. You don’t find them kneeling to or bowing to their bones, exposing their bones annually for veneration, or anything at all like what you do to relics today. Until the latter part of the 4th century, that is. Then something suddenly changed. They started exhuming the martyrs, picking them to pieces and distributing their body parts and bowing to them reverentially. That’s a sudden change, Mark. A discontinuity. You can’t account for it as if it was just a continuation of an ancient practice of relic veneration, because they weren’t doing that to their bones that far back. In fact, that’s the very problem for your whole religion: a sudden, step-wise change takes place at the latter part of the 4th century that looks an awful lot like the Roman Catholicism of today, and the best you can do is allege that the late 4th century emergence of novelties must be evidence of continuity since the apostles, because otherwise, the gates of hell prevailed against the Church, and Jesus was a liar

            Well, He is no liar. And your religion is not the Church He founded.



          3. “You can’t account for it as if it was just a continuation of an ancient practice of relic veneration, because they weren’t doing that to their bones that far back. ”

            How do you know this? Absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence.

            “But you’ve also said that they were not removing the bones, “No, they started building churches immediately on top of the bones” in 313 A.D., which means that they weren’t removing the bones.”

            Again, how do you know they weren’t removing bones. I will repeat, absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence.

            “That’s a sudden change, Mark. A discontinuity. ”

            I don’t see it that way. I think it is very consistent with the veneration of relics we’ve seen before 354. The Council of Gangra also show how celebrations of Saints were important in the Church and not to be avoided.

            You have to understand that the Edict of Milan changed the Church from an underground Church to an above ground Church. Veneration of relics has been around from the beginning. Only when the Church stopped being persecuted did the brethren feel OK to start practicing their faith openly.

            Do you have an alternative explanation of reliquaries? Are you saying they adopted pagan practices or something like that? I still don’t have a clear understanding of why you view veneration of relics as from Satan.

          4. Mark, you asked,

            “How do you know this? Absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence.”

            Because they buried Elisha. Because they buried Stephen. Because they buried Ignatius. They buried Polycarp. Because they buried St. Victor (303 A.D.). And in the early 350s AD, Anthony found some people who weren’t burying their martyrs but were wrapping them up and keeping them in their houses, and Anthony insisted “that this thing was neither lawful nor holy at all,” and “that he who did not bury the bodies of the dead after death transgressed the law” (Athanasius, Life of Anthony, paragraph 90).

            And then, out of nowhere, people started unburying the martyrs. Those are the facts, Mark. Do you have any evidence to support your belief that before the latter part of the 4th century they were exhuming and exposing relics for veneration? How could everybody have been so wrong for so long, Mark? How could St. Anthony have been so misled on keeping relics as to think it was unlawful not to bury the dead?

            Anyway, you continued,

            “Again, how do you know they weren’t removing bones.”

            Mark, there would have been some evidence that they were. You can’t fall back on the old canard that they weren’t practicing their faith because of the persecution. Have you seen all the things they did publicly for the first 300 years? My goodness, the things they argued about. Some even considered using water in the Lord’s supper to avoid detection by the persecutors, earning a rebuke from Cyprian who insisted that wine be used under all circumstances, in full knowledge of the risk that entailed. Ignatius even insisted that every other church in the world send ambassadors over land and sea to Antioch to encourage the saints there. And have you heard of all the regional councils they had from the age of the apostles to Nicæa? Were those councils all underground? Why do we know about the councils but not about exhuming the martyrs? Man, they sure talked about a lot. But for some reason, nary a mention of digging up the bones of the martyrs to venerate them. Why do you suppose that is? Were they ashamed of the apostolic practice of exhuming and kneeling before the bones of dead men? Why did it take 300 years to recover this “apostolic” practice? How on earth did Anthony lose track of an apostolic practice like offering incense to bone chips?

            “I will repeat, absence of evidence doesn’t mean evidence of absence.”

            Is that what your church is founded upon? Practices that were undetectable and unrecorded for 300 years? Actually, yes it is:

            “…if there are early traces of identity of belief, they may be invisible, except to the eye of a Catholic, but perfectly clear to him. For an immense number of minute expressions, observations, and practices prove to him, that the genius of his faith is what it always was.” (Jesus, the Son of Mary, vol 1., Rev. John Brande Morris, M .A., 1851) p. 28).

            You continued,

            I think it is very consistent with the veneration of relics we’ve seen before 354.

            It is? I thought you said there was an absence of evidence. How is removing chips of bone from dead people’s graves and kneeling to them and bowing to them reverently in the late 300s consistent with not removing bone chips from dead people’s graves and not kneeling to them and not bowing to them prior to the late 300s? I get the invisibility doctrine from Rev. Morris. What I don’t see is the practice of which you are so sure the early saints engaged in the 300 years of the sub-apostolic era. I’ve already given you the evidence that burying the martyrs was the common practice until the late 4th century. Where’s your evidence that they didn’t?

            “The Council of Gangra also show how celebrations of Saints were important in the Church and not to be avoided.”

            That’s right. The Council of Gangra was talking about celebrating the martyr’s birthdays at their tombs where they were buried. Have you noticed that the martyr’s relics were always buried somewhere? Why do you suppose that is? Where is the part about taking them apart, piece by piece, and distributing the martyrs throughout the empire?

            You have to understand that the Edict of Milan changed the Church from an underground Church to an above ground Church.

            It’s amazing how many things about Christianity were public knowledge to everyone in the known world before that Edict, and further how much of it was recorded for us. There is a lot of documented evidence for Christianity since the apostolic age, but for some strange reason, the kneeling and bowing to relics isn’t one of them.

            You asked,

            “Do you have an alternative explanation of reliquaries? … I still don’t have a clear understanding of why you view veneration of relics as from Satan.”

            “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)



          5. Oh Tim, oh Tim. Of course it appears to you as “all of a sudden” something happened. It was the first recorded event. It wasn’t like someone in Constantinople woke up one day and thought, “I’m going to now get the bones of martyrs and put them in reliquaries.” The Church Fathers may have been silent on the matter because it was just common thought and practice. There’s no resistance to it anywhere and there wasn’t in 354. Why didn’t they write to condemn the practice if it wasn’t done prior to 354?

            As for St. Anthony, he is condemning the Egyptian burial practices where they create a house “tomb”, prop up the dead body on a couch with a glass in its hand as if he is cheering the living. They then put animals at its feet, food around him and servants there to stand by to assist the dead. THAT is what St. Anthony is concerned about. In fact, if you read the end of that chapter, you see how two people received his garment and his sheepskin. Guess what? Those are relics too. “But each of those who received the sheepskin of the blessed Antony and the garment worn by him guards it as a precious treasure. For even to look on them is as it were to behold Antony; and he who is clothed in them seems with joy to bear his admonitions.”

            “How is removing chips of bone from dead people’s graves and kneeling to them and bowing to them reverently in the late 300s ”
            Do you have a quote from a Church Father that they were kneeling and bowing in the late 300s or is that just conjecture on your part?

            BTW, your quote from Acts 20 is just random. You could say that means any one of a half dozen or more things. By what authority do you interpret that scripture to be referring to putting bones of Saints in reliquaries?

          6. Mark,

            You observerd,

            “Of course it appears to you as “all of a sudden” something happened. It was the first recorded event. It wasn’t like someone in Constantinople woke up one day and thought, “I’m going to now get the bones of martyrs and put them in reliquaries.” “

            Actually, that’s pretty much what happened.

            “The Church Fathers may have been silent on the matter because it was just common thought and practice.”

            The Eucharist, baptism, ordinations, preaching, weekly gatherings, caring for widows and a great many other common thoughts and practices were freely discussed for 300 years. Why so silent on something as “apostolic” as bowing before a dead guy’s bone chips?

            “There’s no resistance to it anywhere and there wasn’t in 354. Why didn’t they write to condemn the practice if it wasn’t done prior to 354?”

            Well, the first recorded instance was at the behest of the “Christian” Emperors. But then the Church started adopting the practice as its own, and the resistance began. As Jerome records, Vigilantius was very concerned about the introduction of something new:

            “What need is there for you not only to pay such honour, not to say adoration, to the thing, whatever it may be, which you carry about in a little vessel and worship? … Why do you kiss and adore a bit of powder wrapped up in a cloth? … Under the cloak of religion we see what is all but a heathen ceremony introduced into the churches: while the sun is still shining, heaps of tapers are lighted, and everywhere a paltry bit of powder, wrapped up in a costly cloth, is kissed and worshipped. Great honour do men of this sort pay to the blessed martyrs, who, they think, are to be made glorious by trumpery tapers, when the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne, with all the brightness of His majesty, gives them light?” (Jerome, Against Vigilantius, paragraph 4)

            “…he calls us who cherish them ashmongers and idolaters who pay homage to dead men’s bones. Unhappy wretch!” (Jerome, to Riparius, paragraph 1).

            That sounds a lot like resistance to a new practice to me. I’ll be up front with you, Mark. I’m with Vigilantius on this one.

            You asked,

            “Do you have a quote from a Church Father that they were kneeling and bowing in the late 300s or is that just conjecture on your part? “

            Yes, see the Catholic Encyclopedia entry under relics. It cites Cyril of Alexandria as follows:

            “We by no means consider the holy martyrs to be gods, nor are we wont to bow down before them adoringly, but only relatively and reverentially.”

            Sounds like they were bowing down to creation, but claiming that it didn’t really count as the “bad” kind of bowing before creation. 😉

            My reference to Acts 20 is because the veneration of relics was a new thing in the late 4th century, unseen before in the church. A novelty. A nonapostolic invention of the Roman Catholic church, completely foreign to the practices of the apostles and the early church. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Church in the Catacombs, by Charles Maitland, but there is an interesting and sudden change in the accusations levied against the professing Christians in the late 4th century. After 300 years of being criticized for worshiping Christ, the accusations started focusing on the the propensity of professing Christians to worship dead guys:

            “Far be it from any one to repeat lightly or causelessly the calumnies cast upon Christ’s martyrs by the ungodly of past ages: but neither useless nor trifling is the collection of these slanders when employed to clear the ancient Church from the charge of idolatry. The Pagan accusations, when arranged in chronological order, divide themselves into two classes, according as they were advanced before or after the year 350. Christians were accused of worshipping, in the year

            150. Christ. (Celsus.)
            170. The great Man crucified in Palestine. (Lucian.)
            290. A Man born and crucified. (Apud Arno bium.)
            A dead God. (Oracle of Apollo.)
            300. Jesus. (Porphyry.)
            360. Many wretched men. (Julian.)
            370. Tombs. (Libanius.)
            380. Slaves, martyrs, and deacons. (Eunapius.)
            420. Martyrs. (Maximus Madaurensis.)”

            Kind of funny how suddenly, after three centuries of being accused of worshiping Jesus, the Christians started being accused of worshiping dead guys, tombs and martyrs. What do you suppose changed?

            What happened in the latter part of the 4th century is that Satan introduced to the church by sophistry, deceit and cunning, an exciting new way to worship God by worshiping His creation. And all your heroes fell for it. The true church did not.

            I know that just my opinion. You are free to reject it. As am I free to reject your opinion.

            So, here we are. Enjoy your idolatry, Mark, but be aware that it is idolatry.



          7. Tim, it sounds like you’ve become as much an accuser of the brethren as the pagans. Something for you to think about.

  34. Just a general comment about the defense of relic veneration. Michael Horton once said what was man’s greatest sin? , he wanted to be like God. This is what the serpent said to Eve, God knows you can be like Him. This is being bitten by the snake Man wants to be God . To watch the perversion of the early church in the rise of Roman Catholicism 4th century we can see this in its splendor. Dr Walvoord said the exaltation of the Bishop saw the stamping out of the priesthood of believers. The exaltation of the bones of mere sinners like ourselves. The exaltation of the Mother of Jesus, sacraments, etc. And so it goes. If you think about it how else can a man put himself up as God on earth, call himself Holy Father, Vicar of the Son of God, and actually believe it. It is this mentality, the bite of the snake, that would make a person defend veneration of relics, even reaching for the earliest date. Man wants to God. K

  35. Mark–

    To answer your questions:

    1. By the authority of Scriptures.

    2. Accept that which is arrived at through sound and thorough exegesis, analyzed by consistent and reasonable hermeneutics. No matter what you’ve been led to believe, Scripture ain’t rocket science.

    3. The Bible doesn’t make any specific claims as to what one should believe, other than to teach what it teaches.

    4. All Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God. What makes YOU believe that you could give me a fairly accurate summary of what Aristotle or Plato taught? There is no spirit-empowered magisterium to interpret their writings for us. Why are you such a cynic when it comes to the interpretation of ancient literature?

    5. What ARE these vaunted differences, and in what way are they of a higher order than the differences between Thomists and Molinists? The Protestant “denominations” (some 40,000 strong, evidently) all hold to a 66-book canon of Scripture. All espouse Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. All reject hyperdulia, purgatory, penance, the sacrifice of the mass, transubstantiation, the immaculate conception, and the invocation of the saints. All hold to identical christological and trinitarian formulations. All embrace the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds. They all accept the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, Christ’s vicarious atonement, his virgin birth, the miracles and bodily resurrection (and ascension) of Christ, and his physical second coming at the end of time.

    What do they disagree on? Polity? Styles of Worship? Modes of Baptism? The details of eschatology? Explanations of the Real Presence? Boy, oh, boy!

    6. Those tenets which must be believed are those directly stated in Scripture or derived therefrom by “good and necessary consequence.”

  36. Tim–

    Thanks, that sounds about right. And thanks for the link to the previous articles. That’s what’s missing from the Roman formula: unity with the bishop is not the CAUSE of the church’s Apostolic purity; rather, Apostolic purity should be the CONDITION for the church’s unity with the bishop.

    Anything less is a recipe for heretical disaster when an increasingly unholy church hierarchy imposes its will on congregations no longer willing to hold them accountable (as the Bereans did for Paul).

    Catholics hold up the model of St. Catherine of Siena confronting the Pope. I don’t understand why they cannot see that her behavior was the consequence of her obedience to Sacred Tradition taking precedence over blind obedience to the magisterium. Surely, obedience to the Word should be worthy of similar preeminence! Such obedience–even if tainted by an Apostolic tradition that isn’t Apostolic–would be a step in the right direction. Catherine followed her heavenly Shepherd rather than her earthly shepherd.

  37. “That’s what’s missing from the Roman formula: unity with the bishop is not the CAUSE of the church’s Apostolic purity; rather, Apostolic purity should be the CONDITION for the church’s unity with the bishop.”

    So, what you are saying is that what Hans (or Kevin or Tim or Walt) believes the TRUE(TM) faith to be is how you judge whether something is true. This is Sola Feels, By Feelings Alone.

    No, Jesus entrusted the Church to pass on the faith. That’s why he established a Church with teaching authority, because there would be (and have been) people like yourselves who want to redefine the apostolic faith. Many have tried throughout the centuries and you are actually a latecomer some 1500 years after Christ.

  38. “Mark, what do you mean by “teaching authority”?”

    The teaching authority is the Magisterium.
    CCC 88: “The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.”

  39. ” because there would be people like yourself who want to redefine the apostolic faith ” like Roman Catholicism and it’s popes!? Why do you criticize Protestants who want to look for and remain faithful to the church that followed scripture, and then turn around and support the religion that ” redefined the apostolic faith” completely. Mark, if you are so concerned about the apostolic faith and protecting it’s purity, why are you a member and defender of its greatest abuser. Take off your Roman glasses, look at the evidence. Your religion has no connection to the faith and teachings of the apostles. Remember, Jesus warns that if someone comes to you who doesn’t look like me and claims to be me, don’t believe them. Mark, the visible apostasy warned us in scripture will claim to be Jesus, it will look like Jesus, And believers armed with the Spirit and the word will know the difference. How? How can believers judge such high claim to be God on earth? Their doctrine and their fruit. Your church fails both tests badly. K

  40. No, Mark, we interpret the Bible according to what it actually says, rather than through the filter of a load of undocumented crap. (By the by, are you now getting your theological insights via the “Babylon Bee”?)

    Which church are you speaking of, by the way? The Apostolic Church described in Scripture? Or the distinctively different institution we see from the end of the fourth century on?

  41. Mark–

    And furthermore…

    It’s an odd accusation to claim someone is attempting to “redefine” Apostolic teaching by going back to comb through what the Apostles originally taught.

  42. Hans you said, “No, Mark, we interpret the Bible according to what it actually says, rather than through the filter of a load of undocumented crap. ”

    Who is the “we” you are referring to here? Surely you aren’t presumptuous enough to be referring to all of Protestantism.

  43. Here’s some things to chew on that I don’t believe Protestants agree on. Protestantism is in pure and utter confusion about what is important.

    Show me where these are found in scripture: alter calls, Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, the list of books contained in the Bible, the authors of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke, “Once Saved Always Saved”, the Rapture, the “sinner’s prayer”, “Name it and claim it”, women preachers, Tithing 10%, Wednesday night Bible Studies, two natures of Christ, baptism by full immersion, child “dedications”, Sunday school.

    In addition:

    1) the precise nature of justification. Once Saved Always Saved? Sanctification? Repentance? Predestined. Working out your faith in cooperation?

    2) whether human works and sins are a part of salvation;

    3) whether men have free will; predestination;

    4) whether infants need baptism for salvation or for that matter anyone:

    5) what Communion is;

    6) whether it’s necessary to confess to the Lord;

    7) which books of the New Testament apply to us today;

    8) the structure of the Church’s hierarchy;

    9) the role of bishops and ministers;

    10) should real ordination be accomplished *the laying on of hands* as clear from the bible, leading to bishops and priests (elders) and deacons;

    11) *the Sabbath;* Did the early Church have the authority to change the main day of worship. *Why is the sacred tradition and biblical evidence ignored by some and accepted by others*;

    12) the role of women in church;

    14) Is Jesus part of the Godhead:

    15) Is the Holy Spirit part of the Godhead:

    16) Is Jesus fully human and full devine

    17) What bible translation must be read. Only the KJV with its ye olde confusing english and/or other other versions.

    18) Seeking the fruits of the Spirit. No gifts? Only gifts. Some Gifts. What gifts”

    19) legitimate types of prayer. Must we pray. Meditation. Contemplation. Only from extemporaneously. Only formal or liturgical.

    20) allowing art to aid in prayer and faith or the removal of art and images from fear of idolatry like the muslims and various fundamentalist protestant assemblies

    *21) Moral Issues such abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage etc. Some accepted or taught (or not dealt with) by any number of protestant denomination ;*

    *22* Why Abortion is advocated by the *Seventh Day Adventist* church as a reasonable alternative while the Catholic Church and many evangelicals condemn it as a grave satanic evil.

    *23* Does the corruption of the teaching authority and its teaching of grave sin indict the assembly or the sin of the adherents?

    24. The Rapture, etc (How many views on this subject?)

    25. Apostolic succession. Including ordination of minister by laying on of hands.

    26 Trinity vs. Oneness

    27. Evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (praying in tongues)

    28. Prophetic utterances and words of knowledge

    29. The very nature of grace.

    30. The purpose of the liturgy

    31. Consumption of alcohol.


    33. The nature of scripture. Literal acceptance,partial. etc

    34. Does hell exist?

    35. Can one be saved outside the Christian Church?

    36.Should images be used in worship?

    37. Does the Church replace Israel?

    38. Is Divorce permissible

    39. Does God promise Christians material prosperity?
    . . . etc. etc. etc., ad nauseam.

    40. Laying on of hands

    41. Are satan and the demons real.

    42. Is hell real.

    43. Accountability for sins?

    Most of these protestant groups claim that the individual “Christian” will be led by the Holy Spirit when privately reading the Bible. But doctrinal and moral issue disunity is evident and shows this to be a fallacy and the heresy of the Reformation.

    Ephesians 4:4-5 “One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

  44. Mark–

    I’ll start in on this. It might take me a few times. Got kids to take care of.

    In general, I’m not going to give answer for non-magisterial groups. Some of these things (like altar calls) are mere adiaphora, while others are off-the-wall (like dispensational premillennialism). At any rate, they’re not my problem. Neither are non-confessional/mainline groups.

    Also, not everything has to be backed up by Scripture. Sola Scriptura is what is called “common sense.” I don’t need Scripture to exercise basic reason. Likewise, tradition is not set aside by Sola Scriptura. It just doesn’t take priority.

    Of your opening list.


    Altar calls, OSAS, the Rapture, the Sinner’s Prayer, Name it-Claim it, women preachers, and child dedications.

    Tithing MEANS the giving of a tenth, so what’s your point? Sola Fide permeates Scripture and the early church. Bible Study and Sunday School are pure adiaphora.

    All Protestants hold to the Chalcedonian Definition. Even the liberals, as far as I know. Baptism in the NT is always by immersion or pouring. No sprinkling. Presbyterians point to the OT. Kind of silly if you ask me. Talk to Tim about it. Infant baptism is the one area where I think the magisterial Reformers got it wrong. Luther, who tended toward baptismal regeneration, couldn’t see how God could allow a mistake to endure for 1500 years on something so important.

    I’ll be upfront and admit that one of the weaknesses of Sola Scriptura is in dealing with those few topics which Scripture doesn’t cover definitively: church polity, sacramentology, and eschatology. But then none of these is all that essential. An uncompromising trinitarianism, an orthodox christology, a biblical soteriology–these matter. The timing and duration of the tribulation, if it even occurs at all, isn’t nearly as important.

  45. Mark–


    1. All Protestants hold to JBFA.

    2. Our hamartiology and the role of good works is the same.

    3. All magisterial Protestants believe in free will AND predestination, plus our view of the interplay between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is roughly the same.

    4. At least for Reformed Baptists, one could speak of child dedication (if practiced at all) as a “dry baptism” and believer’s baptism after the age of accountability as a “wet confirmation.” The actual theological differences are minimal.

    5. All magisterial Protestants believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist, while denying the sacrificial nature of the Sacrament. Only their explanations of the miracle differ.

    6. We all practice confession and absolution. It’s just done publicly.

    7. All of the NT is applied without qualification.

    8. Actually, polity is quite similar. In the NT, presbyteros and episcopos (elder and bishop) are used interchangeably. Presbyterianism is, in some sense, nothing but a conciliar form of episcopalianism. Congregationalism is non-magisterial.

    9. The roles of bishops/presbyters and ministers are, for the most part, the same in Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and Presbyterianism.

    10. Ordination is by the “laying on of hands” for bishops, elders, and deacons.

    11. We have at least three instances of the first day of the week being set aside for worship in the NT. All confessional Protestants worship on Sunday.

  46. Hans, just stop. Congregational? Confessional, Magisterial?

    You are proving my point the more you type. Protestantism is a mess of confusion and contradiction.

  47. Mark–


    12. Basically, none of the confessional churches ordain women. (One exception would be the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which allows each individual congregation to decide the matter.)

    13. None of us are afraid of triskaidekaphobia.

    14. Are you kidding me?

    15. Are you kidding me?

    16. Are you kidding me?

    17. KJV-only-ism is a fundamentalist tenet.

    18. In general, this is not a confessional practice. But even Catholics see it as adiaphora.

    19. Not usually an issue. We only object to syncretistic practices, like those of the popular Catholic monk, Thomas Merton.

    20. Personally, I’ve never met an iconoclast. They’re few andnfar between. You have, however, identified another issue of conflict: whether worship is governed by Scripture in a regulative or normative fashion. (Do we practice only what is commanded, or instead, do we merely avoid what is condemned?)

    21. & 22. Abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage are rejected in the strongest possible terms by ALL confessional Protestants. Being pro-life is, in fact, a shibboleth: one is not considered confessional if one takes any other stance.

  48. Mark–


    23. According to the Reformed, one of the marks of the true church is appropriate church discipline. This is one of the many reasons I could never consider the claims of Rome. At any rate, yes, when your hierarchy sweeps things under the rug (like child molestation) rather than deal with it head on, that church is no longer valid. When it knows its leaders are corrupt, but it will not discipline them, it has forfeited any authority. When it knows communicant members are involved in sin (or in the celebration of sin, a la Catholic politicians) and makes no move to fence the table, that church should have its lampstand removed.

    24. The Rapture is non-magisterial.

    25. The only apostolic succession that makes any sense is the faithful transmission of a faithful message to faithful men (who then faithfully pass it on).

    26. Modalists are heretics.

    27. Charity, good works, sound theology, devotional commitments, and the demonstrable wisdom of spiritual maturity are far better evidences.

    28. Adiaphora.

    29. Grace just needs to remain free of charge (i.e., gratis), not earned by cooperation.

    30. The purpose of the liturgy is to worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

    31. All confessional churches are fine with the consumption of alcohol. Drunkenness and alcoholism, not so much.

    32. YES, BAPTISM IS NECESSARY!!! (It’s commanded.)

    33. All of Scripture is God-breathed. It’s inspired, inerrant, and authoritative. It is the norming norm, as they say.

  49. Mark–


    34. Yes! Hot!

    35. Nope.

    36. See #20.

    37. The redeemed of Israel are part of the church. (The wild olive branches get grafted in.)

    38. Divorce is a sin, but a forgiveable one.

    39. Nope.

    40. Nobody has a problem with the laying on of hands.

    41. Yup.

    42. Yup.

    43. Of course.

    To conclude: the differences, as I said before, are pretty much limited to church polity, some minor details of sacramentology, and eschatology. To this we can add the RPW (regulative principle of worship) vs. the NPW (normative principle of worship).

    Now, which of these rises to a level as high as, let alone higher than, the differences between Thomists and Molinists?

    Didn’t think so.

  50. Mark–

    And, as concerns the private interpretation of Scripture: this is NOT a Reformational practice. Martin Luther spoke of those who did so as having “swallowed the Holy Spirit, feathers and all.”

  51. Hans, unfortunately, my comments are stuck in moderation, so there’s no way to discuss this with you. I could have saved you some time.

  52. As Martin Luther said, “There are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads; this one will not admit baptism; that one rejects the Sacrament of the altar; another places another world between the present one and the day of judgment; some teach that Jesus Christ is not God. There is not an individual, however clownish he may be, who does not claim to be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and who does not put forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams.”

    And that was just after the Reformation!

    And, let’s not forget Calvin who didn’t tolerate any dissent from his views. His support of the execution of Michael Servetus just seals the argument that Protestantism is nothing to hold up as a beacon of light to the world and is starving today in a world that can barely tolerate religion. They capitulated and given in to the culture of relativism. I believe the heresy of Protestantism (and yes, it is a heresy) will eventually die out. Maybe in this century, maybe the next, but it will not stand. It’s hung on for 500 years because it has many truths, but the moral fabric is wearing thin and it will collapse on itself eventually or just get absorbed into the culture as much of already has been.

    How does Satan work? He influences. He says, its OK. He makes it APPEAR good. That’s why major denominations have accepted the destructive teachings of homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, divorce and remarriage, contraception, etc.. If Satan can get the Christians to buy into it, and he knows the influence that Christianity has on this culture, He wins.

    While Protestant groups and the culture self-destruct, the only beacon of hope is the Catholic Church. She won’t change because she can’t change.

  53. Mark–

    Well, then, why don’t you just answer the man’s question?

    Just say, “No, Tim, there is no evidence that anyone dug up relics before 354 CE.”

    Oh, and by the way, I hope you never get charged with murder by mistake. Because you might want an “absence of evidence” to help exonerate you: no fingerprints, no DNA, no murder weapon, no body, no witnesses, no motive, no opportunity MIGHT just mean you didn’t do it. You don’t want the judge saying, “Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. I’m sentencing you–Thursday next, at sunrise–to hang by the neck until dead. May God have mercy on your soul.”

  54. Mark–

    Furthermore, your no-argument-from-silence argument evidently doesn’t apply to yourself:

    You told Tim:

    “The Church Fathers may have been silent on the matter because it was just common thought and practice. There’s no resistance to it anywhere and there wasn’t in 354. Why didn’t they write to condemn the practice if it wasn’t done prior to 354?”

    If we have no documented condemnations of new practices, what we have is an “absence of evidence,” right?

  55. Mark–

    Are you trying to be offensive? Are you really equating Calvin’s ONE indirect execution (of an arch-heretic–an anti-trinitarian–a man the Catholics wanted dead, dead, dead, stone-cold dead– with the dozens of young French pastors sent by Calvin as missionaries, struck down by Catholics soon after arriving from Geneva back to their homeland? Or with the thousands butchered on St. Bartholomew’s Day (cheered on by the pope)? Or with the genocide of the rest of the Huguenots in France? Or with the hundreds of thousands killed by the Catholics (which could probably also be termed genocide) in the Thirty Years’ War? (Similarly, should we speak of the Crusades, where the streets of Jerusalem ran boot-deep in blood? Or the inquisitions? Or the witch hunts and burnings? Or the aptly-named “Bloody” Mary?)

    The early Protestants were no saints in certain respects, but you should present a balanced view. Luther was a classist and a racist and a foul-mouthed jerk, but he was also a fine family man, prayed for four hours every day, translated the entire Bible into German, wrote splendid hymns, and housed a whole bunch of poor seminarians. (Thomas More was a foul-mouthed jerk who got off on torturing people, and yet HE became a Catholic saint!)

    I’m not going to sit here and defend faults which are entirely indefensible. We celebrate Calvin for his theological writings, for the brilliance of his thinking and rhetoric. We do not celebrate him as a saint. Luther, ditto. Still, all I can say is that your statement amounts to no more than the pot calling the kettle black.

    I hope and pray that much of the so-called Protestant world does indeed disappear this century. It is said that as much as 90% of the Charismatic Movement (including those in Catholicism) tend toward the Word-Faith (Health-Wealth, Name-it-Claim-it) heresy. The mainline “Protestants” are not at all Christian, let alone Protestant (having completely jettisoned the confessions along with most of the Bible). Good riddance! I hope they’re gone in my lifetime. (Heck, next week would do just fine!) Nor would I shed a tear for the demise of much of fundamentalism. Jesus said that narrow was the way, and few there were who found it.

    Catholicism HAS changed and will continue to change no matter how deep in the sand you stick your head! Francis is changing it further still. In so many ways, Rome DOES accept homosexuality (in the priesthood), it DOES accept divorce (under a different name), abortion (through its politicians and court appointees), and birth control (by 80% of its parishioners). And do we dare mention pedophilia?

    You need to join the real world and admit that the (supposed) Holy Catholic Church…isn’t very holy!

    I’ll stick with those churches who actually live out what they say they believe. Those who DON’T change with every new cultural trend. Those who defend Scripture against all comers. (Those who never take away from it and never add to it.)

  56. Mark–

    Yes, Protestantism is a “mess of confusion and contradiction.”

    For two reasons:

    1. You refuse to educate yourself on what genuine Protestantism is all about.

    2. You choose to count as “Protestant” the followers of any crazed person who “puts forth as prophecies his ravings and dreams.”

  57. I agree with Hans, true Protestantism is nothing more that belief in the gospel of scripture and obedience to the Word of God. But it will always also be a defender against perverting either one of those. And we will never stop the crusade against Roman Catholicism to trap people in idolatry and a false gospel of go out and do your part.

  58. Hans, I believe you are confused as to what Protestantism is all about. It’s why I keep asking for a list of doctrines that one must hold to that were explicitly taught in the first three centuries of the Church. We know that Sola Scriptura isn’t one of them because it took several decades for the Bible to even be written and several centuries before the first canon was produced.

    Maybe you can produce this list for me and then give me references as to where the early Church Fathers taught these beliefs. When I read the early Fathers all I see are Catholic beliefs so you need to provide some pretty convincing proof of your doctrines.

  59. Mark, no Hans doesn’t believe in transubstantiation. I’ll allow him to explain his view on Christ’s presence, I believe he holds Calvin’s view. I believe what Paul said ” Christ in YOU the hope of glory” , not Christ in bread the hope of glory. Jesus said the words I tell you are SPIRIT , the flesh profits nothing . It doesn’t take a seminary degree to understand that. A 5 year old can understand it. Any reasonable person who truly has the Spirit of Christ understands Christ wasn’t speaking about canabalizing our way to heaven, but to eat the Word by faith, believe in his words.

  60. Mark–

    I don’t need to do anything of the sort. There’s not that much difference between Catholicism and Protestantism aside from the non-biblical innovations which Rome introduced in the fourth through twelfth centuries.

    When you read the Fathers, you see what you want to see. That’s the only possible explanation I can come up with.

  61. ” There is not much difference between Catholicism and Protestantism.” Other that the fact all the Reformed confessions and the book of Concord said the papacy was Antichrist, and the preach a false gospel of worthiness of merit , and they worship the mother of Jesus and bow to bead and wine, and require salvation by priests. I call that a grand Canyon worth of difference. Before I read all the articles here I believed Roman Catholicism was the Antichrist of scripture. After studying it, I now know for certain that it is. That’s why we must challenge RC’S to ask the question Jesus asks even believer to ask ” If someone comes to YOU and says I am the Christ , don’t believe him” This is what the fathers feared most ( What the Fathers feared most” Tim Kaufman). They feared Antichrist would come among them and they wouldn’t realize it. It’s seems reasonable to me that if the son of perdition puts himself up in the church as God, even elevating himself above God, then we should be looking inside anyone who claims to be the true church . Iow, is their a man who has been elevated in the church who has made claims to be God. How can it be anyone other than the pope who makes this very claim, not only popes through history literally saying it, but usurping titles of the Trinity. And I’ll be honest, if this information is presented to men, and they don’t reject such high claims as Jesus commanded us, then they have not the Spirit of truth. Roman Catholics who are true believers and value the scriptures should reject any high claim by any man. If my pastor claims to be Holy Father, Vicar, universal head, I’m gone the moment he says it, It should not surprise us when Catholics accept men’s high claims and the high claims about Mary, they have not the Spirit of Christ. Because those who have Christ in them, the hope of glory, need no other person to elevate. Those who are the priesthood of believers, need not elevate any bishop with such preposterous claim. Christ alone. That’s it. K

  62. Mark–

    My view on the Eucharist is roughly the same as the Anglican view: Scripture doesn’t afford us a definitive explanation of the Sacrament. I do think that John 6 rules out both Transubstantiation and Memorialism, but beyond that–whether Luther or Calvin or somebody else has gotten close–I don’t rightly know. I favor Calvin, but am not convinced. There’s little besides speculation to go on.

  63. Hans-

    You said, “Scripture doesn’t afford us a definitive explanation of the Sacrament.”

    That’s right. And Scripture also doesn’t provide a definitive explanation of the Trinity. And Scripture also doesn’t provide a definitive explanation of the Hypostatic Union.

    This is also why Sola Scriptura is unworkable. “I don’t think” isn’t the way Christ expects us to come to Truth. What YOU think really doesn’t matter. What I think really doesn’t matter. Truth is outside of either one of us. That is why Christ gave us the Church. You admit that you just go with the tradition of Anglicans, although you are also open to Calvin’s traditions. The common thread is that these are just traditions of men.

    The Catholic Church has the full deposit of faith and Transubstantiation is the Truth from Divine revelation.

  64. Mark–

    If Sola Scriptura (reading a text and using linguistics, archaeology, other texts, and reason to interpret it) is unworkable, then there is no such thing as reliable history. Not only that, but 90% of passages in your Bible are unreadable because the Magisterium has made no decree regarding them.

    So quit spouting ludicrous blather.

    Both the trinity and the hypostatic union are THERE in black and white in Scripture. But where, pray tell, has the mystery of the trinity been definitively explained? (Can you summarize the explanation? Do you even UNDERSTAND the explanation?) The Chalcedonian Definition gives us little or no explanation of the hypostatic union. It only tells us what it is NOT.

    I agree with you that what you think doesn’t really matter. You think Rome is the one true church. And such a clearly erroneous opinion cannot count for much.

    1. Hi Hans,

      You said that transubstantiation is an “untenable” philosophical concept. You will have to prove that philosophically. Let me explain. Can we have a change of substance without a change of the accidents? The answer is yes. The substance of a ticket to a game is a valid admission. After the game, even if I have not used it, it is only a peace of paper (nothing in it has changed) for which no one will pay a penny (no valid admission). The substance of that peace of paper has changed but not the accidents.

      God bless you.

  65. Hans,

    You said, “If Sola Scriptura (reading a text and using linguistics, archaeology, other texts, and reason to interpret it)”

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the definition of Sola Scriptura.

    Nowhere does the Bible say that the Father generates the Son and the Holy Spirit is spirated by the Father and Son. The Bible also doesn’t use the term “consubstantial.” That is a Platonist philosophical term not found in scripture.

    Funny that Arius used the Bible to support his position that Jesus was a created being. That should tell you that Scripture Alone isn’t enough. You need an infallible authority.

    You’ve got the definition of the Trinity in the Nicene Creed which you have said is foundational to Christianity of the first three centuries.

    BTW, consubstantiation is untenable. It is the reason that most Anglicans no longer have valid Holy Orders. They denied the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.

  66. Phil–

    If you keep the ticket pristine (no spilling of beer on it, no fraying of the edges), then its substance has not changed one iota, merely its value (which can go up or down depending on whether it’s collectible or not).

    1. Hi Hans,
      The substance was the right to admission. And that is what was changed not “merely its value”. It has no value because it does not allow you admission.
      God bless you.

  67. Phil–

    The “right to admission” is value, not substance, unless you’re completely changing the definition of “substance” (a rectangular piece of a thick stock of paper with printing and design).

    A zero value is still value. It’s NOT a substance!

    1. Hi Hans,

      SUBSTANCE, in philosophy, is “the essential, underlying reality of something, in which accidents, qualities, attributes and phenomena inhere” (Webster’s Dictionary). ACCIDENT, in philosophy, is “an attribute, property or quality not belonging to the essence or specific character of a thing” (Webster’s Dictionary). The substance of a ticket is “the right to admission”. If you spill beer or fray the edges you are certainly changing the accidents ( at least), and you can also change the substance if the changes are “substantial”. I agree that “value” is an accident and not the substance. In this case, the change in “value” (accident) is an indication of the change in “the right to admission” (substance) and follows it.

      Transubstantiation is a philosophical issue and can only be argued successfully in philosophical terms.

      God bless you.

  68. Mark–

    So, you’re changing the definition of Sola Scriptura on me? Is that cricket? After all, it’s a PROTESTANT concept!

    Both John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 proclaim Christ to be the Creator. Kind of difficult to be both the creator AND the created (unless, of course, you’re an M. C. Escher drawing!)

    Consubstantiation is not particularly common in the Anglican Communion. The liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer articulates a more or less Calvinistic stance as that is what Cranmer held to. There are Lutheran elements, of course. (But then Lutherans tend to prefer their Eucharistic theory to be called Sacramental Union. It relies on ubiquity but denies a local presence.) In modern Anglicanism, the Anglo-Catholics maintain something very close to transubstantiation without calling it that (since the 39 Articles basically anathematize transubstantiation).

    At any rate, I tend to agree with you that both the Lollard and Lutheran formulations are kind of wild and crazy. But what does that have to do with me?

  69. Phil–

    The “right to admission” is part of the substance only for a VALID ticket. For a ticket in general, the right to admission is but an accident, and an insubstantial one at that. It’s still very much a ticket after the game. It just won’t get you into anything.

    On the other hand, after the game, a previously “valid” ticket may look exactly the same, but one of its accidents has nevertheless changed: its place in time. As you observed, this can be an indication of a change in substance. In this case, the ticket no longer possesses the same substance time-wise and, as a result, is no longer valid.

    Before the game, you can spill a beer on it or fray the edges, and it will–most likely–still be valid. Its accidents have changed but not its SUBSTANCE.

    In real life, there is no such thing as changing the substance without changing the accidents. You can sometimes change the accidents without changing the substance, but not vice-versa.

  70. “In real life, there is no such thing as changing the substance without changing the accidents. You can sometimes change the accidents without changing the substance, but not vice-versa.”

    That’s why the Church calls the Eucharist a mystery. There are other mysteries as well: the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Church, the Sacraments, etc.

    There are things we take on faith because it is part of Divine Revelation.

  71. Phil said ” transubstantiation is a philosophical issue” Indeed it is. It violates Aristotle’s principles. You can’t have a big white without the dog.

  72. ” There are other mysteries as well.” Ya, the so called devout religious of Jesus day were mysterious too, they thought. But Jesus said to them, you teach as doctrines the commandments of man. He condemned their mysterious tradition. It wasn’t GOD’S truth. Interesting, Paul never condemns those who preach the truth, even though he says some do it out of jealousy and wrong motive, but he condemns in a heartbeat those who change the message of truth. Mystery in Rome means development of doctrine and invention, or in Jesus words, they nullify the scriptures by their traditions. Anyone who reads De Ligouri and praises the exultation of Mary to God, isn’t in a mystery that belongs to the gospel truth.

  73. Mark–

    It’s not much of a mystery when you go to the n’th detail to explain it. On other things–like the dispute between the Dominicans and the Jesuits regarding the sovereignty of God–Catholics punt to mystery without dogmatizing all the ins and outs of how it works. You’re incredibly inconsistent. And the only thing that explains the inconsistency is that many decisions of the Magisterium are political or pragmatic rather than theological or spiritual. (It’s necessary to retain the Hispanic peoples, the Nordic peoples, not so much. Hey, we’re Italians! What do you expect? We have more in common with Iberia. Them Norwegians talk funny.)

    1. Hi Hans,

      As Mark said we take it in faith in real life, and philosophy tells us there is no contradiction in the idea of transubstantiation: God can do it. Philosophy does not prove it or disprove it; just tells us, logically, if we are contradicting ourselves or not. This is the only point I am trying to make.

      God bless you.

  74. ” God can do it” except that it is the priest that says hocus pocus and makes the bread god on the altar. Of course O’Brien says the priest has God in his hands to do what he wants with Him. The priest is his regent. He says at the command of the priest God obeys. That’s some power huh Phil. God obeys the priest at his command. Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Spirit blows where and when HE wills, but Rome says God obeys priests. And the De Ligouri says God obeys Mary. Iow, God obeys the Roman Catholic religion. That’s wielding some power on earth. The truth about Reformed theology is God is sovereign and obeys no man or no woman. God does not trick our senses. ” And the Word became flesh” not bread. Christ is in heaven at the right hand of God because He had a body like ours. There is no cosmic Jesus who can appear on every altar. And God doesn’t obey Mary or priests. When we tell someone who believes in Jesus their sins are forgiven, it is a statement about something already true in heaven , the declaration doesn’t make it true k

  75. Phil–

    I’m fine with your claiming it to be an antinomy, but that means that there definitely IS a logical contradiction. You’re taking it on faith, pure and simple. That’s true of the trinity, which we both accept, and it’s true of Sola Fide, and which I accept and you do not.

    1. Hi Hans,

      Thank you for your comment. I don’t understand how you figure out my argument as being an antinomy. Can you explain it? Please. Thank you.

      God bless you.

  76. Phil–

    Many of us have the intuition that certain polar-opposite concepts are (both) true about a given subject even though they technically contradict one another logically. God is three (in terms of persons) but one (in substance). Jesus Christ is both 100% man AND 100% God. Not particularly logical.

    If I performed a magic trick, changing my shapely personal assistant into a twitchy-nosed bunny rabbit…except that you saw absolutely nothing change…the personal assistant was still standing there, looking radiant as ever…well, then, you might very well consider demanding your money back. And if I claimed that the girl was actually a bunny whose “accidents” had simply not changed, you might even scream at me a bit. Something about being a charlatan, I think.

    We Reformed speak of God as being totally sovereign without its impinging on our freedom of will. It’s called compatibilism, and modern philosophers tend to reject it outright as totally illogical. Actually, Thomism teaches something fairly similar to what Calvinists do. Some, in fact, categorize Aquinas’ thought on the matter as a version of compatibilism.

    Antinomies are similar to paradoxes. I believe there’s a slight, technical difference between the two, but I’m not going to bother looking it up now. Time for bed.

    1. Hi Hans,

      I don’t have the same intuition that you have. Our minds (and computers) work on a binary system: Yes and No. I cannot accept a true contradiction. Most communication problems arise when some people find antinomies in concepts that are 100% opposites. For example: divine and human nature (there is also angelic nature, etc…).

      God bless you.

  77. Phil–

    Most people think like you. That’s why so much of theology tends toward an accommodation with human reason and a rejection of the insights of divine revelation. Libertarian free will strikes a chord with such people as does works righteousness. Sacraments are just symbolic, miracles are illusions, and prophecies are coincidences. The trinity makes no sense, so either people go with functional tritheism, or they relegate Jesus and the Holy Spirit to subordinate roles under the hegemony of the Father. People believe in concepts like Karma even though they are not Christian because common sense tells us that “what goes around comes around” and that grace is irrational.

  78. Hi Hans,

    I apologize for giving you the wrong impression. I meant to say: “Most communication problems arise when some people find antinomies in concepts that are NOT 100% opposites.” In other words, I believe that two antinomies cannot be true at the same time. I was in too much of a hurry and I am sorry for it.

    God bless you.

  79. Phil–

    I figured that you didn’t mean what you said, and my response was at least partially tongue in cheek. But I still am not clear on what you were/are trying to say. Divine and human natures are–except in Christ–mutually exclusive commodities. There is a strict Creator-creature divide in Christian orthodoxy (of all varieties).

  80. Hi Hans,

    What I said is that there is no logical contradiction in the philosophical concept of transubstantiation. Substance and accidents may be mutually exclusive but not necessarily antinomic (totally exclusive), and therefore, contradictory. You said that “Divine and human natures” are mutually exclusive, and you are correct. You also brought up “a strict Creator-creature divide”, which is totally exclusive and a good example of an antinomy: something has to be either a Creator or a creature (created). In the other case you can have an angel (neither Divine nor human) and is not a true antinomy.

    God bless you.

  81. Phil–

    A substance without accidents, or with hidden accidents, or with the accidents of some other substance is contradictory to nature. Of course, a miracle can take on illogical dimensions. There is no conceivable way for the sun to actually stand still in the sky without causing chaos in the solar system.

    I see no reason for you to maintain that no contradiction exists.

    1. Hi Hans,

      Thank you for your comment. You said: “a miracle can take on illogical dimensions.” And “I see no reason for you to maintain that no contradiction exists.” I gave you the reason that there is no philosophical contradiction, anyway. although you don’t need that since we are talking about a miracle.

      God bless you.

  82. Hans said, “A substance without accidents, or with hidden accidents, or with the accidents of some other substance is contradictory to nature. ”

    Absolutely right. It is contradictory to our sense experience. Just as science cannot detect God in nature because they don’t have the right tool. Transubstantiation is metaphysical and cannot be proven using the scientific method or human reasoning. It is something we take on faith as divinely revealed.

  83. ” Transubstantiation is metaphysical and cannot be proven using scientific method of human reasoning.” That’s the truth, transubstantiation ” cannot be proven ” correct. We get the words Hocus Pocus from the Latin words of the mass. There was no practice in the early church of a priest changing bread into God. Your own pope Gelasius said the bread and wine remain. Remember the Virginia Slim commercial, we’ve come a long way baby. Consider Gelasius ‘ s words compared to lifting up the bread in a monstrance in the air and following it around in the streets, millions of people. Has a certain golden calf feel to it, don’t you think. God doesn’t fool our senses, nor is He unreasonable with us. When Jesus said it is meat to do his will, we don’t think his will is literal meat. Your church has sought it’s idol in the face of the book of John, which isn’t a metaphysical essay, but plain language that we are to understand his words Spiritually. Yet, Catholics refuse this as they refuse the words ” No one will be justified by observing law.

    1. Kevin, with your such profound logic, one shouldn’t even believe in the Incarnation or that miracles happen. Pope Gelasius’ language might not be accurate but he is explaining that the accidents of bread and wine remain. Remember, the Church didn’t develop the language to explain the reality until later.
      Your post was just another scatter shooting at Catholics. You aren’t witnessing, you are just yelling.

  84. Mark–

    We would not even know what Nature was without our sense perceptions. The one follows the other, or we are totally in the dark.

    We cannot detect God in Nature because God is NOT IN Nature (except within the Incarnation). We’re not missing some tool.

    Transubstantiation is indeed contradictory to Nature…and in a way no other miracle is. Sometimes the laws of Nature are suspended: an axe floats on water, Jesus walks on water, Jesus ascends into the air. Sometimes the process of transformation is miraculous: the sea becomes dry land, water becomes wine, ill people become well, dead people become alive, the sun stands still.

    But only in the Catholic version of the Eucharist do we have an undetectable miracle.

    Wow, Jesus! You changed water into wine! (Of course, our excitement is somewhat tempered by the fact that it still looks and tastes just like water….)

    Wow, Jesus! You healed me of my leprosy! (Of course, my skin is still white and disfigured, and I’m still missing a thumb and two index fingers. But I guess beggars can’t be choosers….)

    Wow, Jesus! You raised my little girl from the dead! (Of course, she’s not breathing, and she’s cold to the touch, and rigor mortis has begun to set in….)

  85. Mark–

    That’s between me and God. You’re not a party to the matter.

    I assume you had a point. Did you? Conversion is undetectable? Is it? Is it kind of like the true meaning of Scripture in Catholic eyes…undetectable?

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